Archive for the “U.S. Politics” Category

Politics in the United States

Thomas Jefferson MemorialI’ve already blogged about the militant Christofascist pseudohistorian David Barton … whom the Right continues to call a “historian,” even though he is absolutely no such thing. That’s to be expected; Rightists generally have only a very loose grasp of history in the first place, so they’re hardly able to tell the difference.

But Barton was drawn up short today — by his own publisher — because, as NPR reports, his most recent book contains demonstrable fabrications and lies (WebCite cached article):

Citing a loss of confidence in the book’s details, Christian publisher Thomas Nelson is ending the publication and distribution of the bestseller, The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson.

The controversial book was written by Texas evangelical David Barton, who NPR’s Barbara Bradley Hagerty profiled on All Things Considered Wednesday [cached]. The publishing company says it’s ceasing publication because it found that “basic truths just were not there.” …

“Mr. Barton is presenting a Jefferson that modern-day evangelicals could love and identify with,” historian Warren Throckmorton, a professor at the evangelical Grove City College, told Hagerty. “The problem with that is, it’s not a whole Jefferson; it’s not getting him right.”

The book’s publisher came to the same conclusion.

Religious Rightists have had more than a little difficulty, over the past few years, with Jefferson. He’s one of the best-recognized Founding Fathers, but was also openly disdainful of religiosity and dogmatism. While they revere the Founding Fathers, Jefferson’s decided lack of piety is something the R.R. apparently can no longer stomach. Rightists in Texas, for example, have purposely skewed the public-school curriculum so has to downplay Jefferson and the Enlightenment as a movement. Barton’s book appears to be a reverse of that effort, intended to make Jefferson’s impiety and irreverence go away.

I expect Barton and his fans to portray him as a martyr to the faith and complain that Thomas Nelson caved in to “political correctness.” They will refuse to believe that Barton’s books are full of lies, and will instead convince themselves that everyone who tells them so, is the real liar. That Thomas Nelson is a Christian publisher, and that critics like Throckmorton are evangelicals themselves, will not matter to them one iota. They will still refuse to believe Barton has lied to them. Communal reinforcement is a powerful thing and it can lead to delusional thinking; Barton’s popularity is proof of that.

I should conclude this post by giving Thomas Nelson credit for this action; it surely has cost them a great deal. I also have to give props to Barton’s evangelical critics like Throckmorton; I’m sure their flocks will be none too happy they’ve sided with “the Enemy” against the great “historian” Barton.

Photo credit: chadh, via Flickr.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

P.S. You gotta love the irony of the title of Barton’s book. He obviously intended it to refer to “lies” being told about Jefferson by other folks … particularly those evil “secular humanists” … but in truth, the “lies” are Barton’s own, and they’re contained within the pages of the very book that pretends to debunk them. How contemptible!

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Police are seen outside a Century 16 movie theater where as many as 12 people were killed and dozens more injured in a shooting during a midnight showing of 'The Dark Knight Rises,' in Aurora, Colo., July 20, 2012. Author: Edecio Martinez. Credit: AP Photo/Ed Andrieski. Via CBS News.By now you’ve heard about the shooting last night/early this morning in Aurora CO. I knew some sanctimoniously-enraged Religious Rightist would find a way to blame it on irreligion, but I honestly didn’t think it would take only a few hours. But as CBS News reports, Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert did precisely that (WebCite cached article):

In a radio interview Friday morning, Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas associated the Colorado mass shooting that’s left at least 12 people dead to “attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs.”…

Host Ernest Istook asked Gohmert, “What is your experience with the way that we have too many twisted minds in our society?”…

The congressman continued, “And what really gets me as a Christian is to see the ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs and then some senseless crazy act of a derelict takes place.”

There you have it. According to Gohmert, this shooting happened because “Judeo-Christian beliefs” have somehow been “attacked.” At the moment, no one really knows what drove the accused killer to do it … but Louie-boy is unaware of that. He — and he alone — in all the universe has managed to determine accused killer James Holmes’s motive! Oh, and he added this militant little quip:

Gohmert also wondered during the interview, “With all those people in the theater, was there nobody that was carrying a gun that could have stopped this guy more quickly?”

Apparently Louie-boy thinks many more bullets flying in many more directions in the crowded setting of a theater complex packed to the gills with Dark Knight Rises premiere moviegoers, would have been a good idea. I honestly don’t know how that works … but apparently Gohmert does.

What a fucking moron this guy is. Louie-boy’s militant religiosity has robbed him of his brains. Not that it’s entirely surprising … the Religious Right long ago lost its collective mind, and has been wallowing in insanity and idiocy for years.

Update: Yesterday’s incident near the Empire State Building in New York City should serve as a warning to Gohmert and the many other Wild West-loving gun-freaks who think a shootout would have been a good idea: All nine of the people wounded there, were hit by police firing back at the gunman (cached). During the Aurora shooting, Holmes had body armor on, which means the number of bystanders endangered would have been that much higher. What a fucking moron Gohmert is.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, via CBS News.

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Crusaders at ConstantinopleNote: A minor update on the CT-5 primaries is below.

With primaries underway for both parties in Connecticut’s hotly contested 5th Congressional District, it almost goes without saying that the Republican candidates are falling all over themselves trying to present themselves as dutifully sanctimonious Rightists. They’ve been advertising themselves as “job creators” and as wanting to promote “freedom” (even though, if any of them are elected to Congress, they will never hire anyone, and will only reduce people’s freedom rather than enhance it). They’ve mostly steered clear of religion, but I knew it wouldn’t be long before their urge to express their piety and sanctity would overpower them. The Hartford Courant reports that the first of them to do this, is Mark Greenberg (WebCite cached article):

Republican congressional candidate Mark Greenberg questioned whether Islam was a peaceful religion Thursday and said he believed it was “a cult in many respects.”

His remarks were made in a radio interview on WNPR’s “Where We Live” program. …

When [host John] Dankosky asked Greenberg if people who don’t share those beliefs also change the country and help make it great, Greenberg said, “perhaps, to a certain extent” and went on to talk about aspects related to the religion that he found objectionable. For example, he said he doesn’t believe a mosque should be built near Ground Zero in New York City, and he questioned whether Islam was a religion of peace. …

“I think it’s more a blueprint for living one’s life — a cult in many respects,” he said of Islam. “It’s a religion, but it’s also a way of living.”

Although agreeing with Dankosky that Judaism and Christianity are also ways of living, Greenberg said there is a difference.

“Judaism and Christianity are very peaceful religions,” he said. “I think they are more peaceful than Islam.”

First, I need to begin by commenting that the word “cult” has more or less become useless. It’s a pejorative term, a label slapped on any other religion one happens to dislike. The word itself has long since lost any specific meaning. That Greenberg used it of Islam, just tells me he doesn’t like Islam — it doesn’t mean anything else.

Second, his claim that Islam is not a “religion of peace” but Judaism and Christianity are, is absurd on its face. All three religions have violent pasts and they have adherents willing to resort to violence in the names of their faiths. The scriptures revered by Judaism and Christianity are chock full of violence. Some of that violence was supposedly committed by God himself, and the rest was done by his human followers. Those revered texts tell of the many bloody wars Israel supposedly fought while it was a tribal confederation and then a kingdom, including massacres and genocides. Christians have marched to war in the name of their god Jesus and took part in atrocities of their own. As recently as the late 20th century, Catholics and Protestants in Ireland were killing each other to prove which church was more Christlike. Christians have even engaged in terror campaigns of their own. And modern Judaism isn’t free of the stain of violence either; they are one side of a decades-old conflict in the Middle East, and there are some violent extremists among Jews, too.

As far as I’m concerned, any religion that carries an entitlement to impose itself on other human beings and on reality, can lead to violence in some of its adherents. That’s as true of Islam as it is of Christianity, Judaism, and a whole host of others.

I’m dreading this primary season here in the Nutmeg State. I’m sure things are going to get even weirder, very soon (the primaries are less than a month away).

Update: Things have, indeed, ramped up a bit in the twin primaries for CT’s 5th District, as I predicted they would. Dankosky’s interview with Greenberg was part of a series of planned interviews with all of the CT-5 candidates from both parties. It turns out, as the Torrington Register-Citizen reports (cached), none of the rest of them did any better than Greenberg — and one declined the interview out of fear of being asked a question she’s successfully avoided answering. The 5th District is doomed, folks … not one of these slippery creatures deserves a place in Congress, however, one of them is guaranteed to end up there. Ouch.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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First Cathedral (Baptist), Bloomfield, CTIt took over two years, but the town of Enfield here in Connecticut finally resolved a lawsuit it brought on itself by holding its high school graduation in churches. The Hartford Courant reports on the settlement (WebCite cached article):

In a 6-3 vote, the school board decided Wednesday night to accept a settlement of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU over the school system’s practice of holding high school graduation ceremonies in a church.

The American Civil Liberties Union and another group, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, filed the suit two years ago after the school board decided to hold graduation ceremonies for both Enfield High School and Enrico Fermi High School at First Cathedral in Bloomfield.

I’d blogged about this conflict, back when it erupted in spring of 2010. At the time litigation over this began, various Christianist legal outfits had promised the town and its Board of Education that they’d pay the legal fees, thus encouraging them to defend the lawsuit despite having no chance of prevailing. But I note, in the end, these promises proved bogus, because none of those groups are paying a dime:

The school board’s insurance provider, the Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency, will cover the cost of the settlement up to $470,000, Superintendent Jeffrey Schumann said. The exact dollar amount of the settlement was not revealed.

I wonder if their Jesus taught these guys not to keep their word?

The Courant article includes the expected childish whining and bellyaching on the part of Christianists, both on the Board and in the town, who don’t like the vote and call the ACLU and AU “bullies.” Well … boo fucking hoo, you crybabies! What you were doing was unconstitutional, and you know it. If you had any integrity in the first place, you’d realize that, and would now show the courage to admit having been wrong. But you won’t, because you have no courage; you’re just juvenile religionists who can’t help but stamp and fume when someone dares thwart you.

Photo credit: Hartford Courant.

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Godless Atheists Menace Western, Christian Civilization: Godless Atheists & Godless Sodomites Imperil Everyone | Image © Austin Cline; Original Poster: National Archives | via About.Com) It was only a matter of time before some enraged religiofascist windbag blamed the Supreme Court decision upholding the healthcare reform law on those wicked, insolent atheists. This one comes to us courtesy of William J. Murray, the son of famed atheist Madelyn Murray O’Hair, who as an adult converted to fundamentalist Christianity. Since then he’s waged his own personal war against the vile forces of atheism. The religiofascist outlet World Net Daily reports on his stretch of reasoning (WebCite cached article):

In an interview with WND, Murray spoke of the Engel v. Vitale case as one of the key Supreme Court decisions that inevitably led to the federal government getting involved in health care. …

“Though it wasn’t as far-reaching and it didn’t affect the lives of everyday Americans as much as this case did today, the case (Engel v. Vitale) was a precursor to the case that removed Bible verses and prayer from school,” said Murray, whose book, “My Life Without God,” documents what his young life was like growing up with a committed communist like O’Hair as his mother.

“The 1963 case was one of the troika of cases that worked to destroy the basic family unit,” Murray explained. “One of the striking things about Obamacare is that it was pushed and promoted out of its necessity because of the breakup of the family. There is no one to take care of the family, because of this.

Did you catch that? Because prayer was taken out of public schools in the 1906s, this somehow prevents families from taking care of themselves. Yes, that’s what Murray thinks: Not only that families no longer take care of themselves, but that the government actively prevents them from doing so.

I must have missed it, because I have yet to see the jackbooted thugs of the federal government barging into people’s homes and pointing their guns at heads of families who manage their own affairs. Have you? Murray must have, because he seems fairly sure it’s happened in every single household in the country. Apparently.

As with most World Nut Daily articles, this one contains links to Murray’s putative “tell-all” memoir of how horrible it was for him to have endured growing up in one of those wicked atheist homes. The article serves as little more than a sales-pitch for the book to all those religiofascists who read it and are hooked by Murray’s irrational and fact-deprived message.

For the record, there is nothing inherently wrong with atheism or any other form of non-belief. In a (supposedly) free country such as this one, we’re free to be non-religious if we wish to be. Religiofascists like Murray are likewise free not to like the fact that non-believers exist … but too bad for them, that’s as far as it can go. For them to lie about non-belief — and to actively campaign to use government to coerce non-believers into believing (cached) — are both wrong, and must not be tolerated.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: Austin Cline (Original Poster: National Archives), via About.Com.

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crying-babyThe Christofascist and Neocrusading preacher Terry Jones, head of the Gainesville, FL church which goes by the ill-fitting name of Dove World Outreach Center, is the gift that just keeps on giving. He seems to throw crybaby tantrums almost regularly. His antics over burning Qur’ans are legendary … so legendary that they’ve triggered numerous riots and murders on the other side of the world in Afghanistan. He seethes with anger over the fact that there is such a thing as Islam and that there are Muslims who dare believe in that religion, and reject his own militant fundamentalist Christianity.

It seems, though, that — in spite of his ferocious rage over the existence of Islam — Jones has managed to find a new enemy to bluster and fume about: President Barack Obama. The Smoking Gun reports that Jones and his church have hung the president in effigy, over this support for abortion rights and gay marriage (WebCite cached article):

The Florida pastor who ignited an international furor by threatening to burn a pile of Korans has applied his subtle touch to the 2012 presidential campaign by constructing a gallows from which a likeness of President Barack Obama now hangs in effigy.

The display in the front yard of Terry Jones’s Dove World Outreach Center (DWOC) in Gainesville features a dummy wearing an Obama mask hanging from a yellow noose. Along with an American flag and a rainbow-striped gay pride flag, the scene includes an Uncle Sam dummy and a child’s doll hanging from the right hand of the Obama figure.

Nearby, the words “Obama is Killing America” are printed on a trailer. So, it appears, the creepy Jones is returning the favor.

Here’s the picture itself:

Display in front yard of Dove World Outreach Center, Gainesville, FL (The Smoking Gun)

Setting aside the question of whether or not this constitutes a threat to the president’s life — something the Secret Service will no doubt look into, and probably decide it’s not — it’s true that the First Amendment means Jones can do this. But it’s also true that this is clearly a political message, and that runs counter to the DWOC’s tax-exempt status (since all tax-exempt institutions, religious or not, are precluded from engaging in politicking, as the price they must pay for that tax exemption). Folks around the Web have commented that the IRS will surely look into it, and take away their exemption. I doubt it will come to that, however; the IRS has only rarely done this to religious groups, so the odds are very much in Jones’s favor.

Rightists have also noted that Leftist outrage over this is misplaced and hypocritical, since just a few years ago, Leftist demonstrators hung G.W. Bush and Dick Cheney in effigy. While I’m sure Rightists find this kind of “two wrongs make a right” thinking emotionally satisfying, the real question here is whether or not Jones and his church did something they knew they shouldn’t have (i.e. engage in politicking). It’s pretty clear it wasn’t (and I’m saying that, even assuming the IRS will choose to do nothing about it). Rightists ought to exhibit more integrity than that.

Photo credits: Top, bbaunach, via Flickr; center, The Smoking Gun.

Hat tip: Mark at Skeptics & Heretics Forum on Delphi Forums.

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DSC00777Pastor John Hagee is the well-known pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio. He’s a fire-&-brimstone megapreacher of the charismatic-fundamentalist sort. He also happens to be anti-Catholic, and despite being a vocal Christian Zionist, is also anti-Semitic. Yet, for reasons not well understood by observers of Christianity such as myself, he’s widely respected among the Religious Right, and Republican candidates fawn over him, knowing that R.R. voters will do whatever he tells them to without giving it a thought.

As one would expect, therefore, Hagee is also a militant Christianist, and a vehement and devoted Christian Nationer. Naturally, he subscribes to the idea that the United States exists only for Christians, and that others … especially atheists … need to leave. In fact, he stated this explicitly recently, as recorded on video and as reported by Right Wing Watch (WebCite cached version):

Tomorrow, June 6, will be the 68th anniversary of the D-Day invasion at Normandy and Pastor John Hagee used his sermon this past Sunday to reflect upon the sacrifices made on this day … and also to tell atheists to get out of America “if our belief in God offends you” because they are not wanted and won’t be missed while also calling on Congress to “outlaw the practice of witchcraft and Satanism in the US military, lest we offend the God of Heaven”

This video, in case you want to watch his ferocious sanctimonious delivery, is available on Youtube:

Oh how the poor little thing just can’t handle that those insidious and insolent atheists dare tread on his own personal and only-Christian domain, the United States! How awful it must be for him to have to put up with their presence … not to mention the presence of Satanists and witches in the military! Why, it’s an abomination that can’t be tolerated for one more second!!!!

Although I’m not a atheist, nor am I a Satanist or witch or warlock, I am nevertheless a committed non-believer, especially in Hagee’s dour, vicious and intolerant religion; so I’ll take Hagee up on his dare. Pastor Hagee, I dare you to come find me — the cold-hearted, skeptical, godless agnostic heathen that I am — and throw me out of your precious Christian country. If you are really as angry as you seem about the presence of atheists in your precious Christian nation, then you have absolutely no reason not to do so immediately. Come on. Do it. I won’t complain, and I won’t stop you. Just throw me out of your country.

If you refuse my challenge, that will only demonstrate you’re nothing but a pathetic, vile, cowardly little troll who can’t and won’t live up to his own stated ideals.

P.S. Again, I’m aware that RWW is an ideologically-driven site, but I’m using their story as a source since they provided primary-source material (i.e. the video).

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: The Jewish Agency for Israel, via Flickr.

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