The Watering Hole; Friday August 19 2016; ‘Godman and Skeptic’ Revisited in “Light” of Donald Trump

“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 may we hope that the dawn of reason
and freedom of thought in these United States will do away
with this artificial scaffolding . . .”
(Thomas Jefferson)

******

“The Godman And The Skeptic” (A Discourse Dedicated to Creationists everywhere /
And their adversaries) is a tome I wrote damn near thirty years ago, back in the days following the Reagan years that had effectively brought evangelical wingnuts forward — as vocal Republicans — into the Public Square. It didn’t take me long, back then, to get sick of nutcase crooks such as Jerry Falwell, Oral Roberts (and his brother Anal?), Jimmy and Tammy Faye Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart,  et al. et al. But what really puzzled me was how SO MANY ordinary folks bought into their nonsense and wasted so much time and energy in the process, over what basically amounted to little more than criminal peddling of religious horse hockey for something other than an honorable purpose.

Sadly, it still goes on today — amplified and more widespread than ever before. So I thought in view of that, I’d pull up “The Godman and the Skeptic” for another look and compare it with some of today’s headlines, see if anything’s changed over the years.

Here’s how I put the conflict way back then:

A godman and a skeptic met
To promulgate their views,
With godman’s premise, Genesis,
And skeptic’s, more the muse.

“God made the heavens and the Earth,”
The passioned godman says,
“And, furthermore, He did all this,
In only seven days.”

“But whence came God?” the skeptic asked,
With some temerity,
The godman said, “Don’t question that,
For such is blasphemy! “

The skeptic glowered for a time,
Then asked, “How old’ s the Earth?”
“Six thousand years,” the godman said,
“Including day of birth.

“With firmaments united, then,
The Earth was paradise,
Where beasts and fields, and finally men,
Enjoyed all without vice.

“And God made Adam first, then Eve,
Who were, as you shall see,
Progenitors of all mankind,
Kin of humanity.

“For from their loins came many sons,
Who married, then produced,
Our father’s father’s ancestors,
As, biblically, deduced.

“Thus, all the Earth is born of God,
And man’s the child of Eve,
So, lie thee down in prostrate form
And hail the Lord! Believe!”

Then godman smiled, smug, and secure
His theses were correct,
For Genesis came straight from God,
In veritas, direct. (. . .)

Today we have Donald J. Trump running on the Republican ticket in hopes of becoming the next President of the United States. But in spite of the fact that Trump’s evangelical “history” is effectively a non-entity, right wing evangelicals have accepted him as being one of them. I have no idea as to why that might be, but so far so good — for him — as evidenced by this:

Twenty-five Religious Right Justifications For Supporting Donald Trump

1. God is using Trump to pave the way for the Second Coming
2. God is using Trump to get pastors to fight for religious freedom
3. Trump could make America worthy of God’s blessing
4. Trump would make America friendlier to Israel
5. Trump will make Christianity more powerful
6. God likes ‘strongman’ rulers
7. Trump has a ‘mantle of government’ anointing
8. Trump has an ‘Elijah mantle’
9. Trump has a Cyrus anointing
10. Trump has a ‘breaker anointing’
11. Trump is a divine ‘wrecking ball to the spirit of political correctness’
12. God has picked Trump to ‘beat down the walls of the New World Order’
13. Trump is fulfilling a 2011 prophecy that he will fight Satan
14. Trump is fulfilling a 2012 prophecy that he will bulldoze the White House
15. Trump is a ‘baby Christian’
16. Trump is like Jesus (and Martin Luther King and Jerry Falwell)
17. Trump is like King David
18. Trump is like Saul/Paul
19. Trump is like Samson
20. Trump is like Churchill and Lincoln
21. Trump is like George Washington
22. Trump is like Oscar Schindler
23. 2016 is a battle between good and evil
24. Hillary Clinton is motivated by the spirit of the Antichrist
25. God doesn’t want a woman president

Yeah, right. OK. Sure. Me, I remain a skeptic . . .

“Oh, I believe,” the skeptic said,
“Though not the way you think,
From what I’ve heard, the Universe
Arrived in just a wink.

“A coalescing, then a flash,
And galaxies were cleaved
From ether, dust, and energy,
If science be believed.

“Five billion years, or ten, or twelve
Had passed, when life arrived,
And finally men, though not like us,
From lower forms derived.

“And, furthermore, a question, sir,
About the sons of Eve,
Whence came the daughters, for her sons,
Mankind, therefrom, conceived?”

The godman cringed and raised his hand
Toward heaven, in disgust,
“If those are your beliefs, my friend,
You’ll burn in hell, please trust. (. . .)

“Burn in hell” — Hmmm. The concept reminds me, for some odd reason, of convicted, jailed, and released Christer Crookster Shylock Jimmy Bakker:

Pro-Trump Televangelist Jim Bakker: America Could ‘Blaspheme God’ In The Presidential Election

Oh heaven forbid! Not THAT!! “Blaspheme”? No way!

“For God, I know, has no rapport
With those who pray to see
The wisdom He withholds from men
For all eternity.”

“Your last remark makes little sense,”
Said skeptic, feigning dread,
“If you are asking we believe
God deems our brains be dead.

“For, if somewhere in endless space
A Creator exists
Who gave us minds to seek out truth,
Then why should we resist?”

The godman’s face showed beads of sweat,
He offered no reply,
He simply stared toward heaven’ s void
As wispy clouds rolled by. (. . .)

Poor godman. So sad. Maybe this will help:

Lance Wallnau: Trump Can Help Stop Satan From Taking Control Of The Seven Mountains

Yep, we gotta get them mountains away from Satan. No doubt. After that, god will really be happy and all us stubborn heathens will be forced to pay the bill!

May heathen burn, the godman prayed,
They’re evil, stubborn men,
And Lord, as why you sent them here?
Well, that’s beyond my ken.

Perhaps to try me, for a time,
Before I’m laid to rest?
Convert some souls to heaven’s song?
Yes, likely that’s my test.

But sure it is now’s not the time
To use the Holy See
As evidence, Your true intent,
Thy Word’s inerrancy.

Then godman turned toward skeptic, sad,
This man, his nemesis,
Would not accept such grand design,
God’ s apotheosis.

“We’ll meet again, my wayward friend,
By then, perhaps, you’ll learn,
That only through the Word of God,
In hell’s fire, you won’t burn.” (. . .)

Three decades ago I was still the eternal optimist, and I actually thought that it wouldn’t/shouldn’t take more than a couple of years, five or ten at the most, for all that nonsensical evangelical crapola to sink, once and for all, back into the muck from which it came.

Turns out I was wrong. For some really weird reason, evangelical nutcases still seem to have a much louder shouting voice than those of us who have evolved mentally to the point where we can actually understand reality.

“Lahk fer example”:

David Barton Explains Why ‘You Just Don’t Find Atheists’ Living Out In The Country

Barton is most typically known, amongst those whose minds have not yet died, as a bogus “Historian.” He even has, according to himself, a PhD in history. But not even that (bogus) claim is apparently enough to stop him from spreading non-historical baloney. Atheists only live in cities? Not in “the country”? I mean hey, Bartoni, I live “in the country,” in a little tiny town in rural Colorado. I admit I’m not a genuine atheist; I’m a step beyond atheism; nontheist. Big difference. Atheists don’t believe in god; nontheists note that there’s not even a god out there to NOT believe in. But cities only? What you been smoking?

In any case, all of us A- Non- theists are, however and in spite of specific labels, “Skeptics,” and for good reason. We’re tired of listening to church-speak, especially when its message is little more than the plot line in a 1960’s Charlton Heston movie. Can we move forward? Please?

“I doubt it, sir,” the skeptic said,
“For you’ve confirmed my choice,
That words beyond the biblical
Can speak with reasoned voice.

“And, too, you see, I have no need
To live in metaphor,
I’d rather seek, expand my mind,
Maintain an open door.

“To blindly mimic premises
Is not what God has deemed;
It seems more likely He mandates
That light, from dark, be gleaned, (. . .)

Speaker Paul Ryan apparently doesn’t buy into common sense either (big surprise, right?):

House Speaker Paul Ryan Reportedly Listens To Hack Historian David Barton ‘All The Time’

Speaker Ryan is an avid fan of historian David Barton. “I listen to him all the time, even in my car while driving,” he said. Because of Barton’s teachings, Speaker Ryan is very knowledgeable . . .

And therein lies the rub. Why the constant and steady downhill slope? Why were our Founders (aka vocal skeptics) so far more advanced 200+ years ago? Is there a solution to all of that, or must we continue to fight the never-ending battle against Dominionists and their bogus notions of government and population control and manipulation? Thirty years ago I thought maybe just looking the other way might be the solution; apparently not.

******

“And so, my friend, while I suggest
That your beliefs you keep,
Recall God sees us all as lambs,
Though not, I think, as sheep.”

Then skeptic turned and walked away,
Face bent as if to smile,
Safe Genesis was put to bed,
If but for just awhile.

Amen.

Or, stated another way,

“Religious institutions that use government power in support
of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths,
or of no faith, undermine all our civil rights.”
(Thomas Jefferson)

******

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 27th, 2016: “You Keep Using That Word…”

To paraphrase Inigo Montoya, with the word in question being “Liberal” instead of “Inconceivable!” (you have to read “Inconceivable!” in Wallace Shawn’s voice, of course): “You [conservatives] keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

The premise of the following three Christian Post articles is a discussion of recent books about the various authors’ [mistaken] ideas regarding liberals. I started out trying to keep this somewhat brief, but in the interests of keeping the salient points in context, it took on a life of its own. I’ll just share a excerpt of each.

In the earliest of the three articles, “Is Free Speech Just for Liberals?” CP guest contributor Susan Stamper Brown sez:

In the biography, “Churchill: A Life,” author Martin Gilbert writes how Winston Churchill loudly voiced his grave concerns about the apathy shared by those seemingly impervious to the malevolent National Socialist Movement’s intention to steam through Europe like volcanic lava, destroying everything in its way, including free speech.
In direct response, Hitler began warning Germans about the “dangers of free speech” and said, “If Mr. Churchill had less to do with traitors … he would see how mad his talk is …”

History revealed whose talk was really mad.

Truth is, Churchill’s words touched a nerve the annoying way truth always does. Hitler was incapable of engaging in intelligent debate, so he changed the subject, lied, and attacked Churchill’s character. Hitler knew his movement couldn’t stand on its own for what it really was, so the only alternative was to silence opposing views.

Throughout Germany books were banned and ceremoniously cast into blazing bonfires intended to squash divergence of thought and stifle man’s God-instilled unquenchable thirst for truth.

Historical accountings provide a glimpse into the warped psyche of those behind a movement that wrongheadedly believed they could build something worthwhile by shutting down debate, then dividing a nation by race and ethnicity.

They coldly chose their target, the Jewish race, and purged some of the greatest minds in history from all levels of teaching. Schools and universities suffered.

Before the movement decided to burn bodies as well as books, Historyplace.com cites that “Jewish instructors and anyone deemed politically suspect regardless of their proven teaching abilities or achievements including 20 past (and future) Nobel Prize winners” were removed from their professions, among them Albert Einstein.

I would’ve been one of those “purged professionals,” based on what I’ve heard lately from some disgruntled left-leaning readers. Because of my personal opinion about the president, one reader called me “a racist,” a “religious bigot,” and “a political terrorist.” While calling me a “political terrorist” is noteworthy at least, most telling is this poor man’s statement that my column, as offensive as it was to him, “was permitted” in his newspaper.

Apparently, free speech is just for leftists.

After that, the author continued to talk more about herself, so I tuned her out. I probably should have done so when she first mentioned Hitler, but her description of Hitler’s reaction, which I highlighted above, sounded so much like Trump that I had to share it with you.

In the next article, “If Intolerant Liberals Succeed, ‘Conservatives Should Be Very Afraid,’ Expert Says”, by CP’s Napp Nazworth, the breaking point came after this bullshit:

Conservatives would have much to fear if intolerant liberals succeed in their goal of transforming America, says Kim R. Holmes, author of “The Closing of the Liberal Mind: How Groupthink and Intolerance Define the Left.”
The illiberal, or intolerant, Left has come to define liberalism in the United States today, Holmes told The Christian Post, and if these liberals gain control of the Supreme Court and other levers of government, conservatives will be punished for their views.

Then these portions of the interview with the author:

CP: Why did you want to write this book?
Holmes: Like a lot of people I saw how closed-minded and intolerant progressivism had become. Whether it was speech codes or “safe spaces” on campuses, or attorneys general issuing subpoenas against so-called climate change “deniers,” abuses in the name of progressivism were getting worse.

I wanted to understand why. I wanted to tell the story of how a liberalism that had once accepted freedom of speech and dissent had become its opposite — a close-minded ideology intent on denying people their freedoms and their constitutionally protected rights.

CP: Liberalism was once defined by tolerance and open-mindedness, but liberals have become increasingly intolerant and closed-minded. We are beginning to see this phrase “illiberal liberal” more often, which gets confusing. How are we to make sense of what liberal means today?

Holmes: A classic liberal is someone who believes in open inquiry, freedom of expression and a competition of ideas. Its founders were people like John Locke, Thomas Jefferson and Alexis de Tocqueville. Among its most important ideas are freedom of conscience and speech; individual (as opposed to group) rights; and checks and balances in government.

Although progressives are sometimes referred to as “liberals,” they are not classic liberals in this sense. They are philosophically more akin to socialists or social democrats. Classic liberalism as defined here is actually closer to the views of American conservatives and libertarians than to progressives and leftists.

The term “illiberalism” is the opposite of this classic style of liberalism; it represents a political mindset that is closed-minded, intolerant and authoritarian. Although illiberalism can be historically found on the right (fascism) and the left (communism), it is today not commonly associated with American progressives. Nevertheless, it should be.

Progressives are becoming increasingly illiberal not only in their mindset but in the authoritarian methods they use to impose their views on others.

~~ and ~~

CP: Last week, President Barack Obama sent a letter to all public schools threatening to withhold federal funds if they don’t change their bathroom and locker room policies to allow use based upon gender identity rather than biological sex. Does the Left’s new intolerance help us understand Obama’s actions?

Holmes: Yes. Obama comes out of this illiberal strain of the left.

Last, this misleadingly-named piece of utter drivel written by CP’s Brandon Showalter, “Liberals Use Gov’t Power, Intimidation, to Silence Christians, Author Says.” It doesn’t take long to realize that by “Christians”, both the author of the article and the author of the book actually mean “conservatives”, and the complaint is about the fight against “Citizens United”:

WASHINGTON – Conservatives and Christians are being intimidated by the Left and an increasingly abusive government, says Kimberly Strassel, author of The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Waging War of Free Speech.
In a Thursday presentation at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., Strassel told The Christian Post that overt hostility and harassment of people of faith “is clearly a big issue.”

In light of the 2013 IRS scandal where it was discovered that conservative and Christian groups were unfairly targeted, CP asked Strassel how many people she interviewed had experienced an overt assault on their faith.

While “the people that I talked to generally felt as though all their views were under attack,” Strassel said, “they certainly felt as though one aspect of them, was in fact their faith.”

“We are seeing this a lot, obviously, in the war on faith out there that we have had with the battles over Obamacare and contraception,” she added.

In her book Strassel examines the Left’s penchant, particularly in the Obama years, for bullying their opponents and their use of government agencies to silence citizens from participating in the political process.

Although she touched on several facets of the Left’s intimidation game in her presentation, the core issue she covered was the right of Americans to form associations and participate in representative government. This the Left cannot abide when conservatives do it successfully, she argued.

“The reality is that money is a proxy for speech,” Strassel contended, and Americans have always formed groups to get their message out. To the incredulity of the Left, she argued we we need more money, not less, in politics. More money means more speech. More free speech yields a more vigorous debate and a healthier democracy.

Let me repeat those last two lines: More money means more speech. More free speech yields a more vigorous debate and a healthier democracy.”  What happened to the “FREE” part of “FREE SPEECH”?

Money CANNOT equal speech – the poorest man can still speak and vote – well, vote ONCE; on the other hand, the richest man can buy as many votes as he wants.  The whole argument of Citizens United was and is specious, and the Supremes fucked us over real good when they decided on that piece of shit.

Here’s a pretty picture to give your mind a break.
GLORY10

This is our daily Open Thread – have at it!

The Watering Hole, Monday, May 16th, 2016: Wrong, As Always

Recent opinion pieces at The Christian Post website demonstrate that the “Christian” right – and these aren’t all what I would consider to be real RWNJs – continues to steadfastly ignore reality.

On Earth Day, Dr. Richard D. Land posted “Earth Day: How Environmentalists Hurt the Environment”. Some excerpts:

Many advocates for drastic measures to combat climate change (i.e., global warming) assert that human caused global warming is now “settled science.”

And yet, recently published data from the Department of Energy reveals that the U.S. has reduced carbon emissions for the past fifteen years by more than 10%, more than almost the entire rest of the world combined. How did America accomplish such a feat? The answer is hydraulic fracturing or fracking, which involves releasing fossil fuel (oil and natural gas) trapped in rock formations by injecting millions of gallons of water and chemicals into the formations.

As a result of widespread usage of this controversial technology, the U.S. has become the world’s No. 1 oil and natural gas producer. As a direct consequence of fracking, the price of natural gas is one-fourth what it was a decade ago, and since America has a virtually inexhaustible natural gas supplies, people keep using more and more of this environmentally clean and very inexpensive fossil fuel. [Will someone please explain to me why anyone would want to literally undermine the land to access what is, by definition, a limited energy source?]

EPA studies declaring fracking can be done safely and cleanly moved U.S.A. Today to declare that “to help the environment and economy, keep on fracking” (4/19/16). U.S.A. Today also observed in the same article that fracking “has spurred a remarkable U.S. energy boom and . . . this boom has created jobs, boosted manufacturing and brought the USA closer to energy independence.”

Still, environmental activists on the left continue to oppose fracking, as well as the only clean energy “technology with an established track record of generating electricity at scale while emitting virtually no greenhouse gases: nuclear power.” In fact, in a “Pew poll of members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 65 percent of scientists want more nuclear power” (Eduardo Porter, NY Times 4/19/16).

Apparently Dr. Land is completely ignorant of WHY environmentalists – and any humans with a fairly basic knowledge of science and some critical-thinking skills – are against fracking and nuclear energy. Has he not heard about the earthquakes being caused by fracking? Is he somehow privy to exactly which chemicals are being used in fracking? The “EPA studies” that declared “fracking can be done safely and cleanly” did not say that fracking IS BEING DONE “safely and cleanly”, more simply that it “can” be done. (Here’s the Christian Science Monitor’s take on this.)

And “nuclear”?! Does “Fukushima” ring a bell? Sorry, but Indian Point is way too close for me to want any part of nuclear power. Not to mention disposal of nuclear waste, which has already been an environmental problem for decades. Or that nuclear facilities make lovely targets for terrorism. Where the hell has Dr. Land been?

Then there’s Ken Blackwell’s ridiculous drivel, “Trump is Bad But Not Worse Than Hillary”

[The blurb says “Ken Blackwell is the Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment at the Family Research Council. He serves on the board of directors of the Club for Growth and the National Taxpayers Union. He is also a member of the public affairs committee of the NRA. Mr. Blackwell is also the former Mayor of Cincinnati and a former Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission.” As Blackwell says in a different context below, “What more needs to be said?”]

“…no one should doubt Hillary Clinton’s determination to expand the state at every turn.
Trump the businessman has experience in confronting bureaucracy, and the Democrats are prolific regulators. President Barack Obama has imposed costly new rules at a rapid pace. Clinton likely would set new records.

Then there’s the judiciary. Antonin Scalia’s death has upset the delicate balance on the Supreme Court. Turning those appointments over to a liberal Democrat would lose the court for a generation, undermining any future conservative political victories.

America’s international security and standing also are at stake. Clinton had a disastrous hand in her husband’s presidency, noteworthy for the debacle in Somalia, unnecessary war in the Balkans, and broken agreement with North Korea. Then she was the first term Secretary of State for President Obama. What more needs to be said?”

1) What exactly has Hillary Clinton said or done to indicate a “determination to expand the state at every turn”? What is your definition of “expand”, and the vague phrase “at every turn”?
2) Trump the con-man has minions, er, “people” – the “BEST” people – to “confront bureaucracy” for him. And those minions don’t always win, either: it’s probably not a good idea to mention “Scotland”, “golf course” or “windmills” in front of The Donald.
3) Hillary Clinton is not a “liberal” Democrat.
4) WTF did First Lady Hillary have to do with Somalia, the Balkans, and North Korea? How does being “the first term Secretary of State for President Obama” disqualify her? And finally,
5) “What more needs to be said?” A whole hell of a lot more!

Donald Trump’s expected nomination comes as a disappointment for many Republicans. However, by every standard Clinton is worse. Conservatives might reluctantly vote for Trump. But, they should consider a vote
for him nevertheless, if he becomes a standard bearer of our platform. A platform that has made us the majority party in the United States.

Is Trump smart enough to do the right thing and are we smart enough to beat Hillary?

Politics is the art of the possible. That doesn’t mean abandoning principle. But if the good is unavailable, it means preferring the politically unattractive to the politically ugly. Too much is at stake for conservatives to treat the presidential election like a kamikaze mission or for Trump to be dumb.”

Two pieces about “Christian” megachurch pastor and devout Trump supporter Robert Jeffress demonstrate the extremely hypocritical and morally reprehensible “values” of religious conservatives. In one piece, Jeffress defends Trump’s childish tweet in response to criticism of Trump by another Evangelical, Russell Moore, with the equally childish (and un-Christ-like) argument that “Moore had it coming because he provoked Trump.” In the second piece, Jeffress calls Christians who won’t vote for Trump “fools”:

“Pastor Robert Jeffress, leader of the influential 12,000-member First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, declared Wednesday that Republicans who have vowed never to support Donald Trump if he becomes the Republican presidential nominee are “fools.”
“It is absolutely foolish to do anything that would allow Hillary Clinton to become the next President of the United States … at least Donald Trump has voiced a belief in a pro-life movement, he has at least talked about religious liberty as he did last Friday, you don’t hear either things coming from the lips of Hillary Clinton,” he continued.
“I believe any Christian who would sit at home and not vote for the Republican nominee … that person is being motivated by pride rather than principle and I think it would be a shame for people to allow Hillary Clinton four or eight years in the White House,” he said.

So much for ‘separation of Church and State’ – I’d like to see the IRS have a little talk with ‘Pastor’ Jeffress.

This is our daily Open Thread–talk about whatever you want.

The Watering Hole, Monday, January 25th, 2016: All-“Christian” Edition

Today’s offerings are from two sites whose only thing in common seems to be that they both have the word “Christian” in their names.

First, let’s look at a few things from the Christian Post website (the more ‘persecuted-RW-Christian’ site.)

The Christian Post has sent the 2016 Presidential candidates a list of 12 questions which they feel are most important for the candidates to answer. So far, only two Republican candidates, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, have responded.

Here’s Ben Carson’s responses, a few of which I’d like to comment upon:

2. What is marriage, and what should be the government’s interest and role in marriage?
Like many Christians, I believe that marriage is a union between one man and one woman in the witness of God. The government’s interest and role in marriage should be to protect and sanctify this institution[emphasis mine] because it is the cornerstone of our society. Raising families with two parents is key to a child’s development, and marriage is a strong institution that solidifies this crucial social structure. Marriage combines the efforts of two people to provide for and raise children, and gives children two parental figures to love and care for them.

Okay – First, define “sanctify”. According to Wikipedia:

“Sanctification is the act or process of acquiring sanctity, of being made or becoming holy.[1] “Sanctity” is an ancient concept widespread among religions. It is a gift given through the power of God to a person or thing which is then considered sacred or set apart in an official capacity within the religion, in general anything from a temple, to vessels, to days of the week, to a human believer who willingly accepts this gift can be sanctified. To sanctify is to literally “set apart for particular use in a special purpose or work and to make holy or sacred.”

So Carson believes that the U.S. Government has role in every citizen’s marriage, and that role is to make it “holy or sacred”? Does that make the U.S. Government a god?   Doesn’t that conflict with the Establishment Clause?  If Ben Carson believes that marriage is such a strong institution, why not rail against divorce? Christians get divorced at the same – or higher – rate as any other group, not to mention that divorce is said to be a big sin in the eyes of Jesus. If Jesus thought divorce was so wrong, but didn’t mention homosexuality, why can’t the “key” two-parents-must-raise-a-child be in a same-sex marriage?

10. What are your priorities related to both protecting the nation’s natural resources and using those resources to provide for the nation’s energy needs?

Energy is the life-blood that keeps our economy growing. It fuels the tractors that plow America’s fields. It powers the trucks, trains and planes that deliver American products. And it drives the American people in their everyday lives. If we want to return America to its former prosperity, we need to ensure that America’s energy grid is not only reliable, but affordable. That means looking into all potential energy sources to find the most efficient, most effective and more reliable energy grid possible.

We can’t afford to mandate unrealistic fuel standards or price-inflating renewable mandates. But as these energy sources compete head to head, technological advancements and innovations will help drop costs and raise efficiencies even further.

[and the money quote]

When it comes to the environment, we should be good stewards of God’s resources, but the best way to do that is through market-based mechanisms and private efforts, not via government edicts that destroy businesses and intrude into citizens’ lives.

Yeah, because I’m sure that “God” was thinking of “market-based mechanisms and private efforts” when he told mankind to be good stewards of Earth. And wasn’t Carson just talking about how “government” should have an “interest” and “a role” in a couple’s marriage, i.e., “intrud[ing] into citizens’ lives”, and very personally, I might add? But the “government” shouldn’t be involved in determining how the entire country uses its natural resources, because that would “intrud[e] into citizens’ lives”?  Carson has very mixed, and incorrect, notions of what government’s priorities should be.

12. What caused the Great Recession, and what should be done to ensure it doesn’t happen again?

A number of factors contributed to the global financial crisis, but what became clear was that when bankers engaged in highly leveraged financial bets, ordinary taxpayers ended up footing the bill for the big banks’ bailouts.

I believe that certain types of regulations are reasonable for regulating financial markets. For instance, Glass-Steagall was a reasonable piece of legislation after the 1929 stock market crash, and perhaps should be re-imposed in a modified form.

This does not mean that the regulations imposed after the financial crisis were appropriate. In fact, Dodd-Frank is a monstrosity that does not address the root cause of the crisis, imposes heavy burdens on community banks, severely limits the freedom of financial institution to engage in ordinary business and saps economic growth with restrictive government controls.

I believe that when such government regulations choke economic growth, it is the poor and the middle class that are hurt the most.

Carson (or whoever wrote his ‘responses’ for him) must have just skimmed the “U.S. Economic History, Late 20th – Early 21st Century” Cliff Notes(TM), latching on to just enough topical buzzwords and meaningless phrases to put together a few sentences. Too many points there to elaborate on, I’ll let you all pick them apart if you wish.

And here’s Carly Fiorina’s responses. I’m just going to comment on one of them.

10. What are your priorities related to both protecting the nation’s natural resources and using those resources to provide for the nation’s energy needs?

Fiorina: As president, I will ensure that the United States is the global energy powerhouse of the 21st century.

That means reinstating the Keystone XL Pipeline that President Obama rejected. It also means rolling back the regulations from this administration that limit our ability to find resources by imposing regulations on hydraulic fracturing and our ability to be energy independent by regulating drilling on federal lands. As president, I will make America an energy leader through technology and innovation.

No, no, no! Fiorina is just so wrong, it’s hard to believe that she could possibly be serious. Keystone XL, fracking, and drilling, and on OUR federal lands, no less? How does one become an “energy leader through technology and innovation” while relying solely on finite, filthy fossil fuels? Aaarrgghhh!

Let’s turn to the Christian Science Monitor for a few things that are more reality-based and inspiring.

First, I’m sure that you’re all aware by now that Earth may have a new neighbor, as astronomers announced the possibility of a hidden ninth planet.

The evidence for the existence of this “Planet Nine” is indirect at the moment; computer models suggest a big, undiscovered world has shaped the strange orbits of multiple objects in the Kuiper Belt, the ring of icy bodies beyond Neptune.

Next, we can once again thank the Hubble telescope and NASA for showing us the amazing beauty of space, in this article about the Trumpler 14 star cluster. Just don’t let Donald Trump know about Trumpler 14, he’ll probably think that (a) the star cluster is named for him, and (b) therefore he owns it.
Trumpler 14Source: Hubblesite.org

And finally, for our Zookeeper, here’s an article discussing why the zebra has stripes. While it appears that the idea that the striping is for camouflage may be incorrect, there is still no consensus on a proven biological reason.
brown striped zebra

This is our daily Open Thread–discuss whatever you want.

The Watering Hole, Monday, December 28th, 2015: No Religious Test?

I ran across this opinion piece at christianpost.com [and for more religious wackiness, check out some of the stories on their home page] and felt it was a perfect example of the ridiculousness of the “Christian Nation” argument. In it, Reverend Mark H. Creech cherry-picks references from some version of the bible, from early American historical documents, and from the Star-Spangled Banner.

Recently, WTVD News ABC 11 for Raleigh-Durham reported that the mayor of Franklin, North Carolina, Bob Scott has a long tenure of public service. He was in the Army as a public affairs officer. He flew in the Civil Air Patrol. He spent ten years on the Franklin Board of Alderman.

Each time he was sworn into office he placed his left hand on the Bible to take his oath. But this year, which will make his second term as Franklin’s mayor, he decided to do something different. He decided he wouldn’t use the Bible, but instead swear upon a copy of the Constitution.

According to WTVD, Scott said that he had been thinking about the matter for a long time.

“I realized we are taking an oath to defend the Constitution, pure and simple, and those are the laws of the land. And If I’m gonna give an oath, that’s what I’m giving an oath to. It had nothing to do with religion — for or against — just swearing to protect and defend the Constitution,” said Scott.

Regarding the office of any public official, Scott also said, “We do not represent any religion, what we represent are the laws of the land. As far as I am concerned, there is no place in government for religion. I’m a secularist in that respect. I just don’t think there’s a place for any kind of religious doctrine in government because we represent everybody.”

The woeful ignorance of Scott’s view is breathtaking. You can no more separate our nation’s form of government from the Christian religion than you can separate smoke from fire or water from ice.

Granted, at the start of our fledgling republic, there was a severing of the politico-ecclesiastical ties that had long existed between the church and state. But the separation of the two did not mean the severance of our way of government from God, or from its basis — the Christian religion. As John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the United States stated, the American Revolution connected in “one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government and the principles of Christianity.”

This fact is voluminously evident in such matters as the biblical worldview that shaped the resistance of the colonists to King George’s tyranny, the Declaration of Independence’s references to “Nature’s God,” the “Creator,” the “Supreme Judge of the world” and its signers acknowledgement of “a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence.” This is not to mention the repeated presidential and congressional calls for prayer and days of fasting in periods of great national challenges throughout American history.  [HUH?]

Scott may claim that there is “no place in government for religion,” but even something as simple as the concluding words of our National Anthem summarize the United States was birthed out of a religious commitment — out of a commitment to God.

“Blessed with victory and peace, May this heaven rescued land, Praise the Power that hath made And preserved us a nation!

“Then conquer we must, When our cause is just; And this be our motto, ‘In God is our trust!’**

“And the star-spangled banner in, Triumph shall wave, O’er the land of the free, And the home of the brave.

Scott may have chosen to take his oath on the Constitution, but neither can he remove that great document from its Christian influences. Stephen McDowell and Mark Beliles, in their book, Liberating the Nations, point out that James Madison, who has justly been referred to as the “Father” of the US Constitution, was a tremendous Christian statesman that delineated the biblical responsibilities of government in its preamble:

To establish justice — the goal of government as taught in Romans 13 and I Peter 2:14 is to punish evildoers and to protect those who do right.

To ensure domestic tranquility — a phrase that comes from the focus of prayer for government, which instructs us to pray “in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.”

To provide for the common defense — “The protection of innocent human life is at the base of not only capital punishment (Gen. 9:6) but also in the provision of an army for protection from external threats.”

To promote the general welfare — Romans 13:4 says that civil rulers are servants of God “to you for good.”

To secure the blessings of Liberty — Liberty is a gift from our Creator, not simply a privilege granted by the government. The government should secure the God-given rights of every man to his life, liberty, and property.

No wonder Noah Webster said, “The religion which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and his apostles … to this we owe our free constitutions of government.”

Moreover, these are some of the same reasons George Washington in his farewell address warned:

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars …The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked where is the security for prosperity, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths…? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion …Tis substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.”

Mayor Scott certainly has the right to reject putting his hand on the Bible when taking his oath of office, but his choice sends a dangerous message that places every citizen at risk. His actions declare the erroneous notion that our rights come from the state — not God.”

While there’s a lot here that should be picked apart, I’ll leave most of that to you, my readers. I’m just going to throw out a few comments regarding certain parts.

First: Who the hell sings the entire National Anthem?

Second: Noah Webster was wrong: the democratic principles of the Greeks, not “the religion of Christ and his apostles”, introduced civil liberty and “our free constitutions of government.”

Third: Mayor Scott’s decision to swear his oath of office on the Constitution is not a danger to any citizen, it is a promise to ALL American citizens to uphold our rights as granted by the Constitution – NOT by the Reverend’s, or anyone else’s, god. No one’s god can take away my rights as a U.S. citizen.

Fourth: Obviously I disagree with George Washington’s notion that morality is dependent upon religion; however, I must point out that Reverend Creech left out an important line that followed the Washington quote he referenced:

“Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.”

If only George Washington could have foreseen the bastardization that is Liberty University.

**According to www.treasury.gov, we can blame adding the motto “In God We Trust” to U.S. coinage (not on paper currency) on Salmon P. Chase, who apparently was totally ignorant of the First Amendment. An excerpt:

The motto IN GOD WE TRUST was placed on United States coins largely because of the increased religious sentiment existing during the Civil War. Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase received many appeals from devout persons throughout the country, urging that the United States recognize the Deity on United States coins. From Treasury Department records, it appears that the first such appeal came in a letter dated November 13, 1861. It was written to Secretary Chase by Rev. M. R. Watkinson, Minister of the Gospel from Ridleyville, Pennsylvania, and read:

Dear Sir: You are about to submit your annual report to the Congress respecting the affairs of the national finances.

One fact touching our currency has hitherto been seriously overlooked. I mean the recognition of the Almighty God in some form on our coins.

You are probably a Christian. What if our Republic were not shattered beyond reconstruction? Would not the antiquaries of succeeding centuries rightly reason from our past that we were a heathen nation? What I propose is that instead of the goddess of liberty we shall have next inside the 13 stars a ring inscribed with the words PERPETUAL UNION; within the ring the allseeing eye, crowned with a halo; beneath this eye the American flag, bearing in its field stars equal to the number of the States united; in the folds of the bars the words GOD, LIBERTY, LAW.

This would make a beautiful coin, to which no possible citizen could object. This would relieve us from the ignominy of heathenism. This would place us openly under the Divine protection we have personally claimed. From my hearth I have felt our national shame in disowning God as not the least of our present national disasters…

As a result, Secretary Chase instructed James Pollock, Director of the Mint at Philadelphia, to prepare a motto, in a letter dated November 20, 1861:

Dear Sir: No nation can be strong except in the strength of God, or safe except in His defense. The trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins.

So, America has “Divine protection”? Coulda fooled me.

 

UPDATE:  Being ever so suspicious of religious quotes attributed to our Founders (or their children), Wayne checked and found out the John Quincy Adams quote above is a fake quote.  The words were written by John Wingate Thornton and are believed to be Thornton’s summary of a concept he attributed to John Quincy Adams.  Whether they represent Adams’ views or not, they are not his words, they are Thornton’s.

 

This is our daily Open Thread – have at it!

The Watering Hole, Tuesday November 17, 2015.

I can’t bring myself to post about the environment or food politics.

The events in France just overwhelm. Can’t think of one fundamentalist religion that has ever done the world one bit of good, ever. It’s the 21st Century. You would think people would be beyond this now. It has been quite evident for some time that people can act morally and humanistic-ally without religion. I just don’t see the draw.

Open thread

The Watering Hole, Saturday, October 24th, 2015: OTG (Oh Their God)

Having recently run across the Christian Post website (which came up when I was researching the Word of Life church killing), I went back to take a look at their political coverage.

While not as overtly crazy-sounding as most of the stories one finds on RightWingWatch, I’d say that there’s enough fundamentalist nonsense at CP to bear watching. Although the ‘news’ articles that I glanced at are written in a fairly straightforward manner, their content adds to the argument that organized religions need to stay out of politics or get taxed just like everyone else.

One of the first articles to catch my eye surprised the hell out of me: who knew that there’s such a thing as a “Christian Voting Guide”? Yup! And, of course, the sole Republican Presidential ‘contender’ who rated an ‘A’ rating just had to be Mike Huckabee:

The list, put together by Rev. Steven Andrew, pastor of USA Christian Church, claimed that only four of the candidates would be biblically qualified to serve as president.

Ranking the candidates on criteria such as truthfulness, hating covetousness, protecting “God-given rights,” fearing God and protecting Christian religious liberty, the guide gave Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, and Rand Paul B-grades, and only Huckabee scored an ‘A.’

“It is time to please God; we must repent of voting based on how much money one raises or popularity. Those things can’t make the USA great.

However, God will restore His blessings for choosing the strongest Christian after His own heart for president. Mike Huckabee is the closest to a King David running. David did God’s will for the nation and God blessed Israel greatly,” Andrew said.

This is the first thing you see on the Christian Voting Guide page:
ACVGInfoGraphic_102115

Reverend Andrew’s USA Christian Church’s “Statement of Faith” simply makes me wonder yet again how any fundamentalist “Christians” can name themselves after Jesus Christ, when most of their beliefs and practices are solely based on Old Testament ravings writings:

“Statement of Faith

God eternally exists in three Persons as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. (John 10:30, John 14:26, Genesis 1:1, John 1:1)

The Holy Bible is the infallible Word of God and it is our final authority. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, Psalm 119:160, John 15:7)

All have sinned, fallen short of the glory of God and face the judgment of God for their sin. Each person must call on Jesus Christ to be saved.

Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He lived a perfect sinless life, died and rose from the dead. The blood of Jesus shed on the cross cleanses from all sin. (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, John 3:16, Acts 4:12, Ephesians 2:8-9, John 1:29, 1 John 1:7)

The First Commandment to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength. (Mark 12:30)

The Second Commandment to love one another; as Jesus loved us, that we also love one another. Jesus is our Lord. We are to follow Jesus and seek and do the Father’s will. (Mark 12:31, John 13:34, Luke 9:23, Matthew 7:21)

God gives us His Holy Spirit to live holy and abundant lives – glorifying God. (Galatians 5:22-23, 1 Peter 1:14-16, Romans 8:14, 1 Corinthians 12, 2 Corinthians 6:17, John 10:10)

The resurrection of those who have fallen asleep in Christ and their translation, together with those who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Titus 2:12; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; Romans 8:23).

The revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven and the Millennial reign of Christ on earth (2 Thessalonians 1:17; Revelation 19:11-14; Romans 11:26-27; Revelation 20:1-7).

The devil and his angels, the beast and the false prophet, and anyone not found written in the Book of Life, shall be punished everlastingly in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death (Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10-15).

“According to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21 – 22).”

Reverend Andrew is also touting his book “God’s Plan for the USA.” The ad blurb for the book could fit in with the Texas textbooks’ American History whitewash, albeit a trifle more extreme:

“Can the USA Survive?”

“There are seven remarkable Bible Keys our founders knew that God promises will bless you and save the USA. Do you know God’s answers to the uncertainty, economic problems, police state, degradation of families, terrorists, declining healthcare, darkness, and the persecution of Christians.

Many see the crisis that threatens the USA’s survival, but few know the real problem or realize how severe the dangers are. Yet there is hope. God’s Word assures a miraculous turn-around of God’s favor to end His judgment. It hinges upon following Him completely, from the heart and soul.

Our founders faced a similar challenge. They bravely turned the tide using these Bible Keys. They made the LORD the God of the USA and they proclaimed Americans to be His people. This means that you have God’s amazing covenant guarantee to save America.”

For more on this ridiculous premise, see “10 Reasons God Wants the USA to be a Strong Christian Nation” Also, have fun with Reverend Andrew’s directives to “Pastors and Christian Leaders”, i.e.:

“As you know God wants to show mercy to the USA for our sins and bless Americans. That is why I am making this Pastors and Christian Leaders Guide to “Making A Strong Christian Nation” available for you to print and share.” ~~~ “Pastors will you preach these Biblical keys in sermons and help unite the USA in Christ? As Jesus Christ was our nation’s answer in 1776, Jesus Christ is the USA’s answer today.”

Okay, that’s enough BS to start off the weekend. But don’t worry, there’s plenty more to wade through at the linked sites.

This is our daily Open Thread–have at it!