The Watering Hole, Saturday, August 15, 2015: How The Right STILL Gets Religious Freedom Wrong

This past Thursday, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins interviewed Fox News Channel Host/Parasite – I forget which – Todd Starnes (both men can best be remembered by forgetting they exist as soon as you finish reading this post) about a recent federal appeals court ruling that said a Colorado baker violated a couple’s rights when he refused to bake them a wedding cake just because they were both men. Here is my own (generously abridged) transcript of an exchange between Perkins and Starnes courtesy of the good folks at Right Wing Watch:

STARNES: It was really chilling to hear you read what they, what the government wants this Christian business owner to do. And when you read the ruling – I’ve had a chance to read the 60-some-odd pages of the Court of Appeals ruling, which is affirming the lower court’s decision – it’s not much of a legal stretch to imagine the day when they will tell pastors the same thing, “You will participate in these gay weddings.” So it’s a troubling thing when you look at this document and you realize that Christian business owners, at least in Colorado, really don’t have as much freedom as they thought they did.

PERKINS: Yeah, and that’s one of the points I’ve tried to make with pastors, you know, I know pastors have been concerned that, you know, any day now they will be forced to do same sex weddings and I say, look, look, look, it probably will come but not immediately. What’s more immediate are the people sitting in your pews, the bakers, the photographers, you know, the florists, we’ve seen those already. But it’s coming, you know even further, it’s coming to the fire chiefs, like Kelvin Cochran, who’ve you written about in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s the regular business people, the public servants. It’s Judge McConnell in Ohio, a city court judge, who did not want to do, perform, actually have to perform, and there was, I don’t know if you saw this, Todd, but there was a ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court Ethics Board that said he was required, as a judge, to perform same sex weddings.

Where to begin? Let’s start with the apparently malleable term “Christian business owner.” What is that, exactly? Is it the owner of a business specializing in Christian merchandise? Or is it the owner of a business who happens to be a Christian? If it’s the former, then an argument could be made that Christianity plays a part in how this business owner runs his business. And one might (if one wanted to try hard enough) be able to make an argument that he should be able to run his business according to Christian principles. Otherwise the latter applies and Religion has absolutely nothing to do with how you run your business if your business is one that’s open to the general public. If your business is one that’s open to the general public, then it has to be open to ALL of the general public. If you wish to start a private service to your friends and other like-minded bigots and operate on a membership-only basis, you can do that. You just can’t pretend your business is open to the general public. And since we’re not talking about business owners who specialize in selling Christian things, the word “Christian” when attached to the words “business owner” means nothing. Starnes says it twice, but in neither case does it bolster his argument because he’s primarily trying to apply it to the owners of a general business. And operating a business in the United States has nothing to do with Religion. You are free to practice Christianity. And you are free to operate a business. But you are not free to operate a business according to any Christian principles if those principles infringe on anyone’s Constitutional rights. To do so would be to force others to practice your Religion, and you are never free to do that.

Starnes, who to my knowledge has as much legal training as I (zero), then goes on to say one of the most ignorant things one could say about this subject, “…it’s not much of a legal stretch to imagine the day when they will tell pastors the same thing, ‘You will participate in these gay weddings.'” Actually, Todd, it is just that – a legal stretch, and a huge one at that. Here’s why. In the United States of America, Marriage is considered a civil institution, not a religious one. (By contrast, in Israel, marriage is considered a Religious institution, and certain people can be denied the right to marry in Israel. It doesn’t mean legal marriages performed outside Israel won’t be recognized, it just means Rabbis in Israel do not have to perform same sex weddings.) If anything, we accommodate Religion by saying if your wedding ceremony is a religious one, performed by someone recognized by the state as being a member of the Clergy sanctioned to perform marriages recognized by your Religion (a priest, not an altar boy), then the State will also recognize that marriage and you won’t have to have a separate wedding for civil purposes. So all religious marriages are recognized as civil ones, too. But not all civil marriages are, nor should they be, recognized by any religious entity. My wife and I were married in a restaurant by a Justice of the Peace. There was no God mentioned or involved. And yet our marriage is considered 100% legal by the State of New York and, by extension, all the other states. Nobody could rationally dispute that our marriage is valid. And since a civil marriage is possible for all citizens, regardless of their religious beliefs (or lack thereof), no clergy or church will ever be forced to perform a same sex wedding. In fact, in every state that legislatively passed some kind of Marriage Equality Act (including my own state of New York), there has always been an exemption for churches or clergy members who do not wish to perform same sex weddings because their religion forbids them. And to my knowledge, no church has ever been successfully sued for refusing to perform one. And nobody is saying they should. If your Religion refuses to live in the 21st Century, that’s your Religion’s problem.

Lastly, Todd, the fact is that nobody has as much individual freedom as you think, as least as far as forcing others to practice your personal religion goes. But what we all have, including you, is the freedom to refuse to practice someone else’s religion. Some religions believe you should always keep your head covered in deference to God. Should you be forced to follow that practice if you’re not a follower of any of those religions? Of course not. And saying that two people of the same gender should not be allowed to marry because YOUR religion forbids it would be the same thing as forcing them to practice YOUR religion instead of theirs. You also don’t have the freedom to punch Liberals in the face, despite the fact that many Conservatives have publicly expressed a wish to do so. So you’re not free to do anything you want. There are limits, and those limits generally apply to the point where they affect others.

Now for where Perkins gets things wrong. First and foremost, the day will never come when pastors are forced to perform same sex weddings against their will as pastors. If they’re also public servants that’s different and we’ll get to that shortly. As I said before, I know of no states where pastors and clergy are forced by law or the courts to perform weddings for two people of the same gender, and I seriously doubt this will ever be an issue.

For those who understandably forgot, Kelvin Cochran was the former Fire Chief of Atlanta who self-published a book about his religious beliefs that said some negative and ignorant things about LGBT people (while still Fire Chief.) He also distributed this book on city property, and for that he was suspended. What Conservatives coming to his defense fail to notice is that as the Fire Chief, he’s in a position to influence the careers of any firefighter serving under him, including those who happen to be gay. How then could a gay firefighter in Atlanta ever feel he or she has an equal chance at promotion or advancement knowing the person in charge thinks they’re ruining society just by being gay? There’s no evidence that he ever did, but how can you ever feel your job is safe knowing what the boss thinks of you?

But Perkins didn’t stop there. He tried to draw an equivalence between being a private citizen business owner and being a public servant. Toledo Municipal Judge C. Allen McConnell refused to perform a wedding for a lesbian couple citing his deeply held religious beliefs. (After a 45-minute delay, the couple were married by another judge.) Judge McConnell asked the Ethics Board to give him guidance and they did. They said he couldn’t refuse. And they were right. What Conservative Christians (an oxymoron, as the message that Jesus Christ gave was overwhelmingly Liberal, so how can any good practicing Christian adhere to Conservative beliefs?) fail to grasp is that your right to practice your religion is just that – YOUR right to practice YOUR religion. It is NOT, however, YOUR right to impose YOUR religion on anyone else. But more importantly, and often overlooked in the discussion, is that discrimination against gay people (and only gay people) has nothing to do with one’s religious beliefs. Would the Colorado baker refuse to bake a cake for a woman who happened to be menstruating? Would he refuse to serve a divorced woman? Would he refuse to serve a customer he knows eats shellfish? These are all things the same chapter of the Bible (Lev 18) says are worthy of banishment, so if he’s willing to serve all of them, then his objections to serving a gay couple have nothing to do with his religion. And despite what illogical Conservatives like Justice Scalia think, that does matter because it means the claim that he runs his business according to Christian principles is a lie, which means the legal argument he presented to the Supreme Court was perjury. If I said I refuse to serve Conservatives because my religion teaches me they have sex with elephants, do I really have a constitutional leg to stand on? Of course not, because such a belief is clearly not based on my religious beliefs. And neither was the baker’s.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss religious freedom, illogical conservatives, gay leaders of the community like Todd Starnes, Tony Perkins, or Justice Antonin Scalia, or anything else you wish.

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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, Saturday, April 25th, 2015: Just Say No to FRC

Yesterday I received an email from Faithful America, an organization of what I would consider to be ‘true’ Christians, who speak out against social injustices perpetrated and perpetuated in the name of Christianity. The email said that Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council – or NAMBLA, er, FRC – is supposed to be a guest on Face The Nation tomorrow. The email said, in part:

“With the Supreme Court about to issue a historic decision, CBS News is turning to an anti-gay hate group leader to speak for Christians.
This Sunday, Face the Nation is scheduled to feature Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. Perkins has repeatedly accused gay men of molesting children, causing the Southern Poverty Law Center to formally name FRC to its list of hate groups.

Perkins was once a regular on CNN and MSNBC, but those networks have increasingly abandoned him as mainstream Christians have challenged his decades-long record of spreading ugly misinformation about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people…Tell CBS News: Cancel Tony Perkins. He doesn’t speak for Christians.”

If Bob Schieffer would take a few minutes to just check out the FRC’s website, I’m sure that he would understand that this is a group that should NOT have a voice in the same-sex-marriage debate.

First, an excerpt from FRC’s “Washington Update” from Thursday, under the heading “What About Bobby?”:

“If liberals want to pick a fight over religious liberty, they’ll have their hands full with my home state: Louisiana. Unlike other governors who have been quick to raise a white flag, Bobby Jindal is leading the charge for his state’s Marriage and Conscience Act, warning that he won’t back down. “In Indiana and Arkansas, large corporations recently joined left-wing activists to bully elected officials into backing away from strong protections for religious liberty. As the fight… moves to Louisiana, I have a clear message for any corporation that contemplates bullying our state: Save your breath.”

“Although corporations are already turning up the heat on Jindal, the Governor says, “They are free to voice their opinions, but they will not deter me.” Realizing that this is a watershed moment for religious liberty, Jindal writes, “Liberals have decided that if they can’t win at the ballot box, they will win in the boardroom. It’s a deliberate strategy. And it’s time for corporate America to make a decision. Those who believe in freedom must stick together: If it’s not freedom for all, it’s not freedom at all.” With the Left’s attack dogs on the loose in Louisiana and elsewhere, religious liberty is almost certainly going to be a major issue in 2016 — in more ways than one.

While conservatives scratch and claw for their right to exercise the same tolerance the Left enjoys, leaders like Speaker Boehner have their eyes on the global crisis. Religious liberty is at the center of ISIS’s storm, as dozens of innocents are slaughtered for the faith our country is so reluctant to protect. In a new blog post, the Speaker’s office catalogues the latest horrors, and asks: Is the Obama administration doing “all it can” to protect Christians all over the world?”

There’s just so many things wrong with that last paragraph alone, my irony-meter went past 11, then shattered.

1) “Conservatives scratch and claw for their right to exercise the same tolerance the Left enjoys”? What they are scratching and clawing for is their right to exercise INTOLERANCE.

2) “Religious liberty is at the center of ISIS’s storm…” ISIS’s brutal acts have nothing to do with “religious liberty”, and if these conservatives had an honest bone in their collective bodies, they’d admit it.

3) “Is the Obama administration doing “all it can” to protect Christians all over the world?” Why on earth should the Obama administration, or any other president’s administration, have to “protect Christians all over the world”? The U.S. government cannot feasibly protect U.S.citizens “all over the world”, how could it be expected – no, demanded – to protect all “Christians”? More importantly, how would using the U.S. government to favor the lives of one religious group possibly be Constitutional? Not to mention that it would certainly require “big government”!

Under “HOMOSEXUALITY”:

“Family Research Council believes that homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large, and can never be affirmed. It is by definition unnatural, and as such is associated with negative physical and psychological health effects. While the origins of same-sex attractions may be complex, there is no convincing evidence that a homosexual identity is ever something genetic or inborn. We oppose the vigorous efforts of homosexual activists to demand that homosexuality be accepted as equivalent to heterosexuality in law, in the media, and in schools.”

What the FRC believes doesn’t mean squat when it comes down to science and biology. Just because there is no evidence that will convince the FRC “that a homosexual identity is ever something genetic or inborn” doesn’t mean that there isn’t evidence in medical science. And just how does FRC separate the “homosexual identity” from the person? It would appear that, since they do not look upon homosexuals as individual human beings, they would not accept homosexual people, U.S. citizens, “as equivalent to heterosexual[people] in law, in the media, and in schools.” So what class of citizen would these braying amoral charlatans demote homosexual Americans to?

“Sympathy must be extended to those who struggle with unwanted same-sex attractions, and every effort should be made to assist such persons to overcome those attractions, as many already have.”

I haven’t noticed anyone from FRC, or any other anti-gay faux-religious group, extending “sympathy” to gays – maybe they just extend sympathy to gay people who don’t want to face the fact that they’re gay? And hasn’t FRC heard that there’s no scientific or medical evidence that “praying away Teh Gay”, or any other “treatment” purporting to turn gay people “straight”, is actually effective. They should just ask Marcus Bachmann about that.

And take a look at the titles of some of their “Policy Publications”:

“Leviticus, Jesus, and Homosexuality – Some Thoughts on Honest Interpretation” They wouldn’t know “honest interpretation” of any part of the bible even if Jesus appeared and called a convention of alleged “Christians” to set them straight. So-to-speak.

“The Other Side of Tolerance – How Homosexual Activism Threatens Liberty” Goddammit, will someone, any one of these people who glibly (and probably incorrectly) spout words like “freedom” and “liberty” please tell the rest of us exactly how they define those words? I hear them used with regularity by people who seem to want to limit others’ freedoms, so I’m pretty sure that such people don’t consult the OED, they just make up their own definitions.

Okay, enough ranting from me. For now, anyway.

This is our daily Open Thread – go ahead, have at it.

The Watering Hole, Monday, April 6,2015: Conservatives Think About Gay Sex A Lot

Pat Robertson is a frightened man. That’s not any new insight, we’ve all known that for years. But with the outcry over Indiana’s RFRA law (which was neither the first, nor was it identical to the early versions), and their subsequent “acquiescence” to those protests, Old Man Pat has come to believe his worst nightmares are coming true: Gay people will be accepted into Society as equals. And when that happens, somehow they’ll take over the world.

“They’re going to force you into their mold, they’re going to make you conform to political correctness, they’re going to make you do what the Left thinks is right, they’re going to make you acknowledge homosexual marriage, they’re going to make you embrace lifestyles that you think are anti-biblical despite your religious belief.”

There’s a lot wrong with those few sentences, including both projection and cognitive dissonance. Whether or not they realize it, Conservative Christians want everybody to be compelled by law to follow their religious beliefs. When you talk about making our laws conform to the Bible, you are imposing your religion on everyone else. If you can’t understand that, then perhaps you should sit back and let the rest of us talk. It is a fact. It is what they want. As for “political correctness,” I ignore that term. It was created by a right wing misanthrope named David Horowitz, and it only makes sense within the framework of an extremely conservative mind. Essentially, it’s a complaint conservatives have when they get called out for saying the kind of hateful, ignorant, bigoted things they’re known for saying. As for making people do things that anybody says is right, that’s what laws are for. Our entire system of laws is based on somebody’s (often a lot of somebodies) idea of what the right way to behave in our society is. So, yes, we on the Left think there’s a certain way you should behave toward your fellow citizens. If people on the right have a problem with it, it’s because they want the legal right to mistreat, abuse, demean, or otherwise put down people different from themselves. Are we going to make you acknowledge homosexual marriage? Only in the sense that we want you to see it as “marriage,” and not anything different than what you’re used to. If you define a marriage by the style of sex you have, then your definition of marriage is the problem. As for the last part, “they’re going to make you embrace lifestyles that you think are anti-biblical despite your religious belief,” exactly what does that mean? Homosexuality is not a “lifestyle choice,” no matter how much the frightened straight people claim it is. And nobody is asking anybody to “embrace” homosexuality, whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean. As for it being “anti-Biblical,” that’s just too fucking bad. Lots of things are “anti-Biblical.” Lots of those same things are perfectly fine according to other people’s religious beliefs. Why should things that are “anti-Biblical” be singled out for being banned by law? Why should some particular interpretation of “The Bible” become the basis for the way the rest of us live? Why does it matter so much what kind of sex people have? As long as it’s consenting adults participating (of any gender and number), why should it be any of our business? If you want to claim people should live by the Bible, then prove it. Pick up a stone and start stoning all those people who work on the Sabbath. Stone the farmer who plants two different crops in his field. Stone that woman wearing a dress made from two different cloths. They’re just as deserving as the two men who love each other and want to live as a loving married couple just like anybody else. (I almost never hear anti-marriage equality people complain about lesbians getting married, except for Ellen, it’s always the guys getting married that bothers them. “It’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” You never hear, “It’s Adam and Eve, not Alice and Eve.” I tell you, they think about gay male sex a lot more than they want to admit.

And Old Man Pat Robertson is definitely one of them. After going on that rant he came back the next day to continue thinking out loud.

“It doesn’t matter what custom you’ve got, it doesn’t matter what holy thing that you worship and adore, the gays are going to get it,” Robertson said. “They’re going to make you conform to them. You are going to say you like anal sex, you like oral sex, you like bestiality, you like anything you can think of, whatever it is. And sooner or later you are going to have to conform your religious beliefs to the group of some aberrant thing. It won’t stop at homosexuality.”

One more time, Conservatives. Bestiality has nothing whatsoever to do with homosexuality. And homosexuals aren’t the only ones engaging in anal sex or oral sex. Many, many straight couples enjoy them, too, and nobody says we should deny service to straight married couples who engage in, what are legally called, acts of sodomy. And “liking” homosexuality does not equate to liking “anything you can think of.” That is just ignorant bigotry talking there, and why anybody would value the opinion of a man who believes such things is beyond me. Old Man Pat began this rant talking about the owners of Memories Pizza in Indiana, saying they should have kept their mouths shut. But if they did, there wouldn’t have been $842,387 raised on their behalf. The pizza owners claim their viewpoints (which they did not have to give) were misrepresented in the media. They claim they would be happy to serve gay people, but they just wouldn’t cater to a gay wedding. I hate to admit I agree with Pat, so I’ll just say that coincidentally enough, Pat agrees with me on this. This was an issue that would rarely, if ever, come up, because hardly anybody serves pizza at a wedding. But here’s the thing – by specifically saying they wouldn’t serve their pizzas to a couple holding a gay wedding, without specifying any other Biblical violations for whom they would deny service, they are admitting that the Bible has nothing to do with their viewpoint. The fact that they would be willing to serve gay people, just not their weddings, shows they are not adhering to Biblical principles. If the Bible is the reason they would deny wedding services to gay people, then they should be denying all services to gay people. After all, I’m sure they don’t question every woman who comes in to see if she is on her period. So the Bible can’t be the reason for their policy. But the Indiana law, as originally passed, would have given them the right to deny service to anybody they chose by citing their religious beliefs. It doesn’t have to actually be their religious beliefs, they just have to say it is. THAT’S what’s wrong with religious freedom laws like that – you are allowed to openly lie in court and claim something completely false led you to do what you did (or not do what you didn’t do.)

But Old Man Pat is not the only one confused about gay people. Mike Huckabee apparently has gay people confused with atheists. After insisting in an interview with Tony Perkins that the whole discussion about how far people can go to oppress the rights of gay people is a “manufactured crisis” (Huckabee insists the “war on woman” is a manufactured crisis, and that there is no war on women. Of course, what we call a “war on women” is just, to the Conservatives, Christians exercising their freedoms), Mikey went into full Conservative Defensive Projection mode. “The left has gotten very good on creating a crisis, something to divide the country, something to create this sense in which ‘we’ve got to go after these conservatives because they are trying to trample over our rights.'” Really, Mike? Can you say, “Benghazi”? He then went on to make the remarkable comparison:

“It is a classic example of — really a page out of ‘1984,’ when what things mean are the opposite of what they really are. And that’s what I’m seeing here is that in the name of tolerance, there’s intolerance. In the name of diversity, there’s uniformity. In the name of acceptance, there’s true discrimination.”

Let me stop you right there, Mikey. Never mind the fact that “1984” was about a lot more than just words meaning the opposite of what they really mean, about this whole “tolerance” thing. Conservative Christians simply do not understand the concept of tolerance. They seem to think that tolerant people are supposed to tolerate intolerant behavior, such as that exhibited by people who say the kinds of anti-LGBT things Conservative Christians are always being quoted saying. And we aren’t asking for uniformity in the name of diversity. Where the hell did you get that stupid idea? Frank Luntz? And, again, how is not accepting your discriminating behavior an example of discrimination on our part? You are the ones twisting words around, and projecting your own feelings onto us. Perky suggested that gay people who are denied service by one business should just go find another? But what if there are no others because your state law says places open to the public do not have to accommodate the public? He asks Mikey, “Where will it stop?”

“It won’t stop until there are no more churches, until there are no more people who are spreading the Gospel, and I’m talking now about the unabridged, unapologetic Gospel that is really God’s truth.”

What Mikey ignores is that there is quite a lot of disagreement over what constitutes the “unabridged, unapologetic Gospel that is really God’s truth.” Does it happen, in his mind, to coincide with the version of Christianity that he thinks is “correct”? I would argue that precisely because there are so many different flavors of Christianity that there is, in fact no such thing as an “unabridged, unapologetic Gospel that is really God’s truth.” As for where it stops? It stops, Perky, when guys like you stop using your Bible to insist that the rest of the country behave according to your religion’s rules. Your religion is just as false as all the other versions of your religion, and just as wrong as all the other deity-based, Creationist religions. Your belief system makes zero sense to a mind capable of critical thought. To insist that it’s correct if you have “faith” is the same as saying, “It makes sense if you don’t try to make sense out of it.” If that’s what your belief system comes down to, then it cannot and should not be the basis of anybody’s laws. And it cannot and should not be accepted as a valid argument against any law. Later, Mikey insisted that “unlike the gay community, conservative Christians would never boycott a business like Walmart.” Not only did Perky immediately say he was boycotting Walmart over their objections to Arkansas’ RFRA, but Mikey forgot about the conservative boycotts encouraged by Townhall.com a couple of years ago. Out of five companies being suggested for boycotts, only one was for anything to do with LGBT rights. The other reasons were unions, MoveOn.org, Alec Baldwin, and Obamacare. And I’ll say this again and for the record: Yes, I am an atheist, but I am not totally unfamiliar with the teachings of the Biblical character known as Jesus. And I do not believe that those teachings could at all be characterized as “Conservative.” Caring for the health and well being of strangers is antithetical to the philosophy of Conservatism, but central to the teachings of Jesus. So the term “Conservative Christian” must be an oxymoron. It is impossible to follow the teachings of Jesus and still be Conservative. And if you’re following the philosophy of Conservatism, then you cannot be following the teachings of Jesus. The two are incompatible. Besides, I’m pretty sure Jesus had nothing to say about whether or not gay people should be ostracized from society. I do remember hearing that, like many of us Atheists, Jesus encouraged you to treat other people the way you yourself would want to be treated.

This post is from a much longer one on my own blog. You are encouraged to read the original here.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss LGBT rights, Old Man Pat, Mikey, Perky, or any other closeted gay men you wish to discuss.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, November 22, 2014: This Week in Paranoia: Facts vs. Freakery on Obama’s Immigration Reforms

President Barack Obama announced earlier in the week that he would later be announcing several reforms to the immigration system, largely because Republicans have been reluctant to pass anything in the House to address the issue. So, as he has said many times before in an ultimately failed effort to spur the House to pass the bill the Senate sent them, the president said that if Congress failed to act, he would. They didn’t, so he did, and now they’re totally freaking out. They’re claiming they now have grounds for impeachment (actually, some of them said this before he made the official announcement, based on nothing more than their own imagination about what the president would actually say) because the president is trying to ignite a civil war, and that citizens must resist “by any means necessary” any attempt to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants, and that it’s all part of a plot to not only guarantee millions of future Democratic voters, but to turn the United States into a Third World country and because now there will be all kinds of voter fraud (you just know it.) None of these fears are reality-based.

The calls for impeachment really crack me up because they were coming before the president’s announcement, and many were citing the president’s proposed amnesty for illegal immigrants as the primary charge against him. Former Florida Congressman (and current “Where Are They Now File” resident) Allen West told Newsmax, “It will be the president saying, ‘You know, I want to violate the Constitution and grant amnesty to people who are here illegally.'” Family Research Council President and Anal Sex Expert Tony Perkins said, in his very roundabout way, “What the president is about to do on amnesty is essentially tell, using his authority as the chief executive, the president, to the executive branch, Homeland Security, immigration, not to enforce the law, which is a violation of his oath to uphold the law.” Eagle Forum founder and former female Phyllis Schlafly thinks that amnesty by executive action constitutes a high crime or misdemeanor.

There are at least three things obviously wrong with these allegations. First, at the time each of these people made these remarks, the president had not actually announced his plan, and when he did, it didn’t include amnesty. The right wing is really afraid of that word – “amnesty.” They talk about it all the time as if granting it to millions of people whose only crime was in the way they entered the country would bring about the end of the United States of America. They talk about it it as if it’s the worst abuse of power a president could commit (including, apparently, lying us into a costly, unnecessary war). They talk about it as if it’s the most un-American thing a president could do. So their fears about amnesty are unfounded because the president wasn’t proposing any. Second, it is actually totally within the president’s constitutional authority to grant amnesty to millions of people who entered the country illegally. The president can grant amnesty to anyone he or she desires. The president can also selectively enforce the law and decide which laws won’t be as aggressively prosecuted as others, since there isn’t enough funding to enforce all the laws anyway. It doesn’t mean a succeeding president can’t prosecute if the statute of limitations hasn’t expired, so it isn’t the same as amnesty, which would deny prosecution later. By the way, the president’s oath says he will faithfully execute the office of president, not “uphold the law.” Executing the duties of the president sometimes involves deciding when to prosecute someone and when not to. Former President George Herbert Walker Bush granted amnesty to former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger for his criminal role in the previous administration’s plan to sell arms to terrorists in exchange for hostages. (A plan which, for the record, Bush later wrote in his memoirs that he was the only one who knew everything that was going on with the arms-for-hostages deal to raise money to illegally give to rebel fighters in Central America.) And third (speaking of Reagan), former President Ronald Reagan granted amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. Care to comment on that example of un-American activity by a president, Right Wing? If you like some facts to chew on, check out this great post at PoliticusUsa.

That’s just the crazy people talking about impeaching the president for executing a constitutional authority he actually has but didn’t actually use. Check out the link to see who thinks we’re headed for civil war, how the vote is getting rigged while simultaneously increasing voter fraud. And the good people at Think Progress (with whom I’ve had many exchanges over the years) have found other people going similarly crazy over Obama’s use of executive authority (which he is constitutionally required to do.) There’s a lot of sadly misinformed people out there, and some of them are members of the Legislative Branch in our Federal Government. I think you should be very concerned about that. You can start by looking at your own state legislatures, where many of these people got their start. To undo Republican gerrymandering, we have to take back the state legislatures by 2020, so we can control the drawing of Congressional District maps, which is the only way we’ll ever take back the House of Representatives. And we have to get rid of electronic voting, which can easily be rigged and manipulated, and very likely has in some key races in recent years. It is not secure, and it can easily change election results to anyone in power who wants to stay there. Paper ballots are the best way. They don’t take that long to count, and the results can easily be verified and re-counted as needed. Only then can we restore Democracy to America.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss crazy paranoid right wingers serving in our government, or any other topic you wish to discuss.

The Watering hole, Saturday, June 7, 2014: This Week In Stupid – Tony Perkins, Roy Moore, and Tucker Carlson

The other day I was at my mother’s while she watched one of the Law & Order franchises when a character said, “I don’t want the government telling me what I can and can’t eat.” This kind of conservative idiocy drives me up a wall because it demonstrates a complete and total lack of understanding about why we have certain laws. (And it was a cop saying it.) The government isn’t telling you what you can and can’t eat when it bans certain kinds of foods, it’s telling vendors what they can and can’t sell you, and that’s a totally different perspective. You can eat whatever you want. But you can’t sell whatever you want to somebody else to eat, especially if it might be dangerous or deadly for them. Conservatives seem to have a way of completely misrepresenting reality in their justifications for their selfish viewpoints. They aren’t interested in what’s best for everyone, only in what benefits themselves. I have some news for them: America wasn’t founded by a bunch of selfish people who only cared about themselves. It was founded by Liberals who wanted what was best for everyone.

More stupidity filled the airwaves when Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, Continue reading

The Watering Hole, Saturday, October 19, 2013: And Single Payer is Bad Because…?

It all started, at least this most recent episode of right wing nuttery did, at the so-called “Values Voter Summit” convened earlier this month in Washington, DC. For those unfamiliar with the Values Voter Summit (and if you’re reading this, you’ve probably heard of it), it’s a gathering, put together by several right-wing organizations who feel they know how best to raise your children and hosted by Family Research Council head Tony Perkins (who can understandably be confused with the knife-wielding maniac in Hitchcock’s “Psycho”), of a bunch of very frightened people listening to a collection of very ill-informed speakers fabricating the dangers of a world where conservative values are given the treatment they deserve and crumpled up, set on fire, and dumped into the deepest part of the ocean, never to be heard from again. I wish! Sadly, because stupid people outnumber intelligent people in this country, Continue reading