Posts Tagged “virginia”

Cross Lighting 2005A bunch of hateful wingnuts in Chesterfield county in Virginia have been recruiting lately. That’s not really surprising; it’s in the South, after all (although it’s part of the somewhat cosmopolitan Richmond region). The leaflets and assorted hateful bilge they’ve been distributing there kicked up a bit of a controversy. But the KKK chapter there has responded to that, and as WWBT-TV in Richmond reports, they’re defending their efforts to expand (locally-cached article):

We are now hearing from the man behind all those KKK fliers being distributed across Chesterfield. The Klan documents have been reported in multiple neighborhoods since January.…

NBC 12 spoke to Frank Ancona who is Imperial Wizard of the Traditional American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. He is president of the group distributing the fliers in Chesterfield County. Ancona says KKK membership is up across the country.

“In the last 6 years that I’ve been president of this organization I’ve seen the numbers probably triple,” said Ancona.

He says members are tasked with recruiting new members.

“We don’t hate people because of their race,” said Ancona. “We are a Christian organization.”

Aha. So, because they belong to “a Christian organization,” they cannot — by (Ancona’s) definition — be haters. OK, got it. It’s a weird tautology, and one that defies logic (I wasn’t aware that being a Christian meant one cannot possibly “hate” anyone else), but it’s a free country and I suppose he’s entitled to his juvenile irrationality.

In any event, Ancona trots out the usual apologetics:

Ancona claims the packets are meant to recruit, and he says they are tools used to “set the record straight.”

“Because of the act of a few rogue Klansmen,” said Ancona. “All Klansmen are supposed to be murderers, and wanting to lynch Black people, and we’re supposed to be terrorists. That’s a complete falsehood.”

This is the old “don’t judge us by the few extremists in our midst,” but that’s belied by the Ku Klux Klan‘s history. It was founded rather specifically as something of a terrorist group. The killings its members did, do in fact reflect on the organization as a whole, because the organization was founded in order to foster conspiracies to commit violence.

A couple of Ancona’s other points of “clarification” also reveal yet more illogic on his part:

“We want to keep our race the White race,” said Ancona. “We want to stay White. It’s not a hateful thing to want to maintain White Supremacy.”

Actually, Mr Imperial Wizard, it is rather hateful to fear losing your “whiteness” to other races or to worry about loss of numbers or power. There would be no reason to worry about any of those things without first hating those of other races.

Ancona also implies that, because “KKK membership is up across the country,” what he — and they! — are doing must be right. That, however, is a form of argumentum ad populum (aka appeal to consensus, bandwagon fallacy, appeal to the majority, authority of the many, appeal to popularity, and democratic fallacy). The problem is that just because people think something … even very many people … does not necessarily mean it’s true. Veracity is not up for a popular vote, and popularity doesn’t make an invalid notion magically become fact.

Here is WWBT-TV’s video report:

As for KKK members being Christians, most of them very likely are Christians. And the KKK organization itself views itself as Christian. Here, for example, is their own Web site, making exactly this declaration (note, this is a link to a cached version of their page, not the page itself; I will not dignify them by directly linking their site in my own). It can be traced directly to Southern Baptists in the post-Civil War South. Other Christians certainly may disagree with the KKK’s version of Christianity, but its origins as a Christian group are not in dispute. The same is true of the related Christian Identity movement, which is predicated on its own Christianity-inspired mythology, including the idea that so-called “dark races” are descendants of “beast-men” mentioned in the Old Testament (e.g. Jonah 3:8), as well as Anglo-Israelism, a hateful anti-Semitic philosophy I’ve mentioned a few times previously. It is quite literally impossible to extract Christianity from what these hateful pricks believe, and have it remain intact.

The question of interest to me is, how is it that a supposedly divinely-founded religion propounded by a supposedly loving God who embraces all peoples everywhere, can possibly be used as a refuge for people like this? One can argue they’ve distorted their religion in order to suit their hatred, and maybe they have … but how could this have happened, if Christianity were truly divine in nature? Would it not be incorruptible in such a way? If not, why not? And how divine can it really be, if it is so easily corrupted?

Moreover, if it were true that KKK members are part of a “lunatic fringe” and don’t represent Christianity as a whole, how is it that the KKK has survived, in one form or another, for close to 150 years? If they’re such a tiny minority, one would think their hatred would have been stamped out long ago. But it hasn’t been. It persists. Sure, it runs into roadblocks here or there, but it always comes back, and it continues to have a voice. That an Imperial Wizard of the KKK would speak with, and reveal his identity to, a television station in a fairly large city like Richmond, tells me he doesn’t fear any repercussions. He must think none of the other Christians in his area — and there are many! — are going to try to discipline him for having stepped out of bounds. Why are Ancona, and others like him, still skulking around, doing what they’re doing?

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Demon of CalicutMost believers think that adhering to their metaphysical notions — whatever they might be — is virtuous. It somehow makes them better people, superior to others, even. Or something. I’m still not clear as to how that works, exactly, but they’re convinced of it, and they just love telling everyone so. The problem is, their beliefs can and do have some terrible ramifications. Take, for example, this report from the Associated Press via the Washington Post, about a Virginia father who killed his little daughter because of his metaphysics (WebCite cached article):

A Virginia man who said his 2-year-old daughter was possessed by a demon has been sentence to more than 20 years in prison for her death.

Thirty-year-old Eder Guzman-Rodriguez was sentenced Monday in Floyd County after pleading no contest to first-degree murder. His daughter, Jocelyn, was found dead in November 2011.

Prosecutors say Guzman-Rodriguez told police that his daughter had a demon inside of her and that he had attempted to exorcise her of the demon.

But this conflicts with other information the father had provided:

According to Shortt’s summary of the evidence, Guzman-Rodriquez told police that a “bad spirit” had entered him. He said that he saw his daughter gesturing to him, as if she wanted to fight and that he punched her “over and over” with his bare hands, Shortt said.

So, was the baby possessed, or the father? In the end, no one can say. Until someone provides objective, verifiable evidence to the contrary, I must assume neither was possessed. Nevertheless, I guess it was necessary to kill the baby. Or something.

I note that, when police arrived, there were some other people there, holding Bibles. It’s not clear if they played any part in Guzman-Rodriguez’s exorcism attempt; the article doesn’t say — possibly because the police never were able to make any determination. They very well could have arrived after the deed. I certainly hope they weren’t involved in Jocelyn’s murder.

Hat tip: Doubtful News.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Bundesarchiv Bild 137-040965, China, Tientsin, HJ und BDM VereidigungI’ve already blogged about the hyperreligious populace of Giles County, Virginia who flew into a towering rage over the matter of posting the Ten Commandments in the local high school. But the Decalogue controversy there refuses to die. There have been lawsuits and threats of lawsuits, with the ACLU coming down on both sides of the issue (opposing the school itself posting the Decalogue in public locations, but supporting students who post them in their lockers).

The county’s religionist parents have successfully gotten their kids to take a stand for Christofascism, as reported by WDBJ-TV in Roanoke (WebCite cached article):

About 200 students walked out of Giles High School Monday morning, demanding the return of a Ten Commandments display. …

“This is Giles County and Christ is a big, big, big part of Giles County. For those who don’t like it, go somewhere else,” shouted one student. She was greeted by a round of cheers from the crowd. …

“This is America and we can have our Ten Commandments and if they don’t like it, they can get out,” said one boy.

So you see, folks, this is what kids in Giles County, Virginia are learning: If you’re not Christian, you must leave. What a marvelous lesson to have taught the next generation of Giles County! Everyone in Virginia must be so proud of their new platoon of Christofascist Youth.

Hat tip: Unreasonable Faith.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons / Bundesarchiv.

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Virginia State SealVirginia’s attorney general recently had an attack of zealous Puritanical prudishness, which caused him to try to modify his state’s seal. The Norfolk (VA) Virginian-Pilot reports on his efforts to change it (WebCite cached article):

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli apparently isn’t fond of wardrobe malfunctions, even when Virginia’s state seal is involved.

The seal depicts the Roman goddess Virtus, or virtue, wearing a blue tunic draped over one shoulder, her left breast exposed. But on the new lapel pins Cuccinelli recently handed out to his staff, Virtus’ bosom is covered by an armored breastplate.

When the new design came up at a staff meeting, workers in attendance said Cuccinelli joked that it converts a risqué image into a PG one.

Here is the only image of the Cuccinelli’s proposed new seal that I could find, courtesy of the Virginian-Pilot, so please pardon the small size:

VA A.G. Cuccinelli's proposed new Virginian state seal

Note that the goddess Virtus is not only now clothed, she is armored — as in, ready to march off to war. It’s eerily reminiscent of my characterization of a Religious Right group (the FRC) as making themselves into Crusaders ready to go to war, in Jesus’ name, against the vile forces of secularism. I wonder if Virginia’s A.G. is a member of said organization, and if so, perhaps he views himself and his commonwealth as being Crusaders in the cause of Jesus Christ?

The Virginia state seal is, in any event, quite old … it dates to around the same time that the U.S. was founded. So it seems odd that, well over 2 centuries later, some Puritanical nutcase decides to object to it as “too revealing.”

I expect Cuccinelli is aware his move will be ridiculed, as this isn’t the first time something like this has happened:

If the jokes start to fly, Cuccinelli can’t say he didn’t see it coming, [U. of Va. political scientist Larry] Sabato said – not after what happened in 2002, when U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft ordered drapes installed to cover partially nude statues at the Justice Department. “Ashcroft had one excuse: it hadn’t been done before and he wasn’t prepared for the critical onslaught that he faced,” Sabato said. “Cuccinelli has no excuse at all. He knows what’s coming because of what happened to Ashcroft. You can only conclude that he enjoys being the center of pointless controversy.”

He was, in short, appealing to his peeps … i.e. the Religious Right which now controls Virginia, after the 2009 elections. I’m sure they’ll slobber over him for having done this, for having struck a blow for Christ against those wicked secularists.

But that only forces me to ask why he’d bother leaving a Roman goddess on the seal at all? What about the First Commandment, Ken? Or did you forget about it in your zeal to make Virtus more military?

P.S. If Virginia is a commonwealth, why is its seal referred to, by the media, as a “state” seal? Just wondering out loud.

Hat tip: Skeptics & Heretics Forum at Delphi Forums.

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Welcome to Bristol, Virginia/TennesseeIn a development which — unfortunately — I don’t find surprising in the least, religious leaflets being distributed in Virginia are blaming the victims of rape for the crimes committed against them. The Bristol (VA) Herald Courier reports on this (WebCite cached article):

Nineteen-year-old Keshia Canter handed three burgers, fries and milkshakes to a car-load of Tuesday afternoon customers at the Hi-Lo Burger’s drive-though window. A lady sitting in the backseat leaned forward, between the two men in front, and handed her a leaflet: “Women & Girls” it said across the top.

“Even though nothing is showing, you’re being ungodly,” Canter recalled the woman telling her. “You make men want to be sinful.” …

Minutes later, Canter’s mother, Pam Yates, who owns the restaurant, returned from the bank. Canter handed her “Women & Girls” and Yates started reading.

“You may have been given this leaflet because of the way you are dressed,” it begins. “Have you thought about standing before the true and living God to be judged?”

It continues with one essential theme: The sins of men are, in part, the fault of women, specifically women in tight-fitting clothing. Yates was annoyed. Then she got to a section on page two:

“Scripture tells us that when a man looks on a woman to lust for her he has already committed adultery in his heart. If you are dressed in a way that tempts a men to do this secret (or not so secret) sin, you are a participant in the sin,” the leaflet states. “By the way, some rape victims would not have been raped if they had dressed properly. So can we really say they were innocent victims?”

The hand-out is signed “anonymous.”

In the eyes of religionists like this, crimes like rape are not the result of sociopathic thinking or criminal behavior. They are, instead, compulsions forced on unwitting men by their wily and wicked victims — sort of like invisible puppet-strings. Blaming the victim for crimes is not new, and it’s not even always religiously-motivated … but when it’s rationalized by religion, that tends to prevent people from seeing how invalid this sort of thinking is.

Note also how eerily similar this is to the mindset behind the Catholic Church’s approach to handling the abuse of children by its clergy, as I blogged previously: “It’s the kids’ fault … they — and the Devil within them — made me do it!”

Taken to its extreme, this kind of thinking leads to customs such as compelling women to shroud themselves entirely in a burqa, or even preventing them from going out in public at all, as was common in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. This robs women of any sense of identity or individuality and reduces them to the level of mere property.

Hat tip: iReligion Forum at Delphi Forums.

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Birth defects, handicaps and disabilities are — according to the apparently-religionist Virginia Delegate (legislator) Robert G. Marshall — caused by mothers having had prior abortions. The Washington Post reports on his primeval, Old Testament-style thinking (WebCite cached article):

Virginia Del. Robert G. Marshall apologized Monday to people with disabilities for remarks suggesting that women who have abortions risk having later children with birth defects as a punishment from God.

Marshall (R-Prince William) made the comment Thursday at a news conference calling for an end to state funding to Planned Parenthood. …

“The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion who have handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the firstborn of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children,” Marshall said.

“In the Old Testament, the firstborn of every being, animal and man, was dedicated to the Lord,” he added. “There’s a special punishment Christians would suggest — and with the knowledge that they have in faith, it’s been verified by a study from Virginia Commonwealth University — first abortions, of a first pregnancy, are much more damaging than later abortions.”

While it may seem Marshall’s point was scientifically supported, in fact, it was not:

The VCU study he referred to was published in 2008 in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health and suggested that there is a higher risk of premature birth and low birth weight in children born to women who have had an abortion.

The study did not say anything about “handicaps.” It mentioned only low birth weight and premature birth. Thus, this study’s content actually had nothing to do with Marshall’s claim.

Marshall has been veering away from these remarks since he said them, as the Post explains (cached):

Marshall, appearing shaken by criticism gone viral, said his remarks had been shortened in some news reports and twisted out of context. …

“No one who knows me or my record would imagine that I believe or intended to communicate such an offensive notion. I have devoted a generation of work to defending disabled and unwanted children, and have always maintained that they are special blessings to their parents. Nevertheless, I regret any misimpression my poorly chosen words may have created as to my deep commitment to fighting for these vulnerable children and their families.”

Delegate, your words were in no way “taken out of context.” What you stated was that “handicaps” in subsequent children were a consequence of having had an abortion previously. Those are your words. The “context” does not change the meaning of those words. What the “context” also does not change is that the study you cited as support for your view, did not actually support it.

Thus, Delegate, your complaint that you “were taken out of context,” and the fact that you claimed scientific support that you did not really have, makes you a double “lying liar for Jesus.” Welcome to that club.

Hat tip: Religion Dispatches (which does a good job of explaining the errors in Marshall’s theology).

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Virginia is abuzz over the latest tripe that’s tumbled from the mouth of Marion “Pat” Robertson. Robertson, you see, is closely allied with Bob McDonnell, the Republican who was just elected Governor of that commonwealth. But now, Patty has said something that’s aroused people’s ire, as reported in the Washington Post:

In a broadcast of the 700 Club Monday night, the Virginia Beach pastor had some choice words about Islam in reaction to the shootings at Fort Hood. Robertson said that Army Maj. Nidal Hasan’s troubles were overlooked because of a politically-correct refusal to see Islam for what it is.

“Islam is a violent–I was going to say religion–but it’s not a religion. It’s a political system. It’s a violent political system bent on the overthrow of governments of the world and world domination.”

“They talk about infidels and all this. But the truth is, that’s what the game is. You’re dealing with not a religion. You’re dealing with a political system. And I think you should treat it as such and treat it’s adherents as such. As we would members of the Communist party and members of some Fascist group.”

I have only three words for Patty: Pot. Kettle. Black.

If Patty seriously believes that his own fundamentalist Christianity is not also a “political system,” then I guess he’s never heard of a decidedly Christian and political movement called “the Religious Right.” I guess he also forgot that he, himself — a Christian minister — ran for president in 1988. (Patty even has text of the speech in which he started that campaign, on his own Web site!)

At the moment there seems to be pressure on the McDonnell to disavow Robertson’s remarks. Whether he does or not, the blatantly-hypocritical irony of Robertson condemning another religion as a “political system” is just too precious.

As for whether or not Islam is a religion — Robertson denies it is one — I will just refer the reader to dictionary/reference sites on Islam:

I’ll let you, Gentle Reader, decide who is right here … bona fide reference sources, or Patty Robertson?

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