Posts Tagged “christians”

Group of men and women being taken to a slave market Wellcome V0050647Former Arkansas governor and current GOP presidential candidate is another of those gifts that just keeps on giving for agnostic bloggers like myself. The man just keeps on saying insane religionistic things. The latest, as the International Business Times reports, is Huckabee’s endorsement of slavery, of all things (WebCite cached article):

Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee waded into the criminal justice reform waters Wednesday with a novel statement for improving America’s system of prisons: Just sell poor convicts into slavery. Huckabee agreed with Jan Mickelson, the host of a right-wing radio show based in Des Moines, Iowa, after an extended rant in which Mickelson described biblical passages that suggest thieves should be sold into slavery.

The radio host said that the “criminal justice system has been taken over by progressives,” and continued, referencing the biblical Book of Exodus. “It says, if a person steals, they have to pay it back twofold, fourfold. If they don’t have anything, we’re supposed to take them down and sell them,” he said, according to Think Progress [cached].

While I have little sympathy for thieves, whether they’re rich or poor or in-between, I just don’t see enslavement as a justifiable punishment. Prison seems a fitting punishment, as does ordering restitution. But slavery? How fucking barbaric.

One wonders why 21st century Americans like Shucksabee and Mickelson talk as though slavery is a good thing. After all, it’s been outlawed here for 150 years. And it’s outlawed over virtually all of the rest of the planet, too. Humanity has rejected slavery. So why do these guys want it so badly?

The answer is simple. Shucksabee and Mickelson are Biblical literalists, and slavery is in the Bible. Therefore, in their minds, it can’t possibly be a bad thing. As the IBT notes, this is not the first time Mickelson suggested slavery could solve a problem that vexes him — such as illegal immigration (cached).

It’s long past time for more moderate Christians to understand the horrific lengths their more extreme co-religionists will go to in order to follow their dour metaphysics. Irrational notions like Biblical literalism have ramifications, and support for things like slavery is one of them. How much more evident could that be?

Hat tip: Rational Wiki.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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The Word of Life church occupies a former schoolhouse in New Hartford, N.Y., about 100 miles west of Albany. / Nathaniel Brooks for The New York TimesBy now frequent readers of my blog will have heard the story of one teen killed and his brother seriously injured, beaten by their parents and a number of others at Word of Life Christian Church in New Hartford, NY. I’d held off blogging about this until more information was available. At first, very little information was released, but with additional revelations and reporting a meaningful story of fierce, predatory religionism — so powerful that it ripped parent-child bonds apart — can be told.

Word of Life is a small, independent Pentecostal church. This isn’t at all strange, there are hundreds, perhaps into the thousands, of such churches around the country. The South is riddled with them, but they can be found almost anywhere in the country. There might very well be one in your town!

Biblical literalism and fanatical fundamentalism are features of this particular form of Christianity. “Speaking in tongues” is among their most notable practices; their church services, Bible studies, and pretty much any other gathering is liable to break out in someone “prophesying” incomprehensibly, often followed by someone else breaking out in a “translation.” It’s not unusual for Pentecostals to keep to themselves, becoming almost reclusive, because they fear “the World” and wish to remain as far from it as they can. Most Pentecostals reject all forms of pop culture, and will listen only to Christian music and watch or listen only to religious broadcasts. A lot of Pentecostal families even home-school their children, dreading the “worldly” indoctrination of public schools — or even parochial schools run by other kinds of Christians. Many Pentecostals shun medicine in favor of supernatural powers, especially “laying on hands,” and many things that go wrong — from physical ailments to emotional distress to car breakdowns — are often blamed on demons or devils, and ad hoc “exorcisms” aren’t uncommon.

(As an aside, I know quite a lot about this … during my own “fundie” days, I was a Pentecostalist myself. So my knowledge of this faction of Christianity comes from the perspective of an insider. For a while I was a “lay exorcist,” with the “gift of discernment of spirits” and a reputation as a healer.)

At any rate, two boys were severely beaten by members of their own church, including their parents, and one succumbed to his injuries (WebCite cached article). As I said, most of that bas been in the news for days now. It was a “spiritual counseling session” gone bad. Supposedly. CNN reports on what may have been the reason this “counseling session” had been called (cached):

The fatal beating of Lucas Leonard in the sanctuary of Word of Life Christian Church came after the teenager had “expressed a desire to leave” the secretive upstate New York church, New Hartford Police Chief Michael Inserra said Friday.

That wish, according to Inserra, apparently prompted a counseling session on the spiritual state of Lucas and his younger brother, Christopher. During the sessions, the teens were beaten with a cord and Lucas Leonard suffered injuries so severe that emergency room doctors thought he had been shot, Inserra said.…

A witness at a probable cause hearing told a judge the counseling session lasted 14 hours, beginning Sunday night and ending Monday morning. Daniel Irwin, who lives in the church, said the session ended when people thought Lucas had died.

It’s actually easy for me to understand how the folks in Word of Life wouldn’t have been any too happy about one of its youngsters wanting to leave. They’d surely assume him to be “lost” to “the World” and to Satan, whom they believe is currently its ruler. As for why two parents would want to beat two of their sons senseless, and one of them to death, there are clear Biblical directives to that effect:

If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; and they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear. (Dt 21:18-21)

For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Mt 10:35-37)

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. (Lk 14:26)

In short, this church was just doing what its teachings and scripture demanded of them. Lots of media stories about the Word of Life Christian Church, such as this one by the New York Times, convey the impression that it was something of a one-off oddball “cult” (cached). I’m not sure I can go with that, though. The folks at Word of Life might have been a little stranger than some other independent Pentecostal churches, but what I see in the descriptions fits very neatly into how a lot of such churches operate. The philosophies described are truly not at all unusual. This church simply can’t be as novel as the media suggest.

As for the Word of Life congregants who’ve been charged, they’ve cooked up what is a very typically Pentecostal rationale for what they did. As another New York Times article explains, Lucas Leonard admitted he’d been practicing witchcraft (cached):

On Sunday night, toward the end of a daylong church service, Tiffanie Irwin, the pastor at Word of Life Christian Church here, turned to her congregation and made a stunning accusation.

Someone among them, she said, was practicing witchcraft.

Lucas Leonard, a 19-year-old whose family was immersed in Word of Life’s secretive practices, said that he was the one, that he wanted church elders to die and that he had considered making a voodoo doll of a church leader.

Those revelations were some of what one member of the church, Daniel Irwin, told investigators after Mr. Leonard was beaten to death by a group of fellow congregants — including Mr. Leonard’s parents and half sister — during a so-called counseling session that began on Sunday night and stretched into Monday morning.

You’ve just gotta love how these people make victims into perpetrators and vice versa, don’t you? To be honest, I have no idea if Lucas had really been practicing witchcraft, although I truly doubt it. Irwin’s testimony may very well have been an outright lie. It’s less likely to have been his interpretation of what Lucas said.

The vile, pathetic and desperate accusation that Lucas Leonard had been a “witch,” as the Syracuse, NY Post-Dispatch reports, is something police are downplaying (cached). They insist the “counseling session,” aka beating, was triggered by Lucas saying he wanted to leave and that neither witchcraft nor voodoo had anything to do with it.

The really sad part of all this is that the members of Word of Life Christian Church very likely don’t comprehend what they did wrong here. Chances are they see Bruce and Deborah Leonard, and all the other accused churchgoers, as martyrs … persecuted by Satan and “the World” for merely having followed the Word of God and the teachings of Jesus Christ. That’s how true Pentecostals think.

Photo credit: Nathaniel Brooks for the New York Times.

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Jack O'LanternHalloween is one of those odd things that most Americans don’t think much about, but a small number obsess over. It’s become a vast economic boon, being one of the most profitable retail holidays. It’s a major driver of social events, with people holding Halloween parties all over the place, and businesses hosting Halloween events, too.

But some Americans don’t see Halloween as fun, they see it as downright profane. Back in my own fundie days, the circle of Christians I was part of, didn’t care for it much, viewing it as a pagan — if not Satanic — celebration that Christians had to stay away from. Influential Christian leaders like Marion “Pat” Robertson have condemned Halloween as “Satan’s night” (WebCite cached article). Some Christians who’ve shunned it even came up with a simultaneous alternative they called “JesusWeen” (cached). Yes, that’s right … JesusWeen. Another Christian anti-Halloween phenomenon are the many “Hell houses” hosted by churches around the country, this time of year (cached). Some Jews have reservations about Halloween, too, and for similar reasons.

Once in a while this tension between Halloween-as-an-all-American-tradition and Halloween-as-profane-diabolical-celebration breaks open into something unexpected. An example of this just occurred in my home state of Connecticut. Milford public schools, as Milford Patch explains, cancelled an annual Halloween parade, and some aren’t happy (cached):

Halloween has been cancelled in the Milford Public Schools this year and that decision isn’t sitting well with numerous city parents.

In a note sent home to Milford parents last week the seemingly unpopular decision was announced.

“This year the Milford School District has decided the following: Halloween parades will not take place in any Milford elementary school. The decision arose out of numerous incidents of children being excluded from activities due to religious, cultural beliefs, etc. School-day activities must be inclusive. Halloween costumes are not permitted for students or staff during the day at school.”

The sanctimonious outrage as a result of this decision has been palpable. Online petitions have demanded Halloween be restored in Milford schools. The rage has been particularly loud amid the Right-wing media, such as on Daily Caller (cached) and National Review (cached). In the eyes of the Right, this is “political correctness” (aka Leftism) run amok. The curious part about this, of course, is that it’s religiously-conservative Christians who’re the ones who usually object to Halloween (as I noted above), and nearly all of those are politically conservative, just like the rest of the Right. So I have no idea how or why there could be any clear Leftist agenda behind a school system not having its Halloween parade.

At any rate, the Milford schools couldn’t withstand the Right-wing campaign against them, and as Milford Patch reports, yesterday evening they surrendered on the matter, and explained what they had done and why (cached):

Just before 5 p.m. Milford school officials released a statement to the media regarding Halloween in schools.

The statement was written by Superintendent of Schools Elizabeth Feser.…

We are writing to you in response to the accusations that have been made against the school system around how we celebrate Halloween in the schools.

The misinformation around the decisions the school made tied to celebrating Halloween is huge, and the spreading of untruths by parents and members of the community very disturbing.…

Ultimately, all eight principals, with my endorsement, chose to focus their energies on a family Halloween celebration, and forego the 20 minute parade in school. The thinking behind this decision was that a family event in the early evening would enable all who wanted to be a part of a Halloween celebration to do so.

Meanwhile, children who for religious or cultural reasons would not take part, could easily, and without stigmatization, not attend the event. In addition, in recognition of many working parents who have difficulty leaving work to come to school, an evening event would allow them to be present with their children.…

Sad to say, while careful and sensitive thought went into the decision to celebrate Halloween at a school/PTA-sponsored major event outside of the school day, there are those who unmercifully attacked the decision, falsely accusing the Milford Public Schools for banning Halloween.

We have been accused of being un-American, of denying children participation in an American tradition, and that we should be ashamed. We struggle to understand why we should be ashamed about the Halloween celebration that each school/PTA is sponsoring, wherein children are encouraged to wear costumes, will be given candy, will spend an hour or more in fun and games.…

There are those who feel a 20 minute parade is more important, however, and its elimination is contributing to the demise of Milford as a city and Milford as a community, as well as the demise of the Milford Public Schools.

Once again, then, we see America’s Right wing flipping out, going berserk, and mercilessly bullying people due to an outrage they’ve worked up among themselves over something they never understood in the first place. Way to go, guys. Way to go! You must be so proud of behaving with just as much immaturity as the young grammar-school kids whose Halloween parade you’ll tell yourselves you saved. Well done!

For the record — and to clear away any of the misconceptions associated with Halloween in the US — here’s the real scoop on it: Halloween as it’s celebrated in the United States, is more or less a modern holiday created by a culture which happens to be majority-Christian. Sure, it has elements of the old Celtic Samhain, as well as a few other pagan influences. But it also has more modern influences, e.g. Guy Fawkes Day. It is firmly pegged on the Christian calendar as the evening prior to All Saints’ Day (aka All Hallows’ Day, hence, Hallow E’en). Halloween is, in short, an amalgam of pre-Christian as well as Christian-era practices, contorted by American commercialism into something which has completely lost any tangible connection to anything the Druids were doing in ancient Europe on Samhain, or even to the Gunpowder Plot cooked up by Guy Fawkes.

Put another way … Halloween is not a religious holiday. It is also not entirely an areligious holiday. It has little to do with Christianity, except that it happens to be the evening before All Saints Day, which is a Christian holiday (although it’s one few Christians really “celebrate” any more).

So just go to your favorite Halloween celebration, and if you have kids, let them go out trick-or-treating, and enjoy the day. But without any of the religious or ideological baggage it seems to have kicked up.

Photo credit: Patrick, via Flickr.

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Hypocrisy: No one does it better than Christians / MotifakeAny veteran Christian-watcher knows that Christians are as prone to hypocrisy as anyone else. There’s just one tiny little problem with that: The founder of their religion clearly and unambiguously forbid his followers ever to be hypocritical. They cannot be hypocrites, at any time, or for any reason. Here are some of Jesus’ reported words on the matter:

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Mt 7:5)

Or how can you say to your brother, “Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,” when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye. (Lk 6:42)

And that’s just for starters. There are several other injunctions against hypocrisy in the New Testament. It doesn’t take much effort to find them.

Yet — curiously — Christians appear to have no problem ignoring all of that. They think they’re entitled to be as hypocritical as they wish, any time they wish, and somehow they think their Jesus approves of it (even if his own reported words contradict that).

One of their justifications for being hypocritical is that people of other faiths, or of none, are sometimes hypocritical. But those folk aren’t under Jesus specific and explicit orders never to be hypocritical. Christians, on the other hand, are.

The latest example of some rather obvious Christian hypocrisy comes from the mouth of former pastor, Arkansas governor, and current presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Late last week he fumed about President Barack Obama speaking out in the wake of the Umpqua Community College shooting. His press release, as Mediaite explains, takes Obama to task for it (WebCite cached article):

Mike Huckabee issued a press release tonight, where he blasted President Obama for rushing to politicize the Oregon shooting without knowing the details of the tragedy.

“For this president to make a political pronouncement is at best premature and at worst ignorantly inflammatory,” Huckabee wrote. “Obama can shamelessly try and exploit any tragedy he wants, but it’s clear that gun free zones are sitting duck zones.”

Yes, Obama politicized the shooting. But a lot of people have commented on it, including politicians of every stripe, and a lot of those folks have used it to justify or press their political positions. Politicizing events is not new at all. In fact, it’s routine. So Huckabee’s point is well taken … but it has little value. He may as well have issued a press release saying that water is wet or the sky is blue.

Oh, and contrary to what Shucksabee suggested, Umpqua Community College — despite the Right-wing blustering — was not, in fact, a “gun free zone.” Oregon law allows conceal-carry permit holders to have guns on campus (cached).

But quite aside from his outright lie about the “gun free zone,” during a subsequent appearance on CNN, Shucksabee crossed the line into hypocrisy (cached)

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says the recent spate of mass shootings aren’t because of access to guns, but because of “sin and evil” in the world.…

“We have not so much a gun problem; we have a problem with sin and evil. This is an evil thing, when people kill another person,” Huckabee said. “Whether it’s a pressure cooker or whether it’s a gun, we’re dealing with people who are either deranged or they’re very focused because they want to kill people in the name of terrorism.”

Did you catch that? Shucksabee did precisely what he’d accused Obama of having done, and condemned him for: Using the shooting as a tool for his own purposes. In his case, he cited “sin” as a cause of the shooting, implying the solution is for people to stop “sinning” and (I guess) turn to his deity.

It’s really a form of what I’ve called “disaster theology,” in which religious leaders claim something awful happened because their deity was offended by humanity. Shucksabee and other religious resort to “disaster theology” (or in this case, “massacre theology”) all the time. In a lot of cases it’s truly disgusting, such as when Marion “Pat” Robertson and his late pal Jerry Falwell blamed gays, pagans, abortion doctors, the ACLU and others for the September 11, 2001 attacks (cached).

Look, I get that the guy is running for president and he’s looking for any and all avenues he can use to attack the incumbent. That comes with the territory and is expected. But it’s not good for a Christian — and an ex-pastor at that! — to so openly flaunt his violation of Jesus’ teachings against hypocrisy. Yes, it’s unfair that non-Christians are (seemingly) allowed to be hypocrites while Christians aren’t. But those are the terms of their religion. They picked it. It’s their religion. They should either abide by its teachings, or drop it altogether in favor of something else.

But perhaps worst of all: A former pastor has no fucking excuse whatever for having disobeyed Jesus … none. Not. A. Single. Fucking. One.

Photo credit: Motifake.

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Faithful unto Death, by Herbert SchmalzThis is my second post today which relates to Thursday’s massacre in Roseburg, OR. It’s been widely reported, based on this CNN story, that the shooter had specifically targeted Christians (WebCite cached article):

Stacy Boylan, the father of Anastasia Boylan, who was wounded, said she told him the gunman singled out Christians.

She said the gunman entered her classroom firing, told the professor teaching the class, “I’ve been waiting to do this for years,” and shot him point blank, Stacy Boylan said.

While reloading his handgun, the man ordered the students to stand up and asked whether they were Christians, Boylan told her family.

“And they would stand up, and he said, ‘Good, because you’re a Christian, you’re going to see God in just about one second,'” Stacy Boylan told CNN, relaying his daughter’s account. “And then he shot and killed them.”

From there, this martyrdom tale, spread by mindless mass media repetition, swept through the American Right like wildfire. In turn it triggered all sorts of things, such as a call to arms to defend Christendom, as I blogged earlier today.

But I had my suspicions about this. First of all, it’s just too fucking convenient, in light of Christianity’s delusional persecution complex. Christians are convinced there’s an effort underway to kill them all off and wipe Christianity off the face of the earth … and a lot of them actually think it could happen at any moment. For them, this tale is kind of a precursor to what they already think is just around the corner.

Second, it was reported not by an eyewitness to the massacre, but by someone who’d heard it second-hand. That, all by itself, ought to have raised reporters’ concerns and forced them to look for confirmation. But apparently this wasn’t done. At least, CNN hadn’t confirmed it … and other media outlets just ran with what they’d published.

It turns out I’d been right to question this martyrdom story. It might not be true after all. The Oregonian reports that another second-hand account says something a bit different (cached):

McGowan told family members that the gunman didn’t specifically target Christians but asked them about faith. The shooter, apparently planning to die during the massacre, told students: “I’ll see you soon” or “I’ll meet you soon.”

McGowan’s mother, Stephanie Salas, shared her son’s account Friday. The teenager, one of triplet boys, was shot in the right hand and released from Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg.…

“The shooter would call a person: ‘You, stand up,'” Salas said, recalling what her son told her. “And then he would ask them if they were a Christian, knew God, or had religion. And it wasn’t like it was stated on TV. It wasn’t about that he was just trying to pinpoint Christians, no.”

The shooter would tell them it wouldn’t hurt.

“And then he would shoot them,” she said.

McGowan told his mom he kept his head down among students crouched in the middle of the classroom, didn’t move and just tried to avoid looking at Harper-Mercer.

Now, let me be clear: I also am a bit suspicious about this second account, since as with the original version from CNN, it comes from a secondary source. So I can’t be much surer of it than the first account. But with that said, it’s a more nuanced version of a similar story, in that the killer asked his intended victims about their religion. It just doesn’t paint him to be as starkly anti-Christian.

What I can say about this is that a similar martyrdom tale had emerged from the Columbine massacre … but it turned out to be mythical, an altered version of what investigators determined had actually happened.

What really happened in that classroom at Umpqua Community College will take time to learn. Is it possible that the killer was, really, an anti-Christian crusader trying to slaughter each Christian in he came across? I suppose it might be. I certainly can’t rule it out, yet. Still, attacks of that sort, in the US, are unprecedented. At least, I’ve never heard of one. It’s just not something that happens. Given that Christians are known to have manufactured martyrdom stories in order to rationalize their paranoid delusions (cached), and there are conflicting accounts of what happened on Thursday, I’m going to need to be convinced.

I’ll close by saying that I get that the Roseburg community has been traumatized. The originator of the martyrdom story may not have intended to lie; perhaps he faithfully relayed what he’d been told, and that account had been given him by a shooting victim who was still in shock. It may well be that no one so far has intentionally lied about what happened. But with that said, as information is gathered, it’s important for everyone to focus on what’s discovered, and to winnow away anything that might not turn out to be true. Let’s not let a Columbine-style urban legend of martyrdom grow if the facts don’t actually support such a story. I’m sure it may pain Christians to have to admit another of their persecution stories isn’t true … assuming it comes to that … but too fucking bad. They should do so anyway. They’re not entitled to tell false stories just because those stories fit the delusional psychopathology of their religion.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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jesus-with-rifle-thumbNote: My next blog post addresses a point in this one.

America’s Christians have had enough, it seems, of not being allowed to force their dour metaphysics on the entire country, and they’re tired of terrorists and criminals insolently daring to attack them (as though no one else ever gets attacked). So they’ve decided to arm themselves and take the fight to save their Jesus to the streets! I have two such stories for you:

First, a bunch of angry Neocrusaders plan to show up — some packing heat! — at mosques around the country (as Raw Story explains) to show those horrific Muslim types who’s really in charge (WebCite cached article):

Anti-Muslim conservative groups have planned at least 20 rallies this month at mosques and other sites across the Unites States in coming days.

Imagine 2050 reported [cached] this week that a Facebook group [cached] called Global Rally for Humanity had put out a call for anti-Muslim demonstrations in “every country at every Mosque.”…

According to Imagine 2050, at least 20 rallies had already been planned for Oct. 9 and Oct. 10. Some of the organizers have encouraged demonstrators to show up armed, while others urged participants not to bring weapons.

An event in Dearborn, Michigan was billed as an “OPEN CARRY anti-mosque pro-AMERICA rally on 10/10!!”

I’m not sure what the point of this is, other than simple, raw intimidation. Yeah, that’s sure to make those insolent folk want not to be Muslims any more and convert en masse to Christianity! I guess. I mean, what else is a show of force good for? Wouldn’t you want to convert immediately if you saw a bunch of armed Christian ex-military marching around your mosque? </sarcasm>

Next, according to The Tennesseean, Tenneessee’s lieutenant governor Ron Ramsey declared, in the wake of the Roseburg, OR massacre (cached), that it’s time for godly Christians to arm themselves or be slaughtered (cached):

Ramsey, R-Blountville, made those remarks in a Facebook post Friday, one day after a shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., left 10 people dead. The suspect, 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer, reportedly asked victims to name their religious affiliation during the massacre.

In his Facebook post, Ramsey links to a New York Post article with the headline “Oregon gunman singled out Christians during rampage.” Ramsey groups the Oregon shooting with other recent mass shootings in the nation. “Whether the perpetrators are motivated by aggressive secularism, jihadist extremism or racial supremacy, their targets remain the same: Christians and defenders of the West,” Ramsey said.

You can read Ramsey’s Facebook post for yourself (cached). Ramsey, you may recall, has previously declared that Muslims don’t have any religious freedom in the US … but Christians (conveniently for him!) do.

What all of these folk forget are three very important things: First, while Islamist terror groups like ISIS/ISIL/IS and al-Qaeda certainly have gone after Christians, they also target other Muslims who don’t belong to the same wing of the same sect of Islam as they do. In fact, by most counts, Islamofascists have killed far more Muslims than anyone else.

Second, these Neocrusaders’ focus solely on Islam as the supposed sole source of terrorism in the world purposely ignores all the Right-wing and even Christian terror that takes place, even within the US! Yes, folks, it’s true: There are Christian terrorists … and for all you know, they could be your neighbors! Where’s the outrage about that? Why haven’t atheists showed up, armed to the teeth, to protest at churches? (Answer: They haven’t, and as far as I know aren’t likely ever to.)

Third, while reports say the Roseburg killer specifically went after Christians, his motives actually are as clear as mud (cached). He’d sympathized with the Catholic/Irish-nationalist IRA, for example, and had described himself as spiritual but not religious, which of course means he was in fact religious, and not some antitheist crusader[*]. What’s known about him is really all over the map, right now. It’s possible his intentions may never be discerned. At the moment, the most one can say about him with any certainty is that he was a criminal, a murderous sociopath … and that’s it.

Yet, even if it could be proven that he was a anti-Christian militant out to slaughter every Christian on the planet, he’s still the only American who’s espoused such a philosophy. That’s right: The only one! For Ramsey to tell his fellow Christians to arm themselves because there’s now some horrid campaign underway to kill them all — based solely on this one event perpetrated by one guy — is fucking ridiculous.

Yes, folks, the paranoid sanctimonious rage runs deep with these people. Watch out! These are good Christians who’ve decided enough is enough with all the “turn the other cheek” bullshit that their deity and founder of their religion had taught them. They’re not taking crap from anyone any more! They’re in charge again, and don’t you fucking forget it!

[*] The picture of the Roseburg, OR shooter just got murkier. It turns out that he may not have specifically targeted Christians, after all! See my next blog post for more.

Photo credit: Jordon Cooper, via Flickr.

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Jesus Facepalm: He gave up too so please stop this foolishness (Demotivators; defunct)Honestly, although I’ve posted many stories along these lines, it brings me no joy to do so. It’s not as though I like heaping derision on people like the one I’m about to mention. But at the same time, the topic I’m addressing here isn’t something that can be ignored. You see, Christians love to say that morality comes only from belief in God, and more specifically, from their God. They say that the more people believe in their God, the better off everyone will be, because everyone will be morally upright. Religious Rightists in particular often demand that Americans turn to God (or return to God) in order to alleviate all of society’s ills.

The problem with this sort of thinking is that it’s just not fucking true! Believers in deities, which includes Christians, are not — as it turns out — any more or less moral than any other segment of the population. Yet, they keep on bellyaching that more Americans need to be Christian, usually their own particular variety of Christian, as though this reality weren’t the case. And they use their assertion of moral superiority in order to rationalize imposing their religion on everyone.

Hence, when notable examples that run contrary to this trope come up, I must mention them. Because they’re object lessons in the reality of both religion and human nature that shouldn’t be ignored, merely because they’re inconvenient.

The latest politician-crusader for Jesus who turned out not to be very morally upright after all, as the Indianapolis Star reports, is Judson McMillin, floor leader of the Indiana House (WebCite cached article):

Rep. Jud McMillin, a rising star in the state’s Republican Party, abruptly resigned Tuesday.

The Indianapolis Star has learned that the surprise resignation came after a sexually explicit video was sent via text message from McMillin’s cellphone. It’s unclear who sent the text or how broadly it was distributed.

The Brookville Republican sent a separate text message apologizing to his contacts for “anything offensive” they may have received after he said he lost control of his cellphone.

McMillin claimed his cellphone had been stolen in Canada. But it remains unclear if it actually had been stolen, or who sent out the video in the first place.

The reason this is significant is that McMillin was a chief among the Indiana legislators who’d campaigned to legalize discrimination against gays and others, in the name of “religious liberty,” earlier this year. He did this because, apparently, the Christians of Indiana were being ruthlessly oppressed by gays. Or something.

As the Star mentions, though, this sexting scandal shouldn’t really have been a surprise:

In 2005, his career as an assistant county prosecutor in Ohio came to an end amid questions about his sexual conduct. He admitted to a relationship with the complainant in a domestic violence case he was prosecuting, but he insisted the relationship began after he stepped off the case, according to the Dayton Daily News. He resigned a week after he stopped working on the case.

As something of a counterpoint, the Star article closes by mentioning that another Indiana legislator, this one a Democrat, was also involved in a sexting scandal. Which brings me around to my original point: Christians, including outspoken crusading Christians, aren’t any more morally upright than any other kind of person. They have the same impulses as everyone else. And their religious beliefs simply aren’t sufficient to change them.

Which brings me to a corollary point to consider: If being a Christian isn’t enough to make one change one’s behavior, then really, what value can it have? How truly “divine” can it be, if it carries no power to change people for the better? If moral behavior is something people need to work on, regardless of whether or not they’re Christian, then does being Christian really matter, where morality is concerned? Where, exactly, is the connection between Christianity and morality, if Christians are not — as seems to be the case — any more moral than any other type of human being?

If Christians were honest with themselves and everyone else, they’d admit being troubled by this. They’d admit their beliefs don’t make them morally superior. And they’d stop telling everyone else that they’re immoral because they’re not Christians. Because all those things are lies — and they fucking well know it, even if they won’t admit it.

Photo credit: Demotivators (defunct).

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