Posts Tagged “religionism”

Beware of Recruitment into the Homosexual Lifestyle: Godless Sodomites Will Subvert Heterosexual Christian Society / Image © Austin Cline; Original Poster: National Archives, via About.ComFor a lot of religious folks, homosexuality is a really big deal … and really bad. They obsess about it constantly and seem to think there are gays lurking around every corner, ready to leap out and attack them … or something. I’m not sure why this is; even back in my own fundie days, homosexuality wasn’t something I concerned myself with, although I did hear occasionally about gays from my co-religionists. Militant Christians have their Bible verses to trot out that seem to say that homosexuality is ungodly and a dire sin … but that doesn’t seem to keep them from engaging in other behaviors that are also forbidden in their Bible.

As part of their war on gays, the Religious Right has promoted the idea that homosexuals can change their sexual preference and become “straight.” That their “reparative therapy” is usually cruel, and never works, has no effect on the people promoting it. They’re doing it for Jesus, you see, so that makes it right.

Well, that line of Christofascist thinking appears to have run into a wall. The best-known religious group backing “reparative therapy,” Exodus International, as CNN reports, has given up the ghost and is closing down (WebCite cached article):

After 37 years, Exodus International, an organization whose mission was to “help” gay Christians become straight, is shutting down. But not before issuing an apology [cached].…

“Exodus is an institution in the conservative Christian world, but we’ve ceased to be a living, breathing organism,” said Alan Chambers, the president of Exodus [cached]. “For quite some time, we’ve been imprisoned in a worldview that’s neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical.”

Chambers, who has a wife and children and previously identified as gay, has acknowledged that he has “ongoing same-sex attractions.”

Although this was a staggering decision on the part of a group which had withstood a great deal of criticism and had soldiered on in the wake of several scandals … such as when one of its founders and one of its ministers (both men) left the group to be with each other, and when the group’s chairman was fired after having been seen cruising gay bars.

Thus, one can see these aren’t people who are really all that worried about how the rest of the world views them. That makes their surrender all that more surprising. Even so, in the apology, Chambers exhibits some of the group’s trademark defiant attitude:

“I cannot apologize for my deeply held biblical beliefs about the boundaries I see in scripture surrounding sex, but I will exercise my beliefs with great care and respect for those who do not share them,” he said. “I cannot apologize for my beliefs about marriage. But I do not have any desire to fight you on your beliefs or the rights that you seek.”

But I doubt Exodus’s closure will make Christofascists who despise gays, give up their childish little war. Exodus International was, more than anything else, a confederation of many “ex-gay” ministries. Those ministries aren’t likely to fold up and vanish just because the parent group shut down. Most, if not all, of them are sure to soldier on, doing what they do best, which is to demonize a group of people merely because … well … because they can.

For those Christians who remain convinced they’re required to keep stamping, fuming, whining and caterwauling about the “abomination” of homosexuality and gays’ “sinning” ways, I have these words supposedly spoken by your own Jesus:

“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Mt 7:3-5)

“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.” (Lk 6:41-42)

But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (Jn 8:7)

Maybe it’s time for Christians to stop sticking their sanctimonious noses in other people’s lives. So what if there are gays in the world? What makes other people’s private lives, their business?

Photo credit: Austin Cline; Original Poster: National Archives.

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Rand Paul speakingAmerican Christians’ martyr complex is wearying. They continually and repeatedly whine and complain that their religion is on the verge of being stamped out … even when it’s not. I understand why this is; a desire to be persecuted for Jesus is embedded deep within their religion’s psychopathology, and they really can’t help themselves. Still, it’s one thing to believe one is being persecuted, but quite another to fabricate forms of persecution that don’t exist, or to make claims about Christian persecution that aren’t true.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, as the Washington Post reports, is the most recent figure to be guilty of these kinds of lies (WebCite cached article):

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Thursday continued his outreach to Christian conservatives, telling a gathering of them that the United States is effectively funding wars on Christianity by sending money to nations like Egypt and Syria.

“It’s clear that American taxpayer dollars are being used in a war against Christianity,” Paul said at a luncheon hosted by the Faith and Freedom Coalition to kick off the three-day Faith and Freedom Conference.

Paul said the U.S. war in Iraq led Christians to flee a secular country that had otherwise been “a relatively safe place for Christians,” and that Christians are now being hunted in nearby nations.

First, let me say it’s absolutely true that Christians have been, and are, persecuted in a lot of places in the world. I don’t dispute that at all. I also don’t dispute that it’s wrong for anyone to be persecuted for it. What I dispute is Paul’s claim that the U.S. government is consciously and methodically financing a global campaign to wipe Christianity out.

Let’s be honest: The societies of countries like Iraq and Egypt certainly harbor animosity toward Christians; I’ve blogged about a long tradition of religious strife in Egypt, for instance. There’s nothing new about this. That doesn’t make it right … it just means it’s not new at all.

So what does American financial aid have to do with it? Nothing. Christians there would be harassed, with or without American assistance. Christians in those places were harassed, before they got any U.S. assistance, and they likely would continue to be harassed if we stopped supplying it. In fact, it might be argued that our assistance gives us a degree of input into those countries’ affairs that we wouldn’t have otherwise, meaning it’s a potential way for us to limit the harassment. The dance of diplomacy and international relations is a complex one, that cannot be boiled down to “sound bites” as Paul likes to do.

Paul also brings up a point which is a particularly sore one for the Religious Right in the US:

“Should we be sending F-16s and tanks to Egypt when (President Mohammed) Morsi says Jews are descendants of apes and pigs?”

Granted, Morsi is an anti-Semite, as are many of the leaders of countries in and around the Middle East. But what can we do? Make our assistance conditional on whether or not those countries have anti-Semitic rulers? Is it even possible for us to have that much influence over them? What makes Paul think we do?

Something Paul doesn’t admit, is that this has been going on for as long as America has been sending out foreign aid. That aid frequently ends up in the hands of repugnant dictators, is spent in countries where the U.S. is vehemently hated, and helps societies that propagate any number of injustices, sometimes against their own people. Unfortunately there’s not much we can do about that, other than stop the aid, which would have stiff ramifications … such as the loss of diplomatic relations. Again, the game of diplomacy isn’t as clear-cut or simple as the Senator says it is.

Paul also makes a comment which is factually incorrect:

“We’re borrowing money from China to send it to Pakistan.”

Lots of folks, including many on the Right and particularly libertarians like Rand Paul and his father Ron, love to assert that America’s debt is entirely held by China, therefore any borrowing we do comes directly from Beijing. But that’s not true. As FactCheck explained a couple years ago, China finances only about 7.9% of new debt

The bottom line is that Rand Paul was clearly trying to convince his audience that the Obama administration is financing a global jihad against Christianity. That isn’t the case; but if it were, then because Obama is continuing a long-standing policy of foreign aid, then G.W. Bush, Clinton, G.H.W. Bush, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, etc. had also financed a global jihad against Christianity. Does he seriously think it’s been going on for decades? If so, why hasn’t Christianity already been wiped out in those places?

As I said, what Rand Paul is doing is appealing to the Religious Right’s martyr complex. It’s insidious, and it needs to stop … but we all know it never will. Because it works too well. The R.R. continually gives into it … happily, with smiles on their faces, and with open checkbooks, ready to finance anyone who campaigns against that foreign-born “secret Muslim” in the Oval Office.

At any rate, Rand Paul’s lie about a U.S.-financed global war on Christianity, places him into my “lying liars for Jesus” club.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Trent FranksYou’d think after morons like Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, and Joe Walsh lost elections after mouthing off like the ignorant, misogynist buffoons they are, some in the Republican ranks would have figured out how to keep their big yaps shut when it comes to rape and pregnancy. But apparently Trent Franks, R-AZ, didn’t get that memo. As Politico reports, he spewed some Akinistic lunacy during a Congressional hearing (WebCite cached article):

A House Republican pushing for a 20-week nationwide ban on abortions said Wednesday that the incidence of pregnancies resulting from rape is “very low” — then scrambled to clarify his comment after it went viral with comparisons to former GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin.

“The incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low,” said Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) as the House Judiciary Committee debated his bill to ban abortions nationwide after 20 weeks including in cases of rape and incest.

Remarkably, despite being challenged about his factually-incorrect claim, Franks wasn’t about to back down. Among other things, he had the chutzpah to claim it was the Democrats’ fault that he brought it up:

He said that Democrats are the ones who “constantly want to inject” rape into the abortion debate and have done so ever since the original Roe v Wade case.

He also claimed he said something other than he’d actually said, and maintained he was correct:

[Zoe] Lofgren [D-CA] again challenged him, repeating, “The suggestion that rape rarely leads to pregnancy has no basis in science or fact.”

Franks replied, “And I would just like to point out the fact that I never made such a suggestion.”

Actually, Congressman, that’s precisely what you said, at least as reported: “The incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.” I suppose that media outlets — such as Politico (which I’ve based this blog post on) as well as many others which reported the same words — are all lying, and that you didn’t say that. Yes, it’s possible they all got together and decided, collectively, to lie about you in precisely the same way.

I admit, Congressman, it’s possible there’s a vicious conspiracy afoot to libel you across the mass media. But somehow … well … I just doubt it happened that way. Rather, I think you actually said what you were reported to have said, and are now trying to back away from it without having to disavow it (which would anger your supporters among the militant Religious Right).

In other words … Franks doesn’t even have the cojones to snivel out some laughable, insincere non-apology apology. What a fucking weasel! Not to mention being yet another lying liar for Jesus.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, via Flickr.

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'It's Not Really Fascism When Christians Do It': Christian Fascism in America: If Fascism Comes to America, It Will Come Wrapped in the Flag & Carrying the Cross / Image © Austin Cline, Licensed to About; Original Poster: National ArchivesThe militant Christianist governor of Texas, Rick Perry, isn’t waiting for summer to be over, before firing the first salvo in this year’s edition of the annual “War on Christmas.” Hell, summer hasn’t even begun yet, and Rickie is trying to ram Christmas down the throats of public schoolchildren in his state. The Houston Chronicle reports on a bill he signed which is predicated on lies (WebCite cached article):

It was the Governor’s Public Reception Room, for a ceremony in which Gov. Rick Perry signed a bill into law that he said would allow people of all faiths can exchange holiday greetings and display religious scenes and symbols “even on school property.”…

House Bill 308 by Bohac and Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville — dubbed the “Merry Christmas bill” by some backers — specifies that a school district may allow students and staff to offer “traditional greetings” associated with winter celebrations, specifying they include “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Hanukkah” and “happy holidays.”

Among the lies upon which this law is predicated, is that it was somehow made illegal for anyone to say “Merry Christmas” in a public school. That’s just not true. What can’t be done in a public school is for the school to force Christmas — a holiday which only has meaning for one religion, Christianity, and excludes those who belong to any other, or to no religion — on kids. Those kids certainly can wish each other “Merry Christmas,” if they want.

What’s worse than the lies implicit in this law, however, is that Perry makes his religiofascism explicit and unmistakable:

“It’s a shame that a bill like this one I’m signing today is even required, but I’m proud that we’re standing up for religious freedom in this state,” Perry said. “Religious freedom does not mean freedom from religion.”

Did you catch that? Rickie-boy states very clearly that, in his view, there is no such thing as “freedom from religion.” That means non-belief, in his view, can be made illegal. Since there’s no such thing as “freedom from religion,” it’s possible for government to prevent me from being the godless agnostic heathen that I am!

All right, Rickie-boy. Here’s my open invitation to you: You just track me down and impose your religion on me, because, as you claim, I have no “freedom from religion.” I don’t live in Texas, Governor, but even so, I dare you to put your words into action. Go ahead. You have no reason not to, since you’ve already stated that there is no “freedom from religion” in this country. What’s stopping you, governor? Just come here and make me adopt your religion!

Photo credit: Austin Cline, Licensed to About; Original Poster: National Archives

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Donate Life / donatelife.netThe phenomenon of devout believers robbing people of credit for their hard work, and giving it to God instead, is all too common. That it’s a tacit insult to those who actually got something done, seems to go right over their heads. Only God matters to them, not other people. The latest example of this comes from the mother of Sarah Murnaghan, a 10-year-old whose extended wait for a lung transplant become national news, as the Philadelphia Inquirer reports (WebCite cached article):

Sarah Murnaghan, the 10-year-old Newtown Square girl dying of cystic fibrosis, survived six hours of surgery Wednesday to receive lungs from an adult donor — a transplant made possible by her family’s fight to change lung-allocation rules.…

Shortly before 11 a.m., Janet Murnaghan shared the news, writing on her Facebook page: “God is great! He moved the mountain! Sarah got THE CALL. She will be taken back to the OR in 30 minutes. Please pray for Sarah’s donor, her hero, who has given her the gift of life.”

You can see her Facebook posting here (cached).

One can see what Mrs Murnaghan has done here; she says “God” moved the metaphorical mountain. Not anyone else. She gives no credit to her lawyer who filed suit over organ-transplant policy, nor the judge who signed the order moving Sarah up the waiting list. No. Apparently neither of them had anything to do with it. It was, instead, “God” who did all the work.

Let’s be clear about this: “God” had nothing to do with Sarah Murnaghan getting her lung transplant. Not. One. Fucking. Thing.

I will note that, while it’s great for Sarah that she got new lungs, sadly this means an adult on the waiting list didn’t get them. In other words, in the bigger picture, there really are no winners here. The problem is that there aren’t enough donated lungs — and other organs — to meet the need. The real solution, then, is to get more organs into the donation stream, as it were. Americans need to be more willing to be organ donors, and perhaps more importantly, more willing, as next-of-kin, to allow their loved ones’ organs be donated. Making organ donation an “opt out” affair rather than “opt-in,” as folks like talk-radio host Michael Smerconish have suggested (cached), would certainly help a great deal.

I end this blog post by reminding everyone that organ donation is the official “cause” of this blog. I urge you, Dear Reader, to make sure your organs are donated after your death. In the US, go to Organdonor.gov or Donate Life America, to find out how.

P.S. I’m serious about this. I provide this blog for free. I don’t charge for access; I don’t ask for donations; I don’t even force you to view ads on this site. I’m not saying my blog is great literature, but if you like what you read here and want to give something back to me, do it by making arrangements to ensure your organs are donated. That’s all I ask. You don’t even have to tell me about it … just go do it already!

Photo credit: Donate Life America.

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A police officer helped an injured man. Gay rights marchers said priests from the Georgian Orthodox Church led the charge past police cordons. Reuters photo, via the New York Times.A couple of weeks ago, in Tbilisi, the capitol of the country of Georgia, a gay-rights rally was held. But it seems the Georgian Orthodox Church would have none of it. They’d prepared for it, and as the New York Times reports, launched a massive attack on it: (WebCite cached article):

A throng of thousands led by priests in black robes surged through police cordons in downtown Tbilisi, Georgia, on Friday and attacked a group of about 50 gay rights demonstrators.

Carrying banners reading “No to mental genocide” and “No to gays,” the masses of mostly young men began by hurling rocks and eggs at the gay rights demonstrators.

The police pushed most of the demonstrators onto yellow minibuses to evacuate them from the scene, but, the attackers swarmed the buses, trying to break the windows with metal gratings, trash cans, rocks and even fists.

Here’s the Youtube video that the Times linked to:

First, I have to make this observation: These Georgian Orthodox priests needed to gather up thousands of supporters, in order to take on some 50 gay-rights marchers!? Seriously? What sniveling little crybaby cowards they are!

Lest one think this is just a case of a handful of rogue priests operating outside the sanction of the Georgian Orthodox Church, the leader of that organization made his opinion of gays clear:

In a statement Wednesday, the leader of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilia II, compared homosexuals to drug addicts and called the rally a “violation of the rights of the majority” of Georgians.

Hopefully I understand this correctly, Patriarch: It’s an unacceptable violation of your rights for a handful of gays to stage a march, but not a violation of their rights for your own priests to lead a mob to attack them? Did I get that right? I really want to be sure I understand this, because obviously it’s very important to you. So please, correct me if I haven’t gotten it right. Still … somehow, I think I’ve hit the nail on the head. Religionists typically see themselves as being the only ones with “rights,” and believe others have none at all. Even though this is a remarkably evil point of view, it’s actually very common.

Let’s also not assume the Georgian government didn’t play any part in this. The police who’d ostensibly been there to protect the gay-rights marchers, didn’t exactly do much to stop the priests and their mob, in the first place:

In a telephone interview, Mr. Vacharadze of Identoba said that priests from the Georgian Orthodox Church had led the charge that broke through a heavy police corridor.

“The priests entered, the priests broke the fences and the police didn’t stop them, because the priests are above the law in Georgia,” he said.

Sure, police did try to help the marchers … but they did so only after they’d been attacked. Even now, the Georgian government’s non-response is chilling, as the Times has reported since (cached):

Some of the priests leading the rock-throwing throngs who stormed past police cordons could be seen participating in the melee; one repeatedly slammed a stool into the windshield of one of several minibuses trying to carry the marchers to safety, while another punched marchers and tried to drag a driver out of a bus. Some gave their names in interviews.

But as of Sunday, the Georgian police have made no arrests, and there are few signs that the investigation is moving forward.

And Georgian Orthodox hierarchs are defending the assault:

Instead, a bishop who helped to organize the mass turnout — ostensibly a counterprotest — said from the pulpit that while the violence was “regrettable” and those who committed it should be punished, the Georgian Orthodox Church was obligated to protest the gay rights rally and would “not allow anyone to humiliate us.”

So in the name of not permitting the Georgian Orthodox Church to be “humiliated” at the hands of some 50 protesters, it was apparently necessary for tens of thousands of angry Georgians led by dozens of sanctimoniously-enraged priests to attempt to kill them.

I’ve previously blogged about the immature tendency of Muslims in certain parts of the world to riot, rage and even kill over things that bother them. Here, then, is an example of this happening, but among Christians instead. Georgia is, indeed, very Christian … that land was converted to the faith back in the 4th century, and it’s by far the dominant religion there. Here we have incontrovertible evidence that religiously-motivated violence is not solely triggered by Islam, and cultural immaturity isn’t limited solely to primarily-Muslim countries. Despite the fact that Christians market their religion as “the Religion of Love,” it’s clear that Christians limit their “love” only to those who think like themselves and are willing to strictly obey their dour doctrines.

Photo credit: Reuters, via the New York Times (cached).

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Picard Facepalm: Because expressing how dumb that was in words just doesnt workIn a country which is overwhelmingly religious, it’s not unreasonable to assume any given American is a believer. But that doesn’t mean everyone is a believer, so making this assumption all the time inevitably will cause one to stumble into an awkward moment. Precisely this happened to Wolf Blitzer of CNN, as CNN’s own Belief blog reports, when he interviewed a tornado survivor in Oklahoma (WebCite cached article):

Behind her were ruins, a tangled mess where structures once stood. Cradled in her arms, the mother’s 19-month-old son played with a snatched microphone, unfazed by the chaos swirling around him. And in front of Rebecca Vitsmun stood CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, who — after asking her about the decision that saved her and her son’s lives — had one more question:

“I guess you got to thank the Lord, right?” he asked.…

“I, I, I,” the 30-year-old stay-at-home mom stammered before adding, “I’m actually an atheist.”

She laughed, Blitzer laughed, and the moment passed seamlessly on live TV. Except it also became a clip heard across the Internet and social media — one that pointed to a reality about faith in America that exists even where, and when, people might least expect it.

CNN provides video of this exchange:

I note that Ms Vitsmun had worked fairly hard to avoid having to address the matter initially, but Mr Blitzer kept trying to elicit a religious response from her, so finally she had no choice but to just admit she was an atheist. But even then, she only meekly — almost apologetically — admitted being an atheist.

The best thing for Blitzer to have done, of course, was not to have tried to get her to talk about religion or God in the first place and not to have pronounced her “blessed” before he’d even said anything else to her. If she’d chosen to bring up God or religion, that would have been fine. But for him to assume that she’d want to, and then to repeatedly try to get her talk about them … well, that was pretty stupid of him to do.

This Belief blog article itself also engaged in an invalid assumption: It pontificated about the growing influence of “the Nones,” as though atheism and “the Nones” are one and the same. But they aren’t. By the admission of the folks at ARIS, who originated this term, “only a small minority are atheists.” (And in turn, the folks at ARIS are themselves the originators of a misnomer: While they call “the Nones” a “no-religion population,” the truth is that most of “the Nones” are theists. That makes them decidedly “religious,” even if they don’t belong to a specific religious organization, sect, denomination, whatever.)

On the subject of thanking God for getting through disasters like this … can religionists please stop doing this already? People survived this tornado … and any number of other natural catastrophes … for any of a vast host of other reasons. A lot of those reasons depended on them; God, assuming he exists, had nothing to do with it. Let’s give people, not God, credit for their own resourcefulness and accomplishments. Taking the credit away from them, and handing it over to God, is quite simply wrong. It needs to fucking stop already.

Photo credit: Science After Sunclipse.

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