Posts Tagged “religionism”

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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'Help! I'm being oppressed!' / sublate, via FlickrGOP Senator, presidential candidate, and all-around wingnut crank Ted Cruz is not happy. Like most militant Religious Rightists, he thinks “Christians” (which he defines as “politically-conservative Christians who happen to agree with him on most facets of Christianity”) are under attack. As though someone or something is trying to wipe them out entirely. He keeps referring to an ongoing religious war as though it were real — even though it’s not. This weekend, The Hill reports, he took to the podium to condemn this persecution (WebCite cached article):

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Saturday said Democrats had gone to extremes in their persecution of Christians.

“Today’s Democratic Party has decided there is no room for Christians in today’s Democratic Party,” he said at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition summit in Waukee, Iowa.

“There is a liberal fascism that is going after Christian believers,” the 2016 GOP presidential candidate continued.…

“Today’s Democratic Party has become so radicalized for legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states that there is no longer any room for religious liberty,” he said.

The Texas lawmaker said this stance was against America’s traditional values. Religious liberty, Cruz claimed, was one of the nation’s founding principles.

“We were founded by men and women fleeing religious persecution,” Cruz declared.

As do many Religious Rightists, Teddy confuses “loss of ability to control people’s lives and freely harass anyone they dislike” with “persecution.” They aren’t the same thing … but they neither can nor will comprehend it.

Second, he implies Christians aren’t allowed in the Democratic Party. I hate to break it to Teddy, but that’s not true; there are Christians in the Democratic Party. I happen to know some. He may not like that fact, and he may blithely dismiss such people as “not ‘Real’ Christians™,” but they really do exist nonetheless.

As for the Faith and Freedom Coalition whom Teddy addressed, as a militant Christianist outfit, its name is a misnomer. It doesn’t actually support “freedom.” Instead, it promotes authoritarianism … specifically, Christianist authoritarianism, with them in charge, and no “freedom” granted to anyone except those who think and believe as they do.

Teddy also claims that states allowing gay marriage harms “religious liberty.” Well, that’s kind of funny, because, as it turns out, there are churches which now allow gay marriage which would be prevented from doing so, if Teddy were to get his way and it were outlawed once more. He doesn’t appear to mind taking away their “religious liberty,” even while screeching and wailing that his own is being taken away from him (the poor little thing). This, Dear Reader, is what’s known as hypocrisy — something Teddy’s own Jesus clearly and unambiguously forbid him ever to engage in, but which he seems to think is just fine.

Perhaps the one thing Teddy is right about is that religious liberty is one of the country’s founding principles. It found its way into the Bill of Rights. However, nothing about that principle, or the way in which it’s applied legally, entitles little Teddy and his fellow Rightists to outlaw things for everyone merely because their metaphysics frowns on it. Consider the implications of Teddy’s version of “religious liberty”: Should Orthodox Jews, for example, be able to outlaw pork and shellfish, merely because it’s against their faith to touch or ingest them? As ridiculous as that sounds, it’s precisely the sort of logic Teddy and his militant Christianist colleagues promote.

Finally, while Teddy may condemn what he calls “liberal fascism,” he ought to look a little closer to home before bewailing “fascism” in others. His father, Rafael Cruz, is a preacher who — as is made clear within his own recorded teachings — is a committed Dominionist/Christian Reconstructionist. If you’re not sure what those are, you’re not alone. They’re extreme religious and political philosophies which advocate the abolition of the federal government and the transformation of the states into Christian theocracies. It’s a kind of ardent Christian collective nationalism, and as such has a lot in common with fascism. So I’m not sure little Teddy is standing on any kind of moral high-ground, therefore, when he argues against what he perceives as “fascism” in others.

For those who think it’s not fair to visit “the sins of the father” (i.e. preacher Rafael) on the son (i.e. Senator Teddy), keep in mind two things: First, such assessments have a clear scriptural basis; there are a number of Old Testament verses in which YHWH proclaims he’ll punish children for their parents’ transgressions, sometimes “to the fourth generation” (see e.g. Ex 20:5, 34:7; Num 14:18; & Dt 5:9). It doesn’t seem wrong to hold the Biblical-literalist Cruzes to such standards. Second, Rafael has acted as a surrogate for his son, delivering speeches supporting him, and this appears to be ongoing (cached). If the father campaigns for the son, then the son — for better or worse! — “owns” what the father preaches. Period.

At any rate, as I’ve blogged so many times before, it’s long past time for these whining crybabies to grow the fuck up, stop pitching fits because they’re being thwarted in their wish to force everyone to live by their own metaphysics, and start acting like the grown adults they are. Little Teddy Cruz lied when he said Christians aren’t permitted in the Democratic Party. Christians like him, i.e. militant conservative Christianists, may not want to join it, but there are plenty of other types of Christians who might. This places him in my “lying liars for Jesus” club, where he’ll find himself in good company, I’m sure.

Photo credit: Sublate, via Flickr.

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Stay tuned ... for the next exciting episode of ... Jerks for Jesus! (PsiCop original graphic)There’s nothing like a good disaster to get Christians talking about their faith. They’re happy to use awful events and use them for their own mercenary purposes.

Usually they do this in the form of what I call “disaster theology” in which they announce that their deity either caused the horrible event, or allowed it to happen, because too many people are disobeying him, or because of gays, or atheists, or abortions, whatever. But other times they use the event in a different way.

Take, for example, the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal on Saturday (WebCite cached article). Within hours of this cataclysm that claimed thousands of lives already, a preacher used it as fodder to express his fierce, unrelenting religionism (cached):

Yes folks, this is “the Religion of Love” in action. Yep. No doubt. Just so we’re clear as to what this creep said, here it is:

Praying 4 the lost souls in Nepal. Praying not a single destroyed pagan temple will b rebuilt & the people will repent/receive Christ.

Now, I suppose one could say it’s true that Nepal is “pagan” because it’s majority-Hindu, and at least by most Christians’ standards that’s a form of “paganism.” But a desire to have a pagan religion’s places and objects of worship destroyed kind of smacks of something the Taliban or ISIS/ISIL/IS would do. I suspect Miano wouldn’t want his wish compared to the likes of them … so one wonders why he’s thinking in a similar way? Hmm.

At any rate, I invite you, Dear Reader, to go ahead and look at Miano’s responses to those who, understandably, criticized him on Twitter. He did what any militant Christofascist would do in his place … double down and insist that he’s entitled to be an insulting boor for Jesus.

Now, one could certainly say that Miano is just one guy and that he doesn’t speak for Christianity. But that’s not entirely true; he’s a credentialed preacher, which does in fact make him something of a spokesman for his religion. But also, nothing is going to happen to him because of it. Sure, he’ll get some blowback on Twitter, and a tiny bit of it might even come from other Christians. But he won’t lose his credentials, he won’t lose his ministry, and he won’t be meaningfully disciplined in any way by the so-called “reasonable majority” of Christians. The reason for this is simple: Christians quite simply never bring each other to heel for any kind of excess. They just won’t do it. Miano will continue doing what he’s always done, untouched by any consequences for his nastiness.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is Christianity’s fatal flaw.

As for Mr Miano, who appears sincerely to believe everyone on the planet is obligated to become a Christian just like him, my standard challenge is still open: Track me down and make me believe what you want me to. I mean it. Seriously! Given his beliefs, Miano has no valid reason not to do so … so I invite him to give it his best shot!

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: PsiCop original graphic.

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Grundy Cty High School / WCRB-TVThe problem of Christofascists imposing their religion on public school kids is an old one. It continues, especially in the South, in spite of court decisions like Engel v Vitale (1962) and Abington SD v Schempp (1963).

Let’s face it, people who are fanatic enough tend not to fucking care whether their desire to impress their religious beliefs on other people is legal or not. All they’re aware of is their rabid impulse to spread the gospel — which, they fantasize, no on else on earth could ever possibly have heard before. And when these fanatics are thwarted, they don’t take it well. The latest example of this, as WCRB-TV in Chattanooga TN reports, illuminates this tendency quite clearly:

“Bible Man” is known as a staple in Grundy County Schools. His name is Horace Turner, and he’s been visiting there for decades. But now his visits are raising legal red flags.

National groups warn that his message is unconstitutional. Many local supporters are fighting to keep his mission alive. But not everyone is comfortable with “Bible Man” in the classroom.

“We don’t want people to be mad, we just want people to make sure there’s an alternative something for the kids to do,” said one Grundy County mom. She didn’t want to be identified for fear of community backlash for her non-Christian views.

She said Bible Man’s religious convocations at her son’s school were uncomfortable. They included religious teachings like songs and Baby Jesus displays. Their family is Atheist.

“At first he did not know that he didn’t have to go,” she said. “As he got older, it bothered him that he had to sit through this because it’s not his religion.”

The good folk at WCRB helpfully tried to make it seem as though this unconstitutional practice was just fine:

Bible Man has been visiting Grundy County Schools for nearly 40 years without any problems, until recently.

The problem with that defense, of course, is that just because something has been done — even for a very long time — cannot and will never automatically make it right or legal. To think so is to fall for an appeal to tradition, and it’s fallacious. This ought to be glaringly obvious: For instance, for thousands of years, humanity thought the earth was at the center of a universe only a few thousand miles in diameter. We now know this not to be the case. Are we to dispense with modern astronomical science, because it conflicts with thousands of years of tradition? Of course not!

But really, all of this is an old story. As I said, Christianists hammering their Jesus into public schools is old news in many parts of the country. That it was happening in Grundy county, TN is unsurprising at best. The real point of this story, though, is this:

While the concerned mom says she’s glad it’s being addressed, she still worries about the lack of acceptance for those who don’t support Bible Man.

She points to threats made on Facebook against her child that include pictures of a burning house.

“We just can’t get over how much hate there is in their loving, Christian hearts,” she said.

Ah yes. There we have it. “Christian love” at its finest: Threatening people. Indeed, this is the “religion of love” doing what it does best — demanding deference, if not abject surrender, from everyone and everything else, and launching into full-bore sanctimonious rage when it doesn’t get it.

I can’t think of a finer example of the utter failure of Christianity to live up to its own professed ideals. Can it really be the divine religion its followers say it is? I can’t see how. It just doesn’t work.

All I can say to you Christianists is: By all means, please keep up your whining, bellyaching, sniveling and threatening! I can’t think of any better way for you keep showing — for the entire world to see — what’s really wrong with your fierce, dour religionism.

Hat tip: Raw Story.

Photo credit: WCRB-TV.

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Air Force Academy Oath of OfficeThe kinds of “persecution” many Christians believe they’re afflicted with, are rather bizarre and difficult to figure out. Take, for example, the fact that — as of a year and a half ago — the US Air Force Academy made the “so help me God” at the end of cadets’ oaths optional (WebCite cached article). Apparently this was part of a campaign by the military to suppress religion in the Air Force. Or something.

I haven’t quite figured out how making a profession of belief optional — yes, optional! — harms believers. But then, I’m just a cynical, cold-hearted, godless agnostic heathen, and am not gifted with the lofty spiritual insights required to discern that.

One Texas Congressman is so incensed about that decision, Raw Story reports he’s proposed legislation to unravel that, and force all cadets to beg for God’s help (cached):

A Republican congressman has introduced legislation that would force cadets at the Air Force’s Academy to say “so help me God” during their oaths every school year. He said the legislation is necessary because Americans don’t have “freedom from religion.”

Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX) said the bill, called the Preserve and Protect God in Military Oaths Act of 2015 [cached], would protect the religious freedom of American troops.

“Our Constitution’s very First Amendment protects every individual’s freedom of religion. But our servicemen and women who protect our county [sic] with their lives are seeing that freedom under fire,” he said in a statement.

Again, the late 2013 policy change does not forbid cadets from saying “so help me God,” as Rep. Johnson seems to think. As I said, it merely makes it optional. I’m not sure why Johnson is misrepresenting Air Force policy — but he clearly is.

Johnson also trots out an old canard among the Religious Right:

“Let me be clear: Americans have the freedom of religion — but not freedom from religion.

Unfortunately this is not the first time one of these Christian Nation types has openly said that non-believers have no right to refuse to believe in a religion. And I don’t expect it’ll be the last. But it’s true that they rarely come out and say it quite as openly and candidly as this.

At any rate, if the Congressman is convinced that I, as a non-believing American, have no right to remain a non-believer, then I heartily invite him to do something about it. He can track me down, if he dares, and force me to believe in a religion (I assume, his own). Based on the premises he subscribes to, there’s no reason he wouldn’t wish to. So he can just go right ahead. I dare him.

I won’t even get into the fact that he’s suborning perjury by forcing non-believing cadets to profess a belief they don’t hold onto. But that might be the point of what Johnson is doing … non-believing officers in the armed forces would end up having that violation hanging over them, their entire careers. It’s a tool that could be used to control them in any number of ways. Pretty clever, actually.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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In Mazar-i-Sharif on Friday, Afghans chanted anti-American slogans during a demonstration to condemn the burning of a copy of the Muslim holy book by an American pastor. (Omar Sobhani/Reuters, via the New York Times)By now it should be clear that Muslims — and in particular, Afghans — aren’t keen on Qur’an-burning. They’ve demonstrated an aptitude for rioting, looting and even killing when they hear about Qur’ans being burned. They’ve done so even when Qur’ans haven’t been burned yet.

Last week there was yet another example of this horrific phenomenon. As the (UK) Guardian reports, it involves someone who turns out to have been innocent (WebCite cached article):

A woman killed by an angry mob in front of police in the Afghan capital last week for allegedly burning a copy of Islam’s holy book was wrongly accused, Afghanistan’s top criminal investigator has said.

Mobile phone footage circulating on social media shows police at the scene did not save the 27-year-old woman, Farkhunda, who was beaten with sticks and set on fire by a crowd of men in central Kabul on Thursday.…

The killing was condemned by the Afghan president and other officials, but also drew praise from some quarters, including from a prominent cleric who asserted the men had a right to defend their Muslim beliefs at all costs.

Yes, I’m sure a condemnation by Afghanistan’s new president Ashraf Ghani is certain to bring this practice to an end. No doubt!

And if you believe that, I have some beachfront property in Arizona to sell you.

The really horrifying element of this incident is the large number of people who participated in beating and burning Farkhunda to death. This wasn’t carried out by just a small number of violent radicals or career criminals; rather, she was killed by a very large mob, mostly “average citizens” of a large city (i.e. Kabul) who certainly aren’t backward hovel-dwellers in some distant province that time forgot. It was also explicitly supported by no less than Kabul’s chief of police (cached). Good luck to president Ghani in his putative effort to set this right.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: Omar Sobhani/Reuters, via the New York Times.

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This is the image by Lars Vilks published in Nerikes Allehanda along with the editorial. With permission by the Artist. Via Wikipedia.Notice: There’s been additional news from Copenhagen through the day; please see below for updates.

Today there was another eruption of violence over cartoons that, supposedly, “insult” Islam and its prophet, and in the minds of many Muslims, are utterly forbidden to all (not just Muslims). CNN reports on this morning’s shooting in Copenhagen (WebCite cached article):

Gunmen in Copenhagen, Denmark, stormed a building where controversial cartoonist Lars Vilks and his supporters had gathered Saturday, killing one man and wounding three police officers before driving away from the scene, police and witnesses said.…

The attackers fled the scene in a dark Volkswagen Polo, according to Copenhagen police.

Copenhagen Mayor Frank Jensen tweeted that he was “dismayed and deeply concerned by the shooting,” which French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called a “terror attack.”

Lars Vilks has been targeted by Islamists since 2007 when he produced cartoons portraying Islam’s prophet Muhammad as a dog. There have been several attempts on his life, and in 2010, Islamists tried to set his house on fire (cached). This time they got a lot closer to him, and someone died because of it.

One thing 'Bombhead' by Kurt Westergaard / Jyllands-Posten's Muhammad Cartoons, 2 / Jyllands-Posten, via About.Comthat really needs to stop is for scholars, pundits, and media outlets to trumpet repeatedly that the Qur’an doesn’t forbid depictions of its prophet. Maybe it does; maybe it doesn’t. But even if it doesn’t, that makes no difference: Clearly there are Muslims in the world who think it does, and who’re willing to murder people over it. Nothing else is relevant here.

That said, Lars Vilks Muhammad cartoon, via GawkerI fail to see why a religion’s imperatives must be obeyed by everyone, even those who don’t belong to that religion. It seems irrational for Muslims to assume non-Muslims would adhere to the strictures of their faith and behave as though they’re Muslims. I really don’t get why someone could think that.

I can only assume this sort of killing is the result of infantilization. Unfortunately, religious infantilization is hard to defeat; it takes courage and effort to take on one’s own co-religionists, discipline them, and force them to grow the fuck up. Most human beings don’t have enough courage, and don’t want to put forth that kind of effort. So they just stand back and let the infantilization — and its attendant rage and fury, and occasional riots and killings — keep right on going. It’s much easier that way.

As I always do in cases like this, I’ve added some gratuitous Muhammad cartoons to this blog post. Maybe it will sanctimoniously enrage some more violent Islamists. Go ahead, little crybabies — rage and fume all you like. The more you do, though, the more you reveal yourselves as the overgrown infants you actually are. Wah wah wah.

Update 1: When I wrote this earlier today there had only been the one attack that I mentioned. But a second took place later on, near a synagogue. The CNN story reflects this news, but my quotation above does not (to see what it looked like when I first wrote this post, see the cached page; to see what it looks like as I added this update, see this cached copy). So, unsurprisingly, the Islamist tantrums over cartoons continue.

Update 2: I awoke this morning to discover, as reported by the (UK) Guardian and others, the suspect in these shootings has been killed (cached).

Update 3: Authorities named the deceased suspect as one Omar el-Hussein, as the (UK) Telegraph and other outlets report; he’s Danish-born and had a history of violence, including a crime for which he’d been released from prison only weeks ago (cached).

Photo credits: Top, Nerikes Allehanda via Wikipedia; middle, Jyllands-Posten via About.Com; bottom, Nerikes Allehanda via Gawker.

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