Posts Tagged “religiofascist”

Gustave Doré (1832-1883), The Crusaders war machinery, via Wikimedia CommonsThis issue isn’t really new. Wired magazine has been reporting on this particular issue for quite some time (cached). It seems anti-terror instruction in the US military has been taken over by Neocrusaders who’ve made any number of outrageous claims about Islam as a whole and are trying to inculcate hatred of Muslims generally among the ranks. I blogged about this particular influence within the FBI when Wired reported on it last year. But the influence of the Neocrusade in the military seems to be worse, more pervasive, and more extensive.

Last year the Pentagon began a review of its anti-terror training materials, and the results of that review are starting to emerge. MSNBC elaborates on an Al Jazeera report on aspects that have come to light already (WebCite cached article):

As the Pentagon reviews all military classes following the disclosure of one that advocated “total war” against Muslims, the news website Al-Jazeera reported Saturday that it had received materials from a similar course and that both were put together by the same group, a nonprofit that offers classes and workshops to military and government officials.

Al-Jazeera said [cached] it received course slides from an unnamed military officer who said “this bigoted conspiracy cabal is both disgusting and so deeply un-American.”

The slides leave the impression that Hamas extremists have infiltrated the U.S. government, media and education via U.S. Islamic groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Al-Jazeera said. …

The documents indicated the two courses were prepared by the consulting firm Strategic Engagement Group, Inc., Al-Jazeera said. The website for Strategic Engagement [cached] does include statements similar to those in the materials cited by Al-Jazeera, msnbc.com found.

I decided to nose around in Strategic Engagement’s Web site to see what they offer. The first link I clicked on was this PDF version of a Powerpoint presentation entitled “CAIR Is Hamas” (cached). It didn’t take long for me to discover that these people are spewing factual errors. For instance, slide 3 of the presentation says:

In the 1920’s, after WWI and the Turkish Revolution, Mustafa Kemal “Ataturk” became the leader of the new nation-state Turkey. He dissolved the nearly 700 old Islamic State (Caliphate) known as the “Ottoman Empire,” outlawed the wearing of hijab, the growing of Islamic beards, the call to prayer, replaced Arabic with Latin, did away with Shariah (Islamic Law) and replaced it with secular law, and built an army to protect secular Turkey.

First, while it’s true that Ataturk did establish a new, and secular, government in Turkey, his new state did not encompass all of what had once been the Ottoman Empire. That dismantled state was succeeded, in those other regions, by other less secular states, or they became colonies of western powers and only later became independent states. So it’s factually incorrect to state that “the Ottoman Empire” was succeeded uniformly by the “secular” state of Turkey.

Second, the Ottoman Empire was not really a “Caliphate.” While some of its rulers did use that title, sporadically, even when they did, it was not universally recognized across Islam. Moreover, that they did so, doesn’t really mean a lot: Ottoman rulers sometimes arrogated other titles, such as “Roman Emperor,” and that’s also difficult to take very seriously. The title that best applies to the Ottoman rulers was “sultan,” not “caliph,” making the Ottoman Empire a “sultanate” rather than a “caliphate.”

Third, Ataturk did not “replace Arabic with Latin.” Within Ataturk’s new state of Turkey, the dominant language had been Turkish, not Arabic, and it remains so. While Turkish had long been written mostly using the Arabic alphabet, it was less than ideal; Ataturk did encourage the use of a Latin-based alphabet instead. But it is simply not true that Turkey went from speaking Arabic to speaking Latin.

I hardly need to investigate these Neocrusading wingnuts any further, given their loose command of basic history. Listen, I get it. Really I do. I get that the United States has been attacked by Islamic terrorists who feel compelled to kill others — and themselves — out of a violent religiofascistic impulse. I also get that there are immature, violent Muslims who are prone to explode in insane fury at the slightest provocation. I concede there are still some dangerously fanatical Muslims out there who think their religion orders them to maim and kill. That’s very much in evidence, and only a fool would say otherwise. What concerns me are these two basic premises of the Neocrusade:

  1. Islamofascist terrorists are not the “fringe” of Islam, they are its heart; which means that all Muslims, not just some, are murderous fanatics.
  2. Only Islam has any murderous impulses; other religions, particularly Christianity, do not.

The former premise is just not true, as witnessed by the fact that there are plenty of “moderate,” non-terrorist Muslims around the world, who at this moment are fighting the terrorist element of their religion. And other religions, including Christianity, most certainly also have their own terrorizing, murderous extremists. Eradicating Islam completely — which is the Neocrusade’s ultimate goal — cannot and will never end terrorism. To assume so is not only irrational, it’s delusional. The cold fact is that nearly any religion, anywhere, is capable of inciting violence and even terrorism in its followers. None is immune to it. The sooner we understand this, the better off we’ll all be.

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1933-may-10-berlin-book-burningNeocrusading pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville FL is no stranger to this blog. I’ve mentioned his childish antics any number of times in the past, and even pointed out his shady history while he was a “missionary” in Germany. Jones is absolutely beside himself with fury, you see, because there’s this horrific religion out there called “Islam,” and its followers (Muslims), you see, have this holy book, called the “Qur’an.” Jones just can’t handle the fact that these Muslims dare to revere and read their Qur’an, you see. Why, it’s an outrage! It can’t be tolerated! In Jones’s juvenile mind, no one but Christians are allowed to have any holy books, and the only holy book they’re allowed to have, is his own (Protestant, of course!) Bible.

Jones was so enraged that these Muslim types have so insolently dared keep their own holy book, that he threatened to burn some Qur’ans; after catching flak for that, Jones waffled and said he might cancel it; then, he dropped his uncertainty and promised to burn them anyway; then Jones inexplicably let the deadline pass without burning any Qur’ans; and burned one only later on, when no one was looking.

It seems Jones still hasn’t gotten over his sanctimonious outrage that Muslims still exist and still revere their Qur’an. The New York Post reports that he went and burned some more (WebCite cached article):

A controversial Florida pastor held another Koran-burning ceremony outside his church to protest the imprisonment of a Christian clergyman in Iran, The Gainesville Sun reported.

Jones, who made headlines worldwide by videotaping a similar Koran-burning ceremony in March 2011, burned several copies of the Islamic holy book alongside an image depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammad on Saturday evening.

Jones uses Iran’s imprisonment of Youcef Nadarkhani as a pretense for his “protest.” But somehow, I’m not sure getting into a pissing contest with the Iranian government over who can be more religiously intolerant, is really all that great of an idea. It amounts to “two wrongs make a right” thinking, and is fallacious. And I can’t see how it can get Iran’s theocratic mullahs to release Nadarkhani.

The sad part of this is, I’m sure Jones’s childish antics will be met with even more childish and violent antics by Muslims elsewhere in the world, as happened previously when he’d first stirred up this controversy. Ground zero for the flare-up is almost certain to be Afghanistan, home to hovels full of enraged Muslims who — just like Jones — cannot seem to handle the idea that there are actually people in the world who dare refuse to believe as they do.

Well, I have news for both Jones and any Muslims who respond to his Qur’an-burning by rioting, looting, pillaging, and/or killing: Here’s one skeptical, godless agnostic heathen who refuses to believe what either of you demands I believe. Don’t like it? Burn away. I’m not changing my mind, and there is nothing in the universe you can do to stop me.

For the record, while I support the right to blaspheme, I consider book-burning — of any kind of book, aside maybe from one which one is actually disposing of because it’s been ruined somehow — to be a crime against the intellect, and an action which is far too Nazi-like for my taste.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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

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10 Commandments House near Supreme CourtIt looks as though the people of the Bible-thumping state of Alabama are poised to return to office someone who’d been run out, when he chose to defy a federal court order. CNN’s Belief Blog reports that Roy Moore won the GOP primary for Chief Justice in that state (WebCite cached article):

Roy Moore, the former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice made famous by a Ten Commandments monument, is one step closer to getting his old job back. Moore won 50.14% of the vote on Tuesday in the Republican primary for the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. …

Moore held the job of Chief Justice from 2001 to 2003 but was forced out when he defied a federal order to remove a 2.6 ton stone monument of the Ten Commandments he had placed at the courthouse.

As one would expect of a ferocious Christofascist, Moore hasn’t changed his mind about what he did:

Today, Moore maintains the monument’s placement was constitutionally appropriate. “There’s nothing in the first amendment that prohibits the display of religious objects,” he said.

Even so, Moore doesn’t plan to return his Decalogue idol to Alabama’s Supreme Court:

“I don’t have any intention of bringing the monument because that will confuse the issue,” he said. At issue for him is the acknowledgement of God and he added, “I will continue to acknowledge the sovereignty of God.”

If Moore does get back into office, expect more Decalogue idolatry to crop up around the country, as fervent evangelical Christians everywhere will feel empowered to defy the Constitution and federal law on the matter.

Photo credit: dcdailyphotos, via Flickr.

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Conservative Christian Schools: Training Christian Students to Take Dominion Over America. Image © Austin Cline, Licensed to About; Original Poster: National Archives

Conservative Christian Schools: Training Christian Students to Take Dominion Over America. Image © Austin Cline, Licensed to About; Original Poster: National Archives

Like a number of GOP candidates before him that I’ve blogged about, Rick Santorum, current darling of the Religious Right and a contender for the Republican nomination for president, has come out against the principle of separation of church and state. He made these comments on ABC This Week to George Stephanopoulos, who reports on the interview (WebCite cached article):

GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum said today that watching John F. Kennedy’s speech to the Baptist ministers in Houston in 1960 made him want to “throw up.”

“To say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes you throw up. What kind of country do we live that says only people of non-faith can come into the public square and make their case?” Santorum said.

Actually, Rickie, we don’t live in a country like that! Like most Religious Rightists, he interprets “freedom of religion” to mean “freedom for religious people to use government as a weapon, to force everyone else to live according to their beliefs.” To the R.R., any effort by anyone to prevent them from pounding their religiosity into other people, is an impermissible impediment to their own religious freedom. He — and they — are also arguing a straw man. No one, to my knowledge, has ever said a religious person cannot run for or hold a political office because s/he is religious. Separation of church and state does not require that at all. There has never been any effort to remove religious people from office or prevent them from running.

It did not happen. It isn’t happening now. And it will never happen. Period. All the whining and bellyaching and railing about it, can never make it happen. To argue against it is foolish, since it’s non-existent. One may as well argue against pixies and unicorns too.

Santorum’s lie places him squarely in my “lying liars for Jesus” club. I’m sure the former Senator will find himself in good company there.

It’s particularly troubling to see Santorum colorfully disparaging a speech that, arguably, opened the door for him — as the Catholic he is — to run for president. But his ignorance of history and his purposeful misstatement of what “separation of church and state” and “religious freedom” mean are not surprising.

I can’t think of any clearer indication than this, that Santorum is a dominionist, out to refashion the country into a Christocracy. What’s even scarier than a dominionist running for president, is that this particular dominionist is damned close to becoming the Republican nominee; only Mitt Romney stands in his way and the two of them are no longer very far apart.

Photo credit: Austin Cline / About.Com; original: National Archives.

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The Rev. Franklin Graham said Obama was 'born a Muslim' because his father was Muslim. / AP PhotoI’ve already blogged about the Christianist Franklin Graham, son of famed preacher Billy Graham. He’s a Christofascist of the first order, as one might expect, and certainly much more of a buffoon than his more-famous father … and he proved it this morning while on MSNBC’s Morning Joe show (WebCite cached article):

Graham, the CEO and president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, told a Morning Joe panel he couldn’t say for certain that Obama is a Christian. …

Graham told the Morning Joe panel that he and Santorum share the same moral beliefs, and that he’s confident Santorum is a fellow Christian.

So while Franklin claims uncertainty about Obama’s Christianity, he has no such reservations about Santorum’s. So he contradicted himself. He also reiterated his prior claim that Obama may be a Muslim:

But Graham also said he couldn’t “categorically” say Obama wasn’t a Muslim, in part, because Islam has gotten a “free pass” under Obama. Graham also said the Muslim world sees Obama as a “son of Islam,” because the president’s father and grandfather were Muslim.

This is, of course, complete bullshit:

According to Edina Lekovic, director of policy at the Muslim Public Affairs Council, being born in a Muslim family doesn’t make one a Muslim. A person has to make an active choice to become a Muslim, Lekovic said.

However, Graham considers himself an “expert” on Islam and is likely not interested in hearing what real, living Muslims think about it. And Obama is not a Muslim, even if Graham wants people to think he is.

What’s not clear, here, is what Graham meant when he said “Islam has gotten a ‘free pass’ under Obama.” If you ask me, in this country, all believers of all sorts get a “free pass,” because they always expect their religious beliefs — whatever they are, no matter how irrational they may be — must be respected by everyone.

Graham went on to vacillate idiotically on GOP candidate Mitt Romney’s religion:

Graham spoke with a little less confidence about Gingrich’s faith, and cast doubt on whether Romney’s Mormonism is compatible with Christianity.

“I think Newt is a Christian, at least he told me he is,” Graham said. He added that Romney’s Mormon faith is not recognized as part of the Christian faith by most Christians, but he wouldn’t give his own view.

Truthfully, since Mormons honor the teachings of Jesus Christ, this makes them Christians. Period. They may not have exactly the same beliefs about Christ as other Christians, but there are many varieties of Christianity, so they’re no less Christian than other types of Christians.

Here’s video offered by MSNBC of this clown in action:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

I have to congratulate Franklin Graham on his achievement. On his own he did a far better job of proving he’s a total idiot, than I ever could have. What a marvelous achievement, Mr Graham. You must be so proud!

Photo credit: AP Photo, via Politico.

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Screen shot of Zach the Dog (@Zachthedogg) tweet: 'Fuck Jessica alquist I'll drop anchor on her face'I’ve been known to refer to Christianity facetiously as “the Religion of Love,” because while its adherents claim to be loving, peaceful and gentle, when push comes to shove — and especially where they think their God is concerned — they’re anything but loving, peaceful or gentle. Offended Christians easily forget the “love” the founder of their religion taught them and rationalize hatred, intolerance, and even violence in his name.

The latest example of this all-too-common phenomenon comes in the wake of a court decision ordering the removal of a giant prayer banner in a public high school in Rhode Island (WebCite cached article). You see, in the wake of that decision, quite a number of supposedly-loving Christians have unleashed a great deal of fury at the atheist student who brought the case, Jessica Ahlquist. A pair of bloggers has cataloged a number of Facebook and Twitter comments made by Christians, and they are … well, I’ll let you decide (cached):

It is apparent that Christians only believe in tolerance so long as their religion is allowed to violate the constitution.

Well, I’ve grown tired of just being tolerated and I will not be tolerating the stomach-churning hatred that’s continuously espoused by those doing the “tolerating.”

These are those comments… some of them anyway.. I hope you’re reading them on an empty stomach.

A small sample of the abundant Christian “love” being showered down on Ms Ahlquist appears below. Read these, and be impressed with all of that “love.”Screen shot of Ryan A Simoneau ™ (@Ry_Simoneau) tweet: 'I want to punch the girl in the face that made west take down the school prayer #Honestly'Screen shot of Cracked Lens (@zombiecamera) tweet: '@jessicaahlquist your home address got posted online i can't wait to hear about you getting curb stomped you fucking worthless cunt'Screen shot of Alexandra Vachon (@Alexandra_x7) tweet: '@G_Cimarelli if I wasn't 18 and wouldn't go to jail i'd beat the shit out her idk how she got away with not getting beat up yetSurely this is precisely the behavior Jesus had in mind, when he said all of the following:

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. (Mt 5:38-40)

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Mt 5:43-45)

Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.” (Mt 26:52)

Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. (Lk 6:29)

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. (Lk 6:35)

I suggest all these enraged Christians pick up their damn Bibles and read them. For the first time in their lives, if needed. Sheesh.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit (for all images in this post): JesusFetusFajitaFishsticks.

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Police are investigating a firebomb attack against the Imam Al-Khoei Foundation building and three other sites in Queens, New York. (CBS 2)Note: See the update below for an important update to this blog post!

I’ve blogged a number of times about a movement I call “the Neocrusade” — a modern effort by “Christian nationers” to eliminate Islam within the U.S. It’s mostly found in the same parts of the country as Religious Rightism, i.e. in the Bobble Bayelt (er, Bible Belt), but it can be found elsewhere too, including the New York City metropolis. As CBS News reports, there’s a chance that Neocrusading vigilantes might once again be active in the Big Apple (WebCite cached article):

Authorities are investigating four fire attacks in New York City, including one at an Islamic center and one at a house used for Hindu worship.

Police say three attacks Sunday night involved molotov cocktails. There were no injuries. Police are investigating the attacks as bias crimes.

The fact that non-Islam-related targets were hit, certainly suggests these attacks weren’t Neocrusade-motivated. But then again, Neocrusaders have been known to lash out at the wrong targets, so it can’t be ruled out quite yet.

If this is, in fact, the work of militant Christian Neocrusaders, the irony of Christianists resorting to terror and violence in their campaign against a religion they consider violent and terror-promoting, is precious.

Update: It turns out this may have not been Neocrusaders’ work, after all. The New York Times reports a suspect has been arrested, police say the fires he set all resulted from specific, personal grudges, not out of religious fervor (cached).

Photo credit: WCBS via CBS News.

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