Posts Tagged “religious right”

US Courthouse at CovingtonI was sure Kim Davis, the anti-gay clerk of Rowan county, KY who was briefly jailed for defying a federal judge’s order to issue marriage licenses, wasn’t done trying to derail the process. And it turns out, I was right: She isn’t done! As the Associated Press reports, she may have disobeyed the judge’s orders once again (WebCite cached article):

A Kentucky county clerk may have again defied a federal judge’s order regarding gay-marriage licenses by altering license forms to remove her name, an attorney who represents one of the clerk’s employees told the judge Friday in a court filing.

In a separate filing Friday, attorneys for the gay couples who sued Davis appear to agree.…

[A]ttorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union said in a court filing that the changes on the form require [deputy clerk Brian] Mason to issue the licenses “in his capacity as a ‘notary public’ rather than a deputy clerk of the Rowan County Clerk’s Office,” changes that “do not comply” with the court’s order to not interfere with her employees who issue the licenses.

“These alterations call into question the validity of the marriage licenses issued,” the attorneys wrote in a footnote to a motion asking the judge to certify the case as a class-action lawsuit. “Plaintiffs are exploring legal options to address these material alterations.”

State law requires marriage licenses to be issued under the authority of the county clerk. Someone else, a minister or other officiant, then performs the ceremony and signs the license. The clerk then files the license with county records.

I can’t help but view Ms Davis’s behavior as that of a toddler who, when given an instruction by an adult, creatively searches for ways to manipulate or circumvent the instruction, repeatedly pushing the boundaries of what she’s allowed to do. It really is very childish.

I note, too, that the judge in this case — despite his willingness to jail Ms Davis for a few days — hasn’t been very helpful regarding the licenses themselves:

[David] Bunning, the federal judge, has said he does not know if the licenses are valid and it was up to the gay couples to take that chance.

This waffling aligns with the fact that he caved in to Religious Right pressure and released her. How nice.

This is all very typical of how the Religious Right operates. Even when they know they no longer have any legal leg to stand on, they consistently and repeatedly refuse to bend to reality. They cannot and will never cave in … not willingly, anyway. No matter what happens, they resist … and they resist some more … and they resist even more after that … and they just keep on resisting, resisting, and resisting, forever more. They’ll never stop, until they either get their way, or die off. This is one of the reasons for their success … they wear down their opponents, who eventually get tired and surrender to their demands. So one can hardly fault them for using a successful tactic. Still, that they’d continue waging fights like this one, even after they’d lost the war, shows how irrational and childish they are.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: Talking Points Memo.

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White FlagOne of the Religious Right’s main tactics is a very simple and direct one: Intimidation. They relentlessly bully their opposition at every turn. They never let up, not for any reason, until they get their way. Unfortunately, this is a tactic that works, all too often, because those opposing them typically lose their nerve at some point and drop the fight. This is precisely what just happened in the case of Rowan county KY clerk Kim Davis; as the New York Times reports, she was released from jail today (WebCite cached article):

Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed last week after she defied a court’s order that she issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, was ordered released on Tuesday.…

[Federal district] Judge [David L.] Bunning ordered that Ms. Davis “shall not interfere in any way, directly or indirectly, with the efforts of her deputy clerks to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples.” He said any such action would be regarded as “a violation” of his release order.

That this would happen was virtually a given, once the R.R. — captained by the likes of Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Mat Staver, “Flip” Benham, and an assortment of other militant Christianist characters — had made the whole affair into a fucking circus (cached and cached). It was inevitable that Judge Bunning would bend over for this Christofascist mob. Yes, he ordered her not to interfere with the distribution of marriage licenses, but she doesn’t intend to obey him; her lawyer has said she plans to stop the granting of licenses (cached). And that, you may remember, has been her goal all along. Once she does so, she’ll have scored a victory. And on top of it all, she’ll have made herself a martyr, and will be able to milk that as a career, no matter how her tenure as a county clerk turns out.

At some point, people need to figure out how to “gird up their loins” (to use a Biblical phrase) and stand up to the R.R. consistently, without caving in all the time. Unfortunately, cowardice is far too deeply ingrained in human nature to allow that to happen. More’s the pity.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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crybaby bill-o / Steven Perez, via FlickrJust a couple days ago I blogged about the Christianist phenomenon of “disaster theology” wherein terrible events are blamed on sinfulness, gay marriage, abortion, fornication, etc. in an effort to keep “the faithful” perpetually angry about — well, about whatever-it-is the faithful are supposed to stay worked up about. The WDBJ shooting near Moneta, VA yesterday morning (cached) provides yet another sterling example of “disaster theology.” As Mediaite reports, this one came from the sanctimonious mouth of the sanctimonious Bill O’Reilly (cached):

Bill O’Reilly tonight connected the WDBJ shooting to America “turning away from spiritualism” and saying that nearly every killer he’s ever reported on has believed in nothing.

O’Reilly cited “rise in nihilism and a decline in spiritual belief,” as well as the declining number of Americans identifying as Christians and the increasing number of Americans identifying as religiously innovated, to connect this to what influences killers with “few restraints in their lives.”

O’Reilly went on to make a crazed generalization:

[His guest, psychotherapist Karen Ruskin] insisted that mental illness doesn’t discriminate whether you’re a believer or non-believer, but O’Reilly insisted, “Every single murderer over 40 years that I have covered in these circumstances has been either atheistic, agnostic, no religious basis at all.”

He again asked, “Can you point to one person who committed mass murder recently that had a religious background? You cannot.”

The Mediaite story doesn’t say whether or not Ruskin had any response to that. But I can easily point out murderers … mass murderers, even … who were most assuredly religious:

Oh, and in addition to all of the above … there’s the fact that most people in American prisons aren’t non-religious, which O’Reilly contends. Quite the opposite: It turns out, rather, they’re mostly all Christian (cached).

O’Reilly also whined about people “practicing” nihilism. I have no idea what he could have meant by that. This statement is a non sequitur since nihilism isn’t something a person can “practice.”

He did concede that “jihadism” could be a form of religious violence, but he sectioned it off as its own thing, as though it weren’t relevant to what he was saying. Really, though, it’s indeed quite relevant, if inconvenient for Billy and his Christianism. Jihadism is a fanatical and violent form religionism, an Islamic version of the exact same impulse followed by all the anti-abortion murderers I listed above.

Billy’s claim that all murderers are non-religious is just plain fucking untrue … and Billy himself can’t possibly be so ignorant or stupid as to think it is. He just said it because he knows his audience will lap it up — because they’re all both ignorant and stupid. So that lie puts him in my “lying liars for Jesus” club, where he’ll find a lot of his friends.

One last thing: When Billy talked up the virtues and importance of “spiritualism,” I don’t think that’s what he meant. I think he meant “spirituality.” “Spiritualism” is something else, and I don’t think it’s something a devout Catholic — which Billy supposedly is — would really care much for.

Photo credit: Steven Perez, via Flickr.

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The Assumption of the Virgin (1612-17); Peter Paul RubensSomething I’ve long warned American Catholics about is their alliance with the Religious Right. This movement had grown out of the Southern Baptist Convention initially as pushback against segregation (WebCite cached article). And its membership remains primarily evangelical Protestant … even though the Roman Catholic bishops have joined ranks with them, and there are plenty of Catholic politicians (e.g. Rick Santorum, Sam Brownback, Newt Gingrich, and others) who are definitely part of the R.R. The reality of this Catholic/R.R. alliance is that it’s tenuous at best, predicated on only a few points in common, such as opposition to abortion and contraception. The reality is that they’ve been ecclesiastical rivals for centuries, and while they’re no longer at war with one another, each maintains its own distinct vision of Christ and Christianity.

What a lot of Catholics fail to understand — or even know about — is the degree of hatred a lot of their supposed allies in the R.R. have for them. They don’t often make a point of it, but there are occasions when evangelical Protestants find themselves unable to contain their contempt for those “saint-worshipping papists.” An example of this phenomenon emerged when TX gov. Greg Abbott — a Catholic — posted something recently to Facebook (cached):

Texaas Governor Greg Abbott (R) got a lesson in religious tolerance over the weekend after posting an image of the Virgin Mary accompanied by praise on his Facebook page, according to the San Antonio Express-News [cached].

On Saturday the governor, who is Catholic, posted an image of the mother of Jesus [cached] on his Texans for Abbott Facebook page, accompanied by the comment: “The Virgin Mary is exalted above the choirs of angels. Blessed is the Lord who has raised her up.” Saturday was the celebration of the Assumption; the day when the Holy Mother is believed to have been accepted into Heaven.

Responses from followers on Facebook were fast and furious, with many joining in with the governor and praising the Virgin Mary, while others less accepting of his Catholicism accused him of idolatry.

“So you’re Catholic Mr. Abbott? So what? You worship idols; not something I’d be telling everyone,” one commenter wrote, while another seconded the comment, writing: “This is nothing more than idol worship.”

Another pointed out that “Jesus is The Blessed and Holy One!!!” before asking “Were you hacked ?????”

Comments ran to over 900 as people of various faiths battled over whose religion was the most righteous, argued over Scripture, and even questioned the accuracy of the Bible and whether Jesus wrote it.

Honestly, I hadn’t known the Republican Abbott was Catholic. And I suppose a lot of folks (of the evangelical Protestant sort) even in Texas didn’t know it — which is why his Facebook post elicited so much sanctimonious outrage. Had his Catholicism been more widely known, the reaction probably wouldn’t have been as extensive or vitriolic as this, because those evangelical Protestants would already have been steeled to Abbott’s Catholicism and held their tongues.

At any rate, this should provide a lesson to any Catholics out there whose political leanings are toward the Religious Right. Pay attention: These people are not your friends. Many don’t even consider you to be Christians! They may not be up-front about it, or let it show very often, but the bottom line is that they hate Catholics almost as much as they hate Muslims and atheists. If they manage to seize control of the country and make it into the “Christian nation” they’ve been screaming for, once they’ve dispensed with both of those groups, Catholics — followed closely by Orthodox Christians — will be next on their hit list. They won’t give a shit that you helped them establish their Christocracy; they’ll persecute you mercilessly in spite of it, because you’re un-Christian idolaters, as they see it. And they’ll be happy to go after you with everything they’ve got.

So Catholics, be careful. Very, very careful.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Secret of my success: I'm going to succeed because I'm crazy enough to think I can …. / Motifake.ComNote: There’s been some news about this story; please see below.

I assume a lot of my readers will have heard about Michigan Republican legislator Todd Courser who came up with a truly bizarre plot to deflect criticism which would come over an affair he’d been having with fellow Republican legislator Cindy Gamrat. This crazy scheme involved releasing a phony story that he’d met with male prostitutes, and — has says — had been intended to “smoke out” someone who’d been blackmailing him (WebCite cached article). I haven’t figured out how planting a “false flag” story would have done this, nor has anyone else … but since news of this broke, Courser has been petulant and defiant about it.

Given how wingnutty this scheme was, I’d assumed that mental illness somehow figured into Courser’s plans. I mean, it really is so astonishingly crazy that no person in his/her right mind would have cooked up such a scenario. So as with most cases of religiosity entangled with mental illness, I hadn’t planned to blog about it.

But Courser posted a response to the scandal raging around him on Facebook (cached) that — while it’s long and rambling and still may evince just a little mental instability — is coherent enough, and aligns well enough with Christian thinking, to indicate that the man knows what he’s doing and is motivated more by his religiosity than any mental illness he might have. The idiot begins with a statement which makes clear he intends to use his religiosity to rationalize what he did:

My lack of righteousness does not negate God’s righteousness –

From this point on it’s mostly a self-serving and self-pitying ramble of how he’s a sinner and all of that bullshit, interspersed with Bible quotations:

There has been nothing more humbling than to know each and every day that I am a sinner and need a savior – nothing in my actions negates Him or His promises. What my actions showcase are my lacking and how far off the mark this man’s condition is from God’s Holiness.

Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God.”…

In my life sin had its root and it worked to undo so much and has yet to undo so much more; my life, my reputation, my relationship with my wife and children and my extended family; not to mention my relationships and reputation around the world. This sin in my life has been and will continue to reap its reward. In all of this many have commented publicly and have enjoyed the spectacle of watching a man burn and have reveled in the joy it has brought in themselves, but all of this has also brought so many who have been absolutely encouraging and supportive.

He also wants us to know he’s not alone, and how reassured he’s been by knowing it:

A special group has been of those men who have come forward to express their own failures to me in fidelity and what guilt and shame they have felt for their own failures in their own faith and faithfulness to God, His holy word, and to their wives and children. Just having heard their stories has been some of the most humbling experiences of my life; with several have come forward to share their pain for participating in/and addicted to pornography and what that has wrought in themselves and their families. And finally a couple have come forward to express their guilt and shame for being faith filled but struggling with how to reconcile that with having homosexual tendencies and trying to reconcile that with their faith. In every one of these experiences it has been an incredibly humbling to me.

He also complains that he’s been criticized, and punctuates this whine with a Bible quote that implicitly threatens his critics with his God’s judgement:

It is mystifying to be in the middle of this hurricane and to be totally here and be present and feel the full fury of so much condemnation. It seems to have brought out the best in some and the most vile in others; so many words of encouragement and yet so many people who revel in piling on and watching another burn alive. I hope all of you who read this can live without having to live thru this personally and I hope that in your lives you have no sin to be held accountable for and so do not need a savior; I am just clearly in need of one; my life and my actions in no way diminish Him, or His plan, or His hope and sacrifice for all who have sinned.

Galatians 6:7 “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

That’s about all of Courser’s pathetic, whining spew I can stomach repeating here. But it’s enough to make clear the theme of his argument, which is that, like everyone, he’s a “sinner”; that all he did was “sin”; that his God is great; in the end, that’s all that matters; and so he’s certainly not going to do anything like resign over it.

This ridiculous screed immediately reminded me of a common Christian slogan: “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” It’s a convenient rationale for not having to accept the consequences of their own bad behavior or their failure to live up to the standards that they believe their own Jesus taught. They can just do anything they want, any time they want, to anyone they want, and no one’s permitted to say anything about it, because after all they’re just “sinners” and can’t help themselves. He even cited John 8:7, which is the part of the story of the woman taken in adultery in which Jesus says that “He who is without sin may cast the first stone.” Courser, thus, is telling his critics that they’re just as bad as he is and therefore are not allowed to criticize him any more.

As I said, this Facebook post is long — perhaps a lot longer than it needed to be — but it was composed with a clear argument in mind, and it makes that argument quite readily. What’s more, that argument is one that a lot of Christians make when they’ve been caught doing things they shouldn’t … so it’s not really all that novel or unusual (at least, not anywhere near as unusual as the scheme Courser had been plotting which led up to it). So, contrary to my initial impression of Courser, I no longer believe he’s so mentally ill that he’s not aware of what he’s doing. He does understand what he did, and he’s doubling down on it rather than making any concessions.

This dual Christian principle … i.e. that everyone sins all the time so Christians can’t be expected to behave themselves; and whenever they do cross the line, no one is allowed to point it out, because everyone’s a sinner anyway … makes that religion one of the most dysfunctional and amoral philosophies one can imagine. And honestly, it really needs to just fucking stop. If Christians really are following the true religion taught by the true Almighty, one ought to expect that, as a population, they’d behave better, collectively, than everyone else. That they cannot or will not exhibit better behavior than the rest of humanity tends to discredit the supposed divine nature of their religion.

Update: After a strange and convoluted legislative proceeding, Rep. Courser finally resigned, and Rep. Gamrat was expelled, from the Michigan legislature (cached). He quit in spite of insisting that he hadn’t done anything wrong, but if he did, it was OK because other people have done it and he’s a sinner anyway so the poor little thing couldn’t help himself.

Photo credit: Motifake.Com.

Hat tip: Raw Story.

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Christ Facepalm / Doc, via FlickrThis morning on CNN, GOP presidential candidate and former AR governor and Fox News pundit Mike Huckabee doubled down on his opposition to all abortions all the time, everywhere and under all circumstances. In an interview, he supported the Paraguayan government having forced a juvenile rape victim to give birth (WebCite cached article):

Mike Huckabee says his opposition to abortion rights in any circumstances won’t change after Paraguay refused a 10-year-old rape victim access to the procedure.

Of course, Shucksabee did offer up a rhetorical handwave in the direction of saying rape is bad, but then coupled it with a happy rationalization for abusing the rape victim a second time:

The former Arkansas governor who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination called the girl’s rape a tragedy in an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” Sunday.

But he said: “Let’s not compound a tragedy by taking yet another life.”

“A 10-year-old girl being raped is horrible. But does it solve a problem by taking the life of an innocent child? And that’s really the issue,” Huckabee said.

Here’s a little note, especially for male Republicans. Whenever you stake out a position beginning with “Rape is terrible, but,” whatever you say after that “but” automatically and completely nullifies your introductory clause about how rape is bad. Because no matter how you slice it, you are — as I said — purposefully doubling the tragedy of a rape, and knowingly victimizing someone a second time. Yes, I know you think you’re reinforcing your acknowledgement that rape is bad … but what you’re really doing is saying, “Rape is bad, but there’s something else I consider worse,” which in reality is a way of dismissing — rather than reinforcing — the tragedy of rape. Telling a rape victim, “I know you were raped, and that’s awful, but” can never justify treating her in a horrific manner. It just doesn’t.

Better yet, male Republicans … maybe it’d be best for you to not to say anything at all about rape and simply shut up about it. Several of you have found it to be a minefield you couldn’t emerge from unscathed.

To be perfectly clear: Cases like the one discussed in this interview are rare, and thankfully so (cached). Yet — also to be clear — they’re no less real. The delivery in question was by cesarean section (aka surgery), which is risky in children. And a lot of children that age aren’t even able to carry babies to term. A policy of always forcing them to do so is inhumane, intolerable, and inexcusable. Period. Yet, Shucksabee and a lot of other Christofascists like him have no problem with it. None at all! It’s what their deity demands, after all, so it’s what they think must be done … to everyone, without regard to whether or not they share those beliefs. Which is why they’ve been clamoring for decades to make their beliefs the law of the land. (And it’s why I call them “Christofascists.”)

Photo credit: Doc, via Flickr.

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SiegeOfAcre1291For years now I’ve blogged about a Right-wing movement in the US I’ve called “the Great Neocrusade.” It’s a modern incarnation of the medieval Crusade, during which western European Christians ventured to the Levant in an effort to drive Muslims out, under the principle that their presence there was an affront to their Jesus which couldn’t be tolerated. (At least, that’s what the Crusade became. Its origin was in Pope Urban’s approval for Latin Christians venturing east to assist the Byzantines, but that scenario didn’t last long and the Crusaders embarked on their own mission, distinct from Byzantium’s, soon after their arrival. And about a century after the Crusades’ launch it would become a campaign against Byzantium itself).

As it stands within the American Right, the Neocrusade is an effort to drive Islam from the new Christian “holy land.” Neocrusaders are predominantly Christians — most of them being of the evangelical Protestant sort — but there are some Jews who’re part of the movement too. Their effort is predicated ostensibly on the threat posed by Islamist terror, which to be sure is horrific and should be fought using every means at our disposal to do so. That said, the Neocrusaders’ main contention — i.e. that Islam is inherently violent and all Muslims therefore are potential terrorists — is quite simply not true. What’s really going on is that these folk view Islam as the chief rival of their own religion, are incensed that it exists at all, and want to get rid of it in order to show the power of their own faith. All the crap about terrorism is mere pretense. That’s not to say Islamist terror isn’t real — just that they know better than to stomp around claiming every Muslim is a terrorist; they just say that in order to rationalize what they’re doing.

For the most part this Neocrusade manifests itself in the form of rhetoric and occasionally votes (such as outlawing “shari’a law” even though it’s not now, nor will it ever become, the law of the land in the US).

So it’s rare that Neocrusaders actually take up arms against Muslims in the US, but it nearly happened just in the last few months. The Web site Heavy.Com reports a Right-winger and failed Congressional candidate from Tennessee named Robert Doggart admitted he’d planned to stage an attack on a mosque and schools in Hancock, NY (WebCite cached article):

A Tennessee man, who made a failed bid for Congress last year as an independent with extreme right wing beliefs, has admitted in federal court to planning an attack on a Muslim community in New York.

Robert Doggart, 63, was recorded on a wiretapped phone talking about his plan to travel along with members of a private militia to an area near Hancock, New York, known as Islamberg, to burn down a mosque, school and cafeteria, while gunning down anyone from the community who tried to stop them.

“Our small group will soon be faced with the fight of our lives. We will offer those lives as collateral to prove our commitment to our God,” Doggart said in a Facebook post, according to court documents. “We shall be Warriors who will inflict horrible numbers of casualties upon the enemies of our Nation and World Peace.”

Doggart was arrested April 10 by the FBI on charges that he solicited others to violate civil rights, attempted to damage religious property because of the religious character of the property and made threats through interstate communication.

Two weeks later, Doggart pleaded guilty to interstate communication of threats. A judge has not yet signed off on the plea agreement. He was released on $30,000 bond to home confinement after the agreement was made and faces between 0 and 5 years in federal prison, along with a possible fine of up to $250,000.

The Heavy article describes Doggart’s plot in detail and includes court documentation of the case as well as of Doggart’s background. There’s a lot of detail there and I can’t hope to do any of it justice; I’ll just suggest you check out the article and find out what happened.

There are two things about this case I find disappointing: First, the judge has let Doggart out on bond, in spite of the fact that he’d admitted, in court, to having planned a terror attack. That decision is mind-blowing. Had Doggart been, instead, a Muslim who’d admitted involvement in a terror attack, there’s no fucking way he’d be free right now. Second, the mass media haven’t picked up this story, not even (to my knowledge) news outlets local to Hancock NY or southeastern Tennessee. I hadn’t heard of Heavy.Com before finding this story, and ordinarily wouldn’t have used them as a source for a blog post, but primary-source material is included, so the report is substantive. The other outlets mentioning this are all Left-wing in nature.

Maybe all the good ol’ boys back in Tennessee would prefer not to mention this, so that might explain why Doggart’s local media are running silent, but I can’t imagine how or why the New York state or eastern Pennsylvania media don’t consider this news (Hancock is in Delaware county, abutting the Pennsylvania state line). Unless this story turns out to be untrue — which I admit is possible, but given the evidence contained in the story it seems extremely unlikely — the media are doing a disservice to ignore it as they are. Perhaps they’ll finally pick up the story … I certainly hope so. The reality of Christianism in the US is that it definitely is capable of terrorism, and this is one example of it (albeit one that was nipped in the bud). There have been other Christian terror attacks, such as the rampage in Austin TX last December by a member of the Phineas Priesthood (cached).

Hat tip: Raw Story.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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