Archive for the “Separation of church and state” Category

Specifically concerning separation of church and state in the U.S.

'Veracicat has checked your facts and is not impressed with your lies' / PsiCop graphic, based on Davis, the anti-gay-marriage county clerk from Kentucky, having contrived to martyr herself is still angling for a second career as a Christianist pundit/lecturer/author. Toward that end, as Raw Story explains, she had an interview on (where the fuck else?) Fox News, with Megyn Kelly (WebCite cached article):

“When the legal challenges ended up not going in your favor, many people have asked, why not just resign at that point?” Kelly asked.

“If I resign I lose my voice,” Davis replied.

Thus, we see why Ms Davis has remained both defiant and on the job: She doesn’t want to lose the spotlight. It’s the only way she can spread her gospel of anti-gay hatred.

While this is quite a revelation … and it demonstrates how truly selfish she’s being … that’s not the part of her interview I’m most concerned about. There’s another little snippet (emphasis mine):

“It has been about upholding the word of God and how God defined marriage from the very beginning of time,” [Davis] insisted.

Please take note of this. It’s a commonly-repeated Christianist canard that God has “always” defined marriage as only “one-man-&-one-woman.” They love to say it over and over and over again.

There’s just one tiny little problem with it: If you look at their own scripture, you easily see that it’s not fucking true!

You see, as I noted long ago, marriage in the Bible comes in more than one form. The following Biblical figures all had marriages decidedly not of the one-man-&-one-woman variety:

Abraham: Married Sarah (Gen 16:1), then took as additional wives Hagar (Gen 16:3) and later Keturah (Gen 25:1).

Jacob: Married Leah (Gen 29:23), then Rachel (Gen 29:28), then Bilhah (Gen 30:4), then Zilpah (Gen 30:9).

Moses: Married Zipporah (Ex 2:21), then an unnamed Ethiopian woman (Num 12:1).

David: His named wives were Michal (1 Sam 18:27), Abigail (1 Sam 25:39), Ahinoam (1 Sam 25:43), Eglah, Abital, Haggith, & Maacah (2 Sam 3:3-5); and Bathsheba (2 Sam 12:24); there were an unknown number of other wives as well (2 Sam 5:13).

Solomon: Had 700 wives plus 300 concubines (1 Kg 11:3)

There are many more I could have listed, but didn’t. Yes, folks, Biblical marriage included polygamy and even concubinage! Granted, all of this is in the Old Testament, which some Christians will say doesn’t apply to them any more. (Except for the parts of it they say do still apply.) But really, whether it not it applies to them personally, cannot and will never make Ms Davis’s statement that “God defined marriage from the very beginning of time” as being only one-man-&-one-woman. It is, quite simply, flat-out untrue. A lie. A big fat fucking lie, in fact, since it’s so easy to verify as untrue! All one has to do is open up a fucking Bible and look at the words, fercryinoutloud.

However, as they like to say in infomercials, “But wait; there’s more!”

Looking at the New Testament, we see a pair of interesting admonitions. In 1 Tim 3:2 we see that overseers (aka bishops) must be men married to only one woman. Just ten verses later, in 1 Tim 3:12, we find that deacons also must be men married to one woman. The reason I call these instructions “interesting” is not just in what they say, but in what they don’t. That is, these requirements don’t apply to all Christians. They apply only to deacons and bishops. It’s quite possible, then, that some of the men in early Christian congregations — like many of the patriarchs and Hebrew monarchs before them — might have had multiple wives. The only problem for them was that they couldn’t be deacons or bishops. Otherwise they were Christians in good standing.

This, too, shows Ms Davis and her militant Christianist cohorts are lying when they said their deity had always declared marriage to be only of the one-man-&-one-woman sort. It’s just not true … not for the Biblical monarchs and patriarchs, and not even for the first few generations of Christians.

Now, that these presumably-devout Christians would lie for their Jesus is understandable, and par for the course. They lie for Jesus because they think they have to, because they should, and because they think they’ve got a special license to do so. They have no problem with it. But … I don’t understand why people in the media to whom they speak never summon the courage to challenge them on it. As I point out above, that’s remarkably easy to do. All that’s needed is a handy copy of the Bible to show them chapter-&-verse in which there were polygamous marriages, then ask them how they can say their God “always” defined marriage as one-man-&-one-woman. Megyn Kelly may work for the Religious Right’s house organ, but that isn’t really a justifiable excuse for her not to do her job. And it certainly can’t explain why journalists and interviewers from other outlets never issue the same challenge.

I’m happy to introduce Ms Davis to membership in my “lying liars for Jesus” club. She has lots of friends there already, so I know she’ll be happy. But she and her fellow Christofascists shouldn’t be granted carte blanche to lie as often as they want by the media. That’s got to fucking stop. Journalists need to grow up, and grow a pair, then do what they should. Period.

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On the heels of presidential candidate Ben Carson’s idiotic Islamophobic yammering, and my release of a static page on this blog explaining what the Great Neocrusade is and what’s wrong with it, the furious Christofascist Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council repeated that Muslims don’t have freedom of religion in the US. Right Wing Watch reports on his claim, and includes audio (WebCite cached article):

On his “Washington Watch” radio program yesterday, Perkins repeated his claim that Islam is not protected under the U.S. Constitution.

While discussing GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson’s recent statement that he would never support a Muslim candidate for president, along with the claims of Kim Davis’ critics that a clerk would never receive such praise from the Religious Right had she been a Muslim, Perkins railed against media commentators for “interjecting” Islam “into all of these discussions.” He said that the media is using Islam as a “wedge” to divide conservatives, suggesting that Kim Davis’ decision to impose her Christian beliefs onto her county office was different because Islam is not protected in the Constitution, while Christianity is.

“Religious freedom and our liberty is ordered liberty under the Constitution,” Perkins said. “And as Dr. Carson pointed out, and I know this is driving the left crazy, that Islam is not just a religion, Islam is an economic system, it is a judicial system, it is a compressive system which is incompatible with the Constitution. That’s what Dr. Carson said and he happens to be correct.”

This isn’t the first time Tony-boy has said something like this. I noted he said pretty much the same thing just about a year ago. He hasn’t changed his tune a bit since then, I see. But just as was the case back then, Tony-boy is a blatant fucking hypocrite, decrying Islam as “an economic system” and “a judicial system” in addition to being a religion. He conveniently ignores that his own Religious Right movement is simultaneously religious, political, economic, and judicial. For Tony-boy to say Muslims can’t be granted religious freedom because their religion has certain features, but not admitting to them within his own religion — which he says does enjoy religious liberty — is hypocritical. Which he’s not allowed to do, since his own Jesus clearly, unambiguously, and explicitly forbid his followers ever to be hypocrites, at any time or for any reason. He simply can’t do it!

As I’ve noted repeatedly, the problem here is that the Religious Right views Islam as its main rival, on a global scale at least. That it’s a small minority religion here in the US, and that it does seem to have a propensity for violent extremes at the moment, makes Muslims here a convenient and ready target. That doesn’t mean all Muslims are dangerous, even though Tony-boy and his fellow Neocrusaders keep insisting that’s so. They forget there is such a thing as Christian terrorism, too. So yeah, that’s another example of Religious Right hypocrisy … condemning Islam as a “terrorist” religion, but ignoring the terrorists within their own faith. Nice, eh? Fucking hypocrites.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

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Godfrey in his siege tower at the Assault on Jerusalem, July 15, 1099. By Anonymous ([1][2]) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsI’ve just posted a static page on what I call the Great Neocrusade, a movement which comprises a large part of the Religious Right in the US and whose goal is to eradicate Islam from the country, and then the rest of the world. I first called attention to it — and gave it that name — some five years ago. Since then, this foolish and childish effort hasn’t abated one bit.

Along the way, Neocrusaders have done a lot of idiotic things, such as passing laws forbidding shari’a (or Islamic) law, even though the US Constitution already forbids imposing religious law on Americans. They’ve also done some much more harmful things, such as destroying mosques, and even threatening churches under construction merely because they appear to be mosques.

As a student of the Middle Ages, I know quite well how the original Crusades worked out. In short, they didn’t — at all! They were a sequence of expeditions that spanned two centuries, which collectively ended in dismal failure. Yes, I said a failure … in spite of the fact that the First Crusade had apparently succeeded, with the capture of Antioch in 1098, Jerusalem in 1099, and Tripoli in 1109. (The Crusaders also seized Edessa in 1098, but that had long been a Christian city under Armenian leadership, and they got it via betrayal rather than war. Woops!) Edessa had fallen by 1144, Jerusalem by 1187, Antioch in 1268, and Tripoli in 1289, and were at last driven from the Holy Land in 1303 with the fall of their last fort on the island of Arwad.

Undertaking a modern version of a Crusade … albeit not as overtly military as before … seems stunningly foolish — at least, to those who haven’t done what the Religious Right has done, which is to redefine the medieval Crusades as a glorious and morally-upright effort to save Christendom from annihilation (cached) by attacking Saracens thousands of miles away and who were no threat to them. Really, there’s no way a religion with as large a worldwide presence as Islam has could be eradicated from the United States. Not only is it unconstitutional even to try, it simply can’t work! No sane person ought to attempt any such thing.

But clearly we’re not dealing with people who are altogether “sane.” They’ve been driven mad by their rage, and they’re not capable of thinking clearly. They naïvely think that getting rid of Islam will get rid of terrorism and thus make them safe; but this reasoning ignores the uncomfortable reality that there’s terrorism within the ranks of Christianity in the US, which will continue even if the Neocrusaders somehow manage to toss all Muslims out of the country.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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US Courthouse at CovingtonI was sure Kim Davis, the anti-gay clerk of Rowan county, KY who was briefly jailed for defying a federal judge’s order to issue marriage licenses, wasn’t done trying to derail the process. And it turns out, I was right: She isn’t done! As the Associated Press reports, she may have disobeyed the judge’s orders once again (WebCite cached article):

A Kentucky county clerk may have again defied a federal judge’s order regarding gay-marriage licenses by altering license forms to remove her name, an attorney who represents one of the clerk’s employees told the judge Friday in a court filing.

In a separate filing Friday, attorneys for the gay couples who sued Davis appear to agree.…

[A]ttorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union said in a court filing that the changes on the form require [deputy clerk Brian] Mason to issue the licenses “in his capacity as a ‘notary public’ rather than a deputy clerk of the Rowan County Clerk’s Office,” changes that “do not comply” with the court’s order to not interfere with her employees who issue the licenses.

“These alterations call into question the validity of the marriage licenses issued,” the attorneys wrote in a footnote to a motion asking the judge to certify the case as a class-action lawsuit. “Plaintiffs are exploring legal options to address these material alterations.”

State law requires marriage licenses to be issued under the authority of the county clerk. Someone else, a minister or other officiant, then performs the ceremony and signs the license. The clerk then files the license with county records.

I can’t help but view Ms Davis’s behavior as that of a toddler who, when given an instruction by an adult, creatively searches for ways to manipulate or circumvent the instruction, repeatedly pushing the boundaries of what she’s allowed to do. It really is very childish.

I note, too, that the judge in this case — despite his willingness to jail Ms Davis for a few days — hasn’t been very helpful regarding the licenses themselves:

[David] Bunning, the federal judge, has said he does not know if the licenses are valid and it was up to the gay couples to take that chance.

This waffling aligns with the fact that he caved in to Religious Right pressure and released her. How nice.

This is all very typical of how the Religious Right operates. Even when they know they no longer have any legal leg to stand on, they consistently and repeatedly refuse to bend to reality. They cannot and will never cave in … not willingly, anyway. No matter what happens, they resist … and they resist some more … and they resist even more after that … and they just keep on resisting, resisting, and resisting, forever more. They’ll never stop, until they either get their way, or die off. This is one of the reasons for their success … they wear down their opponents, who eventually get tired and surrender to their demands. So one can hardly fault them for using a successful tactic. Still, that they’d continue waging fights like this one, even after they’d lost the war, shows how irrational and childish they are.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: Talking Points Memo.

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Help! Help! I'm being repressed! (Dennis the constitutional peasant, Monty Python & the Holy Grail)Militant Christianists have fallen all over each other rushing to praise Rowan county KY clerk Kim Davis for what they think is her “brave” resistance to gay marriage. They’ve called her a modern-day Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr, and even Abraham Lincoln. During last night’s GOP presidential primary debate, Rick Santorum did that one better … he compared Ms Davis to a presumed Christian martyr. Raw Story reports on what this raging Christofascist said (WebCite cached article):

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum argued on Wednesday that Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis’ persecution for being a Christian was similar to shooting victims of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre.

“Sixteen years ago this country was tremendously inspired by a young woman who faced a gunman in Columbine and was challenged about her faith and she refused to deny God,” Santorum explained during the CNN presidential debate. “We saw her as a hero.”

Rickie-boy was referring to the story of Cassie Bernall. Christians have often repeated the story that, during the massacre, one of the Columbine slaughterers asked her if she was a Christian, she proudly said “Yes,” then she was shot and killed. This story fits neatly in with Christians’ age-old tendency to view themselves as “persecuted” and it makes them feel all warm inside to think some girl voluntarily decided to accept certain death for Jesus.

There’s just one problem with this story: It never happened!

That’s right, folks, this tale of a Christian martyrdom — despite being oft-repeated within Christian circles — is a big fat fucking lie. It was actually debunked long ago, as CNN reported back in 2009, but Christians like Rickie-boy don’t appear to have gotten the memo (cached):

For example, many in the media initially reported that 17-year-old Cassie Bernall, a Christian, answered “yes” when asked if she believed in God before she was shot to death. She became a poster child for the Evangelical movement after her death. But investigators and student witnesses later told Cullen that it was another student, Valeen Schnurr, who avowed her belief in God as she was shot. Schnurr survived.

Look, I understand why Christians like to tell martyrdom stories. Theirs is a religion founded by a martyr (i.e. Jesus). Since the earliest days of the faith, they’ve viewed martyrdom as an ideal that all Christians should aspire to. A desire to be persecuted for Jesus is, therefore, embedded deep within the psychopathology of their religion. It’s an impulse they find irresistible.

Still, that can’t excuse their tendency to lie in order to support their martyrdom narrative. They shouldn’t fabricate examples of “persecution for Jesus” solely in order to tell each other they’re being persecuted for Jesus. Because in the 21st century US, no such thing is happening! In this case, Kim Davis isn’t really the Christian martyr she and her champions, like Santorum, want us to think she is. Really, she’s nothing more than a raging, sanctimonious, Puritanical bigot. That’s all.

Photo credit: PsiCop graphic, based on Monty Python & the Holy Grail.

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Rowan County, kentucky courthouseI’ve blogged several times about militant Christianist Rowan county clerk Kim Davis, who — after the Obergefell v. Hodges decision was handed down by the US Supreme Court — refuses to issue any marriage licenses at all, because she feared catching gay cooties by granting licenses to gay couples. She managed to turn her juvenile petulance into a Religious Right crusade, mainly by getting the Christofascist legal outfit Liberty Counsel to represent her. Having refused to obey a federal judge’s order to resume issuing licenses, she was jailed for contempt of court, but then released when said judge caved in to the Religious Right protests that erupted.

Today was Ms Davis’s first day back at work. As NPR reports, she’s as petulant and whiny as ever, although she hasn’t prevented her staff from handing out licenses (WebCite cached article):

Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, is back to work today — saying she will neither authorize such licenses nor stand in the way of her deputies if they wish to do so.

And, the first couple to apply for a license at the county clerk’s office Monday — Shannon Wampler and Carmen Collins — walked out the door with one.…

Her decision was clear, she said: “Effective immediately, and until an accommodation is provided, by those with the authority to provide it, any marriage license issued by my office will not be issued or authorized by me.”…

Davis said she had “great doubts” that such licenses could be considered valid.

I noted quite some time ago that Ms Davis and her lawyers have insisted any marriage licenses issued by anyone working for Rowan county won’t be valid, because she hasn’t authorized them. I expect something to come from this … but I have no idea what that could be (because I’m not sure what legal means exist which allows Ms Davis or her lawyers to contest the licenses that have been handed out). All I can say is, I don’t believe for one moment that they plan to just let the matter drop. Those couples had better have good attorneys of their own, because Liberty Counsel will come after them, if they can contrive any way to do so.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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White FlagOne of the Religious Right’s main tactics is a very simple and direct one: Intimidation. They relentlessly bully their opposition at every turn. They never let up, not for any reason, until they get their way. Unfortunately, this is a tactic that works, all too often, because those opposing them typically lose their nerve at some point and drop the fight. This is precisely what just happened in the case of Rowan county KY clerk Kim Davis; as the New York Times reports, she was released from jail today (WebCite cached article):

Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed last week after she defied a court’s order that she issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, was ordered released on Tuesday.…

[Federal district] Judge [David L.] Bunning ordered that Ms. Davis “shall not interfere in any way, directly or indirectly, with the efforts of her deputy clerks to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples.” He said any such action would be regarded as “a violation” of his release order.

That this would happen was virtually a given, once the R.R. — captained by the likes of Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Mat Staver, “Flip” Benham, and an assortment of other militant Christianist characters — had made the whole affair into a fucking circus (cached and cached). It was inevitable that Judge Bunning would bend over for this Christofascist mob. Yes, he ordered her not to interfere with the distribution of marriage licenses, but she doesn’t intend to obey him; her lawyer has said she plans to stop the granting of licenses (cached). And that, you may remember, has been her goal all along. Once she does so, she’ll have scored a victory. And on top of it all, she’ll have made herself a martyr, and will be able to milk that as a career, no matter how her tenure as a county clerk turns out.

At some point, people need to figure out how to “gird up their loins” (to use a Biblical phrase) and stand up to the R.R. consistently, without caving in all the time. Unfortunately, cowardice is far too deeply ingrained in human nature to allow that to happen. More’s the pity.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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