Posts Tagged “religionism”

Secret of my success: I'm going to succeed because I'm crazy enough to think I can …. / Motifake.ComNote: There’s been some news about this story; please see below.

I assume a lot of my readers will have heard about Michigan Republican legislator Todd Courser who came up with a truly bizarre scheme to deflect criticism which would come over an affair he’d been having with fellow Republican legislator Cindy Gamrat. This crazy scheme involved releasing a phony story that he’d met with male prostitutes, and — has says — had been intended to “smoke out” someone who’d been blackmailing him (WebCite cached article). I haven’t figured out how planting a “false flag” story would have done this, nor has anyone else … but since news of this broke, Courser has been petulant and defiant about it.

Given how wingnutty this scheme was, I’d assumed that mental illness somehow figured into Courser’s plans. I mean, it really is so astonishingly crazy that no person in his/her right mind would have cooked up such a scenario. So as with most cases of religiosity entangled with mental illness, I hadn’t planned to blog about it.

But Courser posted a response to the scandal raging around him on Facebook (cached) that — while it’s long and rambling and still may evince just a little mental instability — is coherent enough, and aligns well enough with Christian thinking, to indicate that the man knows what he’s doing and is motivated more by his religiosity than any mental illness he might have. The idiot begins with a statement which makes clear he intends to use his religiosity to rationalize what he did:

My lack of righteousness does not negate God’s righteousness –

From this point on it’s mostly a self-serving and self-pitying ramble of how he’s a sinner and all of that bullshit, interspersed with Bible quotations:

There has been nothing more humbling than to know each and every day that I am a sinner and need a savior – nothing in my actions negates Him or His promises. What my actions showcase are my lacking and how far off the mark this man’s condition is from God’s Holiness.

Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God.”…

In my life sin had its root and it worked to undo so much and has yet to undo so much more; my life, my reputation, my relationship with my wife and children and my extended family; not to mention my relationships and reputation around the world. This sin in my life has been and will continue to reap its reward. In all of this many have commented publicly and have enjoyed the spectacle of watching a man burn and have reveled in the joy it has brought in themselves, but all of this has also brought so many who have been absolutely encouraging and supportive.

He also wants us to know he’s not alone, and how reassured he’s been by knowing it:

A special group has been of those men who have come forward to express their own failures to me in fidelity and what guilt and shame they have felt for their own failures in their own faith and faithfulness to God, His holy word, and to their wives and children. Just having heard their stories has been some of the most humbling experiences of my life; with several have come forward to share their pain for participating in/and addicted to pornography and what that has wrought in themselves and their families. And finally a couple have come forward to express their guilt and shame for being faith filled but struggling with how to reconcile that with having homosexual tendencies and trying to reconcile that with their faith. In every one of these experiences it has been an incredibly humbling to me.

He also complains that he’s been criticized, and punctuates this whine with a Bible quote that implicitly threatens his critics with his God’s judgement:

It is mystifying to be in the middle of this hurricane and to be totally here and be present and feel the full fury of so much condemnation. It seems to have brought out the best in some and the most vile in others; so many words of encouragement and yet so many people who revel in piling on and watching another burn alive. I hope all of you who read this can live without having to live thru this personally and I hope that in your lives you have no sin to be held accountable for and so do not need a savior; I am just clearly in need of one; my life and my actions in no way diminish Him, or His plan, or His hope and sacrifice for all who have sinned.

Galatians 6:7 “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

That’s about all of Courser’s pathetic, whining spew I can stomach repeating here. But it’s enough to make clear the theme of his argument, which is that, like everyone, he’s a “sinner”; that all he did was “sin”; that his God is great; in the end, that’s all that matters; and so he’s certainly not going to do anything like resign over it.

This ridiculous screed immediately reminded me of a common Christian slogan: “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” It’s a convenient rationale for not having to accept the consequences of their own bad behavior or their failure to live up to the standards that they believe their own Jesus taught. They can just do anything they want, any time they want, to anyone they want, and no one’s permitted to say anything about it, because after all they’re just “sinners” and can’t help themselves. He even cited John 8:7, which is the part of the story of the woman taken in adultery in which Jesus says that “He who is without sin may cast the first stone.” Courser, thus, is telling his critics that they’re just as bad as he is and therefore are not allowed to criticize him any more.

As I said, this Facebook post is long — perhaps a lot longer than it needed to be — but it was composed with a clear argument in mind, and it makes that argument quite readily. What’s more, that argument is one that a lot of Christians make when they’ve been caught doing things they shouldn’t … so it’s not really all that novel or unusual (at least, not anywhere near as unusual as the scheme Courser had been plotting which led up to it). So, contrary to my initial impression of Courser, I no longer believe he’s so mentally ill that he’s not aware of what he’s doing. He does understand what he did, and he’s doubling down on it rather than making any concessions.

This dual Christian principle … i.e. that everyone sins all the time so Christians can’t be expected to behave themselves; and whenever they do cross the line, no one is allowed to point it out, because everyone’s a sinner anyway … makes that religion one of the most dysfunctional and amoral philosophies one can imagine. And honestly, it really needs to just fucking stop. If Christians really are following the true religion taught by the true Almighty, one ought to expect that, as a population, they’d behave better, collectively, than everyone else. That they cannot or will not exhibit better behavior than the rest of humanity tends to discredit the supposed divine nature of their religion.

Update: After a strange and convoluted legislative proceeding, Rep. Courser finally resigned, and Rep. Gamrat was expelled, from the Michigan legislature (cached). He quit in spite of insisting that he hadn’t done anything wrong, but if he did, it was OK because other people have done it and he’s a sinner anyway so the poor little thing couldn’t help himself.

Photo credit: Motifake.Com.

Hat tip: Raw Story.

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Christ Facepalm / Doc, via FlickrThis morning on CNN, GOP presidential candidate and former AR governor and Fox News pundit Mike Huckabee doubled down on his opposition to all abortions all the time, everywhere and under all circumstances. In an interview, he supported the Paraguayan government having forced a juvenile rape victim to give birth (WebCite cached article):

Mike Huckabee says his opposition to abortion rights in any circumstances won’t change after Paraguay refused a 10-year-old rape victim access to the procedure.

Of course, Shucksabee did offer up a rhetorical handwave in the direction of saying rape is bad, but then coupled it with a happy rationalization for abusing the rape victim a second time:

The former Arkansas governor who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination called the girl’s rape a tragedy in an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” Sunday.

But he said: “Let’s not compound a tragedy by taking yet another life.”

“A 10-year-old girl being raped is horrible. But does it solve a problem by taking the life of an innocent child? And that’s really the issue,” Huckabee said.

Here’s a little note, especially for male Republicans. Whenever you stake out a position beginning with “Rape is terrible, but,” whatever you say after that “but” automatically and completely nullifies your introductory clause about how rape is bad. Because no matter how you slice it, you are — as I said — purposefully doubling the tragedy of a rape, and knowingly victimizing someone a second time. Yes, I know you think you’re reinforcing your acknowledgement that rape is bad … but what you’re really doing is saying, “Rape is bad, but there’s something else I consider worse,” which in reality is a way of dismissing — rather than reinforcing — the tragedy of rape. Telling a rape victim, “I know you were raped, and that’s awful, but” can never justify treating her in a horrific manner. It just doesn’t.

Better yet, male Republicans … maybe it’d be best for you to not to say anything at all about rape and simply shut up about it. Several of you have found it to be a minefield you couldn’t emerge from unscathed.

To be perfectly clear: Cases like the one discussed in this interview are rare, and thankfully so (cached). Yet — also to be clear — they’re no less real. The delivery in question was by cesarean section (aka surgery), which is risky in children. And a lot of children that age aren’t even able to carry babies to term. A policy of always forcing them to do so is inhumane, intolerable, and inexcusable. Period. Yet, Shucksabee and a lot of other Christofascists like him have no problem with it. None at all! It’s what their deity demands, after all, so it’s what they think must be done … to everyone, without regard to whether or not they share those beliefs. Which is why they’ve been clamoring for decades to make their beliefs the law of the land. (And it’s why I call them “Christofascists.”)

Photo credit: Doc, via Flickr.

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The mayor argues that this Nativity scene celebrates the town's origins. / KOAT-TVAccording to Fox News, it’s on, folks! That’s right, Christianists’ annual paranoid whining about an imagined effort to abolish the celebration of Christmas in the US has resumed early — in August! (Even so, that’s not as early as back in 2013.) This story involves the town of Belen, NM which has a nativity in a city park year-round (“Belen” is the Spanish equivalent of “Bethelehem,” so Christians there appear to believe this is somehow necessary). KOAT-TV in Albuquerque reports on this particular little controversy (WebCite cached article):

It’s an iconic symbol for Christians everywhere — the birth of Jesus Christ, known as the Nativity scene — and it’s on display in a Belen city park. But now a Wisconsin advocacy group is warning the city to take it down.

“My first reaction was seething anger,” Belen Mayor Jerah Cordova said.

It’s an iconic symbol for Christians everywhere — the birth of Jesus Christ, known as the Nativity scene — and it’s on display in a Belen city park. But now a Wisconsin advocacy group is warning the city to take it down.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation says it was contacted by a concerned local resident and, after reviewing the situation, it agrees: the Nativity scene on government property is unconstitutional because it’s not a separation of church and state.

But Cordova doesn’t see it like that. He says the scene is more historic than religious, as “Belen” is Spanish for Bethlehem.

“Our town was named Belen for a reason, because our founders wanted it to be named after Bethlehem and of course, what happened in Bethlehem was the birth of Christ, which is something we’ve expressed since our founding,” he said.

I love the editorial reference to the FFRF as “a Wisconsin advocacy group.” As though they’re a bunch of meddling outsiders trying to tell these fine upstanding locals what to do, and who have no place in New Mexico. It turns out this is a common refrain, particularly regarding the FFRF, when they intervene anywhere in the South. “How dare these ‘outsiders’ come down here and order us around?” is a frequent complaint by Christianists offended by being confronted with the law. As noted in the story, though, the FFRF had been notified of this by locals who’d requested their assistance. Besides, the FFRF’s status as “outsiders” to Belen is irrelevant. If they’re breaking the law, then they’re breaking the law, and being told so by out-of-staters cannot and will never change that fact.

As KOAT-TV relates, mayor Cordova used an appeal to the slippery slope in order to justify keeping the nativity on city property:

“Where does it stop?” Cordova asked. “If we don’t stand up for the Nativity scene in the heart of Belen, next will they be asking us to change our name?”

For the record, I know of no effort anywhere in the country to force any municipality to change its name. It has never happened. To assume it will happen merely because one imagines it might happen, is irrational and illogical. At any rate, fuelled by his sanctimonious rage and standing on a foundation of fallacy and paranoia, Cordova promised his city will defy the FFRF and take the case to court. The odds are very good that they’ll lose. What’s more, a court battle is likely to cost them a good deal of money, even if some Christofascist legal outfit promises to represent them pro bono, because after the court case is over and they’ve lost, Belen will end up having to pay the plaintiffs’ legal costs. And that won’t be cheap.

I can’t help but wonder why any of this is even necessary. First, why must this nativity — reflecting Belen’s heritage as a New World “Bethlehem” — be placed only on municipal property? Is there any reason it can’t be moved to private property? Will it somehow lose all its magical power unless it’s in a city park? Is there any reason it can’t be moved to some church’s front lawn or something?

Second, why are Christians even erecting idols to their deity — which is essentially what a nativity is — in the first place? As I point out in my page on Decalogue monuments, idolatry is forbidden to Christians, as recorded in both the Old and New Testaments:

You shall not make for yourselves idols, nor shall you set up for yourselves an image or a sacred pillar, nor shall you place a figured stone in your land to bow down to it; for I am the Lord your God. (Lv 26:1)

Those who regard vain idols forsake their faithfulness (Jon 2:8)

Let all those be ashamed who serve graven images, who boast themselves of idols; worship Him, all you gods. (Ps 97:7)

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (1 Cor 10:14)

Little children, guard yourselves from idols. (1 Jn 5:21)

On top of this, though, a nativity put up prominently on public property is most certainly a form of public piety, which also was explicitly forbidden by none other than Jesus himself:

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)

How, exactly, is a public nativity scene even an appropriate way to worship a deity who not only prohibited the construction of idols, but also public piety of any kind or at any time? Maybe it’s because I’m a cold-hearted, cynical, godless agnostic heathen and haven’t been granted the special sacred insight required to explain the illogic inherent in all of this, but I really and truly don’t get it.

Photo credit: KOAT-TV.

Hat tip: Raw Story.

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A woman, who said she was raped by Islamic State militants, in a refugee camp in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. Mauricio Lima for the New York Times.Most readers, by now, will have heard about a horrifying New York Times story. It seems the leadership of ISIS/ISIL/IS/whatever-the-fuck-you-want-to-call-that-barbaric-brood has devised an explicitly religious rationale for systematic sexual slavery and rape — almost exclusively of Yazidi girls (WebCite cached article):

In the moments before he raped the 12-year-old girl, the Islamic State fighter took the time to explain that what he was about to do was not a sin. Because the preteen girl practiced a religion other than Islam, the Quran not only gave him the right to rape her — it condoned and encouraged it, he insisted.

He bound her hands and gagged her. Then he knelt beside the bed and prostrated himself in prayer before getting on top of her.

When it was over, he knelt to pray again, bookending the rape with acts of religious devotion.

“I kept telling him it hurts — please stop,” said the girl, whose body is so small an adult could circle her waist with two hands. “He told me that according to Islam he is allowed to rape an unbeliever. He said that by raping me, he is drawing closer to God,” she said in an interview alongside her family in a refugee camp here, to which she escaped after 11 months of captivity.

Thus opens a blood-curdling story of what has rapidly become an institution within this savage outfit:

The trade in Yazidi women and girls has created a persistent infrastructure, with a network of warehouses where the victims are held, viewing rooms where they are inspected and marketed, and a dedicated fleet of buses used to transport them.

A total of 5,270 Yazidis were abducted last year, and at least 3,144 are still being held, according to community leaders. To handle them, the Islamic State has developed a detailed bureaucracy of sex slavery, including sales contracts notarized by the ISIS-run Islamic courts. And the practice has become an established recruiting tool to lure men from deeply conservative Muslim societies, where casual sex is taboo and dating is forbidden.

A growing body of internal policy memos and theological discussions has established guidelines for slavery, including a lengthy how-to manual issued by the Islamic State Research and Fatwa Department just last month. Repeatedly, the ISIS leadership has emphasized a narrow and selective reading of the Quran and other religious rulings to not only justify violence, but also to elevate and celebrate each sexual assault as spiritually beneficial, even virtuous.

In an ancillary story — this one offered by ABC News — it turns out that American hostage Kayla Mueller had been the property of, and repeatedly raped by, none other than the savages’ leader (cached):

Before her death earlier this year, American hostage Kayla Mueller was repeatedly raped by the top leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, according to counter-terrorism officials.

Mueller’s family confirmed to ABC News that government officials have told them that their daughter, who would have turned 27 today, was the victim of repeated sexual assaults by al-Baghdadi.

“We were told Kayla was tortured, that she was the property of al-Baghdadi. We were told that in June by the government,” Kayla’s parents, Carl and Marsha Mueller, told ABC News today.…

The new revelations about Mueller’s long ordeal — which involved torture since the beginning of her one-and-a-half years of captivity, her family has been told by the FBI — shatter rumors spread by some officials that she had cooperated or was a willing spouse, which has deeply upset her family and many inside her case.

Yes, folks … this means Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, who leads the world’s largest and most powerful terrorist organization and who’d like Muslims to embrace him as their new caliph, is nothing more than a rapist, pervert, and sexual deviant. In other words, he’s even more of a fucking bastard pig than we already thought.

The Times story explains that having forcible sex with kafirah (“infidels”) is — perversely — a form of worship, according to these savages. Now, the story also explains there’s a more mundane, even mercenary reason for this policy, which is as a recruiting tool to attract men who live in a society which is otherwise puritanical and sexually repressive. It gives them an outlet for sexuality that they couldn’t otherwise avail themselves of. Thus, a lot of kneejerk defenders of Islam will say, “You see? It’s not really a ‘religious’ thing. They’re just trying to attract guys who like the idea of being able to freely rape women.” That misses the entire point. First of all, if this had been an entirely-non-religious policy, it would not have been couched in religious language at all. Second, the fact that this systematic sexual slavery is limited almost exclusively to Yazidis — who according to Islam don’t follow a “religion of the book” and therefore are afforded no protections whatsoever — definitely points to a clear religious impulse behind it.

Most importantly, though, this defense misses the truly salient lesson here, which is that it’s possible to use the sacred texts and teachings of nearly any religion to craft policies which are convenient and utilitarian — not to mention self-indulgent. In other words, it’s possible to use and even abuse a religion in order to get whatever it is one wants! This tends to undermine the credibility of the religion in question, since if it were truly of divine origin, one would think it couldn’t be abused in such a way.

Lastly … by posting this, I am not saying all Muslims everywhere support this savage outfit’s policy, or consider it consistent with Islam as they practice it. By no means! As I said, all I’m doing is pointing out the harsh, unpleasant reality that a religion — indeed, almost any kind of metaphysics at all — can readily be twisted to suit one’s purposes. This is no less true of Islam than it is of Christianity or Judaism or Hinduism or Buddhism or Shinto or anything else. The solution is not to get offended at this observation, or whine and bellyache that one’s religion has been “attacked” by pointing this out. Rather, the solution is to work to ensure this kind of abuse of a religion is not tolerated, and is stamped out as soon as possible. In the case of ISIS/ISIL/IS/whatever-the-fuck-you-want-to-call-that-barbaric-brood, there’s been a little “stamping,” but they continue attracting adherents — both in their own theater of action and elsewhere — which tells me there has to be a whole fucking helluva a lot more stamping.

Photo credit: Mauricio Lima / New York Times.

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

Update 5: It turns out that Josh Duggar had subscribed to the cheaters’ Web site Ashley Madison, and even paid for a “guaranteed affair” (cached). In a statement, he finally admitted to being “the biggest hypocrite ever,” but most Americans already knew that about him — and the rest of his family — long ago.

Photo credit: Motifake.

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Self-Delusion: On good days I can hear the snap of the sails and the rope stretching; I can feel the wind and smell the sea. On bad days, it’s just the rope. / DemotivationalPosters.NetNote: I have some additional news on this item; please see below for more information.

There are times when one can only be dumbfounded by the kind of idiocy and lunacy that people spew when they’re defending and/or promoting their religionism. It’s natural this can happen, because religions — all of which are forms of metaphysics — are inherently unsupportable using objective and rational standards. By definition, then, only standards that are subjective and irrational can fit the bill. It’s the irrationality that often gets out of hand.

A great example of one Christian running his mouth off like a total moron, as the Christian Post reports, is the case of one Dr Tony Evans, who actually thinks African-Americans were better off under slavery than they are now (WebCite cached article):

Dr. Tony Evans, the first African American to earn a doctorate in Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, chided black Americans recently for not taking responsibility for the breakdown of their families, declaring that “the white man is not making you do that.” He also charged that black families were a lot stronger and made more progress during slavery.

Evans made the comments during a discussion with DTS scholar Dr. Darrell Bock on the issue of biblical racial reconciliation last month [cached].…

“The biggest problem in black America today is the breakdown of the family…the breakdown of the family is unraveling us as a community. When 70 percent plus of your children are being born out of wedlock and the fathers are not there to tend to them, you’ve got chaos in the community. That’s crime, that’s unemployment and most of these kids are going to be raised in poverty. And that’s something we control,” explained Evans.

He then made the reference to slavery to highlight the dire condition of the black family.

“The White man is not making you do that. He’s not forcing you into that position. That’s a convenient out. In slavery when we did not have laws on our side, the community on our side, the government on our side, the broader community on our side, our families were a lot stronger. We were a lot more unified and we made a lot more progress. We’re going through regression right now and a lot of that is because of decision-making we are responsible for,” said Evans.

As the article notes, is African-American himself, making this all the more astoundingly asinine. I have no idea where this clown learned his history, but slaves’ families weren’t really very stable or “unified”; their owners could buy and sell them freely. Parents and children were often separated, and for the most part, slaves weren’t allowed to marry, at least not in a full legal sense, so “spouses” could easily end up separated, too. “Unified”? That’s just a flat-out lie.

Now, as insane as Evans’s laughable spew sounds, it’s not really his own invention. The Religious Right has been kicking around the idea that America’s southern slaves lived paradisiacal lives with strong nuclear families for years. In fact, I found an article in the New York Times back in 2011 which addressed this very notion (cached). In spite of how counterfactual it is, though, this idea persists. It’s all part of the Right’s obsession with rolling the clock back, even to times in which customs now considered heinous were the norm. They just can’t handle modernity and want to destroy it, so they whip up their own false versions of history to justify how great things were back then. This is a recipe for delusion, of course, but none of them realize it, nor do they care to hear they’re wrong (because telling them they’re wrong, means you want to kill them or something).

If you needed any more help understanding how and why the Religious Right is downright fucking insane, the idea that African-Americans were better off as slaves ought to help make that crystal clear.

Update: This morning in my email I received this from Steve Yount of A. Larry Ross Communications:

A Statement by Dr. Tony Evans
Senior Pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship
Founder and President of The Urban Alternative
May 9, 2015

“Slavery was ungodly, unrighteous and unbiblical. During slavery, the family was broken up by force by unspeakable atrocities even though African-Americans struggled to preserve it.

“To offer clarity on both my intention and meaning, the black population was largely unified in fighting against the breakup of the family being forced on them due to the evil system of slavery. Black unity was a powerful force, to the greatest degree possible within the limitations of slavery, in seeking to keep the family intact.

“My comparison to today is that we have lost some of our unity and the shared goal of keeping our family units together, and we are often making choices that are dismantling our own families and also hurting our own communities. We do not want to do to ourselves voluntarily what slavery did by force (i.e., destroy our families).

“I have always and will always stand on behalf of justice, and do not condone oppression in any form. I condemn racism on all levels, whether personal or systemic. I am saddened that my remarks were removed from the context of my entire discussion.”

This response sounds all well and good, but it doesn’t address Evans’s chief original contention that African Americans had been better off as slaves than they are now. I still submit that trope — which, as I pointed out, is not Evans’s own invention, being a rather common notion among the Right — remains absolutely not true. Even if Evans disapproves of African Americans “destroy[ing] their families” “voluntarily” rather than “by force,” and even if one assumes this is precisely what’s happening to them, there’s still a fundamental difference between then and now: Neither the slaves’ owners nor government can do so “by force,” at the moment.

Photo credit: DemotivationalPosters.Net.

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Elton Simpson is shown here in a photo he appears to have taken of himself. Obtained by ABC NewsBy now I assume my readers will know of the shooting that took place in suburban Dallas during an event celebrating art depicting Islam’s prophet Muhammad (WebCite cached article). It took some time for them to get around to it, but authorities finally managed to release the names of the (deceased) attackers. As CNN reports, one of them had connections with Islamist terror (cached):

A day after police killed two gunmen who tried to ambush a Garland, Texas, event [cached] featuring controversial cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed, details began to emerge about the shooters.

One suspect, identified as Elton Simpson by a federal law enforcement source, linked himself to ISIS in a tweet posted just before the attack.

He also was no stranger to federal investigators. In 2011, he was convicted of making a false statement involving international and domestic terrorism.

The other suspect, identified as Nadir Soofi by two federal law enforcement officials, was Simpson’s roommate in a Phoenix apartment.

Sanctimoniously-enraged Islamists threatening, attacking and even killing people over depictions of Muhammad is, unfortunately, an old story. It’s happened repeatedly, perhaps most famously in Paris earlier this year. Muslims’ reactions to such things are fairly predictable. Which, perhaps, explains why this event even took place at all.

You see, as the Washington Post explains, it was hosted by the sanctimoniously-enraged Neocrusader Pamela Geller and her outfit (cached):

For those unfamiliar with Pamela Geller, she was in the news a few weeks ago for sponsoring an ad campaign across major U.S. cities with anti-Muslim posters saying, among other things, “Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah” [cached].

On Sunday, she was in the news again for sponsoring a “Jihad Watch Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest” in Garland, Tex., some 20 miles from Dallas, after which two suspects opened fire on a security guard before being shot and killed by police. Authorities did not immediately link the exhibit and the shootings, but Geller did, with vehemence.

She’s part of a movement by the Religious Right to get Islam banned in the US and maybe Muslims thrown out of the country. Now, most of us realize this is just not feasible, given the First Amendment of the US Constitution, but many of them don’t care about that, and of those who do, they think First Amendment protections don’t apply to Islam, because it’s “not a religion,” and instead is a political, economic, philosophical, judicial, and military system. Yes, they really think this … in spite of the fact that their own movement is all of these things, as well! (Yes, they’re hypocrites … but just like Muslims going on murderous rampages over Muhammad depictions is an old story, so too is R.R. hypocrisy an old story.)

At any rate, this event was clearly a trap that Ms Geller laid down for Muslims, and two of them tromped right into it. She can now trumpet to the universe about how she was right about Muslims, that they’re all dangerous fanatics, and that their religion must be outlawed.

As insanely counterfactual and delusional as she is — especially her paranoid conspiracy theory about some nefarious groups trying to “Islamicize” the country — the truth is that Ms Geller didn’t do anything wrong in this case. The US is a free country with free speech, and if people want to depict Muhammad in artwork, they can! It’s fine for Muslims to believe such depictions are forbidden. If it makes them feel better never to depict their prophet, more power to them! But … it is most certainly not rational of them to expect non-Muslims to obey that precept of Islam. Non-Muslims are never under any obligation to obey any aspect of Islam. They have no reason to do so, since they aren’t Muslims.

That simple statement seems so obvious that it almost doesn’t need to be said, but apparently, it does … because a lot of Muslims seem not to be aware of it.

The effect of this attack on other Muslims also seem obvious. What Simpson and Soofi did makes their religion look bad. As CNN mentioned, one local imam even admitted as much:

Shortly after the Sunday night shooting, a prominent Muslim leader in Dallas said tweeted that the incident was “just what we didn’t want.”

“The community stayed away from event,” wrote Imam Zia Sheikh. “Seems like a lone wolf type of attack. Just what we didn’t want.”

I’m sure they’ll do all they can to disavow these two, and insist their actions shouldn’t reflect poorly on Islam as a religion. The problem, of course, is that … well, it does, even if they’d prefer it didn’t.

My advice to them is the same advice I’ve given to American Christians who tell me the antics of militant Christianists shouldn’t reflect poorly on them, and that is: It’s your religion. You picked it. It belongs to you. If your co-believers are making your faith — and, in turn, you — look bad, then get off your asses and do something about it! Sniff out the extremists in your midst (after all, who else could recognize them as such?). Rein them in. Correct them. Discipline them. Control them. Stop them. Do whatever you must, in order to whip them into line.

Because after all, if you don’t respect your own religion enough to police it, you can’t rationally expect outside observers to respect it, too, or respect you for following it!

To think otherwise is like when “the Wizard” in The Wizard of Oz ordered Dorothy and company to “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” It didn’t work in the movie, and it doesn’t work in real life.

Lastly, because this shooting happened due to Islamists’ hatred of Muhammad depictions, I’m following my usual policy of adding one to this post. It’s the winner of this contest:

'You can't draw me!' / 'That's why I draw you.' / Bosh Fawstin, winner of contest in Garland, TX / via The Freethinker

‘You can’t draw me!’ / ‘That’s why I draw you.’ / Bosh Fawstin, winner of contest in Garland, TX / via The Freethinker

It would behoove Muslims who dislike these sorts of things to pay attention to what’s called the Streisand effect and not let their righteous indignation get so far out of control that it actually calls attention to things they’d rather no one ever saw. If they’d just calm down and shut up about Muhammad drawings, people might stop drawing him.

Photo credit: Top, ABC News; bottom, Bosh Fawstin via The Freethinker.

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