Posts Tagged “religious right”

Husité - Jenský kodexThe Paris attacks a week ago have brought out the raging Neocrusader which lurks deep inside most Rightists here in the US. GOP presidential contenders have tripped over each other — not to mention themselves — trying to exhibit their Neocrusading credentials. They particularly have their knickers in knots over plans to bring around 10,000 Syrian refugees into the US (WebCite cached article).

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush has said the US should admit only Syrians who can demonstrate they’re Christian (cached). He hasn’t explained how they’re supposed to provide this proof. Plus, wouldn’t a committed Islamist terrorist be able to “fake” being a Christian in order to get into the US, assuming there’s a meaningful way to do so? (And no, don’t assume Islamists would never pass themselves off as belonging to some other religion; there are no safe assumptions one can make about them.)

Then there’s the Christofascist Ted Cruz, Senator from Texas, who likewise called for admitting only Christians from among the Syrian refugees vying for entry (cached). As with the Jebster, Teddie assumes it’s “safe” to admit any Syrian who says s/he’s a Christian, and he doesn’t account for any means to verify such a claim in any serious way.

But neither of these misguided Christianist notions holds a candle to what real estate mogul and leading GOP contender Donald Trump came up with. He’s declared that he wants Muslims in the US to carry special identification and/or be tracked in a special database (cached). Yes, that’s right, he’s proposing we treat Muslims in ways the Third Reich had treated Jews (cached).

Likewise embracing Nazi tactics is Rhode Island state senator Elaine Morgan, who wants Syrian refugees who end up in her state to be placed in special camps (cached). Gee, those sound like concentration camps or internment camps to me.

None of this should be construed as dismissing any possible danger from Syrian refugees. Of course it exists and is real, especially since at least one of the Paris attackers — all of whom were actually European nationals — had returned to Europe posing as a refugee and may have planted a fake or stolen Syrian passport he’d used to come into Greece posing as a refugee (cached). It’s undeniable that a terrorist might try to enter the US as a refugee. But the process of getting to the US is time-consuming — upwards of 18 months, and usually around 2 years (cached). While the vetting process is far from perfect, as administration officials admit (cached) — and Rightists love to use these admissions to justify their Neocrusading impulses — this scenario nevertheless forces enraged Islamist terrorists bent on massacring innocents to sit around and do nothing, somewhere in Europe, for around 2 years before they can reach America. This alone makes it an unlikely tactic for them to use. A much more efficient tactic would be for them to recruit terrorists from among people already in the US or Canada … which has actually been done (cached).

I very much understand the fear these Neocrusaders exploit. It has a basis in reality … but the measures being promised are far too draconian, and won’t guarantee Americans’ safety in any event. What’s needed is better intelligence, and better action on that intelligence, to better pinpoint who the terrorists are, where they are, what they’re up to, and whom they’re in contact with. Broad policies, such as blocking Syrian immigration altogether or applying a specious religious test to it, really aren’t going to be much help, if we’re not willing to apply the intelligence we already have available (which, as Edward Snowden revealed, is extensive).

Not to mention, the average American is much more likely to become a victim of domestic Rightist terror rather than Islamist terror. But that’s another story entirely … !

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Help! Help! I'm being repressed! (Dennis the constitutional peasant, Monty Python & the Holy Grail)Leave it to Texas Senator, GOP presidential candidate, and avowed Christofascist Ted Cruz to take advantage of Friday’s Islamist terror attacks in Paris as a foundation for his own attack on separation of church and state here in the US. He compared those attacks, as CNN reports, with American Christians having to deal with people whom they disapprove of:

Ted Cruz used the backdrop of the terror attacks in Paris as the latest evidence that Christians are under siege, making a pitch on Saturday to evangelicals here that tied together his take-no-prisoners foreign policy with his faith-driven domestic agenda.…

But Friday’s attacks in France recalibrated Cruz’s message and its overall tone: He began the event with a lengthy moment of silence, and Cruz spent nearly as much time discussing the perils of “radical Islamic terrorism” as he did government persecution of Christian merchants and educators.

“Right now as we speak, it is persecuting Christians. It is persecuting Jews. It’s even persecuting fellow Muslims,” Cruz said of Islamic extremists, as part of a prayer at Bob Jones University, a prominent Christian school. “We ask for unity for the people of America, and we ask finally, that you bless this gathering in celebration of the liberty to worship you with all of our hearts, minds and souls.”

This is just the latest example of a longstanding trend of Religious Rightists and preachers using terrible events — natural disasters, massacres, etc. — to promote their unrelenting and dour metaphysics. Usually their appeal is based on the presumption that their God allowed the disaster to happen because he’s angry about something. Other times — such as this one — the appeal is based on the idea that something happened because profane agents in “the World” are out to get all the “True Believers” and destroy them because of their holiness. Or something.

The comparison in this case is not apt, no matter how fervently Teddie or his sheep believe otherwise. Islamist terror has nothing at all to do with wedding-chapel owners who break the law by discriminating against gays, nor has it anything to do with public-school coaches who insist on leading public prayers even though it’s illegal and they’ve been ordered not to. Christianists like Teddie and his ilk love to bellyache and whine that they’re being “persecuted,” but in fact, they’re not. Actually, Christians are in the majority in the US and are not going anywhere. All that’s happened to Christianists is that they’ve lost their once-expansive privilege of controlling others’ lives, imposing their beliefs on everyone, and relegating people they hate to second-class status. That’s just not “persecution,” and Teddie or anyone else endlessly intoning that it is, cannot and will never magically make it so.

The reason these people think this way is because they’re delusionally paranoid, due to their religion’s own inherent psychopathology. They’re just not capable of comprehending that not being in control of everything and everyone — and being unable to harass and oppress people they dislike — isn’t “persecution.” Quite the opposite, it’s “freedom,” the very “freedom” they claim to want to promote. In truth, what they’re after is freedom only for themselves; they expect everyone else to knuckle under and just obey their every whim.

Photo credit: PsiCop graphic, based on Monty Python & the Holy Grail.

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When the Fail is so strong, one Facepalm is not enough / Picard & Riker / based on HaHaStop.ComI’ll grant that Dr Ben Carson, retired neurosurgeon and current Republican candidate for president, is probably a very smart guy in many ways. Correction: Make that “he must be” a very smart guy in many ways. You can’t do the sorts of operations he’s done without being intelligent. It’s just not possible.

That said, being smart doesn’t make one impervious to stupidity on occasion. Even the smartest people are known to be stupid, once in a while (WebCite cached article). For better or worse, that’s just human nature.

And Carson is no exception. Recently, Buzzfeed reported on an ancillary remark Carson had made during a 1998 commencement speech about the Egyptian pyramids having been used for grain storage (cached):

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson told graduates during a commencement address in the late ’90s that he believed the pyramids in Egypt were built by the biblical figure Joseph to store grain, and not, as most archeologists contend, as tombs for pharaohs.

At the 1998 commencement for Andrews University, a school associated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Carson also dismissed the notion that aliens were somehow involved in the construction of the pyramids.

“My own personal theory is that Joseph built the pyramids to store grain,” Carson said. “Now all the archeologists think that they were made for the pharaohs’ graves.”

Let me be clear before we go any further here: The Egyptian pyramids were not built as warehouses — to hold grain, or anything else. They were, instead, tombs. They had some interior chambers, as well as tunnels or shafts to access those chambers which were usually filled in once the late pharaoh was interred, but overall, they weren’t hollow. This has been known for a very long time, and — aside from occasional wild, unsupportable claims by various cranks and pseudo-archaeologists — there’s really no question about it. Yes, even though Carson explicitly dismissed everything archaeologists have to say about them.

One wonders why someone smart would come out with such a demonstrably pseudohistorical claim … but one needn’t look far for an explanation. As Carson himself said, it was the Old Testament hero Joseph, Jacob’s favored son, who built it while he’d been in Egypt and had worked his way up from slave to pharaoh’s vizier due to his magical dream-interpretation ability. Joseph’s story takes up a significant portion of the book of Genesis (chapters 37 through 46). His dream interpretations told him there’d be seven years of plenty followed by seven more of famine; pharaoh put him in charge so he could prepare and allow Egypt to get through the famine without trouble.

Christian fundamentalists like Carson (yes, I’m aware he’s a Seventh-Day Adventist, but that sect is essentially a Protestant fundamentalist one) are convinced the Bible’s contents are historical and accurate, therefore, the patriarch Joseph actually did save Egypt (and subsequently his own people) by stockpiling large amounts of food. Having made this assumption, they further conclude that this event must have left some extant impression on Egypt … which is exactly what Carson said as he continued in his comments at the time:

“But, you know, it would have to be something awfully big if you stop and think about it. And I don’t think it’d just disappear over the course of time to store that much grain.”

Yes, it’s bizarre logic. But it’s precisely what I expect of fundamentalist Christians. They can’t help themselves, because they simply can’t imagine anything else! To them, everything that exists points to their Bible’s literal veracity, without regard to whether or not it actually does. They relentlessly intone the mantra that “archaeology confirms the Bible” even though, in fact, it does not do any such thing.

One thing I’ll give Carson credit for: He did disparage other crank theories that the pyramids had been built by extraterrestrials. That’s been widely claimed by “New Agers” and other assorted nutcases, because they simply can’t imagine the ancients had been capable of building anything so big, and because they keep saying no one knows how the pyramids had been built. In fact, though, the Egyptians really did build them, and we do know precisely how they were built … from primary sources, no less!

Now, Carson might have said this back in 1998 — 17 years ago. So it wouldn’t seem very relevant now. And I wouldn’t have blogged about it. But with the passage of time, Carson hasn’t relented. Having been asked about the Buzzfeed story, CBS News reports he’s sticking by his weird Christian-literalist theory (cached):

Ben Carson stood by his long-held belief about ancient pyramids in Egypt, that they were used to store grain, rather than to inter pharaohs.

Asked about this Wednesday, Carson told CBS News, “It’s still my belief, yes.”

Yes, folks, this is a man who wants to be president. Either he genuinely believes this, in which case he’s clinging to an erroneous notion in order to back up his own irrational metaphysics, or he’s just saying it in order to appeal to Christian fundies who make up a large proportion of GOP primary voters so that they can back up their own irrational metaphysics … but either way, it’s not good.

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Mob with pitchforks / Rockford (IL) Register StarYes, folks, it’s true. There are actually Christians in the US who think freedom of religion is a terrible thing. Or more precisely … they like it, but when applied only to themselves. That is, they think everyone is free to be a Christian — but only a Christian; they’re not free to be anything else (cached), or to have no religion at all.

An example of this sort of thinking was evident late last week in Spring, TX. According to KTRK-TV in Houston, Christians there protested the opening of a “Luciferian” church (cached):

Protest and prayer filled the air outside of Spring’s newest church Friday evening: the Greater Church of Lucifer.…

Some protesters made their way onto the property, only to be escorted off by Harris County Sheriff’s Deputies.

“This is what we get when we have Freedom of Religion,” said protester Christine Weick.

This was the group’s first meeting at its first building, which is smack dab in the middle of Old Town Spring.

There’s more than a little magical thinking going on among this crowd of militant Christianist protesters:

“We are all Christians here, together against this,” [Weick] said. “We ought to be filling up the whole street here that they have to pass through us to get into that church.”

Clearly, Weick thinks that these horrific Luciferians having to run a gantlet of devout Christian protesters will magically make them take Jesus Christ as their Personal Lord & Savior® or something. That, of course, is just as insipid and idiotic as thinking Ten Commandments monuments in courthouses will magically make the whole country law-abiding.

As I always do when I see stories like this, I will issue this challenge to any and all Christianists who sincerely think “religious freedom” applies only to them and no one else: If you really think that, then track me down and force this cynical, godless agnostic heathen to convert to Christianity, whichever form of it you think I’m obliged to join. Go right ahead. Do it. I dare you! Lock and load. I won’t fight back, but I also won’t willingly convert … no matter what you do. That said, you’re free to give it your best shot. And why wouldn’t you? You already think I’m obliged, as an American living in your precious “Christian nation,” to become a Christian. What logical reason would you have not to at least try to make that happen with me?

Photo credit: Rockford Register Star.

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Group of men and women being taken to a slave market Wellcome V0050647Former Arkansas governor and current GOP presidential candidate is another of those gifts that just keeps on giving for agnostic bloggers like myself. The man just keeps on saying insane religionistic things. The latest, as the International Business Times reports, is Huckabee’s endorsement of slavery, of all things (WebCite cached article):

Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee waded into the criminal justice reform waters Wednesday with a novel statement for improving America’s system of prisons: Just sell poor convicts into slavery. Huckabee agreed with Jan Mickelson, the host of a right-wing radio show based in Des Moines, Iowa, after an extended rant in which Mickelson described biblical passages that suggest thieves should be sold into slavery.

The radio host said that the “criminal justice system has been taken over by progressives,” and continued, referencing the biblical Book of Exodus. “It says, if a person steals, they have to pay it back twofold, fourfold. If they don’t have anything, we’re supposed to take them down and sell them,” he said, according to Think Progress [cached].

While I have little sympathy for thieves, whether they’re rich or poor or in-between, I just don’t see enslavement as a justifiable punishment. Prison seems a fitting punishment, as does ordering restitution. But slavery? How fucking barbaric.

One wonders why 21st century Americans like Shucksabee and Mickelson talk as though slavery is a good thing. After all, it’s been outlawed here for 150 years. And it’s outlawed over virtually all of the rest of the planet, too. Humanity has rejected slavery. So why do these guys want it so badly?

The answer is simple. Shucksabee and Mickelson are Biblical literalists, and slavery is in the Bible. Therefore, in their minds, it can’t possibly be a bad thing. As the IBT notes, this is not the first time Mickelson suggested slavery could solve a problem that vexes him — such as illegal immigration (cached).

It’s long past time for more moderate Christians to understand the horrific lengths their more extreme co-religionists will go to in order to follow their dour metaphysics. Irrational notions like Biblical literalism have ramifications, and support for things like slavery is one of them. How much more evident could that be?

Hat tip: Rational Wiki.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Hypocrisy: No one does it better than Christians / MotifakeAny veteran Christian-watcher knows that Christians are as prone to hypocrisy as anyone else. There’s just one tiny little problem with that: The founder of their religion clearly and unambiguously forbid his followers ever to be hypocritical. They cannot be hypocrites, at any time, or for any reason. Here are some of Jesus’ reported words on the matter:

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 7:5)

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 6:42)

And that’s just for starters. There are several other injunctions against hypocrisy in the New Testament. It doesn’t take much effort to find them.

Yet — curiously — Christians appear to have no problem ignoring all of that. They think they’re entitled to be as hypocritical as they wish, any time they wish, and somehow they think their Jesus approves of it (even if his own reported words contradict that).

One of their justifications for being hypocritical is that people of other faiths, or of none, are sometimes hypocritical. But those folk aren’t under Jesus specific and explicit orders never to be hypocritical. Christians, on the other hand, are.

The latest example of some rather obvious Christian hypocrisy comes from the mouth of former pastor, Arkansas governor, and current presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Late last week he fumed about President Barack Obama speaking out in the wake of the Umpqua Community College shooting. His press release, as Mediaite explains, takes Obama to task for it (WebCite cached article):

Mike Huckabee issued a press release tonight, where he blasted President Obama for rushing to politicize the Oregon shooting without knowing the details of the tragedy.

“For this president to make a political pronouncement is at best premature and at worst ignorantly inflammatory,” Huckabee wrote. “Obama can shamelessly try and exploit any tragedy he wants, but it’s clear that gun free zones are sitting duck zones.”

Yes, Obama politicized the shooting. But a lot of people have commented on it, including politicians of every stripe, and a lot of those folks have used it to justify or press their political positions. Politicizing events is not new at all. In fact, it’s routine. So Huckabee’s point is well taken … but it has little value. He may as well have issued a press release saying that water is wet or the sky is blue.

Oh, and contrary to what Shucksabee suggested, Umpqua Community College — despite the Right-wing blustering — was not, in fact, a “gun free zone.” Oregon law allows conceal-carry permit holders to have guns on campus (cached).

But quite aside from his outright lie about the “gun free zone,” during a subsequent appearance on CNN, Shucksabee crossed the line into hypocrisy (cached)

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says the recent spate of mass shootings aren’t because of access to guns, but because of “sin and evil” in the world.…

“We have not so much a gun problem; we have a problem with sin and evil. This is an evil thing, when people kill another person,” Huckabee said. “Whether it’s a pressure cooker or whether it’s a gun, we’re dealing with people who are either deranged or they’re very focused because they want to kill people in the name of terrorism.”

Did you catch that? Shucksabee did precisely what he’d accused Obama of having done, and condemned him for: Using the shooting as a tool for his own purposes. In his case, he cited “sin” as a cause of the shooting, implying the solution is for people to stop “sinning” and (I guess) turn to his deity.

It’s really a form of what I’ve called “disaster theology,” in which religious leaders claim something awful happened because their deity was offended by humanity. Shucksabee and other religious resort to “disaster theology” (or in this case, “massacre theology”) all the time. In a lot of cases it’s truly disgusting, such as when Marion “Pat” Robertson and his late pal Jerry Falwell blamed gays, pagans, abortion doctors, the ACLU and others for the September 11, 2001 attacks (cached).

Look, I get that the guy is running for president and he’s looking for any and all avenues he can use to attack the incumbent. That comes with the territory and is expected. But it’s not good for a Christian — and an ex-pastor at that! — to so openly flaunt his violation of Jesus’ teachings against hypocrisy. Yes, it’s unfair that non-Christians are (seemingly) allowed to be hypocrites while Christians aren’t. But those are the terms of their religion. They picked it. It’s their religion. They should either abide by its teachings, or drop it altogether in favor of something else.

But perhaps worst of all: A former pastor has no fucking excuse whatever for having disobeyed Jesus … none. Not. A. Single. Fucking. One.

Photo credit: Motifake.

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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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