Posts Tagged “politics”

Sharron Angle, GOP candidate for US Senate from NevadaSharron Angle, who’s running for the US Senate in Nevada against current majority leader Harry Reid, recently was interviewed by a Christian radio host. In the course of the interview she revealed herself as a militant Christian religiofascist. The Las Vegas Sun reports on this interview, which — until the Sun took note of it — had gone under the radar of the media (WebCite cached article):

And [Angle said] these programs that you mentioned — that Obama has going with Reid and Pelosi pushing them forward — are all entitlement programs built to make government our God. And that’s really what’s happening in this country is a violation of the First Commandment. We have become a country entrenched in idolatry, and that idolatry is the dependency upon our government. We’re supposed to depend upon God for our protection and our provision and for our daily bread, not for our government.

Here, Angle reiterates the laughable whine of Georgia Congressional candidate Ed Martin that government — or more specifically, President Obama — is getting between Christians and their deity.

I never fail to be amazed at the amount of sheer power these people attribute to things other than God … when at the same time they claim their God is all-powerful and can never be overcome or thwarted by anything.

That assumes, of course, that their objections to government are rational. The truth is that they’re not. Neither Sharron Angle, nor Ed Martin, nor anyone else in the Religious Right objected to entitlement spending while George W. Bush was in office and the Religious Right controlled Congress. Their objections to government only made themselves apparent as they began to lose power — first in the 2006 mid-term elections when they lost control of Congress, and more seriously in 2008 when they lost the White House.

In other words, it’s nothing but sour grapes … and it’s childish. Well, boo freakin’ hoo, Ms Angle.

Hat tip: Religion Dispatches.

Photo credit: TPM.

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Boris Vallejo - Four Horsemen of the ApocalypseThe answer to the question “Is Obama ushering in the apocalypse?, according to Tim Lahaye — the evangelical minister and co-author of the vastly lucrative Left Behind publishing empire — is an unequivocal “yes.” He actually said that to Mike Huckabee on his Fox News show. Huff has the story, along with supporting video (WebCite cached article):

Evangelical Christian minister Tim LaHaye says that the policy initiatives put forth by the Obama administration are bringing the country “closer to the apocalypse.” …

“Our present president doesn’t seem to get it,” LaHaye explained. “He doesn’t understand that some of the things he’s introducing that many of us call ‘raw socialism’ — it’s a different name, but it’s essentially government control and government domination of everything.”

The evangelical voice said of the political platform maintained by the Obama administration, “It’s going to work against our country and bringing us closer to the apocalypse.”

The video of this brilliant exchange of asinine, ignorant evangelical Christian thinking is available on Youtube:

Note that LaHaye’s claim is similar to — although not quite identical with — Georgia Congressional candidate Ed Martin’s claim that Obama’s politics prevents people from getting salvation through Christ. So, as insane and outrageous as this claim may be, it doesn’t really surprise me that someone like LaHaye said it. What’s surprising is that things like this aren’t being said more often than they are.

Also, does anyone seriously think that Tim “Left Behind” LaHaye and ex-Governor Shucksabee are somehow not going to agree we’re in the throes of “the End Times” right now?

Hat tip: Mark at Skeptics & Heretics Forum on Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: Boris Vallejo, via Flickr.

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ClassroomAt one time I had thought that education — especially pointing out erroneous and fallacious thinking — would help people understand the world better and dispense with ignorance. Over time, though, I haven’t seen that things have improved much. Most people are still as mired in irrationality and fallacy as they ever were, and no amount of fact-teaching seems to make any difference. For instance, the Birther delusion lives on, in spite of it being based on lies and mistaken suppositions. Barack Obama was born in Hawai’i to an American mother, but the Birthers refuse to accept that, even though it’s been factually demonstrated many times over; see this (cached) and this (cached), just for starters. I’d wondered if, perhaps, there are just a lot of mentally-ill people out there, all experiencing the same delusion. But depressingly, the truth about human beings is much worse even than that; it turns out we are hard-wired to reject even irrefutable, demonstrable facts that we find emotionally unsatisfying. The New York Times Idea of the Day blog reports on this sobering revelation (WebCite cached article):

“Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government,” Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1789. But you might want to rethink that axiom, recent University of Michigan research suggests. It “found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds,” writes Joe Keohane in the Boston Globe [cached].

He explains the cognitive studies reviving longstanding concerns about voter ignorance:

In reality, we often base our opinions on our beliefs, which can have an uneasy relationship with facts. And rather than facts driving beliefs, our beliefs can dictate the facts we choose to accept. They can cause us to twist facts so they fit better with our preconceived notions. Worst of all, they can lead us to uncritically accept bad information just because it reinforces our beliefs. This reinforcement makes us more confident we’re right, and even less likely to listen to any new information. And then we vote.

Humanity, I fear, is lost. Those of us willing to think critically — and to try to encourage others to think critically — are apparently fighting a rearguard action against an enemy (i.e. emotional thinking) which neuroscience suggests we cannot defeat.

No wonder hyperreligiosity rages on, even in this era of science and technology. No wonder people are embracing New Age gibberish and nonsense like never before. No wonder political partisans steadfastly refuse to acknowledge even the slightest flaw in their own ideology or the slightest virtue in their foes’. No wonder critical thinkers are hated, vilified, and viewed as a threat by many folks.

The classroom of humanity is empty, and it will never be filled. No one cares about “truth” or “veracity” any more; they only care about how they “feel.” And that’s just the way they are.

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Ed Martin & family (candidate for Missouri's 3rd Congressional district)Missouri Congressional candidate Ed Martin has declared that President Obama and other Democrats are preventing people from acquiring their salvation from Jesus Christ. Yes, folks, he really said it. Fired Up Missouri has the story, as well as the audio (WebCite cached article):

Speaking on the Gina Loudon radio program this afternoon, Congressional candidate Ed Martin told listeners that “we have to be very, very aware” of policies pursued by Barack Obama and Russ Carnahan that will “take away” the freedom to be a Christian. …

MARTIN: … And part of that freedom — when you take a government and you impose, and take away all your choices. One of the choices you take away is to find the Lord. And find your savior.

And that’s one of the things that’s most destructive about the growth of government. It’s this taking away that freedom. The freedom — the ultimate freedom, to find your salvation, to get your salvation. And to find Christ, for me and you.

If you wish, you can listen to the recording, directly from YouTube:

Now, I’m not sure how this works, exactly. If salvation comes from God through Jesus Christ, I don’t quite understand how any human being — not even a president of the United States — could possibly get in the way of it. I know I’m just a cynical godless agnostic heathen, but I just don’t see how anything in the universe can thwart the will of a truly omnipotent being.

Do you?

… Didn’t think so.

Update: The Riverfront Times in St Louis reports that, although it appears Martin lost by nearly 4,500 votes, he’s alleging “voting irregularities,” refuses to concede defeat, and promises to fight on to get his Congressional seat (cached article). This is in spite of the fact that his margin of loss is above the amount that might allow him to call for a recount. Can you say “sore loser”?

Hat tip: Pulling to the Left.

Photo credit: Ed Martin campaign Web site.

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Picard Facepalm: Because expressing how dumb that was in words just doesnt workBack in August I blogged about the explosive Youtube video claiming to have proven that Barack Obama is the Antichrist. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer‘s Strange Bedfellows blog has details of a Harris poll showing that this belief is held by a significant number of Americans (WebCite cached article):

… Full results are expected tomorrow, but preliminary findings were released in The Daily Beast by John Avlon, whose book “Wingnuts” details the hyper-partisanship that has swept America since 2008. …

And 24 percent of Republicans, and 14 percent overall, agree that Obama “may be the antiChrist.”

The other ridiculous, juvenile and untruthful beliefs that many Americans have about their president are:

  • 45% of Republicans and 25% of Americans think Obama was born abroad

  • 57% of Republicans and 32% of Americans think he is a Muslim

  • 38% of Republicans and 20% of Americans say Obama is “doing many things Hitler did.”

Look, idiots, see if you can get this: Obama is not a Muslim, but a Christian (see FactCheck and Politifact, cached articles here and here respectively). Obama was born in Hawai’i, not some other country, and has proven it (see FactCheck and Politfact, cached here and here). Also, both Barack Obama and Adolf Hitler were heads of state, so I’m sure you will be able to find similarities in their behavior … but confusing the two is irrational and illogical.

It’s time for the Right in the US — especially the Religious Right — to grow the hell up and stop lying about people they don’t like just because they don’t like them. No one says you have to be happy that Barack Obama is the president … but not wanting him to be president doesn’t grant anyone license to lie about him. Are we clear on that?

Photo credit: Science After Sunclipse.

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Glenn BeckThe nation’s current most famous paranoid schizophrenic, Glenn Beck, has (no surprise!) shoved his foot into his mouth. The Intertubes have been alive with discussion of this, and I’d planned to avoid the matter, but since it’s become so well known, I thought I should weigh in on it anyway.

On his radio show this March 2, Beck railed ignorantly — and stupidly — against churches that promote “social justice.” Christianity Today transcribed his comments as follows (screen shot of page):

I beg you, look for the words “social justice” or “economic justice” on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes! If I’m going to Jeremiah’s Wright’s church? Yes! Leave your church. Social justice and economic justice. They are code words. If you have a priest that is pushing social justice, go find another parish. Go alert your bishop and tell them, “Excuse me are you down with this whole social justice thing?” I don’t care what the church is. If it’s my church, I’m alerting the church authorities: “Excuse me, what’s this social justice thing?” And if they say, “Yeah, we’re all in that social justice thing,” I’m in the wrong place.

Beck, of course, has no idea what he’s talking about … but his raging paranoia prevents him from understanding that. What he’s doing is to connect several things which are not, in the end, connected at all. Let’s tease them apart so that this matter can be truly understood.

First, it is incontrovertible that Christianity and “social justice” are interconnected, and this is the case from almost the beginning of the movement. Jesus himself preached against the common social mores and presumptions of his time; he promoted charity — true charity, not mere “charity for appearance’s sake,” which he condemned utterly; he associated with outcasts and undesirables, actually preferring their company; he taught compassion for others as one of the cardinal rules of spiritual life; he condemned wealth and promoted giving everything to the poor; and much more. Also, scripture itself suggests early Christian communities lived according to a very egalitarian, “one for all and all for one” ideal, thus exhibiting a strong sense of “social justice” among themselves.

Second, this message has not been completely lost on Christians themselves. The themes of compassion and — yes, Glenn! — “social justice” have been continually picked up and expounded upon by Christians, throughout the religion’s history. Classical-era Christians, for example, maintained funds to support orphans and widows. During the Middle Ages, some religious orders funded and ran infirmaries for the care of the sick, even when plagues were raging, thus exposing themselves to disease. Early strong proponents of the Abolition movement — such as William Wilberforce — were devout Christians whose motivation to free slaves was primarily a religious impulse they believed to be part of Jesus’ own message. Later — especially as it arrived in the United States in the 19th century — Abolition became more of a humanist movement, no longer innately connected to religion … however, Abolition’s origins clearly had at least some religious inspiration. Beck’s reasoning, had it been followed in the early 19th century, would have ground Abolition to a halt, and the U.S. would still have slavery.

Third, Beck is correct that, at one time, phrases like “social justice” were, in fact, code-words used by Communists and Marxists. However, that was mostly true only during the Communist revolutions of the early and middle 20th century, and later during the Cold War. The fact is that this type of “coded” rhetoric has faded away since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Thus, any truthful basis Beck may have had for his comments are — at best — anachronistic. They make no sense today, since many different people, of many different ideologies, appeal to their own individual senses of “social justice.” One can no longer safely assume that any proponent of “social justice” is a Marxist.

Fourth, Beck’s objection appears to be rooted in the Jeremiah Wright controversy. By referring to Wright in his comments, Beck betrays his own childish hang-up on Barack Obama’s former pastor. Beckie, let me help you out here: Jeremiah Wright is now a dead issue. Obama has jettisoned him, and Wright is also done with Obama. This particular battle is over, Glenn, and has been for more than a year … at the very least, Obama’s election in November 2008 obviated it.

This idiocy reveals several things about Glenn Beck. Most importantly, he envisions Christianity as being linked to politics — his own personal, extreme-Right-wing, give-everything-there-is-to-the-wealthy-and-take-every-penny-from-the-poor politics. He cannot, or will not, conceive of Christianity as not being related to politics. Any church which — in his mind — does not march in lockstep with his own ideology, is not a “true” Christian church. He does not realize that Jesus himself was apolitical and did not, at any point during his ministry, ever concern himself with politics or statecraft. If anything, he rather clearly stated the opposite … that not only was he unconcerned with statecraft, that his followers also should not be. Beck also reveals that he is still stuck in the past, still thinking in terms of the Cold War and still consumed with scandals which are now obsolete.

Of note is the fact that a lot of Christians, and especially some of the Religious Right variety, have spoken out against Beck’s comments. For some examples, see this story by ABC News (WebCite cached article). Even the ferocious, fire-&-brimstone Religious Right theologian Albert Mohler has said Beck is wrong (cached article).

This criticism — from within Christianity and even from within the Religious Right — has not been lost on Beckie boy. He has responded: By fighting back, and insisting — in spite of the facts — that he is still correct. He has declared “social justice” to be “a perversion of the gospel,” and justifies his (strange) view of Jesus’ message as being about the individual, not the group. This twisted rationale has, itself, been condemned by the same people who first criticized him (cached article). I will leave the debate about that up to those critics, who as Christian “insiders” have more to say on it than I do.

Beck’s claim that “true” Christianity — as he sees it — has nothing to do with “social justice,” places him squarely in my “lying liars for Jesus” club.

The bottom line is that Beck’s initial condemnation of “social justice” in Christian churches — and his insistence, in spite of criticism by various Christian authorities — that he is still correct, as well as his refusal to let go of the Jeremiah Wright controversy show Beckie-boy to be a raging paranoid child. I suggest it’s long past time for the Beckster to grow up, and address his paranoia … there are good treatments for it, and given the millions he makes, he can more than afford the very best psychiatric care available.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore.

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The mantra that newly-elected President Obama is a “socialist,” that he’s trying to impose “socialized medicine” on the country, etc. is old Rightist material. But to date it’s mostly been couched in political terms. Finally, it’s being expressed as a religious struggle, as reported by the Religion Dispatches blog — prefaced by a pithy lead-in:

Shouldn’t a professed “health and wealth” preacher be concerned with health care? Apparently, politics get in the way

… Over 5.000 persons from across the country packed into the Fort Worth Convention Center to hear Copeland and their Word of Faith line-up proclaim their message of divine health and wealth. Yet when it came to President Obama’s plan for health care reform — a plan that would greatly assist the vast majority of working class and underemployed conference attendees — Kenneth Copeland was excessive in his disdain for government-run healthcare.

“Socialism” seemed to be Copeland’s favorite term throughout the week as he warned the crowd to reject any government assistance. “Sickness and disease,” according to Copeland, “is not a medical problem, it’s a spiritual problem.” Thus, he argued that any healthcare program would be nothing more than a “Babylonian system — man trying to meet his own needs without God.”

Gee, that “pray instead of medicate” plan sure worked for people like Madeline Kara Neumann, didn’t it?

What was that? It didn’t? Woops. Must have been God’s will!

Face it, folks, the religionazis are frightened, and not necessarily without reason. They view things like “socialized medicine” as impediments to constructing the theocracy they want the United States to become. People looking to government for healthcare, makes it harder for religious leaders like Copeland to control them. A strong governmental presence would tend to make it more difficult to make them appear to be the country’s caretakers.

Unfortunately for them, their worries are based on factual errors. No one in Washington is working on any “socialized medicine” proposal. There is a lot being said about what’s being proposed … and most of it is not true. Among the things which are not true is one that Copeland himself mentioned, the so-called “death panels” that would euthanize people for turning old. It’s not true, and those who are saying so, know it. For that, Copeland earns admission to my “Lying Liars for Jesus” club.

Why do these people feel it necessary to lie for Jesus? Who do they think they are? Paul (Saul) of Tarsus?

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