Posts Tagged “religious right”

Jesus Facepalm: He gave up too so please stop this foolishness (Demotivators; defunct)Honestly, although I’ve posted many stories along these lines, it brings me no joy to do so. It’s not as though I like heaping derision on people like the one I’m about to mention. But at the same time, the topic I’m addressing here isn’t something that can be ignored. You see, Christians love to say that morality comes only from belief in God, and more specifically, from their God. They say that the more people believe in their God, the better off everyone will be, because everyone will be morally upright. Religious Rightists in particular often demand that Americans turn to God (or return to God) in order to alleviate all of society’s ills.

The problem with this sort of thinking is that it’s just not fucking true! Believers in deities, which includes Christians, are not — as it turns out — any more or less moral than any other segment of the population. Yet, they keep on bellyaching that more Americans need to be Christian, usually their own particular variety of Christian, as though this reality weren’t the case. And they use their assertion of moral superiority in order to rationalize imposing their religion on everyone.

Hence, when notable examples that run contrary to this trope come up, I must mention them. Because they’re object lessons in the reality of both religion and human nature that shouldn’t be ignored, merely because they’re inconvenient.

The latest politician-crusader for Jesus who turned out not to be very morally upright after all, as the Indianapolis Star reports, is Judson McMillin, floor leader of the Indiana House (WebCite cached article):

Rep. Jud McMillin, a rising star in the state’s Republican Party, abruptly resigned Tuesday.

The Indianapolis Star has learned that the surprise resignation came after a sexually explicit video was sent via text message from McMillin’s cellphone. It’s unclear who sent the text or how broadly it was distributed.

The Brookville Republican sent a separate text message apologizing to his contacts for “anything offensive” they may have received after he said he lost control of his cellphone.

McMillin claimed his cellphone had been stolen in Canada. But it remains unclear if it actually had been stolen, or who sent out the video in the first place.

The reason this is significant is that McMillin was a chief among the Indiana legislators who’d campaigned to legalize discrimination against gays and others, in the name of “religious liberty,” earlier this year. He did this because, apparently, the Christians of Indiana were being ruthlessly oppressed by gays. Or something.

As the Star mentions, though, this sexting scandal shouldn’t really have been a surprise:

In 2005, his career as an assistant county prosecutor in Ohio came to an end amid questions about his sexual conduct. He admitted to a relationship with the complainant in a domestic violence case he was prosecuting, but he insisted the relationship began after he stepped off the case, according to the Dayton Daily News. He resigned a week after he stopped working on the case.

As something of a counterpoint, the Star article closes by mentioning that another Indiana legislator, this one a Democrat, was also involved in a sexting scandal. Which brings me around to my original point: Christians, including outspoken crusading Christians, aren’t any more morally upright than any other kind of person. They have the same impulses as everyone else. And their religious beliefs simply aren’t sufficient to change them.

Which brings me to a corollary point to consider: If being a Christian isn’t enough to make one change one’s behavior, then really, what value can it have? How truly “divine” can it be, if it carries no power to change people for the better? If moral behavior is something people need to work on, regardless of whether or not they’re Christian, then does being Christian really matter, where morality is concerned? Where, exactly, is the connection between Christianity and morality, if Christians are not — as seems to be the case — any more moral than any other type of human being?

If Christians were honest with themselves and everyone else, they’d admit being troubled by this. They’d admit their beliefs don’t make them morally superior. And they’d stop telling everyone else that they’re immoral because they’re not Christians. Because all those things are lies — and they fucking well know it, even if they won’t admit it.

Photo credit: Demotivators (defunct).

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On the heels of presidential candidate Ben Carson’s idiotic Islamophobic yammering, and my release of a static page on this blog explaining what the Great Neocrusade is and what’s wrong with it, the furious Christofascist Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council repeated that Muslims don’t have freedom of religion in the US. Right Wing Watch reports on his claim, and includes audio (WebCite cached article):

On his “Washington Watch” radio program yesterday, Perkins repeated his claim that Islam is not protected under the U.S. Constitution.

While discussing GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson’s recent statement that he would never support a Muslim candidate for president, along with the claims of Kim Davis’ critics that a clerk would never receive such praise from the Religious Right had she been a Muslim, Perkins railed against media commentators for “interjecting” Islam “into all of these discussions.” He said that the media is using Islam as a “wedge” to divide conservatives, suggesting that Kim Davis’ decision to impose her Christian beliefs onto her county office was different because Islam is not protected in the Constitution, while Christianity is.

“Religious freedom and our liberty is ordered liberty under the Constitution,” Perkins said. “And as Dr. Carson pointed out, and I know this is driving the left crazy, that Islam is not just a religion, Islam is an economic system, it is a judicial system, it is a compressive system which is incompatible with the Constitution. That’s what Dr. Carson said and he happens to be correct.”

This isn’t the first time Tony-boy has said something like this. I noted he said pretty much the same thing just about a year ago. He hasn’t changed his tune a bit since then, I see. But just as was the case back then, Tony-boy is a blatant fucking hypocrite, decrying Islam as “an economic system” and “a judicial system” in addition to being a religion. He conveniently ignores that his own Religious Right movement is simultaneously religious, political, economic, and judicial. For Tony-boy to say Muslims can’t be granted religious freedom because their religion has certain features, but not admitting to them within his own religion — which he says does enjoy religious liberty — is hypocritical. Which he’s not allowed to do, since his own Jesus clearly, unambiguously, and explicitly forbid his followers ever to be hypocrites, at any time or for any reason. He simply can’t do it!

As I’ve noted repeatedly, the problem here is that the Religious Right views Islam as its main rival, on a global scale at least. That it’s a small minority religion here in the US, and that it does seem to have a propensity for violent extremes at the moment, makes Muslims here a convenient and ready target. That doesn’t mean all Muslims are dangerous, even though Tony-boy and his fellow Neocrusaders keep insisting that’s so. They forget there is such a thing as Christian terrorism, too. So yeah, that’s another example of Religious Right hypocrisy … condemning Islam as a “terrorist” religion, but ignoring the terrorists within their own faith. Nice, eh? Fucking hypocrites.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

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Godfrey in his siege tower at the Assault on Jerusalem, July 15, 1099. By Anonymous ([1][2]) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsI’ve just posted a static page on what I call the Great Neocrusade, a movement which comprises a large part of the Religious Right in the US and whose goal is to eradicate Islam from the country, and then the rest of the world. I first called attention to it — and gave it that name — some five years ago. Since then, this foolish and childish effort hasn’t abated one bit.

Along the way, Neocrusaders have done a lot of idiotic things, such as passing laws forbidding shari’a (or Islamic) law, even though the US Constitution already forbids imposing religious law on Americans. They’ve also done some much more harmful things, such as destroying mosques, and even threatening churches under construction merely because they appear to be mosques.

As a student of the Middle Ages, I know quite well how the original Crusades worked out. In short, they didn’t — at all! They were a sequence of expeditions that spanned two centuries, which collectively ended in dismal failure. Yes, I said a failure … in spite of the fact that the First Crusade had apparently succeeded, with the capture of Antioch in 1098, Jerusalem in 1099, and Tripoli in 1109. (The Crusaders also seized Edessa in 1098, but that had long been a Christian city under Armenian leadership, and they got it via betrayal rather than war. Woops!) Edessa had fallen by 1144, Jerusalem by 1187, Antioch in 1268, and Tripoli in 1289, and were at last driven from the Holy Land in 1303 with the fall of their last fort on the island of Arwad.

Undertaking a modern version of a Crusade … albeit not as overtly military as before … seems stunningly foolish — at least, to those who haven’t done what the Religious Right has done, which is to redefine the medieval Crusades as a glorious and morally-upright effort to save Christendom from annihilation (cached) by attacking Saracens thousands of miles away and who were no threat to them. Really, there’s no way a religion with as large a worldwide presence as Islam has could be eradicated from the United States. Not only is it unconstitutional even to try, it simply can’t work! No sane person ought to attempt any such thing.

But clearly we’re not dealing with people who are altogether “sane.” They’ve been driven mad by their rage, and they’re not capable of thinking clearly. They naïvely think that getting rid of Islam will get rid of terrorism and thus make them safe; but this reasoning ignores the uncomfortable reality that there’s terrorism within the ranks of Christianity in the US, which will continue even if the Neocrusaders somehow manage to toss all Muslims out of the country.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Ben CarsonThe laughable religiosity on display in the 2016 GOP presidential primary continues apace. Retired surgeon Ben Carson, darling of the Religious Right since he used an invitation to the National Prayer Breakfast to go after President Obama in person, is one of the candidates trying desperately to get ahead of Donald “it’s my own hair” Trump in the polls. Toward that end, as Politico reports, during an appearance on Meet the Press, Bennie decided to make Islam, of all things, an issue in the election (WebCite cached article):

The president of the United States should not be a Muslim, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson declared during an interview airing Sunday morning. And Islam, a faith professed by some 3 million Americans, is not constitutional, the retired neurosurgeon said.

Carson has some very high-minded reasoning for this:

Asked whether his faith or the faith of a president should matter, Carson said, “It depends on what that faith is.”

“If it’s inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course it should matter. But if it fits within the realm of America and consistent with the constitution, no problem,” he explained, according to a transcript.

Todd then asked Carson, whose rise in the polls has been powered in large part by Christian conservatives, if he believed that “Islam is consistent with the Constitution.”

“No, I don’t, I do not,” he responded, adding, “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.”

Bennie went on to say — quite strangely, given the broad and dire philosophy he’d just stated about Muslims and the Constitution — that it’s acceptable for Muslims to be in Congress. Whew! For a moment there, I’d wondered if Carson would demand that André Carson (cached) and Keith Ellison (cached), resign from the House because they’re Muslims who can’t or won’t follow the Constitution.

Let’s get a few things cleared up right away: First, no Muslim is going to be elected President of the United States any time in the foreseeable future. So this is not something any American of any religion (or of none) needs to be concerned with. Period.

Next, this was clearly Bennie’s appeal to the Great Neocrusade being waged by the Religious Right. As I’ve blogged for a few years now, this is an effort to eradicate Islam from the United States, and is the result of the Christian Right’s fear and hatred of Muslims, because worldwide, their faith is the chief rival of Christianity. Of course, there’s the terrorism factor, too, which Neocrusaders use to good effect — and not without reason. But what they forget is that there’s also such a thing as Christian terrorism, some of which emerged from the ranks of their own political faction, so they’re hypocritical when they condemn Islam as a terrorism-generating religion while conveniently forgetting that their own is sometimes guilty of that, also. (That their own Jesus explicitly and unambiguously forbid them ever to be hypocritical is also something they conveniently forget.)

Oh, and as for Islam supposedly not being “consistent with the Constitution,” let’s not forget that the Religious Right is prone to treating the Constitution as fungible when it’s convenient for them to do so. Because they dislike gay marriage and say it’s against their religion, for instance, they want it outlawed for all Americans, of any religion or of none. They don’t seem to care there are religions — including some Christian churches — which accept gay marriage (cached); they simply can’t tolerate that it exists anywhere.

An illustrative parallel for the Religious Right’s approach to gay marriage would be to compare them to Orthodox Jews who want the sale and consumption of pork and shellfish outlawed for everyone, because it’s against their religion and they object to the idea that anyone might be having pork or shellfish. If Orthodox Jews were to advocate such a thing — which they haven’t, and I doubt they ever will — no one would take that effort seriously. Which is why no thinking American ought to take the R.R. seriously on this issue, either.

What’s more, a significant portion of the Religious Right — including Bennie’s rival candidate Ted Cruz, and erstwhile candidates Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann — are dominionists (cached) or Christian Reconstructionists (cached). These folk want the federal government more or less disbanded, and each of the states converted into an Old Testament-style Christian theocracy. Maybe it’s just me — cynical, godless agnostic heathen that I am — but I don’t see this sort of thinking as being even remotely “consistent with the Constitution,” either. Guess I just don’t have all the lofty spiritual insights that would allow an insolent creature like myself to comprehend all these important, sacred considerations.

I wonder if Bennie will summon the courage to call out any of his dominionist friends over their philosophy, too? Why do I not think he will?

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, via Flickr.

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US Courthouse at CovingtonI was sure Kim Davis, the anti-gay clerk of Rowan county, KY who was briefly jailed for defying a federal judge’s order to issue marriage licenses, wasn’t done trying to derail the process. And it turns out, I was right: She isn’t done! As the Associated Press reports, she may have disobeyed the judge’s orders once again (WebCite cached article):

A Kentucky county clerk may have again defied a federal judge’s order regarding gay-marriage licenses by altering license forms to remove her name, an attorney who represents one of the clerk’s employees told the judge Friday in a court filing.

In a separate filing Friday, attorneys for the gay couples who sued Davis appear to agree.…

[A]ttorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union said in a court filing that the changes on the form require [deputy clerk Brian] Mason to issue the licenses “in his capacity as a ‘notary public’ rather than a deputy clerk of the Rowan County Clerk’s Office,” changes that “do not comply” with the court’s order to not interfere with her employees who issue the licenses.

“These alterations call into question the validity of the marriage licenses issued,” the attorneys wrote in a footnote to a motion asking the judge to certify the case as a class-action lawsuit. “Plaintiffs are exploring legal options to address these material alterations.”

State law requires marriage licenses to be issued under the authority of the county clerk. Someone else, a minister or other officiant, then performs the ceremony and signs the license. The clerk then files the license with county records.

I can’t help but view Ms Davis’s behavior as that of a toddler who, when given an instruction by an adult, creatively searches for ways to manipulate or circumvent the instruction, repeatedly pushing the boundaries of what she’s allowed to do. It really is very childish.

I note, too, that the judge in this case — despite his willingness to jail Ms Davis for a few days — hasn’t been very helpful regarding the licenses themselves:

[David] Bunning, the federal judge, has said he does not know if the licenses are valid and it was up to the gay couples to take that chance.

This waffling aligns with the fact that he caved in to Religious Right pressure and released her. How nice.

This is all very typical of how the Religious Right operates. Even when they know they no longer have any legal leg to stand on, they consistently and repeatedly refuse to bend to reality. They cannot and will never cave in … not willingly, anyway. No matter what happens, they resist … and they resist some more … and they resist even more after that … and they just keep on resisting, resisting, and resisting, forever more. They’ll never stop, until they either get their way, or die off. This is one of the reasons for their success … they wear down their opponents, who eventually get tired and surrender to their demands. So one can hardly fault them for using a successful tactic. Still, that they’d continue waging fights like this one, even after they’d lost the war, shows how irrational and childish they are.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: Talking Points Memo.

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White FlagOne of the Religious Right’s main tactics is a very simple and direct one: Intimidation. They relentlessly bully their opposition at every turn. They never let up, not for any reason, until they get their way. Unfortunately, this is a tactic that works, all too often, because those opposing them typically lose their nerve at some point and drop the fight. This is precisely what just happened in the case of Rowan county KY clerk Kim Davis; as the New York Times reports, she was released from jail today (WebCite cached article):

Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed last week after she defied a court’s order that she issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, was ordered released on Tuesday.…

[Federal district] Judge [David L.] Bunning ordered that Ms. Davis “shall not interfere in any way, directly or indirectly, with the efforts of her deputy clerks to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples.” He said any such action would be regarded as “a violation” of his release order.

That this would happen was virtually a given, once the R.R. — captained by the likes of Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Mat Staver, “Flip” Benham, and an assortment of other militant Christianist characters — had made the whole affair into a fucking circus (cached and cached). It was inevitable that Judge Bunning would bend over for this Christofascist mob. Yes, he ordered her not to interfere with the distribution of marriage licenses, but she doesn’t intend to obey him; her lawyer has said she plans to stop the granting of licenses (cached). And that, you may remember, has been her goal all along. Once she does so, she’ll have scored a victory. And on top of it all, she’ll have made herself a martyr, and will be able to milk that as a career, no matter how her tenure as a county clerk turns out.

At some point, people need to figure out how to “gird up their loins” (to use a Biblical phrase) and stand up to the R.R. consistently, without caving in all the time. Unfortunately, cowardice is far too deeply ingrained in human nature to allow that to happen. More’s the pity.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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crybaby bill-o / Steven Perez, via FlickrJust a couple days ago I blogged about the Christianist phenomenon of “disaster theology” wherein terrible events are blamed on sinfulness, gay marriage, abortion, fornication, etc. in an effort to keep “the faithful” perpetually angry about — well, about whatever-it-is the faithful are supposed to stay worked up about. The WDBJ shooting near Moneta, VA yesterday morning (cached) provides yet another sterling example of “disaster theology.” As Mediaite reports, this one came from the sanctimonious mouth of the sanctimonious Bill O’Reilly (cached):

Bill O’Reilly tonight connected the WDBJ shooting to America “turning away from spiritualism” and saying that nearly every killer he’s ever reported on has believed in nothing.

O’Reilly cited “rise in nihilism and a decline in spiritual belief,” as well as the declining number of Americans identifying as Christians and the increasing number of Americans identifying as religiously innovated, to connect this to what influences killers with “few restraints in their lives.”

O’Reilly went on to make a crazed generalization:

[His guest, psychotherapist Karen Ruskin] insisted that mental illness doesn’t discriminate whether you’re a believer or non-believer, but O’Reilly insisted, “Every single murderer over 40 years that I have covered in these circumstances has been either atheistic, agnostic, no religious basis at all.”

He again asked, “Can you point to one person who committed mass murder recently that had a religious background? You cannot.”

The Mediaite story doesn’t say whether or not Ruskin had any response to that. But I can easily point out murderers … mass murderers, even … who were most assuredly religious:

Oh, and in addition to all of the above … there’s the fact that most people in American prisons aren’t non-religious, which O’Reilly contends. Quite the opposite: It turns out, rather, they’re mostly all Christian (cached).

O’Reilly also whined about people “practicing” nihilism. I have no idea what he could have meant by that. This statement is a non sequitur since nihilism isn’t something a person can “practice.”

He did concede that “jihadism” could be a form of religious violence, but he sectioned it off as its own thing, as though it weren’t relevant to what he was saying. Really, though, it’s indeed quite relevant, if inconvenient for Billy and his Christianism. Jihadism is a fanatical and violent form religionism, an Islamic version of the exact same impulse followed by all the anti-abortion murderers I listed above.

Billy’s claim that all murderers are non-religious is just plain fucking untrue … and Billy himself can’t possibly be so ignorant or stupid as to think it is. He just said it because he knows his audience will lap it up — because they’re all both ignorant and stupid. So that lie puts him in my “lying liars for Jesus” club, where he’ll find a lot of his friends.

One last thing: When Billy talked up the virtues and importance of “spiritualism,” I don’t think that’s what he meant. I think he meant “spirituality.” “Spiritualism” is something else, and I don’t think it’s something a devout Catholic — which Billy supposedly is — would really care much for.

Photo credit: Steven Perez, via Flickr.

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