Posts Tagged “lies”

Screen shot of preventable-disease map, by CFREven though the current anti-vax movement has been constructed upon a single demonstrably-fraudulent study (WebCite cached article) by Dr Andrew Wakefield — which he’d intended as the basis for a franchise selling “remedies” for something he called “austistic enterocolitis” (cached), it’s taken on a life of its own. It morphed originally from Wakefield’s (false) contention that the MMR vaccine causes autism, to the assumption that all vaccines, of any type, are toxic.

The mass media have done more than their share to perpetuate the lie that vaccines are dangerous, including this past December when Katie Couric spent an entire show parading sanctimonious mommies on her stage (cached) telling everyone that the HPV vaccine is lethal. Ms Couric later sort-of conceded she might have gone too far with that one (cached).

The truth of the anti-vax movement is much worse than just that it’s a big fat fucking lie with a fraudulent genesis; it’s actually hurting people in very real — and measurable — ways. The Council on Foreign Relations released a map showing the incidence of vaccine-preventable outbreaks around the world (cached). And the picture isn’t pretty:Screen shot of preventable-disease map, by CFROne expects to see such illnesses in developing countries, but as is evident in the map, even in highly industrialized nations, preventable childhood illnesses are also occurring in large numbers. Europe is plastered with measles, for instance, and the U.S. is spawning whooping cough from sea to sea.

I know I’ll be accused of having been paid by “Big Pharma” to point this out and condemn the anti-vax movement … but no matter how fervently the anti-vax crowd may believe otherwise, I haven’t. “Big Pharma” doesn’t even know who I am. I also don’t know anyone who works for, or who’s ever been paid any amount, by a “Big Pharma” firm. I’m just a guy who objects to irrationality and lies, and doesn’t think it’s a good idea for people to he harmed or killed by irrationality and lies. Call me crazy if you want — and many have! — but that’s just how I roll. <shrug>

Photo credit: CFR map screen-shot.

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This ark, located an hour south of Amsterdam, is a replica of Noah's Biblical boat. Underwater archaeologist Robert Ballard is in Turkey, looking for evidence that the Great Flood happened. (ABC News)With Christmas approaching, the mass media are, as one would expect, catering to the country’s prevailing religiosity. That’s understandable, and normal. But this effort goes beyond annual re-showings of How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Even their journalists get into the act, manufacturing news stories that reinforce religious sentimentality. An example of this is ABC News, which is reporting that Noah’s Flood has been proven to have occurred (WebCite cached article):

The story of Noah’s Ark and the Great Flood is one of the most famous from the Bible, and now an acclaimed underwater archaeologist thinks he has found proof that the biblical flood was actually based on real events.

In an interview with Christiane Amanpour for ABC News, Robert Ballard, one of the world’s best-known underwater archaeologists, talked about his findings. His team is probing the depths of the Black Sea off the coast of Turkey in search of traces of an ancient civilization hidden underwater since the time of Noah.

Unfortunately for believers in the Abrahamic religious tradition, this is not really the “proof” that the article implies, or that ABC would like its readers/viewers to think it is. The ways in which they support the very-thin contention, are as varied as they are stupid:

Ballard’s track record for finding the impossible is well known. In 1985, using a robotic submersible equipped with remote-controlled cameras, Ballard and his crew hunted down the world’s most famous shipwreck, the Titanic.

Unfortunately for both ABC and Ballard, that Ballard had been able to locate the Titanic, does not mean he’s now found proof of Noah’s Flood. It’s a clever appeal to authority, I admit, but that’s all it is. Next comes this gem:

Now Ballard is using even more advanced robotic technology to travel farther back in time. He is on a marine archeological mission that might support the story of Noah. He said some 12,000 years ago, much of the world was covered in ice.

This is not actually news. Most of us learned of the Ice Age back when we were in school. The idea that the Noah’s Flood story might be a reflection of one or more flooding events spawned by the end of the Ice Age, is not new at all.

Curiously, after covering this ground in their effort to “prove” that Noah’s global Flood had occurred, ABC News veers off into something else:

According to a controversial theory proposed by two Columbia University scientists, there really was one in the Black Sea region. They believe that the now-salty Black Sea was once an isolated freshwater lake surrounded by farmland, until it was flooded by an enormous wall of water from the rising Mediterranean Sea. The force of the water was two hundred times that of Niagara Falls, sweeping away everything in its path. …

The theory goes on to suggest that the story of this traumatic event, seared into the collective memory of the survivors, was passed down from generation to generation and eventually inspired the biblical account of Noah.

The story goes on to discuss the fact that the Black Sea appears to have had a different coastline than it does now. Yet again, however, this is not news. It’s well-known. This also seems to be the linchpin of Ballard’s theory … which, by itself, is neither novel nor unreasonable — even though ABC News is reporting it as a “new” discovery.

But as I said, this means we’ve actually drifted away from the original Noah’s Flood story, and are in different territory. The Great Flood described in Genesis was a global flood that wiped out all of humanity and all the world’s fauna except the refugees aboard the Ark. An inundation from the Mediterranean into the Black Sea, as colossal as it may have been to those who were near it, was not the global event recorded in Genesis! It could not have wiped out any person or animal beyond the Black Sea basin.

What Ballard and his religionism-satisfying sycophants in the mass media have done, is to take a localized event for which there is some genuine evidence, and stretched it far beyond what’s actually there, in order to make it appear to support the Bible. Logicians know this as shoehorning, and ultimately, it’s a lie.

Look, I get that ABC News and the mass media feel as though they need to pander to religiosity. The majority of people in the US are Christians, and the majority of them like hearing their Bible has a basis in fact. But lying to them in order to curry their favor and make them feel more secure in their beliefs, is still lying, and it’s still wrong. Journalists like Christiane Amanpour have no excuse for lying to people just to make them happy. The cold fact here is that there is no evidence — zero, zip, zilch, nada, none, not a speck of it! — that the Great Flood tale in Genesis happened. Ballard ahs uncovered nothing that supports any such event. And ABC News had no business suggesting he did.

Photo credit: ABC News.

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Ten Commandments with Hebrew Numbering (read the description for an explanation of why)I’ve blogged a couple of times on the phenomenon of militant Christians promoting Ten Commandments idolatry. This time it’s happening in the great religionist state of Louisiana, as the Times-Picayune of New Orleans reports (WebCite cached article):

A resolution calling for House and Senate members to support the concept of a Ten Commandments monument on Capitol grounds cleared a Senate committee without objection Wednesday and now goes before the entire Senate.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 16 [cached] by Sen. Mike Walsworth, R-West Monroe, approved after more than 40 minutes of debate by the Senate Committee on Senate and Governmental Affairs, would direct the governor’s Division of Administration to find a location for the monument, to be paid for with private funds.

Of course this is an example of a state forcing religion onto its citizens. That fact is not changed by the transparent contrivance of private funds paying for it; in the end, the monument is going up at the direction of Louisiana state government, so there’s no logical way anyone can say it’s anything but a government action.

This monument’s promoters are also trying to envelop it in a veneer of “historicity”:

“The Ten Commandments is where laws first began,” Walsworth said. “This (Capitol) is where the laws of Louisiana are made each and every year. … This is more of an historical thing.”

Unfortunately for these Christofascists, it is absolutely, 100% not true that “laws first began” with the Ten Commandments. No way! Not even close. Legal systems predate the appearance of the Decalogue by millennia. Yes, folks … that’s by millennia! The Decalogue as we know it dates to about the middle of the last millennium BCE; but the ancient Sumerians had written law codes by the middle of the 3rd millennium BCE, and those in turn were based on a tradition of legal decisions which were made during the preceding several centuries. The Sumerian king Ur-Nammu (who lived in the 21st century BCE) and the Babylonian king Hammurabi (who lived in the 18th century BCE) were both famous for having promulgated widely-influential law codes — but the tradition of Mesopotamian kings propounding law codes was ancient, even in their times. And other peoples of the region, including the Egyptians, also had law-codes of their own, likewise dating centuries or millennia prior to the Ten Commandments. What’s more, the content of the Decalogue isn’t even innovative; admonitions against theft, murder, and lying in court, for example, are all part of these earlier law codes; they were prevailing legal principles in the region long before the Hebrews ever appeared.

It’s incontrovertible: As a legal code there is virtually nothing innovative about the Ten Commandments, aside from its admonition against worshiping other deities. Walsworth’s false claim puts him in my “lying liars for Jesus” club.

Yet another problem with any Decalogue monument, is which list of the Ten Commandments is posted on it. Most believers are not aware of this, but there are several ways in which the Ten Commandments have been enumerated over the centuries. Judaism has its own list; Catholics have theirs; Protestants have one of their own (with a few variations among denominations); and so too do the Orthodox churches. Any single list of the Ten Commandments will, therefore, inevitably be sectarian in nature, favoring one Decalogue tradition — and therefore one religion or denomination — over the rest. It can’t be any other way.

I’ve previously referred to the movement to build Decalogue monuments as “idolatry,” and it quite obviously is that. But I don’t expect proponents of these religionist monstrosities to see it that way. They’re doing it for Jesus, you see, so it just can’t be idolatry … by definition! This is, of course, very wrong. Idolatrous behavior is idolatrous behavior, without regard to the reasons one engages in it. Not only is the construction of Decalogue monuments idolatry — explicitly forbidden to all Christians, under all conditions — it’s also a form of public piety, which is likewise explicitly forbidden to all Christians, under all circumstances.

If there are any Christofascists out there who, nevertheless, still think Decalogue monuments are godly, and that I, as an American, am required to worship them just as they do, I invite you to do whatever you wish in order to make that happen. Force me to bow and scrape before your monument. I dare you to try it, by any means you wish. Go ahead. Make me. If you’re so sure it’s what your precious Jesus wants, why would you not do everything in your power to make it happen?

Photo credit: abbyladybug.

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St. Leonard's Church, Horringer-cum-Ickworth, SuffolkOne of the more militant of the many Christofascists in Congress, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, spewed another lie about Christmas. Politico reports it as part of his juvenile bellyaching about how horrible it was that Congress dared hold a lame-duck session before the holiday, which apparently he finds personally inconvenient (WebCite cached article):

“You can’t jam a major arms control treaty right before Christmas,” [DeMint] told POLITICO. “What’s going on here is just wrong. This is the most sacred holiday for Christians.”

DeMint is not correct when he says Christmas is “the most sacred holiday for Christians.” Everyone with even half a brain knows that the true most sacred Christian holiday is Easter.

That’s right, Senator. Easter — not Christmas — is the most sacred day, for Christians. Don’t just take my word for it, either … have a look, for example, at this Christianity Today page on holidays, which says (cached):

Celebrate Christianity’s most sacred holiday with us! Our Easter section features ChristianityToday.com’s best articles and resources on the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I get that DeMint is upset that he’s being forced to attend a Senate session, when he’d rather be home in South Carolina, cooking up new ways to force his Christianity on the rest of the country. But too bad for him. He needs to man up and do the job he signed up for, back when he campaigned for the Senate. And he needs to stop lying in order to support his childish wishes.

That DeMint lied about the sanctity of Easter places him in my “lying liars for Jesus” club. I’ve also added this particular lie to my page on myths about Christmas that are commonly told in the US.

Hat tip: Religion Dispatches.

Photo credit: wumpus.

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I blogged early this year about disgraced evangelical pastor Ted Haggard’s then-new effort to rehabilitate his reputation, step behind a lectern again, and thump his Bible once more. He has continued this effort, and recently led a prayer group in his home in Colorado Springs. Along with that (of course) he made himself available for media interviews. In the course of one such interview, Haggard told a whopping, demonstrable lie. KMGH-7 TV in Denver has the story:

“I was always well aware of my own personal struggles, but my desire was to be more Godly,” said Haggard. “I was never a religious right, hateful, anti-gay guy — secretly running off, except right at the end. I’d say right at the end, before the crisis. That did develop a little bit stronger.”

There are many ways to show this to be a lie … i.e. that he was, in fact, always “right” and “anti-gay.” But one example is the following quotation by him, during an interview in late 2005 with Christianity Today:

“The biblical argument could be made, but not in this particular case. In Washington, D.C., our argument has to be the fact that the greatest benefit to society and to our culture and to the children of our nation would be to instill in our Constitution that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. It would be devastating for the children of our nation and for the future of Western civilization for us to say that homosexual unions or lesbian unions or any alteration of that has the moral equivalence of a heterosexual, monogamous marriage.

This is assuredly both “right” and “anti-gay.” And note, he was saying it not merely as a “Biblical” principle, but because that’s what he genuinely believed to be in the best interest of children and civilization.

Welcome, pastor Teddy, to my lying liars for Jesus club.

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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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The Religious Right has become extremely “activist” in its tactics over the last few months. Since it no longer runs the country at the federal level, and has lost a great deal of influence in a number of states, they’ve started using a wider range of methods to get their message — of total subservience by all Americans to their own form of rigid, Protestant fundamentalism, and a government designed their way to force their metaphysics on everyone — out to the masses. The latest example of this effort can be seen in this report by the St Petersburg Times:

Christian group’s billboards denounce separation of church, state

A Hillsborough public policy group whose Christian platform included a push for a state ban on gay marriage has embraced a new attack on an old target: the separation of church and state. …

The message, as explained on www.noseparation.org, is that “America’s government was made only for people who are moral and religious.”

“The Judeo-Christian foundation that the Founding Fathers established when America began is the reason that this country has prospered for 200-plus years,” said Kemple, president and sole employee of the local Community Issues Council, which paid for the Web site.

“The fact is, for the last 40 years, as anti-God activists have incrementally removed the recognition of God’s place in the establishment of our country, we have gone downhill.”

These Religious Right activists are not averse to making things up in order to convince people of their point:

The billboards showcase quotes from early American leaders like John Adams, James Madison and Benjamin Franklin. Most of the quotes portray a national need for Christian governance.

Others carry the same message but with fictional attribution, as with one billboard citing George Washington for the quote, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”

You would think that such devout Christians wouldn’t be so quick to be dishonest, but guess again! They make no apologies for weaving fiction:

“I don’t believe there’s a document in Washington’s handwriting that has those words in that specific form,” Kemple said. “However, if you look at Washington’s quotes, including his farewell address, about the place of religion in the political sphere, there’s no question he could have said those exact words.”

There, you see? They think Washington said things of this sort, and they’re so sure of it, that they just fabricate it, and expect no one will know any better.

Yep, just another bunch of lying liars for Jesus.

These dominionists are horrifically dangerous … in case you haven’t noticed … and they aren’t above old propaganda tricks such as those once employed by the Third Reich, the Kremlin, or Chairman Mao.

In case there’s any doubt … none of the Founding Fathers were Christian fundamentalists. Not one. (The reason? Christian fundamentalism did not come into existence until the 19th century — by which time all the Founding Fathers were long gone.) Washington never desired a theocracy, and Jefferson was opposed to dogmatic religion of any kind. Thomas Paine penned one of the all-time greatest anti-religion polemics, Age of Reason. For details on what the Founding Fathers actually thought, and what it means for the U.S. to be a “secular state,” please have a look at this page.

It would be nice if these people grew up and accepted the existence of non-Christians in their United States … but I’m not counting on it ever happening.

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