Gustave Doré, 'Godfrey Enters Jerusalem', via Art PassionsAs I’ve blogged already, the Great Neocrusade has broken open. Christianists around the country have had it with Islam and they’re just not going to put up with it any more. Many are exacting vigilante justice on their chief rival religion. Any whiff of anything being somehow pro-Islam has aroused their ire.

A great example of this is in Virginia. As Mediaite reports, the Augusta County School District closed all its schools today due to a torrent of militant Christianist outrage (WebCite cached article):

Augusta County School District in Virginia cancelled school Friday citing security concerns after a teacher’s lesson on calligraphy garnered hateful messages from across the country.

The assignment by Riverheads High School teacher Cheryl LaPorte asked students to copy the shahada, a Muslim statement of faith that translates as “there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”

During a forum Tuesday night, parents expressed outrage over the school’s “indoctrination.” Augusta County parent Kimberly Herndon said the teacher took away the rights of the students, telling the forum, “if my truth can not be spoken in schools, I don’t want false doctrine spoken in schools.”

The teacher and the school district denied this was “indoctrination.” Instead, it was a calligraphy exercise … nothing more. Here is a scan of the offending lesson:

Scan of Riverheads High School lesson, relevant portion reads: 'Practicing Calligraphy: Here is the shahada, the Islamic statement of faith, written in Arabic. In the space below, try copying it by hand. This should give you an idea of the artistic complexity of calligraphy.' / via Mediaite

Scan of Riverheads High School lesson, relevant portion reads: ‘Practicing Calligraphy: Here is the shahada, the Islamic statement of faith, written in Arabic. In the space below, try copying it by hand. This should give you an idea of the artistic complexity of calligraphy.’ / via Mediaite

The value of this lesson is explained within its text: By asking the student to try replicating this calligraphic shahada, students will find out something about Arabic calligraphy, in a way they never could, merely by reading descriptions of how it’s done.

While the shahada, literally “testimony,” is one of the Pillars of Islam and therefore has religious significance for Muslims, having to replicate it does not — contrary to common Christian belief — automatically make one a Muslim. No one can convert to any religion, Islam included, against his or her will. There is no magic inherent in speaking or writing out the shahada … or any other ritual phrase from any religion, for that matter. Saying the shahada publicly can signify one has converted to Islam, but this must be intentional.

Allow me to demonstrate by typing out the shahada myself (in English):

There is no god but God. Muhammad is the messenger of God.

There. Done. Now … does this make me a Muslim? No. It doesn’t. I remain as non-religious as I’ve ever been. I’ve never had any intention of joining Islam or living by its precepts, and I will continue never being part of it and never obeying it.

Now, if I can do this and not magically be made a Muslim, then Riverheads High School students aren’t going to be magically made Muslims by trying to copy out the shahada in Arabic script. Hence, there is no indoctrination here. None. Not a fucking speck of it!

I find it amazing that so many Christians — a lot of whom don’t even think al-Lah, Islam’s deity, is real — could actually be afraid of the supposed magical power of one of Islam’s ritual phrases. It’s almost laughable. (Please note: Truthfully, Jews, Muslims and Christians all effectively worship the same deity, the God of Abraham. They just think differently about him.)

It’s long past time for American Christendom to fucking grow the hell up already and stop caterwauling about shit they cannot change. Islam exists; it’s not going away; there are lots of Muslims in the world; and it’s best just to accept that reality rather than continue bellyaching against it.

Photo credit: Top, Art Passions; middle, Mediaite.

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'Go ahead, say 'Happy Holidays' and make my day'  / Modified still from Sudden ImpactWhile this is (arguably) more amusing than anything else, this story exemplifies the sanctimony of the so-called “Christmas warriors,” those Christians who’re convinced there’s a “war on Christmas” in the US and that the Forces of Darkness (aka “secular progressives,” “New Atheists,” the ACLU, etc.) are trying to outlaw it as an opening step toward abolishing Christianity entirely. As I’ve blogged for many years no, no such effort exists, but that doesn’t stop militant Christianists from deluding themselves into thinking it’s real.

The latest Christmas warrior I’ve heard about, as the Houston Chronicle reports, is Texas Commissioner of Agriculture Sid Miller, naturally a Republican (WebCite cached article):

Miller wrote on Facebook – in a post that’s been shared almost 2,000 times and liked by 5,000 fans – that he’s ready to get physical with the next person that wishes him a “Happy Holidays.”

Miller wrote: “If one more person says Happy Holidays to me I just might slap them. Either tell me Merry Christmas or just don’t say anything.” The post is accompanied with an image of a cowboy on a steer riding under a pharmacy sign that says “We will never take the Christ out of Christmas.”

Here’s his threat as it appeared on Facebook:

Sid Miller, Texas Ag Commissioner, posting on Facebook

Sid Miller, Texas Ag Commissioner, posting on Facebook

How wonderful — not to mention Christian — of the guy! You can almost feel all that Yuletide “peace on earth, goodwill toward men” oozing from that post.

I have to hand it to the Texas Democratic Party for posting a reply via a comment on the post which is an 80s-video-game-style animated image saying “Happy Holidays.” The Chron points out some of Miller’s past mouthiness (particularly a time he threatened to nuke all Muslims). Yeah, he’s that kind of Texan, and not too different from what I’ve come to expect from the Texas GOP (which has given us the Christofascist likes of Louie Gohmert and Ted Cruz).

Photo credit: Top, modified still from Sudden Impact; middle, Sid Miller via Facebook.

Hat tip: Raw Story.

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Santa Claus in a parade in Toronto 2007 dsc128This year’s edition of the annual phantasmal “war on Christmas” continues to be waged across the country. The latest battleground is in San Jose, CA. A mother’s complaint, the San Jose Mercury News reports, led to the cancellation of a kindergarten class field trip to see Santa … and other parents are furious (WebCite cached version):

A Santa storm is brewing in San Jose.

After a field trip to visit Santa Claus by kindergarten students at Sartorette Elementary School was canceled by administrators on the heels of a complaint by one Jewish mother, things are getting ugly down on Woodford Drive.

Angry parents plan to descend on the board meeting Thursday, threatening a student walkout Friday if the Cambrian School District’s board fails to reinstate the annual Santa trip. The woman who made the complaint, who identified herself only as Talia and declined to be interviewed Wednesday evening, stood by her claim that having kids write or visit Santa unfairly imposes one religion on all students. She fired off an angry letter Dec. 7 to fellow parents at the charter school, alleging she was “ambushed by a group of moms from Ms. Kay’s class” who she said yelled at her for “ruining Santa for the kids.”

As is very common in these cases, those who see nothing wrong with public-school kids being paraded annually up on Santa’s lap rely on appeals to tradition (e.g. “They’ve always done this at Sartorette!”) as well as appeals to the masses:

“It’s very upsetting that the district would act after taking one person’s opinion and not talking to the 500 other families at the school,” said Melanie Scott, mother of a first-grader who took the field trip last year.

Both of these lines of thinking are fallacious; just because something has always been done or always been thought, doesn’t make it acceptable or correct; and just because many people approve of something, likewise doesn’t make it proper.

I love how Christianists accuse the complaining mother of “ruining Santa for the kids.” That whine makes no sense. If parents want their kids to sit on Santa’s lap, there’s nothing preventing them from taking their kids to a mall or some other place and doing so! Neither this mother’s complaint, nor the field trip’s cancellation, changes that … at all. They’re as free to do so as they’ve ever been. How and why are they claiming otherwise?

The obvious question to be asked is, if these parents are so vehement about making sure their kids sit on Santa’s lap, why aren’t they willing to make that happen on their own time? Why do they require the school to get it done for them? Why divert kids’ learning time to something that could be done elsewhere? I just don’t get it. I can only assume it has something to do with a latent desire for communal reinforcement; that is, they’re not so much concerned with whether or not their own kid(s) get to sit on Santa’s lap this year, but rather, whether or not their kid(s)’ entire class must do so.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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'Insanity: At least it's better to be someone who cannot think clearly than one who clearly cannot think.' / Motifake.ComNo sooner did I blog about the continued irrational phenomenon of “Sandy Hook truthers,” than I see another story about these paranoid freaks and wingnuts. The Seattle Times reports Amazon has had to change its online review process because of “truthers'” attacks on a survivor’s book (WebCite cached article):

Amazon.com is revising its product review system six weeks after The Seattle Times reported on activists posting reviews [cached] to push their political and social agendas.

“We are taking a close look at our policies regarding activism reviews and are considering changes,” Amazon spokesman Tom Cook said in a statement.

The Times article reported on coordinated attacks by Amazon reviewers on Scarlett Lewis, the mother of a 6-year-old boy murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut three years ago Monday. Lewis wrote “Nurturing Healing Love: A Mother’s Journey of Hope and Forgiveness” to describe her journey after the massacre.

Dozens of reviewers — conspiracy theorists who believe the shootings were an Obama administration hoax to push for gun-control legislation — savaged Lewis on the Amazon book Web page as a liar and opportunist.

The article goes on to describe many of the “reviews” (which aren’t actually reviews, just sanctimonious caterwauling by enraged “truthers” who feel as though they’re entitled to visit their outrage and fury on the world), as well as the “truthers'” ongoing conspiracy to disparage Sandy Hook survivors at every step. (The irony of people who believe in a conspiracy theory concocting and participating in one of their own, is truly precious!) The Times also goes over other, similar campaigns involving other products Amazon sells.

The real problem here, of course, is immaturity. The Sandy Hook truthers, as well as other types of conspiratorial thinkers (e.g. the anti-Monsanto crowd), simply haven’t grown up enough to deal with their own insane impulses and feelings. So, like two-year-olds, they lash out however they wish, any time they wish, and rationalize it based upon the presumed “righteousness” of their “cause.” In this case, the “truthers” are visiting their insanity and rage on a company … for no good reason.

Photo credit: Motifake.Com.

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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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