Posts Tagged ‘Christian right’


The Christian lobby is now trying to convince women that abortion causes breast cancer
 Jane Gilmore

Last week the ACL sent out an email inviting people to attend a Melbourne screening of Hush, a documentary described as “a pro-woman perspective on the abortion debate”.

The ACL describes controversial anti-abortion documentary ‘Hush’ as “a pro-woman perspective on the abortion debate”.

Hush has been lauded by anti-abortion and religious groups around the world for its allegedly “balanced” reporting of thoroughly debunked myths – that abortion causes breast cancer, infertility and mental illness.

Perpetuating dangerous and disproved claims about serious medical issues is a definition of “a pro women perspective” I haven’t heard of before, but to be fair, there are many issues pushed out by the ACL that I find difficult to comprehend.

A still from the documentary 'Hush'.
A still from the pseudo-documentary ‘Hush’.  Photo: Hush

Hush props up the allegation of “balance” by claiming the director, Punam Kumar Gill, is pro-choice. Despite this, there are 28 people featured in the film discussing the alleged dangers of abortion, and only two who assert it is a safe procedure.

Whether or not Gill really is pro-choice is irrelevant in the face of the claims made by the documentary, which gives significant weight to assertions by Christian anti-abortion researchers while ignoring overwhelming evidence from the medical profession that there is no reliable link between abortion and breast cancer.

It’s very much akin to the work of anti-vaxers, who cling desperately to risible claims by quack scientists, in the face of irrefutable evidence that they are wrong, because their feelings trump facts.

The film has been described as “a prototype of pseudoscience” by Dr David Grimes, who says he “advised the director in writing in September of 2014 of the poor credentials and discredited science of several anti-abortion activists interviewed for the film.

“She was apparently undeterred in conjuring up a conspiracy,” he says.

The documentary’s website lists a bibliography of the so-called “science” behind the breast cancer claims. The first article shows a possible small increase in the number of young women with breast cancer, but does not posit any possible causes. The second article was eviscerated by Discover Magazine in 2003, which utterly debunked the premise, methodology, results and conclusions of the study. And pointed out that – as Phyllis Wingo, chief of the cancer surveillance branch for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said – even if you accepted their flawed suppositions, “a relative risk of 1.3 – compared with the relative risk of 20 associated with smoking and lung cancer – is usually considered too weak to draw definite conclusions”.

The third link supporting the ludicrous notion that there is a link between abortion and breast cancer was written by Patrick Carroll, an insurance expert with no medical training, who works for the Pension And Population Research Institute, an obscure institution with a single-page website linking only to Carroll’s three papers on breast cancer and abortion.

These studies were used to prove a link that has been investigated and rejected by the National Cancer Institute, the Cancer Council of Australia, the American Cancer Society, and the Australian Medical Association, among many others.

Dr Tony Bartone, Vice-President of the Australian Medical Association, said the assertion is irresponsible. “There is no evidence that abortion is in any way linked to the development or onset of breast cancer.

“A patient suffering from breast cancer has enormous challenges to deal with, and they certainly don’t need this kind of misinformation adding to their already overwhelming worries,” he said.

“Also, patients making informed decisions about terminations do not need to be subjected to this kind of misinformation, which can only create significant and unnecessary further stress when they already have so many  concerns to deal with.”

What’s worse, the screening for which the Australian Christian Lobby was issuing invitations is a fundraiser for Women’s Forum Australia, “an independent women’s think-tank” founded by Melinda Tankard Reist, which claims to advocate for “women’s health and wellbeing”.

Of their 10 published news items, three were anti-abortion, six were about adoption (with a focus against same-sex parents adopting) and one was advocating against surrogacy. Their two events are the Hush screening and a Pregnancy Support Awards for services that persuade women against abortion.

Tankard Reist has long resisted publicly declaring any link to faith-based organisations, but the links between her, the organisations she’s founded, and right-wing Christian groups are difficult to ignore.

While faith is certainly a personal matter that no private individual should ever be obliged to disclose, it is relevant to public advocacy. Women’s Forum Australia has every right to argue against abortion if they choose to, but peddling dangerous misinformation under the guise of “balance” and “science”, and hiding a faith-based agenda behind an alleged concern for women’s health, demands some investigation and response.

ACL’s invitation to the event was forwarded to Fairfax Media and came directly from Dan Flynn, the Victorian Director of ACL. Kristan Dooley, the contact provided on the event information, confirmed to Fairfax Media that the event is a fundraiser for Women’s Forum Australia.

The ACL is very clear on its purpose, as stated on its website it is “seeking to bring a Christian influence to politics”. If the ACL is promoting a fundraiser, it would be unlikely to do so without some faith-based or ideological alignment with the beneficiaries.

Pseudoscience and discredited conspiracy theories do nothing for the anti-abortion cause. Using such things to raise funds for further advocacy is egregiously unethical.

If these are the best arguments they can make for an ideological crusade against a legal medical procedure that saves women’s lives, they desperately need to rethink their strategy.

And in the meantime, Australian women can rest assured that if they require an abortion, the procedure is safe, legal (in most states) and entirely a matter for each individual to decide.

 

Via:- http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/news-and-views/opinion/the-christian-lobby-is-now-trying-to-convince-women-that-abortion-causes-breast-cancer-20161018-gs535e.html

 

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Call to suspend hate laws ‘disgraceful’: Gillian Triggs

 

EXCLUSIVE

 Gillian Triggs slams calls to change anti-discrimination laws

Anti-discrimination laws won’t prevent free speech so don’t need to be changed during the same sex marriage debate, says the head of the Human Rights Commission.

 

The Human Rights Commission has rubbished the Australian Christian Lobby’s call for anti-discrimination laws to be suspended during the same-sex marriage plebiscite, describing it as “outrageous” and based on a misunderstanding of the law.

In a separate move, about 40 religious leaders have written to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull urging him to ditch the plebiscite plan altogether, arguing it will damage the standing of religious communities and harm the mental health of gay people.

Responding to the ACL’s push to have anti-discrimination laws “set aside” during the plebiscite campaign to ensure free speech, Australian Human Rights Commission President Gillian Triggs said it was a “disgraceful way of dealing with the issue”.

Australian Human Rights Commission president Professor Gillian Triggs says of ACL: 'It's an outrageous propositon and ...

Australian Human Rights Commission president Professor Gillian Triggs says of ACL: ‘It’s an outrageous propositon and it’s highly misguided’. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

 

“[They] are saying that we have to stand down or suspend the laws so that you can do what would otherwise be a vilification,” Professor Triggs told Fairfax Media on Tuesday.

“It’s an outrageous proposition and it’s highly misguided.”

Professor Triggs said the ACL’s call for the federal government to “override” anti-discrimination laws, particularly state-based laws, was “based on a failure to understand the way the law works”.

Rev Graham Long, CEO and pastor of The Wayside Chapel is one of around 40 signatories to the letter to Malcolm Turnbull.

Rev Graham Long, CEO and pastor of The Wayside Chapel is one of around 40 signatories to the letter to Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Peter Rae

 

She said the right to freedom of religious views was one of the best-protected rights in Australia because it was entrenched in the Constitution, adding there was no federal law against vilification on the basis of sexuality and only Queensland, NSW and the ACT made it unlawful to incite hatred on the basis of sexual orientation.

While Tasmania takes a broader approach, Professor Triggs said there was no rush of findings against free speech in the state.

“It is a very, very high threshold,” she said, countering the ACL argument that current laws would make the “no” camp vulnerable to “the constant threat of quasi and full-blown legal action” during the plebiscite.

Victorian Minister for Equality Martin Foley wrote to Attorney-General George Brandis on Tuesday, outlining his concerns that “weakening anti-discrimination laws will further hurt LGBTI Australians”. Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus also slammed the ACL’s proposal, saying: “If you need to offend in order to convince people, you’ve already lost”.

As debate about the process of a plebiscite continued, representatives of Anglican, Uniting and Baptist churches wrote to Mr Turnbull, calling for Parliament to resolve the issue instead.

The letter warns a plebiscite risks providing a platform for “disparaging LGBTI Australians and their families, leading to increased incidents of anxiety, depression and suicide,” and could “discredit the voice of faith communities more generally on public matters”.

Pastor of Sydney’s Wayside Chapel Graham Long said he was a signatory because the plebiscite would see opposing sides to “dig into their trenches” and “throw bombs”.

“I’m really struggling to see where the wisdom is,” Reverend Long said. “The other idea is we could use our Parliament as a Parliament.”

The letter also expresses concern that the “negative case” in a plebiscite would be put by religious groups and leaders “who claim to speak on behalf of people of faith generally, or religious institutions as a whole”.

Letter organiser, Angus McLeayof Merri Creek Anglican in inner-city Melbourne, said it was a concern that the ACL could be seen to represent all Christians.

“The ACL represent certain, quite conservative viewpoints,” Reverend McLeay said.

“The public, they just hear ‘Christian’ and they don’t necessarily make fine distinctions.”

On Wednesday, the ACL stood by its call for anti-discrimination laws to be set aside.

“None of our arguments vilify or hate and neither should they. The arguments are not the problem. The laws are the problem. In particular, the abuse of the laws and legal processes by activists,” managing director Lyle Shelton said.

“State-based human rights commissions are often weaponised by activists against those with different views.”

Senator Brandis was overseas on Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.

Last week in Senate estimates, he said there had been a “great deal of stakeholder consultation” on the plebiscite process and that he would take a submission to cabinet “in coming months”.

There is no date set yet for the plebiscite, which is due after the federal election if the Coalition wins.

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‘Satan Dancing With Delight’: The Religious Right Reacts To The Legalization Of Gay Marriage

This morning, the Supreme Court ruled that state bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional, effectively legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states.

Christian Right’s Head’s Explode!

Head Explosion

Needless to say, anti-gay Religious Right activists and Republican politicians who have repeatedly warned that such a ruling would literally destroy America have not reacted well, as exemplified by Bryan Fischer, who fired off a series of tweets declaring that Satan is now dancing in the streets of America:

Other anti-gay activists were equally outraged:

Anti-gay Republican presidential hopefuls were quick to weigh in:

Mike Huckabee

“The Supreme Court has spoken with a very divided voice on something only the Supreme Being can do-redefine marriage. I will not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our Founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch. We must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat.

“This ruling is not about marriage equality, it’s about marriage redefinition. This irrational, unconstitutional rejection of the expressed will of the people in over 30 states will prove to be one of the court’s most disastrous decisions, and they have had many. The only outcome worse than this flawed, failed decision would be for the President and Congress, two co-equal branches of government, to surrender in the face of this out-of-control act of unconstitutional, judicial tyranny.”

“The Supreme Court can no more repeal the laws of nature and nature’s God on marriage than it can the law of gravity. Under our Constitution, the court cannot write a law, even though some cowardly politicians will wave the white flag and accept it without realizing that they are failing their sworn duty to reject abuses from the court. If accepted by Congress and this President, this decision will be a serious blow to religious liberty, which is the heart of the First Amendment.”

Bobby Jindal

Governor Jindal said, “The Supreme Court decision today conveniently and not surprisingly follows public opinion polls, and tramples on states’ rights that were once protected by the 10th Amendment of the Constitution. Marriage between a man and a woman was established by God, and no earthly court can alter that.

This decision will pave the way for an all out assault against the religious freedom rights of Christians who disagree with this decision. This ruling must not be used as pretext by Washington to erode our right to religious liberty.

The government should not force those who have sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage to participate in these ceremonies. That would be a clear violation of America’s long held commitment to religious liberty as protected in the First Amendment.

I will never stop fighting for religious liberty and I hope our leaders in D.C. join me.”

Rick Santorum

Today, five unelected justices decided to redefine the foundational unit that binds together our society without public debate or input. Now is the people’s opportunity respond because the future of the institution of marriage is too important to not have a public debate. The Court is one of three co-equal branches of government and, just as they have in cases from Dred Scott to Plessy, the Court has an imperfect track record. The stakes are too high and the issue too important to simply cede the will of the people to five unaccountable justices.

“But leaders don’t accept bad decisions that they believe harm the country, they have the courage of their convictions and lead the country down the better path. Marriage, the family and our children are too central to a healthy society to not fight for what is best. I realized that fact early on and that is why I lead the charge against some in my own party in 2004 to ensure the Federal Marriage Amendment received a vote and I continue to stand for marriage, for families, for freedom.

“As President, I will be committed to using the bully pulpit of the White House to lead a national discussion on the importance to our economy and our culture of mothers and fathers entering into healthy marriages so that every child is given their birthright- to be raised by their mother and father in a stable, loving home. I will stand for the preservation of religious liberty and conscience, to believe what you are called to believe free from persecution. And I will ensure that the people will have a voice in decisions that impact the rock upon which our civilization is built.”

Scott Walker

I believe this Supreme Court decision is a grave mistake. Five unelected judges have taken it upon themselves to redefine the institution of marriage, an institution that the author of this decision acknowledges “has been with us for millennia.”

In 2006 I, like millions of Americans, voted to amend our state constitution to protect the institution of marriage from exactly this type of judicial activism. The states are the proper place for these decisions to be made, and as we have seen repeatedly over the last few days, we will need a conservative president who will appoint men and women to the Court who will faithfully interpret the Constitution and laws of our land without injecting their own political agendas.

As a result of this decision, the only alternative left for the American people is to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to reaffirm the ability of the states to continue to define marriage.

Anti-gay Religious Right organizations, like the Family Research Council, likewise vowed never to accept this ruling:

“Five justices on the Supreme Court have overturned the votes of 50 million Americans and demanded that the American people walk away from millennia of history and the reality of human nature.

“In reaching a decision so lacking in foundation in the text of the Constitution, in our history, and in our traditions, the Court has done serious damage to its own legitimacy.

“No court can overturn natural law.  Nature and Nature’s God, hailed by the signers of our Declaration of Independence as the very source of law, cannot be usurped by the edict of a court, even the United States Supreme Court.

“Marriage is rooted not only in human history, but also in the biological and social reality that children are created by, and do best when raised by, a mother and a father. No court ruling can alter this truth.

“It is folly for the Court to think that it has resolved a controversial issue of public policy. By disenfranchising 50 million Americans, the Court has instead supercharged this issue.

“Just as with Roe v. Wade in 1973, the courts will not have the final say on this profound social matter.  The American people will stand up for their right to have a voice and a vote, especially as they experience the ways in which redefining marriage fundamentally impairs their freedom to live and work in accordance with their beliefs.

“With this ruling, the Supreme Court has set our government on a collision course with America’s cherished religious freedoms, explicitly guaranteed in the First Amendment of the Constitution.

“Americans will not stop standing for transcendent truth, nor accept the legitimacy of this decision.  Truth is not decided by polls or the passage of time, but by the One who created time and everything that exists therein.

“We will not lapse into silence but will continue to speak uncompromisingly for the truth about what marriage is, always has been, and always will be: the union of one man and one woman,” concluded [Tony] Perkins.

The National Organization for Marriage:

Though expected, today’s decision is completely illegitimate. We reject it and so will the American people. It represents nothing but judicial activism, legislating from the bench, with a bare majority of the Justices on the Supreme Court exercising raw political power to impose their own preferences on marriage when they have no constitutional authority to do so. It is a lawless ruling that contravenes the decisions of over 50 million voters and their elected representatives. It is a decision that is reminiscent of other illegitimate Court rulings such as Dred Scott and Roe v Wade and will further plunge the Supreme Court into public disrepute.

Make no mistake about it: The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and countless millions of Americans do not accept this ruling. Instead, we will work at every turn to reverse it.

The US Supreme Court does not have the authority to redefine something it did not create. Marriage was created long before the United States and our constitution came into existence. Our constitution says nothing about marriage. The majority who issued today’s ruling have simply made it up out of thin air with no constitutional authority.

In his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Dr. Martin Luther King discussed the moral importance of disobeying unjust laws, which we submit applies equally to unjust Supreme Court decisions. Dr. King evoked the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas that an unjust law or decision is one that is “a human law that is not rooted in eternal law or natural law.”

Today’s decision of the Supreme Court lacks both constitutional and moral authority. There is no eternal or natural law that allows for marriage to be redefined.

American Family Association

“This morning’s ruling rejects not only thousands of years of time-honored marriage but also the rule of law in the United States,” said AFA President Tim Wildmon. “In states across the nation, voters acted through the democratic process to protect marriage and the family. Yet, courts around the country chose to disregard the will of the people in favor of political correctness and social experimentation. And we witnessed firsthand the consequences, as individuals were repeatedly targeted by the government for not actively supporting homosexual marriage. Sadly, our nation’s highest Court, which should be a symbol of justice, has chosen instead to be a tool of tyranny, elevating judicial will above the will of the people.

“There is no doubt that this morning’s ruling will imperil religious liberty in America, as individuals of faith who uphold time-honored marriage and choose not to advocate for same-sex unions will now be viewed as extremists. But to the Court, we send this unequivocal message: We will continue to uphold God’s plan for marriage between one man and one woman, and we call on all Christians to continue to pray for the nation, and for those whose religious liberties will be directly impacted by this ruling.”

In the years leading up to the landmark SCOTUS case, voters in 31 states had acted through the democratic process to uphold marriage and the family. Yet, same-sex marriage was legalized in 36 states, due in large part to overreaching judges who chose to disregard the will of the people and cater to those who advocate for homosexuality.

Concerned Women For America

Today goes down in history as the day nine unelected judges kicked the Constitution to the curb — overturning traditional marriage — and put your religious freedom dangerously at risk.

The decision is in. The justices have ruled. Marriage will be redefined to conform to the pro-LGBT view of marriage.

In one appalling decision, the Supreme Court has effectively opened the door to the criminalization of Christianity when it comes to the marriage issue … and not just Christianity, but every major religion that supports God’s model for marriage and family.

Catholic League

Once again, five Supreme Court justices have invented a right that is nowhere mentioned or implied in the U.S. Constitution. Instead of allowing the states the right to make decisions about marriage, these judges have elected to impose their will on the nation.

Moreover, their reasoning is sociologically illiterate. The idea that marriage is a matter of individual autonomy—and not a social institution—is the most profound flaw in their ruling. In their mind, society is composed of monads.

For people of faith, this decision is ominous. On p. 27, the majority declares that religious Americans “may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.” It is nice to know they respect our First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

“The First Amendment,” the five justices say, “ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives….” That’s the best they can do? Justice Clarence Thomas, in his dissent, rightly criticizes this genuflection to religious rights. “Religious liberty,” he says, “is about freedom of action in matters of religion generally”—it is not confined to advocacy.

In order to stop the IRS from revoking the tax-exempt status of religious institutions that refuse to marry two men or two women, Congress needs to pass the First Amendment Defense Act that was introduced last week. Nothing less is acceptable.


Obama’s Christian Right Critics Agree with Islamic State
Featured photo - Obama’s Christian Right Critics Agree with Islamic State

In the furor over President Obama’s remarks last week at the National Prayer Breakfast, where he compared the rise of the Islamic State with the history of Christian extremism, it’s been lost that the president was carefully retreating from the idea that the U.S. is engaged in a grand civilizational war against Islam — a longstanding fallacy which many American politicians are apparently loath to abandon.

After the September 11th attacks in New York and Washington DC, then-President Bush made a memorable rhetorical choice to invoke the Crusades when describing the scope and nature of the coming American military response.

While the implications of such a statement were not evident at the time to many Americans, the same was not true abroad. French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine reacted with alarm, saying: “We have to avoid a clash of civilizations at all costs,” and cautioning that “one has to avoid this huge trap, this monstrous trap.”

Fast forward more than a decade and the “monstrous trap” Vedrine warned of has ensnared the United States. After spending trillions of dollars and killing hundreds of thousands of people in the name of a “War on Terror,” the U.S. today remains mired in a seemingly endless cycle of conflict with an expanding array of religiously-influenced militant groups. The “War on Terror,” paradoxically, has resulted in the problem of terrorism becoming more widespread and virulent than ever.

At least part of the reason for this is that many American officials have continued in Bush’s tradition of defining the U.S. conflict with extremist Middle Eastern groups as a grand civilizational and religious battle, thus playing in to the same sharply polarizing narrative those groups seek to promote.

In the immediate aftermath of Bush’s declaration of a new crusade, Osama bin Laden himself cited Bush’s words in an interview as proof that America was a broadly hostile civilization planning to establish hegemony over the Middle East. Today, both Islamic State’s Dabiq magazine and Al Qaeda’s Inspire have regular sections devoted in part to publishing similarly helpful quotes from hostile Western officials.

Even as he has continued many of his predecessor’s worst policies in the war on terror,  Obama appears to be aware of the self-defeating dynamic created by grandstanding about civilizational conflict. Speaking in a recent interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, the president said that while he recognizes the stated ideological motivations of many terrorists, he rejects the “notion that somehow that creates a religious war.”

Citing the overwhelming majority of Muslims who reject the actions of groups such Al Qaeda and ISIS, the President warned against providing “victory to terrorist networks by overinflating their importance.” He also described the Middle East and South Asia as “ground zero for needing to win back hearts and minds [of] young people,” and cautioned against using vague terms such as “radical Islam” which could alienate people in these regions even further.

At last week’s prayer breakfast, the president went on to caution attendees against getting on their “high horse” on the topic of religious extremism, and compared groups such as Islamic State with perpetrators of Christian religious violence from the Crusades up through slavery.

These reasonable comments have inflamed those still devoted to the narrative of clashing civilizations, who seem unconcerned about escalating the present conflict even further. Republican presidential hopeful and Fox News personality Mike Huckabee attacked Obama for his alleged hostility to “Christians [and] Jews in Israel,” as well as what he described as an “undying” support for American Muslims. Rep. John Fleming, a Louisiana Republican, explicitly accused Obama of “defending radical Islam” and suggested that he had referred to Islamic State members as “freedom fighters.”

Republican Senator Lindsay Graham, who has repeatedly and explicitly stated that the U.S. is in a “religious war,” has also criticized the President’s refusal to use religious terminology in defining the conflict, characterizing his decision as a conscious denial of reality. Alabama Republican Congressman Mo Brooks, for his part, suggested that Obama’s refusal to use terms like “Islamic terrorism” is likely “an unfortunate byproduct of the days when he was in a Muslim school.”

But in spite of these increasingly unhinged lamentations, Obama’s comparison of Islamic State to Crusaders and slave owners is not only accurate and historically sound, it makes practical sense as well.

Not only does such rhetoric help demonstrate a more rational and humane side of the U.S. to a generation of young Muslims, it also reinforces the message from Muslim leaders and clergy who have condemned terrorist groups for being radically out of step with IslamIndeed, many who have defected from Islamic State or managed to escape from its prisons have described it as being markedly different from the exemplar of Islamic civilization it purports to be.

“Obama is right to not use terms such as Islamic terrorism, both for pragmatic reasons and also because it is not a very accurate way to describe this phenomenon,” said Arun Kundnani, a professor at New York University and scholar of terrorism and radicalization. “The more we learn about groups like Islamic State and see how out of step they are with mainstream Islamic beliefs, the more it becomes clear that religion for them more operates more as a form of militarized identity politics than as theology. Referring to them in religious instead of political terms gives them a legitimacy they would not otherwise have.”

With extremist groups like Islamic State waging a desperate battle to validate their narrative and claim the mantle of Islam, it’s bizarre to see American politicians essentially weighing in on their side. After over a decade of disastrously mirroring the rhetoric and behavior of extremists, the time has come to take a more reasoned approach.

Photo: Charles Dharapak/AP


Are All Terrorists Muslims? It’s Not Even Close

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Are All Terrorists Muslims? It’s Not Even Close

What percentage of terror attacks in the United States and Europe are committed by Muslims? Guess. Nope. Guess again.
And again…
“Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.” How many times have you heard that one? Sure, we heard Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade say it, but to me, that was simply part of the Fox News plan to make their viewers dumber, as we saw again this past weekend when its terrorism “expert” Steve Emerson was caught fabricating the story that Birmingham, England, is closed to non-Muslims. But more alarmingly, even some reasonable people have uttered this statement.And that comment is often followed up by the question: Why don’t we see Christian, Buddhist, or Jewish terrorists?

Obviously, there are people who sincerely view themselves as Muslims who have committed horrible acts in the name of Islam. We Muslims can make the case that their actions are not based on any part of the faith but on their own political agenda. But they are Muslims, no denying that.

However, and this will probably shock many, so you might want to take a breath: Overwhelmingly, those who have committed terrorist attacks in the United States and Europe aren’t Muslims. Let’s give that a moment to sink in.

Now, it’s not your fault if you aren’t aware of that fact. You can blame the media. (Yes, Sarah Palin and I actually agree on one thing: The mainstream media sucks.)

So here are some statistics for those interested. Let’s start with Europe. Want to guess what percent of the terrorist attacks there were committed by Muslims over the past five years? Wrong. That is, unless you said less than 2 percent.

As Europol, the European Union’s law-enforcement agency, noted in its report released last year, the vast majority of terror attacks in Europe were perpetrated by separatist groups. For example, in 2013, there were 152 terror attacks in Europe. Only two of them were “religiously motivated,” while 84 were predicated upon ethno-nationalist or separatist beliefs.

Or what about the (dare I mention them) Jewish terrorists? Per the 2013 State Department’s report on terrorism, there were 399 acts of terror committed by Israeli settlers.

We are talking about groups like France’s FLNC, which advocates an independent nation for the island of Corsica. In December 2013, FLNC terrorists carried out simultaneous rocket attacks against police stations in two French cities. And in Greece in late 2013, the left-wing Militant Popular Revolutionary Forces shot and killed two members of the right-wing political party Golden Dawn. While over in Italy, the anarchist group FAI engaged in numerous terror attacks including sending a bomb to a journalist. And the list goes on and on.

Have you heard of these incidents? Probably not. But if Muslims had committed them do you think you our media would’ve covered it? No need to answer, that’s a rhetorical question.

Even after one of the worst terror attacks ever in Europe in 2011, when Anders Breivik slaughtered 77 people in Norway to further his anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and pro-“Christian Europe” agenda as he stated in his manifesto, how much press did we see in the United States? Yes, it was covered, but not the way we see when a Muslim terrorist is involved. Plus we didn’t see terrorism experts fill the cable news sphere asking how we can stop future Christian terrorists. In fact, even the suggestion that Breivik was a “Christian terrorist” was met with outrage by many, including Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly.

Have you heard about the Buddhist terrorists? Well, extremist Buddhists have killed many Muslim civilians in Burma, and just a few months ago in Sri Lanka, some went on a violent rampage burning down Muslim homes and businesses and slaughtering four Muslims.

Or what about the (dare I mention them) Jewish terrorists? Per the 2013 State Department’s report on terrorism, there were 399 acts of terror committed by Israeli settlers in what are known as “price tag” attacks. These Jewish terrorists attacked Palestinian civilians causing physical injuries to 93 of them and also vandalized scores of mosques and Christian churches.

Back in the United States, the percentage of terror attacks committed by Muslims is almost as miniscule as in Europe. An FBI study looking at terrorism committed on U.S. soil between 1980 and 2005 found that 94 percent of the terror attacks were committed by non-Muslims. In actuality, 42 percent of terror attacks were carried out by Latino-related groups, followed by 24 percent perpetrated by extreme left-wing actors.

And as a 2014 study by University of North Carolina found, since the 9/11 attacks, Muslim-linked terrorism has claimed the lives of 37 Americans. In that same time period, more than 190,000 Americans were murdered (PDF).

In fact in 2013, it was actually more likely Americans would be killed by a toddler than a terrorist. In that year, three Americans were killed in the Boston Marathon bombing. How many people did toddlers kill in 2013? Five, all by accidentally shooting a gun.

But our media simply do not cover the non-Muslim terror attacks with same gusto. Why? It’s a business decision. Stories about scary “others” play better. It’s a story that can simply be framed as good versus evil with Americans being the good guy and the brown Muslim as the bad.

Honestly, when is the last time we heard the media refer to those who attack abortion clinics as “Christian terrorists,” even though these attacks occur at one of every five reproductive health-care facilities? That doesn’t sell as well. After all we are a so-called Christian nation, so that would require us to look at the enemy within our country, and that makes many uncomfortable. Or worse, it makes them change the channel.

That’s the same reason we don’t see many stories about how to reduce the 30 Americans killed each day by gun violence or the three women per day killed by domestic violence. But the media will have on expert after expert discussing how can we stop these scary brown Muslims from killing any more Americans despite the fact you actually have a better chance of being killed by a refrigerator falling on you.

Look, this article is not going to change the media’s business model. But what I hope it does is cause some to realize that not all terrorists are Muslims. In fact, they are actually a very small percent of those that are. Now, I’m not saying to ignore the dangers posed by Islamic radicals. I’m just saying look out for those refrigerators.


The Christian Terrorist Movement No One Wants To Talk About

Thornhill Baptist Church in Hudson, Michigan, where Hutaree Christian militia member Joshua Stone and his father David Brian Stone were members.

Thornhill Baptist Church in Hudson, Michigan, where Hutaree Christian militia member Joshua Stone and his father David Brian Stone were members.

CREDIT: AP

Last Friday, Larry McQuilliams was shot and killed by police after unleashing a campaign of violence in Austin, Texas, firing more than 100 rounds in the downtown area before making a failed attempt to burn down the Mexican Consulate. The only casualty was McQuilliams himself, who was felled by officers when he entered police headquarters, but the death toll could have been far greater: McQuilliams, who was called a “terrorist” by Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, had several weapons, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and a map pinpointing 34 other buildings as possible targets — including several churches.

While the impetus for McQuilliams’ onslaught remains unclear, local authorities recently announced that he may have been motivated by religion — but not the one you might think. According to the Associated Press, police officers who searched McQuilliams’ van found a copy of “Vigilantes of Christendom,” a book connected with the Phineas Priesthood, an American white supremacist movement that claims Christian inspiration and opposes interracial intercourse, racial integration, homosexuality, and abortion. Phineas priests take their name from the biblical figure Phinehas in the book of Numbers, who is described as brutally murdering an Israelite man for having sex with a foreign woman, who he also kills. Members of the Phineas Priesthood — which people “join” simply by adopting the views of the movement — are notoriously violent, and some adherents have been convicted of bank robberies, bombing abortion clinics, and planning to blow up government buildings. Although McQuilliams didn’t leave a letter explaining the reason for his attack, a handwritten note inside the book described him as a “priest in the fight against anti-God people.”

McQuilliams’ possible ties to the Phineas Priesthood may sound strange, but it’s actually unsettlingly common. In fact, his association with the hateful religious group highlights a very real — but often under-reported — issue: terrorism enacted in the name of Christ.

To be sure, violent extremism carried out by people claiming to be Muslim has garnered heaps of media attention in recent years, with conservative pundits such as Greta Van Susteren of Fox News often insisting that Muslim leaders publicly condemn any acts of violence perpetrated in the name of Islam (even though many already have).

But there is a long history of terrorist attacks resembling McQuilliams’ rampage across Austin — where violence is carried out in the name of Christianity — in the United States and abroad. In America, the Ku Klux Klan is well-known for over a century of gruesome crimes against African Americans, Catholics, Jews, and others — all while ascribing to what they say is a Christian theology. But recent decades have also given rise to several “Christian Identity” groups, loose organizations united by a hateful understanding of faith whose members spout scripture while engaging in horrifying acts of violence. For example, various members of The Order, a militant group of largely professed Mormons whose motto was a verse from the book of Jeremiah, were convicted for murdering Jewish talk show host Alan Berg in 1984; the “Army of God”, which justifies their actions using the Bible, is responsible for bombings at several abortion clinics, attacks on gay and lesbian nightclubs, and the explosion at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia; and Scott Roeder cited the Christian faith as his motivation for killing George Tiller — a doctor who performed late-term abortions — in 2009, shooting the physician in the head at point-blank range while he was ushering at church.

These incidents have been bolstered by a more general spike in homegrown American extremism over the past decade and a half. Between 2000 and 2008, the number of hate groups in America rose 54 percent according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, and white-supremacist groups — including many with Christian roots — saw an “explosion” in recruitment after Barack Obama was elected the country’s first African-American president in 2008. In fact, the growth of this and other homegrown terrorist threats has become so great that it spurred then-Attorney General Eric Holder to revive the Domestic Terror Task Force in June of this year.

Christian extremism has ravaged other parts of the world as well. Northern Ireland and Northern India both have rich histories of Christian-on-Christian violence, as does Western Africa, where the Lord’s Resistance Army claims a Christian message while forcibly recruiting child soldiers to terrorize local villages. Even Europe, a supposed bastion of secularism, has endured attacks from people who say they follow the teachings of Jesus. In 2011, Anders Behring Breivik launched a horrific assault on innocent people in and around Oslo, Norway, using guns and bombs to kill 77 — many of them teenagers — and wound hundreds more. Breivik said his actions were an attempt to combat Islam and preserve “Christian Europe,” and while he rejected a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” he nonetheless championed Christianity as a “cultural, social, identity and moral platform” and claimed the faith as the forming framework for his personal identity.

Chillingly, experts warn that something like Breivik’s attack could easily happen in the United States. Daryl Johnson, a former Department of Homeland Security analyst, said in a 2010 interview that the Hutaree, an extremist militia group in Michigan that touts Christian inspiration, possessed a cache of weapons larger than all the Muslims charged with terrorism the United States since the September 11 attacks combined.

Yet unlike the accusatory responses to domestic jihadist incidents such as the Fort Hood massacre, news of McQuilliams’ possible ties to the Christian Identity movement has yet to produce a reaction among prominent conservative Christians. Greta Van Susteren, for instance, has not asked Christian leaders such as Pope Francis, Rick Warren, or Billy Graham onto her show to speak out against violence committed in name of Christ. Rather, the religious affiliation of McQuilliams, like the faith of many right-wing extremists, has largely flown under the radar, as he and others like him are far more likely to be dismissed as mentally unstable “lone wolfs” than products of extremist theologies.

Granted, right-wing extremism — like Muslim extremism — is a complex religious space. Some participants follow religions they see as more purely “white” — such as Odinism — and others act more out of a hatred for government than religious conviction. Nevertheless, McQuilliams’ attack is a stark reminder that radical theologies exist on the fringes of most religions, and that while Muslim extremism tends to make headlines, religious terrorism is by no means unique to Islam.


Why Climate Change Skeptics and Evolution Deniers Joined Forces

—By 

lightning hitting earth
Are religion and end times thinking now wrapped up with the denial of global warming? Igor Zh./Shutterstock

All across the country—most recently, in the state of Texas—local battles over the teaching of evolution are taking on a new complexion. More and more, it isn’t just evolution under attack, it’s also the teaching of climate science. The National Center for Science Education, the leading group defending the teaching of evolution across the country, has even broadened its portfolio: Now, it protects climate education too.

How did these issues get wrapped up together? On its face, there isn’t a clear reason—other than a marriage of convenience—why attacks on evolution and attacks on climate change ought to travel side by side. After all, we know why people deny evolution: Religion, especially the fundamentalist kind. And we know why people deny global warming: Free market ideology and libertarianism. These are not, last I checked, the same thing. (If anything, libertarians may be the most religiously skeptical group on the political right.)

And yet clearly there’s a relationship between the two issue stances. If you’re in doubt, watch this Climate Desk video of a number of members of Congress citing religion in the context of questioning global warming:

Indeed, recent research suggests that Christian “end times” believers are less likely to see a need for action on global warming.

And now new research by Yale’s Dan Kahan further reaffirms that there’s something going on here. More specifically, Kahan showed that there is a correlation (.25, which is weak to modest, but significant) between a person’s religiosity and his or her tendency to think that global warming isn’t much of a risk. Perhaps even more tellingly, Kahan also found that among highly religious individuals, as their ability to comprehend science increases, so does their denial of the risk posed by global warming. Here’s some data he presented:

Among the highly religious, more science comprehension leads to less concern about global warming.

Among the highly religious, more science comprehension translates into less concern about global warming. Dan Kahan

“I have to say, those effects are bigger than I would have expected,” wrote Kahan of his findings. The researcher went on to say that he isn’t sure why greater religiosity predicts greater denial of climate change. But in his data—with a representative sample of over 2,000 Americans—it clearly does.

There are two major possibilities. And there is probably some truth to both of them.

There is the “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” theory. In other words, anti-evolutionists and climate deniers were both getting dumped on so much by the scientific community that they sort of naturally joined forces. And that makes sense: We know that in general, people gather their issue stances in bunches, because those stances travel together in a group (often under the aegis of a political party).

But there’s also the “declining trust in science” theory, according to which political conservatives have, in general, become distrustful of the scientific community (we have data showing this is the case), and this has infected how they think about several different politicized scientific issues. And who knows: Perhaps the distrust started with the evolution issue. It is easy to imagine how a Christian conservative who thinks liberal scientists are full of it on evolution would naturally distrust said scientists on other issues as well.

Further research will no doubt unravel what’s going on here. In the meantime, we can simply observe: In the political science wars that have wracked America for well over a decade, both sides are consolidating their forces.


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