Posts Tagged “religionist”

LGBT flag map of ConnecticutI assume my readers know about the vile practice known as “conversion therapy” (aka “reparative therapy,” and some other innocuous-sounding circumlocutions). Its proponents say it’s a way to help gays become straight, and they’ve been pushing it on the country for a couple decades now (WebCite cached article).

In the 1970s, the psychiatric profession stopped treating homosexuality as a mental illness, but shortly afterward, Christianists took up the cause, and cooked up “ministries” intended to “deliver” gays from their “sin.” Among the most famous of those was Exodus International, which more or less shut down just a few years ago (cached).

By the early 90s the “convert the gays” movement was almost entirely fueled by evangelical Christianity, even though a few psychologists like Joseph Nicolosi tried to give their weird pray-the-gay-away “treatments” a clinical veneer, having signed on as consultants to their ministries (cached). The bottom line is that “conversion therapy” is not only ineffective, it’s harmful to many who participate (cached). It’s pseudoscientific, and frequently barbaric (in the case of the “aversion techniques” they use). It also provides a pretext for the mistreatment of gays.

While my home state of Connecticut is as deep-blue Democratic/Liberal as one can get — and was among the first states to permit gay marriage (in 2008) — it’s taken a while to address “conversion therapy” here. As CT Mirror reports, though, the state House of Representatives approved a law to ban it in the Nutmeg State (cached):

The House of Representatives voted 141 to 8 Tuesday to pass and send to the Senate a bill that would make Connecticut one of a half-dozen states barring conversion therapy, the discredited practice of trying to change the sexual orientation of young homosexuals.

“This practice and treatment is not science, it’s science fiction,” the bill’s chief House sponsor, Rep. Jeffrey Currey, D-East Hartford, told his colleagues.

The bill would enshrine in state law the conclusions of the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and other national associations of health professionals: Homosexuality is not a disease, and forcing conversion therapy on a minor can be harmful.

Only 8 legislators voted against it … all Republicans (no surprise there!). One of them offered this boneheaded excuse for her “nay” vote:

[Ann] Dauphinais [of Killingly] said passage put Connecticut on a slippery slope of further interfering with parental rights.

“I believe this is a violation of the rights of parents to make choices they see as in the best interest of children,” Dauphinais said.

I guess she’d approve of parents treating their kids’ maladies with bloodletting, then … right? That is, after all, the natural consequence of her stated wish that parents have absolute, unfettered freedom to do as they wish to their kids. No?

What a fucking moron!

If the bill passed 141-8 in the House, I expect it will get through the state Senate, too, although probably with a little tighter margin.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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'Miracles: It's all smoke and mirrors' / Motifake.ComReligious believers have an odd way of wringing “miracles” out of what are actually disasters. Take, for example, some tornados that tore through eastern Texas yesterday (WebCite cached article). Amid the mayhem and destruction that these tornadoes wrought, though — as CNN reports — Christians in Texas managed to track down “a miracle” (cached):

Parishioners say it’s a miracle that no one was harmed when a deadly tornado hit a Texas church on Saturday night.

About 45 people had gathered to honor high school graduates at the parish hall of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Emory, a town outside of Dallas, Texas.

If you’re like me, by this point in the story, you had in mind a vision of a church full of worshippers who, in the middle of their service, found their church vacuumed up neatly from around them by the tornado. They were magically shielded from injury by the awesome metaphysical power of the Almighty.

But if you thought this, you’d be wrong. Instead of divine intervention, it turns out there was — instead! — merely human intervention, as the story immediately relates:

They received a warning to take cover because a tornado was approaching, and decided to take refuge in a hallway between the parish hall and the main part of the church, said Peyton Low, director of public affairs for the Diocese of Tyler.

So, instead of the Almighty magically saving these people, what happened was that mere-human meteorologists warned them about the tornado; their warning was conveyed to them by a disaster-warning system built and staffed by mere humans; and the mere humans in the church figured out where to go that would keep them safe.

No divine intervention was needed … at all. Human beings, themselves, managed to prevent injury in this particular case. Yes, that’s “human beings.” Not “God.” S/he/it had nothing to do with it.

The Christians of Emory will, no doubt, not care one iota about this. No doubt they much prefer giving their deity credit for what the human beings managed to do, here, and call it a “miracle” rather than pat themselves on the back for having handled this disaster correctly. For some reason, they’ll be emotionally comforted by this effort to rob humanity of credit for what it has accomplished. I have no idea what that reason is, but they’ll do it.

In the meantime, they’ll conveniently forget all the people who weren’t magically saved by divine intervention (cached):

Five people were killed and at least 50 people were taken to hospitals after a tornado hit a small city in East Texas on Saturday.

Officials confirmed late Saturday night a total of five people had died, CBS Dallas / Fort Worth reports [cached]. None of the victims had been formally identified as of Saturday night.

These tornadoes weren’t a “miracle” for the 5 people who died or the 50 hospitalized. It was anything but a miracle for them. Rather, for them it was a fucking disaster. A catastrophe.

This is just another example of religious believers engaging in their time-honored tradition of cherry picking, selecting just the tiny little bits of things that grant them emotional comfort, while brazenly ignoring everything else which happens to contradict their irrational beliefs. What’s troubling is that the parts of this story Christians are purposely ignoring, are injuries and deaths. Is life really so cheap, in their eyes, that they can be so casual about it?

Photo credit: Motifake.Com.

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Unsplash, via PixabayThe Commonwealth of Kentucky has an awful lot of problems … or so I thought. I mean, last I knew, it’s home to some of the most impoverished counties in the entire US (WebCite cached article). It’s taken decades for Kentucky to devolve into its current dismal status. Yes, it’s been hurt by the loss of coal production, but no, this wasn’t caused by the coal-hating Barack HUSSEIN Obama; coal jobs have diminished steadily since the 1980s, under presidents of both parties.

But it seems the Bluegrass State has solved all of its problems, including the deep poverty of its eastern reaches, because Frankfort has moved on to dealing with problems it doesn’t have: Namely, not enough Bible-thumping. As the Christian Post reports, Kentucky’s governor bravely signed a bill that establishes a foundation for Bible classes in the commonwealth’s public schools (cached):

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin recently signed a bill into law that authorizes public school boards to allow schools to offer elective Bible literacy courses and provides state guidance to help establish such classes, local news outlets have reported [cached].

According to the Ohio County Monitor, Bevin, a Republican, has signed House Bill 128 into law, which provides guidance to schools as they begin offering students the ability to sign up to take Bible courses.

The bill, which was introduced by Rep. DJ Johnson, passed overwhelmingly in the state’s senate 34 to 4 late last month.

The CP article includes obligatory references to the historic nature of the Bible and how important it is to civilization and yada yada yada. It even included this claim:

“Additionally, studies show that students that have a higher level of Bible literacy also tend to have higher GPAs,” [Republican representative DJ] Johnson continued.

No citations to these “studies” are provided, and I’m willing to bet either that no such thing exists, or they were commissioned by religious groups, in which case their results are suspect at best.

The article also points out the classes designed as a result of this law are to be “electives” only. The problem is that large swaths of Kentucky are packed with militant Christianists, so in many schools these “elective” classes won’t really be “electives”; nearly all kids will take them as a matter of course, and the few who dare not do so will be harassed and bullied. Yes, it will happen, no matter how vehemently the people promoting these classes insist they won’t permit it.

As someone who’s studied the Bible both from a religious and secular perspective, I don’t deny that secular Bible-literacy courses can have value for kids. The problem is, will the folks who teach these classes be willing to limit themselves to a secular approach? Will they have the restraint not to use them as an opportunity to proselytize? I’m not sure all of them will be able to resist the temptation to do so.

Really, what’s going on here is a kind of Bible-worship, or treating the Bible as though it were an idol. The people behind this law think that exposing kids to it will magically make them Christianists just like themselves. They really need to stick crowbars into the Bibles they long ago slammed shut, though, and actually read them for once … because it contains admonitions against idolatry and other forms of magical thinking.

At any rate, allow me to congratulate the Commonwealth on its achievement. Obviously there’s nothing wrong with Kentucky any more, and all that’s left is the passage of laws to promote Bible-reading. Well done, Kentuckyites! You must be so proud!

Photo credit: Unsplash, via Pixabay.

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Side of Polk cty (FL) school bus, via the (Lakeland, FL) LedgerWe all know that militant Christianists are a sanctimonious and hateful bunch. They think nothing of going after whoever they want, whenever their overpowering sense of moral superiority overcomes them. (Which happens quite often.) Their problem is, they’re infantile, so when they get caught up in whatever made them sanctimoniously angry, they can’t — and more importantly, won’t — control themselves.

A great example of this took place in Florida. A Polk county bus driver, as the (Lakeland, FL) Ledger reports, told the child of two mothers that his entire family is hell-bound (WebCite cached article):

The Polk County School District has placed a bus driver on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation into accusations that she told a second-grade boy he and his moms are going to hell because of his parents’ same-sex relationship.

Bus driver Violeta Jacobo didn’t face disciplinary action after an initial review of the incident, causing community members to speak out in support of the boy’s mom, Nathaly Encarnacion, and their family.

Initially, the school district had “investigated” and determined nothing untoward had happened. Jacobo’s paid administrative leave, and the promise of a second investigation, only came about due to an online petition. Some courage the Polk county school district has … they had to be pushed into doing the right thing!

First, and most obviously, I have to ask what this “paid administrative leave” bullshit is? How is this any kind of meaningful punishment? It’s actually a free vacation.

Second, what ethical person goes after a child when it’s his/her parents that s/he has a beef with? Seriously!? How is this behavior acceptable, even in dour Christianist terms? What is the point in doing such a thing? I think it’s all about cowardice; Jacobo didn’t have the courage to speak with the two mothers, so instead she felt free to demean a second-grader.

Photo credit: The (Lakeland, FL) Ledger.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

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'Brave Sir Robin / Nearly fought the fierce dragon of Agnor, almost stood up to the vicious Chicken of Bristol, wet himself at the Battle for Badon Hill' from Monty Python & the Holy Grail / Lewis Pitt, via PinterestOne of the realities behind the folks who run terrorist outfits is that, despite their bluster and braggadocio, they’re almost always sniveling cowards. That’s why terrorism — i.e. going after innocents and the defenseless — is their modus operandi. They only attack when they know they’ll win and when there won’t be much of a fight. This is as true of ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh/whatever-the-fuck-you-want-to-call-that-savage-brood as it is of any other.

Oh sure, they’re proud to announce they’re doing al-Lah’s will, and they’re holy warriors waging a sacred jihad and all of that self-righteous crap … but really, they’re all cowards. They chose to strike in a time and place that they knew would be easy, and never ventured into places like Turkey or Iran who’d be sure to fight back … and fight back hard. They enslaved and raped Yazidi women, for example — as though that campaign could have imperiled them.

Well, now that the Iraqi military decided to grow a pair and take them on, ISIS has been hemmed in, and losing key territory. And as Reuters reports, it’s reached the point where their leader has flown the coop (Google cached article):

U.S. and Iraqi officials believe the leader of Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has left operational commanders behind with diehard followers to fight the battle of Mosul, and is now hiding out in the desert, focusing mainly on his own survival.

It is impossible to confirm the whereabouts of the Islamic State “caliph”, who declared himself the ruler of all Muslims from Mosul’s Great Mosque after his forces swept through northern Iraq in 2014.

But U.S. and Iraqi intelligence sources say an absence of official communication from the group’s leadership and the loss of territory in Mosul suggest he has abandoned the city, by far the largest population center his group has ever held.

It turns out that cowardly tactics has been the way al-Baghdadi has lived for a while:

From their efforts to track him, they believe he hides mostly among sympathetic civilians in familiar desert villages, rather than with fighters in their barracks in urban areas where combat has been under way, the sources say.

Even if al-Baghdadi’s so-called “state” is completely destroyed, that’s not to say he and his outfit won’t continue to be dangerous:

Although the loss of Mosul would effectively end Islamic State’s territorial rule in Iraq, U.S. and Iraqi officials are preparing for the group to go underground and fight an insurgency like the one that followed the U.S.-led invasion.

Still, it’s nice to see this monster finally show the world his true colors … which is ISIS black, but with a nice, wide yellow stripe down the back.Bye-bye, little Abu Bakr. Bye-bye!

Photo credit: Top, from Monty Python & the Holy Grail / Lewis Pitt, via Pinterest; middle, from Elf, via Giphy.

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Police cover the body of a suspect outside Watts Hall on the campus of Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, following an attack on campus that left several people injured on Monday, Nov. 28, 2016. The man, identified as Abdul Razak Ali Artan, plowed his car into a group of pedestrians and began stabbing people with a butcher knife Monday before he was shot to death by a police officer. (Photo: Adam Cairns, AP / via USA Today)By now my readers will have heard of the strange car-&-knife assault on the campus of Ohio State University*. It turns out the attacker was a Muslim — a Somali refugee no less — who, as USA Today reports, somehow thought that attacking people on a college campus would protect his fellow Muslims elsewhere in the world (WebCite cached article):

An Ohio State University student has been identified as the suspect behind the gruesome attack Monday on the school’s campus.…

[The attacker] was born in Somalia and living in the United States as a legal permanent resident. Investigators discovered a message he posted on a Facebook page before the attack in which he expressed anger about the treatment of Muslims around the world, according to reports from multiple news outlets, citing unidentified law enforcement officials.

Maybe it’s because I have an overly rational brain, but I’m not quite clear on the connection between the people this fucker drove into, and then stabbed, and attacks on Muslims around the world. I’m aware of no direct connection.

But then, I’m just an insolent, god-hating agnostic heathen, and can’t possibly expect to comprehend such high and holy things, now, can I?

I can only conclude the attacker objected solely to Americans killing Muslims, and thought a terror attack would prevent that … but that he didn’t object to Muslims killing other Muslims — because after all, there’s a fucking helluva lot more of that going on in the world than there is of violence against Muslims by any other kind of person. No?

Oh wait. As usual, I’m insolently attempting to make rational sense of a high, sacred mission, and that’s simply not allowed. Isn’t it? I mean, how horrific of me to dare try to logically evaluate this kind of holy pursuit!

Note, there’s a large Somali community in the Columbus, OH area, and this isn’t the first time a Somali Muslim there has gone on a terrorist rampage. Back in February, a sanctimoniously-enraged Somali Muslim stormed into an Israeli restaurant there, brandishing a machete, also apparently in defense of the world’s wickedly oppressed Muslims (cached). Or something.

So go ahead, Muslims. Please. By all means, pin the blame for everything bad that’s ever happened to one of you on the US. And in turn use that blame to justify attacking Americans wherever you go. Because obviously, they deserve to die. Right? Go ahead and continue to ignore all the Muslim-on-Muslim violence that goes on, including the long history of conflict between your religion’s two major sects … which predates the existence of the US by more than a millennium. Yeah, obviously, all of that means nothing whatsoever … but when the US reacts to Islamist terror, well, that just can’t be fucking tolerated for one second, now, can it!?

Maybe it’s time for Muslims to get a grip on themselves, and each other, and start taking responsibility for their own religion, fercryinoutloud. Stop blaming others for one’s own misfortunes, and stop letting extremism slide.

Note, I’ve consistently asked the same of Christians, and Jews, and people of every other religion, too. Whatever religion one happens to belong to, is one’s religion. One owns it. It belongs to those who follow it, and they must take responsibility for it. If they don’t respect it enough to police it and stamp out extremism within it, they can’t rationally expect outsiders, such as myself, to respect it, either … or to respect them for belonging to it.

*I absofuckinglutely refuse to call it “‘THE’ Ohio State University.” What an asinine and juvenile fucking marketing gimmick that is.

Photo credit: Adam Cairns / AP, via USA Today.

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SiegeOfAcre1291For almost a year now, I’ve said the movement I call “the Great Neocrusade” — i.e. an effort by fierce Rightists in the US to eradicate Islam from their precious “Christian nation” — turned violent. There’s been a lot of vigilante “justice” meted out, over the last year, to various Muslims (and to non-Muslims who were assumed to be Muslims). The Neocrusaders would say this is just a counter-Islamist-terror campaign, except for the fact that none of the victims were terrorists, and hadn’t said or done anything (aside from appearing Muslim) to make anyone suspect they were terrorists. They simply happened to cross the path of one or more sanctimoniously-enraged Neocrusaders.

The reality is that — notwithstanding events like the San Bernardino, Boston Marathon, and Ft Hood massacres — Islamist terror is still extremely rare in the US. Americans are more likely to fall prey to domestic, Right-wing terror, and vastly more likely to be victimized by ordinary, simple, mundane sociopaths not motivated by any religion or particular ideology at all. So really, there’s no reason for Neocrusaders to stomp around beating up on random Muslims — even if they view it as justified in order to save Americans from terrorism.

You’d be surprised where Neocrusaders are lurking. There are more of them than you think, and not just in cosmopolitan parts of the country (i.e. big cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, etc.) where one expects to find Muslims and other foreign faiths. They can be found even among the reserved, quiet, pious folk of “middle America.” An example of this, as KWCH-TV in Wichita KS reports, is a plot the feds recently broke up in the “heartland” town of Garden City, KS (WebCite cached article):

Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall says Curtis Allen, 49, Gavin Wright, 51, and Patrick Stein were all charged with domestic terrorism.

Beall said the three were planning to bomb an apartment complex and mosque in Garden City occupied by a Muslim community of about 120 Somali refugees.

Beall said the men planned to carry out the attack on Nov. 9, the day after Election Day.…

Beall said the men wrote a manifesto, which they wanted published after the bombing.

According to an affidavit, the were a part of a group called the Kansas Security Force and the Crusaders.

“These are militia groups whose members support and espouse sovereign citizen, anti-government, anti-Muslim, and anti-immigrant extremist beliefs,” read the affidavit.

Beall said the men’s arrest is a part of an eight month long investigation.

For the last year, the Right — led by GOP presidential nominee Donald “it’s my own orange hair!” Trump — has blustered and fumed over Muslim refugees living among us, and how horrifically dangerous they are. Supposedly. It’s only natural, after all, because isn’t it obvious that all Muslims everywhere are terrorists, bent on killing “infidels” wherever they may be? Wouldn’t it make sense, therefore — according to Neocrusaders’ thinking — that it’s better to kill them before they kill us?

Fortunately for the country, but unfortunately for the Neocrusaders, those Somali refugees in Kansas aren’t very likely to become terrorists … but sanctimonious Christianists don’t let little things like “facts” get in the way of their towering fury.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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