Posts Tagged “delusion”

Help! Help! I'm being repressed! (Dennis the constitutional peasant, Monty Python & the Holy Grail)This is a seriously “WTF” story. Almost as if in support of the notion that religious people tend toward stupidity (something I’m not saying, although I just blogged about a meta-analysis that suggests so), we have this truly insane story. The Associated Press reports via ABC News that a devout Arizona family had to be rescued in the Pacific Ocean after they went adrift (WebCite cached article):

A northern Arizona family has survived being lost at sea for weeks after an ill-fated attempt to leave the U.S. over what they consider government interference in religion.

Hannah Gastonguay and her family will fly back home Sunday after taking their two small children and her father-in-law and setting sail from San Diego for the tiny island nation of Kiribati in May.

Weeks into their journey, the Gastonguays hit a series of storms that damaged their small boat, leaving them adrift for weeks, unable to make progress. They were eventually picked up by a Venezuelan fishing vessel, transferred to a Japanese cargo ship and taken to Chile.

The article explains how their little trip to Kiribati went awry. This family ended up adrift in the heart of the Pacific Ocean, far from any land and off of usual navigation routes. They were lucky they’d been discovered by a fishing vessel and didn’t perish at sea.

The reason they made this perilous trip? They were persecuted, you see:

Hannah Gastonguay said her family was fed up with government control in the U.S. As Christians they don’t believe in “abortion, homosexuality, in the state-controlled church,” she said.

U.S. “churches aren’t their own,” Gastonguay said, suggesting that government regulation interfered with religious independence.

Among other differences, she said they had a problem with being “forced to pay these taxes that pay for abortions we don’t agree with.” While federal law bars public funding for abortion, state attempts to block Medicaid funding for organizations that provide the procedure have met with legal hurdles. Opponents say that funding allows those groups to perform abortions.

The poor little things. They’re so oppressed!

I’ve blogged many times previously about many Christians’ claims that they’re being persecuted here in the ‘States. They aren’t, as anyone with half a brain knows. The reality of their status is summed up elegantly and succinctly in the following graphic:

'Help! I'm being oppressed!' / sublate, via Flickr

‘Help! I’m being oppressed!’ / sublate, via Flickr

That said, I do understand why they say this. It’s part and parcel of the psychopathology of Christianity. The founder of their religion was killed for his preaching, and his apostles were killed because of him, too. They largely can’t help themselves but wish to be persecuted for their faith just as Jesus and the apostles were. I really do get that.

But if you need any further evidence of how devastatingly harmful this kind of delusional thinking can be, consider that the Gastonguays barely survived their compulsion to flee “persecution” that’s not even going on.

Any more questions? I thought not. Glad to have cleared that up.

Photo credit, top: Based on Monty Python & the Holy Grail; middle: sublate, via Flickr.

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People who got out of their cars form a line to get a look at the cross atop the Church of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Sandor Bodo/The Providence Journal)Once again we have yet another example of a Virgin Mary sighting. And once again, people line up to gawk at this claimed apparition. This time, as reported by The Providence Journal, it’s atop a church in North Providence, RI (WebCite cached article):

A steady stream of people gathered Friday in the rain at the Church of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to witness what some believe is an image of the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus.

“It’s her. It’s amazing,” said Zumma Canedo, of North Providence.

Canedo, a native of Bolivia, said she had prayed the rosary while standing in the rain outside the church on Mineral Spring Avenue. “She’s saying something,” Canedo said.

A darker profile, interpreted by believers as that of the Virgin Mary, can be seen against the gray copper cross atop the church. Bystanders remarked that the profile did not fade despite the pouring rain.

Imagine that! Stains in a metal cross don’t fade in the rain! How fucking impressive is that!? (Answer: It’s not!) Oh, and not only does the Virgin Mary deign to appear on this cross, she’s talking to people, too! I’d love to hear a recording of what she said … if one exists (and I suspect it doesn’t).

Here’s the cross in question, adorned with this presumed Virgin Mary:

Some people are claiming to see an apparition of the Virgin Mary in a cross outside the the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in North Providence. (Sandor Bodo/The Providence Journal)

Some people are claiming to see an apparition of the Virgin Mary in a cross outside the the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in North Providence. (Sandor Bodo / The Providence Journal)

I’m sorry to report, as with so many of the other Virgin Mary apparitions I’ve blogged about, I just don’t see it. Maybe that’s because I’m a cold-hearted, cynical, godless agnostic heathen and am just not capable of perceiving such important and other-worldly things.

Only at the very end of the article does the ProJo concede this might not be what people say it is:

Brian Dowling, associate director at The Steel Yard, a nonprofit community arts program in Providence, said the discoloration is probably a chemical reaction.

“Like patina,” Dowling said referring to the tarnish that forms on copper from oxidation and other chemical reactions. Copper, Dowling said, yields a wide spectrum of colors, from greens to browns to reds.

While this might seem a reasonable explanation that can satisfy rational people, ardent believers will, no doubt, reject it out-of-hand without admitting it even as a remote possibility. Absolutely nothing gets in the way of them arriving at the conclusion they’re determined to arrive it. Not even facts to the contrary … including the fact that all copper items left outdoors long enough will, inevitably, show stains and discolorations.

As I always do, I’ll remind my readers that this is nothing more or less than an example of pareidolia, or recognizing things in something that was otherwise randomly generated. It’s no different from seeing familiar people or objects in cloud formations, which many people — particularly kids — are wont to do, or seeing Richard Nixon in a potato. That’s all this is, folks. Really. Honest. Now go the hell home already and stop getting in the way of funeral processions, fercryinoutloud.

One more thing: This cross, stained to appear to some as though the Virgin Mary impressed her sacred image on it, is on top of a church. One called “the Church of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary,” no less! How do we know this image hadn’t been put there purposely by the church or its parishioners? We don’t, of course. Not at all! That said, I don’t believe this was purposeful, a hoax or a pious fraud. Had it been, a resemblance to the Virgin Mary would probably have been much clearer than this. All I’m doing is pointing out there are more than one fully non-supernatural explanations for this Marian apparition.

Photo credit (both): Sandor Bodo/The Providence Journal.

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Raised seal on Barack Obama's birth certificate/FactCheckI’ve blogged before on the phenomenon of demonstrably-erroneous ideas that just will not die out, no matter how often they’re refuted. And I cited the “birther” delusion … i.e. the idea that President Barack Obama is not an American citizen and thus not entitled to hold office … as a prime example of this. His birth certificate from Hawai’i has been checked out and is fully legitimate (see FactCheck and Politfact, cached here and here).

But the Birthers, you see, don’t give a flying fuck about that. They just know, you see, that he’s not really an American. And they intend never to let go of that idea, no matter the facts. (One way they do this is to dismiss all fact-checking Web sites as “biased,” even though neither of the sites I linked to above avoids pointing out Obama’s exaggerations, misstatements, and lies. So they aren’t “biased” in the President’s favor.)

Because of the persistence of the “birther” delusion among their constituents, GOP politicians are constantly dancing around the subject, trying to appeal to “birtherism” without saying something that will make them look like total morons in the eyes of the rest of the country. Unfortunately, despite their wishes, there is no viable way to do that. Any conciliation to “birtherism” is, by definition, moronic.

That said, there are some who simply don’t care that they look like total morons. Among them, as MSNBC’s Maddow blog reports, is Jeff Duncan of the great Biblical state of South Carolina (WebCite cached article):

As my friend Kyle Mantyla at Right Wing Watch reported yesterday, Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) was a guest on Rick Wiles’ unhinged radio show the other day to discuss some of the major issues of the day, including the host’s fears that immigration reform may lead the government to implant biometric scanners in U.S. citizens. Wiles specifically asked Duncan whether lawmakers might “pursue Barack Obama’s phony identification papers.”

Duncan initially tied to laugh it off, saying that people should have voted against Obama during the last election but Wiles refused to let it go, saying “if we know they are lying about all these other things, why not go back and say ‘well, maybe the first scandal was a lie too?’”

And with that point, Duncan wholeheartedly agreed, saying “there you go; I’m all with you, so let’s go back and revisit some of these things because Americans have questions about not only the IRS scandal but also about the president’s validity.”

A recording of Duncan’s comments is provided by Right Wing Watch via Youtube:

Sadly, this is yet another example of GOP insanity. I wonder how long it will take these guys to get over the fact that Obama was elected in 2008 and re-elected in 2012. My guess is, they won’t. Hundreds of years from now there will still be lunatic Right-wingers screaming to high heaven that the US had an ineligible president in office for 8 years.

The best thing for everyone, of course, is for Republican officials, and the “birtherist” masses to whom they’re appealing, to just fucking grow the hell up and get over the fact that someone they despise was elected president. Maturity is the only solution to this mass delusion. Unfortunately, even grown adults tend to resist maturity. More’s the pity.

P.S. I’m well aware that Rachel Maddow and the Right Wing Watch are both ideologically-driven Web sites, and tend to avoid such sources, however, in this case there’s primary-source evidence to back up the report of what Duncan said. I suppose RWW could have faked this recording … but barring evidence to the contrary, I doubt they did so.

Photo credit: FactCheck.

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The Christian Martyrs Last PrayerFor a very long time I’ve been saying that Christians’ claims of historical persecution are overblown. Many of them think the Romans routinely and pervasively persecuted their religion throughout the first three centuries of its existence. And today, they view the loss of their religion’s once-mighty influence over occidental culture as a kind of persecution. They don’t realize that their beliefs about Roman Imperial persecution are vastly overstated, even though most scholars — beginning with Edward Gibbon, author of the seminal The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire — acknowledge it was exaggerated. Their belief that, during Roman times, their religion hovered at the very edge of extinction at any moment and that being associated with Christianity in any way was an automatic instant death sentence, continues to be prevalent, in spite of the fact that it’s not true at all.

This Easter morning, the CNN Belief Blog posted an article about authors who’ve examined the record of Rome’s persecution of Christianity and found it wanting (WebCite cached article):

Millions of Christians worldwide will celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus on this Easter Sunday. But the story of how the church rose to prominence after Jesus’ death is being turned upside down.

According to a belief passed down through the centuries, the church grew because of Roman persecution. The blood of Christian martyrs such as Perpetua became “the seed of the church,” said third-century church leader Tertullian. It’s the Hollywood version of Christianity reflected in epic biblical films such as “Ben-Hur” and “The Robe.” Vicious Romans relentlessly targeted early Christians, so the story goes, but the faith of people like Perpetua proved so inspiring that Christianity became the official religion of Rome, and eventually the largest religion in the world.

But that script is getting a rewrite. The first Christians were never systematically persecuted by the Romans, and most martyrdom stories — with the exception of a handful such as Perpetua’s — were exaggerated and invented, several scholars and historians say. It wasn’t just how the early Christians died that inspired so many people in the ancient world; it was how they lived.

“You had much better odds of winning the lottery than you would have becoming a martyr,” says Joyce E. Salisbury, author of “The Blood of Martyrs: Unintended Consequences of Ancient Violence.”

“The odds were pretty slim. More people read about martyrs than ever saw one.”

It’s absolutely true that some Christians were persecuted in Roman times. It’s also true that there were some periods of extensive, systematic persecution. No rational person who’s seen the historical evidence can deny either of these facts. That said, the persecution that did take place was sporadic, and far less common than is now widely believed. Systematic persecutions took place only under two emperors, Decius and Diocletian. Each of these persecutions lasted at most for two years. The Christian legend that Emperor Septimus Severus also ordered a systematic persecution of Christians is not supported by any evidence.

Christians’ obsession with martyrs has historically created a lot of problems. For example, in classical times, immediately after tolerance for their religion was declared by Emperor Constantine in 313, a hyperpious reverence for martyrs led to the catastrophic fracture of the Church in northern Africa, the Donatist schism.

Even worse, modern Christians have carried this false legend into their own lives, and believe themselves to be persecuted, even now:

The debate over exactly how many Christians were persecuted and martyred may seem irrelevant centuries later. A scholarly consensus has indeed emerged that Roman persecution of Christians was sporadic, and that at least some Christian martyrdom stories are theological tall tales.

But a new book by Candida Moss, a New Testament professor at the University of Notre Dame, is bringing that message to the masses.

Moss says ancient stories of church persecution have created a contemporary cult of bogus Christian martyrs. She says too many American Christians are acting like they’re members of a persecuted minority, being thrown to the lions by people who simply disagree with them.

She cited former Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. Romney claimed last year that President Barack Obama was waging a “war against religion,” and Santorum said the gay community “had gone out on a jihad” against him. Other Christians invoke images of persecution when someone disagrees with them on controversial issues such as abortion or birth control, says Moss, whose “The Myth of Persecution” was recently released.

Too many Christians conflate mere disagreement with persecution … despite the fact that they’re not the same thing. Not even close!

Again, I do not deny that some Christians were persecuted in the Roman Empire, nor do I deny that some Christians are being persecuted in other parts of the world. What I am saying is that Christians in the U.S. and the rest of the occidental world, are not being persecuted, and that for them to continue believing they are, is delusional thinking. It’s time for them to grow the fuck up, dial back the sniveling and the sanctimonious bellyaching, accept that their religion no longer rules the world with an iron fist, and stop accusing non-Christians of things they haven’t done.

P.S. I can see it now: Cue the Christians’ fury and outrage that CNN insolently published this article “dissing” their religion, on Easter morning, of all days. Why, it’s intolerable that the evil secularists at CNN and in the mass media are trying to wipe out their poor, put-upon faith, this way, on their holiest day! If only these Christians could see how such reasoning merely provides more evidence of this religiously-propagated psychopathology … !

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Glenn BeckAfter his pledge to destroy Jim Wallis over the issue of Christianity and “social justice” fizzled like old ginger ale, Glenn Beck has decided to take on another one of his old foes: George Soros. Soros, you see, leads a “shadow government” in the US and has been the puppet master of the country for years. He’s a Communist who rules the Democratic Party, and now the country, with an iron fist. (Forget for a moment that, for long stretches during the 80s, 90s, and 00s, we’ve had Republicans in charge — at various times and in various combinations, including all three at once — of the House, the Senate, and the White House. So it’s pretty hard to see how the Democratic Party’s “puppet master” could have been running the country for so long.) He recently ran what he considers an exposé of Soros, which, as the New York Times Lede blog revealed, included some stretches of the truth as well as some outright lies (WebCite cached article):

In his indictment of Mr. Soros this week, what Mr. Beck did not say about the list of governments he claimed the philanthropist had helped to topple was striking. Before naming America as Mr. Soros’s next “target,” Mr. Beck ominously intoned:

Soros has helped fund the ‘Velvet Revolution’ in the Czech Republic, the “Orange Revolution” in the Ukraine, the “Rose Revolution” in Georgia. He also helped to engineer coups in Slovakia, Croatia and Yugoslavia.

What Mr. Beck failed to mention is that in each of the countries he named, Mr. Soros in fact provided support to popular pro-democracy groups battling repressive regimes led by Communist or former Communist autocrats. The Fox host also seemed confused about some of the events he described in those nations.

To start with, the mass street protests led by the Czech playwright Vaclav Havel in 1989 that brought down Prague’s Communist regime took place in what was still Czechoslovakia, not the Czech Republic, which did not exist at the time.

There were also no coups in Slovakia, Croatia or Yugoslavia. Slovakia was created by the so-called “velvet divorce” [cached], the peaceful dissolution of the federal state of Czechoslovakia by democratically-elected leaders in 1993; Croatia’s wartime president, Franjo Tudjman, an authoritarian former Communist general, died in office [cached] in 1999 and was replaced by a former member of his party after a democratic election; Slobodan Milosevic, the Yugoslav leader who was most responsible for the brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing that killed tens of thousands in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo, resigned in 2000 [cached], following street protests after his loss in a democratic election.

Thus, if one looked only at Soros’s activities during the late 80s and early 90s, one would have to assume him to have been a vehement anti-communist, rather than the devout Marxist Beckie-boy tells us he is.

And while it is true that George Soros does bankroll a lot of Democratic Party operations and Leftist groups, the Times shows he doesn’t leave the Right untouched by his money:

The Fox News host also made no mention in his program of the fact — first reported by Justin Elliott of Salon on Friday — that Mr. Soros has paid more than $150,000 to Randy Scheunemann, a Republican lobbyist who is a senior adviser to Sarah Palin, to press Congress and the White House to keep sanctions in place against Myanmar’s military junta and promote a resolution “calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,” whose party won the last free elections held in the country.

The Times goes on to say that Beckie-boy’s rhetoric is eerily similar to that of the Islamofascist regime of Iran:

Oddly, Mr. Beck’s conspiratorial reading of the recent history of Eastern Europe puts him in complete agreement with Iran’s intelligence ministry, which for years has been working to discredit the country’s reformist leaders and their calls for fair elections as the puppets of foreign plotters. …

Mr. Khatami called the allegation absurd, but, as The Lede explained in a post on “Iran’s Fear of a ‘Velvet Revolution’” [cached], Iran’s intelligence service seems to be obsessed with Mr. Soros.

What’s more, other commenters on Beckie-boy’s “exposé” of Soros have noted more than a whiff of anti-Semitism within it, among them Michelle Goldberg at the Daily Beast (cached article):

Anti-Semitism, like all ideologies, tells a story about the world. It’s a story about almost occult Jewish power, about cabals that manipulate world events for their own gain. In classic anti-Semitic narratives, Jews control both the elites and the masses; they’re responsible for the communist revolution and the speculative excesses of capitalism. Their goal is to undermine society so that they can take over. …

If you know this history, you’ll understand why Glenn Beck’s two-part “exposé” on George Soros, whom Beck calls “The Puppet Master,” was so shocking, even by Beck’s degraded standards. The program, which aired Tuesday and Wednesday, was a symphony of anti-Semitic dog-whistles. …

Soros, a billionaire financier and patron of liberal causes, has long been an object of hatred on the right. But Beck went beyond demonizing him; he cast him as the protagonist in an updated Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He described Soros as the most powerful man on earth, the creator of a “shadow government” that manipulates regimes and currencies for its own enrichment. Obama is his “puppet,” Beck says. Soros has even “infiltrated the churches.” He foments social unrest and economic distress so he can bring down governments, all for his own financial gain. “Four times before,” Beck warned. “We’ll be number five.”

Now, for the record, I do not believe Glenn Beck is an anti-Semite. And that’s not just because I believe Fox News’s denials of it, or because Beck claims he’s a supporter of Israel. No, it’s because I think he hates Soros so vehemently and so passionately, that he will stoop to nothing, including using Protocols of the Elders of Zion-type claims against him, in his campaign to destroy Soros. He’s so driven by hatred, that he simply doesn’t care that he’s using traditional anti-Semitic rhetoric against a Jewish survivor of the Third Reich.

Two final points: I’m not a fan of George Soros myself. He supports the ideological Left too much for my taste; I consider Americans’ thralldom to ideology of any sort to be counter-productive if not dangerous, and Soros is as responsible for this as anyone else at the moment.

And lastly … I’d like to point out that Glenn Beck, and the “Tea Party” movement of which he is a core part, is itself the product of secretive ideological philanthropists; David and Charles Koch, to be exact (cached article). Beck is very much an officer in their army, if not its Field Marshall. Presumably he has no problem with the Koch brothers’ own large, “shadow” ideological apparatus (seen as how Beckie happily does their bidding); yet he points an accusing finger at another ideological philanthropist. How dare he! What a fucking hypocrite. Glennie, haven’t you read your Bible recently? You must have missed the parts of it where your own Jesus instructed you never to be hypocritical … ever … not for any reason. He said it clearly, unambiguously, and offered no caveats or exceptions to this rule. Christians such as yourself, Glenn, must never be hypocritical. That’s just the way it is.

Hat tip: Religion Dispatches.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore.

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Sign: God Hates Hateful ChristiansAs I’ve mentioned before, it appears Oklahoma has become the new Kansas. Writer Thomas Frank famously posited in 2004 — in his What’s the Matter with Kansas? — that the Religious Right had used his home state as a kind of crucible in which to construct a suitable following for its religiofascist agenda. It certainly appears, over the last couple years (as I’ve touched on a time or two here on this blog), that they’ve drifted one state to the south and are now trying to make Oklahoma into a second crucible. The latest example of this militant religiofascism is something known as the Save Our State amendment. Its goal is to prevent Islamic shari’a law from being followed by Oklahoma courts. ABC News reported on this insanely misguided effort (WebCite cached article):

Oklahoma is poised to become the first state in the nation to ban state judges from relying on Islamic law known as Sharia when deciding cases.

The ban is a cornerstone of a “Save our State” amendment to the Oklahoma constitution that was recently approved by the Legislature.

The amendment — which also would forbid judges from using international laws as a basis for decisions — will now be put before Oklahoma’s voters in November. Approval is expected.

There are two problems with this amendment. The most important is that it’s based on the paranoid delusion that Oklahoma courts may soon follow shari’a law. There is absolutely no evidence that this has yet happened, however, nor is there any evidence it’s on the horizon. The Religious Right is going to war over a mirage.

The second problem is that — where American courts following international-law precedent is concerned — that ship has already sailed. It has been done, and it might be done again; and because the US Supreme Court has done it, that means a state constitutional amendment cannot prevent it.

T. Scott Brown, Atheist Examiner for Oklahoma City, goes over this in more detail (including providing a list of relevant court cases).

I’d like to be clear on the fact that I am opposed to shari’a law being imposed on anyone, Muslims included. It’s a metaphysically-based legal system closely tied to Islamic religious doctrines and practices. As a form of justice, it leaves much to be desired. Metaphysically-based legal codes are nearly as detrimental to humanity as metaphysically-based medicine is. I’ve also blogged on the evilsand the follies — of shari’a law. I’ve also pointed out the foolishness of allowing shari’a law in UK courts. So by pointing out that Oklahoma’s “Save our State amendment” is insane, I am not “defending” shari’a law. What I am saying is that passing a state-constitutional amendment preventing something from happening, which is not currently happening and will never happen, is paranoid-delusional thinking, and that sane, mature adults do not engage in this kind of thing.

The hosts of Religiofascism are on the march, folks! They not only have taken over Kansas, they’ve pretty much got Oklahoma in their corner too.

Hat tip: OKC Atheist Examiner.

Photo credit: dustout.

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The House recently voted to make targeting gays for violence a federal “hate crime,” and that means the Religious Right — which thrives on hatred for gays — is furious. First, the latest on this bill, from the New York Times (WebCite cached version):

The House voted Thursday to expand the definition of violent federal hate crimes to those committed because of a victim’s sexual orientation, a step that would extend new protection to lesbian, gay and transgender people. …

Under current federal law, hate crimes that fall under federal jurisdiction are defined as those motivated by the victim’s race, color, religion or national origin.

The new measure would broaden the definition to include those committed because of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. It was approved by the House right before a weekend when gay rights will be a focus in Washington, with a march to the Capitol and a speech by President Obama to the Human Rights Campaign.

While I’m not 100% behind this effort … compounding a criminal charge based solely on the thought behind it is not really a good idea, since it’s too subjective … I don’t support what the Right is doing about it, which is to lie about it. PolitiFact, a project of the St Petersburg Times, reports on two of of those who’ve lied about it:

Rep. John Kline and other Republicans say under Hate Crime bill, religious leaders could be prosecuted for preaching about sexual practices

U.S. Rep. John Kline, a former Marine whose son serves in the military, voted for the defense bill in June before it included the expanded hate crimes provision. But in voting against the bill this week, Kline echoed a concern voiced by several Republican leaders that the hate crime bill could lead to prosecution of religious leaders preaching their morality about sexual preference from the pulpit.

“I disdain racism, sexism, and bigotry, but under this legislation, any pastor, preacher, priest, rabbi or imam who gives a sermon out of their moral traditions about sexual practices could be found guilty of a federal crime,” the Minnesota Republican stated in an Oct. 8, 2009, press release. …

“As has been previously stated by Judge Carter of Texas, under Section 2 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code today, an individual may be held criminally liable who ‘aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures’ in the commission of a federal crime,” Pence said from the House floor on Oct. 8. “Therefore, to put a fine point on it, any pastor, preacher, priest, rabbi, or imam, who may give a sermon out of their moral traditions about sexual practices, could presumably under this legislation be found to have aided, abetted or induced in the commission of a federal crime. This will have a chilling effect on religious expression, from the pulpits, in our temples, in our mosques and in our churches. And it must be undone.”

Sounds very onerous, doesn’t it? The federal government intends to criminalize the beliefs of clergy, no? Well, according to Politifact, not quite:

But we quote more from the bill: “Nothing in this division shall be construed to prohibit any constitutionally protected speech, expressive conduct or activities (regardless of whether compelled by, central to, a system of religious belief), including the exercise of religion protected by the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States and peaceful picketing or demonstration.”

Politifact’s conclusion that Kline is lying, aligns with FactCheck’s conclusion earlier this year about the same thing. That’s a fairly explicit protection to clergy.

I’ve blogged before on the matter of why the Religious Right despises the notion of “hate crimes” and why they consider it evil. But that’s predicated on their prevailing persecution complex, and in this case, is completely unfounded. I’m not sure why guys like Kline and Pence are acting as though it’s not present in the bill … but they are. That makes them the latest members of my lying liars for Jesus club. That they would lie about this bill, based solely on the delusion that they’re being persecuted only makes this offense worse.

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