Posts Tagged “2012 election”

Saint Peter's Square, RomeIt seems the Vatican has run out of stuff to do, these days, in spite of things like the Vatileaks scandal and the worldwide clerical child-abuse scandal (which it has yet to deal with in any kind of contrite, meaningful way). Yes, the robed denizens of the Holy See, you see, are more than slightly miffed that measures permitting gay marriage passed in three US states this past Tuesday, and it’s becoming the law of the land in France, too. The AP reports via the Washington Post that they’ve gone on the offensive over the matter (WebCite cached article):

The Vatican is digging in after gay marriage initiatives scored big wins this week in the U.S. and Europe, vowing to never stop insisting that marriage can only be between a man and a woman.

In a front-page article in Saturday’s Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the Holy See sought to frame itself as the lone voice of courage in opposing initiatives to give same-sex couples legal recognition. In a separate Vatican Radio editorial, the pope’s spokesman asked sarcastically why gay marriage proponents don’t now push for legal recognition for polygamous couples as well. …

The Vatican’s anti-gay marriage media blitz came after three U.S. states approved same-sex marriage by popular vote in the election that returned Barack Obama to the U.S. presidency, Spain upheld its gay marriage law, and France pushed ahead with legislation that could see gay marriage legalized early next year.

The Vatican used expressed the raging paranoia typical of militant religionists:

The article insisted that Catholics were putting up a valiant fight to uphold church teaching in the face of “politically correct ideologies invading every culture of the world” that are backed by institutions like the United Nations, which last year passed a non-binding resolution condemning anti-gay discrimination.

“The church is called to present itself as the lone critic of modernity, the only check … to the breakup of the anthropological structures on which human society was founded,” it said.

Given that gay marriage is vehemently opposed by lots of people and groups … like the American Family Association and Focus on the Family in the US and other evangelical Christian ministries all over the world … the Vatican lies when it says it’s alone in this regard. The cold fact is that the R.C. Church is by no means alone in its effort to unravel the advancements we’ve made since the Enlightenment and yank humanity back to the Dark Ages.

Here’s a thought for those in the Vatican who think they should be able to moralize and tell humanity what it can and cannot do: Once you’ve purged your own Church of its criminals and miscreants; once you’ve handed over for prosecution every abusive cleric in your ranks and every bureaucrat and hierarch who covered up for them; once you’ve admitted your policies were focused more on protecting your own reputations and wealth than looking out for the welfare of children in your care; once you’ve explicitly conceded your organization is not above the criminal law of the countries in which you operate; once you’ve changed your policies to put children first and commit to operating more transparently; once every abusive priest, nun, brother, etc. and obstructionist bishop has confessed his/her crimes and begun their jail sentences; and once you’ve grown the fuck up and stopped blaming anything and everything but yourselves for what you did … THEN, and ONLY THEN, might you have anything coming close to the kind of moral authority that gives you any right to tell anyone else how to live. Until then, you should just shut your fucking mouths about the evils of gays, or of this horrible, rotten, insolent “secularism” you so passionately despise. They haven’t perpetrated anything close to the scope of crimes your own Church is guilty of worldwide.

Is that clear?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Human-evolution-manI blogged about the anti-scientific religiofascism spewed by Paul Broun, R-GA. The problem with is that he ran unopposed, so he didn’t have to suffer any consequences from his idiotic remarks. It seems that some voters in his district nevertheless used this election to offer a kind of protest against him, as the Augusta Chronicle reports (WebCite cached article):

Charles Darwin, the 19th century naturalist who laid the foundations for evolutionary theory, received more than 4,000 write-in votes in Athens-Clarke County in balloting for the 10th Congressional District seat retained Tuesday by five-year incumbent Republican Paul Broun.

A campaign asking voters to write in Darwin’s name in the 10th District, which includes half of Athens-Clarke County and takes in a swath of eastern Georgia, began after Broun, speaking at a sportsmen’s banquet at a Hartwell church, called evolution and other areas of science “lies straight from the pit of hell.”

“I can’t ever remember seeing a (write-in ballot) report that long,” Athens-Clarke County Elections Supervisor Gail Schrader said after releasing the write-in numbers to news media Thursday morning.

Broun still won re-election — given that he was unopposed — but 4,000 people making the effort to write in the name of Broun’s mortal enemy against him on the ballot as a protest, is significant. My guess is, Broun will dismiss them as wicked, Satan-inspired “secular progressives” who “worship” Darwin because they hate Broun’s almighty God, but I still find it remarkable.

Photo credit: José-manuel Benitos via Wikimedia Commons.

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God is a Republican & Conservative: If You Love God, You Must Be Conservative and Vote Republican, God's Own Party | Image © Austin Cline; Original Poster: Nazi PropagandaAccording to Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, faith in a Creator is a requirement for all Americans. At least, that’s what he very clearly implied last night in his speech to the Republican National Convention (WebCite cached article):

Our national motto is “In God we Trust,” reminding us that faith in our Creator is the most important American value of all.

That might be your motto, Senator, but it’s not mine. Using the fact that your kind (i.e. militant theists) have named it the national motto, is certainly not enough to coerce me into following that instruction.

As for values that are important, I can think of many that are far more helpful in creating a productive and harmonious society than “faith in our Creator.” Among them are: Compassion, honesty, responsibility, charity, empathy, patience, courage, industriousness, perseverance, loyalty, generosity, and … well, need I go on? The list would be endless!

In the course of spewing his Christofascism, the Senator also factually lied about the founding of the country:

But America was founded on the principle that every person has God-given rights.

Uh, no. In truth, America was founded on the principle that “We the People” — via the Constitution that they, not God, enacted — grant all “rights” that anyone has. “God” has nothing to do with it, and plays absolutely no role in giving anyone “rights,” at least not in the United States. What’s more, the only government which has ever been instituted directly by the Abrahamic God — at least according to Abrahamic legend — was the ancient monarchy of Israel, whose first anointed king was Saul. As a monarchy, that state bore no resemblance to the United States, which is a representative republic. It’s inconceivable that YHWH could possibly have had any interest in creating a country such as we live in. And according to the gospels, Jesus Christ was clearly apolitical, uninterested in any kind of statecraft or polity.

The Senator’s lie grants him free admission into my “lying liars for Jesus” club. He’ll find himself in good company there.

I’ll take this opportunity to reiterate my challenge to Sen. Rubio — or any other militant religionist — that, if you think I’m required to believe what you wish me to believe, then you’re just going to have to make me believe it. Go ahead, I dare you. If it’s important for me as an American to believe in your deity, then you have no reason not to make an attempt. I invite you to try.

Photo credit: Austin Cline / About Atheism.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

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Jesus Facepalm: He gave up too so please stop this foolishness (Demotivators; defunct)For a number of years now the Religious Right has been casting about for ways to cloak their opposition to abortion behind a veneer of rationality and/or practicality. It’s very common, for example, for them to claim abortion must be outlawed because of its supposed adverse effect on women’s mental health. (As if the fact that an event can be stressful is a valid reason to outlaw it — lots of things are psychologically stressful, such as watching one’s child learn to drive for the first time, and I can’t see any reason to prohibit that.)

Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin from Missouri, attempted another such rationale, as reported by the New York Times, and the result was a colossal faceplant of the first order (WebCite cached article):

In an effort to explain his stance on abortion, Representative Todd Akin, the Republican Senate nominee from Missouri, provoked ire across the political spectrum on Sunday by saying that in instances of what he called “legitimate rape,” women’s bodies somehow blocked an unwanted pregnancy. …

“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Mr. Akin said of pregnancies from rape. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”

If you’re like me, you may have a hard time believing a Senate candidate actually spoke these words. But I assure you, he did. He said them during an interview on KTVI-TV, and you can read about it on their own Web site (cached).

First, there’s no such thing as a “‘legitimate’ rape.” It’s a contradiction in terms. All rapes are criminal acts. There is never anything “legitimate” about any kind of criminal act. There’s literally no way that any “rape” can ever have any “legitimacy.”

Second, I’ve never heard that, during the course of a rape, a woman’s reproductive system turns itself off. Of course, I’m no doctor, and I can’t really know that for sure. If Akin cares to disclose which doctors told him this, I’d love to review their work. But until he substantiates this claim, I have to assume it’s just Religious Rightist bullshit.

Now, I’m sure folks in the R.R. will nonetheless defend these indefensible comments. They’ll say he meant to talk about “‘true’ rape” and not “‘legitimate’ rape.” There are some folks who believe — and I assume Akin is one of them? — that some rapes are not “really” rapes (e.g. “date” or “acquaintance rape”). But even this intended meaning is problematic, because in the end, there is no difference: A rape is a rape is a rape — period. End of discussion!

As for the part about women’s reproductive systems resisting pregnancy while they’re being raped, I can’t think of any way that might be defended … but that doesn’t mean some vehement Rightist won’t come up with some asinine, irrational justification for it.

As far as I can see, any Rightists who are upset over Akin’s comments are not upset over their content, but over the fact that they will be used against him in the election and they’re risking not acquiring a Senate seat.

At any rate, this is another post I’m tagging “You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me,” for obvious reasons.

Note: It turns out Akin’s outrageousness is, in fact, being actively defended by at least one influential Religious Rightist and his organization. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council apparently approves of the idea that some rapes are “legitimate” and that women’s reproductive systems prevent pregnancies when they’re raped (cached). I knew I could count on at least one of these mindless goons to defend the indefensible. Let’s see how many more do so over the next couple days.

Update: As the Friendly Atheist points out, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association is also defending Akin … in particular, the medical part of his asinine remarks.

Photo credit: Demotivators blog (defunct).

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Crusaders at ConstantinopleNote: A minor update on the CT-5 primaries is below.

With primaries underway for both parties in Connecticut’s hotly contested 5th Congressional District, it almost goes without saying that the Republican candidates are falling all over themselves trying to present themselves as dutifully sanctimonious Rightists. They’ve been advertising themselves as “job creators” and as wanting to promote “freedom” (even though, if any of them are elected to Congress, they will never hire anyone, and will only reduce people’s freedom rather than enhance it). They’ve mostly steered clear of religion, but I knew it wouldn’t be long before their urge to express their piety and sanctity would overpower them. The Hartford Courant reports that the first of them to do this, is Mark Greenberg (WebCite cached article):

Republican congressional candidate Mark Greenberg questioned whether Islam was a peaceful religion Thursday and said he believed it was “a cult in many respects.”

His remarks were made in a radio interview on WNPR’s “Where We Live” program. …

When [host John] Dankosky asked Greenberg if people who don’t share those beliefs also change the country and help make it great, Greenberg said, “perhaps, to a certain extent” and went on to talk about aspects related to the religion that he found objectionable. For example, he said he doesn’t believe a mosque should be built near Ground Zero in New York City, and he questioned whether Islam was a religion of peace. …

“I think it’s more a blueprint for living one’s life — a cult in many respects,” he said of Islam. “It’s a religion, but it’s also a way of living.”

Although agreeing with Dankosky that Judaism and Christianity are also ways of living, Greenberg said there is a difference.

“Judaism and Christianity are very peaceful religions,” he said. “I think they are more peaceful than Islam.”

First, I need to begin by commenting that the word “cult” has more or less become useless. It’s a pejorative term, a label slapped on any other religion one happens to dislike. The word itself has long since lost any specific meaning. That Greenberg used it of Islam, just tells me he doesn’t like Islam — it doesn’t mean anything else.

Second, his claim that Islam is not a “religion of peace” but Judaism and Christianity are, is absurd on its face. All three religions have violent pasts and they have adherents willing to resort to violence in the names of their faiths. The scriptures revered by Judaism and Christianity are chock full of violence. Some of that violence was supposedly committed by God himself, and the rest was done by his human followers. Those revered texts tell of the many bloody wars Israel supposedly fought while it was a tribal confederation and then a kingdom, including massacres and genocides. Christians have marched to war in the name of their god Jesus and took part in atrocities of their own. As recently as the late 20th century, Catholics and Protestants in Ireland were killing each other to prove which church was more Christlike. Christians have even engaged in terror campaigns of their own. And modern Judaism isn’t free of the stain of violence either; they are one side of a decades-old conflict in the Middle East, and there are some violent extremists among Jews, too.

As far as I’m concerned, any religion that carries an entitlement to impose itself on other human beings and on reality, can lead to violence in some of its adherents. That’s as true of Islam as it is of Christianity, Judaism, and a whole host of others.

I’m dreading this primary season here in the Nutmeg State. I’m sure things are going to get even weirder, very soon (the primaries are less than a month away).

Update: Things have, indeed, ramped up a bit in the twin primaries for CT’s 5th District, as I predicted they would. Dankosky’s interview with Greenberg was part of a series of planned interviews with all of the CT-5 candidates from both parties. It turns out, as the Torrington Register-Citizen reports (cached), none of the rest of them did any better than Greenberg — and one declined the interview out of fear of being asked a question she’s successfully avoided answering. The 5th District is doomed, folks … not one of these slippery creatures deserves a place in Congress, however, one of them is guaranteed to end up there. Ouch.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Rick Santorum speaks in Eastlake, OhioI’ve blogged about GOP presidential candidate and militant Christofascist Rick Santorum a number of times already. As his candidacy has slumped, I’d hoped I’d be able to avoid blogging any more about this walking train-wreck. But alas, Santorum has — once again — posed as a theologian. This time, he’s declared that Christianity — as he sees it, anyway — is the source of freedom in the US. ABC News’ The Note blog reports on his ludicrous Religious Rightist pontification, earlier in March (WebCite cached article):

Talking about American exceptionalism, Santorum said the concept of equality came from Christianity, not Islam.

“I love it because the left says equality, equality. Where does that concept come from? Does it come from Islam? Does it come from other cultures around the world? Are men and women treated equally? Are adults and children treated equally? No,” Santorum said. “It comes it comes from our culture and tradition, from the Judeo-Christian ethic. That’s where this comes from-the sense of equality.”

I’ve read this several times and cannot figure out where or how Islam comes into play in this. It doesn’t seem to be of any relevance to the subject at hand. I can only assume it was his attempt to somehow work some derision of Islam into his speech, and thus appeal to any Neocrusaders in the crowd.

As for whether or not Christianity, as a religion, supports or opposes the concept of equality, the record on that is slightly mixed. Christianity appeared in the Greco-Roman world, initially in its eastern portion, and as such was a product of that culture. Greco-Roman society was quite stratified, along many dimensions. There were a number of social classes, with the aristocracy at the top, and several layers underneath, ranging down to unskilled laborers and slaves at the bottom. The genders were divided. Ethnic groups tended to be segregated, in large cities often living in enclaves apart from others. Religions tended, too, to separate people, e.g. with Jews living in their own quarters of cities. The Greco-Roman world was one in which people were born into any number of stratifications, and with few exceptions, they stayed within them their entire lives.

The earliest extant Christian documents, the seven “genuine” Pauline epistles*, which date to the 50s CE, exhibit something of a departure from this, at least doctrinally. For example, Paul wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28). (Note, Col 3:11 says something almost identical, however, that epistle is not genuine, it was written long after Paul). Paul elsewhere refers to a blending of classes and genders within the church in his day. Only in the epistle to Philemon does Paul concede that there’s any validity to any class division, and that lies in his apparent support of slavery as it was practiced then.

Later on, however, we find the early church turning away from egalitarianism. In the gospels — written in the last quarter of the first century CE — we see references to people mainly by some sort of identifier (whether it’s ethnic, professional, or social class). In his parables and comments, Jesus uses stereotypes of these identifiers, sometimes ironically (e.g. the Good Samaritan). His reported interactions in the gospels are often with groups (e.g. he dressed down “the Pharisees”). Jesus also preached to the lower classes as though their plight had virtue in itself. In general, the gospels are written assuming that people fall into various fixed classifications, that this is how things were supposed to be, and that none other than Jesus Christ himself acted as though this was the case. In only one regard is Jesus said to have resisted the prevailing class-wisdom of his time, and this was by attracting “sinners” as followers.

Subsequent Christianity either stated explicitly, or implied, that social classifications, ethnicity, etc. were all God-ordained and that everyone was required to live within the strictures of his/her position in society. That remained the case until the Enlightenment. Even then, the notion of complete equality took a long time to develop. For instance, initially the United States gave voting privileges only to white landowning males. Suffrage was expanded only incrementally over the last 200 years. Also, slavery was legal in the early U.S. and was abolished only after the Civil War. Christianity’s teachings had little to do with this, at least for the first 16 centuries or so of its existence.

It’s true that equality movements like Abolition were comprised of many Christians who believed that Christianity taught to open freedom to others, but this was not universal in Christianity. The Southern Baptist Convention, for example, was founded by southern slave-owning Baptists who opposed the Abolitionist turn their denomination was taking in the 19th century. They, and other Christians, insisted that the Biblical “Curse of Ham” meant that God had rendered black Africans less-than-human.

It is correct to say that the concept of equality can, historically speaking, be viewed as anti-Christian (and anti-Judeo-Christian). Once again, by claiming otherwise, Santorum reveals his ignorance of both history and Christian theology. Well done, Rickie … well done!

Hat tip: Apathetic Agnostic Church.

Photo credit: PBS NewsHour.

* The seven epistles in question are: 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philemon, Philippians, Romans, and 1 Thessalonians.

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Lauren Lancaster / Time / Greenwell Baptist Pastor Tony Perkins, right, and Pastor Dennis Terry, left, pray for Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum's campaign at Greenwell Springs Baptist Church in Greenwell Springs, Louisiana, March 18, 2012.Readers of this blog are likely to know about the fire-&-brimstone preacher, Pastor Dennis Terry, who introduced presidential candidate (and vehement Christofascist) Rick Santorum this week, with a speech in which he ordered non-Christians to “get out” of this country. The Daily Beast reports on his thunderous declaration, with Santorum standing by (WebCite cached article):

At a Baton Rouge revival yesterday, the Republican presidential candidate was introduced and blessed by the fire-breathing pastor Dennis Terry. To a cheering crowd, Terry shouted that ours is a “Christian nation,” that “we don’t worship Buddha, we don’t worship Mohammad, we don’t worship Allah,” and that anyone who doesn’t like “the way we do things” should “get out.”

Of course, the gist of this article is Santorum’s reaction — or more accurately, his non-reaction:

Santorum said nothing. And when the time came to receive a blessing from Terry—right hand over Santorum’s shoulder, left hand on his back—Santorum accepted it, nodding in reverence.

Rightist defenders of this incendiary rhetoric are, of course, comparing it to the fiery speeches of Barack Obama’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, and the controversy they engendered while Obama was campaigning in 2008. This superficial appearance aside, the relationship between pastor and candidate is somewhat different … and far more explicit: The two were at the same event and on the same platform together. At the same time. With the pastor’s comments made clearly right in front of the candidate, who did not object in any way. Video of Pastor Terry’s tirade is available, courtesy of Right Wing Watch, via Youtube:

Beyond the political implications of this — which are obviously legion — I have something else to ask, here. If Pastor Terry is convinced that everyone in the US who’s not an evangelical Christian like himself needs to “get out,” then I invite him to begin making that happen, starting with me. Pastor, please, throw me out of your country. Locate me, come here, and toss me out on my cynical, skeptical, godless agnostic heathen ass.

Forget that it might be considered assault and you’d likely be arrested for it. I won’t report you for trying it, but even if I did, why should that matter to you? Isn’t your God more powerful than the state of Connecticut (where I live)? Aren’t the wishes of the Almighty more important to you than criminal laws?

If you’re truly and sincerely convinced beyond any doubt that your Jesus has decided it’s absolutely necessary for non-Christians like myself to “get out,” then why on earth would you not do everything in your power to make that happen? If it’s so clear-cut, why haven’t you already started throwing people out?

I reiterate: Pastor, I challenge you to throw me out of your “Christian-only” country. Please, do whatever you think you must, in order to make it happen. Go ahead. I sincerely, seriously, and eagerly await your attempt.

If you do what I expect you will do — which is to be a sniveling little coward and refuse to throw me or any other hideous non-believer out of your precious, believers-only country — that will be evidence you are not sincere in this belief, and that you espouse a philosophy you don’t actually hold. That of course would make you a hypocrite; and I remind you, your own Jesus explicitly forbid you ever to be hypocritical, for any reason, at any time.

P.S. It goes without saying that evangelical Protestants don’t consider Catholics — like Santorum — to be “‘real’ Christians.” They are, after all, just a bunch of Mary-worshipping papists. If the pastor had his way, then, Santorum himself would eventually have to “get out” of this “Christian-only” country.

Photo credit: Lauren Lancaster / Time magazine.

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