Posts Tagged “religionism”

Maryland State Police patrol the Columbia Mall after a fatal shooting on Saturday in Columbia, Maryland. Three people were killed in a shooting at the shopping mall, located about 45 minutes outside Washington. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images, via the Washington PostIn breaking news today, there was a shooting at the Columbia Mall in Maryland. CNN reports on this event (WebCite cached article):

Gunfire erupted in a Columbia, Maryland, shopping mall Saturday morning, leaving at least three people dead, according to the Howard County Police Department’s Twitter account.

Police entered the mall and found three people dead, including one person who was found near a gun and ammunition and believed to be the shooter. There was no indication of additional shots being fired and the scene was secure shortly before 1 p.m., police said.

Two victims with minor injuries were transported to Howard County General Hospital, police said. They were not directly involved in the shooting.

Mall employees told CNN the gunfire erupted near a second-floor food court in late morning, sending shoppers and workers running for cover.

“It’s a mall shooting,” one mall worker, identified only as K.T., told CNN. “No one knows what’s going on. In today’s world, you hear gunshots and you run.”

The staccato of gunfire was followed by the cries and screams of children and adults running or ducking for cover under tables, the employees said.

Here’s CNN’s video story as of today:

I predict that religionists will use this event to promote their religion. They’ll say this shooting happened because there’s gay marriage in the U.S., or abortion, or because of Obamacare, or because the president is a socialist … or more generally, because the country isn’t godly enough.

Just you wait and see. I’ll bet this kind of religionistic blaming will start later today.

The implication of this, of course, is that the shooter him- or herself (s/he hasn’t yet been identified at the time I’m typing this) didn’t play any meaningful role in this shooting. Oh no. God arranged it, you see, because of gay marriage/abortion/Obamacare/socialism/ungodliness/yada yada yada. Nothing else contributed to it.

Photo credit: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images, via the Washington Post.

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Apocalypse vasnetsovThe Religious Right loves to use disaster theology to bludgeon other people into obeying their own dour metaphysics. They do it because they believe their God is a terrifying cosmic tyrant who will, in fact, happily use disasters in order to terrorize humanity … and because of their own fear of him, they view fear as something that will motivate others to believe as they do, also. They either don’t understand — or worse, they refuse to want to admit — that disasters happen from time to time, regardless of any outside factors, and it’s impossible to verifiably ascribe them to an almighty cosmic entity who’s trying to coerce humanity into doing his bidding.

The latest example of a Religious Rightist using disaster theology to make others cower into doing as she demands, is Congressional candidate in Illinois’s 9th district, Susanne Atanus. The Arlington Heights, IL Daily Herald reports on what she said on the subject (WebCite cached article):

“I am a conservative Republican and I believe in God first,” Atanus said. She said she believes God controls the weather and has put tornadoes and diseases such as autism and dementia on earth as in response to gay rights and legalized abortions.

“God is angry. We are provoking him with abortions and same-sex marriage and civil unions,” she said. “Same-sex activity is going to increase AIDS. If it’s in our military it will weaken our military. We need to respect God.”

Yes, of course, Ms Atanus. Everything bad that ever happened in this world, was caused solely by vile, insolent, God-hating mortals who dared reject your deity and his ways. Why, of course! How could it possibly have been otherwise?

</sarcasm>

What you see here is the childishness typical of the fervent religionist. They dislike something, so they claim their God also hates it, and they cast about looking for things they can cite which, as they see it anyway, demonstrate his displeasure. What they haven’t done, and can never do, is to actually show this relationship using objective, verifiable evidence.

They also can’t or won’t explain how it makes sense for an almighty cosmic deity to try to send a message to humanity in such a way. Consider: if he really wanted to make clear that he despises gays and abortion, wouldn’t it make more sense for him to be more explicit and direct about it? Putting such a message in the sky, in enormous letters that don’t move with the wind, would certainly do the trick. Making some kids autistic and some of the elderly senile, and dispatching tornadoes to flatten some towns, don’t constitute a clear message.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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L. Leonard Ruben District CourthouseI can’t stress enough how counter-productive and even directly harmful metaphysics can be. Lots of people ask, “What’s the harm in metaphysical beliefs?” Most of the time the answer is, “Not much.” The problem is, that answer is, by itself, not enough. A proper answer would be, “Not much … except on occasions when it can injure or kill.” WJLA-TV in Washington DC reports on precisely one such occasion (WebCite cached article):

Police have now charged two women with murder in the deaths of two children in Germantown and say the defendants were attempting to perform an exorcism.

Saturday morning, the children’s mother, Zakieya Latrice Avery, 28, was charged then Saturday afternoon, Monifa Denise Sanford, age 21, was arrested and charged after she was released from the hospital.

On Friday, Montgomery County police officers responded to the 19000 block of Cherry Bend Drive where they discovered four children had been assaulted. Two of the children were pronounced dead on scene and the other two were transported to an area hospital.

Here’s video of the station’s report:

It’s a good thing this happened in Maryland and not Texas, because had this happened in the Lone Star State, these two women wouldn’t have been prosecuted; injuring, and presumably even killing, someone during an exorcism is perfectly legal there (cached).

If the defendants’ public defenders* are smart, they’ll reach out to the Rutherford Institute, Liberty Counsel, or the Thomas More Law Center to defend their religious-freedom rights to harm or kill in the name of their Jesus. Any or all of those groups could plug up this case in court for decades, if they work at it. And the state of Maryland will no doubt end up paying the hundreds of thousands of dollars this protracted legal process will cost.

Maybe it’s time for those who believe in various packages of metaphysics, to start reining in their co-believers. These sorts of excesses aren’t new; killing people, especially kids, for Jesus happens far more often than it ought to. How many more such cases are needed, before someone figures out there’s a problem here, that really needs to be fixed?

* I assume these women won’t be able to afford their own lawyers.

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Crying newborn, via Wikimedia CommonsI already blogged about one sanctimoniosly-enraged religiofascist going on a hunger strike over gay marriage in Utah. But there’s a lot more going on in that mostly-Mormon state. As KSTU-TV in Salt Lake City reports, there was a rally for a revolt against that state’s government (WebCite cached article):

Billed as a call for an uprising, opponents of same-sex marriage gathered for a meeting in Highland on Saturday.

Former Graham County, Ariz., Sheriff Richard Mack spoke about issues concerning the U.S. Constitution, including same-sex marriage.

Mack says that since it appears that Herbert and other elected leaders have failed at their jobs, it’s up to law enforcement and everyday citizens to deny same-sex marriage.

“The people of Utah have rights, too, not just the homosexuals. The homosexuals are shoving their agenda down our throats,” Mack said.

Cherilyn Eager, who helped organize the event, says that it’s time for the citizens of Utah to speak up for their rights.

“We need people to stand up and speak out. We need to get noisy. We need some outrage,” Eager said. ”It is about the sheriffs now coming out to protect the people.”

Here’s the station’s video report:

In the course of supporting his call for revolution, Mack claimed that federal law doesn’t supersede state law … which is absolutely not true. There’s this little thing in the Constitution (Article VI, section 2 to be exact) known as the supremacy clause, which explicitly states this. So Mack is lying when he, ironically, says federal supremacy is a lie. That, in turn, makes him a lying liar for Jesus.

These people have a lot of trouble with the concept of granting others (for instance, gays) certain freedoms (for instance, the ability to marry). They appear to think this somehow affects them. But it doesn’t! Allowing gays to marry doesn’t prevent heterosexual couples from marrying and it doesn’t force people into gay marriages against their will. If a couple of gays somewhere get married, it doesn’t affect them in any way. They really need to grow up and get over themselves already, and move on with their lives … which are not changed in the slightest by Kitchen v. Herbert.

What’s more, calling for a revolt against the governor and state government which is doing its best to appeal the ruling, makes no sense to me. But then, what could this cynical, godless agnostic heathen possibly know about anything this important?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Waaah!Note: There’s been an update to this story; see below.

The matter of gay marriage continues to drive the nation’s Christianists insane. State after state is adopting it … either due to court decisions or legislative action. Over the last couple of months alone, it’s become law in three states: Hawai’i, Illinois, and New Mexico.

To make things worse for gay-hating Christianists, in the very-conservative state of Utah, gay marriage is currently legal there (WebCite cached article), pending that state’s appeal of a federal judge’s decision in Kitchen v. Herbert. As one would expect, they’re not taking this news too well. As KTVX-TV in Salt Lake City reports, one of them thinks he’s found the solution to this vexing problem (cached):

A Utah man is vowing to go without any food until the state stops allowing same sex marriages. He claims if Utah wants to protect traditional marriage, it has an option it’s not using, and he’s fasting until it does it.

When same sex marriage became legal in Utah, people immediately reacted. Couples stormed county clerk buildings. State attorneys tried to stop it, and Trestin Meacham started fasting.

“I’m very disappointed,” said Trestin Meacham, fasting to stop Utah same sex marriages.

For the past 12 days Meacham hasn’t eaten anything. He’s surviving solely on water and an occasional vitamin.…

Meacham tells Reporter Brian Carlson he’s fasting to convince Utah to exercise the option of “nullification.” It’s posted on Meacham’s blog. According to his interpretation of states’ rights, Utah can nullify the recent federal court ruling by simply choosing not to follow it.

Here’s the station’s video report on Meacham’s tantrum over gay marriage:

His “nullification” is an interesting little nugget of pseudolaw that has no basis in reality. Every time it’s been attempted … for instance by a number of Southern states in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education (1954) … it failed to gain any traction or accomplish anything. Meacham is delusional if he thinks his proposal is going to work.

In any event, he claims to want to “protect traditional marriage,” however, there’s just one tiny little problem with that: Permitting gay marriage doesn’t cause it any harm! Allowing gays to marry, cannot and will never by itself prevent heterosexual couples from marrying, if they wish to. Allowing gays to marry, cannot and will never by itself force heterosexual people to enter into gay marriages against their will. Allowing gays to marry, cannot and will never by itself alter the lives of heterosexuals — in any fucking way!

Let me make this as clear as I can make it: Permitting gays to get married causes no one else any harm. It just doesn’t.

I dare Mr Meacham to show me how a gay couple getting married someplace, changes his life at all. I further dare any militant Christianist to demonstrate the harm that’s caused to him/her by gay couples getting married. I eagerly await evidence of any kind of identifiable, tangible damage that’s caused to anyone else by a gay couple getting married.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Update: The U.S. Supreme Court put gay marriage on hold in Utah pending the state’s appeal of Judge Shelby’s decision (cached). No doubt Mr Meacham will declare his hunger strike “worked,” and credit his deity (and by implication, himself) for this; but really, neither of those had anything to do with it. The stay on gay marriage is a product of how federal litigation works, and was issued by the Court, not by anyone or anything else. And the issue hasn’t been resolved in his favor … just tabled while the machinery of the courts grinds away in its usual slow manner.

Hat tip: Rational Wiki.

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crying babyIt’s become cliché: Every time there’s a massacre somewhere — especially in a school — Christofascists line up to blame it on people refusing to believe what they believe. The latest example of this tired act comes in the wake of the Arapahoe High School shooting, and was penned by Denver-area pastor R. Loren Sandford, for Charisma News (WebCite cached article):

Why? These things never happened a generation ago, when, whether or not we really lived it, our nation at least acknowledged God and our families for the most part remained whole. I want to scream, “America! Wake up!” I have unhappily prophesied in writing that we are witnessing the catastrophic collapse of a once-great culture and our children are paying the price. I warned in my annual prophetic word just a few weeks ago of the rising tide of hatred around us that will surface in many arenas of life. This shooting is a manifestation of that hatred which inevitably results when a nation forgets its rightful Lawgiver and turns from His principles that were given to ensure the well-being of all God’s creation.

Note that Sandford’s claim that “these things never happened a generation ago,” is a lie. School shootings have happened right through the nation’s history. In fact, one of the most infamous of them occurred before America’s independence, during the Pontiac’s Rebellion. And the single worst school massacre (a bombing, not a shooting) took place in 1927. There’s actually a long and sad tradition of such events, which took place both before and after Engel v. Vitale (1962) and Abington School District v. Schempp (1963), which Sandford may or may not be alluding to (although 1962-63 was a lot more than “a generation ago”).

The rest of Sandford’s screed includes more tired whines, such as that there can be no morality apart from his Jesus, which is just not the case, no matter how often Christianists like him keep repeating it. Unfortunately for them, no amount of repetition can ever make that assertion magically come true.

In any event, if Pastor Sandford is so convinced that non-belief is the culprit here — rather than sociopathy — and that the entire country is obligated to believe in his Jesus, then I invite him to begin with little old me. Track me down, Pastor, and force me to convert (back) to charismatic Christianity. Go ahead. I dare you. Give it your best shot! Given your stated thinking, you have no reason not to do so … not to mention, my explicit invitation to try … so get to it already! You won’t be able to convert me, but you can sure do your best! Why would you not, Pastor? Are you too cowardly to try?

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: Ernesto JT, via Flickr.

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Springfield Bishop Thomas Paprocki (Abel Uribe, Chicago Tribune / August 6, 2008)Illinois will soon permit gay marriage (WebCite cached article). And Thomas Paprocki, bishop of that state’s capital, is not happy about it. He’s so angry, in fact, that — as CNN’s Belief blog reports — he plans to exorcise gay marriage from his state (cached):

According to a Catholic bishop in Springfield, Illinois, Satan was behind his state’s recent legalization of same-sex marriage.

So, next Wednesday, at about the same time Gov. Pat Quinn signs the gay marriage bill into law, Bishop Thomas Paprocki will hold an exorcism ceremony “in reparation for the sin of same-sex marriage.”…

In September, the Pope said the church has no right to “interfere spiritually” in the lives of gays and lesbians and chided Catholics who “obsess” about fighting culture war issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.

But Paprocki calls same-sex marriage “contrary to the plan of God” and says all Catholics who support it — from legislators to county clerks who issue marriage licenses — are “culpable of serious sin.”…

Paprocki says the ceremony will follow the Catholic Church’s Rite of Exorcism, which explains that Satan not only possesses people, he can also invade places and things, including the church itself.…

“We must pray for deliverance from this evil which has penetrated our state and our church,” Paprocki said.

For most of the last century or so, the Roman Catholic Church has downplayed exorcism. Sure, there’s an exorcism liturgy; some priests have been trained as exorcists; and they are occasionally performed. But it’s not something the Church was usually willing to discuss very much, and it’s tightly controlled (an exorcism can only be performed with a bishop’s express approval).

Even so, in the last couple of years, the Church has been a little more open about it, and the numbers of priests trained to handle exorcism has been increasing. As it turns out, Paprocki is one of the hierarchs behind this renewed push into exorcism. Hmm. Coincidence? I think not.

In any event, I’m not sure how Satan is involved in gay marriage; how a couple of gays marrying someplace harms Paprocki, or any other Catholic for that matter; how useful a political tool exorcism may be; and still less do I understand what Paprocki’s exorcism rite is supposed to do about it. But then, what could I — cynical, godless agnostic heathen that I am — possibly know about such dreadfully important things?

Photo credit: Chicago Tribune.

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