The Watering Hole, Monday, June 30th, 2014: Jesus must be screaming

Thank you, frugalchariot, for the link that you posted on Saturday’s thread, leading me to a treasure trove of jaw-dropping info about Colorado’s latest entry in ‘Teh Crazy Game’: Gordon J. Klingenschmitt

Teh Crazy is strong in Gordon J. Klingenschmitt

Teh Crazy is strong in Gordon J. Klingenschmitt

Klingenschmitt is the surprise Republican primary winner for state representative in Colorado’s 15th District. The story in frugal’s link to Crooks and Liars includes an excerpt from RightWingWatch on Klingenschmitt that is loaded with links and will curl your hair. As karoli at C&L says in the article:

“This is why there should be a Great Wall between church and state that is impenetrable. This guy is a nut. He makes Rafael Cruz look sane. And he’s now a Republican candidate for state office in Colorado.”

According to the Denver Post, Colorado Republicans don’t want to claim Klingenschmitt as one of their own:

“Klingenschmitt’s rhetoric and beliefs have raised alarm with members of the Republican Party, who worry that his views might cause problems for conservatives.”

“Gordon does not speak on behalf of the Republican Party. To suggest otherwise is inaccurate and dishonest,” said Ryan Call, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party.”

Klingenschmitt, a former Navy Chaplain who was court-martialed in 2006 – not for “praying in Jesus’ name” as he tells it – for disobeying a lawful order. It is against military rules to wear one’s uniform at a political event, but Klingenschmitt wore his Navy Chaplain uniform to a protest in March of 2006 – next to former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore – outside the White House. He soon launched a new career with a radio show called “The Pray in Jesus Name Project.” Again from the Denver Post:

“[Klingenschmitt's] outspoken religious beliefs have crossed into the realm of popular politics, including homosexuality and Obama.

“Father in heaven, we pray against the domestic enemies of the Constitution — against this demon of tyranny who is using the White House,” Klingenschmitt said of the president in an episode of his show…”

According to The Public Record, Klingenschmitt has been playing the martyr ever since his court-martial, “boasting to his right-wing extremist followers that he demanded his own court martial because his superior officers prohibited him from praying in the name of Jesus.”

“Further undercutting Klingenschmitt’s claim that he sacrificed his naval career in the name of Jesus is an e-mail Vice Adm. Harvey sent to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Mullen urging him to approve Klingenschmitt’s “involuntary release” from the Navy due to Klingenschmitt’s “lack of career potential.”

Klingenschmitt’s former supervisor in the Navy had lots to say about him as well. Still from The Public Record article (which you HAVE to read, it’s an eye-opener):

“As reported by AU, Norm Holcomb, a retired Navy chaplain who was Klingenschmitt’s boss, sent an e-mail in March 2007 to Kentucky state officials after he discovered the House of Representatives passed a resolution lauding the disgraced Navy chaplain for “service to God, country and the Commonwealth of Kentucky” and invited him to lead a prayer session.”

[excerpt from Holcomb's email]

“We have been relatively quiet regarding our ex-chaplain’s untruthfulness and lack of honor because we are embarrassed that one of our own could display such behavior in the name of our Lord. We wanted to spare all concerned the embarrassment associated with his dishonesty. However, it now seems that it would be wrong for those of us who know the truth to remain silent. I served with him and supervised him (as best as it was possible to supervise a person who refused to submit to lawful authority) and I know about his daily dishonesty and ‘spin’ of the truth.”

Okay, so the Navy felt that Klingenschmitt lacked “career potential”, his own former supervisor states that Klingenschmitt was “untruthful” and now he’s running for public office? Coloradans, beware!

Next…

Scalia sez 'Go fuck yourselves'

Scalia, as always, sez ‘Screw you, I’m here ’til I die.’

Last week, the Supremes voted unanimously to strike down Massachusetts’ “Buffer Zone” law, which restricts anti-abortion protesters from coming within 35 feet of a women’s health clinic. According to a ThinkProgress thread from June 27th:

“The buffer zone law was struck down in a narrow ruling that suggested there are different ways to curb anti-choice harassment without restricting speech on public sidewalks…it’s still illegal to obstruct women’s access to a health clinic, thanks to a federal law that was passed in response to clinic blockades in the 1980s and early 1990s.”

Naturally, Antonin Scalia took issue with some points in Chief Roberts’ opinion, and had to get his own two cents in, according to an article from aol.com:

“In a separate opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia criticized Roberts’ opinion as carrying forward “this court’s practice of giving abortion-rights advocates a pass when it comes to suppressing the free-speech rights of their opponents.”

Scalia said state and local governments around the country would continue to be able to “restrict antiabortion speech without fear of rigorous constitutional review.”

The buffer-zone case began when Boston-area grandmother Eleanor McCullen and other abortion opponents sued over the limits on their activities at Planned Parenthood health centers in Boston, Springfield and Worcester. At the latter two sites, the protesters say they have little chance of reaching patients arriving by car because they must stay 35 feet not from the clinic entrances but from the driveway to those buildings’ parking lots. Patients enter the building through the parking lots, which are private property.”

[emphasis mine]

Eleanor McCullen, Nosy Parker

Eleanor McCullen, Nosy Parker

So, just because Ms. McCullen wanted to get close enough to her intended harassment victims so that they could hear her better, she sued? Yes, she and her ilk have the 1st Amendment right to free speech, but that shouldn’t mean that a total stranger should be forced to listen to her. And if she couldn’t shout loud enough from across the street, tough darts!

What makes the Supreme’s decision so much harder to swallow is the hypocrisy: the entire Supreme Court plaza is a legislated buffer zone. As Susan Milligan says in this piece from U.S. News and World Report:

“But at what point does the free speech become a barrier to a woman seeking to exercise another right, one upheld by the courts, to have an abortion? The idea that the individuals preaching against abortion on the street are merely “counseling” women is the utmost insult…[t]he idea that a complete stranger presumes to know better – and assumes that the woman in question is some kind of mindless fool who couldn’t possibly know what she is doing – is beyond arrogant.”

Every time a Christian lies in Jesus’ name, Jesus screams.

This is our daily open thread–what’s on your mind today?

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 10th, 2014: Jehovah: IMHO, Not Much of a God

This is going to be a bit long, but once I read it I knew that I had to share it with you. What follows is a section entitled “Why Does God Allow Suffering?” of one of the tracts that the Jehovah’s Witnesses dropped off last weekend. The tract itself is titled “Does Death End It All?” For your examination, in its entirety:

Why Does God Allow Suffering?

“The following is a typical conversation that one of Jehovah’s Witnesses might have with a neighbor. Let us imagine that a Witness named Michelle has come to the home of a woman named Sophia.”

HOW DOES GOD FEEL ABOUT OUR SUFFERING?

Michelle: Hi, Sophia. I’m happy I found you at home.
Sophia: Me, too.
Michelle: The last time I was here we discussed how God feels about our suffering. You mentioned that this is something you have wondered about for a long time, especially after your mother was injured in a car crash. By the way, how has your mother been doing?
Sophia: She has good days and bad days. Today, she’s doing OK.
Michelle: I’m glad to hear that. It must be a real challenge to keep your head up in a situation like this.
Sophia: It is. Sometimes I wonder how much longer she will have to suffer.
Michelle: That’s a natural response. You may recall that at the end of our last visit, I left you with a question about why God has allowed suffering to continue if he has the power to end it.
Sophia: Yes, I remember.
Michelle: Before we consider the Bible’s answer, let’s review a few of the points we covered last time.
Sophia: OK.
Michelle: For one thing, we learned that even a faithful man in Bible times wondered why God allows suffering. Yet, God never scolded him for asking about it, nor did God tell him that he simply needed more faith.
Sophia: That was a new thought to me.
Michelle: We also learned that Jehovah God hates to see us suffer. For example, the Bible says that when his people were going through distress, “it was distressing to him.” [here footnoted "See Isaiah 63:9"] Isn’t it comforting to know that God feels for us when we suffer?
Sophia: Yes, it is.
Michelle: Finally, we agreed that considering the vast amount of power our Creator possesses, surely he has the ability to step in and end suffering at any moment.
Sophia: That’s what I don’t understand. Why does God let all these bad things happen when he has the power to stop them?

WHO WAS TELLING THE TRUTH?

Michelle: We can start to find the answer to your question by turning to the first book of the Bible, Genesis. Are you familiar with the account of Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit?
Sophia: Yes, I learned that story in Sunday school. God said not to eat from a certain tree, but they went ahead and ate from it anyway.
Michelle: That is correct. Now, let’s focus on the events that led up to Adam and Eve’s sin. Those events have a direct bearing on the question of why we suffer. Would you please read Genesis chapter 3, verses 1 through 5?
Sophia: OK. “Now the serpent was the most cautious of all the wild animals of the field that Jehovah God had made. So it said to the woman: ‘Did God really say that you must not eat from every tree of the garden?’ At this the woman said to the serpent: ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden. But God has said about the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden: ‘You must not eat from it, no, you must not touch it, otherwise you would die.’ At this the serpent said to the woman: ‘You certainly would not die. For God knows that in the very day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and bad.’”
Michelle: Thank you. Let’s examine these verses for a moment. First, notice that a serpent spoke to the woman, Eve. Another part of the Bible shows that it was really Satan the Devil who was speaking to her through the serpent. [here footnoted "See Revelation 12:9.] Satan asked Eve about God’s command regarding a certain tree. Did you notice what God had said the penalty would be if Adam and Eve ate from it?
Sophia: They would die.
Michelle: Correct. Then, with his very next words, Satan made a major accusation against God. Notice what he said: “You certainly will not die.” Satan was calling God a liar!
Sophia: I never heard that part of the story before.
Michelle: And when Satan called God a liar, he raised an issue that would require time to settle. Can you see why?
Sophia: Hmm. I’m not sure.
Michelle: Well, maybe I could illustrate the point this way. Let’s say that one day I approach you and claim that I’m physically stronger than you are. How could you prove me wrong?
Sophia: I suppose with some sort of a test.
Michelle: Yes, exactly. Maybe we would choose a heavy object and then see which one of us was able to lift it. Actually, proving who is stronger is pretty straightforward.
Sophia: I see your point.
Michelle: But what if instead of saying that I’m stronger, I claimed to be more honest than you? That’s a different matter, isn’t it?
Sophia: Yes, I suppose so.
Michelle: After all, honesty is not something like strength, which can be proved with a simple test.
Sophia: No.
Michelle: Really, the only way to settle the challenge would be to let enough time pass for others to observe the two of us and see who really is more honest.
Sophia: That makes sense.
Michelle: Now, look again at this account in Genesis. Did Satan claim to be stronger than God?
Sophia: No.
Michelle: God could have quickly proved him wrong. Instead, Satan claimed to be more honest than God. In effect, he said to Eve, ‘God is lying to you, but I’m telling you the truth.’
Sophia: Interesting.
Michelle: In his wisdom, then, God knew that the best way to settle the challenge would be to allow time to pass. Eventually, it would become clear who was telling the truth and who was lying.

AN IMPORTANT ISSUE

Sophie: But as soon as Eve died, didn’t that prove that God was telling the truth?
Michelle: In a sense, it did. But there was more to Satan’s challenge. Look again at verse 5. Do you notice what else Satan told Eve?
Sophia: He said that if she ate of the fruit, her eyes would be opened.
Michelle: Yes, and that she would become “like God, knowing good and bad.” So Satan claimed that God was withholding something good from humans.
Sophia: I see.
Michelle: And that too was a major challenge.
Sophia: What do you mean?
Michelle: By his words, Satan implied that Eve – and by extension, all humans – would be better off without God’s rulership. In this case too, Jehovah knows that the best way to address the challenge would be to let Satan try to prove his point. So God has allowed Satan to rule this world for a time. That explains why we see so much suffering around us–it’s because Satan, not God, is the real ruler of the world. [here footnoted, "see John 12:31, John 5:19.] But there is good news.
Sophia: What’s that?
Michelle: The Bible teaches these two beautiful truths about God. First, Jehovah is there for us when we suffer. For example, cosider the words of King David, as recorded at Psalm 31:7. David experienced a lot of suffering during his lifetime, but notice what he was able to say in prayer to God. Would you please read the verse?
Sophia: OK. It says, “I will rejoice greatly in your loyal love, for you have seen my affliction, you are aware of my deep distress.”
Michelle: So even though David experienced suffering, he found comfort in knowing that Jehovah saw everything he went through. Do you find that comforting–the thought that Jehovah is aware of everything, even our painful emotions that other humans may not fully understand?
Sophia: Yes, I do.
Michelle: The second beautiful truth is that God will not allow our suffering to go on indefinitely. The Bible teaches that he will soon bring an end to Satan’s wicked rulership. And he will completely undo all of the bad things that have happened, including the things that you and your mother have suffered. May I come back next week and show you why we can be sure that God will soon end all suffering?
Sophia: That sounds good.”

Okay, my immediate response to this whole thing is:

- Sophia is amazingly gullible;
- Michelle’s words and examples are hardly irrefutable proof of anything;
- Since Eve did NOT die when she ate the forbidden fruit, it would appear that Satan was right, God IS a liar; and
- It’s a poor excuse on God’s part that he can’t intervene in human suffering because, for some strange reason, God is letting Satan have a turn at ruling the world.

This is our daily open thread–your thoughts?

The Watering Hole, Monday, December 2nd, 2013: Happy As A Pig ‘n’ Sh!t

First, here’s the Happy Pig:

Happy Pig

Happy Pig

Now, here’s the Shit: I received another pamphlet from our friendly neighborhood Jehovah’s Witnesses. Luckily for you, gentle readers, I have not had the chance (or inclination, yet) to read the whole thing, so I’m limiting this to a few excerpts based on the topic of the pamphlet’s blow-in:

“Can the dead really live again?”

WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS[**] “There is going to be a resurrection.” – Acts 24:15, New World Translation[**]
WHAT THAT CAN MEAN FOR YOU
-Comfort when loved ones die – 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4
-Freedom from a morbid fear of death – Hebrews 2:15
-A real hope of being reunited with your dead loved ones – John 5:28, 29

CAN WE REALLY BELIEVE WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS? Yes, for at least three reasons:
-God is the Creator of life. The Bible calls Jehovah God “the source of life.” (Psalm 36:9, Acts 17:24, 25) The One who gave life to all living creatures is certainly capable of restoring life to someone who has died.
-God has resurrected humans in the past. The Bible reports eight instances of humans – young, old, male, and female – who were brought back to life on earth. Some had been dead for a short while, but one had been in a tomb for four days! –John 11:39-44
-God is eager to do it again. Jehovah hates death, he views it as an enemy. (1 Corinthians 15:26) He has “a yearning” to conquer that enemy, to undo death by means of the resurrection. He longs to bring back those who are in his memory and to see them live on earth again.–Job 14:14, 15.

Who will go to heaven, and why? Millions long for life in heaven. Jesus said that his faithful apostles would live there. Before he died, he promised to prepare a place for them with his heavenly Father.–Read John 14:2. Why will people from earth be resurrected to life in heaven? What will they do there? Jesus told his apostles that they would be kings. They will rule over the earth.–Read Luke 22:28-30; Revelation 5:10.

~~~ and the last one, I promise ~~~

Do all good people go to heaven? In most lands, only a few people are rulers. Since Jesus resurrects people to heavenly life so that they can rule over the earth, we would expect those chosen to be few. (Luke 12:32) The Bible says exactly how many will rule with Jesus.–Read Revelation 14:1. Those going to heaven will not be the only ones rewarded. Faithful subjects of Jesus’ Kingdom will enjoy life without end in a restored paradise on earth. (John 3:16 [or, as Wayne and I call it "Johnny on the Spot" - one so often sees cardboard signs with just "JOHN 3:16" held up toward the camera at televised baseball, football, and other sports competitions.]) Some will enter Paradise by surviving the destruction of the present wicked system of things. Others will enter by resurrection.–Read Psalm 37:29; John 5:28, 29

[**] Since the JWs use their own Bible “translation”, I suggest that, if you’re interested, go to biblegateway.com, you can choose which bible flavor you want to see each one’s translation of a particular quotation. Since the choices do NOT include the “New World Translation” indicated above, the links that I used were the American Standard Version. Just keep in mind that the JWs believe that every word in their re-written/re-translated version of the ‘original’ bible (both of which were likely written solely by enterprising males) is factually true, simply because the bible that they wrote says it is.

BTW, I copied (re-typed) the inconsistent all-caps, boldfaces, references, etc., exactly as they were printed in the ‘literature.’

Now you can go back and look at the cute pig again.

This is our daily open thread–please feel free to air your thoughts on pigs, Jehovah’s Witnesses (or any other religious group), etc.

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 7th, 2013: All the Crazy That Fits

It’s been a while since I put on my hip waders and stepped into Newsmax, so here’s a few gems:

From “Rev. Billy Graham Prepares ‘Perhaps … My Last Message’” by David A. Patton:

“In an exclusive interview, the Rev. Billy Graham tells Newsmax that President Obama’s “hope and change” mantra is nothing more than a cliché and warns that the nation faces increasing threats to civil and religious liberties from its government.

Graham, who is preparing for possibly his last crusade, this time via video, said America is drenched in a “sea of immorality” and suggested that the second coming of Christ is “near.”

“Our early fathers led our nation according to biblical principles,” Graham wrote in response. “‘Hope and change’ has become a cliché in our nation, and it is daunting to think that any American could hope for change from what God has blessed,” he stated, an obvious reference to President Obama’s campaign motto.

“Our country is turning away from what has made it so great,” he continued, “but far greater than the government knowing our every move that could lead to losing our freedom to worship God publicly, is to know that God knows our every thought; he knows our hearts need transformation.” ~~~

Many believing Christians believe in a coming Armageddon, a final battle between good and evil prophesied in the book of Revelation.

Graham tells Newsmax it is not wise to “speculate” about the dates of such a battle, but he adds that the Bible says that there “will be signs pointing toward the return of the Lord.”

“I believe all of these signs are evident today,” Graham wrote, adding that “the return of Christ is near.

“Regardless of what society says, we cannot go on much longer in the sea of immorality without judgment coming,” he says.”

Next, from “Rove: Obama Wants to ‘Break the Republicans’” by Amy Woods:

“Republican strategist Karl Rove on Sunday described President Barack Obama’s behavior throughout the budget showdown as “stubborn obstructionism” whose goal is to “get more money and break the Republicans.”

“The stubborn obstructionism of the president … has a purpose, which is to try and get the Congress to agree to the Senate Democrats’ spending number, which is $91 billion bigger than the House, and bust the sequester, and end the 2011 spending agreements,” Rove said on “Fox News Sunday.” “He is attempting to put the responsibility for raising the debt ceiling and, in fact, naming the amount of the debt ceiling on the Congress and not on himself.”

Third, from “Rand Paul: Democrats’ Stubbornness Keeping Government Closed” by Sandy Fitzgerald:

“Paul denied that House Republicans led to the shutdown by refusing to fund the government.

“The House Republicans said they would fund all of government, and they did,” Paul said. “They funded all of government short of one program. So they really were never wanting to shut down government over this, they were wanting to fund government, and then have a debate.”

He further blamed Obama for his refusal to negotiate for the shutdown.

“When you say the president wants 100 percent of Obamacare or he will shut down the government, that’s exactly what happened,” said Paul. “If he [Obama] doesn’t get 100 percent of his way – his way or the highway – then they won’t do any spending bills that don’t include everything that he wants. That’s him unwilling to negotiate, that’s him being unwilling to compromise.”

Had enough? How about one more? From “Rep. Graves: Obama To Blame if Country Defaults” by Amy Woods:

“Georgia Republican Rep. Tom Graves said Sunday the party is “united” in its belief the government should re-open and negotiations with Democrats should continue to avoid a possible economic default over the debt ceiling.

“We have had a tremendous fight over keeping the government open and protecting Americans from Obamacare,” Graves said on “Fox News Sunday.” “There’s no reason to default. The president’s the only one demanding default right now.”

Sorry, but I have to throw this last link in, just for laughs: Another one by Bill Hoffman, “From Senate to Center Stage: Fred Thompson Makes Broadway Debut”. The author of the piece completely omits any mention of Thompson’s disastrous run for the Presidency, or the fact that Thompson’s most recent “acting” gig has been on ‘Reverse-Mortgage’ commercials.

This is our Open Thread. Have at it!

The Watering Hole, Monday, February 18th, 2013: Pope-Pourri

Separated At Birth?

Separated At Birth?

On February 11th, Pope Benedict XVI, aka Joseph Ratzinger, aka Emperor Palpatine, announced that he was leaving the sinking ship giving up the leadership of the “Worldwide Catholic Church” (or NAMBLA), effective on February 28th, 2013. A papal conclave will soon be convened by the College of Cardinals to determine the next Pope, possibly by the end of March.

The New Yorker provides a few-holds-barred critique in John Cassidy’s blogpost “The Disastrous Influence of Pope Benedict XVI“, an interesting read which succinctly summarizes the regressive Papal policies of both Pope John Paul II (with then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s aid) and Pope Benedict XVI. I really recommend this article, as it clearly outlines the conflicting forces within the Church, which currently favor the conservative side.

I wholeheartedly agree with E.J. Dionne’s opinion piece from February 15th in the Washington Post, as he discusses why “The Best Choice for Pope?” is “A Nun.” As a veteran of 13 years of Catholic schooling, I can confirm that the nuns were more responsible for educating us in school subjects as well as religious subjects than any of the priests or the Monsignor of our parish. The nuns also set much better examples of Christ-like ideals and actions, as we all now know.

Yesterday, I signed a petition from Catholics United, urging Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, the former Archbishop of Los Angeles, not to participate in the upcoming papal conclave.

Former L.A. Archbishop John M. Mahony

Former L.A. Archbishop John M. Mahony

From a Catholics-United Press Release on February 14th:

“WASHINGTON – After the stunning news that Pope Benedict XVI will be stepping down effective Feb. 28, Catholics in Los Angeles are urging Cardinal Roger Mahony to stay home instead of participating in the election to determine the next pope. Mahony was recently stripped of his public duties for his part in a sex abuse cover-up while he led the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.”

“It’s the right thing to do,” said Andrea León-Grossman, a Los Angeles member of Catholics United. “In the interests of the children who were raped in his diocese, he needs to keep out of the public eye. He has already been stripped of his ministry. If he’s truly sorry for what has happened, he would show some humility and opt to stay home.”

The Washington Post Editorial Board published a scathing piece on February 13th entitled “The Sins of Cardinal Mahony”; here’s a few excerpts:

“Eleven Americans will be among the 117 cardinals of the Catholic Church heading soon to Rome to select the next pope. One of them, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony…is lucky not to be in prison, for there is no dispute that he orchestrated what amounted to a cover-up of clerical sexual abuse in Los Angeles…the scale of the misdeeds in Los Angeles, the largest archdiocese in the United States, counts as a particular disgrace. And it is Cardinal Mahony, who resigned as archbishop two years ago, who oversaw the whole dirty business. For that he has been publicly censured by his successor.”

In response to his public rebuke, Cardinal Mahony, who has a master’s degree in social work, wrote that nothing in his training had alerted him to the risks involved in the sexual abuse of minors. How about common sense, respect for the law and a basic understanding of human beings?”

And, for the last word on this issue (for today’s thread, anyway), here’s Andy Borowitz.

This is our Open Thread. Your thoughts?

The Watering Hole, Friday, February 1, 2013; The GOP and its “Stupid” Theocratic Politics

“We must stop being the stupid party.” So spoke Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) on January 24, 2013, in his remarks to party members attending the Republican National Committee’s Winter Meeting. He didn’t really elaborate, however, on what he meant by “stupid.” Meanwhile, Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) similarly said, to his Republican cohorts, “We have to be smart. We have to show prudence.” He did not, of course, elaborate on what he meant by “smart” or “prudence.” So business as usual continues. The GOP moves ever further to the right, and even as they constantly rant about “liberalism” and the “big government” which “tramples on the rights of the individual,” they, the far right wing, continue in unrelenting fashion their attempts to impose government control over abortion rights, contraception, and of course homosexuality and the ‘right’ of same sex couples to enjoy the legal benefits of marriage. Even such a (formerly) cut-and-dried discipline as public school science education has come under political attack driven by the tomes of “creationism” vs. evolution, the age of the earth, and myriad additional nonsensical (read: Biblical) interpretations of reality.

Religion — “Christian” fundamentalist evangelicalism — has become the driving force behind one of America’s two major political entities, a force which these days focuses the GOP’s politic in an ever-more-bizarre (and, one might logically argue, unconstitutional) fashion. Why ‘unconstitutional’? Consider:

Article VI, Clause 3 of the US Constitution states, with unabashed clarity (my emphasis), that:

 . . . no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

The First Amendment begins with these words:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .

Those are the only two spots in the entire Constitution where the words “religion” or “religious” appear. The word “God” is nowhere to be found, including even in the oath of office which the President is ordained to swear — there is no ‘so help me God’ at the end of the oath, and no demand that a hand be placed on a Bible during the swear-in process [see Article II, Section 1, Clause 8]. Likewise, the words “Holy,” “Bible,” “Christ,” and “Christian,” along with any other variation(s) thereof, are each and all conspicuously absent, as is “Jesus.” The word “Lord” appears once only, in Article VII, though certainly not in a boldly ‘religious’ context:

Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven . . .

That’s it. The Framers’ obvious intent remains crystal clear: religion has NO PLACE in the government of the United States. Period. And while it’s obvious that each and every one of we the people have the stated right to practice whichever belief or non-belief happens to appeal, nevertheless “Congress shall make NO LAW . . .” that imposes ANY religious belief or practice on ANYONE, and NO RELIGIOUS TEST shall ever be required . . .”  Period.

One can only wonder just what it is about the Constitution that today’s Republican Party, particularly the Wingnut/Teabagger portion, has such difficulty comprehending. In just the last few years, Republicans in the House of Representatives have proposed bill after bill after bill (and yes, I’ve lost track of exactly how many), each of which attacks a woman’s constitutional (reproductive) rights as enumerated in the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. Wingnuts have apparently concluded, via their own religious bias/insanity, that a fertilized egg is a “person” and that, as such, it enjoys the same official Constitutional “protection” as does any American corporation (something a birthed child, especially one with brown skin, apparently deserves far less of, for whatever ‘reason’). Then there’s the anti-gay marriage clique, those who believe (again, via only their own religious bias and insanity) that to so allow such love to flourish in normal fashion will force the demise of ‘regular’ marriage, and perhaps cause national collapse as well. And, as was recently announced in Arizona, various members of the state legislature (Republicans, of course) have introduced a bill which, if passed and enacted, could well deny the right of atheist or non-theist high school students to receive a diploma upon graduation. And in New Mexico, a (Republican) state rep. is introducing legislation that won’t disallow abortion, but will make criminals of doctors who perform any pregnancy termination procedures.

It’s reasonable to presume that each and all such bills, if/when enacted, would quickly be declared unconstitutional. That being the case, the logical question becomes: why is it that the same political party which works so diligently to enact unconstitutional laws continues to so freely toss the “unconstitutional” epithet at what are generally recognized to be reasonable programs? What could possibly be wrong, in other words, with such diverse concepts as national health care, gay rights, science taught in public schools, even a potential assault weapons ban?

Their childlike answers have Biblical roots. First of all, you see, America IS a Christian nation. Obviously. The words “All men are . . . endowed by their Creator” ARE in the Declaration of Independence, right? And since the Founders used those words it of course means they were each and all Christian. Also, we know they were white. Men. White, Christian, men. America is a white Christian nation, endowed by its Creator. God. Means it’s based on the Bible which is the word of God. In the Bible God says homosexuality is an abomination; also He says “Thou shalt not kill.” Means gay marriage, contraception, and abortion are all unconstitutional because, see, the First Amendment says that  “Congress shall make no law . . . prohibiting the free exercise of religion, and therefore the legalization of gay marriage (the celebration of an abomination), along with contraception and/or abortion (both of which ‘kill’ the products of conception), are all clear violations of the Constitution because they prohibit the free exercise of the Christian faith. Unconstitutional. So is teaching science, because when science says the earth is more than 6000 years old and when science supports the theory of evolution instead of the fact! of creation, and especially when science says global warming is real and caused by humans, science is prohibiting the free exercise of religion because true Christians don’t believe any of that nonsense! Science ‘education’ is — therefore, thereby, and obviously — unconstitutional.

Texas Public Schools have, however, solved the science dilemma and on that basis, could one day end up as our national Constitutional model! Because in Texas, children are taught the truth, that the Bible gives scientific proof that the Earth is 6,000 years old. They’re also taught “that the origins of racial diversity trace back to a curse. . .” [read: BROWN SKIN!] “. . . placed on Noah’s son, and that astronauts have discovered ‘a day missing in space’ that corroborates biblical stories of the sun standing still.”  That’s Constitutional, see, because it does NOT violate the First Amendment by prohibiting the free exercise of religion.

Most bizarre of all might be, however, the premise, as stated by David “The French Guide to American Faith, Politics and Culture” French, that “It is quite clear that God has not merely sanctioned the right of self defense but has explicitly approved even the use of deadly force to protect human life.” In other words (and as French “proves” via constant Biblical verse-by-verse citation), the Great God in Heaven has granted humans the right to kill each and every creature that might appear to be a threat, and the Second Amendment’s “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” clause guarantees the (God-given) right of any individual to own the tools to do just that. Therefore, to ban assault weapons would not only violate the Second Amendment, it probably also violates the First Amendment by prohibiting the free exercise of religion.

All. Perfect. Bullshit.

In any case, the immediate question still looms: whereto from here? Right wing theocracy, or a return to a democratic Constitutional Republic? Will the “stupid party” ever become “smart” and/or demonstrate reasonable “prudence”? Based on events and attitudes asserted thus far (including even those expressed in the days and weeks since their resounding electoral defeat last November), it surely doesn’t appear that way. If we assume they have no intent of changing, of returning to the reasonable stature of, say, the Eisenhower-style Republicanism of the 1950′s, what are the implications for the nation as a whole? Will the Republican Party self-destruct, or are there enough fools on the voting docket to once again return them to full power of the state? And if the latter should happen, what then?

This is today’s open thread. Have at it!

The Death of a Nation (a retrospective on the W. Bush era, Part 10: END PAPERS)

The George W. Bush presidency ended on January 20, 2009 with the inauguration of the 44th American President, Barack H. Obama. Hope sprang eternal that times had finally changed, that the American electorate had finally awakened from the fog of its deep sleep, that a new era had indeed finally dawned. Unfortunately, such was not to prove the case. The Republican Party immediately went on the defensive and vowed, essentially, to use every last shred of their power, their influence, to cause Obama to fail . . . the more miserable the failure, the better. It was an act of national disloyalty, perhaps bordering even on treason, the likes of which no living American had ever seen, much less pondered. And while Obama did manage to implement a few meaningful projects and programs in his first couple of years, the Republicans were, by and large, successful in their opposition.

Then, in 2010, the Supreme Court issued its decision in the Citizens United case and declared, in effect, that corporations were ‘people’ with all attendant rights and privileges. Days later, the final purchase of the government by private funds began in earnest. In November of 2010, the small Democratic majority in the House of Representatives was overturned, and the filibuster-resistant Democratic majority in the Senate was reduced sufficiently to virtually guarantee that no significant legislation could be passed for at least the balance of Obama’s first (and, in the hopeful eyes of the GOP, his ONLY) four year term.

Today, the processes implicit in the Death of a Nation continue to accelerate without pause as we again stand on the edge of an electoral abyss not at all dissimilar to those of 2000 and 2004. The current Romney-Ryan Republican ticket supports without hesitation or critique virtually each and all of the nonsensical policies of George W. Bush, including unlimited aggressive war, the destruction/elimination of every vestige of the social safety net, the eternal task of improving the financial status of the extremely rich at the expense of everyone else, and state level imposition of whichever manner of voter suppression or voter fraud might be required to guarantee for all time an enduring Fascist-theocracy (aka ‘conservative’ Republican) style of American “governance”, the Constitution be damned.

The bottom line is simple: tomorrow — Tuesday, November 6 2012 — we shall learn, finally and for certain, the precise percentage of mental incompetence which has come to define the American  electorate.

Meanwhile, below are a few closing comments alongside a wealth of quotations on the matter of national death and its consequences. From Gandhi to John Denver with plenty of George W. Bush and Adolf Hitler (among numerous others) in between, a summation lurks.

**********

End Papers
(April, 2005)

The United States of America clearly stands on the precipice, on the very edge of a deep and dark chasm in which lie the ruins of those who have come before us, now forever gone.  On previous pages here, we have (barely) skimmed the essences of America’s current dilemma and made some note of current players, agendas, and the realities their combination have so far imposed. Others, too, have watched these same forces at work and have added their comments.  Perhaps a review of a few – in no particular order – can assist in clarifying the moment by looking at opinions, past and present, which have bearing on what has been and what is now, in order to help predict what might yet come our way.  To some, the list may seem long, but they should rest assured it is exhaustingly abbreviated and is by no means complete – yet its words paint a picture, a frightening picture.  Read on, that which others have said; I shall add a brief comment at the end. Continue reading

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 24th, 2012: Monday Morning Mix

First up today, an article from Foreign Policy Magazine entitled “Why Mitt Romney Can’t Talk About Iraq”. An excerpt:

“According to a University of California, Santa Barbara archive of formal campaign speeches by both candidates, Romney has used the word “Iraq” seven times on the trail (usually in the context of military service) while Obama has referenced the country 76 times (often as part of a stump-speech line about keeping his promise to end the war). The same pattern held true at the conventions: Republicans mentioned Iraq seven times, while the Democrats did so 34 times. Romney didn’t talk about Iraq in his convention speech and made only a passing reference to it in his biggest foreign-policy address of the campaign in South Carolina.

Romney might argue, as he has in defending his failure to mention the Afghan war in Tampa, that it’s his policies that matter, not how many times he mentions particular words in speeches.”

(So, it appears that others have been studying the information at The Presidency Project, to which I had linked in a recent post.)

The article finishes with, “The Romney campaign isn’t about to give the president any more ammunition.

That line sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Ann Romney, when stating that “you people” weren’t going to be allowed to see any more of the Romneys’ tax returns than what was ‘legally required’ – a phrase that both she and Mitt seem to be fond of – because it would just give “more ammunition” to the pundits and political opposition. Too bad…if the TRUTH would give your opponents ammunition against you, then you really aren’t Presidential material.

Next up: I had also recently mentioned an effort by two Catholic groups, Catholics United and Faithful America, to keep politics out of Sunday Mass. Faithful America’s website has an interesting listing of other political causes, working against the radical right-wing religious zealots.

And lastly, a piece from our local Patch online newspaper, which discusses a poll taken of ‘New York GOP Insiders’ regarding Romney’s chances post-”47%” remarks from the recently surfaced Romney fundraising video. Some of the comments here are worth reading.

Speaking of the Romney fundraising video, I would like to thank James Carter IV for his efforts in finding the video and for getting this amazingly damning revelation of Romney’s character into the public arena. And, of course, special thanks to whoever actually made the video.

This is our Open Thread. Speak Up on any topic that you choose.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, September 13th, 2012: From Pipeline News to Politics in the Pews

Back in August of 2011, I wrote a piece here about the controversial proposed Keystone XL pipeline, and its possible deleterious effect on various ecosystems and landowners in its path.

Yesterday’s Washington Post contains several updates and stories of what has been going on more recently regarding the pipeline, both good and bad, under the overall title “Keystone: Down The Line.” The WaPo article includes several separate pieces (all of the individual stories can be accessed from the main WaPo link), including: the most recent re-routing of the Nebraska section of the pipeline–which will STILL cross the Ogallala aquifer; an ‘eminent domain’ ruling in Texas; protesters in Livingston, Texas; various stories about local residents who would be affected by the Pipeline; and Mitt Romney’s support of the Pipeline. The Romney article clearly demonstrates Mitt’s ignorance about how the oil market works, and the blatant misinformation with which he would try to ‘sell’ it to American voters.

In other news, Catholics United (a ‘liberal’ group of Catholics who seem to be much closer to ‘true Christians’ than the Teavangelists and other faux-Christians), in conjunction with another group called “Faithful Americans”, is circulating a petition which you may be interested in signing. Apparently, “A parish priest in the Archdiocese of New York publicly endorsed Mitt Romney for President by including pro-Romney partisan literature in his Sunday bulletin.” Part of this literature included the line, “”We urge our fellow Catholics, and indeed all people of good will, to join with us in this full-hearted effort to elect Governor Mitt Romney as the next President of the United States.” The petition is to be delivered to New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. While Cardinal Dolan “delivered the benediction at the Democratic and Republican conventions, he told reporters that he was there only to pray, not to endorse a candidate.” Cardinal Dolan needs to remind his parish priests that they are not allowed to endorse a candidate, and they are certainly not allowed to coerce their parishioners into voting for a particular candidate. The Separation of Church and State goes both ways: keep politics out of religion, and keep religion out of politics.

This is our open thread — what do you have to say for yourselves?

The Watering Hole – Monday, July 30th, 2012: The United Theocracy of America

(Note: all emphasis mine)

2 Chronicles 7:14:  “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

A sidebar article at US NEWS & World Report caught my eye yesterday. How could I resist the headline, “Evangelical, Baptist Churches To Hold Massive Gathering Before Democratic Convention”?

On September 2, 2012, the evening before the Democratic National Convention kicks off in Charlotte, NC, a coalition of varied churches “…will host a massive church service in the 20,000 seat Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre.” This event is called the “Charlotte 714″, [short for "Charlotte 714, Humbly Exalting Jesus" [short for "Charlotte 714, Humbly Exalting Jesus as King in Our City"]

Charlotte714 is a call to the Church of Charlotte to a 40 day fast culminating with a special city-wide gathering the night before the Democratic National Convention on Labor Day Weekend. Charlotte714 is not a political event or a protest or demonstration. It is a gathering of believers seeking spiritual renewal in the church through biblical repentance. We humbly bow in Jesus’ name requesting that He hear from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land.

Charlotte714 is a proclamation that Jesus Christ is King, and that returning to Him in repentance is the only hope for our nation. From this position of authority, we lift up our hands in prayer for our city, our nation, and our leaders as directed in 1 Timothy 2. At the heart of Charlotte714 is restorative love. Love toward all people that we may be restored to God and fully submitted to Christ.”

No, no political agenda there.

The event’s ‘invitation’ page uses – or misuses, or abuses – a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. in their justification of their ‘come to Jesus’ day:

“The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.” – Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love, 1963

According to the Charlotte714 site: “The essence of Charlotte714 is captured best by late revivalist, Charles Finney”:

“Brethren, our preaching will bear its legitimate fruits…If the public press lacks moral discrimination, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the church is degenerate and worldly, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the world loses its interest in religion, the pulpit is responsible for it.”

- and -

The organizers of Charlotte714 are Christians who love Jesus and the City of Charlotte and want to provide a forum for the city church to unite together in the name of Jesus in the spirit of 2 Chronicles 7:14.”

Those organizers, David and Jason Benham, who head BENSON Companies,both graduated Liberty University in 1998. Jason Benham says ““For us to take credit for building a successful business would be like a shovel taking credit for digging a hole. We’re simply the tools God chose to use to build a successful business.”

David Benham is described on the Benham website “As a follower of Christ, he believes the marketplace is a powerful venue to impact lives.” “By remaining true to our core principles, despite the economic circumstances, we’ve grown our company by faith instead of it simply growing because the market is strong”.

On Jason Benham’s “about” page, “BENHAM Companies exists to build, strengthen, and reproduce the heart of Jesus Christ in believers around the world by teaching them to be Kingdom Builders in the marketplace and to give abundantly to His work on the earth.” Hmm, sounds a bit C-Street-ish to me.

Read the BENHAM Companies’ Global Initiative: something they call “Missioneering”, “…eras[ing] the line that separates business and ministry…”

I don’t know if this is supposed to be part of their ‘Missioneering’: “David Benham in this short 4 minute video expresses the very heart of God, as he brings Biblical truth to a horrible tragedy [Aurora, CO, shootings.] Jesus, and Jesus alone, is our answer.”

Here’s where some dots connect: David and Jason Benham’s father, “Flip” Benham “…is and has been the Director of Operation Rescue /Operation Save America since 1994. Randall Terry was the founder of Operation Rescue, and then the leadership was passed to Keith Tucci…In 1994, the leadership was passed to Flip Benham and that is where it remains.”

So, this is a “non-political” evangelical/fundie gathering, the day before the Democratic National Convention, organized by a corporation/ministry, that just happens to be closely connected to OR/OSA. If it’s ‘non-political’, then why can’t I find any indication that this same group is gathering before the Republican National Convention? Maybe they feel that one big prayer meeting will be enough for Jeebus to ‘hear them’ and act to ‘heal our land’?

I had to laugh at this one:  Operation Rescue/Operation Save America issued a “Press Release” stating: “Operation Save America Prepares for Invasion of DNC: “The DNC is coming to Charlotte, bringing its “culture of death!” Read some of the rest, about the blood running in the streets – somebody’s on some nasty drugs there.

This is our daily open thread — Whatcha thinking about?

P.S. – Here’s some interesting info on Tampa Bay’s preparations for the upcoming RNC there.

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 23rd, 2012: CRAZY

When I eventually go crazy, I anticipate that I will simply curl up into a ball somewhere and just live inside my brain. I do NOT anticipate, when I finally lose it, loading up on weapons and ammo and makeshift bombs; nor do I anticipate, prompted by madness, gearing myself up so that I cannot be somehow harmed while I massacre defenseless people. I do not understand the kind of crazy that can make a person plan and commit such an inhuman act.

And in the aftermath of such insanity, I also do not understand the kind of crazy that says things like:

“@WBCFredJr – Only 500 miles to WBC Aurora picket. #GodCursesUForFagMarriage #WorseAndMoreOnTheWay #WBCToldU #GodisAmericasTerrorist #ObeyToday Too fun!” – Fred Phelps, Jr.

“If a Christian dies early, if a Christian dies young, it seems tragic, but really it is not tragic because they are going to a wonderful place.. on the other hand, if a person doesn’t know Jesus Christ.. if they knowingly rejected Jesus Christ, then, basically, they are going to a terrible place.”Jerry Newcombe, spokesperson for Truth in Action Ministries

“I have to think that all of this, whether it’s the Hollywood movies, whether it’s what we see on the internets, whether it’s liberal bias in the media, whether it’s our politicians changing public policy, I think all of those somehow have fit together—and I have to say also churches who are leaving the authority of Scripture and losing their fear of God—all of those things have seem to have come together to give us these kinds of incidents.” – Fred Jackson, director of the American Family Association

“You simply can’t keep these weapons out of the hands of sick, demented individuals who want to do harm. And when you try to do it, you restrict our freedoms.” and “If a responsible individual had been carrying a weapon, maybe, maybe they could have prevented some of those deaths, some of those injuries.” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)

“Why would a responsible person take a gun to the movies? That person would take a gun BECAUSE they are responsible. If you ask me, more people need to be armed. The criminals already have guns or will get them. Until the playing field gets leveled, we will be taken advantage of by predators.” – commenter at Think Progress

“not that this isnt tragic but if you look at it on a per capita basis this kind of thing almost never happens. why not ban cars? they kill more people than guns. the right to own a gun isnt to protect you from people like this per se but more to keep the govt from being the only ones with guns. its no coincidence that hitler banned guns.” – Ron Paul supporter commenting at Think Progress

“Gun Ban Bloomberg’s former head of NYC police Intelligence, Dan Oates, is chief of police for little Aurora Colorado. Chief Oates has a gun ban wet dream of a shooting in HIS town out of all the towns in the country. The shooting happens just before ratification of a UN gun ban treaty. Go figure.” – commenter (screen name “WhiteNationalist”) at The Daily News (NY)

“Perhaps the answer isn’t gun control. Maybe the answer is to publicly teach the Bible and the importance of right and wrong. Watch Kirk Cameron’s “Monumental” film.” – commenter (screen name “ONENATIONUNDERGOD”) at The Daily News (NY)

Had enough? Yet there is so much more of ‘teh crazy’ out there, that curling-up-in-a-ball thing is looking better and better.

All right, here’s a distraction. This is our cat Greygg who thinks he’s a puppy:

Greygg thinks he’s a puppy

Greygg (with Missy’s tail)

Is that better?

This is our daily open thread — what’s on YOUR mind today?

The Watering Hole – Saturday July 14th 2012 – Stupid Christian Tricks

You have to wonder about a Religion so insecure that it can’t stand even the existence of anyone who might think it invalid, and thus must be treated like perverts.

As a proud Atheist, I think we would be doing the children of the world a grave disservice if we didn’t teach them the ‘Dos and Don’ts’ of what to do when encountering a faux-Christian. We can begin with a couple of easy ones:

DO:

Be suspicious. It seems that often, some of the very people decrying someone else’s immorality are guilty of the same thing.

DON’T:

Believe anything they say about what the Bible says. There’s an extremely good chance they’re wrong.

Another handy tip for the little ones is to teach them some questions to have handy, in case someone comes knocking on their door asking if they’d like to hear about the Bible. I’ll begin the list here:

“In the garden of Eden, as Adam was naming the animals, what non-Latin name did he give the Tyrannosaurus Rex?”

BTW, as to the question, “Why are they always so sad?”, the answer is, “Because we’re surrounded by blissfully ignorant faux Christians!”

Hat tip to Jane & Zooey, who contributed greatly to the content of this post.
Thanks, Ladies.

This is our open thread. Have fun with the contest or talk about anything you like. Anything at all. Even the Bible. And if you do, I have a few questions for you. :)

UPDATE: Thanks to commenter Daniel below, we now have a source for this.

http://objectiveministries.org/kidz/

Daniel says they may be a parody. He may be right.

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, June 20, 2012: Does it really Matter?

Ok, so for the next few months, if you’re in a “swing” State, you’ll be inundated with SuperPAC commercials designed to get you to vote against your own best interests. We will also be systematically bombarded with messages from the Mainstream Media designed to influence our thinking.

IT’S ALL A SHOW. IT REALLY DOESN’T MATTER.

If the Powers That Be really want Obama out, all they have to do is raise gas prices to about $5.00/gallon. Instead, gas prices are going down, heading into the summer vacation season. That’s not to say they won’t go up between now and the election – but they are an accurate predictor of where our economy will head. So, pay attention to the pump, not the talking heads.

Ok, that’s my $0.0199 cents. And you?

OPEN THREAD
JUST REMEMBER
EVERYTHING I SAID
DOESN’T REALLY MATTER

 

The Watering Hole, Thursday, June 14th, 2012: GOD WARS

The topic of Monday’s post was the the appearance that a local Baptist pastor had an active political agenda.

Now it’s the Catholics‘ turn.

I received this through an email from Catholics United:

Dear Jane,
I have been an active member of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Washington, D.C., for more than 31 years. My faith is my bedrock; my parish is my home.That is why I am worried and deeply saddened to see partisan politics increasingly creeping into our faith community. A few months ago, I attended a meeting at our church when a fellow parishioner publicly expressed outrage that there were cars in the church parking lot that had “Obama bumper stickers.” The intensity of his tone and the fact that I had such a decal made me so uncomfortable that I left the meeting.

In this highly charged election season, the political attacks will only intensify. The “Fortnight for Freedom”* being organized by the Bishops because of their disagreements with the Obama administration should not be brought into our sacred space. They are asking pastors to preach about “religious liberty” and to distribute political statements inside our bulletins. ["...The Fortnight for Freedom campaign runs from June 21 to July 4. It features a variety of events designed to appeal to Catholics of all ages, from a Twitter campaign to a music festival at a winery to traditional Masses to the distribution of 10,000 car magnets promoting religious freedom. Two Kansas bishops have organized rallies in front of government buildings in Topeka and Wichita. Other dioceses are sponsoring conferences and public prayer. Bishops are also encouraging Catholics to pray briefly for religious liberty each day at 3 p.m. in a campaign they dub "A Minute to Win It!"]

But there’s hope. A group of parishioners at my church recently spoke to our pastor about our concerns and he is listening. Click here to find out what we’re doing.

We wrote our pastor a letter and asked him to reconsider our parish’s participation in the “Fortnight for Freedom”. We met with him and expressed our concern that this type of political activity was inappropriate and would cause divisiveness in our community. Our parish had always been a welcoming place where people of all different opinions joined together in worship, heard the Gospel message of Christ and found a source of spiritual strength. We are grateful that our pastor listened and feel that he has taken our concerns seriously.
As the mother of five, and the grandmother of nine, I worry whether these future generations will see the Church as a place that proclaims the expansive message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a place where they will find the abundance of God that will inspire them to go out and serve others in God’s name.
Faithfully,

Eileen Zogby
Parishioner
Blessed Sacrament Parish
Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB, “or NAMBLA”) are still getting their knickers in a twist about the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage requirement; actually, they’re getting even more twisted. Not content with lobbying Congress, they are now marshalling their armies of pedophiles priests and their parishioners across the land. The more liberal (and Christian) folks at Catholics United believe that the bishops are wrong. But the USCCB is digging in its collective heels, just like the GOP, unless they get everything they want from The President of The United States of America.

What, the USCCB should compromise with the President of the United States of America?! “HELL, NO!”

Tax-Exempt Status?! FUCK, NO!

This is our daily open thread — comment on anything you want!

Oh, and Happy Flag Day.

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 11th, 2012: Which Christ is more “Christian”?

I’d like to expand a little on a comment posted yesterday by Briseadh na Faire:

Many of the basic tenents of liberalism are summed up thusly:

I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Matthew 25:35-36. But we refuse to give credit to the man who said those things, hence lose the “Christians”.

Give credit where credit is due – own up to following Christ’s teachings, whether or not one proclaims one’s self to be a Christian…

In other words, Liberals, who follow the teachings of Christ, need to take the evangelicals on, on their own ground. It is, after all, who we really are.

After reading this, I could not help but think of the contrast between what the pastor of a local church espouses, and what a particular Catholic organization espouses.

The pastor of the local Patterson, NY, Baptist Church, a Dr. Larry A. Maxwell, is the founder of an organization called Brighter_Future.us. In the “About Us” section on his website, Dr. Maxwell states that, under his ministry, the local Habitat for Humanity for Putnam County was established. Okay, that’s nice. On the other hand,

“Dr. Maxwell is one of the few men ordained to the ministry by the late Dr. Jerry Falwell, Pastor of Thomas Rd. Baptist Church, Lynchburg, VA. Dr. Falwell, was the founder of Liberty University and Moral Majority. Dr. Maxwell graduated from Liberty University in 1975 and was active in Moral Majority, one of the organizations that helped Ronald Reagan become President.”….”The Governor of Kentucky bestowed the title of Colonel upon Dr. Maxwell for his outstanding service.”

Check out what Dr. Maxwell lists as “5 Areas of Influence That Shape Our Society” – why, as a pastor, does Dr. Maxwell list “Government” first and “Religion” fourth? Note that, under #3, “Media“, Dr. Maxwell says: “Media has perhaps the greatest influence on all of us. We Need To: Encourage & Endorse media which presents fair & balanced news and avoid those which do not. Hmmm, I wonder whom he’s talking about? What’s also scary is that, while Dr. Maxwell is the head of the “Living History Guild” and is the official Town Historian for Patterson, NY, under #4, “Religion“, he claims that “Religion once provided a moral compass for our society. The overwhelming majority of our Founding Fathers were men of faith committed to Biblical moral principles.” Also note in #5, “Family“, “We Need To: Recognize marriage consists only as a union between a man & woman who make a lifelong commitment to each other before God & man.”

Dr. Maxwell’s list of “Necessary Qualities for Leaders” contains some pretty scary crap, too:

2. Belief & Dependence on the Divine God

Leaders must recognize the fallen state of man and his imperfections and the necessity of help from the Divine God for man to reach his full potential.

3. Love for Our Country

Leaders need a Commitment to the original intent of Our Founding Fathers & the documents they drafted such as; The Mayflower Compact, The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and The Bill of Rights. They must believe the best government is Limited Government, answerable to the people at all levels. Leaders must honor our history as it happened, not rewrite or redefine it.

4. Commitment to Family Values

Good leaders must recognize, embrace and encourage traditional family values.

6. Belief in Free Enterprise & Property Rights

Leaders must understand Free Enterprise & Property Rights are two important foundations. Government must encourage, not interfere with, nor over regulate, free enterprise & property rights.

And if any doubt was left that Dr. Maxwell and his group are dyed-in-the-wool conservatives, the list in the “Contacts and Links” section reads as a veritable who’s who of conservative/right-wing organizations, including The Cato Institute, The Heritage Foundation, Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, etc.

By contrast, take a look at the issues with which Catholics United concerns itself:

- trying to restore funding, denied by the US Catholics Bishops, to an immigrants’ rights group called Campaneros, which doesn’t discriminate against gays.

- speaking out against the U.S. Catholic Bishops and Catholic institutions who continue to fight the contraception coverage requirement under the Affordable Care Act, despite the exemptions therein.

- Organizing against Paul Ryan’s budget because it does nothing to help the poor.

- Organizing alternative charitable organizations to counter the stripping of funding by U.S. Catholic Bishops.

It certainly seems to me that it is the people at Catholics United who are following the teachings of Christ (which all of us liberals follow in one way or another), rather than the pastor of the Patterson Baptist church. It makes one wonder if there is a different Christ within each human-authored version of the bible.

This is our daily open thread — comment on anything you want!

The Watering Hole, Thursday, May 17th, 2012: The Republican War on Women, Part GGPLX**

**GGPLX = Googolplex

Sad to say, I wasted way too much time yesterday arguing with idiots (see below) on the ThinkProgress thread about Kansas Governor Brownback signing legislation allowing pharmacists to refuse to fill a prescription for a medication which, in the pharmacist’s view, could result in an abortion.

An article in the Kansas City Star quotes the bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Lance Kinzer, as stating, “…the right to an abortion does not include within it the right to require someone else to participate in or facilitate your abortion.” [So, is a woman supposed to perform the abortion herself? In Mississippi, apparently one State Representative, Bubba Carpenter (R-Idiot) thinks so.] The KC Star article goes on to say that “Kinzer has also said that the bill is intended to cover the abortion drug RU-486, not contraceptive medications — although he would be OK if conscience protections extended that far.” [Yeah, I'll bet he'd be more than okay with that!]

Luckily, not all Republicans are against women’s reproductive health. GOPChoice, a pro-choice Republican group, says on its website,

“this bill exists under the assumption that a doctor’s prescription may jeopardize a pregnancy, and a pharmacist is better equipped to determine whether or not an individual can safely take said medication…The bill also raises the question, “How does the pharmacist know the individual is pregnant?” Either the pharmacist must have access to private medical information, or receives the legal allowance to make medical assumptions based on appearance.”

– and –

“The radical conscience clause measure states that health professionals cannot be forced to supply any prescription or device they, “reasonably believes may result in the termination of a pregnancy.””

To me, the key phrase here is “reasonably believes.” Just how reasonable is someone who is allowed to let his or her religious beliefs override medical training and scientific fact?

And now, just a brief selection of the commentary at TP:

Vincent: “Pharmacists have the right to refuse to fill ANY prescription. They have to exercise professional judgment on a case by case basis. Patients abuse, doctors prescribe incorrectly or frivolously, some patients fill the Rx and turn around and sell it on the black market. Just because most pharmacists work where you buy shampoo and toilet paper doesn’t make them less of a health care professional. The government getting involved on either side, whether requiring pharmacists to fill or allowing them to refuse, is intrusive.”

My response: “Vincent, there’s a big difference between a pharmacist refusing to fill a prescription because the doctor prescribed incorrectly, and a pharmacist refusing to fill a prescription because he/she feels that filling it is against their personal beliefs. And I have to point out, this ‘conscience clause’ SOLELY applies to a medication that ONLY WOMEN need.”

Greg: “There are several types of birth control , and they will not be outlawed! Chill!”

My response: “First, the birth control pill is not (yet) being outlawed, but its dispensation is being left to the moral whims of your local pharmacist. If access to birth control of any type is up to one’s pharmacist, why aren’t condoms behind the pharmacy counter, where one’s pharmacist can determine who gets to buy them? And, since the birth control pill is often prescribed for other women’s health problems, not just for birth control, why should it be up to the pharmacist, rather than the DOCTOR, to decide whether or not to dispense the prescription?”

Greg: “It will never be outlawed. (the pill) But a drug that serves as an abortion pill or could be used as such could be. Right now it is not , but the pharmacist is given the choice whether or not to provide it, which means some WILL and some will not. So quit trying to project your insane radical belief that if everyone doesn’t share your morals or values they are trying to harm YOU in some way. GEEZ!!”

My response: “Greg, I am way beyond the point where I need birth control, so this issue does not harm me in any way. So quit trying to project your insane belief that I think they’re trying to harm ME in some way. And what is so insanely radical about believing that, if my doctor prescribes the birth control pill for, say treatment of ovarian cyst (one of the pill’s uses), a pharmacist shouldn’t have the right to refuse to fill that prescription?”

And I loved this one, but simply couldn’t respond to such idiocy:

“glad that Gov Brownback is defending the constitutional right of these pharmacies to run their own business the way they see fit — girls who want drugs to kill their babies can go stand in line at WalMart & buy them there.”

Oy! Attitudes like this may be explained in this article that I found by chance. Enjoy!

This is our daily open thread — feel free to discuss this topic, or whatever’s on your mind!

The Watering Hole, Thursday, April 19th, 2012: Good News/Bad News?

A few days ago I received an excited missive from James Salt at Catholics United. (I still don’t know why I’m on their email list.) The email read, in part:

We’ve got our party hats on at Catholics United HQ. Why?

Our organizing efforts are working. The Catholic bishops are beginning to speak out against Paul Ryan’s devastating budget cuts! Click here to read more.

To say the least, this is fantastic news!

If you are as surprised and as happy as we are, will you take a moment to call Cardinal Dolan’s office in New York City? Call him now at 212-371-1000. Here’s what we recommend you say:

First, thank the bishops for speaking out against Paul Ryan’s budget.

Then ask that they continue to fight on behalf of the poor and less fortunate.

It may have taken almost a month, but it’s great the bishops are finally standing up against the immorality of punishing the poor. Paul Ryan and his far-right cohorts need to understand that when they attack the poor, Catholics cannot–must not–remain silent.

At first I thought, “okay, that’s good news.” Then I read The Hill article to which the email had linked, and the second paragraph gave me pause:

In a letter sent to the House Agriculture Committee on Monday, the bishops say the budget fails to meet certain “moral criteria” by disproportionately cutting programs that “serve poor and vulnerable people.”

While the fact that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are speaking out against the Ryan budget IS a good thing, the fact that the USCCB has ‘certain “moral criteria”‘ by which it judges, and apparently influences, legislation, is NOT. Just look at the recent brouhaha over contraception coverage in the Affordable Care Act, demonstrating the amount of power the USCCB can wield.

On the other hand, though, maybe it really IS more good than bad news. In defending his budget, Ryan reiterated and expanded on the reasoning behind it. From The Hill:

Ryan made the moral case for his budget in an interview last week with the Christian Broadcasting Network. He said government shouldn’t be responsible for lifting its citizens out of poverty — rather, that it’s the obligation of the citizens themselves to be society’s caretakers.

“A person’s faith is central to how they conduct themselves in public and in private,” Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, said in the interview. “So to me, using my Catholic faith, we call it the social magisterium, which is how do you apply the doctrine of your teaching into your everyday life as a lay person?

“Those principles are very, very important,” Ryan said. “And the preferential option for the poor, which is one of the primary tenets of Catholic social teaching, means don’t keep people poor, don’t make people dependent on government so that they stay stuck at their station in life, help people get out of poverty, out into a life of independence.”

As an ex-Catholic, I have never heard of this “Social Magisterium” idea before. And, after reading up on it a little, I find the idea more than a little disquieting:

“The inviolability of human life in all stages of its development from conception to natural death, and in every condition of health and well-being, is primary because it reflects the life of God who is the source of human rights….The Church never yields to the violations of the right to life which continue to occur.

Society reveals its whole truth as a community of persons….The lay faithful’s apostolic duty in the temporal order is to be understood as service to persons, first expressed in marriage and family life. This duty to society can be fulfilled only with the conviction of the family’s unique and irreplaceable value in social and ecclesial development. As the basic cell of society, the family must receive primary concern in a time when egoism and its derivatives threaten to dry up the springs of life, and when ideologically inspired social systems try to usurp the family’s role in education….A vast cultural, economic, and legislative effort is needed in order to safeguard the family’s role in humanizing persons and society. This duty falls above all on lay people, who must obtain from public authority the respect and support family rights need in fulfilling that role. Saving the family will save society itself.”

According to another source,

“THE MISSION OF THE ECCLESIASTICAL MAGISTERIUM The Church’s mission belongs to the supernatural order…it does not interfere with legitimate temporal options nor support specific political programs…Nevertheless, the Church has a strict right–also a duty–to teach the moral aspects of the secular order, whether this be in politics, economics. or social matters…”

So, Paul Ryan believes that his Catholic faith and this “social magisterium” not only inform, but dictate, his legislative policies.

But the USCCB disagrees with Ryan’s interpretation of Catholic faith.

And Catholics-United.org, while they agree with the USCCB in this instance, has also called the bishops out on their focus on wedge issues at the expense of focusing on (what C-U believes are) the more essential and traditional aspects of Christ’s teachings.

I’m confused: how many versions of the Catholic church ARE there? And how much influence should any version have?

This is our daily open thread — What’s on your mind today?

The Watering Hole: March 24 – Science vs. Myth

This is the start of a discussion that I started to put together on the physics of splitting a log.

This is how an engineer would start to describe the process of wood splitting:

The illustration below shows the effects of a wedge being driven into a log. This is merely meant as an illustration for the mathematics.

A Log-Splitting Wedge being Applied

First, the illustration will be simplified so it and the math will seem less complex.

Wedge Reduced to Basic Elements

We will use μ to represent the coefficient of friction along the vector lines XB and XA between the wood being split and the soft iron of the wedge itself. This works because that is the symbol used to represent that effect in science and engineering.

The mechanical advantage in this system is XF/AB, when friction is ignored which is how vector logic allows one to do since the other factors came be treated as separate vectors and the sum of all forces along a common direction can be used. We will use the line XY to define the vector of the sum of all forces since that is the common line along which the wedge is driven.

To find the effects of friction, we need to transpose the direction of frictional forces to vector XY. This actually poses a mechanical disadvantage as it takes away from the energy delivered by the sledge or hammer…

Now to the meat of the matter:

An ordinary fellow would merely say that the mechanical advantage would be equivalent to the the length of the wedge divided by its width at the top.

I had intended to present the exact solution to this problem, but I think I have said enough to describe the complexities that can be inserted into any problem.

These complexities have entered the political arena and it is the sheer complexity can be used to describe any problem with the public unable to see what is real.

Global warming is a case in point. One party can say it is not real because it still snows in the winter. The other party can merely ask John Q. voter to go out in March (In the northern hemisphere) and see whether he needs a parka. Still one side can use its observation to refute the other side’s. Evolution, Intelligent Design and Genesis can be used to explain why human beings exist in their present state.

Enough people believe that the Bible holds all truths and can never be refuted and science takes the other case, which, in turn, makes either argument unacceptable to the other group. Science occupies the back burner more often than not because it is difficult for the average savage to grasp.

To put everything into perspective, physicists are helping to design modern combustion engines. Up to about 1965, engineers were king. Now knowledge of physical principles have entered the process. As new fuel injection and chamber design have entered the design process, engineers are needed less than scientists. In the next graduation, engineers trained in the physical design of efficient combustion engines and carbonation will enter the fray. This is like what has happened in the design of integrated circuits.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to present your thoughts on any topic that comes to mind.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, March 15th, 2012: Who Said What?

You never know what you’re going to find at Foreign Policy magazine online. Recent issues contained two items which I decided to use for today’s offering: one somewhat humorous, one not so much.

The ‘somewhat humorous’ one is a fairly new feature at FP, entitled “Who Said It?” This particular version is “Grand Ayatollah or Grand Old Party?”, by Reza Aslan, who opens the article with:

“One is a religious fanatic railing against secularism, the role of women in the workplace, and the evils of higher education, as he seeks to impose his draconian moral values upon the state. The other is the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Rick Santorum

Grand Ayatollah Khamenei of Iran

Aslan’s quiz lists nine quotes, asking “Who Said It?”, Santorum or Khamenei. The answer is given on the next page within the article, where the subsequent quote is then listed. See how you do in this quiz!

The second article, the ‘not so humorous’ one, is by Stephen M. Walt, and lists the “Top Ten Media Failures in the Iran War Debate.” A few key observations by Mr. Walt, although by no means the most important or insightful ones in his article, include:

“…when prominent media organizations keep publishing alarmist pieces about how war is imminent, likely, inevitable, etc., this may convince the public that it is going to happen sooner or later and it discourages people from looking for better alternatives.”

and

“A recurring feature of Iran war coverage has been tendency to refer to Iran’s “nuclear weapons program” as if its existence were an established fact. U.S. intelligence services still believe that Iran does not have an active program, and the IAEA has also declined to render that judgment either.”

Mr. Walt’s article is yet another illustration of the deficiencies of today’s ‘mainstream media’, which has, for quite some time, deplorably failed to serve or inform the public. :(

This is our daily open thread — so, what’s on your mind?

Leftside Annie: We Are All Chattel Now: A Hard Look at Women’s Rights

Natalie Behring-Chisholm/Stringer/Getty Images

Cross-posted from Leftside Annie’s blog, Welcome to the Leftside.

“Why extremists always focus on women remains a mystery to me. But they all seem to. They want to control women. They want to control how we dress, they want to control how we act, they even want to control the decisions we make about our own health and bodies. Yes, it is hard to believe that even here at home, we have to stand up for women’s rights and reject efforts to marginalize any one of us, because America needs to set an example for the entire world.” ~ Hillary Clinton

She’s right, you know. Extremists all over the world have moved heaven and earth to control women, and they continue to do so to this day.

We’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg here in the United States, where the current crop of rightwing extremists are vowing to push women back to the early 1900′s, when birth control was illegal. Margaret Sanger, who saw her own mother die at the age of 50 after 18 pregnancies in 22 years, took up the cause of contraception and spent years crusading for the right of women to have control over their own bodies and not just serve as walking, talking incubators. She was even arrested and tossed in jail for disseminating information about contraception, which at the time was considered “smut” and outlawed via the 1873 Comstock Act, which “criminalized publication, distribution, and possession of information about or devices or medications for “unlawful abortion or contraception.”

We’ve come a long way since then. Unfortunately, the extremist right is trying to push us back in time to the days when women died by the thousands at the hands of back-alley abortionists. Since abortion is still illegal in many countries world-wide, the WHO (World Health Organization) reports that approximately 68,000 women die as a result of illegal abortions every year, and the number of women suffering from long-term complications from illegal abortions is staggeringly high as well, as many as 7 million women, who end up with sepsis, hemorrhages and internal injuries.

Men controlling women doesn’t stop there. In many Muslim countries, the lives of women are even more restricted and often dangerous or even fatal. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, “honor killings” are becoming more common every day, as these countries sink deeper into the morass of war and chaos. The Taliban, an extremist Islamist political group enforces its strict interpretation of Sharia law, which puts extreme limitations on the rights of women to move freely, to dress, to marry, to receive an education, to drive a car or ride a bicycle. It even prohibits a woman from wearing high heels, because it may “excite” a man. Women may not appear in public without a male relative, and must be fully veiled from head to toe in a restrictive garment called a burqa, which is essentially a very large bag that covers the entire woman, with the exception of a small section of mesh at eye level through which the woman is expected to navigate.

In these countries, another atrocity against women is on the rise: acid attacks, which men in India and Southeast Asia use as a form of revenge on a woman for refusing their sexual advances, proposals of marriage or demands for a dowry. The statistics are alarming: 80% of acid attacks are against women, and 70% of those attacks are carried out on women and girls under the age of 18. In countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan, religious fanatics use acid attacks to enforce the strict Islamic dress code for women – if they consider a woman to be improperly dressed or immodest, acid thrown at her face is a method to ensure that women know the penalty for immodest behavior. Acid attacks have also been used against schoolgirls, because these religious fanatics do not believe that women should be educated. These men throw hydrochloric acid or sulphuric acid in the faces of these women and girls, maiming and often blinding or even killing them.

Please read the rest of Leftside Annie’s post at her blog.  You won’t be sorry!

The Watering Hole: March 10 – Jean Calas

Jean Calas was a French merchant living in Toulouse, France, famous for having been the victim of a biased trial due to his being a Protestant. In France, he is a symbol of Christian religious intolerance. His sole sin was trying to mask the suicide of his son, Marc-Antoine, as a murder. He was charged with the murder and died on March 10, 1762 on the wheel. Voltaire was successful in exonerating Jean Calas (posthumously ) of all charges. His family was paid 36,000 Francs by the king in compensation.

Jean Calas tortured for nothing more than his religious beliefs

Religion was specifically excluded from government in the Constitution. What disturbs me is that the Republican Party is trying to foist religious values into American law. This can not be condoned for any reason.

Could religious dogma endanger the rights of Americans? The “War on Women” offers one step towards this slippery slope! I often wonder if any Republican actually has a mother.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to offer a counter argument. You can also spill your guts.

Sunday Roast — Get your government hands out of my vagina

RMuse over at PoliticusUSA has written a great post about the Republican/Religious war against women, entitled Republicans Have [Awakened] a Sleeping Giant and She is Furious.*

The true motivation for a war is not always clear in spite of proclamations by a nation or its leaders…

…Over the past couple of weeks, there have been important clues to what the conservative’s endgame is and although contraception, abortion rights, and women’s health issues are at the forefront, it is male dominance that drives the assaults.

There it is, right there.  Male Dominance.  Of course, not all men want to dominate women; I would say that a majority of men don’t want to dominate women, but a bunch of loudmouths in the extreme rightwing of the Republican Party (i.e. all of them) and the ever-present blowhards in the American Taliban-wannabe religious right have declared outright war on the women of this country.  Apparently, we have forgotten our “place” as second class citizens, and they are determined to force us into that position again.

We can’t ignore them and expect them to go away — too many of them are in positions of power, and there’s a lot of money invested the Republican agenda.

The rightwing (I’m not going to use the qualifier “extreme,” since only a few sane Republicans exist anymore), in addition to their decades-long attack on our reproductive rights, now they’re attacking the Girl Scouts.  Cuz why not wage war on female children, as well as female adults?

One Republican from Indiana claimed Girl Scouts “promoted homosexual lifestyles” and although there is no truth to the Planned Parenthood connection or promoting homosexuality, it is stunning that the claims were made in the first place.

Beat ‘em down while they’re still young, right?  “Tradition” is all important to these ideological freaks even (and especially, it seems) when it simply doesn’t work.  There might be quite a few women out there who would like to have babies and then stay home to raise them, but in today’s world, unless the spouse or partner has a large income, it simply isn’t possible.  It doesn’t matter how much they beat the old “women should be at home caring for their children” meme, it is not economically possible.  Or desirable in many cases.

Now we have the ridiculous contraception flap.  Again, it’s the control and dominance; keeping women in our place. Continue reading

The Watering Hole, Thursday, February 23rd, 2012: I Have a Thesis. And It’s Mine.

Governor Bob McDonnell (R-Virginia) is currently in the process of reviewing the Commonwealth’s restrictive new “personhood” law prior to potentially signing it into law. This is the bill (SB484) that contains the “informed consent” language, which (translated from the legalese) “[R]equires that, as a component of informed consent to an abortion, to determine gestation age, every pregnant female shall undergo ultrasound imaging and be given an opportunity to view the ultrasound image of her fetus prior to the abortion.” I’m sure that pregnant women of Virginia will be ever-so-thankful if Bob grants them a free poke-and-a-prod prior to having an abortion. (Yes, that was snark.)

You may remember Bob McDonnell as the newly-minted and previously unknown Governor who provided the Republican rebuttal to President Obama’s first State of the Union speech. (Or you may not – he was not impressive.)

Well before Bob McDonnell acquired the power to possibly make a lot of women more unhappy than they already are, he had ditched his job and decided to attend Regents University. His recently resurrected 1989 thesis, titled “The Republican Party’s Vision for the Family: The Compelling Issue of the Decade”, is a frightening vision indeed. I’ll just give you the introductory “Abstract”, and let you read the entire work for yourselves:

“The traditional family is the cornerstone upon which Western civilization has been built, but changes in demographics, ideology, and political philosophy during this century have resulted in the decline in the strength of the family institution. The model relationship among church, state, and family, based on history, law, and scripture, is presented as a framework in which legitimate public policy decisions must be made to facilitate family restoration.

“Fundamental Republican Party principles concerning the family and the role of government are articulated, and recent federal legislative initiatives are analyzed for consistency. Political factors affecting family policy development are examined to determine why Republicans are not more successful. The paper concludes that Republicans must stay consistently committed to their principles, communicate more effectively with the American public, and take bold action to restore the family to a position of strength in modern society.”

Between the Abstract and the Introduction, McDonnell includes a quote from, inevitably, Saint Ronnie Reagan.

(Sigh) I’ll leave you to it, then.

This is our Open Thread: have at it, folks.

Oh, and my apologies to John Cleese’s character Ann Elk and her theory.

Sunday Roast: Christian nation? No!

Examiner.com

Christian conservatives — I’m looking at you Michele Bachmann — insist that the United States was created as a “Christian nation,” which would really surprise the Founding Fathers.

The following quotes are strong evidence — along with the First Amendment — that the Founding Fathers wanted no part of religion in our government.

1. “Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man”- Thomas Jefferson

2. “The hocus-pocus phantasm of a God like another Cerberus, with one body and three heads, had its birth and growth in the blood of thousands and thousands of martyrs.” -Thomas Jefferson

3. “It is too late in the day for men of sincerity to pretend they believe in the Platonic mysticisms that three are one, and one is three; and yet the one is not three, and the three are not one- Thomas Jefferson

4. “And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with all this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this the most venerated reformer of human errors.”- Thomas Jefferson

5. “There is not one redeeming feature in our superstition of Christianity. It has made one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites.”-Thomas Jefferson

6. “Lighthouses are more useful than churches.”- Ben Franklin

7. “The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.”- Ben Franklin

8. “I looked around for God’s judgments, but saw no signs of them.”- Ben Franklin

9. “In the affairs of the world, men are saved not by faith, but by the lack of it.”- Ben Franklin

10. “This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it”- John Adams

If that’s not clear enough, go to the original article at Examiner.com for ten more quotes!

I know some people will never be convinced that we are a secular nation, and they are actually horrified at the prospect, but being such protects their ability to worship as they choose.

We have freedom of religion as well as freedom from religion, and it really is best that way.  Declaring the U.S. a “Christian nation” opens up a nasty can of worms.  What kind of Christianity?  Catholic, Protestant, Jehovah Witness, Mormon, Evangelical, etc?

Let’s settle on Protestant for a moment.  What kind of Protestantism?  Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist, snake handling?  See what I’m getting at here?  It’s a friggin’ nightmare.

Better to go with the Founding Fathers’ wisdom, and leave religion out of government.  That way, government can work of, by, and for all the People, and those same people can worship — or not — on their own.

It’s really not a difficult concept.  Separation of church and state is a great idea.  Really, it is.  Do you need examples?

This is our daily open thread — Please join the discussion!