Posts Tagged “religiofascist”

Get Out of Jail FreeDeep in the heart of the Bobble Bay-elt (also known as “the Bible Belt”), in the town of Bay Minette, Alabama, the local sheriff has come up with a clever way to increase church attendance and incentivize crime by churchgoers. The Mobile Press-Register reports that people convicted of non-violent crimes can go to church instead of to jail (WebCite cached article):

A new alternative sentencing program offering first-time, nonviolent offenders a choice of a year of church attendance or jail time and fines is drawing fire from the American Civil Liberties Union as well as national attention, officials said Friday. …

But the local police chief who is heading up the program starting Tuesday called “Restore Our Community” says no one is being forced to participate.

Forced? No. But what it means is that any regular churchgoers effectively won’t be punished at all. It’s also inherently selective, since those who don’t belong to a church cannot choose to participate in this program. This policy’s proponent explains his motivation:

“Operation ROC resulted from meetings with church leaders,” Bay Minette Police Chief Mike Rowland said.

Of course the local preachermen like this idea, it will get more people through their doors and more collections in their plates! They stand to profit from this. The religiofascist continues idiotically:

“It was agreed by all the pastors that at the core of the crime problem was the erosion of family values and morals. We have children raising children and parents not instilling values in young people.”

Ah. I see. So there was no crime, way back when everyone was a devout, dutiful, church-going Christian. Is that it? Christians don’t commit crimes. Is that it?

Do you truly expect that we’re stupid enough to believe this, Chief Rowland? Especially since it’s demonstrably untrue that being Christian means one never commits crimes? Lots of Christians — including some who are famous because they’re Christian — are indeed criminals. I need only mention names such as Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, and Ted Haggard … just to name a few … in order to show this is the case.

Religiofascists like Chief Rowland love to assert that churchgoing Christians don’t commit crimes, but they absolutely do. Crimes like embezzlement, fraud, buying the services of prostitutes, taking illegal drugs, and much more. The truth is that America’s prisons contain many, many Christians. It’s absurd and laughable that anyone could say otherwise … yet Chief Rowland does. And he means it.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: swanksalot.

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Pietas; Note the cross used to denote 'Piety'Texas governor Rick Perry would like to succeed his predecessor, George W. Bush, as the country’s next evangelical-in-chief. He’s a bit more of a Christofascist than Bush was (but not by much), having done things such as to order all of the people of his state — religious or not — to pray for rain. He’s also done some other extreme, but not quite so religious, things as to threaten the secession of Texas if his personally-desired policies were not enacted in Washington (WebCite cached article).

The hyperreligious Perry has decided to give his own “Response” to the country’s ongoing recession and the breakdown of national politics. The Washington Post reports this day-long religious revival is every bit as grandiose and sanctimonious as one expects from a guy like him (cached):

The GOP 2012 presidential nomination contest so far has centered almost exclusively on economic issues: the major candidates blasting President Obama for increasing the federal budget deficit and criticizing one another’s records on health care and job creation.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who is expected to announce his presidential candidacy in the next few weeks, will start to change that on Saturday, by hosting a day of prayer and fasting in Houston dubbed “The Response.”

Attendees from Texas and across the country will gather at a pro football stadium to ask for “God’s forgiveness, his wisdom and his provision for our state and nation,” according to Perry’s video invitation. …

Perry says the day is inspired by the words of the Old Testament book of Joel, in which the prophet calls on the Hebrew people to pray, fast and ask for God’s forgiveness. The Texas governor argues that America similarly needs to ask for God’s help today because it is a “nation in crisis.”

“We have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters,” Perry writes on the event’s Web site. “As a nation, we must come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy.”

Perry can’t help but do this, you see, because in his eyes, America isn’t godly enough. About the only thing he hasn’t done is to declare explicitly that the recession and political breakdown is a punishment imposed on the country by a God who’s enraged that the people aren’t praying hard enough and aren’t sufficiently evangelical Protestant for his taste. But not to worry … by the end of this hours-long event, Perry may well have veered close to saying something like that.

I note that this huge event is precisely the sort of “public piety” that — as I’ve blogged previously — the founder of Perry’s own religion, Jesus Christ himself, explicitly and clearly ordered his followers never, ever to engage in. In case Gov. Perry or any other militant Christians out there aren’t clear on this, I will repeat here Jesus’ own words as reported in the gospel according to Matthew (emphasis mine):

Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:1-6)

So you see, by establishing this event and acting as its emcee, the righteous Perry is actually disobeying the bedrock principles of his own claimed religion! I must congratulate the Governor for providing this sterling example of the intellectual, moral and spiritual bankruptcy of his own religion as it’s widely practiced in the US. Great job, sir. Just wonderful. I can’t possibly have asked for better!

The separation of church and state issues implied by Perry’s “Response” haven’t gone unnoticed, and have been widely mentioned, for example in this CNN Political Ticker article that suggests the poor response to the “Response” may be explained by SOCAS considerations (cached). Another facet of Ricky-boy’s “Response” which hasn’t gone unreported is that its sponsor is the American Family Association, about whose absurd and extreme pronouncements I’ve blogged a number of times, and who’ve been labeled a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. My bet is that the Rickster doesn’t really care what sorts of hatemongers and freakish lunatics he’s hanging around with … as long as they help him get people before his pulpit and are willing to beat the drum of his kind of Christofascism, they’re probably just fine by him.

Not that he or anyone else cares, but my own Agnostic response to Perry’s “Response” is: If you, Gov. Perry, or your Jesus, or anyone else for that matter, demands that I — as an American — must pray with you, then you’re just going to have to make me do so. If it’s as imperative a thing as you claim it is, Governor, then you have absolutely no reason not to do your utmost to wring compliance out of me (even if I’m not a resident of Texas, because as you’ve designed it, this is a national event).

Go ahead, Governor. I dare you; you have no reason — based on your own beliefs — not to. Come on, make me pray with you.

Photo credit: scazon.

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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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Tornado damage photo courtesy of NOAAThe militant and angry Christofascist Georgia state representative Bobby Franklin used Facebook as a platform to whine about the victims of recent tornadoes, as Georgia Politico reported recently: (WebCite cached article):

Georgia Republican State Representative Bobby Franklin today compared the victims of the massive super cell tornado system that ripped across the southern United States over the weekend to idolaters “praying to their god, FEMA”.

The article includes a screen shot of his whiney hyperreligious drivel:

GA state rep Bobby Franklin's Christofascist comment on Facebook (via Georgia Politico)

GA state rep Bobby Franklin's Christofascist comment on Facebook (via Georgia Politico)

Obviously this comment is insulting to the tornado victims — the majority of whom are, no doubt, Christians (seen as how the entire country is majority-Christian). Another problem here is that, in a way, FEMA constitutes a kind of insurance to which the victims have all contributed over the years, in the form of federal taxes they’ve paid. Would Franklin accuse someone of “praying” to an auto insurance company (for example) when s/he files an accident claim? People like Franklin likely object to this view since they see government disaster-coverage as coercive, as opposed to insurance which is a private contract. But the fact is that it’s not possible to purchase tornado coverage for one’s home or business … all insurance policies exclude “acts of God” (e.g. violent weather events). The private sector offers little opportunity to buy such coverage, because — quite simply — no private insurance company is large enough to absorb the losses it might have to accept, without pricing premiums so high that few can afford it. That’s a risk only government has the resources to handle.

Militant Christofascists like Franklin view government as somehow having “replaced” churches in the social order. What they want, is for churches to become — once again — the entity upon which everyone relies, when they’re in need. This will, in turn, grant churches a degree of power and control over people’s lives that they do not currently have.

To an extent, it’s true that churches once constituted the societal “safety net.” But there’s a reason FEMA exists … because not even churches are large enough to take on a risk of this size. Churches would not be able to rebuild all the homes and businesses lost to these tornadoes. They might be able to rebuild some of them … but they would have to choose whom to help and whom to leave to their own devices, and that would likely be based on the person’s beliefs. Only those most loyal to a church’s dogma would get that church’s aid.

That’s what this is all about folks … it’s nothing more than a play for power. Christofascists like Franklin want people to become serfs of the churches where they live, and use their control over them to bend them to their religious views. It’s despicable, of course, but that hardly matters to people who think they’re entitled to force everyone, willingly or not, to adopt their own religion because they believe they’re entitled to have the entire planet worship as they do.

Another Christofascist objection to the US government, of course, is that under the current Constitution, they’re not able to force their religion on Americans. The only way they can do that is to abolish it and create a new theocratic government. Hence their opposition to the current administration and anything that calls attention to it (e.g. FEMA’s recovery activities).

Hat tip: Religion Dispatches.

Photo credit: NOAA.

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In Times Square, hundreds gathered to celebrate and watch the news flash across the big screens. Credit: Michael Appleton for The New York TimesWe’re finally getting more information about the death of Osama bin-Laden. First, it turns out he wasn’t in the wilderness between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Rather, he’d been living in style, deep in the heart of Pakistan, not far from Pakistani military installations, as the New York Times reports (WebCite cached article):

When the end came for Bin Laden, he was found not in the remote tribal areas along the Pakistani-Afghan border where he has long been presumed to be sheltered*, but in a massive compound about an hour’s drive north from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad. He was hiding in the medium-sized city of Abbottabad, home to a large Pakistani military base and a military academy of the Pakistani Army.

This raises a lot of questions, not the least of which is how bin-Laden could have been right under the collective nose of the Pakistani government for quite some time. They are — supposedly — our allies. It’s clear they aren’t quite as “allied” to us as they might like us to think.

Pakistan is a deeply troubled country with a large number of Islamofascists … such as the crowds who gave “rock star” treatment to the man accused of killing the Punjab provincial governor because he criticized that nation’s blasphemy law.

While it’s great news that Osama bin-Laden is dead, clearly we face a continued struggle around the world, not just against the kind of Islamofascism that bin-Laden and his supporters promoted, but against all forms of religiofascism, everywhere. It will remain a problem for many years to come.

I close with this video of President Barack Obama announcing bin-Laden’s death to the United States and the world, courtesy of CNN:

* Yes, I admit it, I was one of those who believed this.

Photo credit: Michael Appleton / New York Times.

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PsiCop alteration of Dec. 24, 1998 file photo; AP Photo.At long last, after some 9.5 years of him hiding like a craven little sissyboy coward in the wilds of the Pakistan/Afghanistan frontier — being helped by local Islamist fundamentalists — the world’s current most-famous and infamous religiofascist has died. ABC News reports he was killed in a US military strike (WebCite cached article):

Osama bin Laden, hunted as the mastermind behind the worst-ever terrorist attack on U.S. soil, has been killed, sources told ABC News.

His death brings to an end a tumultuous life that saw bin Laden go from being the carefree son of a Saudi billionaire, to terrorist leader and the most wanted man in the world.

The rest of the article describes this horrific cretin’s putrid, sniveling life, but I need not go into that here. Details of this strike — or of bin Laden’s death — are also not offered, here or in any other breaking story I’ve seen so far.

This is the sort of news that speaks for itself, so that’s what I’ll let it do.

Update: My next blog post is a follow-up to this story.

Photo credit: PsiCop alteration of original AP photo via ABC News.

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Piss Christ photograph by Andres Serrano (1987)It seems the US is not presently the only place where extreme, militant Christianists can be found. It’s true that, here in the States, militant Christianists are common enough that they can be found inhabiting the halls of power, in Washington DC and in state capitols around the country, while they constitute a “fringe element” in other countries, but they still exist nonetheless. And at times they can make their presence known … violently. Some enraged Christianists attacked the famous (or infamous) “Piss Christ” photograph in Avignon, France, as the (UK) Guardian reports (WebCite cached article):

When New York artist Andres Serrano plunged a plastic crucifix into a glass of his own urine and photographed it in 1987 under the title Piss Christ, he said he was making a statement on the misuse of religion.

Controversy has followed the work ever since, but reached an unprecedented peak on Palm Sunday when it was attacked with hammers and destroyed after an “anti-blasphemy” campaign by French Catholic fundamentalists in the southern city of Avignon. …

For four months, [the Piss Christ photograph] has hung in the exhibition I Believe in Miracles, to mark 10 years of art-dealer Yvon Lambert’s personal collection in his 18th-century mansion gallery in Avignon. The show is due to end next month, but two weeks ago a concerted protest campaign began.

Civitas, a lobby group that says it aims to re-Christianize France, launched an online petition and mobilised other fundamentalist groups. The staunchly conservative archbishop of Vaucluse, Jean-Pierre Cattenoz, called Piss Christ “odious” and said he wanted this “trash” taken off the gallery walls. Last week the gallery complained of “extremist harassment” by fundamentalist Christian groups who wanted the work banned in France. …

But on Palm Sunday morning, four people in sunglasses aged between 18 and 25 entered the exhibition just after it opened at 11am. One took a hammer out of his sock and threatened the guards with it. A guard grabbed another man around the waist but within seconds the group managed to take a hammer to the plexiglass screen and slash the photograph with another sharp object, thought to be a screwdriver or ice-pick. They also smashed another work, which showed the hands of a meditating nun.

Photo from Ecce Homo exhibit by Elisabeth Ohlson WallinThe gallery plans to stay open with the damaged works on display:

The gallery director, Eric Mézil, said it would reopen with the destroyed works on show “so people can see what barbarians can do”. He said there had been a kind of “inquisition” against the art work.

This attack had a political trigger:

In a statement, [Mézil] said the movement against Piss Christ had started at the time of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s ruling UMP party’s controversial debate on religion and secularism in France. At a record low in the polls before next year’s presidential election, Sarkozy has been accused of using anti-Muslim and extreme-right rhetoric to appeal to voters and counter the rise of the Front National.

Asked by the daily Libération why the Piss Christ protest had happened now, Mézil pointed to Sarkozy’s speech in March lauding “the Christian heritage of France” at Puy-en-Velay, where the first Crusades were preached.

The French government waffled on the matter:

The French culture minister, Frédéric Mitterrand, condemned the vandalism as an attack on the fundamental freedoms of creation and expression, but recognised that the art work could shock audiences.

Promo for The Last Temptation of Christ, directed by Martin Scorsese.This “we condemn the vandalism but understand it” thing is not really a condemnation. A true condemnation is unconditional and offers the vandals no “out.” It’s is eerily similar to Religious Rightists and various pundits who — a couple years ago — said that, while they condemned the assassination of Dr George Tiller, they “understood” why someone might kill him. Mitterand’s statement, therefore, amounts to nothing more than a “wink-wink nudge-nudge knowwhatimean saynomore” sort of thing. Way to go, Minister. Way to go. Pat the Christianist vandals on their collective backs while at the same time you distance your government from what they did. I am just so fucking impressed by your abject cowardice!

Lastly, just as I do whenever Muslims violently react to the existence of the Jyllands-Posten Mohammad cartoons, I’ve put the “Piss Christ” photo in this post, as well as other images of art that Christians consider blasphemous. Thus I hope to teach them — too — the power of the Streisand effect. When they protest what they dislike, they actually call attention to it and scare up more interest in it than there would have been otherwise. By all means, guys, keep it up. Keep telling us what you think is “blasphemous,” so the rest of us can dig it up and put it out on display again, on the Internet, in thousands more venues than it had been previously.

Hat tip: About Atheism/Agnosticism.

Top photo credit: Andres Serrano via BoingBoing. Second photo: Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin via Amagerica. Third photo: From The Last Temptation of Christ via Scorsesefilms.

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