Posts Tagged “religiosity”

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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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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The mayor argues that this Nativity scene celebrates the town's origins. / KOAT-TVAccording to Fox News, it’s on, folks! That’s right, Christianists’ annual paranoid whining about an imagined effort to abolish the celebration of Christmas in the US has resumed early — in August! (Even so, that’s not as early as back in 2013.) This story involves the town of Belen, NM which has a nativity in a city park year-round (“Belen” is the Spanish equivalent of “Bethelehem,” so Christians there appear to believe this is somehow necessary). KOAT-TV in Albuquerque reports on this particular little controversy (WebCite cached article):

It’s an iconic symbol for Christians everywhere — the birth of Jesus Christ, known as the Nativity scene — and it’s on display in a Belen city park. But now a Wisconsin advocacy group is warning the city to take it down.

“My first reaction was seething anger,” Belen Mayor Jerah Cordova said.

It’s an iconic symbol for Christians everywhere — the birth of Jesus Christ, known as the Nativity scene — and it’s on display in a Belen city park. But now a Wisconsin advocacy group is warning the city to take it down.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation says it was contacted by a concerned local resident and, after reviewing the situation, it agrees: the Nativity scene on government property is unconstitutional because it’s not a separation of church and state.

But Cordova doesn’t see it like that. He says the scene is more historic than religious, as “Belen” is Spanish for Bethlehem.

“Our town was named Belen for a reason, because our founders wanted it to be named after Bethlehem and of course, what happened in Bethlehem was the birth of Christ, which is something we’ve expressed since our founding,” he said.

I love the editorial reference to the FFRF as “a Wisconsin advocacy group.” As though they’re a bunch of meddling outsiders trying to tell these fine upstanding locals what to do, and who have no place in New Mexico. It turns out this is a common refrain, particularly regarding the FFRF, when they intervene anywhere in the South. “How dare these ‘outsiders’ come down here and order us around?” is a frequent complaint by Christianists offended by being confronted with the law. As noted in the story, though, the FFRF had been notified of this by locals who’d requested their assistance. Besides, the FFRF’s status as “outsiders” to Belen is irrelevant. If they’re breaking the law, then they’re breaking the law, and being told so by out-of-staters cannot and will never change that fact.

As KOAT-TV relates, mayor Cordova used an appeal to the slippery slope in order to justify keeping the nativity on city property:

“Where does it stop?” Cordova asked. “If we don’t stand up for the Nativity scene in the heart of Belen, next will they be asking us to change our name?”

For the record, I know of no effort anywhere in the country to force any municipality to change its name. It has never happened. To assume it will happen merely because one imagines it might happen, is irrational and illogical. At any rate, fuelled by his sanctimonious rage and standing on a foundation of fallacy and paranoia, Cordova promised his city will defy the FFRF and take the case to court. The odds are very good that they’ll lose. What’s more, a court battle is likely to cost them a good deal of money, even if some Christofascist legal outfit promises to represent them pro bono, because after the court case is over and they’ve lost, Belen will end up having to pay the plaintiffs’ legal costs. And that won’t be cheap.

I can’t help but wonder why any of this is even necessary. First, why must this nativity — reflecting Belen’s heritage as a New World “Bethlehem” — be placed only on municipal property? Is there any reason it can’t be moved to private property? Will it somehow lose all its magical power unless it’s in a city park? Is there any reason it can’t be moved to some church’s front lawn or something?

Second, why are Christians even erecting idols to their deity — which is essentially what a nativity is — in the first place? As I point out in my page on Decalogue monuments, idolatry is forbidden to Christians, as recorded in both the Old and New Testaments:

You shall not make for yourselves idols, nor shall you set up for yourselves an image or a sacred pillar, nor shall you place a figured stone in your land to bow down to it; for I am the Lord your God. (Lv 26:1)

Those who regard vain idols forsake their faithfulness (Jon 2:8)

Let all those be ashamed who serve graven images, who boast themselves of idols; worship Him, all you gods. (Ps 97:7)

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (1 Cor 10:14)

Little children, guard yourselves from idols. (1 Jn 5:21)

On top of this, though, a nativity put up prominently on public property is most certainly a form of public piety, which also was explicitly forbidden by none other than Jesus himself:

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)

How, exactly, is a public nativity scene even an appropriate way to worship a deity who not only prohibited the construction of idols, but also public piety of any kind or at any time? Maybe it’s because I’m a cold-hearted, cynical, godless agnostic heathen and haven’t been granted the special sacred insight required to explain the illogic inherent in all of this, but I really and truly don’t get it.

Photo credit: KOAT-TV.

Hat tip: Raw Story.

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Crying babyOne of Connecticut’s two most famous convicted massacrers, Steven Hayes, is having a hard time of it lately. Life on death row, it seems, it just too fucking tough on the poor guy. He can’t stand it there. In an effort to protest being on death row for the rest of his life (because, let’s face it, the state of Connecticut is just not going to execute him in spite of his death sentence), he and his attorneys have come up with a novel way to throw a tantrum at the legal system.

They’re using religion, of all things, as their shield. Yes, religion! The New Haven Register reports on their latest laughable court maneuvers (WebCite cached article):

One of the men convicted in the 2007 Cheshire home invasion and triple homicide is suing state Department of Correction officials, claiming his rights are being violated because he isn’t being given a kosher diet in prison.

Steven Hayes, 51, who is on death row at Northern Correctional Institution in Somers, filed the hand-written civil rights complaint in U.S. District Court against the Rev. Anthony Bruno, director of religious services; wardens Edward Maldonado and Angel Quiros, and members of the Religious Review Committee.

In his complaint, Hayes describes himself as an orthodox practicing Jew, and claims he has been denied a kosher diet, which he has been requesting since May 2013. The complaint seeks to ensure that all Jewish prisoners have access to kosher food.

“This continuous denial of a kosher diet is a clear violation of my First Amendment right to freely practice my religion of choice, Judaism,” Hayes wrote.

Being the hateful, cold-hearted cynic that I am, I suspect Hayes isn’t sincere about wanting to be an orthodox Jew. You’d be smart, too, not to believe his claim; the guy, after all, is a vicious career sociopath who probably has never told the truth about anything in his life. He also is extremely unhappy about being in prison; since his arrest in July 2007 after massacring the Petit family in Cheshire, CT this monster has pulled a number of stunts, such as faking suicide attempts more than once (cached), and sending suicide notes to the Hartford Courant (cached).

It would seem, then, that this lawsuit over kosher food is just another of his publicity stunts … or rather — and this is much more likely — yet another of his attorneys’ publicity stunts.

However, even in spite of Hayes’s demonstrated track record of ridiculous histrionics and general bitchy drama-queen act, as with all matters religious, it’s impossible to know for certain whether or not his claim of being an orthodox Jew is genuine. As I said, I suspect it’s not, and that it’s just a scheme he and his lawyers cooked up in order to give him more publicity, in an irrational attempt to get more sympathy for himself, because the poor little thing just can’t handle being in prison. It’s not a religion’s credit that it can be used by sociopaths as a means to grandstand. It’s also not the first time one of the Cheshire home-invasion defendants has used religion to defend the indefensible. (Defense attorneys tend to be absurdly shameless — even in cases, such as this one, where the guilt of their clients is not in question and there is absolutely no chance an innocent person was convicted.)*

Ordinarily I’d expect orthodox Jews to wish to disavow this vicious, murderous cretin and remove him from their number … but I suspect they won’t do very much along those lines. They’ll just say he doesn’t represent them, yada yada yada. As though that actually means anything.

I get that Hayes isn’t enjoying his prison life, and his attorneys consider him a saint who was railroaded by the courts, but let’s be honest: Hayes is on death row because he and his friend Josh consciously chose to go there (cached). My suggestion is that neither the courts nor the orthodox Jewish community indulge this savage creature any more; that his lawyers stop pitching fits because (in their minds) the state of Connecticut insolently dared convict their client and sentence him to death; and that Hayes himself finally fucking grow the hell up and accept the punishment he, himself, earned … and stop being such a fucking little crybaby. It shouldn’t be possible to use a truly divinely-crafted religion (which Judaism claims to be) as an attention-getting tool for immature subhuman monsters … but it is. More’s the pity.

Update: The Hartford Courant‘s Jon Lender just shone a brilliant light on how incredibly profitable it can be for attorneys to represent the creatures who inhabit death row (cached). All I can say is, wow! What a racket! I have to wonder how much Hayes’s attorneys earned cooking up this religious rationale for suing the state, and how much they’ll earn pushing it through the court.

Photo credit: Olga / Олга, via Flickr.

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Former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland fills in as a talk show host on WTIC AM radio in Farmington, Conn., Friday, July 2, 2010. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill), via New Haven RegisterNote: There’s been some news on this case; please see an update below.

I recently updated my post about former Connecticut governor John G. Rowland having a talk-show on WTIC-AM in Hartford, by noting he had to quit WTIC-AM (WebCite cached article) over what were — at the time he left the station — allegations about his involvement in election fraud. Those allegations have, since his resignation, become a federal indictment (cached).

In this morning’s Hartford Courant, reporter Jon Lender goes over the indictment — which is based on accusations by a GOP Congressional candidate and her husband, backed by emails he’d sent them as well as to another Congressional candidate who’d previously rebuffed his solicitation (cached):

“Love the Gov.”

That’s how ex-Gov. John G. Rowland signed an email to Republican congressional candidate Mark Greenberg on Oct. 23, 2009 — in the first of several messages that prosecutors say he sent over seven months in hopes of becoming a consultant to Greenberg’s 2010 [Republican primary] campaign in the 5th District.

Rowland wasn’t bashful about mentioning his former office — which he quit in 2004, a year before being jailed for corruption — in pitching Greenberg for what a newly released federal indictment describes as a “a sham consulting contract” that would have paid him secretly for helping Greenberg’s campaign.

Rowland depicted himself as still a big man in the district that he’d represented, himself, as a Republican congressman from 1985 to 1991 before he became governor.…

Greenberg ultimately refused the contract.

Rowland didn’t settle for Greenberg’s rejection of his proposal:

In the 2010 election campaign, the indictment says that Rowland proposed that he be paid through a non-profit animal shelter run by Greenberg. Two years later, the indictment says, Republican candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley agreed to Rowland’s proposal that he enter a consulting arrangement with her husband’s nursing-home business while helping her ultimately unsuccessful 2012 campaign.

The $35,000 in payments that Rowland received under that consulting contract were, in reality, payments from the Wilson-Foley campaign for his political assistance — even though the Wilson-Foley camp said that Rowland was a volunteer helper, the indictment says.

Rowland allegedly wanted to conceal his paid campaign work because of potential negative publicity over his December 2004 conviction for political corruption; he pleaded guilty to accepting more than $100,000 in benefits from businessmen while he was governor from 1995 to mid-2004.

At the time he was being paid by Brian Foley’s business and helping the Wilson-Foley campaign, Rowland also was using his role as WTIC-AM radio talk show host to criticize one of Wilson-Foley’s opponents on the air.

What he did for Wilson-Foley was to use his radio show to go after her chief primary challenger, then-state-senator Andrew Roraback (cached). He and his co-host at the time, the Reverend Will Marotti, went as far as to announce Roraback’s cell phone number over the air, implying listeners should call him and protest his opposition to the death penalty as well as his position in other “social issues.” Most of us would call this “inciting to harass.”

Now, why am I pouncing on the poor, beleaguered John Rowland? What’s the relevance of this to religion? That’s easy. As I noted some years ago, Rowland used his religiosity to claim he’s been “redeemed” since he was shamed out of the governor’s office in 2004 and pled guilty to federal corruption charges. He even marketed himself as a motivational speaker, with his main credential being his felonious past, his claimed remorse, and his presumed redemption. Here is his motivational-speaking Web site (cached). He claimed to have become a better man because of his experience and that he could provide life-lessons to other people.

But clearly, he wasn’t really walking that talk. His correspondence with Greenberg in 2010 demonstrates he had his conniving little hand out, trying to scarf up extra money on the side, without anyone being the wiser. In other words, he did again pretty much the same sorts of things he’d done 10 or more years ago, which had forced him out of the governor’s office in the first place.

Had he actually learned his lesson? No. He’d merely pretended to. And he committed this hypocrisy under cover of being religious, arm-in-arm much of that time with his erstwhile theo-political operative Marotti. He and Marotti must have forgotten that their Jesus explicitly and unambiguously forbid them ever to be hypocritical.

What’s more, he used his WTIC microphone to make himself and Marotti (who’s taken his place at the station) into the chief spokesmen for Connecticut’s Religious Right. And those R.R. listeners ate it all up, happily. They called into the show, calling him “governor” even though he’d been out of office for years and in spite of his own crimes that put him in federal prison for a year. All of that was irrelevant. They eagerly kowtowed before, and slavered over, this admitted felon.

Their chief rationales for doing so, are: First, “everybody in office is on the take,” so it’s OK that Rowland had been. After all, there’ve been some Connecticut Democrats convicted of corruption (e.g. former Hartford mayor Eddie Perez and former state senator Ernie Newton), so what’s the big deal with Rowland getting free work done on his cottage by state contractors and political operatives? That the “everyone does it” and “but the other side is corrupt too!” arguments are brazenly fallacious, is something that doesn’t matter to them. Second, many of them think the Hartford Courant fabricated the charges against him back in the early 2000s, and drove a completely-innocent man from office. It’s natural they’d do this, since Rowland himself had spent his last couple of years as governor repeatedly mouthing that very mantra. His wife Patty even once let loose with her own “parody” of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” lamenting how horrible the Courant had been to Connecticut’s first couple (cached). It was all very childish and petulant, of course — not to mention later belied by the fact that Rowland himself allocuted to the charges in federal court when he pled guilty — but many of his followers still cling desperately, in spite of that, to the idea that the Courant had made it all up.

This time around, Rowland once again claims his critics and accusers are wrong. He’s pled not guilty, and his lawyer promises he will be “fully vindicated” (cached). Given the documents in the indictment, it’s impossible to believe this is going to happen, if this should get to trial (unless the jury is packed with Rowland-loving Rightists). Word around Connecticut, over the past couple weeks, had been that, like the Foleys, Rowland was negotiating a plea deal. That effort failed. Maybe his lawyer is pushing back in order to renegotiate a better deal for Rowland, and he’ll plead out later this year. Who knows?

But whatever the case, the real bottom line here is clear: Religious people are just too fucking eager to open themselves up to bad people who’ve claimed their religion “reformed” them. It’s my experience that corrupt people tend to remain corrupt, no matter what they say and no matter if they appear to have cleaned up their acts. Religion has no power to force anyone to become a better person; they either reform themselves, or they don’t. Religion has nothing to do with it. Now, believers in a religion love to think their religion has that kind of power … but their believing it, cannot and will never make it so. Their desire that this be the case, though, leaves them prey to liars, con artists and swindlers.

Update: John Rowland’s trial ended yesterday, and the jury convicted him (cached). He and his attorneys will, no doubt, appeal this, but neither his conviction nor the appeal were unexpected. Oh how the mighty have fallen!

Photo credit: AP Photo/Jessica Hill, via New Haven Register.

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