Archive for the “U.S. Politics” Category

Politics in the United States

In this file photo taken on Dec. 17, 2011, pedestrians walk past a Christmas display in Santa Monica, California. Frederic J. Brown / AFP - Getty Images file.We have yet another entry in the annual Christian whining session that is the putative “war on Christmas.” This one is taking place in Santa Monica, CA, and involves a court case being brought by churches there to get their sacred nativity onto city property. The AP via NBC News reports on their effort to use the courts to commandeer public property so they can proselytize (WebCite cached article):

Damon Vix didn’t have to go to court to push Christmas out of the city of Santa Monica. He just joined the festivities.

The atheist’s anti-God message alongside a life-sized nativity display in a park overlooking the beach ignited a debate that burned brighter than any Christmas candle.

Santa Monica officials snuffed the city’s holiday tradition this year rather than referee the religious rumble, prompting churches that have set up a 14-scene Christian diorama for decades to sue over freedom of speech violations. Their attorney will ask a federal judge Monday to resurrect the depiction of Jesus’ birth, while the city aims to eject the case.

The article relates the backstory here over Vix’s sign and the reason the city decided not to allow any holiday messages on city property. The churches claim their freedom of speech and worship has been wiped out in Santa Monica:

The Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee argues in its lawsuit that atheists have the right to protest, but that freedom doesn’t trump the Christians’ right to free speech.

But there’s no reason they need public land for this:

The city doesn’t prohibit churches from caroling in the park, handing out literature or even staging a play about the birth of Jesus and churches can always set up a nativity on private land, Deputy City Attorney Jeanette Schachtner said in an email.

The churches’ problem, of course, is that they truly are free to put up all the nativities they want … on private land. In all the caterwauling over city-hall nativities that takes place every year around the country, not one Christian has ever been able to identify the exact reason why nativities must be on government land and cannot be on private land. The best they can say is something along the lines of, “We’ve always done it, so we should always be able to do it forevermore.” That, however, is fallacious reasoning; specifically it’s an appeal to tradition. That something has always been done — or that it has always been believed — cannot and will never make it right or grant it veracity. Just a few centuries ago, for example, slavery was a “tradition” that most societies permitted; but obviously we no longer think that way. Likewise, it was once thought that the sun revolved around the earth, and not the other way around. That they were “traditional” did not make slavery right, nor did it mean the geocentric model of the solar system was correct.

Fortunately the judge who heard the churches’ case was not taken in by their claims. She ruled that Santa Monica is within its rights not to allow seasonal displays on city property (cached). The churches will, no doubt, appeal this decision. But they will still be wrong when they claim that their religion requires nativities to be on only on city property and that their faith prohibits them anywhere else. All the sanctimonious whining, crying and bellyaching in the world can’t change that.

As I usually do in cases like this, I’m also going to point out that making a public spectacle of their desire to celebrate Christmas, is an unabashed — and unmistakable — violation of Jesus’ own injunction against any and all forms of public piety. I suggest they stick a crowbar into their precious Bibles, crack them open a bit, and read their own Jesus’ words on the subject:

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

There, Christians … you’ve read it, now grow the hell up and just fucking do it already. OK?

Photo credit: Frederic J. Brown / AFP – Getty Images, via NBC News.

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

Comments No Comments »

Mother Jones / Chart: Almost Every Obama Conspiracy Theory EverConspiracy theories are common in the US. Lots of Americans really love them. The more ideologically-inclined they are, the more likely they are to cling to them. It stands to reason that the Far Right has built up something of an industry of various and sundry Barack Obama-related conspiracy theories. Among the most commonly-heard of these is the “Birther” movement, which claims Obama was born in Kenya, is not a US citizen, has offered a fake birth certificate falsely indicating he was born in Honolulu, HI, and therefore is not a legitimate president. I’ve blogged on the fiercely-irrational — and childish — Birthers many times and have noted their wild suppositions have no basis in fact. There’s also the widespread belief that Obama is not a Christian, but is secretly Muslim, and wants to hand over the US to the Muslim Brotherhood so they can force shari’a law on the country.

Both the Birthers and “Muslimers” are, sadly, politically influential; GOP officials routinely give winks-&-nods in the direction of Birtherism (even if they also claim they think Obama is American). And Oklahoma voters approved a needless amendment to their state constitution to keep shari’a law from being implemented there.

Yet another conspiracy theory which has a lot of traction these days involves a United Nations proposal called Agenda 21. Mother Jones reports the GOP caucus of the Georgia state senate gathered to hear about how Obama’s infernal plan to force this proposal on the country (WebCite cached article):

President Obama is using a Cold War-era mind-control technique known as “Delphi” to coerce Americans into accepting his plan for a United Nations-run communist dictatorship in which suburbanites will be forcibly relocated to cities. That’s according to a four-hour briefing delivered to Republican state senators at the Georgia state Capitol last month.

On October 11, at a closed-door meeting of the Republican caucus convened by the body’s majority leader, Chip Rogers, a tea party activist told Republican lawmakers that Obama was mounting this most diabolical conspiracy. The event—captured on tape by a member of the Athens-based watchdog Better Georgia (who was removed from the room after 52 minutes)—had been billed as an information session on Agenda 21, a nonbinding UN agreement that commits member nations to promote sustainable development. In the eyes of conservative activists, Agenda 21 is a nefarious plot that includes forcibly relocating non-urban-dwellers and prescribing mandatory contraception as a means of curbing population growth. The invitation to the Georgia state Senate event noted the presentation would explain: “How pleasant sounding names are fostering a Socialist plan to change the way we live, eat, learn, and communicate to ‘save the earth.'”

Here’s video of part of this paranoid presentation, courtesy of Vimeo:

This conspiracy includes a wide range of elements sure to make the Right perk up its ears: The United Nations, Barack Obama, mind control, socialism, environmentalism, and more. Obligatory links between the Obama administration and the regimes of Mao and Stalin were offered up, too. Georgia’s Republican state senators could hardly help but drool over the Rightist paranoid fantasy they were hearing.

What these folk don’t comprehend, are a few salient facts: First, Agenda 21 is non-binding. It’s basically a whole lot of hopes, dreams & wishful thinking, and nothing more. Second, Agenda 21 isn’t new; it’s been floating around for 20 years, with no sign yet of being forcefully implemented on anyone.

But third — and perhaps most importantly — even if the UN wanted to make Agenda 21 binding on its members, there’s no way it can do so. It’s perhaps the single most useless and ineffective organization on the planet, incapable of doing anything of significance. Consider the UN’s history: Its attempted interventions in places like the Levant and Korea have accomplished absolutely nothing, even after several decades. Let’s be honest here: Agenda 21 is dead; it always will be dead; and it was dead long before any of the insipid yammering dolts who infest UN headquarters in New York ever dreamed it up. And that’s because nothing the UN tries to do ever goes anywhere.

Another factual problem with the scenario cooked up here: The RAND Corporation “Delphi technique” is not a method of “mind control.” It’s actually something else entirely … i.e. a way to estimate future demand for something. And since RAND itself doesn’t make a secret of it (cached), I don’t see how it could be used as the fuel for a clandestine plot to take over the population and turn them into Obama’s automatons.

This article thoughtfully includes a link to a chart of myriad other Obama conspiracy theories that have been trafficked over the last few years. Read it, check out the links in it, and be amazed at the vast range of incredible delusions the Right has been spinning.

Photo credit: Mother Jones.

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

Comments No Comments »

Human-evolution-manI blogged about the anti-scientific religiofascism spewed by Paul Broun, R-GA. The problem with is that he ran unopposed, so he didn’t have to suffer any consequences from his idiotic remarks. It seems that some voters in his district nevertheless used this election to offer a kind of protest against him, as the Augusta Chronicle reports (WebCite cached article):

Charles Darwin, the 19th century naturalist who laid the foundations for evolutionary theory, received more than 4,000 write-in votes in Athens-Clarke County in balloting for the 10th Congressional District seat retained Tuesday by five-year incumbent Republican Paul Broun.

A campaign asking voters to write in Darwin’s name in the 10th District, which includes half of Athens-Clarke County and takes in a swath of eastern Georgia, began after Broun, speaking at a sportsmen’s banquet at a Hartwell church, called evolution and other areas of science “lies straight from the pit of hell.”

“I can’t ever remember seeing a (write-in ballot) report that long,” Athens-Clarke County Elections Supervisor Gail Schrader said after releasing the write-in numbers to news media Thursday morning.

Broun still won re-election — given that he was unopposed — but 4,000 people making the effort to write in the name of Broun’s mortal enemy against him on the ballot as a protest, is significant. My guess is, Broun will dismiss them as wicked, Satan-inspired “secular progressives” who “worship” Darwin because they hate Broun’s almighty God, but I still find it remarkable.

Photo credit: José-manuel Benitos via Wikimedia Commons.

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

Comments No Comments »

KLTV-TV / Freedom From Religious Foundation banner, in Henderson county TexasIt looks like the annual “war on Christmas” is starting up. That’s the periodic bout of sanctimonious Christofascist weeping and wailing about a supposed effort underway to abolish the celebration of Christmas in the US. Their problem is, no such effort exists. No one in the country is seriously trying to prevent Christians from celebrating Christmas, or any other holiday. What has been happening — and what Christianists object to — is an effort to prevent them from using government to promote Christmas as though it’s a requirement that everyone, Christian or not, celebrate it along with them.

The good Christian folk of the good Christian county of Henderson in the good Christian state of Texas have decided to take a stand in this annual (non-existent) “war on Christmas.” KLTV-TV reports they’ve decided not to allow an atheist banner on the county courthouse lawn (locally-cached article):

An East Texas county is denying an atheist organization’s request to display an anti-religious banner on the courthouse lawn this Christmas.

There’s a backstory here, which is as follows:

In fall 2011, the Henderson County Courthouse Nativity scene gained national attention when the Freedom From Religion Foundation demanded the county take the display down or let them put their own display up.

Last December, a banner paid for by the Freedom From Religion Foundation was placed on the courthouse lawn. It read “there are no Gods” and that “religion is but myth.”

Just minutes later, Henderson County deputies took the banner down. Soon after, the Freedom From Religion Foundation started fighting to put it back up. A formal request to display the banner was submitted to the county earlier this year. This week, that request was officially denied.

“We did not feel that the banner was consistent with the theme of Christmas and our decorations that we have enjoyed for many years,” says Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders.

What the good Christian folk of the good Christian county of the good Christian state of Texas have decided to place on their courthouse lawn, this year, is the very same good Christian nativity scene from last year:

In a matter of weeks, the Nativity scene display will sit on the courthouse lawn where pumpkins and hay bales are now. The other three corners of the courthouse lawn will adorn secular decor, but the Freedom From Religion Foundation says Henderson County is still violating the constitution.

They justify it with the following laughable idiocy:

The county remains firm that their variety of decorations keep them in compliance with federal law.

“Overall it is a secular display. We have everything from lights to Christmas wreaths to garland… a Santa house to Santa Clause, deer, elves and gnomes,” says [Henderson County Attorney Clint] Davis.

A display that contains a nativity scene — including the baby Jesus, the supposed founder of the Christian religion — cannot and will never be “overall secular.” No fucking way! To make such a claim is ridiculous on its face. Whoever says such a thing can’t fail to be aware that s/he is lying. This places attorney Davis, and the other good Christian folk of the good Christian county of Henderson in the good Christian state of Texas, squarely in my lying liars for Jesus club.

That an attorney would lie about this display, in order to rationalize breaking the law of the land, is unacceptable under any circumstance. That a judge would orchestrate the breaking of the law of the land, is even worse. Will these Christofascists stop at nothing in order to push their dour, fierce religionism on everyone else?

I close with a reminder to all the good Christians out there who love to make a big fucking deal of how they celebrate Christmas, that your own Jesus himself clearly and specifically ordered you never to engage in public displays of piety like this. It’s unbiblical of you to do it (see Mt 6:1-6 among other passages inside your own Bible). So just fucking cut the shit already, OK?

Photo credit: KLTV-TV.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

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

Comments No Comments »

Stop and ThinkYesterday I blogged about Indiana’s Senate candidate Richard Mourdock’s claim that rape-pregnancies are “something that God intended to happen.” In the wake of the understandable shitstorm this kicked up, Mourdock claimed he hadn’t said what he clearly had said, and whined that he was being criticized. It’s true that some Christians — including GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney — disavowed Mourdock’s statement, but some are actively defending the guy. For example, we have this piece from Christianity Today (WebCite cached article):

According to CBS News and a number of other outlets, last night Republican candidate for an Indiana U.S. Senate seat Richard Mourdock suggested that pregnancies resulting from rape are “something that God intended to happen.”…

Then again, it may be even more “disrespectful to the survivors of rape” to fail to tell them about the wondrous redeeming power of God, even in the most horrible circumstances.

Actually, yes, it would in fact be exceedingly “disrespectful to the survivors of rape” to tell them, “It’s OK, God is great, so everything is fine!” Or, “You were raped and are now pregnant? What a wonderful gift God gave you, you must be so thrilled!” Would it be appropriate to say anything like this? What if the situation weren’t a rape or rape-pregnancy, but something else … say, losing a child in an auto accident, getting a diagnosis of terminal cancer, or having one’s home wiped out in a wildfire? Do Christians really think it helps anyone dealing with any of these situations to tell them that whatever happened to them is OK because God is still around? Is it in any way “respectful” to them?

Of course it’s not. What’s more, Christians know it! Any Christian who says it would be appropriate, is lying.

Of course this is not the first time a Christianist’s idiotic or reprehensible statement is defended by other Christianists. Back when Marion “Pat” Robertson declared that the Haiti earthquake had happened because Haiti had been cursed, he had no small number of fellow Christians defending him.

Welcome to the wonderful world of Christianist tribalism … where nothing any Christian says is ever out of bounds, and where everything a Christian says is rationalized and justified, no matter how horrid or untrue it is. These people just can’t help themselves. The idea that a fellow Christian could have done something wrong, is an admission they cannot and will not ever make. Theirs is a harsh black-&-white world, one in which it’s them against everyone else, where “the Enemy” will revel in their every misstep, thus they defend their fellow Christians at all costs, because they can’t abide the idea that “the Enemy” might get an occasional “win” now and then. It’s all very irrational and even childish … but hey, what can you expect?

What this really shows us, is that these people have no integrity or character. They can blather on all they want about their morality and ethics and how their belief in God makes them great people — but they have no reservations about defending the indefensible whenever they need to in order to protect one of their own. If they did have any integrity, they’d have been willing to say, “Mr Mourdock was out of line. His words are unacceptable and I will not defend them, or him. Until he atones for what he’s said and offers a contrite, sincere apology, we will have nothing more to do with him.” It can’t damage them to say something like this, even though they think it will kill them. That’s because fierce religionists don’t have any integrity, nor do they have the courage to admit one of their own might have been wrong. They just have their primitive, reflexive tribal instinct.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: mikmikko, via Flickr.

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

Comments No Comments »

And Jesus WeptThe number of Religious Rightist candidates making idiotic, Puritanical declarations that expose them as hateful misogynists just keeps growing. First we had Todd Akin of Missouri, then Joe Walsh of Illinois. Now, as NBC News reports, it’s a candidate from Indiana, Richard Mourdock, who’s running for U.S. Senate, likewise exposing the R.R.’s irrational hatred of women (WebCite cached article):

Richard Mourdock, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Indiana, said in a debate on Tuesday that “even when life begins with that horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended to happen.” …

“The only exception I have to have an abortion is in that case of the life of the mother,” Mourdock said. “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape that it is something God intended to happen.”

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney tried to deflect Mourdock’s spew:

Romney, who on Monday launched statewide ads endorsing Mourdock, distanced himself on Tuesday from the remark by his fellow Republican. “Governor Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock’s comments, and they do not reflect his views,” said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul.

But really, how far can the guy go to get away from this? Mourdock wouldn’t have made this kind of statement if he didn’t think lots of Republican voters — whom Romney also represents — also believed it.

Mourdock isn’t apologizing for his comment, even though Romney dealt him that mild, implied slap:

Mourdock issued a statement after the debate that said: “God creates life, and that was my point. God does not want rape, and by no means was I suggesting that He does. Rape is a horrible thing, and for anyone to twist my words otherwise is absurd and sick.”

No, Mr Mourdock. Your critics are not “absurd and sick.” You — and the sanctimoniously-enraged Religious Right whom you appeal to — are the ones who are “absurd and sick.” You cannot simultaneously declare that rape “is something God intended to happen,” then later claim it’s “a horrible thing.” According to your own Abrahamic tradition, your God is benevolent and only capable of doing good. This means that, if he has willed something to happen, then by this definition it cannot be “a horrible thing.” Moreover, when you state that rape-pregnancy “is something God intended to happen” then you absofuckinglutely are stating that God truly does “want rape.” The logic of your statement doesn’t work any other way. So Mr Mourdock … give your fucking juvenile indignation a rest already, and take responsibility for your own fucking words. No one shoved them down your throat and forced you to say them. You came up with them all by yourself. Bellyaching that people have criticized you for having said them, is childish. Man up, grow up, and stop with your crybaby whining.

Note, this is not the first time I’ve heard from believers that rape, or rape-pregnancy, are “God’s will.” Military chaplains have made this claim, too.

Photo credit: Termin8er, via Flickr.

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

Comments 3 Comments »

Pay no attention to headlines ... they lie! (PsiCop original)It’s not news that the numbers of “Nones,” or the religiously-unaffiliated, are growing in the US. It’s been documented for several years now, particularly after Trinity College’s ARIS 2008 project generated a report in 2009 about what they called “the Nones,” or the religiously-unaffiliated. This week, the Pew Forum released the results of their own survey on the matter. They find that “the Nones” are growing in number (WebCite cached version):

The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public — and a third of adults under 30 — are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.

In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15% to just under 20% of all U.S. adults. Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6% of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14%).

This part of the report has generated any number of mass-media stories trumpeting the growth of “atheists”; for example, this one from Canada’s National Post, whose headline reads as follows (cached):

Rise of the atheists: U.S. Protestants lose majority status as church attendance falls

The NP article itself fails to mention atheists or atheism very much, only noting that they’re merely a subset of the “religiously unaffiliated.” So where does this headline come from?

The truth is that this survey doesn’t really tell us a whole lot about atheists or atheism specifically. The folks at Pew are, themselves, quite clear on this:

This large and growing group of Americans is less religious than the public at large on many conventional measures, including frequency of attendance at religious services and the degree of importance they attach to religion in their lives.

However, a new survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, conducted jointly with the PBS television program Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, finds that many of the country’s 46 million unaffiliated adults are religious or spiritual in some way. Two-thirds of them say they believe in God (68%). More than half say they often feel a deep connection with nature and the earth (58%), while more than a third classify themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious” (37%), and one-in-five (21%) say they pray every day.

The fact is, the majority of the religiously unaffiliated as identified in polls such as Pew’s and the earlier ARIS survey, are believers. They simply don’t belong to any religious organization and don’t attend services regularly. But they remain religious people.

The Pew data itself shows that those designated as “Atheist” has grown only 0.8% since 2007, and “Agnostic” has grown only 1.2% in that time. These results can hardly justify any of the media headlines (such as the above) declaring that “Atheism” is growing astronomically. It isn’t. Non-believers are assuredly a minority in the US, and they’re likely to remain so, for quite some time to come. Only paranoid religionists would fear they’re going to be outnumbered and have their beliefs outlawed.

P.S. The full report is available on Pew’s Web site (cached).

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

Comments 6 Comments »