Posts Tagged “christian”

Vatican flag (8583012024)A U.N. commission has been investigating how the Holy See handled child-abuse allegations within its ranks. This might sound as though something might actually be done about the worldwide priestly pedophilia scandal, but it won’t, because the U.N. is perhaps the single most ineffective institution on the planet. There really isn’t a whole lot the U.N. can do to the Vatican, even if it wished to, and odds are, it won’t wish to do anything. Even so, an investigation of any kind always has the potential to reveal something.

A hearing held today did just that. It shone a rather harsh and unflattering light on the Vatican’s evasiveness — which has been an ongoing problem for this U.N. commission (WebCite cached article). CNN reports on the proceedings (cached):

A senior Vatican official acknowledged Thursday there is “no excuse” for child sex abuse, as he and others were grilled by a U.N. committee about the Catholic Church’s handling of pedophile priests.

It’s the first time the Vatican has been forced to answer allegations so publicly that it enabled the sexual abuse of children by protecting such priests.

The committee questioned a handful of Vatican officials — including Monsignor Silvano Tomasi, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, and Monsignor Charles Scicluna, the Vatican’s former chief sex-crimes prosecutor — for several hours Thursday in Switzerland.

The really interesting bit came from Scicluna, who hurled the problem of Catholic clerical child abuse right back at the governments of countries in which it operates:

Scicluna said he was there to say that “the Holy See ‘gets it’ ” with regard to the issue and that no one should stand in the way of the prosecution of abusive priests.

“Let’s not say too late or not,” he said. “But there are certain things that need to be done differently. I would talk about cover-up, for example, because this is a very important concern.”

States “need to take action against citizens of the country who obstruct justice in such an egregious crime as sexual abuse of minors, whoever these people are,” Scicluna said.

Scicluna is saying the problem lies not in anything the Church did or didn’t do, including covering up abuse, but rather, insinuates that it’s “states” which were the ones engaged in cover-ups. I’d say one could call this the definition of chutzpah, especially since the Church previously has been shown to have ordered its hierarchs not to cooperate with secular investigations.

Wow. I mean, just “wow.”

Scicluna went on to deny that priest shuffling — a frequent Church practice documented as having occurred around the world — ever happened:

As for priests who have committed sexual abuse of minors, the Holy See has made clear in a letter to bishops that it is “a no-go simply to move people from one place to another, from one diocese to another” without being open about their backgrounds, Scicluna said.

I can’t really say any of this surprises me. Although the Vatican has said that it “gets” the scandal, its officials’ words just keep reflecting the perpetually evasive tactics the hierarchs have always used in the past. Very little has changed, except for the fact that guys like Scicluna and Tomasi have been directly confronted and dressed down in a manner that’s never happened before. That much, at least, is quite welcome.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Jesus playing football, via The Biblical WorldNote: This post has been updated to mention comments made by UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma.

My alma mater‘s train-wreck of a football team just got its second total shake-up in 3 years, when Bob Diaco was hired as the new head coach (WebCite cached article), and the rest of the coaching staff was replaced. Among Diaco’s new staff is running backs coach Ernest Jones, who in a Hartford Courant profile on Sunday, explained that he’ll make Jesus the team’s focus (cached):

Many of the players on the team have a spiritual base.

“Just because you come to the University of Connecticut doesn’t mean you won’t have the opportunity to pursue your faith,” Jones said. “No, you’re going to be able to come here and love the God that you love. So we provide opportunities for them to grow spiritually in our community. So I’ll get out and meet some people in the community so when this young man, for example, says, ‘I’m a Seventh Day Adventist or I’m a Catholic or I’m a Baptist or I’m a Jehovah’s Witness,’ well, OK, here you go. And we’re going to do things in our building, fellowship, non-denominational type things, players, coaches. We’re going to make sure they understand that Jesus Christ should be in the center of our huddle, that that’s something that is important. If you want to be successful and you want to win, get championships then you better understand that this didn’t happen because of you. This happened because of our Lord and Savior. That’s going to be something said by Bob Diaco. That’s something that’s going to be said by Ernest Jones. That’s who we are.”

I really love how this guy concedes that members of his team can be Catholic, Baptist, or Jehovah’s Witnesses … any kind of Christian who acknowledges Jesus as “our Lord and Savior.” This pretty much leaves out Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, etc. and non-believers too. Those guys, I guess, can’t sign up for UConn football — not with Jones on the coaching staff, anyway.

This caused a little bit of an uproar, I guess, because today, the Courant published a blog post “clarifying” what Jones said (locally-cached article):

In the end Jones just wants the players on the team to have a good sense of morals in addition to being solid football players.

We need to be clear on this though and here’s a clarification, what Jones meant: if a player has a need to be in touch spiritually, whichever direction that is, the player will be able to reach out to Jones and he will be able to point him — or them — in the right direction; that you don’t have to disconnect from your faith — if you’re faith-based — because you’re away from home.

That sounds all well and good, I suppose … except for three tiny little problems: First, this “clarification” doesn’t mesh with Jones’s original words. As reported, he specifically and explicitly mentioned that Jesus Christ, not some other deity, was required to “be in the center of [UConn’s] huddle.” He didn’t say “Jesus Christ, or whoever or whatever the players worship, should be in the center of our huddle.” Second, Jones’s statement wasn’t predicated on whether or not a player has a wish for spirituality; he clearly said that the entire team had to focus on Jesus. That obviously means every player, not just those who are Christian, or even just those with a spiritual inclination. Third, this clarification didn’t come from Jones himself; beat writer Desmond Conner wrote it for him. The clarification is Conner’s, not Jones’s, so we have no idea whether or not Jones actually thought better of what he’d said during the interview, or for that matter whether or not Jones is even aware of the controversy he kicked up. It’s possible Jones has taken the cowardly route, hiding behind Conner, unwilling to go on the record as admitting he said anything inappropriate, and hoping a reporter can make this go away for him.

I note that the Courant also released UConn president Susan Herbst’s comments — this time, quoting her directly rather than writing for her (locally-cached):

But it should go without saying that our employees cannot appear to endorse or advocate for a particular religion or spiritual philosophy as part of their work at the university, or in their interactions with our students. This applies to work-related activity anywhere on or off campus, including on the football field. Our Athletic Director and Coach Diaco agree wholeheartedly with me, and have made this clear to their staff.

What a mess. It’s been made even more of a mess than it needed to be, by virtue of the total silence of Jones himself. Where has the Christianist weasel been, the last couple days? No one, aside maybe from Desmond Conner, knows.

Photo credit: The Biblical World.

P.S. The typos in some of the Courant articles linked above, such as an extraneous semicolon in one headline, are as published. Editing is given short shrift at the nation’s oldest continuously-published newspaper.

Update: The incredibly successful — not to mention sometimes-brutally-frank — Geno Auriemma, UConn’s women’s basketball coach, had a little to say about this controversy (cached):

“I don’t give a [expletive] about religion when it comes to sports,” Auriemma said. “In fact, I think it’s stupid [to involve it]. I get a kick out of those who go on national television and thank God [for giving them the strength to perform]. Like God gives a [expletive] that you made 18 jumpers. I have always had a problem with that [thinking]. I don’t think people should show their religious belief in public. I have a real problem with it. And I don’t care what religion it is.

The Courant provides video of his comments, which for some reason I can’t embed here (even though the site offers embed code … WTF?).

Auriemma makes an excellent point about whether God cares if “you made 18 jumpers.” Think about this for a moment: Why would the Almighty give a shit about a basketball game, or football game … or any other kind of athletic contest? Why would s/he/it care if a player scored 8 points, or 10, or 12? What could that possibly mean to an omnipotent, omniscient, eternal and infinite being? Wouldn’t s/he/it have better things with which to concern him/her/itself?

If you ask me, if Geno Auriemma — who’s arguably the most successful coach currently working in American college sports — doesn’t think religion should be linked to athletics and doesn’t care about his players’ religion(s), that ought to be tell you something. It might not prove anything all by itself, but it is a meaningful perspective by someone who truly knows the issue.

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89 - Cry Baby!The nation’s Christianists have been whining and fuming for the last 5 years about Barack Obama’s election as president. They’ve made numerous accusations about him … such as that he’s a Kenyan citizen and not American, he’s a Marxist, a “secret Muslim,” a minion of the Muslim Brotherhood, and that he’s the Antichrist.

Although some Religious Right figures are willing to make statements of this sort openly, a lot have been more circumspect about it. They prefer to wink in the direction of such ideas rather than espouse them explicitly. It’s a kind of triangulation that maintains their appeal among angry, militant Rightists who genuinely believe in one of those insane Obama hypotheses, without appearing nutty, themselves, to the rest of us.

One Religious Rightist who recently decided to engage in this sort of triangulation, as the Religion News Service reports, is famed Texas megapastor Robert Jeffress (WebCite cached article):

Already no stranger to controversy, the Rev. Robert Jeffress, a Dallas megachurch pastor, is coming out with a book that claims President Barack Obama is clearing the way for the Antichrist.

Jeffress, head of the 11,000-member First Baptist Church of Dallas, writes in his book “Perfect Ending” that he does not believe Obama is the Antichrist, yet he links Obama’s support of gay marriage to the coming of the Antichrist. Many Christians believe Jesus’ Second Coming will feature a confrontation with an enemy called the Antichrist, based on interpretation of passages 1 John and 2 John.…

“While I am not suggesting that President Obama is the Antichrist, the fact that he was able to propose such a sweeping change in God’s law and still win reelection by a comfortable margin illustrates how a future world leader will be able to oppose God’s laws without any repercussions.”…

Jeffress wasn’t claiming that Obama is the Antichrist, and said he was not questioning the president’s faith. “But what I am saying is this: the course he is choosing to lead our nation is paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist.”

Jeffress’s crybaby gripes center around the two current bogeymen of the R.R.: gay marriage and the contraception mandate. While it’s true he explicitly said he doesn’t think Obama is the Antichrist, that he connected Obama with this terrifying figure out of Christian legend can only be a potential appeal to other hateful Christianists who view the president as being in league with Satan.

The RNS article mentions the word “antichrist” was coined by the author of the Johannine epistles (specifically, it’s found in 1 Jn 2:18, 22; 1 Jn 4:3; and 2 Jn 1:7). But it’s not clear it refers to a single person or spirit. 1 Jn 2:18 reads:

Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.

Clearly the Johannine author is saying there are many “antichrists”; but all the other mentions of “antichrist” are in the singular, and appear to refer only to a singular being. So which is it? Your guess is as good as mine. Although most fundamentalist Christians view “the Antichrist” as some future person, and connect him/her with “the Beast” of Revelation, the Bible itself makes no such connection, and 1 Jn 2:18 certainly contradicts that (since it mentions more than one Antichrist, contemporaneous with its author to boot).

The RNS story also mentions another stupid thing Jeffress said:

In his book, Jeffress makes his case that Christians should study prophecy more closely. “Evangelist Billy Graham once observed that ‘the most neglected teaching in the church today is the second coming of Jesus Christ,’” he said.

This is idiotic on two counts: First, because all Biblical prophecy — every last stinking bit of it — is pure, unfiltered, 100% grade-A bullshit. Simple as that. Second, that Biblical prophecy is somehow “neglected” is a flat-out lie. For the last few decades there’s been endless “End Times” talk streaming out of Christian fundamentalism. The success of the Left Behind publishing empire all by itself thoroughly disproves Jeffress’s (and by extension, Graham’s) contention that Christian prophecy is being ignored.

Photo credit: eyeliam, via Flickr.

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PsiCop graphic / “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men  to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward  with your Father who is in heaven.” ~Mt 6:1, NASBThe mayor of the Dallas-Ft Worth suburb of Flower Mound, TX has declared 2014 to be “the Year of the Bible.” As KXAS-TV in Ft Worth reports, this is problematic (WebCite cached article):

The mayor of Flower Mound is receiving a lot of attention after declaring 2014 the “Year of the Bible.”

Flower Mound Mayor Tom Hayden made the proclamation during a regularly scheduled city council meeting in the Dallas-area suburb last month.

“I ask that you join with me, Tom Hayden, Mayor of the Town of Flower Mound, Texas, in Proclaiming 2014 to be the ‘Year of the Bible’ in Flower Mound, Texas, and encourage all residents in their own way to examine the principles and teachings found in the Bible,” Hayden said during the Dec. 16 meeting.

Here’s the station’s video report:

It appears Flower Mound isn’t exactly some backwater town in the wilds of Texas where everyone is a card-carrying, Bible-thumping member of some Protestant evangelical church. As the story explains, it’s much more cosmopolitan (in terms of religion) than that:

There are dozens of churches in Flower Mound, which has a population of more than 66,000 people. The majority of the churches are Christian-based, but at least five of the organized religions with places of worship in Flower Mound are not. There is an Islamic mosque, a Hindu temple, a Baha’i temple, a Zoroastrian church and a Jewish synagogue.

Well done, Yeronner, you’ve successfully alienated a bunch of your constitutents. Well done! You must be so proud!

Like any shifty Christofascist who’s been caught saying or doing something for Jesus that he shouldn’t have done, Hayden is veering all over the place trying to avoid responsibility for what he did and downplaying its SOCAS implications:

Hayden added that he is disappointed that the focus for some concerning the “Year of the Bible” proclamation has been on him and not, as he intended, on the teachings in the Bible.…

Hayden reiterated to NBC 5 Monday this proclamation was not an order on behalf of the municipal government, but was instead an action taken specifically and solely by him.

That last part is a lie, of course. I will repeat what he said when he made his proclamation (emphasis added):

“I ask that you join with me, Tom Hayden, Mayor of the Town of Flower Mound, Texas, in Proclaiming 2014 to be the ‘Year of the Bible’ in Flower Mound, Texas, and encourage all residents in their own way to examine the principles and teachings found in the Bible,” Hayden said during the Dec. 16 meeting.

That’s right: He explicitly and overtly made this proclamation as Mayor of his town! Also — if you look at the video above, you’ll see Hayden made his proclamation with the Flower Mount, TX emblem as a backdrop. So when he told the reporter he did this as a private citizen and not as Mayor, he was lying. This little bit of disingenuity places Mayor Hayden squarely in my “lying liars for Jesus” club.

Of course, Hizzonner also is disobeying his own Jesus. You see, merely by standing up and trumpeting his own reverence for the Bible, he’s engaging in the practice of “public piety,” which the founder of his own religion clearly and unambiguously forbid him ever to do:

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. (Mt 6:1-6)

It’s quite obvious to me that a lot of Christians like Hizzonner have a great deal of trouble with this particular passage. They ignore it because, let’s face it, what good is it to be an upright, dutiful Christian, if one doesn’t go around impressing others with how uprightly and dutifully Christian one is? So what if Jesus forbid that?

Photo credit: PsiCop graphic, based on Mt 6:1, NASB.

Hat tip: Hypervocal.

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Help! Help! I'm being repressed! (Dennis the constitutional peasant, Monty Python & the Holy Grail)Now that the uproar over Duck Dynasty‘s Phil Robertson’s interview in GQ (WebCite cached article) has died down and he’s been un-suspended by the A&E network (cached), I find that the whole thing has been illuminating and instructive. Christians have taught me quite a bit about their religion, over the course of this controversy. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned:

  1. A Christian can say anything s/he wants, and no one is permitted to be offended by it. To not like anything they say is to deprive them of their First Amendment rights … or something. One must always be happy with everything they say or do. Each time, every time, and in every case. Failing to praise their every utterance and deed is “persecution” that they cannot, and will not, tolerate.
  2. Christians have a special license to be hypocrites. For instance, they can bluster and fume over the insolence of “sinful” gays by citing scripture, after having amassed a vast fortune, in direct contravention of that same scripture. Really, it’s OK for them … in spite of the fact that the founder of their faith told them they couldn’t be hypocritical.
  3. While Christians normally object to anything that’s even remotely suggestive or risqué, they have, themselves, no reservations about being potty-mouths. For instance, they can talk about vaginas and anuses all they wish — but no one else can. In fact, being a potty-mouth for Jesus is a holy endeavor that no Christian apologizes for (cached). (Yep, that would be more of the aforementioned hypocrisy.)
  4. While Christians cannot and will never tolerate one of their own being disciplined or fired for being outspoken about his/her beliefs, they have no reservations at all about disciplining or firing non-believers for expressing what they think (cached). Wait, is that more of the hypocrisy that their own Jesus forbid them to engage in? You betcha! It sure was!
  5. Christians view things as being good or bad based solely on their own subjective criteria. For instance, white Christians can declare racial segregation and Jim Crow laws in the South to have been just fine, because they, themselves, didn’t happen to see any harm in them. And after all, the blacks were happier, back then. Weren’t they? (I mean that sarcastically, of course. Even if white southern Christians don’t.)
  6. Whenever one Christian is persecuted, others leap to his/her defense — automatically. In some cases, by the tens of millions. It doesn’t matter what the Christian actually said or did. All they know is a Christian somewhere got “dissed,” that this is utterly impermissible, and they’re pissed about it. They also don’t care how much trouble they cause (cached) … it’s all for Jesus, you see, and that makes it OK.
  7. Contracts mean little to Christians, where their religiosity is concerned. A Christian might agree to watch his/her mouth (cached), and maybe even sign a “morals clause” that permits discipline or firing for bad behavior … but s/he is free to break such agreements — without penalty! — so long as s/he does it for Jesus.
  8. Whatever tens of millions of Christians want, they get! Facts are irrelevant. Right and wrong don’t matter. Even massive corporations knuckle under to their bullying. If there are any Christians who’re disturbed by the sanctimonious fury of their co-religionists, they never speak up. Quite the opposite: They happily let the masses of other Christians carry on in their outrage like spoiled children.
  9. Christians view actual persecution of their faith — which quite unacceptably is happening (cached) in various places around the world (cached) — as inseparable from, and identical to, phantasmal forms of it (such as mere criticism of Christianity or its followers). Christians feel as though they’re “under attack,” therefore they believe they are under attack. Emotion and reality; fact and delusion; the subjective and the objective; rational and irrational; reasonable and fantastic; these are fused and conflated in Christianity and in the minds of its followers. There’s no difference between them … and no Christian will accept anyone telling him/her there is one.

Another way of putting it is, this sad debacle merely reinforced things I already knew about Christians and their religion. It also made clear that, when the nation’s Christofascists get angry enough and react fiercely enough, they get their way. No one stands up to them. The combination of their power over others, their unyielding militancy, and their delusional thinking, makes them extremely dangerous. We should all be worried … very, very worried.

Photo credit: Based on Monty Python & the Holy Grail.

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Fist, by jnatoli, via DeviantartThis is only my second post on “the War on Christmas” during 2013, not because there’s no material to draw on; Christofascists’ campaign to force every American — Christian or otherwise — to celebrate their holiday as they demand it be celebrated continues apace, and media outlets have filed many stories on it. It’s just that, after several years of commenting on it here, I’m selecting only the most remarkable of them to blog about.

The most recent that I came across, qualifies as that. It’s an example of the metaphorical “war on Christmas” resulting in very-real violence. KNXV-TV in Phoenix, AZ reports on this scuffle (WebCite cached article):

Some might call it the December Debate — do you greet people with “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”?

A Valley woman, who’s also a bell ringer for the Salvation Army, says she was assaulted for choosing the wrong one.

Kristina Vindiola says a woman hit her outside the Wal-Mart on 91st Avenue and Thomas Road after she said “Happy Holidays.”

“The lady looked at me,” said Vindiola. “I thought she was going to put money in the kettle. She came up to me and said, ‘Do you believe in God?’ And she says, ‘You’re supposed to say Merry Christmas,’ and that’s when she hit me.”

Here’s their video report:

The story goes on to partially excuse the attacker:

Shoppers we spoke with understand how some people can get offended.

It then quotes several Christians who commented on “Happy Holidays” vs. “Merry Christmas.” Of course, none of them came right out and said explicitly that they approve of someone being punched out over it … but just saying one “understands” the concern, is a mild, tacit approval.

Police aren’t taking action because videotape of the attack, they say, isn’t enough for an arrest. The story doesn’t explain this any better than that.

Photo credit: jnatoli, via Deviantart.

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crying babyIt’s become cliché: Every time there’s a massacre somewhere — especially in a school — Christofascists line up to blame it on people refusing to believe what they believe. The latest example of this tired act comes in the wake of the Arapahoe High School shooting, and was penned by Denver-area pastor R. Loren Sandford, for Charisma News (WebCite cached article):

Why? These things never happened a generation ago, when, whether or not we really lived it, our nation at least acknowledged God and our families for the most part remained whole. I want to scream, “America! Wake up!” I have unhappily prophesied in writing that we are witnessing the catastrophic collapse of a once-great culture and our children are paying the price. I warned in my annual prophetic word just a few weeks ago of the rising tide of hatred around us that will surface in many arenas of life. This shooting is a manifestation of that hatred which inevitably results when a nation forgets its rightful Lawgiver and turns from His principles that were given to ensure the well-being of all God’s creation.

Note that Sandford’s claim that “these things never happened a generation ago,” is a lie. School shootings have happened right through the nation’s history. In fact, one of the most infamous of them occurred before America’s independence, during the Pontiac’s Rebellion. And the single worst school massacre (a bombing, not a shooting) took place in 1927. There’s actually a long and sad tradition of such events, which took place both before and after Engel v. Vitale (1962) and Abington School District v. Schempp (1963), which Sandford may or may not be alluding to (although 1962-63 was a lot more than “a generation ago”).

The rest of Sandford’s screed includes more tired whines, such as that there can be no morality apart from his Jesus, which is just not the case, no matter how often Christianists like him keep repeating it. Unfortunately for them, no amount of repetition can ever make that assertion magically come true.

In any event, if Pastor Sandford is so convinced that non-belief is the culprit here — rather than sociopathy — and that the entire country is obligated to believe in his Jesus, then I invite him to begin with little old me. Track me down, Pastor, and force me to convert (back) to charismatic Christianity. Go ahead. I dare you. Give it your best shot! Given your stated thinking, you have no reason not to do so … not to mention, my explicit invitation to try … so get to it already! You won’t be able to convert me, but you can sure do your best! Why would you not, Pastor? Are you too cowardly to try?

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: Ernesto JT, via Flickr.

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