Posts Tagged “religionism”

Ben CarsonThe laughable religiosity on display in the 2016 GOP presidential primary continues apace. Retired surgeon Ben Carson, darling of the Religious Right since he used an invitation to the National Prayer Breakfast to go after President Obama in person, is one of the candidates trying desperately to get ahead of Donald “it’s my own hair” Trump in the polls. Toward that end, as Politico reports, during an appearance on Meet the Press, Bennie decided to make Islam, of all things, an issue in the election (WebCite cached article):

The president of the United States should not be a Muslim, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson declared during an interview airing Sunday morning. And Islam, a faith professed by some 3 million Americans, is not constitutional, the retired neurosurgeon said.

Carson has some very high-minded reasoning for this:

Asked whether his faith or the faith of a president should matter, Carson said, “It depends on what that faith is.”

“If it’s inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course it should matter. But if it fits within the realm of America and consistent with the constitution, no problem,” he explained, according to a transcript.

Todd then asked Carson, whose rise in the polls has been powered in large part by Christian conservatives, if he believed that “Islam is consistent with the Constitution.”

“No, I don’t, I do not,” he responded, adding, “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.”

Bennie went on to say — quite strangely, given the broad and dire philosophy he’d just stated about Muslims and the Constitution — that it’s acceptable for Muslims to be in Congress. Whew! For a moment there, I’d wondered if Carson would demand that André Carson (cached) and Keith Ellison (cached), resign from the House because they’re Muslims who can’t or won’t follow the Constitution.

Let’s get a few things cleared up right away: First, no Muslim is going to be elected President of the United States any time in the foreseeable future. So this is not something any American of any religion (or of none) needs to be concerned with. Period.

Next, this was clearly Bennie’s appeal to the Great Neocrusade being waged by the Religious Right. As I’ve blogged for a few years now, this is an effort to eradicate Islam from the United States, and is the result of the Christian Right’s fear and hatred of Muslims, because worldwide, their faith is the chief rival of Christianity. Of course, there’s the terrorism factor, too, which Neocrusaders use to good effect — and not without reason. But what they forget is that there’s also such a thing as Christian terrorism, some of which emerged from the ranks of their own political faction, so they’re hypocritical when they condemn Islam as a terrorism-generating religion while conveniently forgetting that their own is sometimes guilty of that, also. (That their own Jesus explicitly and unambiguously forbid them ever to be hypocritical is also something they conveniently forget.)

Oh, and as for Islam supposedly not being “consistent with the Constitution,” let’s not forget that the Religious Right is prone to treating the Constitution as fungible when it’s convenient for them to do so. Because they dislike gay marriage and say it’s against their religion, for instance, they want it outlawed for all Americans, of any religion or of none. They don’t seem to care there are religions — including some Christian churches — which accept gay marriage (cached); they simply can’t tolerate that it exists anywhere.

An illustrative parallel for the Religious Right’s approach to gay marriage would be to compare them to Orthodox Jews who want the sale and consumption of pork and shellfish outlawed for everyone, because it’s against their religion and they object to the idea that anyone might be having pork or shellfish. If Orthodox Jews were to advocate such a thing — which they haven’t, and I doubt they ever will — no one would take that effort seriously. Which is why no thinking American ought to take the R.R. seriously on this issue, either.

What’s more, a significant portion of the Religious Right — including Bennie’s rival candidate Ted Cruz, and erstwhile candidates Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann — are dominionists (cached) or Christian Reconstructionists (cached). These folk want the federal government more or less disbanded, and each of the states converted into an Old Testament-style Christian theocracy. Maybe it’s just me — cynical, godless agnostic heathen that I am — but I don’t see this sort of thinking as being even remotely “consistent with the Constitution,” either. Guess I just don’t have all the lofty spiritual insights that would allow an insolent creature like myself to comprehend all these important, sacred considerations.

I wonder if Bennie will summon the courage to call out any of his dominionist friends over their philosophy, too? Why do I not think he will?

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, via Flickr.

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A Youtube video shows a mass baptism at Villa Rica High School from August 17th. (Photo: YouTube, via WXIA-TV)Note: There’s been an update on this story; please see below.

America’s Christianists have a lot of trouble with separation of church and state. To be blunt, they don’t fucking want it. They despise court decisions like Engel v. Vitale (1962) and Abington S.D. v. Schempp (1963) which took religious instruction out of public schools … because, quite obviously, kids can’t get that kind of instruction at home, in church, or in Sunday school.

Oh wait, they can. Woops. I forgot. Christianists need to make sure their religion saturates everyone’s daily existence, because without it … well, I guess everything goes “poof.” Or something.

Anyway … Christianists aren’t about to let little things like the Supreme Court get in the way of doing their deity’s bidding. They consistently and repeatedly violate the law and act as though there’s nothing wrong with it. Because Jesus.

An egregious example of this, as WXIA-TV in Atlanta reports, happened a couple weeks ago in western Georgia (WebCite cached article):

A Georgia school district is investigating after video of a mass baptism was posted on YouTube.

The video, posted by First Baptist Villa Rica, was shot on school grounds just before football practice. “We had the privilege of baptizing a bunch of football players and a coach on the field of Villa Rica High School! We did this right before practice! Take a look and see how God is STILL in our schools!” the caption with the video reads.

By Tuesday evening, the video had been removed from YouTube.

Someone, apparently, thought better of having stuck evidence of this SOCAS violation on the Internet … but it wasn’t enough. The cat’s out of the bag.

Note the church’s language (i.e. “God is STILL in our schools!”). Thus, this baptism was an act of Christianist defiance. The church may have deleted it from Youtube, but others associated with Villa Rica High School football haven’t shied from their fierce public-school religionism; this post from the Villa Rica Touchdown Club’s Facebook page makes that evident (locally-cached version).

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has asked the school district to investigate and remedy the situation. It’s possible the school district will do the right thing, firing any staff who may have arranged this baptism, and prevent them from happening again. But then, this is the Bible Belt Bobble Bay-elt, and for all we know, the school district doesn’t see anything wrong with it. Who knows?

Update: It turns out the school district does see something wrong with this. They concede this baptism violated procedures (cached). As for whether anyone will be fired because they knew damned well something happened that shouldn’t have … well, I don’t plan to hold my breath waiting for that.

Photo credit: YouTube, via WXIA-TV.

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Crying baby / a4gpa, via FlickrI blogged about Kim Davis, county clerk for Rowan county KY, who’s launched a legal war over gay marriage. In order to avoid granting licenses to gay couples she has refused to issue any marriage licenses at all, since the Obergefell v. Hodges decision came down from the Supreme Court.

Things ratcheted up when the Supreme Court refused to grant Ms Davis any relief from lower court orders yesterday, and couples showed up this morning to get licenses. As the Washington Post reports, like a little child, she still refuses to do her job and obey court rulings that directed her to grant licenses (WebCite cached article):

Kim Davis, the county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite a Supreme Court ruling against her request to be excused from doing so, said at the Rowan County Courthouse on Tuesday that she was acting “under God’s authority.”

WaPo relays a defiant rant she issued via her collaborators at Liberty Counsel run by Christofascist Mat Staver, who’s acting as her attorney — but who, in all likelihood, is calling the shots for her. (To be clear, Staver and his militant outfit do not want “liberty” for anyone but themselves. What they want is to force each and every American to have to live according to the strictures of their own dour metaphysics, whether they wish to or not.)

This rant — which I won’t dignify here by quoting it or linking to it — claims Ms Davis has authority from God to defy even the US Supreme Court; implies she will go to Hell if she obeys court orders; and asserts she’s doing what she did because she loves Jesus (who, she says, died for her), and that in turn happened because she went to church to please her then-dying mother-in-law. Yes, it’s a pathetic, sappy, sentimental, self-pitying diatribe which his sure to tug at the heartstrings of her fellow Christianists but really says nothing of importance.

One of the claims in her piteous whine is the assertion that gay marriage violates Jesus’ teachings as recorded in scripture. That is absofuckinglutely untrue. The Bible does not report that Jesus ever said a single fucking word about gay marriage. Those words are not there. At all. I defy anyone to cite chapter and verse from the gospels that says otherwise. For her to say so is a lie. This places the sanctimonious Ms Davis in my “lying liars for Jesus” club.

Oh, and the kicker here is that, while she’s refusing to issue any marriage licenses in an effort to uphold what she says is Jesus’ injunction against gay marriage, Ms Davis has, herself, violated Jesus’ teachings about divorce. Buzzfeed reports she’s been divorced not just once or twice, but three times (cached):

According to Rowan County records obtained by BuzzFeed News, Davis has been divorced three times. When she married Joe Davis on Aug. 24, 2009, it was her fourth marriage — and her second to Joe, whom she previously married on the same day 13 years earlier. After her first marriage to Dwain Wallace in 1984, she married Thomas McIntyre Jr. in 2007 in between her marriages to Joe Davis.

The curious thing about this is, while Jesus is not reported in the pages of the Bible to have issued any prohibition against gay marriage, he did condemn divorce:

It was said, “Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce”; but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Mt 5:31-32)

Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery. (Lk 16:18)

Trying to block gay marriage while having divorced, all in the name of her Jesus, makes Ms Davis a flaming hypocrite. Unfortunately for her, hypocrisy is something her Jesus explicitly also forbid her to engage in. Woops!

The AP reports via Yahoo News that Ms Davis and her staff have been summoned to federal court on Thursday (cached). A contempt citation is certain. I doubt that will change this Christofascist woman’s mind. I suspect she’ll continue this legal war until she’s somehow driven out of her job … but how long that might take, I have no idea. It’ll depend on the amount of patience the federal courts have.

Photo credit: a4gpa, via Flickr.

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Rainbow flag breezeThe Religious Right is still pitching fits all over the place over the fact that gay marriage is now legal throughout the US. It’s natural that they’d go apeshit over Obergefell v. Hodges, because it forces them to treat gays as equals rather than as second-class citizens. And they can’t stand that.

But it seems Rowan county, Kentucky has become a nexus of contention over the matter. County Clerk Kim Davis has decided that, due to her Christianity, no gays in her county should be able to marry. Her Christianity, you see, prevents her from letting it happen. WKYT-TV in Lexington reports on how legal warfare is beginning to pile up over her childishness (WebCite cached article):

A flurry of activity happened Friday afternoon in the case of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, including an apparent effort to have her charged with official misconduct.

Friday afternoon, Davis, who refuses to issue marriage licenses despite a court order, said in court documents that she filed an emergency petition with the Supreme Court to have a justice review her appeal. A spokeswoman with the Supreme Court told WKYT they had not received the petition as of Friday afternoon.

Davis apparently submitted that filing to the Supreme Court and then asked U.S. District Judge David Bunning to extend his stay– which is scheduled to expire Aug. 31 — on his marriage license order while she appeals to the Supreme Court. Bunning responded hours later, denying that request.

Meanwhile, the Rowan County Attorney’s Office said on Friday that it has referred to the Attorney General’s Office a charge of official misconduct against Davis.

If Ms Davis doesn’t want to do her job according to the law and issue licenses for gay marriages, there’s a simple and easy solution that doesn’t require her to violate her religion, and that is for her to just fucking resign and let someone else take over the job who’s willing to do it.

See how easy that was? What need is there to resort to the Supreme Court … again? Especially when she’s likely to lose?

Oh wait, I can answer that: It’s because she wants to feel persecuted for Jesus because that desire is part and parcel of the psychopathology of her religion. Going to court and losing is, in a perverse way, exactly what she wants!

Update: Yesterday the Supreme Court turned aside her request (cached). She’s going to have to decide whether or not to fulfill her duties as a county clerk.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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crybaby bill-o / Steven Perez, via FlickrJust a couple days ago I blogged about the Christianist phenomenon of “disaster theology” wherein terrible events are blamed on sinfulness, gay marriage, abortion, fornication, etc. in an effort to keep “the faithful” perpetually angry about — well, about whatever-it-is the faithful are supposed to stay worked up about. The WDBJ shooting near Moneta, VA yesterday morning (cached) provides yet another sterling example of “disaster theology.” As Mediaite reports, this one came from the sanctimonious mouth of the sanctimonious Bill O’Reilly (cached):

Bill O’Reilly tonight connected the WDBJ shooting to America “turning away from spiritualism” and saying that nearly every killer he’s ever reported on has believed in nothing.

O’Reilly cited “rise in nihilism and a decline in spiritual belief,” as well as the declining number of Americans identifying as Christians and the increasing number of Americans identifying as religiously innovated, to connect this to what influences killers with “few restraints in their lives.”

O’Reilly went on to make a crazed generalization:

[His guest, psychotherapist Karen Ruskin] insisted that mental illness doesn’t discriminate whether you’re a believer or non-believer, but O’Reilly insisted, “Every single murderer over 40 years that I have covered in these circumstances has been either atheistic, agnostic, no religious basis at all.”

He again asked, “Can you point to one person who committed mass murder recently that had a religious background? You cannot.”

The Mediaite story doesn’t say whether or not Ruskin had any response to that. But I can easily point out murderers … mass murderers, even … who were most assuredly religious:

Oh, and in addition to all of the above … there’s the fact that most people in American prisons aren’t non-religious, which O’Reilly contends. Quite the opposite: It turns out, rather, they’re mostly all Christian (cached).

O’Reilly also whined about people “practicing” nihilism. I have no idea what he could have meant by that. This statement is a non sequitur since nihilism isn’t something a person can “practice.”

He did concede that “jihadism” could be a form of religious violence, but he sectioned it off as its own thing, as though it weren’t relevant to what he was saying. Really, though, it’s indeed quite relevant, if inconvenient for Billy and his Christianism. Jihadism is a fanatical and violent form religionism, an Islamic version of the exact same impulse followed by all the anti-abortion murderers I listed above.

Billy’s claim that all murderers are non-religious is just plain fucking untrue … and Billy himself can’t possibly be so ignorant or stupid as to think it is. He just said it because he knows his audience will lap it up — because they’re all both ignorant and stupid. So that lie puts him in my “lying liars for Jesus” club, where he’ll find a lot of his friends.

One last thing: When Billy talked up the virtues and importance of “spiritualism,” I don’t think that’s what he meant. I think he meant “spirituality.” “Spiritualism” is something else, and I don’t think it’s something a devout Catholic — which Billy supposedly is — would really care much for.

Photo credit: Steven Perez, via Flickr.

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'... but it CAN'T be TERRORISM if Christians did it!' / PsiCop original graphicYesterday the world was treated to yet another story of yet another terror attack by a sanctimoniously-enraged Islamist — this time, on a high-speed train out of Paris, during which the attacker was subdued (WebCite cached version). This kind of shit is just horrific. Clearly there’s something about Islam which triggers this sort of raging terror.

It’s not just “lone-wolf” attacks of this sort, either; Muslims around the world have massed together, rioting, maiming, and murdering over things like apostasy and blasphemy. Not to mention, there are also many Islamist organizations (e.g. ISIS/ISIL/IS/whatever-the-fuck-you-want-to-call-that-savage-brood, the al-Nusra Front, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, etc.) which are currently engaged in religiously-driven wars with virtually everyone around them.

So if someone wants to posit that Islam can’t compel violence, I beg to differ. The evidence clearly demonstrates that it can, and does, promote the worst sort of violence. I concede not all Muslims are terrorists, nor do I even think most are. Nor do I think — as a lot of Neocrusaders here in the US claim — that all Muslims everywhere are prone to violence and terror. No way.

But even having admitted there’s some sort of festering sore deep in the heart of Islam, that’s not to say terrorism and violence are unique to that religion. That also is demonstrably untrue. Nearly all religions have this problem. Yes, even Buddhism — which many think is as pacifist a religion as can be found. That presumption is absolutely unfounded (cached).

Among all of this, though, is a form of terror triggered by a religion which is much closer to home to Americans. And that is, Christian terrorism. Yes, that’s what I said: Christian terrorism. Rest assured, it really exists. Unfortunately it doesn’t get anywhere near as much attention as Islamist terror does. Yes, it’s true that Christian terror attacks are much less common than those of Islamists, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a problem that needs to be addressed.

There was the assassination of Dr George Tiller by a Christianist anti-abortion crusader (cached). There were attacks on Sikh temples (cached) and on Unitarian Universalist churches (cached).

“Oh, but all of those were just crazy criminals being crazy criminals,” one might say. “What could their Christianity have to do with it?” It’s true there’s criminality in these guys, and it may also be that some or all had mental illnesses. But non-terrorist Muslims could easily say the very same about Islamist terrorists. Neither of these objections really holds up to scrutiny. The ability to use a religion to rationalize one’s own murderous impulses, doesn’t say anything good about the religion; one would think a truly divine faith taught by the Almighty himself ought not be used that way.

“Oh, and these all happened years ago,” one might also contend. “They’re in the past.” One could easily say that, since the Wisconsin Sikh temple massacre took place 3 years ago, and the other attacks were in 2008 and 2009. But … that contention ignores the fact that there have also been much more recent examples of Christian terrorism.

For instance, Larry McQuilliams — a member of the (Christian) Phineas Priesthood — shot up Austin TX just last December (cached). An avowed Christian and former GOP Congressional candidate was indicted just a couple months ago for conspiring to kill Muslims in upstate New York (cached). Another Christian and KKK member in New York state was just convicted of conspiring to kill Muslims and the president using some kind of radiation weapon (cached). And just a few days ago, one Moises Trevizo tried to bomb the Kansas clinic that Dr George Tiller had worked at (cached). None of these occurred in the deep, dark recesses of history. They’re all recent developments. They happened; the attempted bombing in Wichita was, as I said, just a few days ago. And they matter.

But you wouldn’t get that impression from the mass media. It’s not that these stories have gone unreported … obviously they were reported, since I linked to news outlets’ coverage of them. The problem is, these Christians’ terror attacks don’t get wall-to-wall coverage, nor has there been any kind of impulsive response to Christianity because of them. That just doesn’t happen. And whenever these stories are reported, the connection with Christianity usually isn’t made clear. For instance, the just-convicted Glendon Scott Crawford is reported to have been a member of the KKK, but that organization — like all forms of white supremacy in the US — is a basically Christian one (cached) whose ideas are founded on a particular set of legends based on that religion (and forked off 19th century British-Israelism, which I’ve blogged about a couple times).

A reason for the mass media to understate the “Christian” impulses behind these attacks is both simple and obvious: Christianity is the country’s majority religion, meaning lots of readers/viewers/listeners would be offended to hear their faith provoked these incidents of terrorism. And offended readers/viewers/listeners don’t buy newspapers or magazines, they don’t keep reading articles on the Web, and they change the radio or television channel. Sadly, this means the media are pandering to Americans’ immaturity … because only immaturity can explain why one wouldn’t want to know that one’s own co-religionists are using the faith to justify terrorism. It’s time for people of every religion on earth to take responsibility for their faiths — whichever one they belong to — and start watching out for its integrity. But this takes courage, which is in short supply. More’s the pity.

Photo credit: PsiCop original graphic.

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The Assumption of the Virgin (1612-17); Peter Paul RubensSomething I’ve long warned American Catholics about is their alliance with the Religious Right. This movement had grown out of the Southern Baptist Convention initially as pushback against segregation (WebCite cached article). And its membership remains primarily evangelical Protestant … even though the Roman Catholic bishops have joined ranks with them, and there are plenty of Catholic politicians (e.g. Rick Santorum, Sam Brownback, Newt Gingrich, and others) who are definitely part of the R.R. The reality of this Catholic/R.R. alliance is that it’s tenuous at best, predicated on only a few points in common, such as opposition to abortion and contraception. The reality is that they’ve been ecclesiastical rivals for centuries, and while they’re no longer at war with one another, each maintains its own distinct vision of Christ and Christianity.

What a lot of Catholics fail to understand — or even know about — is the degree of hatred a lot of their supposed allies in the R.R. have for them. They don’t often make a point of it, but there are occasions when evangelical Protestants find themselves unable to contain their contempt for those “saint-worshipping papists.” An example of this phenomenon emerged when TX gov. Greg Abbott — a Catholic — posted something recently to Facebook (cached):

Texaas Governor Greg Abbott (R) got a lesson in religious tolerance over the weekend after posting an image of the Virgin Mary accompanied by praise on his Facebook page, according to the San Antonio Express-News [cached].

On Saturday the governor, who is Catholic, posted an image of the mother of Jesus [cached] on his Texans for Abbott Facebook page, accompanied by the comment: “The Virgin Mary is exalted above the choirs of angels. Blessed is the Lord who has raised her up.” Saturday was the celebration of the Assumption; the day when the Holy Mother is believed to have been accepted into Heaven.

Responses from followers on Facebook were fast and furious, with many joining in with the governor and praising the Virgin Mary, while others less accepting of his Catholicism accused him of idolatry.

“So you’re Catholic Mr. Abbott? So what? You worship idols; not something I’d be telling everyone,” one commenter wrote, while another seconded the comment, writing: “This is nothing more than idol worship.”

Another pointed out that “Jesus is The Blessed and Holy One!!!” before asking “Were you hacked ?????”

Comments ran to over 900 as people of various faiths battled over whose religion was the most righteous, argued over Scripture, and even questioned the accuracy of the Bible and whether Jesus wrote it.

Honestly, I hadn’t known the Republican Abbott was Catholic. And I suppose a lot of folks (of the evangelical Protestant sort) even in Texas didn’t know it — which is why his Facebook post elicited so much sanctimonious outrage. Had his Catholicism been more widely known, the reaction probably wouldn’t have been as extensive or vitriolic as this, because those evangelical Protestants would already have been steeled to Abbott’s Catholicism and held their tongues.

At any rate, this should provide a lesson to any Catholics out there whose political leanings are toward the Religious Right. Pay attention: These people are not your friends. Many don’t even consider you to be Christians! They may not be up-front about it, or let it show very often, but the bottom line is that they hate Catholics almost as much as they hate Muslims and atheists. If they manage to seize control of the country and make it into the “Christian nation” they’ve been screaming for, once they’ve dispensed with both of those groups, Catholics — followed closely by Orthodox Christians — will be next on their hit list. They won’t give a shit that you helped them establish their Christocracy; they’ll persecute you mercilessly in spite of it, because you’re un-Christian idolaters, as they see it. And they’ll be happy to go after you with everything they’ve got.

So Catholics, be careful. Very, very careful.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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