Posts Tagged “christians”

This Christmas tree is upside down! Outside a local bar :) #upsticksandgo #bar #bangkok #christmas #christmastree #upsidedown #travelgram #travellinglife #travellingtheworld #michfrostA new salvo has been fired in the Religious Right’s phantasmal “war on Christmas.” And that is, upside-down Christmas trees. Yes, you heard that right … upside-down Christmas trees. I’d heard of these a few years ago, as a space-saving way of having a Christmas tree that doesn’t take up floor space. In other words, a sometimes-practical variation on a traditional practice.

But as with everything else associated with the solstice-time holiday, it becomes fodder for Rightists’ annual “war on Christmas.” As Newsweek reports, pundits on Fox News have taken them as an assault on Christianity itself (Archive.Is cached article):

The president’s favorite TV show tackled an important topic inspiring nationwide debate on Friday, brought in an expert and somehow turned it all into a political controversy. Yes, we’re talking about upside-down Christmas trees.

In a segment on Fox & Friends, host Pete Hegseth opened a discussion about trendy inverted decorations by linking them to the so-called war on Christmas, a rallying cry for some evangelicals and Republicans who argue politically correct culture is hurting American values. Hegseth wondered aloud whether having a traditional, right-side-up Christmas tree was part of those values and then asked Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski what he thought.

This was, of course, a setup; the irrationality snowballed from there:

Lewandowski first said he didn’t know what the trend was about. Then, in a swift and almost masterful maneuver, he used it to attack the Democrats for their response to Senator Al Franken’s recently revealed sexual misconduct.

“It’s like an upside-down world. It’s like Seinfeld, the bizarro world. Like you can be a U.S. senator after groping people on a picture and nobody has any accountability for it,” Lewandowski said. “That’s what the upside-down Christmas tree means to me. I mean, it’s everything that is wrong.”

He went on to say that he thought the Trump family would be keeping the White House Christmas tree—a 19-and-a-half-foot Balsam fir from Wisconsin—right side up because they appreciate the country’s traditions.

This is a dense package of habitual Right-wing appeals. Lewandowski alluded to Al Franken — who, contrary to what the Groper-in-Chief’s minion claimed, has offered to be held accountable for his actions (cached). He asserted his boss, the GiC, would bravely defend the country against the relentless onslaught of upside-down Christmas trees and courageously protect “tradition” — which, if Rightists are to be believed, is perpetually in danger. He mentioned the world being turned upside-down, which is a common Rightist complaint in the face of almost anything that ever happens, e.g. the advent of gay marriage).

That the GiC’s own White House is, itself, a “bizarro world” is something that neither Lewandowski or anyone else on this show accepted … but I digress.

Really, there’s nothing insidious, blasphemous, anti-Christmas or anti-Christian about upside-down Christmas trees. Newsweek links to an article on their antiquity; they actually date to the early Middle Ages (cached). I also found articles. One is at Christianity Today, surveying the history of Christmas trees, which mentions those early-medieval upside-down Christmas trees (cached). There’s also a religious commentary, by a prominent minister, at the Gaston Cty, NC Gazette suggesting upside-down Christmas trees are theologically appropriate (cached)! So really, this complaint has no basis in reality … or in the metaphysical irrationality of Christianity.

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“Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’” (Matthew 7:23, New American Bible) / PsiCop original graphicReally, I wish this wasn’t the case. But I can’t say I didn’t expect this. It certainly appears Alabama’s fundagelicals managed to live down to all my expectations of them, in the wake of the possibility that former Judge Roy Moore — thunderous proponent of Ten Commandments worship — may have had relations with teen girls back when he was in his 30s. Newsweek reports that their support for him has actually increased since these allegations were reported (Archive.Is cached article):

Talk about loving the sinner!

Nearly 40 percent of Evangelical Christians in Alabama say they’re now more likely to vote for Roy Moore after multiple allegations that he molested children, even as voters across the historically red state now seem to be punishing Moore for his past actions, a new poll shows.

A plurality of evangelicals — 37 percent — described themselves as more likely to support Moore because of recent sexual assault allegations levied against him, while only 28 percent were less likely to do so. Thirty-four percent of the supposedly devout Christians said that the allegations reported last week in the Washington Post [cached] made no difference in their support for Moore.

Yes, that’s right, folks. More than 1/3 of Alabama’s Christianists actually have a higher regard for Moore, now, than they did before WaPo‘s takedown.

There are lots of rationales these folk can employ in order to justify this (cached). Many will dismiss the story as fiction, or “fake news,” merely because it comes from the insidiously liberal Washington Post, which cooked up vicious lies about their precious “Ten Commandments Judge” in order to deprive him of his deserved Senate seat. There are also no doubt others who don’t really see anything wrong with older men dating (or courting, or whatever they call it) teen girls (cached). There’s also, of course, the matter of consent (i.e. the girls didn’t object to whatever Moore did), but in at least some cases — especially that of the 14-year-old — “consent” is not relevant, since no one that age can consent to sex. And there’s the objection that statutory rape isn’t as bad as some other crimes, so what Moore did is OK. Yeah, one of his defenders actually said that (cached)!

Look, this is the very same crowd who chanted that Hillary Clinton should have been “locked up” over her private email server. I don’t point this out as a way of defending her on that … as an I.T. professional, I know that using a private email server to conduct public business was a profoundly bad idea and diminished transparency, which is necessary for office holders … but I am saying that these folk are willing to think the worst, and demand prosecution of, their ideological foes whenever they feel it appropriate. They just refuse to ask the same of their own, and are willing to give them license to do — well, whatever the fuck they feel like. Because they’re good Christians, of course. And as we all know, they’re not perfect, just forgiven. Right?

And there’s the matter of the decades that passed before this came to the nation’s attention. Moore and his defenders think that means the allegations can’t be true (cached). But Moore’s penchant for hitting up teen girls wasn’t exactly not known. Locals in Gadsden, AL were aware of his habits as long ago as the 1970s (cached and cached). As for why these women would have remained silent (beyond the Gadsden area), keep in mind that Moore was a county prosecutor and worked his way up Alabama’s judicial ladder after that. Taking on such a person is intimidating … and remained so even after his removals from office, due to his popularity as the “Ten Commandments Judge.”

At long last, we can now dispense with any pretense that any of these Religious Rightists are interested in promoting “family values.” They are not. For all their claimed high morals, they’re all just sex-obsessed deviants, who scream and rail against the “perversions” of others (e.g. homosexuals, transgenders, etc.), but they’re just as perverted, only in their own ways. They’re all just fucking hypocrites, in spite of the fact that their own Jesus Christ explicitly and unambiguously forbid them ever to be hypocritical … for any reason or at any time. It is, quite simply, not permitted them.

What these folk are really after is what Moore has promised to provide them: A Christocracy, in which they rule the country (as though they don’t already), in which their fundagelical version of Christianity is the national religion, in which their dour metaphysics is the law of the land, and non-Christians who insolently dare defy them by failing to convert are either jailed, exiled, or killed. They are, in a word, militants, and they’re going to stand by their Ten Commandments Judge no matter what, because of that.

Photo credit: PsiCop original graphic, based on Mt 7:23.

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‘The Christocrats are coming! The Christocrats are coming!’ / PsiCop modified graphic, based on 1940s illustration of Paul Revere’s ride / National Archives #535721, via Wikimedia Commons (url: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Paul_Revere%27s_ride.jpg)The Religious Right has agitated against the Johnson Amendment — a decades-old regulation that prevents non-profit entities from endorsing political candidates — for many years now. It’s not as though its existence has prevented them from building a religious-political edifice of their own; but they think, somehow, that it has stifled them. They claim it hinders churches’ free speech, but that’s a lie. Right now, any church in the country can, in fact, endorse political candidates. All they need, in order to do it, is to forfeit their tax exemption. That seems a small price to pay to get true “freedom,” but they love their money more than they love their freedom, so they refuse, and bitch and whine about it.*

With the election of a Groper-in-Chief who’s promised to end the Johnson Amendment (Archive.Is cached article), they finally have someone in the White House who could make that reality. As the Associated Press reports via Yahoo News, the Religious Right-dominated House’s proposed tax plan will do exactly that (cached):

Churches would gain the right to endorse political candidates and still retain their tax-free status under a provision in the House GOP’s tax overhaul plan.

The bill would repeal a 63-year-old law credited to former President Lyndon Johnson when he served in the Senate.…

Campaign finance groups warned the change could have far-reaching implications, turning “churches into tools for secret campaign spending,” said Tiffany Muller, president of End Citizens United.

More to the point, though, it will turn churches into political engines in their own right and help them promote Christofascism even more than they already do. It will further open the door to increased Christocracy.

* Strangely enough, Jesus himself clearly ordered Christians never to be concerned with money. Among some of his more famous teachings:

  • “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. … No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Matthew 6:19-21, 24)
  • And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” (Luke 6:20)

But let’s be honest, Christians have vociferously ignored Jesus’ teachings for close to 2,000 years; at this point I don’t think the poor little things can help themselves any more.

Photo credit: PsiCop original graphic, based on original from Wikimedia Commons.

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Luther posting his 95 Theses in 1517, by Ferdinand Pauwels [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsToday is the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther posting his “95 Theses” to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. As the Associated Press reports via Religion News Service, Germany is celebrating “Reformation Day” as a holiday (Archive.Is cached article).

The history of Luther, his Theses, and the resulting schism — which continues to this day and is as entrenched as ever — is well known. The point of the Augustinian monk’s protest was to criticize the sale of indulgences. These are ways of reducing the time one must spend in Purgatory, after death, atoning for sins before reaching Heaven. It wasn’t indulgences Luther objected to per se, but rather, the Church’s sale of them.

This objection led to Luther, and others (including his friend Philip Melanchthon, who arguably was Luther’s intellectual superior and had more to do with the direction Luther’s movement would later take) to differ from the Church on more topics than just the sale of indulgences. Among the more important of these were the so-called Five Solas, declaring that salvation came from 5 interconnected sources — none of which was the Church itself or any of its personnel. The Christian didn’t need a priest, a church, or anything of the sort.

This approach to Christianity knocked the theological legs of the Church right out from under it, rendering it useless. Those who disliked the Church and competed with it for power, certainly found this sort of thinking attractive. Luther and Melanchthon made their reform movement more appealing to the numerous princes in Germany by advocating nationalizing Church treasuries within each realm. Many of them ultimately signed on, and effectively became heads of both church and state within their domains. In the 1530s, King Henry VIII of England would follow a similar philosophy in seizing control of the English Church.

But for all that came of the movement Luther launched (and for which Melanchthon, then John Calvin became the chief proponents, along with many other reformers like Ulrich Zwingli), what’s forgotten are the reformers who came before Luther and had raised similar issues themselves. Perhaps the most important of these was Jan Hus, executed for his “heresy” just over a century before Luther posted his “95 Theses,” who in turn had been inspired by John Wycliffe of England. The ideas of both these men actually continued on, through Luther’s time, and even beyond. Hus’s movement led to the establishment of a separate organization (i.e. the Moravian Church), which still exists.

And these, in turn, had forebears in the Waldenses of France in the late 12th century. Church reforms, you see, were not new. Some reform movements were internal, taking place within and inside the Church, such as the Cluniac reforms, the rise of the mendicant orders, etc.

It is true that the Church’s power was broken by the onset of the Reformation sparked by Luther’s protest, but the stage had been set for him, already, by others. What’s more, the Church had, by then, already undermined itself and its credibility as an institution, e.g. the Great Western Schism and its other attempts at meddling in European politics, like Boniface VIII’s issuance of Unam Sanctam. It’s possible to make too much of what Luther did, and to fail to realize that it’s the inherent irrationality and uncertainty of the many precepts of Christianity which helped the Church grow in power and become mighty in the first place, then to collapse as an institution subsequently as European Christendom fractured into many competing sects.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Group photo of women wearing bikinisWe all know religionists tend not to think highly of women. This is true across religions; many Muslims are notably misogynistic, as I’ve noted many times, but a lot of Christians are, too. And Orthodox Jews are no better.

But as poorly as these religions treat women, they obviously don’t think very highly of men. The idea that women must dress modestly — sometimes so modestly that they barely even seem to be human — results from their assumption that men are too primitive to exercise restraint in the presence of women who actually look like women. Usually these modesty-rules are promoted in the name of treating women with “dignity,” but honestly, there’s no “dignity” in forcing women to cover themselves up that much.

So it’s rare that any religionist openly and explicitly admits s/he thinks men are slaves to their raging libidos, but once in a while one of them lets the cat out of the bag. This happened recently when, as Right Wing Watch reports, a Christianist pastor claimed that women who dress provocatively are “sexually assaulting” men (Archive.Is cached article):

Carl Gallups, a right-wing pastor and conspiracy theorist who spoke at Trump campaign rallies during the 2016 election, spent a portion of his radio program on Friday discussing the idea that women are “sexually assaulting” men by dressing in a provocative manner.

Gallups interviewed Mike Shoesmith, who recently wrote a piece [cached] in response to the Hollywood sexual assault scandals arguing that women who wear “sexually suggestive clothing around a man” are legally guilty of sexual assault. While Gallups and Shoesmith repeatedly made clear that they were not excusing or condoning sexual assault against women in any way, they were nevertheless outraged that women are allowed to torment men by “walking around in their little sister’s skirt.”

“Men are visually stimulated and unwanted stimulation should meet the basic definition of assault,” Shoesmith said, asserting that women who dress in a suggestive manner are “guilty of indecent visual assault on a man’s imagination, which does cause mental anguish and torment.”

These two bastions of wisdom went on to relate that men are (as I mentioned above) helpless in the face of their neurophysiology and biologically incapable of resisting feminine wiles. Oh, the poor little things! How dare those awful women insolently allow others to see their bodies! How horrific!

Oh, and as for the idea that these two Christianist pricks weren’t “excusing or condoning sexual assault against women” … well, here’s what that is:*cough* Bullshit! *cough* / JaromirAzarov, via Imgur

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

P.S. I wish RWW would stop identifying outspoken evangelical pastors as supporters of the Groper-in-Chief. American evangelicals in general overwhelmingly support the GiC (cached); there’s no need to point this out when discussing them.

P.P.S. This is one of those times when the phrase “Christian Taliban” isn’t without merit (cached).

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'What harm would it do, if a man told a good strong lie for the sake of the good and for the Christian church ... such lies would not be against God, he would accept them.' -Martin Luther (PsiCop original graphic)This is the second post today where I’ve had to address something that was said at the Values Voters Summit in Washington. And it happens also to concern a lie that was told in support of Christianism. (I expect dozens of lies were told there, today … but I only have just so much time, so these two will have to do).

The liar I’ll discuss here is former Congresswoman (and current raging Christofascist) Michele Bachmann. As Right Wing Watch reports, she repeated the old fundamentalist canard that archaeology proves the Bible (Archive.Is cached article):

Apparently operating under her new anointing as pastor, Bachmann opened her remarks by celebrating the election of Donald Trump before dedicating a significant portion of the remainder of her speech to recounting the history of Christianity and the saving power of Christ.

“You know, the remarkable thing,” she said, “when you read the Bible, every archeology find that has ever come forward has only proved the authenticity of the Bible.”

This claim — while it’s widely repeated among fundies like Bachmann — is an out-&-out lie. Pure bullshit. A steaming load heaved right out the back of the barn. The cold fact is that archaeology has actually failed to confirm much of the Bible’s contents. For instance, there’s no archaeological evidence for a worldwide flood. There’s no evidence the Hebrews were captive in Egypt, nor is there any evidence of an “exodus,” the Red Sea never parted, nor is there evidence that Hebrews conquered the Levant in a military campaign.

I could go on, but it would be pointless. The number of Biblical events which have never been confirmed by archaeology is legion. It’d be easier for me to point out times they coincide; there are only a few. Among them is the Hittites, a people who were mentioned a few times in the Bible, and had been thought of as maybe-legendary, but hadn’t been encountered by archaeologists until a little over a century ago. But some ruins and tablets … and texts found in Egypt as well … confirmed that there had, indeed, been Hittites in the Near East.

So archaeologically speaking, the Bible got that right — but unfortunately for Bachmann and her fundie ilk, not much else.

Fundies tell this lie, and repeat it endlessly, because it reinforces in their minds the importance of their own strict and literal reading of the Bible texts. They’re so convinced of their mantra that “archaeology confirms the Bible” that they’ve run roughshod over the Near East, particularly Israel and the West Bank, desperately flailing around in search of stuff they think they can use to “prove” to the rest of the world that they’re right (cached). That they haven’t been able to do this, decades into their search, should speak volumes.

At any rate, I’ve added Ms Bachmann to my “lying liars for Jesus” club, where she’ll find many like-minded Christofascists.

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Orlando - Disney World - Hollywood Studios - The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights - Peace On Earth Globe & Merry Christmas SignThe end of the year is approaching, and with it — of course! — come the annual repeated appeals to a phantasmal “struggle” called the War on Christmas. This is the contention made by Religious Rightists that Christmas is being outlawed in the US (presumably as the opening salvo in a presumed effort to outlaw Christianity entirely). I call it “phantasmal” because — well! — it is!

There truly is no “war” on the Christmas holiday. Christmas trees have never been removed from anyone’s homes. Churches have never been forcibly closed on Christmas Day. It’s not illegal to buy and give Christmas presents, nor to send Christmas cards. Nothing of the sort has ever happened in the US. Not once … not anywhere … not at all. Ever.

But to hear the R.R. tell it, one would think their very lives are in danger merely because they think about Christmas.

For me, then, the so-called “war on Christmas” is an annual event on my blog. It accounts for many blog posts. And I can always rely on the R.R. to weigh in on it, year after year after year.

This year’s edition begins with our Groper-in-Chief, that legendary champion of Christmas, who — as The Hill reports — weighed in on the phony controversy at this year’s Values Voter Summit (Archive.Is cached article):

President Trump reignited the “war on Christmas” on Friday, telling a crowd of supporters that “we’re saying merry Christmas again” now that he’s president.

Speaking to a packed crowd at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., Trump argued political correctness has gotten in the way of celebrating the holiday.

The GiC rambled a bit, as he usually does, laughably and insanely trying to wax poetic about a fake effort to prevent Christianists from worshipping their Christmas, but then he dropped this extra snippet of idiotic drivel:

Trump went on to briefly pivot toward his push to cut taxes, calling for tax reform as a “Christmas gift.”

Yeah right. The Apricot Wonder’s “tax reform” isn’t going to be any “Christmas gift” for anyone except businesses or the wealthy (cached) — because, pity the poor little things, they’re just soooo beaten down and persecuted, you see.

If I haven’t been clear enough on this, allow me to repeat what I’ve said almost since this blog began: There is no effort to outlaw Christmas, anywhere in the United States. It is not happening, anywhere in the country. Yes, it had been outlawed in some colonies before the country’s independence, by dour Puritans (cached), but they’ve been gone for centuries. Ironically, perhaps, the modern Religious Right movement has a lot in common with the fiercely religionistic Puritans. One wonders why they’re so militant about celebrating a holiday which is not mentioned in their holy scripture, and which hadn’t even been celebrated by Christians in their religion’s first couple centuries. Hmm.

In addition to being clear that there is, in fact, no “war on Christmas” in the US, and it’s been legal to say “Merry Christmas” throughout the country’s history, I’d also like to add that American Christians tend to believe a lot of things about Christmas which, in the end, also are not true at all. For some reason, they seem to like to use Christmas as a kind of bludgeon, and when the reality of this holiday doesn’t suit their needs, they just go and make up shit about it.

Oh, and the GiC’s lie about “Merry Christmas” having been outlawed, places him squarely in my “lying liars for Jesus” club. He’ll enjoy that, I’m sure, since lying is perhaps the one thing he’s best at, and he’s proud of it (cached).

Photo credit: Jared, via Flickr.

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