Posts Tagged “religionism”

ZEALOT: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JESUS OF NAZARETH, by Reza Aslan, via Reza Aslan Web siteYou’d think people in the United States in the 21st century would be clear about “freedom of speech.” You’d think they’ve read the First Amendment and understand that, barring slander, libel, or extremes (such as the proverbial “shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater”), people can say and/or write whatever they want to. You’d think they understand there are no controls on who can write about what. Americans learn about this in school and they have no excuse for not being aware of it.

But when the people you’re talking about are the Religious Right, all of that goes out the window. They get their self-righteous knickers in knots when certain people write about certain topics, sanctimoniously presuming the authority to pronounce certain topics off-limits to certain people.

A sterling example of this religionistic outrage involves scholar Reza Aslan, who wrote Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. As Slate reports, the problem here is that Aslan is (curses!) a Muslim (WebCite cached article):

Fox News anchor Lauren Green had religious scholar Reza Aslan on her show Friday to talk about Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, his book that has been stirring up some online controversy recently. And right off the bat, Green gets to what is important: “You’re a Muslim, so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?” Aslan seemed a little flabbergasted: “Well, to be clear, I am a scholar of religions with four degrees, including one in the New Testament, and fluency in biblical Greek, who has been studying the origins of Christianity for two decades, who also just happens to be a Muslim.”…

Aslan has become the target of anti-muslim rhetoric this past week as he’s made numerous media appearances to publicize his book. Author and pastor John Dickerson harshly criticized media outlets on FoxNews.com [cached], saying reporters “have failed to mention [Aslan] is a devout Muslim.” In a piece for WorldNetDaily [cached], Pamela Geller writes that “jihadist operatives like the vicious Reza Aslan are carried on the shoulders of the media and intelligentsia like a football hero at the end of an impossibly fought game.” Many who share these views have taken to Amazon to give the book one-star reviews. Aslan “is a Muslim and not a historian,” reads one of the one-star reviews.

The train-wreck Fox News interview mentioned in the Slate report is available via Youtube:

For any other Religious Rightists who’re furious over this horrific Muslim-&-Mass-Media conspiracy to dis your precious Jesus, allow me to explain a few facts that I’m sure you’re unaware of:

  1. As I explained above, “freedom of speech” entitles any American Muslim to write about Jesus if s/he wants to, and there’s not one fucking thing you can do to stop it.
  2. Aslan is a multi-degreed academic, with expertise in religions (contrary to what some Amazon reviewers have said). He has the credentials to discuss the topic of Jesus competently. In fact, he has more credentials than the average Christian, to do so: The average Christian has no education in ancient history and does not know any Biblical languages.
  3. Muslims do, as it turns out, have a religious interest in Jesus, because they view him as a prophet. They don’t believe the same things about him that Christians do, but that doesn’t mean they have no interest in him or his teachings.
  4. Christians themselves have no reservations about discussing Islam and/or Muslims. Franklin Graham, for instance, has pontificated about Islam. And here’s a report about a conference where a whole bunch of Christians went to blather on at length about Islam and Muslims (cached).

Seems to me that any Christians who’re sanctimoniously enraged that an insolent “jihadist” Muslim dared write about their Jesus … and worse, that the mass media have insidiously conspired with him to cover this up … are being hypocritical, if they also feel free to call Mohammad a pervert (cached), or a cross-dresser (cached), a moon-worshipper (cached) … or any number of other disparaging claims. Those Christians need to crack open their Bibles for the first time and read about how their own Jesus clearly and explicitly forbid them ever to engage in any hypocritical behavior, and then just fucking stop already. Their childish act is wearing pretty thin.

Oh, and one last thing: This cold-hearted, godless agnostic heathen also hosts a Web site concerning the early history of Christianity. Yes, that’s right. An insolent non-believer has dared write about your precious Jesus and the origins of the religion he supposedly founded. How awful of me!

Photo credit: Reza Aslan Web site.

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And the Lord said, 'Duck your head!' / 'Prophet' Cindy Jacobs / from RWW videoThe Supreme Court’s decision declaring the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional is a few weeks old. Even so, lots of Christianists continue to rage and fume about it. I’ve already blogged about some of their reactions, but they keep pitching fits. The latest example of this, as reported by Right Wing Watch, is a “prophet” who uses disaster theology to call catastrophe down onto the country (WebCite cached article):

Self-proclaimed prophet Cindy Jacobs delivered an ominous warning to America while speaking with fellow televangelist Jim Bakker, describing a message she received from God that the country will face divine punishment over the Supreme Court’s rulings on marriage equality. “Recently in the United States we’ve had these Supreme Court decisions that are against biblical marriage, and the Lord said to me, ‘duck your head, duck your head.’ I said, ‘oh God, duck my head?’”

RWW provides video of her idiotic blather via Youtube:

Sounds like a nightmarish prediction, doesn’t it? But believers like the Prophet Ms Jacobs need not worry. Just as he did prior to the Exodus, the Almighty plans to “mark” all his faithful so his divine wrath won’t wipe them out:

Jacobs asserted that God plans to “put a mark upon” believers — “as long as you’re tithing” — and bless them because “there’s a whole lot of shaking getting ready to happen.”

(Gee, I love how being a believer is all about “the tithing.”)

The Prophet Ms Jacobs claims she’d predicted Hurricane Sandy as a sign of the Almighty’s fury, hence, she insists she’ll be right this time, too.

Well, she will be! I have no doubt a hurricane will hit somewhere in the US this year. I also have no doubt there will be wildfires in the coming months. There might even be an earthquake. Or a bombing. Or a school shooting. Terrible events absolutely will happen.

And you know how I know this? Because … quite obviously! … they just naturally happen! I’m sure the Prophet Ms Jacobs knows this just as well as I do. Which is why she makes pronouncements like this … it gives her the (false) appearance of being an accurate “prophet” foretelling future events!

Photo credit: PsiCop original, based on still from RWW video via Youtube.

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Madonna in the music video for 'Like a Prayer', in one of the most controversial scenes, displaying the burning crosses, via WikipediaA civil war raging in Syria. The Eurozone crisis causing financial chaos. US spies rummaging through Europeans’ private lives. Youth unemployment all through the continent.

One would think Europe has a lot of problems that really need to be solved. And a bunch of European exorcists are getting together to solve some of Europe’s woes. But as the (UK) Telegraph reports, among the problems they’re taking on, is … of all things … Madonna (WebCite cached article):

Long the scourge of the Catholic Church, Madonna has often triggered Christian ire, once going through a mock crucifixion during one her stage shows.

Now her music and shows will come under the scrutiny of priests trained in the art of defeating demons, treating satanic possession and looking for the devil in a section of the conference dedicated to finding evil in popular culture.

“Part of the conference is dedicated to the hidden subliminal message in communication, and the choice of this subject was inspired by the woman who dares to call herself Madonna,” said Father Andrzej Grefkowic, an exorcist and one of the organisers of the conference. “We’ve been worried about her concerts.”

I hate to break it to the good Reverend, but “Madonna” is not a moniker the musician/dancer/actress appropriated for herself as an insult to the Virgin Mary. It’s the first name she was born with.

In any event, I just love how, with lots of crises wracking Europe or raging near its borders, the real problem to be faced, is Madonna, along with the horrific scourges of body piercings, tattoos, and — yes! — magic shows:

Father Grefkowic also warned of a growing risk from Satan, highlighting the increasing popularity of tattoos, body piercing, horoscopes and magic shows as ways evil could corrupt people.

Curiously, they’re not addressing the fact that religionism can corrupt people. And they’re also not addressing the Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal. Oh well.

Photo credit: Wikipedia.

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'He who is not with Me, is against Me.' / Matthew 12:30a, NASB / PsiCop original graphicOne of the things religious fundamentalists like to do, is conflate all their opponents into one huge mass of people, groups and things that are trying to wipe them out completely. I’d remarked on how the Religious Right in the US does this, just last evening, in a forum on Delphi Forums, and I cited as an example Newt Gingrich stating the hilarious non sequitur that “secular atheists” are “radical Islamists.”

The reason for this is their limited, primitive, and binary point of view. In the eyes of religionists, there are “the good guys” and “the bad guys,” all operating on the exact same teams, all working toward the same two goals, and there is no one and nothing in between. They very seriously believe that if you are not with them, you’re against them, and everyone who’s against them is doing so together, under one banner, as a single team, and with a unitary command structure.

As another example, this is why the “Obama is a secret Muslim” notion is so powerful and enduring: It’s an overt claim that the evil Leftist president the R.R. so vehemently hates, also just happens to be a member of the religion it most hates. Coincidence? I think not.

In any event, yet another Christofascist has linked the enemies of the Christian Right … Satan and Leftism. The Devil himself, you see, commands the political Left in the US (WebCite cached article):

End Times broadcaster Jan Markell hosted Michael Coffman this weekend to discuss his new book Plundered: How Progressive Ideology is Destroying America, which argues that progressives seek to engineer America’s demise in order to create a world government.

Markell, of course, claimed Satan was behind it all.

“Satan has used in some cases evil people, in some cases he’s used well-meaning people, but nonetheless the formula of progressivism doesn’t work, it is totally destructive,” Markell said. “These folks would say they don’t need God because they are God, government is a God.”

A lot of people toss the term “demonizing” around, although they almost always use it metaphorically. But Markell is not. She means it literally: Progressives are working with the “the ‘Real’ Satan” — Lucifer, aka the Devil himself — and his demonic hordes.

Note that she’s lying when she says Progressives state explicitly that “government is a God.” I know no Leftists or Progressives who’ve ever said any such thing. She’s woven that accusation out of whole cloth, because she’s projecting her own subjective worldview onto her enemies. This makes her a member of my “lying liars for Jesus” club.

There is, of course, the obligatory Right-wing radio appeal to food hoarding:

Later in the interview, she called on people to begin storing “at least six months’ worth of food” before progressive policies bring about hyper-inflation, which she says may occur “in the next couple of years” and will “throw our economy into such a turmoil that we don’t get food delivered for as much as six or eight months.”

I wonder if there are advertisers on these shows benefiting from this appeal?

Audio clips are available right here:

Because I’m a non-believer, the R.R. would certainly throw me in with Leftists, Communists, Islamists, and yes, the dreaded Satanists — even if I don’t fully agree with any of them. In their minds, I’m a committed member of the Vast Left-Wing/Satanist Conspiracy. If that’s the case, then count me among them! All hail Satan!*

Photo credit: PsiCop original graphic, based on Mt 12:30a.

* Just kidding: I can no more “hail” the metaphysical being known as Satan, than I could worship a deity or anything else of the sort.

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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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