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:

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 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.”

The Watering Hole, Saturday, June 27th, 2015: Il Papa, Don’t Preach

Recently, “Il Papa”, Pope Francis, has pissed off several (often overlapping) factions of conservative “Christian” politicians, pundits, and what I’ve decided to call “pulpiteers”, aka Evangelicals. Apparently the Pope is only “infallible” when his flock agrees with his pronouncements or actions. I find it deliciously ironic that the first Pope in, well, “god” knows how long, to actually emulate the teachings and actions of Jesus Christ according to their own bible makes all of these faux christians so suspicious, dismissive, and ultimately hypocritical. I can just imagine one of the conversations:

Derp 1: “Washing the feet of poor people and criminals? Who the hell does that?”
Derp 2: “Well, according to the Bible, Jesus Christ did. Oh, and Christ fed the poor, too – you heard that Frankie wants all of us Christians to do that, too, right?”
Derp 1: “I know, is he crazy?! C’mon, that do-goody stuff isn’t supposed to be taken literally!”
Derp 2: “No, of course not, not those “New Testament” Jesus-y parts, anyway; just the parts about dominating the earth and all its resources, and the parts about stoning homos and wimmen and your kids if they sass you.”
Derp 1: “Exactly, that’s my point, we have to put the fear of god into these $chmuck$, er, potential voters!”

After already dissing unbridled capitalism and corporate greed, among other things, in his 2013 missive “Evangelii Gaudium: Apostolic Exhortation on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World”, last week Pope Francis issued his now-infamous encyclical focusing on man-made climate change, and his idea of the correct Christian, and, as he noted, human course of action necessary to combat it for the good of Planet Earth and all of her children.

While some Catholic and other Christian groups agreed with Pope Francis and are willing to preach his ‘gospel’ to their flocks, other self-proclaimed “Christians” pretty much think that either Pope Francis is wrong, or that he should mind his own goddam beeswax. In particular, the many Catholics (or whatever “Christian” flavor) among the numerous Republican 2016 Presidential hopefuls would prefer that the Pope stay quiet. From the ThinkProgress article:

“At a town hall event in New Hampshire…[Jeb] Bush said that religion “ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting into the political realm.”


“I hope I’m not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home,” Bush said, “but I don’t get my economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope.”

No, Jeb, you certainly don’t get your economic policy from your pope, otherwise you’d actually have to DO something to help the poor. And it doesn’t seem to be working out when it comes to “making [you] better as people”, unless somehow by “better” you mean “more hateful.”

However, you and your ilk seem perfectly happy to get your SOCIAL policy, in particular regarding women’s rights, abortion, and LGBT rights, from your pope and your bible.  And you definitely LOVE it when your flavor of religion ends up crafting legal policy for the entire country, you fuckwad.

The article goes on to say that:

“Bush’s views on climate change and religion have, at times, been contradictory. In May, the presidential candidate and brother of George W. Bush said that the science surrounding climate change was “convoluted.”

“For the people to say the science is decided on this is really arrogant, to be honest with you,” he said. “It’s this intellectual arrogance that now you can’t have a conversation about it, even.”

Once again, NO, Jeb, it’s NOT “intellectual arrogance” when the vast majority of scientists who have studied all of the data have come to the inevitable conclusion that global climate change is real, it’s mostly man-made, and it’s going to make the lives of your – and everybody else’s – grandchildren and greatgrandchildren a miserable hell.

And, of course, Rick Santorum had to get his twisted views out there:

““The Church has gotten it wrong a few times on science,” Santorum told radio host Dom Giordano. “We probably are better off leaving science to the scientists, and focusing on what we’re really good at, which is theology and morality.”

WHAT the huh? Morality? Wait, he’s got more:

“I’m saying, what should the pope use his moral authority for?” Santorum asked. “I think there are more pressing problems confronting the earth than climate change.”

Are you fucking kidding, Rantorum? Oh, hold on for the finish:

“When we get involved with controversial and scientific theories, I think the Church is not as forceful and not as credible,” Santorum continued. “I’ve said this to the Catholic bishops many times — when they get involved in agriculture policy, or things like that, that are really outside of the scope of what the Church’s main message is, that we’re better off sticking to the things that are really the core teachings of the Church as opposed to getting involved in every other kind of issue that happens to be popular at the time.”

Okay, for Jeb and Sick Rantorum and every other Catholic and self-proclaimed Christian: If you are true to your supposed faith, then every official utterance of Pope Francis or any other Pope is, according to YOUR dogma, the infallible transmission of the Word of your God. It doesn’t matter what the topic is, the Pope is supposed to be the unquestionable representative of your Trinity. And if you and your science-denying conservative cohorts DON’T think that global climate change is the MOST pressing problem confronting the Earth, then you don’t deserve to even be aspiring to the Presidency of these United States. Just sit down and shut up.

Anyhoo…NOW Pope Francis has done something to ruffle the feathers, to say the least, of Israel and her supporters: According to Foreign Policy Magazine:

“On Friday [June 26], the Vatican signed a comprehensive treaty with Palestinian authorities, formalizing a basic agreement between the Catholic Church and the PLO back in 2000. In essence, it is a formal declaration of the Holy See’s support for the creation of a Palestinian state and the peace process with Israel. “[I]t is my hope that the present agreement may, in some way, be a stimulus to bringing a definitive end to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which continues to cause suffering for both Parties,” wrote Vatican foreign minister Archbishop Paul Gallagher.”


“The news is not going over well in Tel Aviv. “This hasty step damages the prospects for advancing a peace agreement, and harms the international effort to convince the Palestinian Authority to return to direct negotiations with Israel,” said Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon.”


“[G]iven its sordid history of anti-Semitism, book-burnings, forced conversions and Inquisitions, the Catholic Church should think a hundred times over before daring to step on Israel’s toes,” wrote Michael Freund, former deputy communications director to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in the Jerusalem Post on May 18. “If anything, the pope should be down on his knees pleading for forgiveness from the Jewish people and atonement from the Creator for what the Vatican has wrought over the centuries.”

I’m really starting to enjoy this new Pope Francis reality show (especially as a former Catholic) – it beats the hell out of Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice Asshole” or “19 and Groping.”  Heh.

This is our daily Open Thread–go ahead and talk about things!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, May 16th, 2015: Holy Rollers

Karma is a Bitch…

You Reap What You Sow…

The Law of Unintended Consequences…

A Homer Simpson “D’OH!” moment…

A Simpsons’ Nelson “HA-ha!” moment…

What Goes Around Comes Around…

Revenge is a Dish Best Served Stoned?

However you want to describe it, it’s going to be a fun time in Indiana on July 1st. July 1st is the day that Indiana’s revised RFRA law goes into effect. It is also the day that the State-of-Indiana-approved “First Church of Cannabis” holds their inaugural worship service. So when July 1st rolls around, prepare your favorite snacks, roll a fattie/fill a bowl/fire up the bong/bake some ‘special’ brownies, and get ready to enjoy the circus and the fireworks.

An excerpt from yesterday’s Think Progress thread about the Church, which was formed in March subsequent to Indiana’s revised RFRA law:

“It’s going to be a standard service,” Bill Levin, the group’s leader and self-proclaimed “Grand Poohba and Minister of Love,” told ThinkProgress. He explained the ceremony will last around 45 minutes, complete with music and teachings, but will conclude with an unusual benediction: “At the end of the service … we will enjoy cannabis, because it’s how we enjoy life.

An article from the Christian Post website, written by Vincent Funaro, is also informative. (I would have posted a link to it, but pop-up ads there refuse to go away – while, yes, I DO want to look at The Home Decorator’s big Outlet sale, I got their email yesterday so right now it’s just blocking an entire paragraph – but I digress!) While the article is written in a straightforward, non-committal way, I thought the stock photo they used to begin the article, although captioned appropriately, was just a tad over-the-top, not to mention outright misleading.

Hindu holy man(Photo: Reuters/ Navesh Chitrakar)

A Hindu holy man, or sadhu, smokes marijuana in a chillum on the premises of Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu February 17, 2015. Hindu holy men from Nepal and India come to this temple to take part in the Maha Shivaratri festival annually for holiday when it is legal to smoke the otherwise illegal drug. Celebrated by Hindu devotees all over the world, Shivaratri is dedicated to Lord Shiva, and holy men mark the occasion by praying, smoking marijuana or smearing their bodies with ashes.


An Indiana organization dedicated to marijuana that calls itself the First Church of Cannabis will host its first “worship service” on July 1, the same day that the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act goes into effect.

The organization will test the law’s ban on government burdens on the exercise of religion as it will feature a pot-smoking session that is illegal in the state of Indiana.

The cannabis group’s founder Bill Levin explained plans for the service to U.S. News and said it will open with “Amazing Grace” played on a harmonica by a popular young musician and move to a quick sermon followed by a “call to worship,” which is actually just a time for smoking marijuana.

“I’m an old-school producer,” Levin told U.S. News. “We start off the show soft and we have a build-up and then in the end we explode in glory and we all dance around the hall.”

Levin is searching for a church that will lease him space for the event and will also consider holding it on a religious campground or in a public park. It’s still unclear if local police and prosecutors are prepared to accept pot smoking as protected conduct under the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Peg McLeish, a spokeswoman for the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office in Indiana told U.S. News that the Religious Freedom Law doesn’t necessarily protect people who commit crimes from being arrested.

“It’s that they could assert [their religious beliefs are] a defense if they are prosecuted,” she said.

Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act says the government cannot “substantially burden” a person’s ability to follow their religious beliefs, unless it can prove a compelling interest in imposing that burden and it does so in the least restrictive way.

Critics of the law contended that it could be used to discriminate against the LGBT community on the basis of religion. This would apply to Christian business owners refusing to service gay weddings based on their beliefs.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence later clarified RFRA after signing it into law in March stating that it “does not give businesses a right to deny services to anyone.”

To appease detractors, Pence signed revisions into the law to remove fears that it would allow businesses to discriminate against the LBGT community in April.

However, the article fails to point out that part of the Church’s raison d’etre is the celebration of the healing and medicinal powers of the ‘blessed’ plant.

And yes, folks, there is a membership application posted on The Church of Cannabis’ Facebook page – in fact, I see that someone we know visited before I did.  ;-)

Hmm…is anyone else thinking what I’m thinking? :D

This is our daily Open Thread – have fun!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, May 2nd, 2015: “Just Say No To FRC” Part Deux

Last Saturday I wrote about how Faithful America, a group of more Christ-like Christians, were protesting against CBS’s Bob Schieffer having Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council on Face The Nation to discuss the gay marriage case currently being argued before the Supreme Court. On that Sunday’s show, Bob Schieffer told Tony Perkins about Faithful America’s request that the interview be cancelled, due to the fact that the FRC (NAMBLA) doesn’t represent the majority of Christians. Faithful America’s petition to CBS had mentioned that the FRC was considered to be a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. That mention of SPLC apparently was the dog whistle for the other crackpot faux-religious groups to attack, demanding that “CBS and Bob Schieffer” apologize on the air to the FRC. According to their complaint, and confirmed by various googled sources, the FBI had taken the SPLC off of their “hate crimes resources” list due to an incident where an “SPLC supporter” attempted to shoot people at an FRC office. Here’s the Conservative Action Project’s letter to David Rhodes, President of CBS News – unfortunately it’s a PDF, but I’ll just quote a little bit of it:

“The interview was more than sloppy journalism. It was an assault against Judeo-Christian people of faith.
The work that FRC and its President Tony Perkins do to promote healthy families and traditional values is irreplaceable in our culture. To suggest, as Schieffer did, that FRC doesn’t represent Christians flies in the face of reality. The millions of Americans that we, the undersigned, collectively represent are proof of that.”

~ and ~

“It is now clearer than ever before that the liberal media–including CBS–along with the radical left, aided by the Obama administration, will stop at nothing to use their power and the power of government to silence, shame, punish and fine Americans who embrace traditional marriage and other politically incorrect truths. This is an unacceptable trend in a free society with a “free press.”

Well, just wait a minute here, you, “the undersigned.” There’s a big difference between representing millions of Christians and representing “millions of Americans.” Especially when you read the list of “the undersigned.” Right near the top of the signatories is Frank Gaffney. Almost “’nuff said” right there, for those of us who are aware of Gaffney’s looney-tunes Islamaphobia. But take a brief look at the names and their groups, and you’ll recognize a few right off the batshit, er, I mean ‘bat’:

Ed Meese (The Hon. Edwin Meese III to us peons)
Brent Bozell
Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin
Tim Wildmon of the AFA (NAMBLA)
Herman Cain (“9-9-9”)
Gary Bauer
Joseph Farah (okay, I didn’t recognize the name, but he’s from World Net Daily.)
David Bossie, President, Citizens United

Since some names and organizations didn’t ring any bells, I took a look at one organization that had more than one name associated with it: Institute on Religion and Democracy. Apparently Right Wing Watch and another right-wing-tracking group, Right Web, know them even if I didn’t.

From the IRD’s home page:

“The Institute on Religion and Democracy is a faith-based alliance of Christians who monitor, comment, and report on issues affecting the Church. We seek to reform the Church’s role in public life, protect religious freedom, and support democracy at home and abroad.”

Maybe my dad’s big old family bible had had a page ripped out – you know, the page where Jesus instructed the Apostles to “support democracy at home and abroad.” Or, since it really was a big-ass door-stop bible, maybe I skipped that page? I always thought that Jesus wanted his followers to do good works, help the downtrodden, and give hope to the hopeless. I seem to remember some big speech that Jesus gave about “Blessed are the peacemakers, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” – and no, NOT the CHEESEmakers, the PEACEmakers. (Thank you SO much, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam.)

I’ll leave you to peruse some of the IRD articles and the group’s blog (I recommend “An Open Letter to Pope Francis on Climate Change”) Their blog has the icky-weird name of “Juicy Ecumenism” – hmmm, I’ll bet we could make a “Santorum” out of that.

I wonder if Bob Schieffer will have something to say on tomorrow’s Face The Nation. Maybe a correction or elaboration on the SPLC’s status would be in order, but an apology? Just say ‘NO’, Bob.

This is our daily Open Thread – enjoy yourselves!

The Watering Hole; Thursday April 2 2015; Religious “Freedom”

A decade or two back, I penned the following line in response to an online discussion group query concerning opinions on the virtues of the Biblical version of God the Creator. It was, I thought, a fair question that deserved a fair answer, so after a bit of a ponder I came up with this admittedly circumferential response:

“There is one fundamental difference between the worship of a rock, a golden calf,
or any other idol and the worship of a god or gods, and it’s a simple one:
the idol exists.”

Not everyone agreed with me, of course, but not even the evangelicals in the group accused me of blasphemy, or shouted that such blasphemous lingo would bring the justice of god down upon America. One fellow did mention that I’d be going to hell, but he was only a Judge in Virginia so I didn’t pay much attention.

These days, there’s a lot of chit-chat on the topic some like to call “Religious Freedom.” I’ve never been all that certain exactly what those two words are intended to imply, but to me they simply say that everyone has the “freedom” to believe absolutely anything he or she feels like believing when it comes to matters of “religion.” Now, according to, the first phrase in its definition #1 of the word “religion” reads, a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, a premise which, to me, makes complete and total sense. Note the lack of specifics in the def.; there’s no mention of ‘God,’ or ‘Creator,’ or ‘Big Bang,’ or even of the ‘Flying Spaghetti Monster.’ Anything goes, in other words, and the implication is obvious: ‘religious freedom’ does not demand or support any particular viewpoint, it simply means that all viewpoints are equal and the freedom to choose is every individual’s right; nothing more, nothing less.

Enter politics. AKA enter God; enter the Bible; enter prejudice; enter fear; enter hate; enter blame; money; votes; power; corruption; lies; bias; sex; gender; preference; conception; contraception; abortion. Forget Freedom, because once the concept of ‘religion’ as a politic is allowed to embrace virtually any set of god beliefs, the meaning of ‘religious freedom’ suddenly mutates to become the “Freedom” to impose religious belief on others. Hear the voices: “If we be forced to accept and deal with people who believe in phoney stuff and call it their religion, then our ‘Religious Freedom’ along with OUR TRUE RELIGION is under attack and if that ain’t stopped then God will for sure destroy Amurka and maybe even the whole world!

The manifestations of such attitudes make the news almost every day. Just within the last week, both Indiana and Arkansas have produced controversial laws which effectively are written so as to give official blessing to discrimination based on ‘religious freedom’ — by maintaining that individuals have the right and the ‘freedom’ to treat LGBT people differently than others, particularly if, because of religious belief, serving the needs of LGBT people means condoning what is, to some, the unforgivable sin of LGBT itself. And it won’t stop there, of course, because once the freedom to discriminate against people who practice (or perhaps even were born with) what is considered by the empowered set of “believers” to be a sin or maybe a racial or ethnic inferiority, a great many doors suddenly pop open and reveal their once secreted nastinesses. Should discrimination be sanctioned if it could be applied to, say, Jews? To Muslims? Or maybe to Catholics? Presbyterians? Lutherans? Wiccans? To Hindus? Buddhists? Atheists? Does ‘religious freedom’ grant each and all ‘believers’ of the PROPER brand the right to automatically toss those who differ into the fiery furnaces? My guess is that some would absolutely agree with so bizarre a premise.

Exempli gratia: here are a handful of some recent ‘religious freedom’ freakouts:

‘Demonic’ Gay Rights Advocates Are Acting Like Terrorists

Criticism Of Indiana’s Discrimination Law Will Lead To Anti-Christian Genocide

Gay Rights May Lead To The ‘Extinction Of Humanity’

Co-Pilot’s Alleged Homosexuality May Explain German Plane Crash

Indiana Law Is An ‘Anti-Discrimination Bill Because It Prohibits Governmental Discrimination Against Christians’

Punish Students Who ‘Promote Islam’ Just Like Racist Fraternity Members

People Speaking Languages Other Than English Is A Sign Of God’s Judgment On America

And then there’s this one, apparently an attempt to assure people that there’s nothing to this hate and fear and discrimination stuff:

‘Conservatives Believe In Live And Let Live’

Yeah. Sure. Of course. OK, I get it. Say no more.

Gathering the above panoply of nonsensical ‘religious freedom’ theses (for lack of a better descriptor) required about a five minute visit to the Right Wing Watch website, and represents but a surface scratch exposure of ‘religious freedom’ content which exposes many of the obvious intentions that underlie and demonstrate conclusively that the “Conservative Christian” view of ‘religious freedom’ is more a license of one sort or another, an official permission to HATE some of the folks that one of their mythical gods created but still wants its minions to despise and trample upon.

Emily Dickinson summed up the vast bulk of that type of believer when she wrote,

He preached upon “Breadth” till it argued him narrow —
The Broad are too broad to define
And of “Truth” until it proclaimed him a Liar —
The Truth never flaunted a Sign —

Simplicity fled from his counterfeit presence
As Gold the Pyrites would shun —
What confusion would cover the innocent Jesus
To meet so enabled a Man!

Indeed. “Enabled.” Enabled this day by various elected officials who see, in the enabling process, such gracious benefits as money, votes, political power — and all it takes are a few lies, a little corruption, and a legal document that describes ‘religious freedom’ as the right to discriminate against others for virtually any Bible-defined reason (for most anything at all, in other words). In that context I am of the firm opinion that any definition of “religious freedom” should most surely contain the word ‘travesty.’

Why is that? Why has ‘religious freedom’ become ‘travesty’? Whatever happened to such honorable Biblical phraseologies as “Love thy neighbor,” or “Judge not,” or . . . ?? (Actually the Bible does seem a bit short on things not considered by its author and readers to be “abominations” of one sort or another).

I’m sorry, but it seems logical to me that the only genuine requirement on this issue is a very simple statement defining ‘religious freedom’ as the freedom to believe or to not believe in any  beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe and leave it at that — with the simple proviso that whatever belief one might embrace must remain personal, private, and not worth talking about anywhere beyond conversations with those of similar mind. That of course does not suggest that scientific data and theories of origins and/or the various components thereof are not to be publicly presented and discussed — it is science, after all — but it does mean that those who do accept the Big Bang thesis and its various supporting data do NOT have the legal right to discriminate against any or all of those who don’t.

I guess if I were asked, I’d say that ‘God’ is the ‘anthropo-mythic’ construction which explains the sum of cosmic mystery not yet revealed or understood by science, that ‘God’ is also a tool of assurance to the uninformed that nothing so magnificent as humankind could possibly be fleeting, that surely it must be eternal AND a reflection of the image of the Creator Itself. I could quite easily imagine that because of such a radical view I might one day find myself a victim of hate, of fear, of discrimination as well — esp. given that I clearly don’t subscribe to the idea of said divine creator sneaking back to Earth a “day” or two after creation in order to pork a human virgin who would then produce His son, the fellow whom God the Father later arranged to have murdered in order to save mankind from its evil self, the image of Him. Self. Something like that.

That’s the same god who these days hates his LGBT creation and is going to destroy America and maybe the world because no discrimination against them is allowed here, mostly. Something like that.

I think I prefer maybe a rock or a golden calf — along with the legal consequences therein prescribed by GOP Amurka. What the heck hell. Bring ’em on.


The Watering Hole, Saturday, March 28th, 2015: It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Just a quick glance at some of the stories on Right Wing Watch is enough to make it clear that, while there is a lot of craziness going on around the globe, the no-longer-United States of America is now forging ahead in an effort to be Number 1 in the category of Insanity.

Rand Paul calls for “Tent Revivals” in “Rand Paul Suggests Gay Marriage Is The Result of a ‘Moral Crisis’ in America”, by Brian Tashman:

“We need a revival in the country,” Paul said. “We need another Great Awakening with tent revivals of thousands of people saying, ‘reform or see what’s going to happen if we don’t reform.’”

Also by Brian Tashman, in “Ted Cruz: Conservative Christians have Ceded Power** to Non-Believers”, Cruz tells interviewer David Brody of the “Christian” Broadcasting Network that “he hopes and prays that God put him in the position he is in today.” In addition:

“Brody also hailed Cruz’s father, far-right activist Rafael Cruz, for his political views that he says have “rubbed off on Cruz.””

**”Ceded Power”? What “power”? The only “power” that ANY religious person/group should have in America is the same power that any citizen of this country has, as enumerated in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

And you’ve got to love this one: “Glenn Beck Is Now Locked In A Fight To The Death Against The GOP Establishment.” While I’m sure that, like me, you all would disagree with the reasons why Beck is going after both Grover Norquist and Karl Rove (Beck thinks that Norquist is part of a front for the Muslim Brotherhood, then attacked Rove for defending Norquist), you have to agree with parts of his argument with Karl Rove:

“You guys have the spine of a worm, the ethics of whores, and the integrity of pirates. My apologies to worms, whores and pirates.”


“Can you not smell what you are shoveling anymore?”

One last thing, from Raw Story An article by Alternet’s Alex Henderson, titled “Here Are 9 Things Many Americans Just Don’t Understand–Compared To The Rest of The World” illustrates why ‘travel is so broadening.’ Number 3 is particularly relevant:

3. American Exceptionalism Is Absolute Nonsense in 2015

No matter how severe the U.S.’ decline becomes, neocons and the Tea Party continue to espouse their belief in “American exceptionalism.” But in many respects, the U.S. of 2015 is far from exceptional. The U.S. is not exceptional when it comes to civil liberties (no country in the world incarcerates, per capita, more of its people than the U.S.) or healthcare (WHO ranks the U.S. #37 in terms of healthcare). Nor is the U.S. a leader in terms of life expectancy: according to the WHO, overall life expectancy in the U.S. in 2013 was 79 compared to 83 in Switzerland and Japan, 82 in Spain, France, Italy, Sweden and Canada and 81 in the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Austria and Finland.”

In my opinion, in 2015 the U.S. of A. ranks #1 only in the number and power of its Religious Right-Wing Nut Jobs.

This is our daily Open Thread – have at it!