Posts Tagged “christianism”

CT Comptroller Kevin Lembo / CT News Junkie file photoAt the outset, I have to concede this is something of a tempest in a teapot. We aren’t talking about very much money here, and the stakes aren’t very high, on either side of this conflict. Still, it is an example of someone daring to take on a well-known and vocal Religious Right group, which is actually rare, since they’ve been so successful at intimidating others and bullying them into acquiescence.

Now then, on to the story … !

The state of Connecticut has a program by which its employees can have money deducted from their paychecks and sent directly to a number of charitable organizations. To be included in this program, charities must sign up and agree to abide by certain standards. But in the case of the American Family Association, that proved to be a problem. CT’s comptroller, Kevin Lembo, whose office administers the program, wants to find out if the AFA is actually living up to that agreement; but as CT News Junkie reports, the AFA is none too happy about that (WebCite cached article):

After asking a Christian organization that’s against LGBTQ rights for more information about how it conforms with Connecticut’s nondiscrimination clause to qualify for state employee payroll deductions, state Comptroller Kevin Lembo became the group’s newest target.

The American Family Association, a Mississippi-based group that is known for its anti-gay and anti-transgender boycotts of businesses, is flooding Lembo’s office with calls and emails. As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, Lembo said his office had received 4,455 emails from people associated with AFA.…

Last week, Lembo, who is the Connecticut’s first openly gay constitutional officer, announced that his office was investigating [cached] whether the group conforms with the anti-discrimination policy for the Connecticut State Employee Campaign for Charitable Giving program. Lembo said the group signed the anti-discrimination clause, but their website seems to offer a different story.

As one would expect, the AFA went ballistic over Lembo’s investigation. It probably didn’t help that Lembo is openly gay. They claim his move is an “attack” on their religious freedom, and Lembo’s way of trying to wipe out devout, dutiful Christians like themselves … but it’s not. At stake here is just one very small question: Whether or not the AFA is allowed to remain in CT’s payroll-deduction program for state employees. That’s all. Nothing more. Whether they’re in this program or not, will not change their lives in the slightest. It won’t force them to give up their beliefs. It won’t close any of their churches, it won’t rip Bibles out of their homes or hands. It won’t do anything of the sort, even if they claim it would. What’s more, as CTNJ explains, we’re talking about a small amount of money:

Between 2011 and 2016, AFA has receive $202 from three state employees. Since the group is part of a larger group of 13 charities within the account, it’s unknown exactly how much it received in undesignated funds. The group of 13 charities under the Neighbor to Nation heading received a little more than $4,000 a year between 2011 and 2014.

That kind of money isn’t going to make or break the AFA. It just won’t, no matter how sanctimoniously enraged they may be at this insolent, profane gay man who dared take them on, even in a small way such as this.

Really, the problem here is with the AFA. They reached an agreement with the state of CT in order to be included in this program, and that agreement included anti-discrimination terms, which they haven’t abided by, and which they even insist they’re obliged to ignore by dint of their religious beliefs. In other words … they signed an agreement whose terms they damned well knew, from the very start, that they never intended to live by. They weren’t coerced into signing up for that program or signing that agreement; no one put a gun to their heads and forced them to do so. They did that of their own volition. It now appears they did so dishonestly. I salute the Comptroller for pointing out their duplicity and for taking them on … even if the end result won’t accomplish very much (at best, the AFA will be deprived of a few hundred dollars a year in contributions, should they be removed from the program).

Really, for me — as I stated at the beginning of this post — what’s significant here is that Lembo was even willing at all to try to take on the AFA. Most of the time, public officials won’t contend with Christofascists. Rather, they tend overwhelmingly to bend over for them and give in to their bullying tactics. This is how they’ve succeeded as much as they have over the last three or four decades. They always seem to resort to their claim of sincere belief and “religious freedom,” as though this means all of humanity is required to knuckle under to all their demands, all the time, and that they’re never to be questioned, ever, for any reason. The world doesn’t work that way, and there’s no reason officials should act as though it does.

Photo credit: CT News Junkie.

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Praying Crusader / ModlicisekrizakNow that Donald “it’s my own orange hair!” Trump has been elected president, he’s begun assigning roles to the various men (many of specious character and/or ability) who supported his campaign. The transition process has turned out to be a clusterfuck, which should surprise exactly no one (WebCite cached article).

One of his appointees, retired general Michael Flynn, is an outspoken Neocrusader (i.e. a Religious Rightist who wants Islam banned in the US at the very least, and — if possible — eradicated from the planet). Among other things, the soon-to-be National Security Advisor as Right Wing Watch explains, he’s said that Islam isn’t a religion (cached):

In August, the Dallas Morning News reported that Flynn had delivered a speech to a Dallas gathering of the anti-Muslim group ACT for America, in which he had called Islam “a political ideology” that hides behind “being a religion,” and “a cancer.”…

“Islam is a political ideology.… It definitely hides behind this notion of it being a religion. And I have a very, very tough time because I don’t see a lot of people screaming ‘Jesus Christ’ with hatchets or machetes or rifles shooting up clubs or hatcheting, literally axing families on a train, or like they just killed a couple of police officers with a machete.”

Note: The original Dallas Morning News article referred to is no longer on the paper’s Web site, but an Archive.Org cached version is available.

RWW provides video of this event, via Youtube:

Flynn’s complaint that Islam isn’t a religion, but rather a political ideology, is an old one among Religious Rightists. By saying Islam isn’t a religion, the R.R. rationalizes outlawing that religion and robbing Muslims of their religious freedom. Their assumption that Islam could be abolished in the US if it’s found to be a political ideology and not a religion, is — of course — foolish, since in addition to religious freedom, we also have political freedoms. The R.R. could no more ban Islam-as-a-political-ideology than it could the ideology of Leftism (which it would very much like to do, but can’t).

What’s more, Flynn’s contention that Christians never kill based on their Christianity, is untrue: Christians can, and do, terrorize and kill in Jesus’ name. Almost a year ago, Robert Dear shot up a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado (cached); he didn’t (as Flynn idiotically suggested) shout “Jesus Christ” while doing so, but he did mention “baby parts” after he was captured. As such, he was obviously motivated by the release of videos by a “pro-life” Religious Right group a few months prior. (Now, PP wasn’t actually selling baby parts, but sanctimonious pro-lifers don’t really care about facts. They only care about their outrage.)

As I’ve blogged many times before, these Neocrusaders view Islam as the chief rival of their own religion (which, for nearly all of them, is Christianity). Their “war” against it is basically just a form of religious one-upmanship … i.e. a way of pushing the narrative that their god is bigger than the Muslims’ god. By agitating against Muslims, they hope to “prove” the virtues of their own religion and make Muslims cave in to them.

As such, it’s all very childish, but this is the ideology that elected Donald “it’s my own orange hair!” Trump. So what can one expect?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Church interior / Immaculate Conception Catholic Church San Diego Web siteLast I knew, the Roman Catholic Church’s position is that its parishes and clergy aren’t supposed to meddle in politics. Clergy are even prohibited from holding public office (something John Paul II reminded them of back in the early 1980s). Also, as non-profit entities, they’re legally forbidden, in the US, from campaigning (WebCite cached article).

None of that, unfortunately, means Catholic parishes never violate those policies or laws. Four years ago I blogged about an El Paso parish that campaigned against Barack Obama’s re-election. As the San Diego Union-Tribune reports, something similar just happened in a parish in that city (cached):

Between requests for prayers for the sick and a notice for an upcoming chastity luncheon, a newsletter from a Catholic church in Old Town that doubles as an election-day polling site included a flier that told parishioners they’ll go to hell if they vote for Democrats.

Two Sundays later, the message had changed: Satan was working through former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The Oct. 16 bulletin from the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church was stuffed with a flyer written in both English and Spanish that cited five legislative policies — support for abortion, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, human cloning, and embryonic stem cell research — that will doom a politician and their supporters to eternal damnation.

“It is a mortal sin to vote Democrat … immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell,” the flyer said. It cited the five public policy issues from the “Voters Guide for Serious Catholics” and said that Democrats violate each of them, while Republicans cross none.

The diocese admits this flyer was given out in violation of Catholic policy and professed that they hadn’t done it:

The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego on Wednesday said the messages in the flier and bulletin do not reflect Catholic teaching or diocese policies, are inappropriate, and that voters should use their conscience to determine which candidates to support.

“It’s not a mortal sin to vote for Democrats, number one. And number two, the church doesn’t take positions on this, and we’re not going to,” diocese spokesman Kevin Eckery said.…

The diocese said the flier was not authorized by the parish, but it was somehow inserted into the Oct. 16 bulletin.

The problem with this “it wasn’t authorized” defense is that it happened twice, not just once; you’d think the parish priest(s) and staff would have been on alert for someone stuffing crap into their bulletins, after it had happened the first time. That it occurred a second time can only mean they are — at best — unconcerned about it, and — at worst — they approve of it.

As for Hillary being a Satanist by virtue of her links to Alinsky, I addressed that just this summer, when former GOP candidate Ben Carson trotted out that trope. I said then, and will repeat here, that Alinsky was no Satanist at all, and that Clinton was not his sycophant. Yes, it’s true that Religious Rightists despise Alinsky and many of them truly do believe him to have been a Satanist … but their belief, no matter how sincere it might be, cannot magically make that true. Because it’s not. And Clinton herself differed with Alinsky, to the point of refusing a job offer he made.

Although this is a blatant violation of the IRS code, I’m sure that feared agency will do nothing about this. At all. For decades they’ve consistently bent over for the Religious Right, and I have no reason to think they’re going to change, any time soon.

Photo credit: Immaculate Conception Catholic Church Web site.

Hat tip: Raw Story.

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SiegeOfAcre1291For almost a year now, I’ve said the movement I call “the Great Neocrusade” — i.e. an effort by fierce Rightists in the US to eradicate Islam from their precious “Christian nation” — turned violent. There’s been a lot of vigilante “justice” meted out, over the last year, to various Muslims (and to non-Muslims who were assumed to be Muslims). The Neocrusaders would say this is just a counter-Islamist-terror campaign, except for the fact that none of the victims were terrorists, and hadn’t said or done anything (aside from appearing Muslim) to make anyone suspect they were terrorists. They simply happened to cross the path of one or more sanctimoniously-enraged Neocrusaders.

The reality is that — notwithstanding events like the San Bernardino, Boston Marathon, and Ft Hood massacres — Islamist terror is still extremely rare in the US. Americans are more likely to fall prey to domestic, Right-wing terror, and vastly more likely to be victimized by ordinary, simple, mundane sociopaths not motivated by any religion or particular ideology at all. So really, there’s no reason for Neocrusaders to stomp around beating up on random Muslims — even if they view it as justified in order to save Americans from terrorism.

You’d be surprised where Neocrusaders are lurking. There are more of them than you think, and not just in cosmopolitan parts of the country (i.e. big cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, etc.) where one expects to find Muslims and other foreign faiths. They can be found even among the reserved, quiet, pious folk of “middle America.” An example of this, as KWCH-TV in Wichita KS reports, is a plot the feds recently broke up in the “heartland” town of Garden City, KS (WebCite cached article):

Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall says Curtis Allen, 49, Gavin Wright, 51, and Patrick Stein were all charged with domestic terrorism.

Beall said the three were planning to bomb an apartment complex and mosque in Garden City occupied by a Muslim community of about 120 Somali refugees.

Beall said the men planned to carry out the attack on Nov. 9, the day after Election Day.…

Beall said the men wrote a manifesto, which they wanted published after the bombing.

According to an affidavit, the were a part of a group called the Kansas Security Force and the Crusaders.

“These are militia groups whose members support and espouse sovereign citizen, anti-government, anti-Muslim, and anti-immigrant extremist beliefs,” read the affidavit.

Beall said the men’s arrest is a part of an eight month long investigation.

For the last year, the Right — led by GOP presidential nominee Donald “it’s my own orange hair!” Trump — has blustered and fumed over Muslim refugees living among us, and how horrifically dangerous they are. Supposedly. It’s only natural, after all, because isn’t it obvious that all Muslims everywhere are terrorists, bent on killing “infidels” wherever they may be? Wouldn’t it make sense, therefore — according to Neocrusaders’ thinking — that it’s better to kill them before they kill us?

Fortunately for the country, but unfortunately for the Neocrusaders, those Somali refugees in Kansas aren’t very likely to become terrorists … but sanctimonious Christianists don’t let little things like “facts” get in the way of their towering fury.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Peter the Hermit Preaching the First CrusadeAs I’ve blogged quite a bit, the “violent Neocrusade” continues apace. That’s my name for an ongoing campaign by sanctimonious, Islam-hating Americans to (attempt to) purge their precious “Christian nation” of all of its Muslims. Their tactics amount to a kind of counter-terror: Since there are Muslim terrorists, Neocrusaders feel entitled to employ terror against Muslims in return.

The problem is, a lot of the time — in their ignorance — they end up picking the wrong targets. CBS San Francisco reports on the latest example of this phenomenon (WebCite cached article):

A Richmond man identifying as Sikh was attacked Sept. 25 in what he describes as a violent hate crime, the Sikh Coalition said Friday.

Maan Singh Khalsa, 41, was driving home from work at 9 p.m. when he was stopped at a red light near Hilltop Mall Drive in Richmond, half a mile from his home, according to the Sikh Coalition.

The article describes the attack, bolstered by a recorded 911 call. Accordingly, police have taken this report seriously, making two arrests and seeking three other men.

For some reason, many Americans confuse Sikhs with Muslims. But their religions are different — and very much so. About the only thing both religions have in common is that they’re monotheistic. Otherwise, they’re completely different. Islam is an Abrahamic faith that originated in what is now Saudi Arabia; Sikhism is a Dharmic faith founded in India. The former descends from the religion practiced by ancient Hebrews of the Levant; the latter descends from the Vedic faith practiced by Indo-Aryans. Americans, especially of the Neocrusading variety, are ignorant; when they see a Sikh man wearing a turban, they often think, “Muslim!” when in fact that assumption is usually false.

As I’ve said so many times when addressing the lunatic rage of Neocrusaders, I have to say: I get it. Really. I do! I capisce. Yes, there are Muslim terrorists in the world. Too many. They’ve attacked innocent Americans unjustly and savagely: At Ft Hood, the Boston Marathon, in San Bernardino, in Orlando, in Paris, and elsewhere. These — and many more such barbaric attacks around the world — are undeniable examples of how “the Religion of Peace” is no religion-of-peace at all. But, what Neocrusaders in the US don’t realize is that Americans are vastly more likely to be killed by ordinary, non-Muslim (and non-religious) sociopaths (cached), and also more likely to be killed by home-grown Right-wing and/or Christian terrorists, than by Islamist terrorists. The danger of Islamist terror is real, but it’s overstated, and the risk won’t appreciably be reduced even if Islam were outlawed tomorrow and every Muslim in the country deported. It just wouldn’t make a dent in the violence that occurs daily around the US.

The solution is for Neocrusaders to grow the fuck up, for the first time in their lives, and deal with their irrational fears, rather than lashing out like toddlers throwing a tantrum. There are ways to deal with the dangers that exist, without stomping around as part of a latter-day “People’s Crusade.” I should point out — as someone who studied the Middle Ages — that the original People’s Crusade didn’t end well for those who led and participated in it. American Neocrusaders would do well to take note of the rashness and irrationality of their medieval predecessors.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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'The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon', oil on canvas painting by Edward Poynter, 1890, Art Gallery of New South WalesChristians really despise what they call “moral relativism” — i.e. the notion that morality is decided by humans and not dictated from on high by the Almighty. The result, Christians claim, is a moral and ethical “free for all” with individuals deciding their own morals and ethics. They say this allows people to grant themselves license to misbehave, denying their deity’s role as the sole arbiter of morals (WebCite cached article). But even so, that doesn’t prevent these same Christians from engaging in moral relativism, themselves!

Perhaps no event has brought this relativism to light better than the revelation of Donald “it’s my own orange hair!” Trump’s “hot mic” moment from the 1990s (cached) … which you, Dear Reader, no doubt have heard more about than you care to already. Keeping in mind that what Donnie talked about, in that moment, was — as vice president Joe Biden explained, candidly (cached) — sexual assault, it’s true that some Rightists have disavowed him, and some have even expressly revoked their endorsements (cached). Yes, at long last, some folks on that side of the aisle have finally recognized that Donnie is an infantile man-child, 70 years old going on seven months.

Yet, many others are standing firm with him and refuse to acknowledge there’s anything wrong with Donnie bragging about how he could assault any woman he wants and get away with it because he’s a star. Most of these are devout Religious Rightists who profess high morals. Among those who’ve doubled down in their defense of little Donnie is Sean Hannity of Fox News (cached):

Here, Seanie displays his ability to rationalize Donnie’s hypersexed frat-boy bravado using a variant of fallacious appeal to tradition: The legendary King Solomon, you see, had a whopping 300 concubines (in addition to 700 wives who were princesses). So gee, Sean, because Solomon had such a vast harem, I guess it’s OK for your pal Donnie to go and grab as many pussies as he wants and never be prosecuted for sexual assault? Is that what you want us to think? After you’ve blustered and fumed for over a decade over how morally bankrupt the American Left has been? Really!?

Note, it’s not just Hannity’s appeal to the Biblical Solomon being used to rationalize Donnie’s horrid spew. Former New York mayor (and Trump BFF) Rudy Giuliani used a couple different justifications for his pal (cached):

Rudy Giuliani defended Donald Trump’s crude remarks about women Sunday, telling CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” that “men at times talk like that.”

But the former New York City mayor also admitted that what Trump was describing in a 2005 video is sexual assault.…

Tapper pressed Giuliani on Trump’s claim — in the video from a 2005 “Access Hollywood” interview published Friday by The Washington Post — that because he is a star, he could walk up to women and “grab them by the pussy,” asking who Trump did that to.

“First of all, I don’t know that he did it to anyone. This is talk, and gosh almighty, he who hasn’t sinned, throw the first stone here,” Giuliani said.

Tapper said: “I have never said that; I have never done that. I am happy to throw a stone. I have been in locker rooms. I have been a member of a fraternity. I have never heard any man, ever, brag about being able to maul women because they get away with it — never.”

Giuliani responded: “We’ve taken it to an extra degree of what he said. But the fact is that men at times talk like that. Not all men, but men do. He was wrong for doing it.”…

“Gosh almighty, there were an awful lot of things, particularly Hillary Clinton attacking the women that Bill Clinton sexually assaulted, sexually abused — and she was the leader of the attack against them — so maybe he felt that at least put in context the kind of anger there would be at him,” Giuliani said.

So, because everyone’s a sinner, according to the Rudester, no one is allowed to hold Donnie accountable for his words. Also, because Hillary went after her husband’s accusers in the 1990s, that also makes Donnie’s words just fine.

Call me crazy, but I’m with Tapper: I’ve listened to a lot of men brag about a lot of things, but never once have I heard of them say he could freely commit sexual assault (not because they’re famous, or for any reason). I have never heard any such words come from the lips of any man. Not once. Ever! So when Giuliani claims that “men talk that way” … well, no, Yeronner, as a matter of fact, they don’t.

Yes, the Rudester did tell Tapper that Donnie’s bragging was wrong, and said he wasn’t trying to excuse it; however, by using these rationales to dismiss Donnie’s words, that’s precisely what he was doing! If the Rudester had truly meant to say that Donnie’s bragging was wrong, he’d have said it was wrong — and then he’d have stopped talking. But he didn’t do that. Instead, he carried on, as though Donnie’s words weren’t inexcusable.

Look, let’s not kid ourselves here about the Right. Sure, they talk a good game about morality and how important it is and how everyone must live up to the highest moral standards, because the Almighty demands it of us … but whenever another Rightist they love is caught saying or doing something that’s undeniably immoral, they just reel off excuse after excuse, including the old reliable “we’re all sinners, no one should cast stones” thing (i.e. the Pericope Adulterae in the gospel according to John) and they whine that the Left is just as bad (which is the old “two wrongs make a right” fallacy). Sorry to say, that’s not going to fly, either.

If one wants to run around condemning the sins of others — as the Right is wont to do, especially in the case of Donnie’s despised opponent in this election — then one can’t say, on the other hand, that one isn’t allowed to condemn the sins of one’s own colleagues. It’s blatant hypocrisy, which — as it happens — the founder of Christians’ own religion explicitly ordered them never to engage in, not at any time or for any reason. Yes, that means even in the context of a presidential election.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: Raw Story.

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CNN / Hurricane Matthew whips Florida coast, Jacksonville bracingYes, folks, here comes yet another entry on the massive list of what I call “disaster theology” — i.e. when religionists attribute catastrophic events to something their deity despises — that involves hurricanes. Yes, with Hurricane Matthew raging just off the coast of Florida (WebCite cached article), making headlines everywhere, it was inevitable that someone would declare it a sign of “God’s wrath” over … well, something, anything. In this case, some militant Christianist crank on the militant Christianist Website Shoebat.Com, run by the militant Christianist Shoebats (phony former PLO terrorist Walid, and his sanctimoniously-deranged son Ted) went and did just that (cached):

While all hurricanes are dangerous, something about this storm is particularly unique. As scientists have pointed out, it seems to be gathering strength where it should not, as though the storm was increasing in power from an outside force and in a way not seen before…

Florida is a nice place, but it unfortunately has become a lot like California, representing both the best and the worst that America has to offer. This is especially true in the area of homosexuality. While there are many conservative and religious Floridians, there are a tremendous amount of sodomites and immoral activity that takes place there. Given the serious moral decay of America that we see taking place before our eyes and the increasing disrespect for even the most basic of Christian morality, looking at this storm I began to wonder if perhaps, in some way, it was connected to this crisis.

The author of the article claims Hurricane Matthew is a storm of unprecedented power and is so unique that it can only be supernatural in origin. He also considers it significant that this hurricane is named Matthew, as in the saint who wrote one of the gospels, who happens to be depicted sometimes as an angel, and angels are the agents of God’s will, sometimes sent by the Almighty to chastise and punish. Our word “hurricane” comes from the Taíno people, who thought such storms were caused by powerful evil spirits. What’s more, this storm is hitting Florida today, October 7, on the Catholic Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, and that commemorates a naval engagement, the Battle of Lepanto (1571), in which some Italian and Spanish lords defeated the Ottoman Empire’s navy, supposedly because they prayed the Rosary. And the Rosary is the most powerful prayer the Church has ever known, having been given to St Dominic Guzman, founder of the Dominican Order and, perhaps more importantly to this crank, a hammer of heretics (especially of the Albigensian/Cathar persuasion). And the Ottomans, who were defeated at Lepanto, were known to be raging pedophilic homosexual rapists. Supposedly.

The author of this ridiculous screed sums up his chain of laughable reasoning thus:

A hurricane- the storms from an evil being- named after the New Testament Evangelist whose symbol is an angel- a messenger of God and and executor of His will among and upon men- is about to make landfall on the exact area where two massive sodomite parades are taking place and almost to the day for the largest one, and the exact day the hurricane is scheduled to hit is the Feast Day of the Holiest Prayer in the Catholic Church used to fight the most wicked of sins and heresies given by the Mother of God herself.

Coincidence? You be the judge.

Yep, it all sounds really Glenn Beckian to me, too. The author finishes by ordering Americans to “stop sinning” — as though he has the authority to give such a command. (To be clear, he doesn’t.)

The crap about hurricanes being signs of divine wrath upon those insolent, sinning gays is actually an old Christianist schtick. Marion “Pat” Robertson invoked it in the wake of Katrina in 2005 (cached). Before that, in 1998, Robertson had predicted hurricanes (and other disasters) would destroy central Florida due to Disney World gay pride days (cached). Perhaps ironically, that year, Hurricane Bonnie formed and appeared to be racing headlong for Florida; but it veered a little to the north and made landfall in northeastern North Carolina, not far from Robertson’s headquarters in Virginia Beach. Hmm.

At any rate, any deity who uses threats of catastrophe in order to force people to knuckle under to his/her/its dour dictates, can’t really be a deity worthy of worship. And any religion that thinks its deity uses such tactics, is not one that any moral or ethical person should belong to. That militant Christianists think this way, only serves to demonstrate how truly vile their beliefs are.

Photo credit: CNN.

Hat tip: Dispatches from the Culture Wars.

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