The Watering Hole, Monday, January 26, 2015: We Can Thank Religion For These Horrible Ideas

It is an indisputable fact that there have been people throughout history who have been motivated by their personal religious beliefs, whatever they may be, to do good things for other people, even complete strangers. It would be nice if the majority of those acts were done out of pure altruism and selflessness, but that is sadly not the case. The religious motivation was often not in the form of a reward for doing good as it was a punishment for not doing good. (Modern studies confirm what astute observers of humanity saw long ago, that conservative people tend to be motivated more by punishment than by reward, and that stupid people tended to think conservatively. So if you want them to do what you say, you make them afraid to not do what you say.) And while you may say, “What difference does it make why they’re helping their fellow humans?”, it’s important to understand that the same source (Religion) that tells them to do good things for people (at least once in a while) also gives them some very, very bad ideas. Alternet’s Valerie Tarico outlines them in more detail, but in short the horrible concepts are: Chosen People, Heretics, Holy War, Blasphemy, Glorified Suffering, Genital Mutilation, Blood Sacrifice, Hell, Karma, Eternal Life, Male Ownership of Female Fertility, and Bibliolatry (Worship of Books.) Religion may even be responsible for the Rape Culture in which we live. I’ll let you read them for yourself, I just want to talk about why a few of these concepts are contrary to the American concept of Freedom.

I worry about self-described Christian Conservatives taking political power. I consider them as dangerous to our way of life as any fundamentalist practitioner of any religion because they are making up their religious beliefs. Jesus did not preach a conservative message, so you can’t call yourself a conservative and a follower of Jesus’ teachings. There are Conservatives who have actually said our nation’s laws should be based on The Bible (though they’re usually vague about which one.) In three of his first four terms in Congress, Representative Robert Aderholt (R-AL 4) introduced three versions of a bill called The Ten Commandments Defense Act. (105th, 107th, 108th.) This bill declared that displaying the Ten Commandments on state (or some lower government) controlled property is a right reserved to the States under the Tenth Amendment. The problem here is pretty obvious when you think about it. He wants Congress to declare that States don’t have to obey the First Amendment when it comes to the Ten Commandments, even though the First Amendment states that Congress shall pass no law regarding establishment of religion. The very law he tried to have passed violated the First Amendment, because it was precisely the kind of law the authors of the First didn’t want Congress to pass. And even if you tried to say it was simply “enabling legislation,” it still amounted to establishment of religion. It has nothing to do with the alleged “Judeo-Christian” values upon which this nation was founded (because it wasn’t), it has to do with the fact that the Founders knew what happened to people who didn’t follow the official religion of a nation. They were forced to convert or face imprisonment or death. And there are nations in which that still happens today. The Founders thought that was wrong and that everyone should be free from government interference to practice their chosen religion, and that the worst way to let that happen would be to let the government declare a preference of one religion over another. And a federal law declaring States were free to do that to their citizens (who are also citizens of the United States, and under the Fourteenth Amendment afforded all their federal rights to their state citizenship) would be an Act of Congress that establishes a religion that supports the Ten Commandments. What bothers me more is that back then, his bill had 118 co-sponsors, some of whom have gone on to become US Senators. (And at least one who went to prison, but not for his involvement with this bill. Too bad.)

Another group of which you should be concerned are the Christian Reconstructionists. They have this screwed up view that God does not want governments to be involved in helping the poor. This is as good place as any to start describing why the Religious Right’s (or any other religious group’s) views on government should be null and void. This is the United States of America. Our government IS “We the People.” When we decide we want to help those less fortunate than ourselves, we institute government-run programs to do so. What makes government-run programs superior to private or religious charities is that the government is prohibited from discriminating against people! Private charities can find ways to make sure only the people they think deserve their help get it. If you truly believe people should be free from government interference to practice the religion of their choice, and if you believe people should be free to express any ideas they wish, then you can’t possibly also believe that the United States should be run according to any religious text. Any! The two principles are mutually exclusive. You can’t be free to practice your own religion when the government has decided that one religion is better than another. (I think all the monotheistic ones are bad, with the polytheistic ones not that far behind.) Because many monotheistic religions ban anyone from standing up and saying four simple words, “There is no God.” You would also not be allowed to say, “The entire concept of God is a flawed and silly one. Grow up and take responsibility for your lives here on Earth today.” They would put you to death. And it would be an Eternal Death because the idea of an Eternal Life gives people (especially conservative people, who are not inclined by their nature to want to help other people) an excuse to not live for today, to not live for making a difference to your planet’s fellow inhabitants today. It also lets the government (who is now running your life once they decided that a particular religious text trumps our secular Constitution) oppress you even more because, according to them, if you live a righteous life here on Earth today, no matter how much you or anyone else suffers, you will get your reward when you’re dead. And when they’re telling you that, take careful notice of how they’re getting their rewards today. Lastly, one of the absolute WORST idea Religion has given us is that women are property who must at all times be under some male’s control. This is the driving force behind all anti-abortion viewpoints. When they say it’s just a Biblical thing, they’re wrong. Life does not begin at conception (according to their own Bibles), it begins at the baby’s first breath. This not about “protecting the innocent unborn.” (Were people like Charles Manson and Jeffrey Dahmer innocent when they were in the womb? I’m more interested in how the religious right views things.) If you believe that all people are equal under the law (which is what our Constitution guarantees), then you cannot also believe that men have any right to control women’s bodies. Hobby Lobby’s argument came down to that – Men have the right to control women’s bodies. It had nothing to do with Christian principles, because if it did, they wouldn’t have their products made in countries notorious for their human rights abuses.

Take away these horrible ideas Religion brought us, and maybe there’s a chance Humanity can live in Peace with one another. Nobody was chosen by an imaginary Being to be Its favorite (which several different religions claim.) People who think differently should not be killed for those beliefs (which won’t kill the ideas, anyway) but should be shown in an intellectual manner why their reasoning is flawed. As Tarico points out, if War can be holy, anything can be. Blasphemy is as American as it gets in this country. Glorified Suffering is just masochism made holy. Genital Mutilation is never necessary, nor is it ever justifiable. Blood Sacrifice is just an excuse to kill. Hell is as ridiculous a concept as heaven, when you think about it. (Please do that. Think about it.) Karma is a pretty cynical concept, and a good excuse to do nothing. But if you believe Karma will get back the guy who did something horrible to little children, then you have to believe the kids he brutalized did something to deserve their fate. Are you sick? Eternal Life because Why Live For Today? Male Ownership of Female Fertility because deep down inside them, conservative men are afraid of women because the women might not give them sex if they had to give consent first. And worshiping books leads to censorship of books that don’t support the ones worshiped. None of these concepts is good for Humanity, and all of them are the result of Religion. Please, don’t try to tell me Religion is nothing but good. It is filled with horrible ideas, and the sooner we stop treating them as good ones, the sooner we’ll all be free.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss Religion, Politics, the separation of the two, or anything else you wish to discuss.

59 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Monday, January 26, 2015: We Can Thank Religion For These Horrible Ideas

  1. Great post, Wayne. The God mythology truly is far too often as dangerous to the human condition as each and every setup whose sole motivation is power and control. Stalinism, Hitlerism, monotheism, conservatism, name it. All require intellectual darkness.

  2. Opiate of the masses..Yes indeed. And the founding fathers clearly tried to build the wall separating church and state for this very reason.
    On another note, I read that this administration is trying to get a tax placed on 529 plans as the money is withdrawn for school. Who the frack thought up that? I’ve fully funded both my young kids 529 programs so that when they are ready, they’ll have the money to pay for their college.
    I probably won’t be around to pay taxes on it, so would they have that money taxed and cut into their education?
    Dear Mr. President, find out who the hell in your administration came up with that lamebrain idea and fire them.
    Thank you.

    • F*cking hell! Me too!

      I paid tax on it before I put it in there…. and now it’s going to be taxed twice? Talk about a regressive tax on youth opportunity.

      +1000 RUC

    • And all they’d really have to do to balance all the books everywhere is to tax the 1% at whatever rate might be required. But no. Taxing the rich causes so much pain — taxing the poor and the students (the poor) is the safest way because since they haven’t got any net worth anyway, who’ll listen to their cries?

    • We’ve been pumping money into 529 accounts for our 5 grandchildren. What the fuck is going on?

      President Barack Obama ’s push to start taxing college-saving accounts, including the popular “529” accounts, would affect millions of Americans who are stashing money for their children’s education, stirring debate about how to structure federal student aid and how to define the middle class.

      The proposal, which has sparked a public backlash but faces dim prospects in Congress, targets so-called 529 savings accounts that boomed after Congress passed the tax breaks starting in 2001. States have promoted the plans as a way for middle-class parents to combat escalating college costs.

      The president’s push, unveiled as part of a broader tax overhaul last weekend, would strip the main federal tax benefit from the plans by taxing any money earned from future contributions. Currently, earnings aren’t taxed and the White House says existing funds would be shielded from the new tax.

      • the money that’s already deposited will be grandfathered in as non taxable…

        sooooo……i need to just rathole the money and give it to them as needed?

      • And that will doom those programs as potential investors will not be willing to put that money away to be taxed at some unknown rate in the end.

      • Karen Weise isn’t so worried:

        “Obama pairs these reductions with expanding the remaining education incentive, the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which is set to expire in 2017.

        Obama signed the AOTC into law in 2009 as part of the federal stimulus program, and it gives up to $2,500 in credits to families with incomes as high as $180,000. The AOTC does share some of the regressive nature of the tax programs—about a quarter of familiesthat claim the credit make more than $100,000—so Obama’s new proposal would make the AOTC permanent and take steps to boost how the AOTC helps lower-income families.”

        Jordan Weissmann supports Obama’s plan:

        “Obama wants to tax college savers. But, by and large, they’re wealthy college savers. When the Government Accountability Office looked at 529 plans and their less popular cousins, Coverdell accounts, it found that 47 percent of families that had them earned more than $150,000 per year. (Depending on who’s measuring, that puts them in at least the top 10 percent of U.S. households.) By comparison, it noted, the median income of families with a student in college is $47,747. I don’t know about you, but I generally don’t think that our higher education policy should be geared toward helping families that earned $150,000 or more send their kid to the most expensive possible school.”

        • Ummm Jordan…the GET program here in Washington is funded by people like me who don’t make anywhere near $150,000 a year. And the most expensive possible schools are like Stanford and USC who don’t accept GET credits.

  3. This is a righty’s rant about SP posted this morning on Discussionist. I understand Scarborough called it a ‘tragedy’ this morning as well.

    Sarah Palin is the cement blocks on the feet of the GOP

    Apparently, her speech this weekend was the worst anyone has ever given. Rambling and incoherent.

    She will hurt the GOP IN 2016 very much the same way Akin, Angle and the witch from Delaware did…except much worse because they actually went away.

    Every time one she opens her mouth, something stupid is bound to come out. And the media loves stupid (see legitimate rape comment). And like I said, she’s the never ending Gobstopper of stupid. She de-legitimizes every event she’s invited to. And as soon as she stops getting invited, she inevitably will become the darling of the left and the poster child for how the GOP hates women. The GOP deserves every negative thing that happens to them because of this idiot. They thought she was their meal ticket to the White House and she ended up being the anchor around their necks.

    If I were a GOP candidate and was invited to an event, the first question u would ask is, “Is Palin going?” Many people are ripping Mitt and Jeb for not going to Iowa this weekend. But with that nutbag there, it was a good move. Because from what I’ve seen so far, her stupidity is the only thing anyone is talking about.

    • “Darling of the left” Hot Nardly. But to go along with the cement shoes, I’ll throw in a cast iron anchor chain to take the GOOPers down to Davey Jones locker.

    • Ol’ Joe “I Still Can’t Explain Why a Healthy Young Woman Dropped Dead in My Office” Scarborough has a strange idea of what he considers a tragedy. The real “tragedy” to him is that Bible Spice has finally gone so far off the rails that even the slowest of teabaggers are starting to catch on to what sane and smart people have known since the second she opened her yap. Namely; she’s a moron. An utter and complete fool who only came to our attention because she gave Bill Krystal his first chubby in decades and then he passed it on to McCain. The real tragedy is that there are American voters who are so effing stupid that they thought this vile creature from Alaska is “smart”.

    • At least it’s not us! It’s 40 degrees and sunny here on the frozen tundra and I’m recharging my airplane batteries to go out for the second time today. Sigh…

      I’m sure that the rightwhiners are already dusting off their litany of “global warming is a hoax because winter still happens” and will dutifully spread out across the “librul media” to prove that “scientists can’t be trusted”.

    • Jane and I left work early (despite our boss trying to talk us into staying later), stopped at the store to get stocked up on provisions, and are now safe and warm at home, where we’ll stay for about the next 40 hours or so.

  4. (via Planned Parenthood)

    GYNOTICIAN (n.) /gyn·e·′tĭsh·ən/: A politician who feels more qualified than women and their doctors to make women’s health care decisions. SYNONYMS: Senator Lindsey Graham.
    Now that you have our definition, stand up to Senator Graham’s “definitional” problem with rape

    • Sadly, that letter was dated Oct 16, 2014, and we’re just hearing about it now. Did the media bother to point out her lie? Or did they, like they do with all up and coming right-wingers, let her lie with impunity?

  5. Fascinating stuff. Jill Lepore discovers that the “average life of a Web page is about a hundred days”:

    “No one believes any longer, if anyone ever did, that “if it’s on the Web it must be true,” but a lot of people do believe that if it’s on the Web it will stay on the Web. Chances are, though, that it actually won’t. In 2006, David Cameron gave a speech in which he said that Google was democratizing the world, because “making more information available to more people” was providing “the power for anyone to hold to account those who in the past might have had a monopoly of power.” Seven years later, Britain’s Conservative Party scrubbed from its Web site ten years’ worth of Tory speeches, including that one. Last year, BuzzFeed deleted more than four thousand of its staff writers’ early posts, apparently because, as time passed, they looked stupider and stupider. Social media, public records, junk: in the end, everything goes.”

    Which is why this exists:


    “The Wayback Machine is a Web archive, a collection of old Web pages; it is, in fact, the Web archive. There are others, but the Wayback Machine is so much bigger than all of them that it’s very nearly true that if it’s not in the Wayback Machine it doesn’t exist. The Wayback Machine is a robot. It crawls across the Internet, in the manner of Eric Carle’s very hungry caterpillar, attempting to make a copy of every Web page it can find every two months, though that rate varies. (It first crawled over this magazine’s home page,, in November, 1998, and since then has crawled the site nearly seven thousand times, lately at a rate of about six times a day.) The Internet Archive is also stocked with Web pages that are chosen by librarians, specialists like Anatol Shmelev, collecting in subject areas, through a service called Archive It, at, which also allows individuals and institutions to build their own archives. (A copy of everything they save goes into the Wayback Machine, too.) And anyone who wants to can preserve a Web page, at any time, by going to, typing in a URL, and clicking “Save Page Now.”

  6. Netflix sent me an email that there was a new movie out that I might like: “The Interview”

    Dear Netflix,

    Have I EVER watched a Seth Rogan movie? EVER?

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