Posts Tagged “christian”
No sooner do I get done blogging about how Christians routinely and pathologically lie about the extent to which their religion has been persecuted — both historically and in the present day — I hear about a new outrage among them that’s got their knickers in a knot over precisely the same thing. It seems Google has decided to celebrate Easter 2013 with one of its “Google doodles” … featuring Cesar Chavez, whose birthday happens to be March 31 (this year, the same day as Easter). The Canadian Press via CTV News reports on their sanctimonious rage over this horrific, intolerable insult (WebCite cached article):
Google’s decision to honour the birthday of U.S. labour organizer Cesar Chavez angered some American Christians on Sunday, who fumed that it was disrespectful to celebrate Chavez with a so-called Google Doodle on Easter Sunday.
The face of Chavez, a Mexican immigrant who organized Latino farm workers in the 1960s, was situated in the middle “o” of the Google logo on Sunday as the search engine giant opted against recognizing a secular holiday to commemorate what would have been the civil rights activist’s 86th birthday.
Conservative websites assailed Google’s decision.
In case you haven’t see it yet, here’s a screen shot of the Google doodle in question:
Google Web site, showing Google doodle honoring the 86th birthday of the late activist Cesar Chavez (3/31/2013)
Already, conservatives have identified what they believe as the source of this outrageous attack on their religion; why, it could only
be the hated President Barack Obama:
The Daily Caller expressed confusion about why Google “chose specifically to honour Chavez’s birthday, instead of Easter Sunday.”
The conservative news organization also suggested Obama might have influenced Google’s thinking. Google CEO Eric Schmidt was an “informal adviser” in both of Obama’s presidential campaigns, the Daily Caller reported, was a member of his transition team in 2009 and is apparently rumoured for a cabinet position during the president’s second term.
I’d like to break a little news to these angry conservatives: Google is a company that can do whatever it fucking wants with its Web site. If that means they honor Cesar Chavez’s birthday on Easter Sunday, then that’s what it means. And you know what? There’s not a fucking thing you sniveling crybabies can do to prevent it! Time to stand by your own stated pro-business rhetoric and let a corporation do what it wants to do. Anything else is clearly hypocritical … and if I may point it out, your own Jesus explicitly and unambiguously ordered you never, ever to be hypocritical … not at any time, and not for any reason.
Amusingly, the article notes that conservatives’ anger is so consuming that some of them conflated two different Chavezes (Cesar, and Hugo):
Others on social media praised Google for honouring Chavez and mocked those who confused him with Hugo Chavez, the recently deceased Venezuelan president.
The Twitter account for The Twitchy, conservative pundit Michelle Malkin’s right-wing news outlet, initially claimed Google was honouring the late revolutionary.
That they’d confuse two different men, both of whom they despise passionately, is just hilarious! I can hardly keep from laughing at their stupidity and ignorance.
At any rate, none of this is unexpected. Religious Rightists simply can’t tolerate anything that they view as “dissing” their religion. They view any slight to their faith as a very real “attack” on their persons, little different from being punched in the face or held up at gunpoint. That companies like Google are free to decorate their Web sites however they wish, is irrelevant in the face of this perceived insult. They quite simply refuse to tolerate any apparent disrespect for their religion.
Photo credit: Ernesto JT, via Flickr.
Tags: cesar chavez
, cesar chavez birthday
, christian right
, daily caller
, easter sunday
, google doodle
, michelle malkin
, religious right
, search engine
, the twitchy
4 Comments »
For a very long time I’ve been saying that Christians’ claims of historical persecution are overblown. Many of them think the Romans routinely and pervasively persecuted their religion throughout the first three centuries of its existence. And today, they view the loss of their religion’s once-mighty influence over occidental culture as a kind of persecution. They don’t realize that their beliefs about Roman Imperial persecution are vastly overstated, even though most scholars — beginning with Edward Gibbon, author of the seminal The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire — acknowledge it was exaggerated. Their belief that, during Roman times, their religion hovered at the very edge of extinction at any moment and that being associated with Christianity in any way was an automatic instant death sentence, continues to be prevalent, in spite of the fact that it’s not true at all.
This Easter morning, the CNN Belief Blog posted an article about authors who’ve examined the record of Rome’s persecution of Christianity and found it wanting (WebCite cached article):
Millions of Christians worldwide will celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus on this Easter Sunday. But the story of how the church rose to prominence after Jesus’ death is being turned upside down.
According to a belief passed down through the centuries, the church grew because of Roman persecution. The blood of Christian martyrs such as Perpetua became “the seed of the church,” said third-century church leader Tertullian. It’s the Hollywood version of Christianity reflected in epic biblical films such as “Ben-Hur” and “The Robe.” Vicious Romans relentlessly targeted early Christians, so the story goes, but the faith of people like Perpetua proved so inspiring that Christianity became the official religion of Rome, and eventually the largest religion in the world.
But that script is getting a rewrite. The first Christians were never systematically persecuted by the Romans, and most martyrdom stories — with the exception of a handful such as Perpetua’s — were exaggerated and invented, several scholars and historians say. It wasn’t just how the early Christians died that inspired so many people in the ancient world; it was how they lived.
“You had much better odds of winning the lottery than you would have becoming a martyr,” says Joyce E. Salisbury, author of “The Blood of Martyrs: Unintended Consequences of Ancient Violence.”
“The odds were pretty slim. More people read about martyrs than ever saw one.”
It’s absolutely true that some Christians were persecuted in Roman times. It’s also true that there were some periods of extensive, systematic persecution. No rational person who’s seen the historical evidence can deny either of these facts. That said, the persecution that did take place was sporadic, and far less common than is now widely believed. Systematic persecutions took place only under two emperors, Decius and Diocletian. Each of these persecutions lasted at most for two years. The Christian legend that Emperor Septimus Severus also ordered a systematic persecution of Christians is not supported by any evidence.
Christians’ obsession with martyrs has historically created a lot of problems. For example, in classical times, immediately after tolerance for their religion was declared by Emperor Constantine in 313, a hyperpious reverence for martyrs led to the catastrophic fracture of the Church in northern Africa, the Donatist schism.
Even worse, modern Christians have carried this false legend into their own lives, and believe themselves to be persecuted, even now:
The debate over exactly how many Christians were persecuted and martyred may seem irrelevant centuries later. A scholarly consensus has indeed emerged that Roman persecution of Christians was sporadic, and that at least some Christian martyrdom stories are theological tall tales.
But a new book by Candida Moss, a New Testament professor at the University of Notre Dame, is bringing that message to the masses.
Moss says ancient stories of church persecution have created a contemporary cult of bogus Christian martyrs. She says too many American Christians are acting like they’re members of a persecuted minority, being thrown to the lions by people who simply disagree with them.
She cited former Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. Romney claimed last year that President Barack Obama was waging a “war against religion,” and Santorum said the gay community “had gone out on a jihad” against him. Other Christians invoke images of persecution when someone disagrees with them on controversial issues such as abortion or birth control, says Moss, whose “The Myth of Persecution” was recently released.
Too many Christians conflate mere disagreement with persecution … despite the fact that they’re not the same thing. Not even close!
Again, I do not deny that some Christians were persecuted in the Roman Empire, nor do I deny that some Christians are being persecuted in other parts of the world. What I am saying is that Christians in the U.S. and the rest of the occidental world, are not being persecuted, and that for them to continue believing they are, is delusional thinking. It’s time for them to grow the fuck up, dial back the sniveling and the sanctimonious bellyaching, accept that their religion no longer rules the world with an iron fist, and stop accusing non-Christians of things they haven’t done.
P.S. I can see it now: Cue the Christians’ fury and outrage that CNN insolently published this article “dissing” their religion, on Easter morning, of all days. Why, it’s intolerable that the evil secularists at CNN and in the mass media are trying to wipe out their poor, put-upon faith, this way, on their holiest day! If only these Christians could see how such reasoning merely provides more evidence of this religiously-propagated psychopathology … !
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Tags: candida moss
, christian martyr complex
, christian persecution
, christian persecution complex
, joyce e salisbury
, roman empire
, roman persecution
, vibia perpetua
1 Comment »
It figures. A month ago I blogged about something Marion “Pat” Robertson said, after not having mentioned him in a long time. And now here he comes, with some more notable commentary. This time, he actually indicted himself. Right Wing Watch reports on his latest blunder (WebCite cached article):
Following a news story on the 700 Club about the Profitable Sunrise investment scam [cached], televangelist Pat Robertson told viewers to beware “scamsters in religious garb quoting the Bible, I mean run from them.”
In case you don’t believe he actually said this, here it is, via Youtube:
Hmm, I wonder who could possibly fit that description … someone who’s “dressed in religious garb” and always “quoting the Bible” … that every Christian should “run from.” Hmm. Who could that be? I wonder … !
To be clear, this is one of those (exceedingly rare) occasions when I agree with Robertson about something. He is absolutely correct when he says people need to “run from” “these scamsters in religious garb quoting the Bible.” They truly are “all over the place.” Including CBN!
Photo credit: CBN, via the Raw Story.
Hat tip: Apathetic Agnostic Church.
, marion pat robertson
, pat robertson
, profitable sunrise
, profitable sunrise investment scam
By now most of my readers will already have heard the news: the College of Cardinals has elected a new pope. The New York Times reports on the cardinals’ choice (WebCite cached article):
With a puff of white smoke from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel and to the cheers of thousands of rain-soaked faithful, a gathering of Catholic cardinals picked a new pope from among their midst on Wednesday — choosing the cardinal from Argentina, the first South American to lead the church.
The new pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio (pronounced Ber-GOAL-io), will be called Francis, the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. He is also the first non-European pope in more than 1,200 years and the first member of the Jesuit order to lead the church.
A lot of folks will speculate as to what it means that a non-European was elected Pope, and that the new Pope named himself for St Francis of Assisi. It’s true that Francis is the first “New World” pope, and it’s also true that St Francis had — like Jesus himself — preached the virtue of poverty. But don’t be deceived. The Roman Catholic Church is a colossal juggernaut that works in its own way, moves at its own pace, and in many ways governs itself. It almost doesn’t matter who heads the Holy See. It’s the bishops who, collectively, run the Church, and they’ll continue to do so just as they always have. Even if he’d wanted to — and I’m positive he doesn’t — Pope Francis can’t “change” the Church in any meaningful way … because it can’t be changed.
Photo credit: Vincenzo Pinto/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images, via the New York Times.
Tags: cardinal bergoglio
, catholic church
, college of cardinals
, holy father
, holy see
, jorge mario bergoglio
, papal election
, pope francis
, roman catholic
, roman catholic church
, vatican city
During the height of her popularity in the 1980s — in the wake of her having won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 — Mother Teresa was arguably the most famous Roman Catholic on earth (rivalled only by Pope John Paul II). In 1995, when the late Christopher Hitchens penned a book critical of her called The Missionary Position, it seemed to have come out of nowhere.
In spite of some favorable literary reviews of his book, Hitchens was widely excoriated for having dared take on a poor, frail old woman who was viewed, by most people, as a living saint. The book was frequently dismissed as a product of Hitchens’s presumed irrational hatred of all things Catholic, and not as the product of research into what she’d actually been up to, backed up by primary-source material.
Well, nearly 2 decades later, it seems Hitchens hadn’t really been that far off target. The (UK) Independent reports that some academics have assessed Mother Teresa’s career, and agree she wasn’t much of a champion of the poor and the sick (WebCite cached article):
The late Mother Teresa’s saintly image has been called into question by researchers conducting an in-depth study of her life.
Mother Teresa may have spent the vast majority of her 87 years looking after the sick and poor, but researchers from Montreal and Ottawa universities have now raised questions over the ‘dubious’ nature of her care, as well querying her “questionable” political contacts.…
Writing in the Journal of Studies in Religion/Sciences after analysing around 300 documents surrounding Mother Teresa’s life, Dr Serge Larivie and Dr Genevieve Chenard say they have uncovered details that compromise the Albanian-born nun’s saintly image.
They claim that many of the ‘missions’ set up by Mother Teresa were unfit for their inhabitants, calling them ‘homes for the dying’ due to their poor hygiene and a shortage of food, care and medication.
The researchers believe a lack of money cannot be the reason for the poor conditions however, as Mother Teresa raised hundreds of millions of pounds during her lifetime, although much of that money apparently appears to have vanished into several ‘secret’ bank accounts reportedly kept by the nun.
The researchers also questioned why, despite openly offering prayers and medallions bearing depictions of the Virgin Mary, Mother Teresa provided no direct or monetary aid to victims of a number of natural disasters in India.
Dr Larivie says: “Given the parsimonious management of Mother Teresa’s works, one may ask where the millions of dollars for the poorest of the poor have gone?”
The researchers went on to query Mother Teresa’s politics and political contacts, accusing her of accepting a financial grant from the brutal Duvalier dictatorship, which is deemed responsible for the murders of over 30,000 Haitians between 1957 and 1986.
But Mother Teresa had more political allies other than brutish tyrants like François and “Baby Doc” Duvalier; infamous banking swindler Charles Keating was also among her associates. Yeah, those were the sorts of people she made time for, and counted as her friends and supporters. Yuck.
I suspect these findings won’t rehabilitate Hitchens in the eyes of those who despised him. I also suspect they won’t convince Mother Teresa’s devout Catholic admirers into rethinking their devotion to her. They will, instead, dismiss them as the product of the Evil Secularist Elite that supposedly infests higher education in North America. (As though there’s no such thing as a conservative or religionistic college anywhere to be found.) After all … why put up with inconvenient facts, when you can rationalize some way to ignore them?
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.
, catholic church
, charles keating
, christopher hitchens
, francois duvalier
, mother teresa
, roman catholic
, roman catholic church
, the missionary position
It’s been a while since I blogged about the inane stupidity that spews from the mouth of televangelist Marion “Pat” Robertson. That’s not to say he hasn’t been saying anything idiotic; it just means the idiocy he has been saying, isn’t something I found very remarkable. I mean … it’s Patty Robertson we’re talking about, after all! But yesterday, he offered up some ridiculous tripe that I find remarkable, not merely because it’s moronic (like everything else that comes out of his mouth) but because it was in response to a problem that fundamentalist Christians face. Right Wing Watch reports on his answer to a question about purchasing clothing in a second-hand store (locally-cached article):
After a viewer, Carrie, asked whether to follow her mom’s recommendation to pray away demonic spirits over her secondhand sweaters, Robertson recounted a story about “a witch who had prayed over a particular ring and asked for a spirit to come into it, and this Philippine girl was so attached to this ring, she had to buy it and all hell broke loose because she finally recognized what it was.”
“Can demonic spirits attach themselves to inanimate objects, the answer is yes,” Robertson said.
While Robertson noted that people don’t have to worry that every item they purchase is possessed by demons, he added: “Hey, it ain’t going to hurt anything to rebuke any spirits that happened to have attached themselves to those clothes.”
RWW offers video of this exchange, via Youtube:
Now, it’s easy to laugh at Robertson’s primitive religionism and its irrational concern about demons that may or may not be in second-hand clothing. It is funny that there are people in the 21st century United States who truly think this way. But really, given Christianity’s history, it’s not all that strange.
As a student of early Christianity, I’m aware that concerns of this sort date back nearly to the religion’s founding. Back in the first century CE, a lot of meat consumption (what there was of it, anyway) was associated with religious rites. It wasn’t entirely unlikely that any meat someone managed to buy might have been sacrificed to a pagan deity prior to it being butchered for sale. Because of this, a lot of Christians were very cautious about eating meat.
As it turns out, this anxiety shows up a couple times in the New Testament. In 1 Corinthians Paul writes that, since there’s only one god and idols don’t represent anything real, there’s no harm in eating such meat:
Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one. For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him. However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat. (1 Corinthians 8:4-8)
Since an idol’s deity isn’t real, there’s no harm in eating meat sacrificed to it. The sacrifice itself was meaningless, so the meat is untainted.
Even so, this was such a contentious issue in the early Church, that Paul suggests Christians should avoid eating sacrificed meat, if it’s a problem for someone else (see 1 Corinthians 8:9-13). Elsewhere, Christians are advised to avoid eating sacrificed meat, likewise in the name of promoting harmony (see Acts 15:28-29).
What I find remarkable is that the position Paul laid out, way back in the 1st century … i.e. that idol-sacrifice is meaningless, therefore meat can’t be profaned … is a more rational and mature position than Patty Robertson’s. He claims that demons are real and they actually can infest objects, and might conceivably be found in second-hand clothing, therefore Christians must de-demonize all second-hand clothing before bringing it into their homes. Patty is actually more backward and primitive in his thinking, than the apostle Paul was.
Photo credit: Random Factor, via Flickr.
, demon infestation
, demonic infestation
, marion pat robertson
, pat robertson
, second-hand clothing
Religion makes people do really nutty, if not detrimental, things sometimes, even to themselves. Religionistic fear of the number 666 recently caused a devout Christian quit his job, as The Town Talk of Alexandria, LA reports (WebCite cached article):
A Clarksville, Tenn., man says he quit his job last week in order to save his soul.
Walter Slonopas, 52, resigned as a maintenance worker at Contech Casting LLC in Clarksville after his W-2 tax form was stamped with the number 666.
The Bible calls 666 the “number of the beast,” and it’s often used as a symbol of the devil. Slonopas said that after getting the W-2, he could either go to work or go to hell.
“If you accept that number, you sell your soul to the devil,” he said.
The article explains this is actually the third time Slonopas has run into this problem. Twice before he’d been assigned the clock number of 666, and on one of those occasions he quit, only to get his job back right away. It’s not clear if he’ll be rehired this time.
The Town Talk also describes the reason why 666 evokes such terror on the part of some Christians:
The number 666 first appears in Chapter 13 of the New Testament book of Revelation, which describes a Satanic figure called the beast or Antichrist who takes over the world and stamps everyone with a mark bearing the number 666. According to Revelation, no one will be able to buy or sell anything without that number stamped on them.
That has caused people to fear anytime that number pops up, said Jay Phelan, senior professor of theological studies at North Park University in Chicago. …
Amy-Jill Levine, professor of New Testament and Jewish studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, said the writer of Revelation was using a technique called “gematria” — in which letters have numerical values — to refer to a Roman emperor as the beast.
She said that over the past 2,000 years, readers of Revelation have tried to use 666 to figure out who the Antichrist is. Among the candidates were political figures like Hitler, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama and corporations like Proctor & Gamble and IBM.
“The number of the Beast” is mentioned in Revelation 13:18, and in most manuscripts it’s 666, but some have 616 instead. These two variations have led most scholars to conclude that the author of Revelation had been alluding to the Emperor Nero, because when his Greek name was transliterated into Hebrew, it added up to 666, but when starting with Latin, it became 616. This particular coincidence doesn’t work with anything else. And if it’s the case that either 666 or 616 is a reference to Nero, then Revelation … written as it was during the latter half of the 1st century CE … couldn’t have been intended to describe the future prophetically; it was, instead, a description of past history.
At any rate, it looks as though Mr Slonopas’s metaphysics will leave him unemployed. Well done. I’m sure his Jesus is just so proud of him for being so stupid.
Photo credit: PsiCop original.
, clarksville TN
, end times
, number of the beast
, rev 13:18
, revelation 13:18
, walter slonopas