Posts Tagged “religious”

In this Saturday, March 29, 2014 file photo, Aziza Yousef drives a car on a highway in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as part of a campaign to defy Saudi Arabia's ban on women driving. Saudi Arabia says it will allow women to drive for the first time in the ultra-conservative kingdom. The kingdom, which announced the change on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, was the only the country in the world to bar women from driving and for years had garnered negative publicity internationally for detaining women who defied the ban. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File)I’ve blogged many times about Saudi Arabia’s obvious misogyny. Among the ways Saudis repress their women is by making it illegal for them to drive. The Kingdom is the only country on earth that has such a restriction.

It’s a ridiculous restriction that Saudi clerics claim is required by Islam, but no other Islamic country has anything like it, which suggests this probably isn’t the case. They say it’s about “respect” for women (?). One of those clerics, a rather high-ranking one, even claimed that driving was physically harmful for women. That, of course, is a fucking lie … but he said it, and I’ll bet a lot of Saudis believe it.

Well, times are changing, even in the incredibly-reactionary Kingdom. As the Associated Press reports via Religion News Service, the Saudi prohibition on women driving, will soon be lifted (Archive.Is cached article):

Saudi Arabia’s surprise decision to grant women the right to drive in the conservative kingdom marks a significant expansion in women’s rights, but activists said Wednesday it is also only the first step in a long list of demands for equality.

Saudi Arabia was the only country in the world to ban women from driving, and nearly three decades ago women first began agitating for the right to drive, at times facing arrest for their protests and for getting behind the wheel.

The lifting of the ban, which comes into effect next summer, is the most dramatic step yet in a campaign by the king’s son, 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to modernize the kingdom. The young royal has been promoting change as needed to boost the country’s economy and ease international criticism, but he risks a backlash from powerful clerics from the ultraconservative Wahhabi interpretation of Islam.

It’s all well and good, I guess, that the monarchy is behind this rule-change, but it’s far from immediate, and it’s sure to be resisted, as the article mentions:

Almost immediately after the news broke, an Arabic hashtag on Twitter was trending that said: “The women of my house won’t drive.”

I can only hope things will continue improving for Saudi women.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Hasan Jamali.

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WTC smoking on 9-11Update: Since I first posted this, another instance of Moore’s “massacre theology” has come to light; please see below.

I’ve blogged a few times already about Alabama’s Judge Roy Moore, who’s famous for having been thrown off that state’s Supreme Court twice for judicial misconduct, as a result of his dour and angry Christofascism.

Never one to be ashamed of anything he says he does in the name of his Jesus, Moore is running for US Senate this year. So far, he’s doing very well — which shouldn’t be surprising, Alabamans sure love their Christofascists.

During a speech in a church (where else?) earlier this year, as CNN reports, Moore engaged in some disaster theology (Archive.Is cached article):

Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore suggested earlier this year that the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks might have happened because the US had distanced itself from God.

Moore, a hardline conservative running against fellow Republican and incumbent Sen. Luther Strange in a runoff primary race, made the comments in February during a speech at the Open Door Baptist Church, a video reviewed by CNN’s KFile shows.…

“Because you have despised His word and trust in perverseness and oppression, and say thereon … therefore this iniquity will be to you as a breach ready to fall, swell out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instance,'” Moore said, quoting Isaiah 30:12-13. Then he added: “Sounds a little bit like the Pentagon, whose breaking came suddenly at an instance, doesn’t it?”

Moore, continued, “If you think that’s coincidence, if you go to verse 25, ‘there should be up on every high mountain and upon every hill rivers and streams of water in the day of the great slaughter when the towers will fall.’ You know, we’ve suffered a lot in this country, maybe, just maybe, because we’ve distanced ourselves from the one that has it within his hands to heal this land.”

Later in the same speech, Moore suggested God was upset at the United States because “we legitimize sodomy” and “legitimize abortion.”

CNN goes on to explain that Moore is hardly the first militant Christianist to play this particular game. Rather famously, the late Jerry Falwell and Marion “Pat” Robertson did so, just a couple days after the attacks (cached). And Moore himself had previously said the same thing.

The tendency of sanctimonious religionists to use catastrophes in this way, claiming they’re God’s way of getting people to do what they (the religionist, that is) wants, is truly hideous. Essentially they’re admitting their deity is nothing more than a cosmic terrorist — no different, really, than the terrorist who struck London earlier today (cached). I’m not sure why people actually want to worship a cosmic terrorist, and not only give in to his/her/its demands themselves, but force the rest of humanity to do so as well — but clearly they do.

And that, I’m afraid, is the problem here. This kind of talk is only going to help Moore’s campaign for Senate. There are a ton of people in Alabama, as well as the rest of the country, who love hearing that their deity is an almighty cosmic terrorist, and who will conclude that Moore is a righteous and holy man for having said so. We live in a dangerous country, folks. Very dangerous!

Update: CNN’s Kfile continued delving into Moore’s past material, and uncovered another example of his raging “massacre theology” (cached):

“We are losing the acknowledgment of God, and I’m standing here talking, to Christians and Pastors, and I’m telling you we’re losing the acknowledgment of God,” Moore said, before reciting several verses from the Old Testament book of Hosea that deal with lack of knowledge of God.

“You wonder why we’re having shootings, and killings here in 2017? Because we’ve asked for it,” Moore said. “We’ve taken God out of everything. We’ve taken prayer out of school, we’ve taken prayer out of council meetings.”

Moore lies, of course, when he says that “we’ve taken God out of everything.” No such thing has happened —
anywhere in the US. There’s still plenty of God all over the country. And he fucking well knows it, too. (Hat tip for this update: Friendly Atheist.)

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Jesus weptBelieving in their supposedly omnipotent, infinite, omniscient, yet benevolent creator-deity has tied followers of the Abrahamic religious tradition in logical knots for centuries. It’s difficult to look out at a world full of needless suffering and wanton evil and decide it was all designed, built, and is currently presided over by an almighty being who also disapproves of evil.

It’s a conundrum that led to any number of theodicies, or rationales intended to reconcile this logical conflict. All of them, however, fail the test of logic — even the vaunted and oft-spoken-of “free will” theodicy. Despite the utter failure of all known theodicies, Abrahamic believers nonetheless doggedly continue trying to justify believing in the illogic of a supposedly benevolent, omnipotent deity whose creation is rife with needless suffering and tons of unnecessary evil.

I just heard about a sterling example of the laughable extremes they’ll go to in order to rationalize this brazenly illogical concept. As Mediaite reports, Houston megapastor Joel Osteen recently came up with something so ridiculous, that it defies description, and is as sadly pathetic as it is hilarious (Archive.Is cached article):

During his televised sermon today, Osteen seemed to reference the storm that devastated huge swaths of Texas and Louisiana. And the way the preacher told it, hurricanes like Harvey are just God’s way of saying you can take a great and life-altering tragedy.

Bringing up a biblical story involving Jesus and his apostles sailing across a lake during a hurricane-like storm, Osteen said that Jesus didn’t wake up during the squall because he knew they could handle it. “If they were all going to die, he would have gotten up without them having to wake him up,” he exclaimed.…

“The reason it may seem like God is not waking up is not because he’s ignoring you, not because he’s uninterested, it’s because he knows you can handle it,” he stated.

Osteen added, “Take it as a compliment.”

The people of Houston, and other places, should “take it as a compliment” that a hurricane flooded their homes and businesses, and even killed some people — the death toll is up to about 60 as I type this (cached)? Seriously!? How the fuck did Osteen even say something that ludicrous with a straight face?

The irony here is that what Osteen said makes perfect sense, given the premises posed by the Abrahamic religious tradition. It follows naturally from the position that there is a creator-deity who’s all-powerful, all-knowing, yet who chooses (for unknown reasons) to allow horrific things to happen to people. It’s an unavoidable conclusion … given all of that. If the idiocy of such a statement doesn’t wake Abrahamic believers up to the obvious absurdity of their beliefs, then I guess nothing will.

P.S. That’s the second time in just a few days that a Texan dealing with Hurricane Harvey has said something so asinine as to force me to tag a post “you’ve gotta be fucking kidding me.” What in hell is wrong with the Lone Star State, anyway (aside from the tragedy of the hurricane)?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Girl praying / StockSnap, via PixabayAll over the world, people want to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey, which flooded Houston and caused lots of damage elsewhere around the Gulf of Mexico. And support is streaming in. But too often — as one would expect of the affected region, given that it’s all part of America’s Bible Belt — solutions keep veering back to religion. I already blogged about how Texas’ secretary of the state turned away help from the province of Quebec, asking for prayers instead. But as Real Clear Politics and other outlets report, our Groper-in-Chief also declared today a day of prayer for Harvey’s victims (Archive.Is cached article):

The president announced Friday that this upcoming Sunday would be a national day of prayer for the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

“I just authorized and signed a proclamation for prayer,” the president said. “And we’re going to have, on Sunday, a prayer Sunday… So I think it’s going to be something to see and to witness. Will be — it’s been a long time, and our country deserves it, frankly.”

It’s time for a little truth, here. Prayers aren’t going to do a fucking thing for anyone, because they’re useless. What Harvey’s victims need — and deserve — is meaningful, tangible help. For the most part, that means they don’t need “things”; monetary donations are actually the best way to help (except if you happen to be nearby, and can either deliver needed items directly to agencies you know can take them, or physically help by providing shelter or with cleanup and rebuilding). Here are some options:

There are other options, too, so look around, and avoid obvious scams. Here are a few pages that list bona fide options:

Note that I don’t advocate donating to the American Red Cross; they have a track record of collecting a ton of money, but not spending it where donors intended, or worse, not even being certain where it’s going (cached). That history goes back a very long way, and in spite of scandals that followed from their responses to Superstorm Sandy (cached), the Haiti earthquake (cached), Hurricane Katrina (cached), and even the 9/11 attacks (cached), the Red Cross has refused to change their ways. I’m not the only one saying this about the Red Cross, either (cached).

But even if giving to the Red Cross doesn’t trouble you, please know they’ve already set donation records and have all the money they can use. The charities I’ve listed above aren’t so donation-rich, meaning your donations there will have a much greater effect on their operations.

Photo credit: StockSnap, via Pixabay.

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Flag-of-QuebecHurricane Harvey has devastated the coast of Texas, and particularly the city and environs of Houston, which was flooded. People around the country, and the world, have provided all kinds of assistance. One would think the government of Texas welcomes such aid from anyone willing to provide it.

But, incredibly, they don’t.

As CBC News reports, Texas refused aid from the province of Quebec, and wants only their prayers instead (Archive.Is cached article):

Quebec is offering to help Houston in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and is at the ready for when officials there say they need it, says Minister of International Relations Christine St-Pierre.

St-Pierre says she spoke with Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos Tuesday early afternoon, offering to send equipment and crews to help restore power and to provide blankets, beds, pillows and hygienic products.…

Pablos declined the aid for now, instead asking for “prayers from the people of Quebec,” the minister said. “He was very touched by the fact we called him.”

Now, I get that Texans are proud, viewing themselves as independent and resilient … but in the face of a disaster like this, help is help, and (I would think) they wouldn’t turn their noses up at it. When we in New England and the northeast were assailed by Hurricane Irene, the Snowtoberocapalypse, and Superstorm Sandy, utility crews from Hydro-Québec helped us rebuild … and we appreciated it. Pablos should have swallowed his Texan pride, said, “Thanks, send what you can!” and left it at that.

But no. Instead of tangible assistance, he wants prayers instead. Yes, prayers … that won’t accomplish a single fucking thing. I’m going to have to tag this one you’ve gotta be fucking kidding me.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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'If you KNOW about it, but will not CORRECT it, then you CONDONE it!' / PsiCop original graphicThis morning on his satellite-radio show, Michael Smerconish brought up the case of Wendy Bell, a local television anchor in Pittsburgh who’d been fired because she put something racially insensitive on Facebook (WebCite cached article). He mentioned it because she’d just initiated a lawsuit against the station over her firing (cached).

I bring this up not in order to discuss Ms Bell’s case specifically — it’s part of a larger story that began in early March with the massacre of a family in a Pittsburgh suburb (cached) — nor do I have any way to know how her lawsuit will turn out. What I can say, is that, without regard to whether or not the TV station that employed her should have done so, they’d fired her over what she’d put on Facebook. And they did it for the simple reason that it made them look bad.

This contrasts mightily from what happens when other kinds of folks, particularly preachers and pundits, say things that are often far worse than what Ms Bell said. All too often, they suffer no consequences — at all. On the contrary, extremists and lunatics are allowed to rant and rave any way they want, without being punished and without having to endure any negative repercussions.

We had a few examples of this recently in the wake of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando FL. Multiple religionists said some horrible things, including expressing the hope that some of those wounded would soon die of their injuries. The only consequence any of those folks have suffered is that the church run by one of them has been told its lease will run out early next year (cached). Otherwise, none of them has been punished. (And I’m not sure how much of a hardship losing a lease will turn out to be. So that’s not much of a consequence.)

Still, it’s not just these creatures I’m talking about. Christianists have a very long history of saying horrific things but never being punished for them. For example, Jerry Fallwell — with Marion “Pat” Robertson’s assent — said that the September 11, 2001 attacks were caused by “pagans,” “abortionists,” “feminists,” “the ACLU,” “People for the American Way,” and so on (cached). Yet, Falwell was never reprimanded, disciplined, or punished at all. He kept his ministry and his university. Robertson still has his television network, and still appears on his own show.

If you need another example, here’s one: Virginia legislator Robert G. Marshall announced, 6 years ago, that children are born with handicaps due to abortions. As horrible as that claim was, he remains in his office in the Richmond capitol. So his constituents clearly didn’t disapprove of his hateful spew.

Another example: A North Carolina pastor, during a sermon four years ago, called for all gays to be rounded up, then penned up somewhere and allowed to die off. He still has his position; in fact, his own congregants have defended him.

Oh, and another example: An African-American pastor in Texas claimed that African-Americans had been better off as slaves than if they’d been free. Yes, he said it … and he still has his job, too.

It shouldn’t be necessary at this point, but here’s yet another example: Ray Comfort, a well-known Christian evangelist once made fun of Hindus who’d been killed or injured when a statue of their god Ganesh fell. He was actually happy about it and considered it a justified example of “God’s wrathful judgment.” In spite of his giddiness over someone’s death, Comfort too still has his job and his ministry. Like the others I’ve mentioned, he’s paid no price for his words or actions. None.

I could go on, but won’t. There have been all sorts of nasty, offensive words that have tumbled off the lips of religious leaders throughout the US … but they’re left alone. The cold fact is that lots of sanctimonious Christianists say and do a lot of outrageous things, that — if they’d been said or done outside of a religious context — simply would never be permitted. They’re the sort of thing that tend not only to get people fired — as happened with Ms Bell — but can even end people’s careers entirely.

Granted, a lot of other Christians protest that cretins like Falwell and Robertson don’t speak for them … but those are only words, and they mean nothing. Not. A. Single. God. Damned. Fucking. Thing.

The stark reality here is that, what you refuse to correct, you condone. If you let monsters like Falwell blame 9/11 on the ACLU, then you’re telling others who think like him that they’re free to say the same thing, or something related, if not even worse. Remember that extremists are speaking in the name of your religion, and in the name of its founder, Jesus Christ. If you refuse to prevent them from doing so, then you’ve chosen to allow them to make your religion look bad to the rest of us who aren’t part of it and only know its meaning from the words and actions of those who claim to belong to it.

If you’re a Christian who disagrees with any of the militant Christianist creatures who’ve said horrific things in the name of your religion, then don’t just say you disagree and leave it at that. Get off your ass and do something about it. Correct them, discipline them, punish them. Measures can range from getting them removed from their offices or pulpits, to having their clerical credentials (if they have them) revoked, to … well, pretty much anything, as long as it’s legal and it affects them in a meaningful way. You can do it … but only if you want to.

Of course, you could just throw up your hands, and continue to let the extremists keep saying and doing vile things in the name of your religion, its founder and your deity. Leave your religion up to the hatemongers! Let the extremists control it. Yeah, that’s always an option. How important is the integrity of your religion? Do you think well enough of it to police it? It’s really up to you to decide.

Hat tip: Michael Smerconish, via Twitter.

Photo credit: PsiCop original graphic.

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Newport Patch / Stain Below Jesus Painting in Newport Church Seen as a Sign from GodYet another miracle has the Ocean State all agog. This time it’s inside a church in Newport. The Providence Journal, among a number of media outlets, reports uncritically on a stain on the wall beneath a painting of the crucified Jesus (WebCite cached article):

For years, parishioners of St. John the Evangelist Church didn’t say much about the rust-colored stain running beneath the 12th Station of the Cross painting of Jesus.

Some never noticed it.

Others, without knowing what was causing the mark, didn’t want the 140-year-old Episcopal church to become a roadside curiosity or tabloid headline.

But this spring the church has turned a spotlight on the odd little stain, which in the right light appears to have trickled like blood directly from a painting of Jesus’ crucified feet onto the plaster of the church wall.

On Sunday, the Rev. Nathan J.A. Humphrey’s sermon addressed the “mysterious red mark,” suggesting that, whether of earthly or divine origins, it was evidence of Jesus’ presence in the church.

So this thing’s been there for no-one-knows-how-long, but suddenly — because the church’s minister mentioned it in a sermon — it became news? Why? I have no idea. I guess Rhode Island must have had a slow news day or something.

For the record, it looks to me as though it’s a rust stain from plumbing in the wall behind the painting or from the frame itself. Parishioners shouldn’t have to keep cleaning it up; instead, they should take down the painting, fix whatever causes this stain, clean the stain that’s already there, and paint over it. But why do I doubt they’ll do that, when this is attracting interest in their church?

The idea that the Almighty has nothing better to do with his/her/its time than plant a rust streak in the wall beneath this painting, is just flat-out fucking ridiculous. I mean, seriously. S/he/it has an entire universe to run, fercryinoutloud. It’s arrogance of the highest order for this Newport church to presume to have this much of the Almighty’s attention. Besides, there are a lot better ways for the Christian God to make himself evident to people, than this, if s/he/it actually wished to make him/her/itself evident.

Photo credit: Newport Patch.

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