Planet Earth — The word “atheist,” having endured many attacks over the past several years, has finally passed away. It was pronounced dead by one Frank Schaeffer, son of the late Francis Schaeffer, one of the co-founders of the Religious Right movement.
The younger Schaeffer — a believer, but no longer the Religious Rightist his father had been — made this pronouncement in the form of a book, Why I Am an Atheist Who Believes in God (WebCite cached article). This was only the last in a long series of bullying campaigns intended to make the word “atheist” go away and not make itself known any more. But prior to the believer Schaeffer pronouncing the word “atheist” dead, a particular cadre of non-believers had been engaged in the same activity. They had done so in order to make it appear that everyone is actually an “atheist,” thus forcing the term to lose its meaning.
The word “atheist” leaves behind a state of confusion, because its demise makes it more difficult for anyone to explain the extent and nature of his/her non-belief. Fewer words are now available for that purpose.
The word “atheist” is also survived by “agnostic,” “freethinker,” and “secularist,” all in the same family as “atheist,” yet each known for its independent streak.
The word “atheist” had a very long pedigree, having been applied in ancient times to figures such as Socrates, Democritus, and Epicurus, and more recently to great thinkers such as Richard Feynman, Alan Turing, Isaac Asimov, and plenty of others. All of these and many more will no longer be remembered as “atheists,” even if they’ll still all be recalled for their individual achievements in philosophy, the sciences, mathematics, and literature.
Hat tip: J.T. at Apathetic Agnostic Church.
Photo credit: PsiCop graphic, based on Ocal, via Clker.Com.
, frank schaeffer
, the word atheist
, why i am an atheist who believes in god
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Lots of gay-haters and ardent religionists in Europe — and in the rest of the world — have got their knickers tied in knots over a drag queen winning the Eurovision Song Contest for 2014. Apparently this sort of thing just isn’t allowed to happen … but now that it has, cataclysm has ensued. Supposedly. Among those who’ve thrown tantrums over it, was the Russian government, which forbade holding a parade in the winner’s honor (WebCite cached article).
Yeah, it was that important. I guess.
In light of titanic flooding in the Balkans (cached), the (UK) Guardian reports some Orthodox Church officials have decided the outcome of this year’s Eurovision contest had to have been the cause (cached):
Conchita Wurst is responsible for flooding that left over 50 people dead earlier this month, church leaders in the Balkans have claimed.
The Austrian drag artist, whose real name is Thomas Neuwirth, seized international attention after winning Eurovision 2014 with his hit Rise Like a Phoenix.
However, several church leaders have now claimed the recent devastating flooding across the Balkans, which was the worst in a century and left over 50 people dead, was “divine punishment” for Conchita’s victory.
“This [flood] is not a coincidence, but a warning,” Patriarch Amfilohije of Montenegro said, according to e.novine.com [cached]. “God sent the rains as a reminder that people should not join the wild side.”
Patriarch Irinej, the spiritual leader of Eastern Orthodox Serbs, reportedly said the floods were “divine punishment for their vices” and that “God is thus washing Serbia of its sins”.
This is a classic example of shoehorning, and is also an application of what I call disaster theology, and what Julie Mason of Sirius XM calls “disasterbating.”
Such reasoning is a hallmark of arrogant, sanctimonious religionists who think the entire universe revolves around them and their beliefs. It hasn’t occurred to these pompous assholes that a drag queen winning Eurovision has nothing to do with them, their deity, or their religion … because in their eyes, nothing that ever happens anywhere in the cosmos could possibly fail to have something to do with them and their faith.
I have to say, these guys are far too old to be acting like infants. It’s long past time they grew the fuck up, for the first time in their lives, and stopped sniveling and whining about things that, really, are none of their goddamn business.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Tags: conchita wurst
, disaster theology
, divine punishment
, drag queen
, eastern orthodox church
, eurovision 2014
, eurovision contest
, eurovision song contest
, metropolitan amfilohije
, patriarch irinej
, serbian orthodox church
, thomas neuwirth
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Sometimes when I post about a new revelation in the over-a-decade-old-but-still-going worldwide Catholic clerical abuse scandal, a correspondent will contact me and complain that I’m “picking on the Catholic Church.” Each time, I patiently point out that this just isn’t fucking true … as it turns out, I’ve blogged many times about the abuse of children — by personnel from other Christian sects, from other religions, and even from non-religious institutions.
Not one of those correspondents has ever replied by conceding this point. Apparently Catholic apologists don’t have the courage or maturity to admit when they’re wrong. (This is OK; I actually expect it. The experimentally-observed, and apparently powerful, psychological phenomenon called the backfire effect essentially prevents them from doing so, and even entrenches them in their lie, in spite of the fact that they’ve been corrected. They quite literally cannot help themselves, being mired as they are in their own delusional universe. It’s sad, to be sure, but quite understandable.)
In any event, it brings me no joy to post again on this subject. It’s absolutely true that child abuse — and covering up for it — is not solely a Catholic problem. The Christian Post recently reported on yet another example of the horrific combination of a child abuser and superiors in a charismatic church who shielded him from prosecution for years (WebCite cached article):
A megachurch pastor confessed to covering up sexual abuse claims during this week’s trial of a youth leader accused of molesting several boys. Nathaniel Morales, 56, was convicted Thursday of sexually abusing three young boys between 1983 and 1991.
Covenant Life Church former pastor Grant Layman admitted on Tuesday while testifying about allegations against Nathaniel Morales that he withheld incriminating information from the police about the abuse.
Public defender Alan Drew asked Layman if he had an “obligation to report the alleged abuse?”
“I believe so,” he replied.
“And you didn’t?” asked Drew, to which Layman responded “no.”
Morales’s abuse of children in his care went on for years … and so, too, did the cover-up by his superiors at Covenant Life Church:
According to Brent Detwiler, who attended the trial and is a former Sovereign Grace pastor who now runs a watchdog blog about the ministry of which Covenant Life Church was part of until 2012, Layman acknowledged that over the course of 1992 he learned that Morales had abused two boys, but did not go to authorities with these claims.
Detwiler added [cached] that the father of two of the boys “contacted the Covenant Life pastoral team again in 2007 when he learned that Morales was a pastor in Las Vegas, Nevada. The entire pastoral team talked about how to handle the situation with Morales. Layman was given the assignment to contact Morales. Layman talk to Morales by phone. During this conversation Morales admitted to the sexual abuse of boys but claimed he couldn’t remember the details. None of the pastors at Covenant Life Church reported this confession of sex abuse to the police. They knew Morales was a serial and predatory sex abuser.”
Covenant Life Church is part of a clique of apparent evangelical churches known as Sovereign Grace Ministries. The CP article goes on to describe some of SGM’s inner machinations. I can’t be sure whether or not this church is still part of SGM.
In any event, it’s clear that this sort of thing goes on in all kinds of human institutions. A desire to protect one’s associates and the reputation of one’s “tribe” — even at the risk of allowing harm to others — is a compulsion deeply embedded in human nature. It’s something a lot of folks just can’t help. That said, in the case of religions like Christianity which supposedly promote high morals, there can be no excuse for it. Anyone who claims to follow a profoundly moral deity whose teachings demand the highest moral conduct, cannot fall back on the excuse that “I couldn’t help myself” or “But I didn’t know any better.” Evangelical churches like CLF teach absolute morality. They leave no room for ignorance, evasions, or excuses.
Of course, having said that, I’m not kidding myself about this. Of course these guys will likely fall back on their old saying that “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” This grants them license to do anything they want, whenever they want, maybe cry a little when they’re caught doing wrong (cached), but then claim it’s no big deal that they refused to obey Jesus’ teachings, because — after all — it’s just too hard for the poor little things to actually live according to their religion’s ideals.
For any Christian out there who might not be clear on what’s wrong with purposely allowing children to be preyed upon, for decades, may I suggest s/he shove a crowbar into the Bible s/he long ago slammed shut, and actually read some of it:
But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)
Just stop already with the sniveling, whiny, juvenile excuses; grow the hell up; and start obeying your own claimed religion fercrissakes.
Oh, and it hardly merits mentioning to my Catholic-apologist correspondents not to take be too gleeful about this story. That other churches’ personnel have abused kids and their superiors shielded them, hardly makes it acceptable for the Catholic Church to have done the same. To think so is to fall for “two wrongs make a right” thinking, and that’s fallacious.
Photo credit: Demotivators (defunct).
Tags: brent detweiler
, charismatic church
, charismatic protestant
, child abuse
, clerical child abuse
, clerical pedophilia
, covenant life church
, evangelical protestant
, gaithersburg MD
, grant layman
, it's not just a catholic problem
, matthew 19:14
, mt 19:14
, nathaniel morales
, not just a catholic problem
, sovereign grace ministries
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Poor 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.
Tags: campaign finance
, campaign finance laws
, christian right
, dinesh d'souza
, election fraud
, religious right
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Note: There’s been some news in this case; see below.
Living in Connecticut, I can’t help but hear “Sandy Hook” mentioned now and again. Nearly all such references, of course, are to the Sandy Hook massacre on December 14, 2012 in Newtown, CT. I’ve blogged about the sometimes-crazy aftermath of that atrocity, and while it took place nearly a year and a half ago, it appears still to drive a wedge between certain people (aka “Sandy Hook truthers“) and reality.
The latest example of “Sandy Hook truther” insanity, as reported by the New London Day, took place last week in Mystic, CT (WebCite cached article):
The 50-pound vinyl peace sign that marked the entrance of the new playground built in memory of Grace McDonnell, one of the 20 first-graders who died in the December 2012 shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, was stolen Tuesday.
Then someone claiming to have taken the sign called McDonnell’s mother and told her the sign was gone, said William Lavin, founder of the “Where Angels Play Foundation,” which is building playgrounds to commemorate each of the 20 children and six adults killed at the school.
“There’s still a lot of ignorance and evil out there that someone could do something like that,” Lavin said Wednesday.
He said the caller was a man who claimed the shooting at Sandy Hook was a hoax.
What a mature action on the part of some NRA-deluded gun-toting wingnut! Because we all just know the Sandy Hook massacre was staged, perpetrated by Barack HUSSEIN Obama in order to take away everyone’s guns. That this isn’t what has happened since then, doesn’t appear to have sunk into their thick, sanctimoniously-enraged skulls.
Yes, folks, the country is full of children … many of them well over 21 years old. Keep it up, guys. You have no idea how impressed I am by your maturity. Really!
Photo credit: Motifake.Com/Demotivationalposters.Org.
Update: An arrest has been made in this and another Sandy Hook-related theft. The Washington Post has the improbable story of what led police to a sanctimoniously-enraged Virginia man named Andrew Truelove (cached). It includes some truly disturbing elements (cached).
Tags: andrew truelove
, grace mcdonnell
, herndon VA
, mantoloking NJ
, mystic CT
, sandy hook
, sandy hook elementary school
, sandy hook elementary school shooting
, sandy hook massacre
, sandy hook truth
, sandy hook truther
, sandy hook truthers
, where angels play
, where angels play foundation
, william lavin
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Last year, the US Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of the Town of Greece v. Galloway. Today they released their ruling, and given that it’s a majority-conservative (and, maybe more importantly, majority-Religious-Right) court, they ruled in favor of government agencies leading people in sectarian prayers. CNN reports on the case and the Court’s decision (WebCite cached article):
The Supreme Court gave limited approval on Monday to public prayers at a New York town’s board meetings, citing the country’s history of religious acknowledgment in the legislature.
The 5-4 ruling [cached] came in yet another contentious case over the intersection of faith and the civic arena. It was confined to the specific circumstances and offered few bright-line rules on how other communities should offer civic prayers without violating the Constitution.…
The conservative majority offered varying interpretations of when such “ceremonial” prayers would be permissible. Kennedy, along with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, focused on the specifics of the Greece case and did not offer a broad expansion of legislative prayer.
This mention that the ruling is specific only to Greece, NY is belied by the fact that it is very typical of towns around the country that also open town-council sessions with prayers. I don’t see any way this ruling won’t be expanded to just about every locality and every government agency in the country. At least, I’m not stupid enough to think the nation’s Christofascists aren’t going to use this as a wedge to get prayers into just about every public venue possible, and that they won’t succeed at it.
The really bizarre part of this case is that Christians are explicitly forbidden — by Jesus, the founder of their religion — to pray in public in the first place! The gospels report that he said:
“(But) take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.… When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” (Matthew 6:1,5-6)
I’ve blogged before about Christians’ tendency to disobey Jesus and happily engage in the practice of pubic piety, and even created a static page on the subject, which may be useful if you need more details. In any event, the result is that a lot of Christians went to court to establish a right to government prayers, and the Catholics on the Supreme Court granted them that right … all in very clear violation of what their own Jesus taught! They also love to litigate over Decalogue monuments, which is likewise exceedingly un-Christian. In fact, as I explain at length, there are a lot of Jesus’ instructions that Christians historically have refused to follow.
I note that Justice Kennedy relies upon an appeal to tradition in order to support what the town of Greece was doing. The US was historically Christian, he’s saying, therefore it’s fine to ram Christianity down all Americans’ throats. The problem with this is that appeals to tradition are fallacious. Just because something was done in the past, doesn’t make it a great idea forevermore. For instance, humanity had a long history of slavery, which was even legal for the first decades of this country; that long tradition, however, doesn’t mean we should reinstitute slavery. I’m not sure Justice Kennedy realizes he’s following this line of reasoning, but in fact, he is.
The bottom line here, is that America’s Christianists have finally won the right to force everyone … Christian and non-Christian alike … to pray to their own deity. I wish them the best of luck forcing me to pray with them. I invite them to track me down and give it their best shot! It won’t work, but they’re certainly welcome to try. Obviously they feel it’s important that every American pray to their Jesus; thus they have no rational reason not to do their utmost to make this American do so. So have at it, Christianists! Do your worst! What are you waiting for?
Photo credit: PsiCop original graphic, based on Mt 6:6, NASB.
, greece NY
, matthew 6:5-6
, matthew 6:6
, mt 6:5-6
, mt 6:6
, public prayer
, public prayers
, supreme court
, town of greece
, town of greece v galloway
, us supreme court
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It’s been coming for months now. In office only just over a year, Pope Francis … with his retired direct predecessor Benedict XVI on hand … today canonized two of the most famous popes of the twentieth century, if not of all time: John XXIII and John Paul II. The New York Times reports on this canonization rite and some of its ramifications (WebCite cached article):
Pope Francis made history on Sunday, elevating to sainthood John XXIII and John Paul II, two of his most famous papal predecessors, in a ceremony bearing themes of hope and reconciliation for the world’s one billion Roman Catholics.…
Francis, who made the decision to hold the joint canonization, portrayed the two former popes as “men of courage” who shared a place in history.…
Never before had two popes been canonized at the same time, and the pairing attracted large, joyous crowds tramping through Rome, with many people waving flags or banners. Francis declared the two men saints shortly after the Mass began, a pronouncement greeted with rising applause from the square and followed by the presentation of relics linked to the two new saints.…
Notable among the cardinals and political leaders seated near the outdoor altar was Benedict XVI, the former pope who has remained largely out of the public eye since his historic resignation last year. His decision to step down led to the papal election of Francis.
As the Times explains, the Vatican has been veering away from the (rather obvious) appearances evoked by this unprecedented event:
In the days before the ceremony, however, Vatican officials had sought to dispel the political subtext of the event — that the two former popes are icons to different constituencies within the church, and that by canonizing them together, Francis was making a political statement as well as a religious one.
John XXIII is a hero to many liberal Catholics for his Second Vatican Council of the early 1960s, which sought to open the church to the modern era. John Paul II is a hero to many conservative Catholics — not only for his anti-Communist heroism and personal charisma, but also because of his resistance to liberalizing elements of the church.
By pairing their canonizations, Francis sought to de-emphasize their differences, many analysts said, in the service of trying to reconcile divisions within the church and finding consensus as he prepared for the meetings, known as synods, centered on the theme of family.
I for one do not, for a single moment, buy into the idea that this couldn’t have been a way for Francis to appeal simultaneously to both the liberal/reformist and conservative/reactionary factions of his Church. Both factions were sure to be pleased by the elevation to sainthood of each of their most recognizable recent leaders. There’s just no way around it; the Vatican’s efforts to insist differently, are simply not credible.
A lot of ink has been spilt … and bits transmitted … concerning the unusual speed of John Paul’s canonization and the lack of two miracles to support John’s. For instance, Religion News Service asks why their canonizations were so speedy (cached):
Yet despite the vast popularity of the two popes, there is intense debate about whether these canonizations are nothing more than an elaborate public relations exercise — and whether they should be taking place at all.
John Paul II will hold the record for the fastest saint to be canonized in the history of the Catholic Church [sic]. John XXIII is even more controversial since Pope Francis approved his canonization with evidence of only one miracle — instead of the two normally required.
“It’s controversial among the saint makers at the Vatican, who consider themselves sticklers when it comes to the miracle requirement,” said longtime Vatican watcher John Thavis, author of “The Vatican Diaries.”
The article is incorrect when it says John Paul was canonized sooner after his death than any other saint (which is why I put a “sic” after that sentence above). Both St Anthony of Padua and St Peter of Verona, for example, were canonized much more quickly … each less than a year after their deaths, around 20 years apart during the 13th century. Despite this error, it’s true John Paul’s canonization is the quickest to have occurred in modern times. Moreover, consider as a comparison the protracted elevation of the Martyrs of Otranto: Killed in 1480, they were beatified just under 3 centuries later in 1771, and finally canonized almost 250 years after that, in 2013. Overall, their canonization took over 5 centuries to happen. The just-over-9-year span between John Paul’s death and canonization is a drop in the bucket, when viewed alongside that.
The Vatican and Church officials have, so far, defended these actions (i.e. John Paul’s quick elevation and John’s elevation without a second miracle) as proper within the boundaries of canon law and Church rules. For all I know, they may be correct about that. However, these moves are definitely unusual for a Church that’s known for not moving very fast on anything and for being fiercely legalistic about everything it does. To say otherwise is fucking laughable.
Photo credit: Andreas Solaro/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images, via the NY Times.
, catholic church
, holy see
, pope francis
, pope john paul ii
, pope john xxiii
, roman catholic
, roman catholic church
, vatican city
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