Law enforcement officials investigate an explosion at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minn., on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017. Bloomington police Chief Jeff Potts said Saturday that investigators are trying to determine the cause of the blast. Authorities say the explosion damaged one room but it didn't hurt anyone. (David Joles, Star Tribune)The movement I’ve called “the Great Neocrusade” — made up of Religious Rightists who object to the existence of Islam, and want it abolished in the US and then eradicated from the planet — became violent quite some time ago, and it continues apace. As the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports, a Bloomington MN mosque was bombed early Saturday morning (Archive.Is cached article):

A blast caused by what the FBI called “an improvised explosive device” rocked a Bloomington Islamic center before dawn Saturday, just as a small group of Muslim worshipers had gathered for the day’s first round of prayers.

The blast was reported at 5:05 a.m. as about a dozen people gathered in a room nearby for morning prayers and jolted awake many residents of the neighborhood. Congregants and neighbors expressed relief that there were no injuries, but also reacted with shock and dismay.

As I’ve said many times in the past, I understand the motivation behind the Neocrusade. Really, I do. I get it. I know all about the September 11, 2001 attacks; the Fort Hood shooting; the Boston Marathon bombing; the shootings in San Bernardino and in an Orlando night club; not to mention the attacks in Paris; and many other terror attacks around the world. I know them. I do. Honest! Really, I get it. I know Islamist terror exists and that it has caused much mayhem and killed many. I definitely am not unaware of the danger posed by Islamofascism.

What I don’t see, is how bombing mosques in the US is a valid or useful response to Islamist terror. Truthfully, Americans are in much greater danger from mundane things like automobile accidents, drug overdoses, and violence at the hands of ordinary, everyday sociopaths and criminals, than they are from violent Islamist terrorists. Responding to the irrational, sanctimonious violence of some Muslims with yet more irrational, sanctimonious violence against all Muslims, simply will not help. If anything, it will make the situation worse.

Besides, most Neocrusaders are Christians, who’ve been explicitly ordered by the founder of their religion never to be violent:

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:38-42)

Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52)

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.” (Luke 6:27-29)

Christians are, quite simply, not allowed to be violent. And that includes in self-defense! I admit this kind of pacifism is a counterproductive and potentially perilous philosophy, but those are the words early Christians included in the scriptures they wrote, and which Christians today claim to venerate; making sense of them, and following them, are not my problem. Christians chose their religion, and should just fucking follow it, fercryinoutloud, instead of conjuring rationales for evading the clear instructions they’re supposed to obey.

Photo credit: David Joles, Star Tribune.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments Comments Off on The Violent Neocrusade is On in Minnesota

Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers kneels on the sideline during the anthem prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys on October 2, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)This might seem a bit off-topic for my blog, but it’s a sterling example of a common form of irrationality, and as such, is quite relevant. So here goes!

By now most of my readers have heard the controversy about NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who last year aroused the sanctimonious ire of football fans around the country by first sitting, and then kneeling, through the national anthem as it was played prior to the start of games (Archive.Is cached article). It’s not for me to say whether he ought to have done this or not — he said it was to protest the killings of blacks by white cops — but many fans were outraged that he would do something so horribly anti-American. He became a free agent at the end of the year, and now arguably has been blackballed by the NFL because of his protests (cached).

Even so, the guy is an experienced (if far from stellar) quarterback, and since this is such a crucial position, naturally some teams may have to consider signing him.

One of those, at the moment, is the Baltimore Ravens. The team faces a little uncertainty where their “franchise” quarterback, Joe Flacco, is concerned (cached). Thus, the Ravens’ coach and G.M. have considered hiring the “undesirable” Kaepernick (cached); but the team’s owner reportedly doesn’t want him signed (cached).

The Ravens have denied this report, as might be expected (cached).

But let’s be honest: If owner Steve Bisciotti has, in fact, expressed disapproval for Kaepernick’s hire, there’s good reason for it: As CBS Sports reports, the team’s fans are fiercely opposed to the unemployed quarterback (cached):

If the Ravens decide to sign Colin Kaepernick, it’s a decision that might not sit well with their fan base.

According to NFL.com’s Mike Silver, Ravens fans have spent the past 24 hours letting the team know that they don’t want Kaepernick in Baltimore….

If teams are afraid of fan backlash, the the reaction in Baltimore isn’t going to help things. Fans also had a similar reaction in New York. Back in May, Giants co-owner John Mara said that fans in New York threatened to boycott his team if they decided to sign Kaepernick [cached].

The irrationality of Baltimore Ravens fans getting their panties in bunches over the (possible) hiring of Kaepernick becomes obvious, when one considers this is the team that was home to linebacker Ray Lewis for over a decade and a half … much of that time after he’d been present for a double homicide in 2000 (cached). Yes, that’s right: A double homicide! Although he was never convicted of murder or manslaughter, he did plead guilty to obstruction of justice (since he’d lied to investigators), and he settled with survivors of the deceased (cached). Yet, the Ravens and their fans were saddened by his retirement following the 2012 season, and the team sold Ray Lewis tribute shirts at the time (cached). These folk, then, are the ones who can’t tolerate Colin Kaepernick being on their team after his protests. Wonderful people, no? I’d call them “raging hypocrites,” but that might give actual “raging hypocrites” a bad name.

By comparison with Lewis’s involvement in a double homicide, which doesn’t appear to have cost him the adoration of Ravens fans, their anger against the prospect of hiring Kaepernick makes no sense. In fact, the national outrage he kicked up is virtually incomprehensible. Whether or not one agrees with Kaepernick, makes no difference: This is the United States, for fuck’s sake, and he has a right to protest things if he wants to. Protests are not “anti-American.” They are, instead, “pro-American,” because in America, protests are permissible. The US has a very old tradition of protest, which goes back prior to the country’s founding. There’s nothing wrong with any protest in which no one is hurt and nothing is damaged. The same can’t be said of what Ray Lewis had been up to on the night of January 30, 2000 (cached).

Please note, I only mentioned Lewis here because he was a dearly-beloved Raven. The list of other well-loved NFL players who’ve engaged in all sorts of wrongdoing — including criminal offenses — is legion. Few of them stir up the kind of vicious rage that, to date, has prevented Kaepernick from being hired. The best example I can think of is Michael Vick, who appeared unhireable after serving a prison sentence for animal cruelty, and who also faced the nation’s ire … but even he wound up returning to the NFL (cached).

The kind of militant nationalism that has kept Colin Kaepernick from playing football merely because he sat and kneeled through the national anthem is simply bizarre, when compared with the fact that even convicted felons have been embraced by the league. It’s just that simple.

P.S. I’m aware that Kaepernick’s ability is disputable. He had a couple good seasons, but is certainly no star quarterback. Many teams will pass on him simply because they have no place for him, or because they don’t think he will succeed with them. Sometimes a player is just not good enough to stay in the NFL (Tim Tebow, anyone?) I get that. What’s less comprehensible is why the NFL could take back people like Vick — or Baltimore fans could embrace Lewis — when both were guilty of crimes; yet the NFL has virtually blackballed Kaepernick, and Ravens fans are nearly in revolt over him, when all he did was to sit and kneel through the national anthem.

Photo credit: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images, via CBS Boston.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments 1 Comment »

Dom RegensburgSeveral years ago, word came out that children had been abused as part of a Catholic choir in Germany, run for a time by the brother of Pope Benedict XVI. It took some time, and a long investigation, but according to Deutsche Welle, the final report reveals more abuse than most had guessed (WebCite cached article):

A total of 547 young boys from the famous Regensburger Domspatzen (“cathedral sparrows”) choir were subjected to physical and sexual abuse at the hands of priests and teachers, according to the attorney tasked with investigating the alleged abuse.

Presenting his 450-page report into the findings, attorney Ulrich Weber, said he found 500 cases of physical abuse and 67 instances of sexual abuse spanning over six decades.

Of the 49 church officials and teachers implicated in the report, nine were found to have been sexually abusive. Church officials had fostered a “culture of silence,” which allowed them to carry out such abuses for decades, Weber said.

Victims described their schooling and choir experience as like “a prison, hell and a concentration camp,” Weber said, adding that many had described those years as “the worst time of their lives, characterized by fear, violence and hopelessness.”

Note that the “culture of silence” is similar to what has been uncovered elsewhere within the Catholic Church. It’s what permitted “priestly pedophilia” to go on, all around the world, for decades.

In this case, for some 30 years (1964 to 1994), Fr Georg Ratzinger, brother of Pope Benedict (aka Joseph Ratzinger), had run the Regensburger Domspatzen. He’s insisted he was unaware of any abuse, although the investigator doesn’t find this plausible. Also, the abuse certainly didn’t begin with Fr Ratzinger; the investigation dates it as far back as 1945.

This report is only part of a larger process, which will include compensation to victims. That’s the least that could be provided. I’d prefer to have seen some contrition on the part of the Regensburg diocese, and an apology at the very least by Fr Ratzinger. Given the most recent abuse uncovered happened in the 1990s, criminal prosecutions may not be possible, but some acknowledgement by Catholic officials is needed.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments Comments Off on Report Reveals Rampant Abuse in German Catholic Choir

Minirock (Lack) Photo Model 1We all know that many Muslims don’t think much of women. In Saudi Arabia, they ramp their contempt for women up to another level, for instance by making it against the law for them to drive. A high-ranking Saudi jurist even lied about this, claiming — laughably — this is because driving harms women. But they also don’t think too much of men, either. I say that because one of the (many) burdens imposed on Saudi women is that they must wear elaborate clothing, intended to rob them of anything resembling a feminine shape, because Saudis don’t think men can handle seeing a woman who’s obviously a woman. They think men have no self-control, or something. I guess.

Recently, one Saudi woman tested her country’s misogynistic legal system, as CNN reports, and will very likely pay a high price for it (WebCite cached version):

Police in Saudi Arabia have detained a woman who featured in a social media video wearing a miniskirt and a crop-top as she strolled through a Saudi city, according to a Saudi police statement.

The woman, who has been questioned by Riyadh police, told them that “the viral videos were published by an account attributed to her without her knowledge,” according to the statement. The statement adds that the woman’s case has been referred to the general prosecution department in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

On Sunday, the spokesperson for the Presidency of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice — also known as the religious police — said the group was monitoring the issue and taking the “necessary steps” to address a viral video depicting a “girl in offensive clothing.”

Here’s the video of that “girl in offensive clothing”:

It’s long past time for Muslims, especially those in Saudi Arabia, to grow the fuck up already, get over their ridiculous hangups about the female body, and act like grown adults who’re capable of controlling themselves around women who actually look like women. It very literally cannot hurt people to see women as women. Fear of the female form is irrational and childish.

By the way, the official name for Saudi Arabia’s religious police, “Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice,” is precious … don’t you think? Almost straight out of 1984, no?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments Comments Off on Saudi Woman Arrested for Wearing Miniskirt

Evangelical supporters place hands on and pray with President Trump in the Oval Office of the White House. Photo courtesy of Johnnie Moore / via Religion News ServiceSigh. It was inevitable, I suppose. I mean, given the amount of trouble the Groper-in-Chief is now in — since his son single-handedly lifted the “Trump/Russia” scandal undeniably out of “fake news” territory (Archive.Is cached article) — you just knew he’d have to do something like this. The Groper-in-Chief obviously needed to make himself and his administration look respectable, at least to the folk who matter to him.

The way he did so, was equally obvious: As the Religion News Service explains, the Apricot Wonder invited a crowd of evangelical preachers to the Oval Office, to pray over him (cached):

President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence met with evangelical supporters this week as news was breaking about the president’s son’s connections with Russia during the 2016 campaign.

The supporters, including some who had been on Trump’s evangelical advisory board during the campaign, attended a daylong meeting Monday (July 10) scheduled by the Office of Public Liaison at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next door to the White House, said Johnnie Moore, who served as one of the campaign’s evangelical advisers.

Now, these sorts of group Oval Office visits are usually planned well in advance. This visit, however, was not:

The evangelicals did not know they would be meeting with the president ahead of time, he said. Nor did they discuss the unfolding Russian meddling story with him.

“At a certain point in the day we visited with the President and Vice President,” Moore told RNS in an email. “They just heard we were on the property and took time to say ‘hello.’”

So this nifty little visit was almost certainly a response to all the recent bad news. Of course, they disavowed any possible relationship between this visit and the raging scandal:

Asked if evangelical leaders are worried that people would consider their presence in the Oval Office an indication that they’re not concerned about the Russia-related controversies, Moore said: “Evangelicals consider it a responsibility and an honor to advise and pray for the administration.”

He said their prayers Monday and the meeting in general were “not at all” related to Russia.

“It was a normal meeting, like many other meetings we’ve had before,” he said.

Like nearly all of America’s Rightists, these pastors are fully in the Groper’s corner and aren’t concerned about anything:

At least one of the leaders in attendance later opined about connections between the Trump administration and Russia.

“Garbage,” tweeted Rodney Howard-Browne in response to a Washington Post tweet that said “White House thrust into chaos by revelations about meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and Russian lawyer.”

Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Matthews, N.C., said the only mention of Russia he recalled during the meeting next door to the White House was “in a fashion dismissive of the mainline media.” He added: “I don’t think there was anybody in that room who has any remote suspicion that there was any collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.”

Gee, how wonderful to see these supposed “men of God” so blithely unconcerned with immoral, unethical, and possibly illegal behavior on the part of their Dear Leader and his minions.

To be clear: These religious folk are after power, and have latched onto the president as their means to keep the power they have and acquire more. No wonder they swarmed him to “lay on hands” and pray for him. He’s their political meal-ticket.

Photo credit: Johnnie Moore, via Religion News Service.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments Comments Off on Evangelicals Pray Over Groper-in-Chief

Cuneiform tablet BM62788Until now the Hobby Lobby chain of craft stores was known mainly for two things: A Supreme Court decision that says corporations have religious beliefs, and for never being open on Sundays, because God, or something. But now, they’re known for something else: Having operated an antiquities-smuggling ring.

Yes, that’s right. You see, Hobby Lobby — being a devout Christian corporation — wanted to prove the Bible is God’s literal truth, and show that, in the form of a colossal “Museum of the Bible” in Washington, DC (Archive.Is cached article).

In an effort to stock this massive edifice with material, Hobby Lobby has been vacuuming up every Middle Eastern artifact — especially cuneiform tablets — it can find. The trouble is, a lot of this vacuuming wasn’t done legally, because artifacts like that aren’t legally available to private buyers. As CNN reports, this devout Christian corporation has admitted its criminality, all done in Jesus’ name, of course (cached):

It wasn’t Hobby Lobby’s scrapbook supplies, their seasonal decorations or their generous selection of fabrics that got the attention of the Department of Justice. It was the ancient clay artifacts from modern-day Iraq.

The DOJ said the company smuggled the artifacts into the United States, and the arts and crafts chain on Wednesday agreed to a settlement with the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.

According to court documents, Hobby Lobby agreed to forfeit thousands of Iraqi artifacts and pay a $3 million fine to resolve the civil action the Justice Department brought against the company.

This devout Christian corporation, of course, sugar-coated what it had done:

“We should have exercised more oversight and carefully questioned how the acquisitions were handled,” Hobby Lobby President Steve Green said in [a] statement. “Hobby Lobby has cooperated with the government throughout its investigation, and with the announcement of today’s settlement agreement, is pleased the matter has been resolved.”

A consultant had warned Hobby Lobby away from one particular deal to acquire a large stash of artifacts back in 2010, but they ignored that advice and went ahead with it. For Jesus, of course.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments 1 Comment »

St Peter's Square, Vatican City - April 2007Unfortunately, this latest story is all too predictable. Moralizers being amoral is … well, let’s just say there’s nothing new about it. According to US News & World Report, Vatican police busted an orgy in the capitol of Roman Catholicism (Archive.Is cached article):

Vatican police have reportedly raided a Vatican-owned apartment and arrested an aide to one of Pope Francis’ key advisers.

Police in late June found widespread drug-use and men engaged in homosexual activity during the bust at the home owned by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, according to Il Fatto Quotidiano, an Italian newspaper that first reported the incident. Among its duties, the congregation guides the Church’s response to clerical sexual abuse cases.

Authorities reportedly arrested the secretary of Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, who was an occupant of the apartment, but official charges in connection with the incident have not been reported. Coccopalmerio, who serves as president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts and leads interpretations of the laws of the Church, is said to have recommended his secretary for a promotion to bishop.

I believe Il Fatto Quotidiano‘s story on this raid can be found here. On reading about this, I wondered if this arrest might explain something the Pope did recently, and so too does USN&WR:

Days after granting [Cardinal George] Pell a release [to answer sexual assault charges], Pope Francis also removed German Cardinal Gerhard Mueller [cached] as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, according to The Associated Press. It is unclear if the reported drug arrest played any part in the pope’s decision.

As I said, this sort of thing is all too common. Many people are unable, or unwilling, actually to live up to the morals they happily demand others follow. This tendency is something the founder of Christianity himself condemned, and he explicitly ordered his followers never to engage in any kind of hypocritical behavior. It would be nice if the Cardinal’s secretary would stick a crowbar into the Bible he long ago slammed shut, open it up just a crack, actually read the damn thing, then just obey the instructions it contains, for once. But no, like most Christians throughout history, he refuses to do so.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments Comments Off on Vatican Cops Break Up Orgy, Arrest Hierarch’s Minion