Posts Tagged “religionists”

Easter eggsThe religionists at World Net Daily have figured out that Easter is a pagan holiday. That’s right, a pagan holiday (locally cached page):

“Easter” is such a pretty-sounding word, isn’t it? …

It also brings to mind for countless millions the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave. …

But brace yourself, because there’s a very dark side to this centuries-old tradition, and it has to do with the famous Ten Commandments of God.

The very first commandment of the Big Ten is perhaps one of the most overlooked in everyday life.

In just eight words, it states: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3)

Most Christians, whether knowingly or unknowingly, violate this very first commandment of God each year by placing before God the actual name of a pagan goddess of fertility and the dawn.

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, her name is — believe it or not — “Easter.”

That’s correct, folks. The word Easter is actually the name of an ancient, heathen goddess who represents fertility, springtime and the dawn.

The author even provides what he thinks is linguistic evidence of this:

In different languages and through a variety of cultures, the name of this deity — who in reality does not even exist – is spelled different ways, including Ishtar, Astarte, Ostara, Eostre and Eastre.

Even in the Bible itself, many of God’s own chosen people actually followed the customs of numerous Easter goddesses, with her name spelled in the King James Bible as “Ashtaroth” and “Ashtoreth.”

There are just a couple of problems with this:

  1. This association only works in Germanic languages wherein the name for the holiday is similar to English “Easter” (for instance, in German, it’s Ostern). But it doesn’t hold true in many other languages spoken by Christians; for instance, in Italian, Easter is Pasqua. In that language, and in many others, this association falls apart. The claim that “all” Christians celebrate a holiday named for a pagan goddess, is incorrect more often than it is true, since the majority of Christians worldwide speak non-Germanic languages!

  2. The proposed etymology is also incorrect. The English name “Easter” comes to us from Old English Eastre, which in turn comes from older Germanic roots, within the Indo-European language family, from the Proto-Indo-European root *aus- “to shine,” a reference to the dawn (yes, it’s also related to English “east,” the direction of the dawn). The names Astarte, Ashtoreth, and Ishtar all have a completely different derivation, within the Semitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family; the former two derive from from the Akkadian name Ishtar, whose derivation is less certain but may be related to a Semitic root *assur meaning “leader” or “chief.” Thus, English “Easter” and Akkadian “Ishtar” are actually not related at all, except in appearance only.

These points of ignorance are compounded by the fact that WND is screeching about Easter’s pagan roots, but every Christmastime, they’re one of the outlets beating louder than most at the drum of the “war on Christmas” trope — and seem blissfully unaware of the pagan roots of some Christmas traditions. Then again, consistency is not really something one can reasonably expect of religionists.

Hat tip: Religion Dispatches.

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Pastor Wiley S. DrakeThis past summer I blogged about the creepy but popular southern California preacher Wiley Drake praying for God to kill Barack Obama. With the passage of healthcare reform, he’s added to his list of imprecatory-prayer targets, as the Daily Beast reports (WebCite cached article):

As Randy Neugebauer cops to shouting “baby killer” on the House floor, a pastor who ran for VP with Alan Keyes has asked for the death of all 219 Democrats who voted for yesterday’s bill.

The vitriol stemming from yesterday’s health-care vote—from Randy Neugebauer’s shout of “baby-killer” aimed at pro-life Democrat Bart Stupak on the House floor to slurs shouted at John Lewis and Barney Frank from crowds outside the Capitol building—has reached a new apex: a call for the death of all 219 Democrats who voted for the bill, through the power of prayer.

Orange Country Pastor Wiley Drake fired off an email to his supporters this morning, telling them that all 219 Democrats have been placed on the “imprecatory prayer list.” “We’ll remember in November and pray Psalms [sic] 109 while waiting,” he urged, before listing each offending congressman by name in “Satan’s domain in Washington D.C.”

Here’s a link to Psalm 109, if you care to read it. It’s essentially a long, whiney prayer that God strike down some horrible enemy and leave his children fatherless and his wife a widow (Ps 109:9). I discussed this particular psalm and its political uses earlier; have a look, if you wish.

What a marvelous, enlightened, compassionate sentiment from “the Religion of Love” (i.e. Christianity), which was founded by the man who famously delivered the Sermon on the Mount.

As I’ve blogged before, Wiley is not some “fringe” preacher that no one pays attention to. He is, in fact, quite influential, and well-known and respected in Religious Right circles. He’s served on the board of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant organization in the country and the “flagship” denomination of the Religious Right. He was also Alan Keyes‘ vice-presidential candidate in 2008 (on the “America’s Independent Party” ticket).

I’m not quite sure why Drake is concentrating solely on the 219 House representatives who voted for healthcare reform and isn’t praying for the deaths of the Senate members who voted the same way … but I’m sure he has his reasons. Those reasons may not make sense, but I’m sure he has them.

Also, Jesus Christ himself was a healer, so I’m not sure how or why Drake views healthcare as “Satanic” … but he does. Again, I’m sure he has his reasons, but I doubt they’d be comprehensible to anyone but another ferocious, delusional fundamentalist Christian religionist like himself.

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Rep. Paul Broun, R-GAThe Ten Commandments continue to be an obsession that the Religious Right cannot or will not shake. They continue to believe, among other things, that the US legal system is based on the Decalogue — even though it’s not, it’s based instead on English common law — and that forcing Americans to read the Decalogue and think about it, will somehow magically transform the country into a spiritual paradise — and that’s just laughable. The latest R.R. figure to agitate for Decalogue worship is Congressman Paul Broun, Republican from Georgia. Chris Rodda writing in Huff reports that Broun wants there to be a special “Ten Commandments Weekend” annually in the United States (WebCite cached article):

Well, spring is in the air, and that can mean only one thing: it’s time for a member of Congress to introduce a resolution proclaiming the first weekend of May “Ten Commandments Weekend.” This time, the resolution comes from Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA).

These kinds of resolutions almost always contain a dose of Christian nationalist American history revisionism, and Broun’s resolution, H. Res. 1175, is no different.

Rodda then explains how Broun misrepresented a John Quincy Adams quote to make it seem the Decalogue is more central to American law than it actually is. How nice. If Broun were correct about the Decalogue being so crucial to the existence of occidental civilization, one would think there’d be no reason for him to have to make up stuff, lie about them, or game Adams’s words in order to do so. But he did nonetheless … because ferocious religionists like Broun believe they are entitled to be disingenuous, if it gets people to obey their metaphysical codes.

Hat tip: Skeptics & Heretics Forum on Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Thomas JeffersonYes, you read that headline correctly. This is not a joke. It’s deadly serious. The reactionary, Religious Right-led Texas Board of Education has just ordered Thomas Jefferson, one of the most important of the Founding Fathers, from the Texas social-studies curriculum. The Texas Freedom Network has been at the proceedings and reported on this live, as it happened (WebCite cached article):

9:30 – Board member Cynthia Dunbar wants to change a standard having students study the impact of Enlightenment ideas on political revolutions from 1750 to the present. She wants to drop the reference to Enlightenment ideas (replacing with “the writings of”) and to Thomas Jefferson. She adds Thomas Aquinas and others. Jefferson’s ideas, she argues, were based on other political philosophers listed in the standards. We don’t buy her argument at all. Board member Bob Craig of Lubbock points out that the curriculum writers clearly wanted to students to study Enlightenment ideas and Jefferson. Could Dunbar’s problem be that Jefferson was a Deist? The board approves the amendment, taking Thomas Jefferson OUT of the world history standards.

TFN has even more to say on this:

9:40 – We’re just picking ourselves up off the floor. The board’s far-right faction has spent months now proclaiming the importance of emphasizing America’s exceptionalism in social studies classrooms. But today they voted to remove one of the greatest of America’s Founders, Thomas Jefferson, from a standard about the influence of great political philosophers on political revolutions from 1750 to today.

9:45 – Here’s the amendment Dunbar changed: “explain the impact of Enlightenment ideas from John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire, Charles de Montesquieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Thomas Jefferson on political revolutions from 1750 to the present.” Here’s Dunbar’s replacement standard, which passed: “explain the impact of the writings of John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire, Charles de Montesquieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and Sir William Blackstone.” Not only does Dunbar’s amendment completely change the thrust of the standard. It also appalling drops one of the most influential political philosophers in American history — Thomas Jefferson.

9:51 – Dunbar’s amendment striking Jefferson passed with the votes of the board’s far-right members and board member Geraldine “Tincy” Miller of Dallas.

This is just unbe-fucking-lievable. Have these people no shame? They’re so desperate to promote their religionism in Texas schools that they have written out mention of “the Enlightenment” and of Thomas Jefferson, in favor of Thomas Aquinas!

Hat tip: Religion Dispatches.

Photo credit: Kevin Labianco.

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I blogged already about the defense contractor Trijicon and the scripture passage references embedded on the sights they sold to the US military. The (UK) Telegraph reports the company has decided to remove the references (WebCite cached article):

Trijicon, which has used Biblical references for more than 20 years, said today that it had agreed to stop marking equipment for the US military and would make the same offer to military forces abroad.

It is also offering modification kits to forces free of charge to enable the references to be removed from any equipment which is currently deployed.

Of course, this sudden and drastic change of heart conflicts with their previous claim — included in the original ABC News report on the matter (WebCite cached article) — that there had been nothing wrong with what they were doing:

Tom Munson, director of sales and marketing for Trijicon, which is based in Wixom, Michigan, said the inscriptions “have always been there” and said there was nothing wrong or illegal with adding them.

I’m not sure why they would back down, if they were so convinced that there was nothing wrong with it. But they are.

This makes them hypocrites (if, in fact, they genuinely believe this practice to be acceptable, but are stopping it anyway, in violation of their own beliefs) or liars (if they knew it was wrong, but told ABC News that it wasn’t). Either way, the character of this “Christian company” is apparently lacking, if not non-existent.

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The linkage of Christianity and the military is age-old. It’s been repeatedly shown that fundamentalist Christians in the US are more likely than others to approve of war (WebCite cached article), and even things like torture of prisoners (WebCite cached article). The confluence of Christianity and warfare has even merged in the US military in a strange way, as recently revealed by ABC News (WebCite cached article):

U.S. Military Weapons Inscribed With Secret ‘Jesus’ Bible Codes

Coded references to New Testament Bible passages about Jesus Christ are inscribed on high-powered rifle sights provided to the United States military by a Michigan company, an ABC News investigation has found.

The sights are used by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the training of Iraqi and Afghan soldiers. The maker of the sights, Trijicon, has a $660 million multi-year contract to provide up to 800,000 sights to the Marine Corps, and additional contracts to provide sights to the U.S. Army.

This is problematic, because it violates Pentagon directives:

U.S. military rules specifically prohibit the proselytizing of any religion in Iraq or Afghanistan and were drawn up in order to prevent criticism that the U.S. was embarked on a religious “Crusade” in its war against al Qaeda and Iraqi insurgents.

Several different Bible passages are included on the sights:

One of the citations on the gun sights, 2COR4:6, is an apparent reference to Second Corinthians 4:6 of the New Testament, which reads: “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

Other references include citations from the books of Revelation, Matthew and John dealing with Jesus as “the light of the world.” John 8:12, referred to on the gun sights as JN8:12, reads, “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Despite this being against Pentagon rules, the company does not deny they’ve been doing it:

Trijicon confirmed to ABCNews.com that it adds the biblical codes to the sights sold to the U.S. military. Tom Munson, director of sales and marketing for Trijicon, which is based in Wixom, Michigan, said the inscriptions “have always been there” and said there was nothing wrong or illegal with adding them.

The company dismisses complaints about their practices because — they say — the complaints come from non-Christians:

Munson said the issue was being raised by a group that is “not Christian.”

I guess that means they get to break any rules they want and then refuse to listen to non-Christians who object, merely because they aren’t Christians. The company is overtly Christian and militantly so, as ABC News goes on to explain (WebCite cached article):

The company’s vision is described on its Web site: “Guided by our values, we endeavor to have our products used wherever precision aiming solutions are required to protect individual freedom.”

“We believe that America is great when its people are good,” says the Web site. “This goodness has been based on Biblical standards throughout our history, and we will strive to follow those morals.”

I guess that makes it OK. They believe it, therefore it’s true … even if it’s not. Typical theist rubbish-thinking, confusing metaphysical beliefs and subjective value judgements with objective, verifiable fact.

Critics have objected to this as a violation of separation of church and state. This may or may not be the case — and even if it is, militant Christians of this sort are not about to admit that church and state even ought to be separated. What’s more salient for them to know, is that this sort of militancy contradicts Christianity itself … specifically the words of their religion’s own founder. Consider what the gospels have to say, about the time when Jesus was being arrested:

And behold, one of those who were with Jesus reached and drew out his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. (Mt 26:51-52)

Militant Christians such as those who run Trijicon are not actually behaving like Christians, when they make weapons this way. They are, instead, warmongers who like violence … and in order to rationalize their love of war, they latch onto a warlike (albeit invalid) version of Christianity, then posture themselves as upright and pious and merely “doing the Lord’s duty.” In other words … they’re full of shit. And they know it.

In the end, they are merely bloodthirsty rogues who who have no idea what Jesus actually said, nor are they even interested, except perhaps in twisting his words to support their own militant, defiant, warlike hyperreligiosity.

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Andrew Sullivan, journalist and pioneering blogger whose views mostly have been in support of conservatism in the U.S., has decided to divest himself from the Right — and for reasons similar to my own for having done so. Earlier this week, he wrote:

It’s an odd formulation in some ways as “the right” is not really a single entity. But in so far as it means the dominant mode of discourse among the institutions and blogs and magazines and newspapers and journals that support the GOP, Charles Johnson is absolutely right in my view to get off that wagon for the reasons has has stated. Read his testament. It is full of emotion, but also of honesty.

In case you don’t know, Charles Johnson is another pioneering blogger, the man behind the Right-leaning blog Little Green Footballs. Sullivan goes on to say:

The relationship of a writer to a party or movement is, of course, open to discussion. I understand the point that Jonah Goldberg makes that politics is not about pure intellectual individualism; it requires understanding power, its organization and the actual choices that real politics demands. You can hold certain principles inviolate and yet also be prepared to back politicians or administrations that violate them because it’s better than the actual alternatives at hand. I also understand the emotional need to have a default party position, other things being equal. But there has to come a point at which a movement or party so abandons core principles or degenerates into such a rhetorical septic system that you have to take a stand. It seems to me that now is a critical time for more people whose principles lie broadly on the center-right to do so – against the conservative degeneracy in front of us.

Unfortunately, I saw conservatism’s “degeneracy” years ago and broke from it then. (Yes, I was a Republican party activist through the ’90s, despite my Agnosticism. It was not, then, an impediment to working for the Republican party in my home state of Connecticut. It would, however, very likely prevent me from being involved in the Republican party now; the non-religious no longer even have a home among Connecticut’s “moderate” Republicans.)

The chief reason for my departure was the GOP’s increasingly militant religiosity and the growing power of dominionists and quasi-dominionists within its ranks. As it happens, Sullivan also cites the Right’s religiosity as one point in his own indictment of the Right:

I cannot support a movement that holds that purely religious doctrine should govern civil political decisions and that uses the sacredness of religious faith for the pursuit of worldly power.

This is, of course, not new. Others associated with the Right have also noticed, and been repulsed by, the hyperreligiosity of US conservatism (e.g. Kathleen Parker, about whom I’ve blogged already). Hopefully, Sullivan’s mention of Right-wing religious militancy will be picked up by more people, and maybe this time someone will actually pay attention.

Then again, with the popularity of ardent religionists and quasi-dominionists among the Right (e.g. Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, etc.), I doubt Sullivan’s critique will be enough. More than likely, the sanctimoniously-blinded Right will just cast aside Sullivan’s indictment by asserting that “he was never really a conservative,” and thus dismiss him. More’s the pity.

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