Posts Tagged “morality”

Hypocrisy: No one does it better than Christians / MotifakeNote: There’ve been some updates to this story since I first published it; please see footnotes below.

I haven’t blogged about the reality-TV show originally named 17 Kids and Counting, the Duggar family who stars in it, or the Quiverfull movement to which they belong (WebCite cached article). Honestly, there hasn’t seemed to be much point in it. To begin with I don’t even give a flying fuck about any so-called “reality” shows (they aren’t “real,” they’re scripted). And the Quiverfulls are just a freakish evangelical Protestant collective of insane wing-nuts to which I’d have preferred never to call anyone’s attention. But given this latest bit of news, I don’t think it can be avoided any more. As In Touch Weekly reports, one of the Duggars’ sons, Josh, had molested a number of girls as a teenager (cached):

Josh Duggar of the TLC hit reality show 19 Kids and Counting was named in a police report as the “alleged offender” in an underage sexual abuse probe, In Touch magazine is reporting exclusively.

The charge being pursued while Josh was a minor was sexual assault in the fourth degree, multiple sources who have seen the police report and are familiar with the case told In Touch. According to the report, Josh was brought into the Arkansas State Police by his father, Jim Bob, who said he caught him leaving a young girl’s bedroom and “learned something inappropriate happened,” one source said.

These charges were never dealt with at the time:

A bizarre turn of events prevented police and prosecutors from finishing their investigation and possibly prosecuting. The state trooper who originally took the report about Josh shortly before 2005 never followed up. That state trooper was later convicted on child pornography charges and is serving a 56-year prison sentence.

When the state trooper ran into trouble, someone from the Arkansas State Police alerted the Child Abuse Hotline about the Duggar situation that had been sitting inactive. That’s when the Crimes Against Children Division and Springdale Police Department got involved. By then the three-year statute of limitations had passed and it would not have been possible to pursue prosecution of Josh if the allegations warranted, so the investigation was discontinued. “A technicality prevented any further action,” a source familiar with the case told In Touch. “That’s been the biggest regret in all of this.” (The statute of limitations has since been lengthened.)

Hypocritically, this erstwhile pervert worked for the Family Research Council, a Christofascist outfit which sanctimoniously rages about what it perceives as “immorality,” especially of the sexual sort. He’s resigned already (cached), and the FRC insists it never knew about this. I admit that’s possible, but even if it’s true, it doesn’t excuse Josh having taken a job with them, knowing his own past.

In the meantime the usual suspects are lining up to support the teen child molester. Among them is presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who had this to say (cached):

“Josh’s actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, ‘inexcusable,’ but that doesn’t mean ‘unforgivable,’” Huckabee said in a statement posted on Facebook Friday [cached]. “He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities. No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story.”

Shucksabee is, of course, wrong to claim that the problem here is that this is “sensationalism.” Not at all. Nor is Josh Duggar’s status as “forgiven” relevant to anything. No, the actual problem is that this guy was a pervert as a teen, but was never prosecuted for it because the trooper who would have done that was, himself, a pervert! A secondary problem is that Josh Duggar was a fucking hypocrite to have taken a job with a Christianist morality-force in spite of his own far-less-than-moral background.

Oh, and … I note that Shucksabee has all sorts of sympathy for the Duggar family, and is sanctimoniously outraged on their behalf that this story was even reported, but he has no fucking sympathy for any of Josh Duggar’s molestation victims (at least one of which, stories suggest, was one of his sisters). I get why Shuckasabee is defending them: They’re militant Christianists like himself, and they’re extremely well-known, by virtue of their TV show. He cannot — and will not — concede any possibility of anything being wrong with this.

But it’s not just Shucksabee railing at the insolence of the media reporting this. Raw Story has cataloged many other examples of other Christians supporting Josh and the other Duggars (cached), many of them excusing what he did as no big deal, or with the old adage that “boys are curious.” Fuck that shit — and I mean that. Those people all need to go fuck themselves.

For the last time, let me be clear: Militant Christianists like the Duggars and their defenders, including Mike Huckabee, are damned fucking hypocrites — every single last fucking one of them. They scream and rail and bluster and fume over the “immorality” of things like gay marriage, and demand that it be outlawed, but when one of their own was caught behaving immorally, it’s nothing to be concerned about, shut up about it, everyone go home, there’s nothing to see here, etc. Christianists bellyache about something they call “moral relativism” and they almost always condemn it — loudly! But here’s a rather brazen example of them actually engaging in moral relativism.

Update 1: TMZ reports that the Duggars’ cable network, TLC — after running silent for a while — finally pulled their show from its schedule (cached).

Update 2: The center young Josh was sent to after his molestation was discovered, was founded by a guy who, it turns out, has a checkered history of his own with women (cached). What a wonderful crew! Their pretensions, lies, disingenuity, dissembling, and hypocrisy are now more apparent than ever. (Hat tip for this: Friendly Atheist).

Update 3: Officials in Arkansas are falling all over themselves to defend Josh Duggar and sing his praises, and the state’s courts are wiping his record clean (cached). Well done, Christians! You must be so proud!

Update 4: It’s the end of the road for this oversized Christianist brood. After hemming and hawing for far too long, TLC finally managed to kick the Duggars and their phony puritanical act off the air for good (cached).

Photo credit: Motifake.

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CorpusChristiExt2It’s no secret that the Fox News network is a leading bastion of Religious Right ideology. Pretty much every big name on the network is a committed Christianist to one degree or another. Oddly enough, in spite of the fact that the Religious Right movement for which this channel works is a product of Protestant evangelical Christianity, many of the channel’s biggest names — e.g. Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity — are Roman Catholic. Of course, the rivalry between these wings of Christianity hasn’t gotten in the way of these folk marching in lock-step with their Protestant brethren and sistren. It’s surprising how few differences there are among them, even if historically Catholics and Protestants had been known to go to war with each other.

At any rate, one of Fox’s more overtly religious mouthpieces for Christofascism is Fr Jonathan Morris, a Catholic priest who — like his fellow Catholics on Fox — has made common cause with Protestants. As Raw Story explains, he recently appeared on the channel to declare that atheists are unfit to serve as president (WebCite cached article):

Catholic priest and Fox News contributor Father Jonathan Morris argued over the weekend that atheists were not suitable candidates for president because it was “hard to trust” someone who did not believe that God would punish them.…

According to Morris, anything that did not “inform” a public official’s life was not faith “because faith is a set of beliefs.”

“It’s a belief in God, it’s a belief that there are eternal consequences for your actions,” he explained. “And I think that a leader that doesn’t have that — a set of core beliefs that help him to make justice an important part of his life and his decisions because he knows that there are eternal consequences, well, it’s somebody that it’s hard to trust.”

This might seem a reasonable conclusion to Christofascists like Morris and the rest of the insane crew he works with at Fox. But if one thinks about it, it doesn’t really work. I’d much rather have as president someone who can figure out right and wrong on his/her own, and who has both the ability and willingness to do the right thing of his/her own accord, without having to be frightened into it by threat of punishment imposed by some wild-eyed cosmic sky-tyrant. An upstanding, effective leader should not need metaphysical beliefs to drill morals and ethics into him/her.

But then, I’m just a cynical, cold-hearted, godless agnostic heathen, so what the hell could I possibly know about such important things?

One thing I’d like to point out about Fr Jonathan, however, is that he’s part of the Legion of Christ, a clerical order that’s been mired in scandal for a number of years. I’ve blogged about this order and its attendant scandal several times. A Vatican investigation — which, typically, took far longer than it needed to have — ended up substantiating accusations against the order’s founder, Fr Marcial Maciel (cached). The order remains under Vatican oversight, and a number of Maciel’s underlings and other officials of the order are being investigated.

Now, my mention of Morris’s order’s sordid past might seem inappropriate … as though I’m smearing him for the misdeeds of others. Perhaps I am. To be clear, I’m not saying Morris must have been involved in any shenanigans. But I’d like to point out that, for several years, he was on the staff of the order’s seminary in Rome. He very likely had direct access to the order’s leadership, some of whom the Vatican has investigated. What does that mean for Fr Jonathan? I have no idea … but that’s the problem. The Legion of Christ remains under a cloud of suspicion — a cloud that the R.C. Church itself created, on its own.

Oh, and I’m not even going to go into the part of the US Constitution which says there can never be any religious test for any official in the country, including the presidency. (That part, by the way, is Article VI paragraph 3. Just in case you wondered. Not that religiofascists give a shit that it’s there.)

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Kelly McBride / The Community Press, via the Cincinnati EnquirerBy now I assume most of my readers have heard of “the Ice Bucket Challenge” which has become a wildly successful fund-raiser for the ALS Association. Well, it turns out that the R.C. archdiocese of Cincinnati doesn’t approve. As the Cincinnati Enquirer reports, they’ve declared the challenge and its associated charity persona non grata (WebCite cached article):

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has asked the principals at its Catholic schools not to encourage students to raise money for the ALS Association as the ice-bucket challenge becomes an internet sensation.

The challenge itself is fine, said Dan Andriacco, spokesman for the Archdiocese.

The Archdiocese just doesn’t want fundraising to be sent to the association, which funds at least one study using embryonic stem cells, Andriacco said.

“(Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is a terrible disease,” Andriacco said, a day after an email was sent to principals from Superintendent Jim Rigg.

“We appreciate the compassion that has caused so many people to engage in this,” Andriacco said. “But it’s a well established moral principle that a good end is not enough. The means to that ends must be morally licit.”

An embryo must be destroyed to harvest its stem cells, Andriacco said. Many Catholics relate that to abortion.

Gosh, I’m so glad the archdiocese managed to acknowledge how horrific ALS (aka “Lou Gehrig’s disease”) is. They just don’t approve of the science being done to fight it. The archdiocese demands Catholics give the Church all their charity money:

The Archdiocese asks that any money raised is sent instead to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City, Iowa, where the research is only conducted using adult stem cells.

Gee, how convenient of the Church to decide that it should retain custody of all that money. Hmm. I wonder who’s profiting off that? Anyone care to guess?

By the way, the idea that adult stem cells are equivalent to embryonic stem cells, is a Roman Catholic lie. They are not, in fact, the same. There are things embryonic stem cells can do, which adult stem cells cannot — which the Church pretends is not the case. It is, of course, true that adult stem cells have their virtues as well; the bottom line is that both types of stem cell research are necessary for ALS research. Limiting oneself to just one type is foolhardy.

In any event, the R.C. Church doesn’t have the standing to declare whether or not any given medical-research charity is morally acceptable. As I’ve blogged so many times before, the Church tore up and burned its “moral arbiter” card long ago, when as a matter of long-standing worldwide policy its hierarchs purposely allowed its own clergy to abuse children in its care and actively protected the abusers from being caught and punished. (On top of all that, they’ve had the gall, over the past several years, to blame their own policies and behavior on other people and things, including Jews, gays, the Devil, the mass media, and even the child victims themselves.) They’ve got the morals of the Mafia and the scruples of used-car dealers. I no longer fucking care what any given R.C. hierarch thinks about the morality of anything — nor should anyone else. They no longer have a vote.

As a token of my disrespect for the Cincinnati archdiocese’s announcement, I’ve just donated to the ALS Association. And I urge all my readers to do the same. Please give as generously as you can. Thank you!

Photo credit: Kelly McBride/The Community Press, via the Cincinnati Enquirer.

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Michelangelo's "God", from "the Creation of Adam"Every time some hideous catastrophe takes place in the occidental world, inevitably, people start musing about “where God was” while it was going on. I’ve noticed this has been particularly common in regard to the Aurora massacre that happened just over a week ago. CNN’s Belief blog alone has hosted multiple postings which ask this one question … but that’s hardly the only place. The media and the blogosphere are literally choked with people asking that question. Last Sunday, preachers and pastors around the country were (trying to) answer it for their flocks during their sermons, and I assume are still trying to do so.

I tangentially mentioned that particular question myself, just a few days ago — so I have to confess, even I have stumbled into it. Given how frequently this question has come up, I’ve decided I must address it a little more directly.

The question, “Where God was during the Aurora massacre?” is a direct consequence of “the problem of evil” which lies at the philosophical heart of the Abrahamic faiths.

Elsewhere I’ve devoted an entire Web page to this particular dilemma. To keep it brief, the problem lies in the fact that the Abrahamic faiths believe in a creator deity which is simultaneously omnipotent (i.e. having the power to do anything s/he/it wants), omniscient (i.e. knowing everything that can be known: past, present, and future alike), and benevolent (i.e. wanting there to be no suffering on the part of anyone). In spite of this supposed combination of traits, though, we know that this deity’s creation contains suffering … a lot of it. Over the centuries many theodicies have been proposed to explain how this presumed creator deity can have all three of these traits yet still there is a lot of suffering. All of those theodicies, however, fail the test of logic, because they all fail to take into account the absolute nature of the three traits the Abrahamic deity is assumed to possess, as well as his role as the creator of the universe.

The one most apologists use is the “free will” theodicy, or the claim that the creator has given humanity “free will,” so that each of us can do whatevever s/he wishes at any time, and said deity refuses to do anything about it … hence there is suffering in the world that God cannot prevent. Unfortunately this fails for three reasons: First, not all suffering is even of human origin, so that someone’s presumed “free will” played no role in it and cannot have caused it. Second, that creator deity is believed to have intervened in human affairs many times in history and has gone so far as to order people around; clearly he is not some kind of remote spectator-being who’s philosophically opposed to getting involved in people’s decisions and unwilling to get in their way. Third, as the creator, he must have known how his creation would turn out; he must have known in advance what everyone would do; he must have known there would be widespread suffering for uncountable billions of people over many generations; yet — despite knowing all of this prior to the moment of creation — he created the universe anyway.

Ultimately, a truly omnipotent and omniscient being can never be absolved of any responsibility for what he creates; if he exists, and if he created this universe, he and he alone is responsible for everything that ever happens in it. Those who are part of that creation can, at best, only be secondary agents — since he created them as they are, and they did not create themselves. In the end, simply put, it is logically impossible for the creator of the universe we live in — which has suffering in it — to simultaneously be omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent. It just doesn’t work.

The curious thing about the problem of evil is, as soon as you take the Abrahamic deity’s presumed benevolence out of the equation, the rest of it actually becomes logically tenable. Removing his omnipotence or omniscience tends not to work so well: If you assume the creator was less-than-omnipotent, you’re still left with a creator who made a universe he knew would get out of his control and have suffering in it that he couldn’t do anything about; and even if the deity was less-than-omniscient, he still must have had some idea that he was risking creating a universe that might have suffering in it. So even taking either or both of those out, you’re still left with a creator-being who must have behaved in a less-than-totally-benevolent manner.

While this is coolly logical, it unfortunately does not fit with prevailing notions about the Abrahamic faiths. Most Jews, Christians and Muslims are unnerved even to consider that the deity they worship might be something other than benevolent. Some are willing to dispense with his omnipotence or omniscience (e.g. Harold Kushner, author of the best-selling When Bad Things Happen to Good People), but for the most part they simply refuse even to entertain the idea that their creator deity could be anything less than loving and compassionate.

Thus, as far as I’m concerned, for followers of the Abrahamic faiths to have to ask themselves, “Where was God during the Aurora massacre?” just provides more evidence of the inherent, undeniable absurdity of their beliefs. They shouldn’t even be asking it! What they should be asking — instead — is, “Why do I believe in a creator-deity to whom tradition assigns a combination of traits that logic tells me he can’t possibly have?”

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Mordechai Jungreis, right, walks his mentally disabled son, 16, home from school in Brooklyn. (James Estrin/The New York Times)I blog often about the Roman Catholic Church’s worldwide child-abuse scandal. It may seem that I concentrate on Catholic cases at the expense of other institutions’ abuses. But I have mentioned other faiths’ abuses, and this blog post also concerns another religion. Worse than child abuse itself, is the manner in which religions close ranks around abusers. You see, it’s not only the Catholic Church that protects them; as the New York Times reports, it also happens in the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities of New York (WebCite cached article):

The first shock came when Mordechai Jungreis learned that his mentally disabled teenage son was being molested in a Jewish ritual bathhouse in Brooklyn. The second came after Mr. Jungreis complained, and the man accused of the abuse was arrested.

Old friends started walking stonily past him and his family on the streets of Williamsburg. Their landlord kicked them out of their apartment. Anonymous messages filled their answering machine, cursing Mr. Jungreis for turning in a fellow Jew. …

Abuse victims and their families have been expelled from religious schools and synagogues, shunned by fellow ultra-Orthodox Jews and targeted for harassment intended to destroy their businesses. Some victims’ families have been offered money, ostensibly to help pay for therapy for the victims, but also to stop pursuing charges, victims and victims’ advocates said.

That’s right, the abuse victims’ families are victimized a second time, merely for having stood up to the abusers. Wonderful, eh?

The retribution against the reporters of abuse has had some unfortunate ramifications:

When ultra-Orthodox Jews do bring abuse accusations to the police, the same cultural forces that have long kept victims silent often become an obstacle to prosecutions.

In Brooklyn, of the 51 molesting cases involving the ultra-Orthodox community that the district attorney’s office says it has closed since 2009, nine were dismissed because the victims backed out. Others ended with plea deals because the victims’ families were fearful.

“People aren’t recanting, but they don’t want to go forward,” said Rhonnie Jaus, a sex crimes prosecutor in Brooklyn.

The article is lengthy, and offers many examples of this kind of reprehensible behavior. It’s well worth reading to the end.

The article also mentions that the situation has begun to change. That’s all well and good, I suppose, but given that both Jews and Christians frequently sing the praises of their vaunted “Judeo-Christian ethics” and waltz around telling everyone else that only they have any morals, the fact that this could have happened at all, is telling: It tells me that theists may talk a good game of “morality,” but when it comes down to actually behaving morally … well, too often they can’t be bothered.

Sorry, but given situations such as this … wherein entire communities of people who belong to the same religion all behave in such a horrific manner … I am forced to conclude that the common theists’ claim that “religion makes morality” is, very clearly, nothing but fucking bullshit. It’s obvious these peoples’ religiosity did nothing to make them “moral” — just the opposite, in fact! What’s worse, the sense of righteousness that theists feel, actually prevents them from improving their behavior. Now more than ever, we need to stop giving theists the right to proclaim themselves morally superior to everyone else. Their hypocrisy really needs to end, and those of us who see it for what it is, must make it clear and stop giving them a “pass.”

Photo credit: James Estrin / New York Times.

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Pope Benedict XVI, holding a tall, lit, white candle, enters a hushed and darkened St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican Saturday, April 7, 2012, to begin the Vatican's Easter vigil service. Except for the twinkle of camera flashes, the basilica was almost pitch-black as the thousands of faithful in pews awaited Benedict's arrival through the rear entrance Saturday night. Christians on Easter joyously mark their belief that Christ rose from the dead after his crucifixion. Praying at the start of the service, Benedict said Easter brings hope to the faithful. On Sunday morning, he will lead Easter Mass in St. Peter's Square. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)I continue to be amazed at the audacity of the Vatican and Pope Benedict XVI who rules it. I suppose by now that nothing that comes out of that vipers’ den should surprise me any more, but it does nonetheless. This past Easter, the Pope used his Easter vigil service — unintentionally, I assume — to issue a moral indictment of his own Roman Catholic Church. The AP reports via Yahoo News (WebCite cached article):

Pope Benedict XVI, carrying a tall, lit candle, ushered in Christianity’s most joyous celebration with an Easter vigil service Saturday night, but voiced fears that mankind is groping in darkness, unable to distinguish good from evil. …

Benedict worried in his homily: “The darkness that poses a real threat to mankind, after all, is the fact that he can see and investigate tangible material things, but cannot see where the world is going or whence it comes, where our own life is going, what is good and what is evil.”

“The darkness enshrouding God and obscuring values is the real threat to our existence and to the world in general,” the pope said.

“If God and moral values, the difference between good and evil, remain in darkness, then all other ‘lights,’ that put such incredible technical feats within our reach, are not only progress but also dangers that put us and the world at risk,” Benedict added.

Over the past several years I have blogged about the staggering amorality of the R.C. Church; its unwillingness to permit itself to be held accountable for its actions; its long history of keeping abusive clergy on, despite knowing they have abused children; its frequent attempts to shelter abusive priests from prosecution, and to silence those who would report them; its consistent claims to have done nothing wrong, that it’s more a victim than the abuse victims are; spewing nothing but excuses — some ridiculous or even insulting — over its worldwide clerical child-abuse scandal; and its staunch refusal to do any more about it than issue vapid non-apology apologies (along the lines of, “Bad things happened, we’re sorry they did, now stop complaining about it!”).

As for not knowing the difference between right and wrong, let’s talk about the R.C. hierarchy’s record in the matter of moral discernment. Former archbishop of Milwaukee Rembert Weakland admitted he’d been unaware that child abuse was wrong. While he’d been bishop of Bridgeport, retired Cardinal Edward Egan was indifferent to abuse allegations, to the point where he asserted no such cases had been reported in his time there, which is demonstrably untrue, and further claimed he had no legal mandate to report it, when in fact he did.

So we have child abuse worldwide, going on under the noses of the Catholic hierarchy. The Church was negligently indifferent to it, sometimes covered it up, to the point of thwarting attempts to investigate it. We have hierarchs who openly admit they did not give a fuck about children being abused. We have a steady stream of excuses being made — both for the abuse itself, and the concerted efforts to cover it up — along with a persistent, continuous refusal to accept responsibility for any of this behavior. We have, furthermore, the claim that the scandal itself is a complete fiction, cooked up as an attack on a totally-innocent Church.

All of this — and more — clearly demonstrate that the R.C. Church, as an institution, is every bit as morally blind as the Pope claims “the World” is becoming. Benedict sure has a helluva lot of nerve, whining and bellyaching about moral blindness in others, while he himself is as morally blind as anyone ever was.

Yes, folks, this is the very same kind of hypocrisy that Jesus himself clearly and unambiguously forbid his own followers ever to engage in. Maybe someday the Pope will actually try to live up to the standards of the religion he claims to follow and to speak for … but that day, apparently, is not today.

Photo credit: AP Photo / Pier Paolo Chito, via Yahoo News (cached).

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The Queen speaking to synod today, flanked by the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and the Duke of Edinburgh.In a move that will, now doubt, enrage lots of theists — especially religionists of the “there-can-be-no-morality-without-God” variety, Queen Elizabeth II commented recently that atheists aren’t entirely bad. The (UK) Guardian reports on these comments to an Anglican Church synod (WebCite cached article):

People of faith do not have a monopoly on virtue as British society was now “more diverse and secular”, the Queen told the Church of England today in an address to its governing body.

Speaking at Church House, central London, she told members of General Synod that believers and atheists were equally able to contribute to the prosperity and wellbeing of the country.

The Queen, who is supreme governor of the Church of England, said: “In our more diverse and secular society, the place of religion has come to be a matter of lively discussion. It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue and that the wellbeing and prosperity of the nation depend on the contribution of individuals and groups of all faiths and none.”

The irony here is that Queen Elizabeth — as the Guardian story mentions — is technically the head of the Church of England, as all English/UK monarchs have been, ever since Henry VIII cut off the church within his realm from the Holy See in Rome. Expect the furious retorts to the Queen to begin … not so much in her own realm or even the Commonwealth, but within the US, among the vocal militant Christianists.

Photo credit: Wpa Pool/Getty Images via The Guardian.

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