Posts Tagged “religionism”
Note: See the update below for an important update to this blog post!
I’ve blogged a number of times about a movement I call “the Neocrusade” — a modern effort by “Christian nationers” to eliminate Islam within the U.S. It’s mostly found in the same parts of the country as Religious Rightism, i.e. in the Bobble Bayelt (er, Bible Belt), but it can be found elsewhere too, including the New York City metropolis. As CBS News reports, there’s a chance that Neocrusading vigilantes might once again be active in the Big Apple (WebCite cached article):
Authorities are investigating four fire attacks in New York City, including one at an Islamic center and one at a house used for Hindu worship.
Police say three attacks Sunday night involved molotov cocktails. There were no injuries. Police are investigating the attacks as bias crimes.
The fact that non-Islam-related targets were hit, certainly suggests these attacks weren’t Neocrusade-motivated. But then again, Neocrusaders have been known to lash out at the wrong targets, so it can’t be ruled out quite yet.
If this is, in fact, the work of militant Christian Neocrusaders, the irony of Christianists resorting to terror and violence in their campaign against a religion they consider violent and terror-promoting, is precious.
Update: It turns out this may have not been Neocrusaders’ work, after all. The New York Times reports a suspect has been arrested, police say the fires he set all resulted from specific, personal grudges, not out of religious fervor (cached).
Photo credit: WCBS via CBS News.
, christian nation
, imam al-khoei foundation
, militant christianity
, militant christians
, new york city
, new york NY
, queens NY
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I blogged yesterday about ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel who’ve been harassing other Israelis who aren’t religionistic hard-liners like themselves. They’ve taken some heat lately, but apparently are not mature enough to handle the criticism. They’ve shot back by hurling the old reductio ad Hitlerum at those who dare tell them to keep their vicious religionism to themselves, as the Jerusalem Post reports (WebCite cached article):
Approximately 1,500 ultra-Orthodox men gathered at Shabbat Square in the capital’s Geula neighborhood on Saturday night to protest what they called the “oppression” and “incitement” of the “secular community” against them.
Dozens of men wore yellow Stars of David on their jackets with the word “Jude” in the center, and banners bearing slogans such as “Zionists are not Jews” and “Zionism is racism” were paraded at the rally.
They’ve even asked for protection, because this criticism — as they see it — is no different than a genuine, physical attack upon their persons:
“Orthodox Jews demand the presence of international forces to protect them,” another sign read.
So not only are these people hyperreligionistic and immature, they’re also delusionally paranoid. What a wonderful combination. (Not unlike the Religious Right in the US!). These ultra-orthodox Jews view the insolence of secular Israelis who won’t give up being secular and abide by their dour ultra-orthodox standards as the equivalent of an active campaign to destroy them.
Sorry people, but in this world, no one is entitled never to be criticized, and to be criticized is not the same as being physically attacked. Time to fucking grow the hell up, OK? Wah wah wah.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Tags: argumentum ad hitlerum
, reductio ad hitlerum
, shabbat square
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I’ve long said that most Christians like to view themselves as being persecuted for their religion. This tendency seems to be proportional to their devoutness: The more ardently they believe, the more firmly they’re convinced they’re being attacked because of their faith. It’s a desire that goes back almost to the very start of Christianity. After all, Christians are taught that the founder of their religion was persecuted and ultimately executed because of what he believed and taught, and so too were all of his apostles. It stands to reason that martyrdom is the highest aspiration for any Christian.
While it’s true that, at some points in history (and even in a few places right now) there are Christians who are being persecuted for their religion, reality is that no Christian anywhere in the occidental world is being persecuted for his/her beliefs. It just doesn’t happen. Christianity is still the dominant religion in the occidental world; it’s impossible for someone of a majority religion to be persecuted for belonging to it. Nevertheless, devout Christians still are psychopathologically driven to view themselves as being persecuted for Jesus. This means that, essentially, they cook up fictional scenarios in which they’re being attacked — essentially, they delude themselves into thinking they’re being harassed for Jesus. In fact, they aren’t, but to a religionist, facts don’t matter. All that matters to them is that feeling of being “attacked.” To them, it’s a very real sensation.
The latest example of this false martyrdom being called down is reported by the Dallas Morning News; Anita Perry, wife of GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry, complained that her husband is being “brutalized” by the media — and pretty much everyone else in the world (WebCite cached article):
Anita Perry, campaigning for husband Rick Perry in South Carolina , suggests he’s been “brutalized” by the media and the GOP because of his faith. …
“It’s been a rough month. We have been brutalized and beaten up and chewed up in the press to where I need this today. We are being brutalized by our opponents, and our own party. So much of that is, I think, they look at him because of his faith. He is the only true conservative — well, there are some true conservatives. And they’re there for good reasons. And they may feel like God called them too. But I truly feel like we are here for that purpose.”
Mrs Perry either cannot or will not admit that maybe — just maybe! — her husband has come under fire because he’s a raging militant Christofascist, or because he lied about Social Security being a “Ponzi scheme,” or because one of his most prominent supporters claimed that Mormonism is a “cult” and that Mormons are not Christians.
Oh no. That couldn’t possibly be the case! Perry’s recent troubles can only be happening because he’s the only “‘Real’ Christian™” in the GOP field, so everyone on the planet is attacking him over it. Why, the poor man is being “brutalized” because of his religion!
I don’t know about you, but the verb “to brutalize” brings to mind someone who’s been pummeled and kicked and pounded into submission … not a politician who’s been merely criticized for his own excesses. It’s hard to know whether or not Mrs Perry is serious about this. After all, it’s not common to run into someone as thoroughly delusional as this … so one’s initial impulse is to wonder whether or not she’s making it up in order to draw sympathy. Even so, it’s not to their religion’s credit that militant Christians find such delusional sanctimony attractive.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Tags: 2012 campaign
, anita perry
, christian martyr complex
, christian right
, persecution complex
, presidential campaign
, religious right
, rick perry
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It’s one thing to have nutty metaphysical beliefs. It’s another to have beliefs so nutty that they jeopardize one’s health. But it’s another thing entirely to have beliefs that jeopardize other people’s lives. Dale and Shannon Hickman of Oregon City, Oregon are two such people. Their newborn son died because they refused to take him to a doctor, and as the Washington Post reports, they were recently convicted of manslaughter over it (WebCite cached article):
A jury on Thursday (Sept. 29) unanimously convicted an Oregon couple, Dale and Shannon Hickman, in the faith-healing death of their infant son.
Both parents were found guilty of second-degree manslaughter, a Class B felony that requires a sentence of at least six years and three months in prison under Oregon’s mandatory sentencing law. However, because of a religious exemption that was eliminated after the Hickmans were indicted, they could face less than 18 months in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The story of how the infant died, is chilling:
David Hickman was born on Sept. 26, 2009, and lived less than nine hours.
His mother, Shannon Hickman, went into labor two months before her due date. Instead of going to a hospital, she and her husband opted to have the baby in her mother’s home. At birth, he weighed 3 pounds, 7 ounces.
The Hickmans testified that David appeared healthy then took a sudden dire turn. Dale Hickman responded by holding his newborn son, praying for him and anointing him with olive oil. The parents said they never considered calling a doctor, and the baby died quickly.
Their defense attorney claimed that medical help “could not” have saved little David:
In closing arguments, defense attorney Mark Cogan maintained it is unfair to fault the Hickmans for failing to call 911. “What opportunity was there?” he asked. “What benefit would there have been?”
It’s true that medical care might not have saved David, but then again, it might have. We just don’t know — and thanks to Cogan’s clients’ actions, we never will.
The Hickmans, as the Post explains, are part of a weird church that has seen this happen all too often:
The Hickmans are members of Oregon City’s Followers of Christ church, which has a long history of children dying from treatable conditions because their parents relied on faith healing rather than taking them to doctors. In response to such cases, legislators this year removed religious exemptions from Oregon’s criminal statutes.
In the case of the little, late David Hickman, this change to the law does nothing. It’s a classic case of the horses and the barn door.
The Hickmans, of course, insist they had no choice:
When asked why he didn’t call 911 once he realized his infant son was failing, Dale Hickman responded, “Because I was praying.”
He did this, because — of course — it’s not possible both to pray and call 911 at the same time. I guess. According to him. I don’t know how that works, but then, what could I know about such important matters? The coldest response to this came from little David’s mother:
Shannon Hickman said that as a woman in the church, she must defer to her husband. “That’s not my decision anyway,” she said. “I think it’s God’s will whatever happens.”
She stood by and let her own son die, because her husband told her to and because he’s the man, so his word is law. Also, she alludes to the old “life is cheap in God’s eyes” principle espoused by many religionists, wherein anyone and everyone’s lives can be freely sacrificed, if God decides it must be so.
Another thing: Lots of people love to say that prayer is an effective way to treat illnesses. I’d love for any of those people to explain, then, why it didn’t work in the case of David Hickman? Aside from the old “It wasn’t God’s will that he live” … because after all, the idea of prayer is to change God’s mind about such things, is it not?
Hat tip: Mark at Skeptics & Heretics Forum on Delphi Forums.
Photo credit: Lawrence OP.
, dale and shannon hickman
, dale hickman
, david hickman
, faith healer
, followers of christ church
, oregon city
, oregon city OR
, prayer effectiveness
, shannon hickman
, what's the harm
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I’m not sure why it took a couple of months for this to become generally known, but a July 2011 edition of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ official magazine, The Watchtower, included an article which declared former members of the J.W.s “mentally diseased.” The (UK) Independent reports on the controversy that’s been kicked up over this (WebCite cached article):
The official magazine for Jehovah’s Witnesses has described those who leave the church as “mentally diseased”, prompting an outcry from former members and insiders concerned about the shunning of those who question official doctrine.
An article published in July’s edition of The Watchtower warns followers to stay clear of “false teachers” who are condemned as being “mentally diseased” apostates who should be avoided at all costs. “Suppose that a doctor told you to avoid contact with someone who is infected with a contagious, deadly disease,” the article reads. “You would know what the doctor means, and you would strictly heed his warning. Well, apostates are ‘mentally diseased’, and they seek to infect others with their disloyal teachings.”
So you see, according to the Jehovah’s Witness religion, apostasy is more or less the same as an infectious disease you can catch from someone who already has it, and your only defense is to stay as far away from them as possible.
What’s odd about this is that some of the so-called “New Atheists,” such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, have suggested that religious belief may be a form of mental illness — but they’ve been widely vilified, by believers, for having said so. I wonder how many of their fellow believers are going to vilify the leaders of the Jehovah’s Witnesses for claiming — explicitly and overtly rather than just by implication or suggestion — that anyone who dares leave their sect is by definition mentally ill? My guess is the number of such people will be zero.
Photo credit: Dan Patterson.
, jehovah's witnesses
, mentally diseased
, watchtower magazine
53 Comments »
Deep in the heart of the Bobble Bay-elt (also known as “the Bible Belt”), in the town of Bay Minette, Alabama, the local sheriff has come up with a clever way to increase church attendance and incentivize crime by churchgoers. The Mobile Press-Register reports that people convicted of non-violent crimes can go to church instead of to jail (WebCite cached article):
A new alternative sentencing program offering first-time, nonviolent offenders a choice of a year of church attendance or jail time and fines is drawing fire from the American Civil Liberties Union as well as national attention, officials said Friday. …
But the local police chief who is heading up the program starting Tuesday called “Restore Our Community” says no one is being forced to participate.
Forced? No. But what it means is that any regular churchgoers effectively won’t be punished at all. It’s also inherently selective, since those who don’t belong to a church cannot choose to participate in this program. This policy’s proponent explains his motivation:
“Operation ROC resulted from meetings with church leaders,” Bay Minette Police Chief Mike Rowland said.
Of course the local preachermen like this idea, it will get more people through their doors and more collections in their plates! They stand to profit from this. The religiofascist continues idiotically:
“It was agreed by all the pastors that at the core of the crime problem was the erosion of family values and morals. We have children raising children and parents not instilling values in young people.”
Ah. I see. So there was no crime, way back when everyone was a devout, dutiful, church-going Christian. Is that it? Christians don’t commit crimes. Is that it?
Do you truly expect that we’re stupid enough to believe this, Chief Rowland? Especially since it’s demonstrably untrue that being Christian means one never commits crimes? Lots of Christians — including some who are famous because they’re Christian — are indeed criminals. I need only mention names such as Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, and Ted Haggard … just to name a few … in order to show this is the case.
Religiofascists like Chief Rowland love to assert that churchgoing Christians don’t commit crimes, but they absolutely do. Crimes like embezzlement, fraud, buying the services of prostitutes, taking illegal drugs, and much more. The truth is that America’s prisons contain many, many Christians. It’s absurd and laughable that anyone could say otherwise … yet Chief Rowland does. And he means it.
Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.
Photo credit: swanksalot.
, bay minette
, bay minette AL
, church attendance
, community service
, get out of jail free
, get out of jail free card
, mike rowland
7 Comments »
The recent “tea party” sponsored GOP presidential debate has kicked up some testiness within the Religious Right over the simple matter of a vaccine.
Yes, that’s right, a vaccine.
As the New York Times explains, this controversy concerns TX governor Rick Perry’s support for vaccinating all girls in his state against HPV or human papilloma virus (WebCite cached article):
An unlikely issue — whether to vaccinate preadolescent girls against a sexually transmitted virus — has become the latest flashpoint among Republican presidential candidates as they vie for the support of social conservatives and Tea Party members.
The issue exploded Monday night when Representative Michele Bachmann and former Senator Rick Santorum attacked Gov. Rick Perry of Texas during a debate for issuing an executive order requiring sixth-grade girls to be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus, criticizing the order as an overreach of state power in a decision properly left to parents. Later, Sarah Palin, who has yet to announce her 2012 intentions, also found fault with Mr. Perry.
This particular controversy is multi-pronged, as the Times explains:
The issue pushes many buttons with conservatives: overreach of government in health care decisions, suspicion that sex education leads to promiscuity and even the belief — debunked by science — that childhood vaccinations may be linked to mental disorders.
The militant Ms Bachmann insisted that the problem was the “dangerous” nature of the vaccine, however, the HPV vaccine was approved a number of years ago and its safety is not at issue. Rather, from the time it was approved — as Time magazine reported then (cached) — it became a target of the Religious Right, having been tagged “the promiscuity vaccine.” They can claim concern with the vaccine’s “safety” all they want … but really, their sole concern is women’s health and depriving them of control over their own affairs. We already know that the Roman Catholic Church considers the lives of pregnant women forfeit and of no account; the mostly-Protestant Religious Right more or less agrees with this position.
Yes, it’s true: Christianists like Bachmann actually believe it’s better for women to contract illnesses caused by HPV, including deadly cancers, rather than innoculate them early in life, merely because they perceive that it grants girls license to be sexually active. The idea that an HPV virus does so, of course, is completely laughable; it prevents only HPV-borne illnesses, it has no effect on other STD’s, and it doesn’t prevent pregnancy.
It just goes to show that facts and reason don’t matter to the Religious Right, just their emotional assessments, irrational beliefs, and slavish devotion to laughable dogmas.
Lastly, I’d like to give Gov. Perry, whom I generally dislike, some credit here. In the name of promoting health and fighting cancer, he’s taking on his own co-religionists and seems rather determined about it. I only hope he doesn’t cave in to them.
Photo credit: ZaldyImg.
Tags: 2012 campaign
, christian right
, hpv vaccine
, human papilloma virus
, michele bachmann
, promiscuity vaccine
, religious right
, rick perry
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Today is the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks that killed thousands in New York City, the Pentagon, and in a field in Shanksville, PA. The mass media are running story after story about the commemorations and remembrances and lots of other aspects of this milestone. For me, this event provides an object lesson in human nature and demonstrates conclusively where we go wrong.
First, all the 9/11 conspiratorialism demonstrates that any event that involves enough details is ripe to be plucked by sanctimoniously-outraged paranoiacs of every possible stripe. Rick Green of the Hartford Courant ran a column the other day about one particular crank named Wayne Coste who stands on Hartford’s streets, railing and wailing like a street-preacher about how “9/11 was an inside job” (WebCite cached article). He uses the fact that he was an engineer as a kind of credential that — supposedly — “proves” his insane jabbering must be correct. But it doesn’t. That he has an engineering credential (in electrical engineering, not in mechanical or civil engineering or in architecture) does not automatically grant his conclusions any veracity. Lots of engineers and scientists have looked at the same evidence he has, but arrived at very different conclusions from it.
Perhaps the seminal explanation of how the World Trade Center came down — researched and written by engineers and scientists with the same kinds of credentials as Coste — was done by the venerable magazine Popular Mechanics. It’s well worth reading for anyone with any interest in this matter. Another source of information is the “9/11 conspiracies” entry at the Skeptic’s Dictionary; it lays out many of the screwy scenarios that have been proposed and picks them off one by one. Yet, in spite of these and many other such “takedowns” of all the lunatic scenarios, the wacky 9/11 conspiratorialism (aka the “Truther” movement) is alive and well and populated by all sorts of animated wingnuts like Coste.
What’s really happening with “truthers” is that their laughable “theories” grant them what they perceive as a moral license to indulge their juvenile impulses and paranoiac brain patterns. Telling them they’re wrong only enrages them more than they already are, causes the person telling them so to be viewed as a willing and integral part of the “wicked conspiracy,” and they just dig their heels in harder and cling even tighter to their insane fantasies. As R.T. Carroll of the Skeptic’s Dictionary puts it in the subtitle of his article on the matter, the “truther” movement is, indeed, very much a “war on critical thinking.”
A second lesson shown by Americans’ reaction to 9/11/2001 is their insular, even selfish reasoning. Too many people in the US view this country as the sole target of Islamofascist terror. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. Among the other large-scale terror attacks that have taken place elsewhere in the world since then:
Note, this is only a partial list. There were many more Islamofascist terror attacks in the last ten years. The point is that none of these took place in the US, and Americans were not the targets. Other people in other countries were. The Islamofascist terrorists aren’t killing people in places all over the planet just because they hate the US and our “freedom” — or whatever. They’re doing it simply because they’re murderously religiofascist; quite frankly they don’t give a crap about anything else.
The third chief lesson of the September 11, 2001 attacks, more obviously, is that militant religiofascism can become deadly, and it must be stopped. In every one of its forms. Everywhere it occurs. All the time, every time, without letup, and without granting it any excuses. It’s one thing to have metaphysical beliefs. It’s another to believe that everyone else on the planet must adopt them. And it’s another beyond that to believe one is entitled to kill in order to make that happen. This is rather obvious; we certainly didn’t need 9/11/2001 to tell us so … but apparently there are lots of folks who genuinely were unaware of this fact — and sadly, they remain so, in spite of 9/11/2001.
A proper response to such events is for believers to concede that other people are not theirs to order around or kill because of their beliefs, and just leave them alone. What’s not acceptable is to respond to murderous Islamofascism by becoming militantly Christofascist in return and then launch a Neocrusade to eliminate Islam. This Neocrusade is merely the same sort of religiofascist impulse, just manifest within a different religion and in a different country. Of course, to the Neocrusaders, 9/11/2001 itself is the reason they think they’re entitled to destroy Islam … but this belief, while widespread, is just “two wrongs make a right” thinking and is both fallacious and immoral.
In sum, let’s all stop using events like 9/11/2001 to justify insular thinking, American exceptionalism, and “getting back at Islam” because we feel entitled to. It’s time for us all to grow up, stop “reacting” emotionally every time something bad happens, and start living like the mature adults we all ought to be. And by all means, let’s stop giving in to the idea that militant Christianism is an appropriate response to militant Islamism. It’s not. They’re really just the same thing, only packaged in different wrappers.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.
, 9/11 truth
, 9/11 truth movement
, 9/11 truther
, 9/11 truthers
, conspiracy theories
, conspiracy theorist
, conspiracy theorists
, conspiracy theory
, islamist terror
, new york city
, new york NY
, september 11
, september 11 2001
, shanksville PA
, tenth anniversary
, terror attack
, terror attacks
, truth movement
, truther movement
, wayne coste
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