Archive for March, 2013


Communism is Religion

Posted by Daniel G. Jennings

One major argument that apologists for religion like to make against proponents of secularism, humanism and religion is to equate all opponents of religion with Communism and the numerous crimes against humanity perpetuated by such monsters as Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot and Fidel Castro. The best argument against these people of faith is a simple one, far from being a humanist or rationalist belief system, Communism was and is a religion.

Like all religions, Communism is irrational, dogmatic and based on faith rather than science. Just like Christianity and Islam, Communism had its Holy Books which were treated as Holy Scripture, namely the writings of Lenin, Mao, Marx and others–all of which were far from scientific. Karl Marx, who was treated by Communists as a genius, was actually a small-time journalist whose writings are a collection of prejudices, generalizations and editorializing. Marx held and promoted some beliefs which were later disproved by science, for example Marx taught that many human characteristics we now know to be inherited through genetics were caused by environmental factors. When scientists in 1930s Russia pointed this fact out, Stalin reacted by throwing the scientists into the gulag just like the Church imprisoned Galileo. Just like fundamentalist Christians who promote creation science, Stalin (himself the recipient of an “education” in a Christian seminary) backed a charlatan named Lysenko who came up with a completely false science of genetics that fit squarely with Communist dogma and then banned the teaching of genetics because it contradicted Communist dogma.

As with Christianity and Islam, Communism attracted followers by promising a pie-in-the-sky heaven to the faithful. The difference being that the Communist heaven would be sometime in the future when all people would be happy and equal under Communism rather than after death. This magical future was conveniently pushed farther and farther into the future so that Communist leaders could “explain” to the average people impoverished by their wonderful system why they hadn’t yet achieved utopia. It might also be pointed out that the Communists never actually said exactly how this utopia would be created–just as Christians and Moslems can present no evidence of life after death.

Like most religions, Communism operated on irrational faith; people in Communist countries had to have absolute faith in the Communist system and its leaders. Thinking for oneself was strictly verboten in Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China, and Ho’s Vietnam. Those who questioned Communism and its leaders were treated as heretics by the Communist state.

Far from being an example of the evils that occur when religion is removed in society, Communism is a perfect example of the excesses and horrors that result when religion is allowed to take over a society. The Communist Party acted just like the church had in Medieval Europe.

Just like the Church in Medieval Europe, the Communists tortured and killed those who refused to adopt the official faith. Just like the Church, the Communists promoted the belief that governmental authorities were all-knowing, all-powerful and sanctioned by God, and the idea that refusing to bow to authority was a sin.

Just like the medieval church, the Communist Party promoted the idea of saints, people whose total devotion to the Communist cause was a good and holy thing and entitled them to be worshiped. The difference was that the Communists substituted Communist leaders like Mao and Stalin for the saints. The Communists even revived the bizarre medieval practice of worshiping the dead bodies of the saints; they built massive mausoleums in which they placed the embalmed bodies of their dead leaders and forced their people to worship them.

Just like the Russian Orthodox Church, the Communists also created icons, pictures of Communist leaders whom people were to worship. In North Korea, for example, it is even a crime to destroy a picture of the late dictator Kim Il Sung.

The Communists also revived the horrendous medieval practice of the Inquisition, an official body to hunt down and eliminate heretics, in the form of the purge trials and the various secret-police forces. Hundreds of thousands of people in Communist countries were tortured, brutalized and murdered by such bodies.

Just like the church before them the Communists tried to force their captured enemies to repent their “sins.” After the fall of Saigon, 600,000 Vietnamese were forced into concentration camps called reeducation centers to learn Communist dogma. Just as the “First Holy Roman Emperor,” the religious fanatic Charlemagne, tried to forcibly baptize German pagans captured in his wars, captured American soldiers in the Vietnam and Korean wars were also forced to admit the “truth” of Communism.

As if bringing back the Inquisition wasn’t bad enough, the Communists also revived the witch hunt. Like other people of faith, the Communists blamed the failings of their system–not on their own loony dogma–but on hidden enemies who were secretly sabotaging Communism so as to prevent the Communists from creating a utopia. In 1930s Russia, tens of thousands of innocent people, many of them good Communists, were falsely accused of being foreign agents and “wreckers” who were sabotaging the Stalinist system, and then executed or thrown into the gulag–where many of them died from torture, forced labor and starvation. Those killed in this purge included several of the Red Army’s top generals who were falsely accused of being enemies by Communist courts using information provided by the Nazis (thus leaving Russia unprepared in 1941 when it’s real enemies attacked).

It must also be noted here that it didn’t take the Russian Communists long to revive another old evil of the church: anti-Semitism; by the early 1950s, Stalin was blaming Russia’s problems and his own bad health on the Jews. Just as the Medieval Christians blamed plagues and the black death on Jews secretly poisoning wells, so Stalin blamed his ill health on Jewish doctors who were trying to poison him.

In the 1960s, Mao went Stalin one better. When the Chairman’s brutal attempt to create the Communist heaven on Earth, the “Great Leap Forward,” failed miserably, resulting in the worst famine in human history, Mao blamed–not himself or his faith–but the Chinese people for not having enough faith in Communism (much as Hitler had blamed the German people and not his own incompetence, arrogance and stupidity, for his defeat in World War II). Mao then turned vast numbers of Communist fanatics, known as Red Guards, loose to punish the Chinese people for not showing enough faith in Mao and Communism. Just as the Medieval witch hunters burned little old ladies at the stake for owning cats, Chinese people were beaten up and terrorized for such crimes as owning birdcages or wearing makeup in the so-called Cultural Revolution. Many great treasures of China’s past were destroyed by Communist thugs during the Cultural Revolution (just as the Taliban blew up Buddhist statues in Afghanistan).

The excesses in Soviet Russia and Red China have been repeated in almost every other Communist country. Almost every Communist regime has behaved like a religion that is in a manner completely irrational and paranoid. The major difference between the Communist fanatics and the Christian fanatics of the inquisition was that the Communists had access to modern technology, weaponry and systems of government that enabled them to kill far more people far more quickly. Had the inquisition access to the same technology as the Communists, its body count would have rivaled that of Stalin and Mao.

Far from being an example of what happens when religion, faith and God are removed from society, Communism is a perfect example of what happens when society is turned over to religion. People are deprived of their basic freedoms, science and scholarship are suppressed, and average people are tortured and murdered for not displaying sufficient faith.

It must also be said here that Christianity did little or nothing to stop Communism or the horrible crimes the Communists committed against humanity. Russia was the most religious country in Europe in 1917 yet the Church was unable to stop the Bolshevik takeover. If Christianity is such a powerful force for morality, why couldn’t the Orthodox patriarchs and bishops have simply ordered the Russian people not to follow Lenin and Stalin’s orders? Why weren’t the leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church able to appeal to the piety of Joseph Stalin, himself a product of an Orthodox seminary, and get him to recant Communism? Far from protecting Russia’s people from Communism, the Orthodox Church did little but have the Russian people sit and pray to icons for the end of the Communist system.

It was not the Orthodox Church or its leaders that formed the main resistance to Communism in Russia, it was humanists and rationalists who refused to bow to irrational Communist beliefs. For example, the great scientist, Andre Sakarov, and many other Russian intellectuals, refused to go along with the Communist assault on the human mind. Later on, more enlightened and intelligent Soviet leaders, such as Mikhail Gorbachev, undermined Communism by allowing people to question and challenge its basic assumptions. Just like Christian and Islamic dogma, Communist dogma can’t stand up to a close examination based on reason and the scientific method.

It was the secular, democratic, capitalist societies in the United States, Japan and Western Europe–which are based on humanistic and rational values–which ultimately proved to be the undoing of Communism. The irrational, faith-based, Communist system simply couldn’t compete with the rational, secular United States and its allies. By basing their societies on faith rather than on reason, thus being in no position to change or adapt their system to meet future challenges, the Communists thereby sowed the seeds of their own destruction–except, of course, in countries such as Vietnam and China where Communist leaders have quietly abandoned Communism and adopted capitalism in order to preserve their own skins and line their own bank accounts.

Far from being an example of a godless society, Communism is a perfect example of the dangers which religion poses to human freedom and humanity’s future. Those Americans who want to establish an official religion should take a hard look at the history of Communism, for any country that establishes an official religion and a faith based system will end up just like the Communists–in the ash heap of history.


“The Myth of Persecution”: Early Christians weren’t persecuted

The Romans did not target, hunt or massacre Jesus’ followers, says a historian of the early church

BY LAURA MILLER

In the immediate aftermath of the Columbine High School massacre, a modern myth was born. A story went around that one of the two killers asked one of the victims, Cassie Bernall, if she believed in God. Bernall reportedly said “Yes” just before he shot her. Bernall’s mother wrote a memoir, titled “She Said Yes: The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall,” a tribute to her daughter’s courageous Christian faith. Then, just as the book was being published, a student who was hiding near Bernall told journalist Dave Cullen that the exchange never happened.

Although Candida Moss’ new book, “The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom,” is about the three centuries following the death of Jesus, she makes a point of citing this modern-day parallel. What Bernall truly said and did in the moments before her death absolutely matters, Moss asserts, if we are going to hold her up as a “martyr.” Yet misconceptions and misrepresentations can creep in so soon. The public can get the story wrong even in this highly mediated and thoroughly reported age — and do so despite the presence among us of living eyewitnesses. So what, then, to make of the third-hand, heavily revised, agenda-laden and anachronistic accounts of Christianity’s original martyrs?

Moss, professor of New Testament and early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame, challenges some of the most hallowed legends of the religion when she questions what she calls “the Sunday school narrative of a church of martyrs, of Christians huddled in catacombs out of fear, meeting in secret to avoid arrest and mercilessly thrown to lions merely for their religious beliefs.” None of that, she maintains, is true. In the 300 years between the death of Jesus and the conversion of the Emperor Constantine, there were maybe 10 or 12 scattered years during which Christians were singled out for supression by Rome’s imperial authorities, and even then the enforcement of such initiatives was haphazard — lackadaisical in many regions, although harsh in others. “Christians were never,” Moss writes, “the victims of sustained, targeted persecution.”

Much of the middle section of “The Myth of Persecution” is taken up with a close reading of the six “so-called authentic accounts” of the church’s first martyrs. They include Polycarp, a bishop in Smyrna during the second century who was burned at the stake, and Saint Perpetua, a well-born young mother executed in the arena at Carthage with her slave, Felicity, at the beginning of the third century. Moss carefully points out the inconsistencies between these tales and what we know about Roman society, the digs at heresies that didn’t even exist when the martyrs were killed and the references to martyrdom traditions that had yet to be established. There’s surely some kernel of truth to these stories, she explains, as well as to the first substantive history of the church written in 311 by a Palestinian named Eusebius. It’s just that it’s impossible to sort the truth from the colorful inventions, the ax-grinding and the attempts to reinforce the orthodoxies of a later age.

Moss also examines surviving Roman records. She notes that during the only concerted anti-Christian Roman campaign, under the emperor Diocletian between 303 and 306, Christians were expelled from public offices. Their churches, such as the one in Nicomedia, across the street from the imperial palace, were destroyed. Yet, as Moss points out, if the Christians were holding high offices in the first place and had built their church “in the emperor’s own front yard,” they could hardly have been in hiding away in catacombs before Diocletian issued his edicts against them.

This is not to deny that some Christians were executed in horrible ways under conditions we’d consider grotesquely unjust. But it’s important, Moss explains, to distinguish between “persecution” and “prosecution.” The Romans had no desire to support a prison population, so capital punishment was common for many seemingly minor offenses; you could be sentenced to be beaten to death for writing a slanderous song. Moss distinguishes between those cases in which Christians were prosecuted simply for being Christians and those in which they were condemned for engaging in what the Romans considered subversive or treasonous activity. Given the “everyday ideals and social structures” the Romans regarded as essential to the empire, such transgressions might include publicly denying the divine status of the emperor, rejecting military service or refusing to accept the authority of a court. In one of her most fascinating chapters, Moss tries to explain how baffling and annoying the Romans (for whom “pacifism didn’t exist as a concept”) found the Christians — when the Romans thought about them at all.

Christians wound up in Roman courts for any number of reasons, but when they got there, they were prone to announcing, as a believer named Liberian once did, “that he cannot be respectful to the emperor, that he can be respectful only to Christ.” Moss compares this to “modern defendants who say that they will not recognize the authority of the court or of the government, but recognize only the authority of God. For modern Americans, as for ancient Romans, this sounds either sinister or vaguely insane.” It didn’t help that early Christians developed a passion for martyrdom. Suffering demonstrated both the piety of the martyr and the authenticity of the religion itself, and besides, it earned you an immediate, first-class seat in heaven. (Ordinary Christians had to wait for Judgment Day.) There were reports of fanatics deliberately seeking out the opportunity to die for their faith, including a mob that turned up at the door of a Roman official in Asia Minor, demanding to be martyred, only to be turned away when he couldn’t be bothered to oblige them.

Moss cannot be called a natural or fluent writer, but she is thorough, strives for clarity and is genuinely fired up in her concern for the influence of the myth of martyrdom on Western societies. “The idea of the persecuted church is almost entirely the invention of the 4th century and later,” she writes. This was, significantly, a period during which the church had become “politically secure,” thanks to Constantine. Yet, instead of providing a truthful account of Christianity’s early years, the scholars and clerics of the fourth century cranked out tales of horrific, systemic violence. These stories were subtly (and not so subtly) used as propaganda against heretical ideas or sects. They also made appealingly gruesome entertainment for believers who were, personally, fairly safe; Moss likens this to contemporary suburbanites reveling in a horror film.

Today, polemicists continue to use the deeply ingrained belief in a persecuted — and therefore morally righteous — church as a political club to demonize their opponents. Moss sees a direct link between the valorization of martyrs and preposterous right-wing rhetoric about the “war on Christianity.” It’s a tactic that makes compromise impossible. “You cannot collaborate with someone who is persecuting you,” Moss astutely points out. “You have to defend yourself.”

Where she is less shrewd is in her belief that by exposing the “false history of persecution,” we can somehow purge this paranoid approach to political differences. One of the most enlightening aspects of “The Myth of Persecution” is Moss’ ability to find contemporary analogies that make the ancient world more intelligible to the average reader, such as the Cassie Bernall story. But that story has an additional lesson to offer, about the true believer’s imperviousness to unpalatable facts. Bernall’s family and church are unmoved by the schoolmates who were present at the shooting and who have debunked the “She said yes” legend. “You can say it didn’t happen that way,” the Bernalls’ pastor told one reporter, “but the church won’t accept it. To the church, Cassie will always say yes, period.”


Jack Schaap, Indiana Pastor, Claimed Jesus Wanted Him To Have Sex With Teenage Girl

By Meredith Bennett-Smith

Jack Schaap Pastor Teenage Sex
A disgraced Indiana megachurch leader who seduced his teenage parishioner evidently told her Jesus wanted them to have sex.

As part of the government’s sentencing memorandum, federal prosecutors this week released incriminating letters between Jack Schaap, the former pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Ind., and his teen victim.

“In our ‘fantasy talk,’ you have affectionately spoken of being ‘my wife,’” Schaap wrote in one letter, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “That is exactly what Christ desires for us. He wants to marry us + become eternal lovers!”

WATCH Schaap’s sermon in the video below

Schaap, 55, was fired by his church in July, according to the Associated Press. He eventually pleaded guilty to the federal charge of taking a minor across state lines with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.

The scandal has shocked the Hammond church’s 15,000 members, who elected Schaap their pastor in 2001. The father of two was described as a “magnetic” and “charismatic” preacher, according to CBS. He was also married to the daughter of the church’s former pastor.

The inappropriate relationship between Schaap and the 17-year-old, however, was discovered when a church deacon saw on Schaap’s cellphone a picture of Schaap and the teenager kissing. According to court documents the relationship began when the victim was one week shy of her 17th birthday.

“I’m surprised that this happened,” former church member Cherise Williams told Fox Chicago affiliate WFLD 32 back in July. “The pastor made an error – obviously made a mistake … He was a charismatic leader, and he helped a lot of people in their struggles. Obviously there’s still a fondness there for him. The one thing we want to be sure we bring is reconciliation to him and his wife.”

While the Times of Northwest Indiana reports that multiple letters of support have been sent to Schaap’s sentencing judge, U.S. District Court Judge Rudy Lozano, the victim told the court that the relationship has left her reeling.

“He told me to confide in him, to trust him, and he made me feel safe and comfortable around him as a man of God,” she wrote in a letter to the court, according to the Sun-Times. “(Schaap) preyed on that trust and my vulnerability.”

Prosecutors said Schaap “groomed” the girl before becoming intimate with her, counseling her and texting with her frequently — 662 times in one month, according to phone records.

Sentencing in the case was schedule for Thursday.

WATCH Former First Baptist Church pastor Jack Schaap preaching an energetic sermon incorporating hunting implements at his church’s 2010 Youth Conference.


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  • NASA, JPL-Caltech, MSSS
Latest News
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  • WASHINGTON — Sara Volz gasped in amazement when she heard her name called. The 17-year-old finalist had just been named the grand-prize winner at the March 12 awards gala of the 2013 Intel Science Talent Search awards. She was going home with $100,000. 03.12.13 | more >>

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John McCain Correctly Describes Rand Paul and Ted Cruz as “Wacko Birds”

On the money

John McCain is not wrong this time: McCain Calls Paul, Cruz, Amash ‘Wacko Birds’.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is continuing to criticize his fellow Republicans for their filibuster of incoming CIA Director John O. Brennan over drone policy. In an interview with the Huffington Post, McCain referred to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) as “wackos.”

“They were elected, nobody believes that there was a corrupt election, anything else,” McCain said. “But I also think that when, you know, it’s always the wacko birds on right and left that get the media megaphone.”

Asked to clarify, McCain said he was referencing “Rand Paul, Cruz, Amash, whoever.”

No argument there!


Pentagon: Israel’s future fighter jet critically flawed

Leaked Pentagon report reveals fatal F-35 fighter jet flaws; ‘Unacceptable for combat or combat training,’ says report; Israel to buy 25 jets for $238 million each

Ynet

Fatal flaws within the cockpit of the US military’s most expensive fighter jet ever are causing further problems with the Pentagon’s dubious F-35 program, Israel’s future combat aircraft.

A new report from the Pentagon warns that any pilot that boards the pricey aircraft places himself in danger without even going into combat.

In a leaked memo reported by the RT news agency, a Pentagon official prefaces a report on the F-35 by cautioning that even training missions cannot be safely performed on board the aircraft at this time.

“The training management system lags in development compared to the rest of the Integrated Training Center and does not yet have all planned functionality,” the report reads in part.

זהו ה-F-35 (צילום: רויטרס)

The F-35 (Photo: Reuters)

“The out-of-cockpit visibility in the F-35A is less than other Air Force fighter aircraft,” one excerpt reads.

Elsewhere, the report includes quotes from pilots commenting after test missions onboard the aircraft:

“The head rest is too large and will impede aft (rear) visibility and survivability during surface and air engagements,” said one. “Aft visibility will get the pilot gunned (down) every time” in dogfights, remarked another.

“Aft visibility could turn out to be a significant problem for all F-35 pilots in the future,” the Pentagon admits.

In one chart included in the report, the Pentagon says there are eight crucial flaws with the aircraft that have raises serious red flags within the Department of Defense.

The plane’s lack of maturity, reduced pilot situational awareness during an emergency and the risk of the aircraft’s fuel barriers catching fire are also cited, as is the likelihood of a pilot in distress becoming unable to escape his aircraft during an emergency.

The Pentagon report described flaws as “unacceptable for combat or combat training.”

Yedioth Aharonoth reported that jet makers Lockheed Martin stated they are aware of the problems and that some have already been solved, adding that the aircraft’s maintenance and operation are being improved.

The latest news regarding the F-35s comes less than one month after a separate incident forced the Department of Defense to ground their entire arsenal of fighter jets. In February, jet makers Lockheed Martin issued a statement acknowledging that a routine inspection on a test plane turned up cracked turbine blade.

Each F-35 fighter jet is valued at $238 million and, according to recent estimates, the entire operation will cost the country $1 trillion in order to keep the jets up and running through 2050.

That high price tag has given several countries cold feet about the jet. Last week, Canada pulled out of a deal to buy 65 F-35s over fears that the aircraft could be too expensive to run. Italy reduced its purchase to 90 F-35s from an initial 131, and even the US has delayed some of its purchases.

 


God Worried He Fucked Up His Children

    The Almighty Father regrets spending so much time away from His children doing His work.

THE HEAVENS—Saying that maybe He wasn’t around enough and could have expressed His divine love a little better throughout the history of mankind, Our Lord God and Almighty Father expressed concern Thursday that He might have fucked up His children.

In a frank conversation with reporters, God said it’s not hard to see that all 7 billion of His children are “pretty screwed up” and that many of them are hopelessly maladjusted and unfit to live healthy, normal lives.

“I love my sons and daughters equally, but was I present as much as I could have been? Probably not,” said the Divine Creator, pointing to the human race’s emotional volatility, existential angst, and lack of any real direction as evidence of His failure. “Ever since I molded them in my image, I’ve tried to do right by them. I really have. But they’re just so dysfunctional that I’m starting to wonder if I’m to blame.”

God claimed that though He always made sure to provide His children with food, water, air to breathe, and an earth to live on, He was starting to realize that material things weren’t nearly enough. In addition, while God repeatedly said He loved his children, the Lord our Maker admitted He could have said it more often.

Moreover, God told reporters He was also beginning to regret His hands-off approach, saying that giving His children complete free will was probably a mistake.

“I always thought that if I let them stray from the path of righteousness and goodwill, they’d learn how to get back on their own,” the Eternal One said. “But maybe that was just laziness on my part. The truth is, I was so busy ruling the universe and controlling Heaven and Earth that there were times when I was basically invisible to my children. I know that now.”

“No wonder they are running around breaking every single commandment I gave them,” He continued. “They needed an Almighty Ruler who was really there for them, not some deadbeat Heavenly Father who would just appear in a divine vision from time to time and split.”

The Author of Our Eternal Salvation added that He had passed down a number of bad habits He was starting to see in His children, particularly a shared inclination for senseless destruction and unpredictable, violent outbursts.

“I haven’t been the best example at times,” said God, admitting that His propensity for flooding, disease, and famine have “screwed with [His children’s] heads” for centuries. “I’ve put my sons and daughters through some pretty traumatic events, especially recently, and that’s exactly the kind of thing that makes them act out in the first place. I mean, they see me destroy Indonesia with a tsunami or kill 6 million of my own children in Europe, and what do you think that does to them?”

“Probably fucks them up pretty good is what,” He added.

While God admitted He had made many mistakes in their upbringing that would no doubt leave them permanently scarred, the Supreme Being told reporters He wasn’t yet ready to give up on His flock.

“The fact is, my children only have one God, and it’s my responsibility to make sure they shape up and reach their full potential,” The Eternal One said. “Then again, a lot of them are so beyond screwed up at this point that there’s probably nothing I can do for them.”