Rick Santorum lowering his head to pray at an Arizona Republican Party fundraiser in Phoenix, Arizona / Gage Skidmore, via FlickrAdd former Pennsylvania Senator — and current back-of-the-pack GOP presidential candidate — Rick Santorum to the list of militant Christianists who claim Islam isn’t really a religion and therefore isn’t protected by the Bill of Rights — which, ironically, was ratified 224 years ago this very day (WebCite cached article). Mediate reports on the Rickster’s idiotic Christofascist blather (cached):

Santorum even argued that Islamic principles are not entitled to complete religious protections due to the religion’s embrace of beliefs that are fundamentally incompatible with the Constitution.

“Islam is different. I mean that sincerely, Islam is not just a religion,” Santorum said. “It is a political governing structure. The fact of the matter is, Islam is a religion, but it is also Sharia law, a civil government, a form of government. So the idea that that is protected under the First Amendment is wrong.

Note Rickie’s yammering and whining about shari’a law. He presumes it’s part and parcel of Islam and that anyone who follows that religion is obliged to follow shari’a law as well. He forgets two important things: First, there is no single entity known as shari’a law … different sects and cultures view it differently; and not all Muslims, even devout ones, want to live by any form of shari’a law at all (many came to places like the US and Europe specifically in order to get away from it).

Like many Christofascists Rickie-boy employs his own subjective definition of “Islam” in order to argue that Islam is something other than a religion and therefore isn’t entitled to the religious freedom provisions of US law. It’s a ridiculous premise, of course, but these folk are so sanctimoniously outraged that Islam exists — and that there are actually Muslims still living in the world! — that they just can’t control themselves long enough to understand how fucking childish they are. They view Islam as Christianity’s main rival, on a global scale, and simply can’t get over that some people prefer it to their faith.

About the only thing I agree with the Rickster about is that, as far as I know, barring Muslims from entering the country isn’t specifically unconstitutional. Yes, it would be stupid. It would paint people with far too broad a brush. It would be difficult to enforce; visa applications, as far I’m aware, have no line item for “religion,” but even if they did, people could certainly lie. It would wall off the US from the entire Muslim world, which is enormous. It would, quite simply, be a petulant and childish overreaction to Islamist terror … which could be better handled in other ways. But even with all that said, people who aren’t American citizens and who are trying to enter the country, don’t — as far as I know — have any Constitutional right of entry. (I invite any Constitutional scholars who read this, and think otherwise, to instruct me further on the matter.)

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, via Flickr.

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'Here's the 2015 Capitol Christmas Tree' / House Speaker Paul RyanDid you know that, right here in the good old US of A, there have been efforts underway to “ban references to Christmas”? I hadn’t. Then again, I don’t subscribe to the Religious Right’s (incredibly baseless) belief that there’s a “war on Christmas,” in which “secular progressives” and atheists and agnostics and all sorts of other vile anti-American non-Christians are trying to outlaw Christmas so that, in turn, they can abolish Christianity altogether. I mean, it’s so ridiculous a scenario as to be laughable … if not for the fact that Christians actually believe it and are actually behaving as though it’s true.

A case in point is House resolution 564 proposed by Christianist Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado, which reads (WebCite cached version):

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the symbols and traditions of Christmas should be protected for use by those who celebrate Christmas.

Whereas Christmas is a national holiday celebrated on December 25; and

Whereas the Framers intended that the First Amendment of the Constitution, in prohibiting the establishment of religion, would not prohibit any mention of religion or reference to God in civic dialog: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives–

(1) recognizes the importance of the symbols and traditions of Christmas;

(2) strongly disapproves of attempts to ban references to Christmas; and

(3) expresses support for the use of these symbols and traditions by those who celebrate Christmas.

Yes, that’s right, Rep. Lamborn repeats the militant Christianist lie that there truly are efforts “to ban references to Christmas” in the US. I dare him — or any other of his Christianist ilk — to produce just one piece of proposed legislation, at any level (borough, municipal, county, state or federal) that has ever been offered which does any such thing.

I will assume he and his fellow Christianists would view efforts to keep Christmas out of government as being “bans” along these lines … but they’re not. Even if government officials can’t actively promote Christmas, that doesn’t mean Christians aren’t able to do so in their private lives, in their workplaces (employer permitting), or in their churches. They can — and do! — talk about Christmas endlessly. No one is trying to “ban” that. At all!

Again, and to be clear: Christmas doesn’t need any “protection,” whether from Congress or anyone or anything else. It’s not going anywhere. It’s not being outlawed. Period. If you think otherwise, you’re an idiot and need to grow up already. Yes, that goes for Rep. Lamborn and all the rest of this resolution’s proponents … they desperately need to fucking grow the hell up, too.

Photo credit: Office of House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

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Hep-hep riotsI blogged just a few days ago that the Great Neocrusade — a movement within the Religious Right that I labeled as such a few years ago — had moved from being an instrument of propaganda and Christian apologetics, into outright violence. At the time I specified a number of anti-Mulsim attacks that had taken place, in support of this trend.

Sadly, I must report, this trend continues … and it’s accelerated. Here’s just a sampling of stories over the last couple days:

Even more sadly, it looks as though the violent Neocrusaders aren’t very discriminating. They’ve gone after people who aren’t even Muslims, apparently without even realizing it:

Two notes: This list is not exhaustive! There have been many more anti-Muslim incidents across the country. Second, I acknowledge some of these are victims’ reports, and have yet to be corroborated. Some might turn out to be hoaxes, or may not have been motivated by hatred of Muslims. I will do my best to check these over the next couple of months to verify them.

Yesterday I received angry, private correspondence from someone I presume to be a Neocrusader, accusing me of not realizing that Muslims attacked both Paris and San Bernardino — which I obviously know about, since I blogged about Paris and mentioned San Bernardino; of not “understanding” the nature of the problem and of people’s anger over it — again, I’m obviously aware of that, since I’ve blogged about Islamist terror on countless occasions; and of sympathizing with Islamist terrorists — which also is obviously untrue since I’ve consistently condemned them.

Look, I get it. I do. Really. Honest! Yes, I understand the rage Neocrusaders feel. But I don’t fucking care how much rage seethes inside them! They simply can’t act out on that rage. Grown adults are able to deal with their anger and suppress it, and I expect them to do so. What’s more, the idea that it’s somehow OK to attack innocent Muslims at will, because some terrorists who happen to be Muslim have attacked innocents, is “two wrongs make a right” thinking, and is quite fallacious.

Go ahead, Neocrusaders, be angry, if it makes you feel better to do so. Have at it! Enjoy yourselves. Be as sanctimoniously furious as you want! But … keep it to yourselves. Taking your anger out on others is illegal, and is itself a form of the very same terrorism that got you all enraged in the first place. The better course would be to grow up, suck it up, and fucking control yourselves for once.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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St Patrick's CathedralIt’s not just abuse of children that Roman Catholic hierarchs have been known to cover up. They tend to protect a lot of clerical misbehaviors. Anything that might make their Church look bad, can be something they don’t want to be widely known. An example of this was revealed in a parishioners’ lawsuit against a priest accused of embezzlement, his “boy toy,” and the archdiocese and archbishop whom they accuse of covering it all up. The (NY) Daily News reports on this ambling, sordid tale involving two parishes (WebCite cached article):

Father, forgive him.

A scandalous lawsuit accuses a Bronx priest of looting more than $1 million from a pair of city parishes — then spending the cash on a long-running S&M romance with a muscle-bound boyfriend.

The Rev. Peter Miqueli reportedly paid $1,000 per rough sex session with his hunky lover, who demanded the priest address him as “Master” — and drink his urine, the lawsuit said.

The sex-slave priest and his boy toy have shared a house in Brick, N.J., after Miqueli paid $264,000 cash six years ago, according to the suit.

Miqueli, 53, was also accused of stealing money donated to fix a church pipe organ, siphoning funds from a parish thrift shop and getting high on drugs provided by a Bronx parishioner.…

The suit was filed by parishioners from St. Frances de Chantal Church in Throgs Neck, where Miqueli remains the pastor, and from his old church, St. Francis Cabrini, on Roosevelt Island.

“These charges of theft and misconduct have been made for at least 10 years,” said lawyer Michael Dowd, who represents the two parishes.

“It is unbelievable that the diocese can’t come to a conclusion about the misconduct of Miqueli when there is money missing that may be a million dollars.”

The Daily News offers more details of the accusations, plus the plaintiffs’ assertion that Cardinal Timothy Dolan and the archdiocese helped Fr Miqueli cover up what he’d done. Dolan, you may recall, has something of a history along these lines; back when he’d been archbishop of Milwaukee, he paid off a few abusive priests so they’d quit, rather than turn them over to authorities. He may have viewed Fr Miqueli’s embezzled funds as a kind of “price” the parishes should pay in order to keep this scandal quiet, too.

To be clear, this is a lawsuit, and by itself, the filing proves nothing. Even so, there’s the possibility of corroboration … such as the emails sent to and from the archdiocese by the girlfriend of Fr Miqueli’s lover. We’ll see how this turns out.

Photo credit: Andy Cross, via Flickr.

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Schlacht von ArsufI’ve blogged for years about what I call “the Great Neocrusade,” an effort to outlaw Islam within the US — and once that’s done, perhaps then eradicate it completely from the planet. It’s a campaign ginned up within the Religious Right which has gone from being a “fringe” trope to the mainstream, having recently been overtly embraced even by Republican presidential candidates. Another of those candidates, Donald “it’s his own hair” Trump has decided Muslims should no longer be allowed into the country — until, he says, we’ve “figured out what’s going on, whatever the hell that might mean (WebCite cached article).

If you thought these folk were amped up after the Paris attacks, the shooting in San Bernardino appears to have sent them over the edge (cached). They’re simply not going to stand for those horrible terrorist Muslims living among them any more.

Someone left a severed pig’s head at the door of a Philadelphis mosque (cached). While that’s sickening and vile, though, it’s nothing compared to what else has happened. A Bronx middle-schooler was attacked because she’s a Muslim (cached). A man in Queens was beaten, also, because he too is a Muslim (cached).

In addition to all of the above there have been lots of death threats, often left in the form of voicemails. And a Muslim teen’s death in Seattle may have been an anti-Muslim hate crime, although that case isn’t yet certain (cached).

Yes, the Great Neocrusade has erupted beyond a campaign of mere words and of ridiculous legislative maneuvers that should never have happened, and is now being acted out, physically. Yeah, these are grown-ups we’re supposedly talking about.

Pardon me for pointing this out … but getting into a nationwide pissing contest with other religions over whose followers can be more violent, and whose deity can beat up who else’s deity, isn’t exactly the best way to show off one’s sanctity and righteousness. But then, what could a cold-hearted, cynical, godless agnostic heathen possibly know about such important, holy matters?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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'I'm never alone, they're always here, watching, waiting, listening, scheming ... I can't escape them, they're suffocating me, with their dark lies. I need to get out. Everyone's against me, there's no one I can trust, I'm my own worst enemy.' / PARANOIA - demotivational poster, via MotifakeIt’s been a while since I blogged about the Sandy Hook truther phenomenon. For the most part this trope has died down here in Connecticut, but elsewhere it seems to live on — in spite of how insane it is. Perhaps the strangest aspect of this movement is that, while many of the scenarios are contradictory — some propose that the shooting happened and people died but it wasn’t done by a lone murderous criminal, while others presume it to have been a staged event in which no one died — Sandy Hook truthers tend to stick together anyway (as though they have no idea their arguments differ substantially).

The only point in common that they have, is that they think it was ordered by President Barack Obama so he could justify confiscating everyone’s guns and/or nullifying the Second Amendment. (That he hasn’t even come close to attempting to do either of these, is irrelevant to them.) This unity of spirit, if not in detail, coupled with the insanity inherent in most conspiratorial thinking*, makes it a potentially dangerous movement.

Over the past month, some of that danger has reared its ugly head. A month ago, as the Connecticut Post reports, one truther tried to interfere in a race held in memory of slain teacher Vicki Soto (WebCite cached article):

A self-proclaimed “truther” was arrested after police said he tried to disrupt the Vicki Soto 5K race.

Matthew Mills, 32, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was charged Saturday with interfering with police and second-degree breach of peace. He was released after posting $2,500 bond.…

Hundreds were attending the third-annual race to raise money for educational scholarships in Soto’s name. Police said Mills approached Vicki’s Soto’s younger sister, Jillian. They said Mills shoved a photograph in the younger Soto’s face and began angrily charging that not only did the Sandy Hook tragedy not take place, but that Vicki Soto never existed.

Police said the photo was of the Soto family, including Vicki Soto, sitting on a seawall in Stratford.

In case you didn’t know it, Sandy Hook truthers are obsessed with photos they think show the slain victims alive and well after the massacre. They don’t know what they’re talking about when they wave them around … and quite obviously, appearances can be deceiving … but those realities never put a dent in their sanctimonious outrage.

And just a couple days ago, truthers ramped up their war against the Soto family as News Corp Australia reports, by threatening Carlee Soto and publishing her address (cached):

The Sandy Hook “truthers” took their theories a step further this week when they tracked Ms Soto down, threatened her family and posted her address online. As she grieves her sister’s loss three years on, she’s faced with fear all over again.

On a memorial page dedicated to Vicki Soto, her family described how they were “scared to go home” after users on photo sharing site Instagram shared their home address.…

The family shared a number of messages sent to them. In one message, user @divinely_awakened_ wrote to Carlee’s husband Brent: “They’re coming after you. They know who you and your wife are. They know where you live.”

In another message, user @anon_perkeletic shared the family’s details with a message accusing Ms Soto of being an actor.

The truthers have long accused Carlee Soto of being a “crisis actor”; Snopes even has an article debunking that notion. Isn’t it time for people to just fucking grow the hell up already and stop letting themselves go out of control over insane ideas that aren’t even comprehensible, much less reconcilable with known fact?

* Yes, I know the old saw that some conspiracy theories are true. And yes, I’m aware that some are. But that doesn’t make any given conspiracy theory true. It just doesn’t, and I’m not stupid enough to fall for that contention.

Photo credit: Motifake.

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Facepalm (7839341408)By now my readers surely will have heard about the shooting in San Bernardino, CA yesterday that killed 14 and wounded 17 (WebCite cached article). Among all the yammering that’s been said about this horrific event, in the mass media and by officials, pundits and politicians, I’m not pleased to report that it’s been used as ammunition in the annual phantasmal “war on Christmas.” Raw Story explains how this connection was made this morning, on (you guessed it!) Fox News (cached):

Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. warned that Wednesday’s mass killing in San Bernardino could be a “literal war on Christmas.”…

“I don’t want to come to any hasty conclusions at the point,” Johnson continued, “but if you look at the dots, if you start to connect them in a way that’s rational and reasonable — and not political — based on simple things we know about terrorism, simple things we know about criminal justice then it leads inescapably to that one horrible conclusion: terror.”

“Is it based on politics? Is it based on religion? Is it based on hate? Is it a literal war on Christmas?”

Is this guy serious? What the fuck? How much lower can these people stoop, in their effort to bolster the lie that there’s a “war on Christmas” in the US and that it’s about to be outlawed, as a way of wiping out Christianity and its followers? You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me!

P.S. I love how Johnson says he doesn’t “want to come to any hasty conclusions” … yet he proceeds to barge right ahead and do exactly that. Although I concede, based on reports that have come in all day today (cached), that this very likely is an example of Islamist terrorism. It wasn’t an entirely unreasonable assumption, but it’s still idiotic for him to make a point of professing not to make assumptions, but then go ahead and make one nonetheless.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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