Posts Tagged “theocracy”
In a move that ought to surprise no one with half a brain, America’s Catholic bishops have decided to ramp up their sanctimonious fury, and are taking the Obama administration to court because it dared to thwart their desire to control the lives of others. The New York Times reports on their continued expression of Christofascist outrage (WebCite cached article):
In an effort to show a unified front in their campaign against the birth control mandate, 43 Roman Catholic dioceses, schools, social service agencies and other institutions filed lawsuits in 12 federal courts on Monday, challenging the Obama administration’s rule that their employees receive coverage for contraception in their health insurance policies.
The bishops’ hissy fit was orchestrated by the usual suspects, including New York’s Cardinal Dolan:
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, whose archdiocese in New York is among the plaintiffs, said in a statement: “We have tried negotiations with the administration and legislation with the Congress — and we’ll keep at it — but there’s still no fix. Time is running out and our valuable ministries and fundamental rights hang in the balance, so we have to resort to the courts now.”
The problem is, the Cardinal is lying! Neither he nor any of the rest of the bishops are truly “negotiating” anything with anyone. In order to “negotiate,” one must first be willing to “compromise.” However, at no time have the bishops ever expressed even the slightest desire to “compromise” with anyone. Quite the opposite … they’ve gone on the record as stating they absolutely will not compromise on matters such as this. In their minds, anyone who’s insolent enough to stand in the way of them controlling others and imposing their doctrines on them (whether or not they’re actually Catholic) is an effort to deny them “religious freedom.” As I’ve blogged before, their reasoning is as follows:
- We Catholic bishops have religious freedom, and are entitled to hold any beliefs we want
- One of our beliefs is that everyone — Catholic or not — is required to live according to Catholic doctrines
- Anyone who gets in the way of our forcing everyone to obey Catholic doctrine, therefore …
- … is robbing us of our “religious freedom,” which is impermissible.
The bishops object to having to pay for contraception as part of their employees’ health insurance, however, the cold fact is that, at some point, everyone has to pay for something s/he objects to … for whatever reason. For example, I object to having had my tax money used to bail out AIG and many banks a few years ago (cached).* Why should the bishops’ objection to contraception spending be more important than my objection to government bailouts … merely because their objection is religious, while mine is purely fiscal?
Sorry, but there’s no rational way this can be said to be about money. It’s about something else; it’s the Catholic Church’s pushback campaign in the wake of the “priestly pedophilia” scandal, and is an effort to scare up political power and regain the societal influence it once had. The bishops are hoping American courts — capped by the US Supreme Court, which currently has a theocrat-sympathetic majority — will hand them the power they want.
* For the record, I accept that, in a representative republic such as the U.S., the government will sometimes spend money in a way I personally object to. I can live with the bailouts, even if I don’t like them and don’t agree they were wise. Why can’t the bishops say the same about contraception? (Answer: Because they’re too fucking childish to do so!)
Photo credit: tacit requiem.
Tags: cardinal timothy dolan
, catholic church
, contraception spending
, religious freedom
, roman catholic
, roman catholic church
, timothy dolan
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Texas governor Rick Perry would like to succeed his predecessor, George W. Bush, as the country’s next evangelical-in-chief. He’s a bit more of a Christofascist than Bush was (but not by much), having done things such as to order all of the people of his state — religious or not — to pray for rain. He’s also done some other extreme, but not quite so religious, things as to threaten the secession of Texas if his personally-desired policies were not enacted in Washington (WebCite cached article).
The hyperreligious Perry has decided to give his own “Response” to the country’s ongoing recession and the breakdown of national politics. The Washington Post reports this day-long religious revival is every bit as grandiose and sanctimonious as one expects from a guy like him (cached):
The GOP 2012 presidential nomination contest so far has centered almost exclusively on economic issues: the major candidates blasting President Obama for increasing the federal budget deficit and criticizing one another’s records on health care and job creation.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who is expected to announce his presidential candidacy in the next few weeks, will start to change that on Saturday, by hosting a day of prayer and fasting in Houston dubbed “The Response.”
Attendees from Texas and across the country will gather at a pro football stadium to ask for “God’s forgiveness, his wisdom and his provision for our state and nation,” according to Perry’s video invitation. …
Perry says the day is inspired by the words of the Old Testament book of Joel, in which the prophet calls on the Hebrew people to pray, fast and ask for God’s forgiveness. The Texas governor argues that America similarly needs to ask for God’s help today because it is a “nation in crisis.”
“We have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters,” Perry writes on the event’s Web site. “As a nation, we must come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy.”
Perry can’t help but do this, you see, because in his eyes, America isn’t godly enough. About the only thing he hasn’t done is to declare explicitly that the recession and political breakdown is a punishment imposed on the country by a God who’s enraged that the people aren’t praying hard enough and aren’t sufficiently evangelical Protestant for his taste. But not to worry … by the end of this hours-long event, Perry may well have veered close to saying something like that.
I note that this huge event is precisely the sort of “public piety” that — as I’ve blogged previously — the founder of Perry’s own religion, Jesus Christ himself, explicitly and clearly ordered his followers never, ever to engage in. In case Gov. Perry or any other militant Christians out there aren’t clear on this, I will repeat here Jesus’ own words as reported in the gospel according to Matthew (emphasis mine):
Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:1-6)
So you see, by establishing this event and acting as its emcee, the righteous Perry is actually disobeying the bedrock principles of his own claimed religion! I must congratulate the Governor for providing this sterling example of the intellectual, moral and spiritual bankruptcy of his own religion as it’s widely practiced in the US. Great job, sir. Just wonderful. I can’t possibly have asked for better!
The separation of church and state issues implied by Perry’s “Response” haven’t gone unnoticed, and have been widely mentioned, for example in this CNN Political Ticker article that suggests the poor response to the “Response” may be explained by SOCAS considerations (cached). Another facet of Ricky-boy’s “Response” which hasn’t gone unreported is that its sponsor is the American Family Association, about whose absurd and extreme pronouncements I’ve blogged a number of times, and who’ve been labeled a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. My bet is that the Rickster doesn’t really care what sorts of hatemongers and freakish lunatics he’s hanging around with … as long as they help him get people before his pulpit and are willing to beat the drum of his kind of Christofascism, they’re probably just fine by him.
Not that he or anyone else cares, but my own Agnostic response to Perry’s “Response” is: If you, Gov. Perry, or your Jesus, or anyone else for that matter, demands that I — as an American — must pray with you, then you’re just going to have to make me do so. If it’s as imperative a thing as you claim it is, Governor, then you have absolutely no reason not to do your utmost to wring compliance out of me (even if I’m not a resident of Texas, because as you’ve designed it, this is a national event).
Go ahead, Governor. I dare you; you have no reason — based on your own beliefs — not to. Come on, make me pray with you.
Photo credit: scazon.
, american family association
, hate group
, hate groups
, houston TX
, rick perry
, rick perry's response
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I’ve blogged a couple of times on the phenomenon of militant Christians promoting Ten Commandments idolatry. This time it’s happening in the great religionist state of Louisiana, as the Times-Picayune of New Orleans reports (WebCite cached article):
A resolution calling for House and Senate members to support the concept of a Ten Commandments monument on Capitol grounds cleared a Senate committee without objection Wednesday and now goes before the entire Senate.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 16 [cached] by Sen. Mike Walsworth, R-West Monroe, approved after more than 40 minutes of debate by the Senate Committee on Senate and Governmental Affairs, would direct the governor’s Division of Administration to find a location for the monument, to be paid for with private funds.
Of course this is an example of a state forcing religion onto its citizens. That fact is not changed by the transparent contrivance of private funds paying for it; in the end, the monument is going up at the direction of Louisiana state government, so there’s no logical way anyone can say it’s anything but a government action.
This monument’s promoters are also trying to envelop it in a veneer of “historicity”:
“The Ten Commandments is where laws first began,” Walsworth said. “This (Capitol) is where the laws of Louisiana are made each and every year. … This is more of an historical thing.”
Unfortunately for these Christofascists, it is absolutely, 100% not true that “laws first began” with the Ten Commandments. No way! Not even close. Legal systems predate the appearance of the Decalogue by millennia. Yes, folks … that’s by millennia! The Decalogue as we know it dates to about the middle of the last millennium BCE; but the ancient Sumerians had written law codes by the middle of the 3rd millennium BCE, and those in turn were based on a tradition of legal decisions which were made during the preceding several centuries. The Sumerian king Ur-Nammu (who lived in the 21st century BCE) and the Babylonian king Hammurabi (who lived in the 18th century BCE) were both famous for having promulgated widely-influential law codes — but the tradition of Mesopotamian kings propounding law codes was ancient, even in their times. And other peoples of the region, including the Egyptians, also had law-codes of their own, likewise dating centuries or millennia prior to the Ten Commandments. What’s more, the content of the Decalogue isn’t even innovative; admonitions against theft, murder, and lying in court, for example, are all part of these earlier law codes; they were prevailing legal principles in the region long before the Hebrews ever appeared.
It’s incontrovertible: As a legal code there is virtually nothing innovative about the Ten Commandments, aside from its admonition against worshiping other deities. Walsworth’s false claim puts him in my “lying liars for Jesus” club.
Yet another problem with any Decalogue monument, is which list of the Ten Commandments is posted on it. Most believers are not aware of this, but there are several ways in which the Ten Commandments have been enumerated over the centuries. Judaism has its own list; Catholics have theirs; Protestants have one of their own (with a few variations among denominations); and so too do the Orthodox churches. Any single list of the Ten Commandments will, therefore, inevitably be sectarian in nature, favoring one Decalogue tradition — and therefore one religion or denomination — over the rest. It can’t be any other way.
I’ve previously referred to the movement to build Decalogue monuments as “idolatry,” and it quite obviously is that. But I don’t expect proponents of these religionist monstrosities to see it that way. They’re doing it for Jesus, you see, so it just can’t be idolatry … by definition! This is, of course, very wrong. Idolatrous behavior is idolatrous behavior, without regard to the reasons one engages in it. Not only is the construction of Decalogue monuments idolatry — explicitly forbidden to all Christians, under all conditions — it’s also a form of public piety, which is likewise explicitly forbidden to all Christians, under all circumstances.
If there are any Christofascists out there who, nevertheless, still think Decalogue monuments are godly, and that I, as an American, am required to worship them just as they do, I invite you to do whatever you wish in order to make that happen. Force me to bow and scrape before your monument. I dare you to try it, by any means you wish. Go ahead. Make me. If you’re so sure it’s what your precious Jesus wants, why would you not do everything in your power to make it happen?
Photo credit: abbyladybug.
, babylonian law
, baton rouge LA
, bobby jindal
, christian right
, code of hammurabi
, code of ur-nammu
, hammurabi's code
, history of law
, law code
, law codes
, liar for jesus
, liars for jesus
, louie gohmert
, lying liar for jesus
, lying liars for jesus
, lying lies
, mike walsworth
, public piety
, religious right
, roy moore
, senate concurrent resolution 16
, Separation of church and state
, sumerian law
, ten commandments
, ur-nammu's code
, west monroe LA
The militant and angry Christofascist Georgia state representative Bobby Franklin used Facebook as a platform to whine about the victims of recent tornadoes, as Georgia Politico reported recently: (WebCite cached article):
Georgia Republican State Representative Bobby Franklin today compared the victims of the massive super cell tornado system that ripped across the southern United States over the weekend to idolaters “praying to their god, FEMA”.
The article includes a screen shot of his whiney hyperreligious drivel:
GA state rep Bobby Franklin's Christofascist comment on Facebook (via Georgia Politico)
Obviously this comment is insulting to the tornado victims — the majority of whom are, no doubt, Christians (seen as how the entire country is majority-Christian). Another problem here is that, in a way, FEMA constitutes a kind of insurance to which the victims have all contributed over the years, in the form of federal taxes they’ve paid. Would Franklin accuse someone of “praying” to an auto insurance company (for example) when s/he files an accident claim? People like Franklin likely object to this view since they see government disaster-coverage as coercive, as opposed to insurance which is a private contract. But the fact is that it’s not possible to purchase tornado coverage for one’s home or business … all insurance policies exclude
“acts of God” (e.g. violent weather events). The private sector offers little opportunity to buy such coverage, because — quite simply — no private insurance company is large enough to absorb the losses it might have to accept, without pricing premiums so high that few can afford it. That’s a risk only government has the resources to handle.
Militant Christofascists like Franklin view government as somehow having “replaced” churches in the social order. What they want, is for churches to become — once again — the entity upon which everyone relies, when they’re in need. This will, in turn, grant churches a degree of power and control over people’s lives that they do not currently have.
To an extent, it’s true that churches once constituted the societal “safety net.” But there’s a reason FEMA exists … because not even churches are large enough to take on a risk of this size. Churches would not be able to rebuild all the homes and businesses lost to these tornadoes. They might be able to rebuild some of them … but they would have to choose whom to help and whom to leave to their own devices, and that would likely be based on the person’s beliefs. Only those most loyal to a church’s dogma would get that church’s aid.
That’s what this is all about folks … it’s nothing more than a play for power. Christofascists like Franklin want people to become serfs of the churches where they live, and use their control over them to bend them to their religious views. It’s despicable, of course, but that hardly matters to people who think they’re entitled to force everyone, willingly or not, to adopt their own religion because they believe they’re entitled to have the entire planet worship as they do.
Another Christofascist objection to the US government, of course, is that under the current Constitution, they’re not able to force their religion on Americans. The only way they can do that is to abolish it and create a new theocratic government. Hence their opposition to the current administration and anything that calls attention to it (e.g. FEMA’s recovery activities).
Hat tip: Religion Dispatches.
Photo credit: NOAA.
Tags: bobby franklin
, christian right
, religious right
, safety net
The Mojave Cross, which I blogged about just a short time ago, which the US Supreme Court ruled must remain on federal land — because if it’s taken down or moved to private land, all fallen veterans will instantly be forgotten* — has been stolen! Here’s the report from CNN (WebCite cached article):
A war memorial shaped like a cross that has been at the center of a Supreme Court fight has been torn down by vandals from its remote perch in a California desert.
The 6-foot-tall metal structure was removed Sunday night from Sunrise Rock in a lonely stretch of the Mojave National Preserve, said government officials and veterans groups that have been fighting for years to keep the cross on national park land.
The National Park Service said it is investigating the incident; no arrests had been made as of Tuesday morning.
The only thing I can say about this is: Put it back!!!
Sure, I get that a religious-activist Supreme Court thinks all Americans must bow and scrape before a massive cross in the desert. I get that their attempt at creating a theocracy is not appropriate. I get all that.
But that cross does not belong to whoever stole it, and theft is not an appropriate response, not even to governmental proselytizing for Christianity.
So, whoever stole it … put it back and turn yourselves in. Take whatever punishment is coming to you, and have done with it.
* No, I still haven’t figured out the mechanism by which this is supposed to happen. I’ll let you know, just as soon as someone delusional enough to understand this kind of reasoning, figures it out for me.
Photo credit: watch4u.
, mojave cross
, supreme court
1 Comment »
Yes, it’s true. And there is no other explanation for their ruling. The United States Supreme Court has declared that the federal government can erect monuments to specific religions on federal property and refuse to build them for other religions. The effect is that they’re allowing the federal government to proselytize for Christianity. The New York Times reports on the decision they handed down (WebCite cached article):
A badly fractured Supreme Court, with six justices writing opinions, reopened the possibility on Wednesday that a large cross serving as a war memorial in a remote part of the Mojave Desert may be permitted to remain there.
The Court ranged far afield — both literally and metaphorically — in order to arrive at this conclusion:
“A Latin cross is not merely a reaffirmation of Christian beliefs,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote in a plurality opinion joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. “It evokes thousands of small crosses in foreign fields marking the graves of Americans who fell in battles, battles whose tragedies would be compounded if the fallen are forgotten.”
I’m not quite sure how all those fallen Christian soldiers would have to end up “forgotten,” if the Mojave Cross were moved to private land instead of federal property, but that’s Justice Kennedy’s reasoning. Apparently he thinks that if that particular cross were taken down, all those soldiers would be “forgotten.” They will only be remembered, if the Mojave Cross is left standing on federal property. According to him.
No, I can’t explain it, I’m merely quoting it for you. Just goes to show that being appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court doesn’t mean you’re always rational.
Unfortunately the Times doesn’t provide the context of this lawsuit, but thankfully, ABC News does (cached version):
The cross stood peacefully for years until the Park Service was asked if a Buddhist Shrine could also be built near the cross.
When the Park Service declined the request, Frank Buono, a retired National Park Service employee, expressed his dismay that the government was showing favoritism of one religious symbol over another. He later filed suit in federal district court.
[On page 2, cached] While Buono, a Roman Catholic, did not find the cross itself objectionable, he was disturbed that it stood on government property when the government would not allow individuals to erect other permanent displays celebrating their religions.
Thus, what the Supreme Court has done, is to decide that, 1) the federal government can build monuments to single specific religions (the cross is a symbol of Christianity only — not of Islam, or Judaism, or Sikhism, or Wicca, or Hinduism, or any other religion); and 2) it can simultaneously refuse to build monuments to any other religion. Together those two sure look like “government pushing Christianity on people” to me.
Yes, I know, the cross was built by the VFW, not the federal government … but federal approval is required nonetheless, meaning the matter is completely up to them as to whether or not it’s built. And since they forbid a private party to build a Buddhist monument, that means the government has chosen sides and is favoring Christianity. Period.
Who said the separation of church and state was alive and well in the United States? It isn’t … not with the Supreme Court packed with theocratic religionists!
Hat tip: Skeptics & Heretics Forum on Delphi forums.
Photo credit: watch4u.
, christian right
, mojave cross
, mojave desert
, mojave national preserve
, religious right
, Separation of church and state
, supreme court
, united states supreme court
, us supreme court
1 Comment »
At the northern end of Los Angeles county (in California), well away from the urban center of that sprawling metropolis, lies the city of Lancaster. As one would expect, it’s not as cosmopolitan as the enormous city to its south. It is, however, a growing region, despite its somewhat remote location. So it’s odd that its elected officials would start carrying the standard of Christianity and try to force it on everyone — and vilify Islam at the same time. The (Los Angeles) Daily News reports on this controversy (WebCite cached article):
Lancaster officials became embroiled in religious controversy this week after the mayor spoke of trying to make the Antelope Valley city a “Christian community” and a councilwoman wrote on Facebook that beheadings are what Muslims “are all about.”
Mayor R. Rex Parris made his comments Tuesday in his State of the City speech as he urged Lancaster voters to approve a municipal ballot measure that would allow prayers – even those invoking a specific deity, such as Jesus – at city meetings.
“We’re growing a Christian community, and don’t let anybody shy away from that,” Parris said to an audience of about 160 people, mostly pastors and their spouses, the Antelope Valley Press reported.
Parris is — as one would expect from the “no-compromise” position laid out in these remarks — not backing down from this statement:
Parris said Friday he was surprised by the objections of non-Christians and secular-government advocates, and said his remarks had been taken out of context.
Note, the “out of context” whine is the religionists’ reflexive objection whenever they’re caught making an incendiary statement. In this case, context is irrelevant; his remarks were absolute, as embodied in “don’t let anybody shy away from that.” Isn’t it interesting how he expressed a “no-holds-barred” view to a group of pastors and their wives, but later is sniveling and trying to back away from them? Hmm.
Anyway, those remarks came in the wake of another comment that was just as incendiary:
Days before Parris’ remarks, Lancaster City Councilwoman Sherry Marquez used her Facebook page to comment on the trial of a Muslim man accused of beheading his wife in Orchard Park, N.Y.
“This is what the Muslim religion is all about – the beheadings, honor killings are just the beginning of what is to come in the USA,” Marquez wrote Jan. 23. “We are told this is a small majority of Muslim’s (sic) in America, but it is truly what they are all about. You disrespect/dishonor them or their religion and you should die (they don’t even blink at killing their own wives/daughters, because they are justified by their religion).”
How nice. I guess Ms Marquez forgot about the latest example of Christians killing people in the name of their religion; i.e. Scott Roeder, who was just convicted of assassinating Dr George Tiller in Wichita KS? Yes, Ms Marquez … and all other Christian religionists out there who would have us believe that Christians never engage in violence in the name of their religion … Christians can be terrorists, too. OK?
Clearly the folks in charge of Lancaster, CA are veering in the direction of theocracy. While their religionism might make them feel entitled to do this, the truth is that the US … and all of its states, counties, and municipalities like Lancaster … are secular governments. And this is the case for good reason. If you wish to understand why , read all about it from the pen of the man who wrote the First Amendment and thus helped ensure it was so (cached article).
Tags: antelope valley
, honor killing
, lancaster CA
, los angeles county
, r rex parris
, rex parris
, Separation of church and state
, sherry marquez
1 Comment »