The Watering Hole, Monday, July 11th, 2016: “Christians” vs “Critters”

If you’d like more proof that at least some “Christian Evangelical” megachurch “leaders”, along with the “Prosperity” Jeebus hucksters and their varied brethren, should be under the microscope of the IRS, there’s a few articles on the Christian Post’s “Politics” page. (Also see RawStory’s recent thread about “Pastor” Jeffress.)

Or, if you prefer to start your day/week with some ‘critters’, here’s the official “Watering Hole”:
watering hole
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belly up pups
black kitten
leaping lemurs
sea_lion a to z animals
upclose kitty amolife com
fucking love this stick animal animal animal blgspt

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

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, June 20th, 2016: God Is In Control?

As I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, I like to check out what “Christian news” sites have to say on current events and other topics. I’ve been finding the Christian Post useful as a place to see what issues are being discussed, in an attempt to glean what self-styled “Christians” deem to be of importance.

So when I saw an article titled “God Is In Control”, I just had to find out how someone would explain that claim. The article, by Don Anderson, opened with this image:

"God Is In Control!" by Christian Post cartoonist Don Anderson

“God Is In Control!” by Christian Post cartoonist Don Anderson

[I have to say, “God” (apparently Jesus, not the OT “God the Father”, at least in the cartoon) looks a bit wild-eyed and not at all “in control.” And is that an ocean of piss that they’re navigating?]

After the cartoon, a link takes one to the following article, titled “Rick Warren: Want Serenity? Let God Take Full Control”.  Here’s an excerpt:

Rick Warren: Want Serenity? Let God Take Full Control

To achieve serenity in life, God wants you to let go and know He is in control, Pastor Rick Warren says.

Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Orange County, California, wrote in a recent devotional that although we as Christians may fight to take control of our lives on a daily basis, we must also remember that ultimately, everything is up to God.

“[…] stress relief always starts with letting God be God,” the evangelical leader writes. “It always starts with saying, ‘God, I’m giving up control, because you can control the things that are out of control in my life.'”

Because no one knows what will happen in the future, we need to let go and let God do the rest.

“I don’t know what you’re going to face this week. You don’t, either. But I can already tell you what God wants you to do: Let go, and know. Let go of control, and know that God is in control. Let go, and know! This is the first step to serenity in your life,” Warren explains.

Christians tend to react to stress in one of two ways, Warren explains. While some attempt to over-control a situation, others give up and pity themselves.

Both of these approaches are destructive and don’t ultimately alleviate stress, the megachurch pastor says. Instead, Christians need to surrender themselves to God and His plan.

“The number one reason you’re under stress is because you’re in conflict with God. You’re trying to control things that only God can control,” Warren explains.

A good way to maintain a high level of tranquility in the face of stress is to pray the Serenity Prayer, Warren says.

The evangelical leader points specifically to the last eight lines of the prayer, which read: “Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that you will make all things right if I surrender to your will so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with you forever in the next. Amen.”

Okay, let’s look at this piece-by-piece:

“”[…] stress relief always starts with letting God be God,” the evangelical leader writes. “It always starts with saying, ‘God, I’m giving up control, because you can control the things that are out of control in my life.’

There’s a couple of things wrong with this; let’s start with “letting God be God” (this would be way too long – okay, way too much longer – if I began with “stress relief always starts with…”)

In an earlier piece, Warren talks about how [in essence], despite the fact that the Old Testament “…rarely describes God as being a father…”, somehow miraculously  “…this changes after Jesus is sent down from Heaven to save humanity…After this event, God is described as a father much more frequently…”…and now “…wants to have a relationship with us…”

So, god used to be a petty, vindictive, insecure, genocidal tyrant, but suddenly he becomes a father and is now kind and loving and wants to get to know the subjects he had previously threatened with hellfire and brimstone?  Seriously?  And yet Warren and conservative christian leaders STILL utilize a few specific Old Testament god’s ‘rules according to (some guys who wrote the OT)’ when fighting to be allowed to discriminate against certain groups, or to make others live by those particular OT rules.  Which should no longer apply, if god is really an all-loving father, right?  If we’re supposed to ‘let god be god’, which god are we letting him be?

As to “giving up control” because god “can control the things that are out of control in my life”, then where does man’s “free will” come in?  What about ‘personal responsibility’?  The conservative christians who believe that the poor are poor because they chose to be, well maybe the poor are poor because your god is in control and he really hates poor people?  And considering the chaos going on in this world, I don’t think that anyone is in control, let alone a god.

On to:  “…Because no one knows what will happen in the future, we need to let go and let God do the rest…I don’t know what you’re going to face this week. You don’t, either. But I can already tell you what God wants you to do: Let go, and know. Let go of control, and know that God is in control. Let go, and know! This is the first step to serenity in your life,” Warren explains.”

Hmm…how about ‘because no one knows what will happen in the future’, we can take steps to make our future what we want it to be?  Why “Let go”, and, if we do “let go”, what will we “know”?  One can still attempt to at least control one’s “present”, even if there is uncertainty about the “future.”

And let’s put it bluntly, “Pastor” Warren:  you and your megachurch/televangelist ilk have plenty of money and are living quite comfortably on the fleecing, er, ‘tithings’ of your sheep and your speaking and appearance fees.  You truly don’t have to worry about many of the day-to-day issues with which we poorer folk struggle.  The main cause of stress in most civilized societies, i.e., lack of MONEY to live and to feed yourself and your family, is not stooping your shoulders or affecting your health, mental and physical.  And that goes for christians just like any other demographic, despite Warren’s assertion that “The number one reason you’re under stress is because you’re in conflict with God. You’re trying to control things that only God can control…”  Um, no, nope, I think the number one reason is money (which is currently how most people access the basic needs of life.)  Sorry, Rick, you’re just wrong.

Next, what about:Christians tend to react to stress in one of two ways, Warren explains. While some attempt to over-control a situation, others give up and pity themselves.  Both of these approaches are destructive and don’t ultimately alleviate stress, the megachurch pastor says.”   [Well, DUH!]

I hope that Warren is oversimplifying here, otherwise those two ‘reaction to stress’ choices make christians sound like two-dimensional fools.  Humans of all types generally react to stress in all kinds of ways, not just the two extremes given.  And often, we react to stress in any number of ways at any given time, the key being our own control over our own lives and reactions.  Again, what about the conservative mantra of “personal responsibility”, so hypocritical from people who never, ever, not-freaking-ever, admit to any fault or wrongdoing. 

And lastly, on to Warren’s “Serenity Prayer” solution.  Which can be dismissed, because it’s about as useful for solving real problems as the “moment of silence” is for “honoring the victims” of the mass-shooting-du-jour.  In either case, one might just as well ‘count to ten.’

For CP’s “Christian”-colored view on current political issues, see here. Plenty of fodder for discussion there, too.

This is our daily Open Thread–so, what’s on you’re mind?

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; Thursday January 7 2016; Religion v. Tolerance, and v.v.

My only objection to ANY religion is when its patrons
attempt to insert it into the balance of society which is not
a subscriber, and especially when ‘they’ try to insert ‘it’ into
science which considers the search for the unknowable to be
a waste of time.

Those were my words, written way back on November 23, 2002. I was, at the time, having an online (email) discussion with an evangelical Christian whose undercurrent philosophy was essentially theocratic in nature. The EC’s stated position was a common one back then, that Intelligent Design should be taught alongside Evolution in H.S. science classes because evolution pretty much ignored the Creator concept. As I put it at the time,

Science doesn’t ‘need’ (and certainly doesn’t employ) a “story” of creation,  that option more the purview of those who prefer to employ the ‘magic’ of the supernatural. Science employs, on the other hand, “reason”, research, facts, etc. from which it attempts to derive a fair and — shall we say — ‘uncontrived’ explanation of reality and of origins.

And of course, I was labelled as “anti-Christian” and “intolerant” in result. Why? Because of my stated objection to the insertion of theological/dogmatic ‘Belief’ in the place of scientific ‘Fact’ — a position to which I still, this day, adhere, but one which most certainly should NOT be considered in any quarter as a sign of ‘intolerance.’ Non-Belief, yes, definitely. Intolerant? No.

As I’ve said many times before, I really and truly do not care what others believe, which church they attend (or don’t attend), or anything else that has anything to do with religion — it is, absolutely, a personal matter and should forever stay as such.

But I must confess that I become very troubled when what should be private religious matters are placed front and center upon the public stage, and when such matters are blatantly used to not only influence an election along dogmatic lines but also to shove a particular brand of said dogma down *everyone’s* throat via any legal means possible — ranging from local law to Constitutional amendment — my hackles quickly raise, as does my blood pressure.

Case in point: Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio recently said,

“We are at the water’s edge of the argument that mainstream Christian teaching is hate speech. Today we’ve reached the point in our society where if you do not support same-sex marriage you are labeled a homophobe and a hater.”

There is a very logical explanation as to why so many of those who “do not support same-sex marriage . . . are labeled . . .” ‘homophobes’ and ‘haters.’ It’s because they are. There’s also a very good reason why so many are so ready to willingly acknowledge that sometimes Christian teaching is hate speech. Because it either has that capacity, or because it IS hate speech. And while it’s true that such epithets can be accurately directed at the Christian religious foundationals, it’s no less accurate to direct them at any other god-based religion or belief system, a point made and exemplified in the following Salon.com post, written by Jeffrey Tayler — Religious delusions are destroying us . . .

The year just past was, for rationalists, an unremitting annus horribilis. It leaves us with little reason to think 2016 will be much better. . . .

Yet attempt to disabuse aficionados of the brain-warping faiths in the name of which so much blood has been and is being spilled, and so much unnecessary anguish forced on so many innocents, and they will quite likely shower you with abuse, calling you an agent of Satan, morally deficient, intolerant, or just plain disrespectful. Worse, If Islam is the faith in question, a contingent of witless liberals (themselves not believers) would join in, crowing about “Islamophobia” and racism, though Islam is not a race, but a hallowed ideology with universal pretensions and followers of every skin color. The result: Religion – which is to say, a construct of comprehensive, evidence-free propositions about our universe and mankind, entertained with often fanatical certitude – enjoys, even in 2016, undeserved respect, tax exemptions costing government coffers $71 billion annually, and even a place of honor on our currency. In the world’s first secular republic, this is an outrage.

All religions are nothing more than man-made contrivances of domination and submission, exploited by humans for mundane ends, and accoutered with sundry superstitious rituals meant to ensure tribal loyalty and generate animosity toward outsiders. Long before we in the West knew of faith-sanctioned female genital mutilation or the hurling of gays from rooftops, Shakespeare declared, “What damned error but some sober brow/will bless it and approve it with a text/hiding the grossness with fair ornament.” And remember: the “damned errors” and “grossness” are all for naught. Religion is a lie, and those who profess it, dupes of the lie.

Tayler continues toward his summation.

We need to stress the indignity of religion. Superstitions ordaining us to submit to God are the enemies of human dignity. That God is wholly imaginary only compounds this indignity. Coddling the religiously deluded by showing “respect” for the undignified shams to which they are attached (denouncers of “Islamophobia” take note!) drags out the misery they impose on themselves and on the rest of us. In contrast to religious folk, we nonbelievers know how to live free and should never hesitate to point this out. Religion and freedom are incompatible. In fact, religion and true adulthood can’t coexist. One who shies away from bleak facts surrounding our time on Earth is really a child, no matter his or her age.

“No gods, no masters,” declared early feminist Margaret Sanger. Such is the slogan for human dignity and reason, whether we are male or female.

Tayler definitely makes his point, although I must say he seems also to have employed a fair amount of ‘religious intolerance’ in the process, a practice with which I continue to disagree. Personally, I’ve known a great many people of solid religious belief — Christian, Jewish, Islamic, even Native American — who neither hold nor ever express any level of dogmatic ‘hatred’ concerning anyone of ANY belief (or non-belief). To people such as them, hate and intolerance are alien processes and can never glean even a shred of intellectual justification. Their credo: Tolerance. Always.

I freely admit that I see neither the Bible, the Quran, or any other ‘Holy Book’ as being an authority on anything at all, but once again it’s surely not my decision as to how someone else might feel about that same book. On the other hand, sometimes I do wonder how the ‘moralists’ among us might feel were the pendulum to swing to its opposite margin, and there soon appeared proposals afoot and legislation pending that would disallow any and all public displays and utterances of religious concepts, that churches would be taxed exactly the same as any other business or corporation, depending on size and income etc., that the only legal place to pray would be — staying with Biblical principle — in one’s own closet.

That’s not likely to ever occur, of course, but it is something to ponder in the sense that were any ‘assault’ on religion ever to be proposed, even indirect in the forms of public prohibitions or taxation, it would immediately bring forward cries of Constitutional violation, and more. Yet, here we are in a situation where religious leaders and their respective flocks not only demand the imposition of religion-based laws, but also press for so-called “faith-based initiatives” (the transfer of public funds to religious organizations, presumably for specified tasks) as well as the rewriting of public school science textbooks as a means to substitute Biblical creationism for legitimate and well-researched scientific theory.

And lest we forget, there has been, over the course of history, more hatred and intolerance between believers of various faiths than between the vast bulk of non-believers towards each other. Descriptive words such as ‘Crusades’ and ‘Inquisition’ come quickly to mind, as do images of today’s hatred and intolerance on the part of Christians (and many non-believers) toward Muslims — Islamists of any denomination anywhere on the globe. And v.v., of course.

And sadly, the more one might dare hope for reprieve from or outright rejection of Intolerance by ‘leaders’ everywhere, the less the chance seems to become. One might almost conclude that intolerance and hate are factors that greatly assist the definition of the entire of the human species.

But still, this is America after all, the country where “All men are created equal” and where “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion . . .” so it follows that Tolerance WILL prevail amongst all her people. Right?

Cruz campaign official says Christians must take over public schools to stop ‘deception of the seed’

“We have a federal government that is advancing a secular agenda
that puts the ability of Bible-believing Christians to live our faith
more and more in jeopardy . . . If we allow nonbelievers to elect our
leaders, we shouldn’t be surprised when our government
doesn’t reflect our values.”
(Ted Cruz)

“We need a Christian supremacist society or else these things are
going to continue to happen. God willing, if Donald Trump wins,
and I think he will win, he will put a cap on things like this.”
(Theodore Shoebat, Extremist Christian Activist)

Or maybe not?

😡

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!

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 19th, 2015: Word of Life Christian Church of Death

Last week, a young man of 19 was beaten to death, and his 17-year-old brother was beaten senseless, in the sanctuary of the Word of Life Christian Church in a small town in upstate New York. Lucas Leonard, the 19-year-old, and his brother Christopher Leonard, were beaten during an “intervention” by their parents and several other church members, in an effort to get the boys to ‘confess their sins and beg forgiveness.’

Yes, there’s lots wrong with those sentences. But then, everything I’ve read about this killing is so very wrong. Here are several examples from various reports on this heinous beating marathon:

From the Olean Times-Herald, a local newspaper in Oneida county, where the killing took place:

“An attorney for the mother, Deborah Leonard, said she felt helpless to stop an “intervention” that spiraled into severe punishment by others at the Word of Life Christian Church. But a lawyer for the father, Bruce Leonard, said the incident stemmed from a family meeting that had nothing to do with the church.”

[It has been said that at least the older son wanted to leave the church/wanted to join the Army; and/or that he (or both boys, still unclear) had attended a pro-choice rally.]

“A timid Deborah Leonard “went along with” others in a church where she had worshipped for years, not anticipating how harsh the intervention would become, said her lawyer, Devin Garramone.

“She didn’t have the temerity to stand up to them and say, ‘You’re not punishing my kid,'” said Garramone, adding that he believed she didn’t cause the fatal injuries.”

Sure, a “timid Deborah Leonard” “didn’t have the temerity” to try to stop the fatal beating. But apparently [read further below] she was not so timid about joining in the flogging, kicking and punching that comprised the approximately 12-hour-long “intervention.” But it just gets weirder and more horrible.

“Bruce Leonard’s lawyer, Donald Gerace, said the episode “could just as well have taken place outside the church.” He said the Leonards had no intention of seriously injuring their son.”

WTF? Other than the fact that it is hideously fucked-up that this happened inside the SANCTUARY of a (so-called) church, what difference does it make where the parents helped to kill their son? Is the father thinking that saying it could have taken place anywhere somehow exonerates him or mitigates his crime?

“Devoted to the church, spiritual leader Traci Irwin and pastor Tiffanie Irwin, members often “wait to be told what to do,” [New Hartford Police Chief Michael] Inserra said. After the attack, the beating victims’ relatives wouldn’t tell officers where to find the injured Christopher Leonard, who ultimately was located on the church’s second floor, the chief said.”

[Emphasis mine.]

If “the beating victims’ relatives” don’t get an “Obstruction of Justice” or “Obstruction of an Investigation” charge added to the other charges, I’ll be very disappointed.

Then we have these bits from the New York Times’ article about the killing:

The teenagers’ parents, Bruce T. Leonard, 65, and Deborah Leonard, 59, who live in nearby Clayville, have been arrested and charged with first-degree manslaughter in their son’s death. Four other church members, including the teenagers’ half sister, Sarah Ferguson, 33, were also arrested and face felony assault charges.

[This was the first that I heard that Ms. Ferguson was a half-sister; another article says she’s the teens’ stepsister.]

Lawyers entered pleas of not guilty for all six suspects on Tuesday. A lawyer for Ms. Leonard, Devin Garramone, said she had belonged to the church for several decades…“I don’t think this is a clear-cut case of guilt,” Mr. Garramone said on Wednesday. “At first it might look like that, but you have a mother — I don’t think she inflicted these injuries on her son. There were other people involved.”

Could the lawyer get a little more incoherent? Not a thing that he said made any sense. And if “there were other people involved”, it does not make the mother guilt-free.

Of course, being a “church”, this cult is tax-exempt, according to the NYT:

“Word of Life Church, which owns the building it occupies, was incorporated in the 1990s in Oneida County, naming four officers but giving little indication of its mission. A certificate of incorporation filed in 1995 lists Bruce Leonard as a trustee. The church property — valued at $210,843, and sitting on 1.86 acres — is tax-exempt as a religious organization, according to a 2015 assessment roll.”

CNN’s report on the killing includes some weird shit, too:

“Another witness, State Police Sgt. Todd Grant, said Bruce Leonard made admissions about what happened to his son and agreed to write a statement. The interrogation was videotaped. At no point did Bruce Leonard ask about his son, Irwin says.”

Nice concern for your son there, Bruce. What a loving Christian family.

Later, the sergeant said, Deborah Leonard said she had struck Lucas with a cord. When Grant removed a cord from the back of a computer and asked her to demonstrate how she hit him, the investigator said, Deborah Leonard struck a table violently.
Deborah Leonard’s attorney, Devin Garramone, said his client had a stent put in due to a heart condition and requires constant medical attention.

“I cannot imagine my client had anything to do with these injuries, especially in the condition she is in,” he said.

Yes, well, Mr. Garramone, perhaps you should talk to your client again, it seems that her heart condition did not inhibit her, as she demonstrated to Sergeant Grant.

Yet more horror, from an NBC News article:

“A mother and father whipped their 19-year-old son in church with an electrical cord and what appeared to be a belt during a deadly, all-night spiritual counseling session triggered by his desire to leave the fold, according to witness testimony and police Friday.

Church deacon Daniel Irwin testified that he peered through a doorway window in the sanctuary at one point during the more than 12-hour ordeal at the Word of Life Christian Church, and saw Lucas Leonard bleeding and in apparent agony.

[Emphasis mine.]

“Lucas was rolling himself back and forth on the floor and making a sustained, monotone moaning,” Irwin said.

Within hours, the young man would be dead — killed by blows inflicted by his parents, sister and fellow church members, authorities said. His mother told police the group took turns hitting him and holding him down, state police investigator Jason Nellis testified. Irwin, the church deacon, testified that he got a text message after services ended around 8 p.m. Sunday saying the Leonard family would be part of a counseling session with the church’s pastor, Tiffanie Irwin, who is Irwin’s sister. Irwin said he wasn’t told what the session was about.”

Yet when Irwin “peered through a doorway window” and “saw Lucas Leonard bleeding and in apparent agony”, he never thought to report it to any ‘secular’ authorities? He didn’t think to intervene himself? Does this type of “spiritual counseling” happen often at this so-called “church”? WTF kind of “Christian” deacon is he? WTF kind of HUMAN BEING is he, FFS?!

This is from the Word of Life Christian Church’s website:

Under “This Is Us”:

”Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20

Word of Life is mission! Mission is not just something we do, it is something we are. The Great Commission is of highest priority, we sense its urgency and therefore reach out into many countries and cultures across the world. Nations filled with precious individuals are waiting for the Good News. We have decided – they shall not wait in vain! We want to reach them, equip them and send them forth. The harvest is great and the number of workers will grow! – Christian Åkerhielm, Missions Director

Huh? Sounds like they took word-salad lessons from Sarah Palin. So, what exactly is their “mission”, and/or their “Great Commission”? To “make disciples of all nations”?

One creepy detail, from the Syracuse.com website might have the ‘answer’ – or an ‘answer’, anyway:

“One stitched textile was framed and hung on the wall that said, in part, “We have been commissioned through the written word of God to reach out to those who have not experienced the love of Jesus Christ in their lives … Through the systematic training up of saints, our goal is for them to reach out confidently, sharing the love and compassion of Jesus Christ…”

“[S]ystematic training up of saints…”? I don’t think that this “church” knows the definition of either “saints” or ‘sainthood’ – nor that of “love” or “compassion”, for that matter. None of those words has ever had anything to do with physically beating anyone to death. I think that Word of Life Christian Church, with fewer than 10,000 members, has some serious delusions of grandeur issues. Hopefully, a thorough investigation into last week’s horrifying beatings will help shine a light on this particular cult of mutant hominids that call themselves “Christians.”

Oh, just to be “fair and balanced,” here’s the Fox News website’s write-up on the beatings. You’ll have to read it for yourselves. Surprisingly – or not, perhaps – it’s almost as poorly written and content-free as the Word of Life “Christian” Church’s “Mission.”

This is our daily Open Thread – “I Report, You Decide Discuss.”