On Those Worthless Prayers For Paris
"To tell the truth and to shoot well with arrows"
Now that Teapublican Texas Senator Ted Cruz has officially tossed his clown hat in the 2016 presidential ring, examining this man’s extraordinarily insane background and comments is going to be easier than spearfishing out of a barrel.
Rafael Cruz, Ted Cruz’s father, is slowly proving my theory that bat shit can be entered into one’s DNA. The rabidly right-wing preacher often makes extremist comments in support of his moronic right-wing fundamentalism. Relying on wacky Dominionist teachings, the batshit whisperer and father of our newly anointed 2016 republican presidential candidate, previously described his son as being the “self-anointed king of society.” It’s quite interesting how these fundamentalists are so vigorously pro-life when you consider everything they say makes pro-choice the greatest argument.
Giving a talk at OK2A, an Oklahoma Second Amendment advocacy group (Jesus loves AR-15s), Rafael Cruz said that atheism leads to sexual abuse of children:
1. There is no moral absolute, which means we operate by situational ethics, which unfortunately is something being taught in every high school in America. This means that right and wrong is dependent upon the circumstances. Of course, without God there is no value to life. That leads to immorality, that leads to sexual abuse, and there is no hope. They live without hope, because there is nothing more.”(Raw Story)
2. We have our work cut out for us,” Cruz said “We need to send Barack Obama back to Chicago. I’d like to send him back to Kenya, back to Indonesia.” He went on to say, “We have to unmask this man. This is a man that seeks to destroy all concept of God. And I will tell you what, this is classical Marxist philosophy. Karl Marx very clearly said Marxism requires that we destroy God because government must become God.” (MySanAntonio.com)
3. Cruz lying bout Obama on abortion: “Do you realize,” he asked a room of conservatives, “the first bill President Obama signed into law was to legalize third trimester abortions?” (The first law Obama signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, according to The New York Times.)(MySanAntonio.com)
4. “Socialism requires that government becomes your god. That’s why they have to destroy the concept of God. They have to destroy all loyalties except loyalty to the government. That’s what’s behind homosexual marriage. It’s really more about the destruction of the traditional family than about exalting homosexuality, because you need to destroy, also, loyalty to the family.” (MySanAntonio.com)
5. On anti-gay discrimination: “The left is trying to redefine the issue as a civil right, not as a personal choice. They have gone to the extent to even try to make it illegal for counselors to administer to these people that have certain sexual tendencies to try to work with them from the Christian, biblical standpoint,” Cruz said. (MySanAntonio.com)
In 17th-century Colonial America, there was no shortage of morality laws. As early European settlers formed colonies in modern-day America’s Eastern-most states, Puritan leaders made sure to administer their docket of strict religious rules on everyone around them.
At the same time, these early settlers had almost no understanding of science, and the “supernatural” was considered to be a part of everyday life. The lack of understanding of natural phenomena combined with a puritanical and capricious legal system resulted in some horrible miscarriages of justice: citizens were burned at the stake for engaging in “witchcraft,” stoned for exhibiting “satanic” traits, and, most improbably, hanged for supposedly copulating with and impregnating animals.
The last of these crimes, “buggery,” or the act of engaging in lewd sexual conduct with an animal, was considered the most reprehensible; the vast majority of the time, sentences were handed down with little or no evidence of guilt. Digging through early records of Colonial America yields multiple cases of men being executed for merely resembling barn animals — because if an animal resembled a man, it therefore implicated him as its father.
These mens’ stories serve as a good (if not disturbing) reminder that in the absence of a well-functioning legal system, people have been routinely put to death over the most absurd allegations imaginable.
The Puritan “legal” code essentially followed the Old Testament Bible word for word: anything deemed to be sinful in the text was appropriately punished in the New England colonies. Among the many crimes one could commit in the colonies, “buggery” was thought to be the most vile — so much so, that Plymouth’s Governor, William Bradford, once declared the act “too fearful to name.”
Both in the Bible and in Puritan legal codes, buggery was treated as a gravely serious offense, and almost always resulted in death for the accused.
For those who had sex with animals, the Old Testament was especially unforgiving. Exodus 22:19 declares that “Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death;” similarly, Leviticus 20:15 states, “[If] a man lie with a beast, he shall surely be put to death: and ye shall slay the beast.” In 17th century America’s courts, these words were interpreted quite literally
Leviticus 20:15 and Exodus 22:19 both pronounce that a man should be put to death for copulating with an animal; screenshots from a 1606 copy of the Old Testament, similar to that favored by New England’s Puritans
The first recorded case of a settler being punished for buggery in New England was that of William Hackett, a Plymouth, Massachusetts man. Hackett, who was estimated by the court to be 20 years old, was spotted by an ill woman, while allegedly “[engaging] in buggery with a cow.” To make matters worse, she claimed he’d done so while the rest of town was in a Sunday church service. Needless to say, the court was not forgiving of Hackett’s action: though he insisted he’d merely attempted the act, and despite there being only one, highly questionable witness, he was found thoroughly guilty. The following day, the cow was brought before Hackett and slaughtered, and then Hackett himself was hung from the gallows.
According to the historical records of the New Haven, Connecticut colony, another man was convicted of buggery just a few months later — and this occurrence was much stranger. George Spencer was a lowly servant, who worked long days tending to his master’s stock. Much to Spencer’s misfortune, one of the cows birthed a disfigured sow — “a prodigious monster” — that apparently bore a great semblance to him. Like Spencer, the fetus “[had] butt one eye for use…the other [was] whitish and deformed.” For local Puritan townsfolk, only one conclusion could be drawn: Spencer had copulated with the cow, and the sow was his offspring.
In court, his history of “lying, scoffing, and lewd spirit” was brought to light as “corroborating” evidence, and though Spencer denied his guilt, he was sent to prison. Here, Puritan magistrates convinced him that, unless he confessed to his sin, he’d eternally burn in hell; after some time, he admitted that he’d lusted for the animal. Though lacking any witness testimony, and possessing no evidence of Spencer’s crime, the court pronounced that it was “aboudnantly satisfied in the evidence,” and, in accordance with New England’s capital laws, no time was spared in putting the man to death.
The capital laws of New England, including buggery (#7); full list here
The following year, back in Plymouth, a 17-year-old servant named Thomas Granger was accused of the most heinous act of buggery yet. Plymouth’s Governor, William Bradford, found the case such a “sad spectakle” that he devoted an entire page to it in his diary of 1642:
“Thomas Granger…was this year detected of buggery (and indicted for the same) with a mare, a cow, two goats, five sheep, 2 calves, and a turkey. Horrible it is to mention, but the truth of the historie requires it. He was first discovered by one that accidentally saw his lewd practise towards the mare. (I forbear perticulers.) Being upon it examined and committed, in the end he not only confest the fact with that beast at that time, but sundrie times before, and at severall times with all the rest of the forenamed in his indictmente…”
Following Granger’s confession, various sheep were rounded up, and he was forced to identify his muses. After he’d done so, the incriminated creatures were slaughtered before his eyes — “first the mare, and then the cow” — before Granger himself was hanged. His execution marked the first recorded instance that a juvenile was put to death in America.
Plymouth’s Governor, William Bradford, came down especially hard on those who took “beasts as mistresses”
Five years later, back in the New Haven Colony, the strangest case of buggery in history unfolded — that of aptly-named Thomas Hogg, a man accused of sexually engaging a pig.
Like the aforementioned George Spencer, Thomas Hogg was a servant who often worked with his master’s animals. According to the official Records of Colony and Plantation of New Haven (1638-49), when a sow was born with “faire white skinne and head [and] one eye like his, the bigger on the right side,” the apparently similar-looking Hogg was implicated as the animal’s lover.
A series of unrelated witnesses came forward, attesting to Hogg’s “indecency” — first, a woman who claimed to have seen him “act “with filthiness with his hands by the fire side,” and then another who’d supposedly seen Hogg’s “members.” Though Hogg claimed his “belly was broake,” requiring him to wear especially loose trousers, the court took favor with the witness’ testimonies, and his predisposition for animals was put to the test.
With the Governor and court officials at his side, Hogg was brought to a barnyard, where he was presented with his “mistress” — the sow that bore his likeness. He was then forced to “scratt” (fondle) the animal, to see if it produced any favorable reaction. Unfortunately for Hogg, “there immedyatley appeared a working of lust in the sow, insomuch that she prowed out seede before them.”
Of course, this test could not be held as hard evidence without a control group: another sow was brought before Hogg, and when it was “not moved at all” by the man’s advances, he was found guilty of buggery.
Despite his charges, Hogg seems to have miraculously avoided capital punishment. Written records show that he was alternatively whipped and imprisoned in a hard labor camp, where his “lusts [could] not be fedd.”
Hogg’s case was indicative of the changing nature of capital punishment in Colonial America: by the end of the 17th century, cases of buggery less frequently resulted in death. Moving forward, many of the accused were merely branded on the forehead, publicly humiliated, and permanently expelled from the colonies. In the time of Puritans, this was considered progressive.
As the state became more secularized and strict morality codes loosened, the Puritans’ harsh punishments for sexual “crimes” — including buggery — were forgotten. But for a period of time in American history, men were executed for nothing more than bearing a resemblance to barn animals.
This post was written by Zachary Crockett; you can follow him on Twitter here.
A “responsible” gun owner in North Carolina says he was “forced” to shoot his mentally-ill son in the chest because the man was possessed by “demons.”
According to 78-year-old Ralph George Wilson his son, 52-year-old Ralph Gregory Wilson, was pouring lighter fluid on the could and threatening to set it on fire.
“I got a bipolar boy trying to set my house on fire last night, and he’s doing it again,” Wilson explained in the 911 call. “And he come at me, and I shot him.”
“I shot to warn him, but he come at me,” R. George told the 911 operator. The father explained that he was “not sure” what kind of weapon he used to shoot his son, but he was certain it was a handgun.
“It was either me or him, and I’m going to protect myself,” he told the operator. “I’m tired of it.” He said he “told him not to come near me again, or I’ll shoot him again.”
But the younger Wilson’s problem was not bipolar disorder, according to his father — it’s demons:
“He’s demon possessed… The demons are tormenting him. He tells me all the time they’re tormenting him. He’ll cry like a little baby.”
“When they attack him, he goes crazy,” R. George said.
The elder Wilson explained that his son had left the house after being shot, and that his wife had followed him outside.
“You shouldn’t have shot him in the chest,” said Mrs. Wilson as her son howled in pain in the background.
“I didn’t know I was shooting him in the chest,” Wilson said. “I tried to shoot him lower. I don’t know nothing about guns, but I have to protect myself.”
“Go tell him he better call on the Lord. Go tell him to pray,” Ralph George told his wife. “His soul’s going to be lost. You better tell him.”
A neighbor also called 911 after Ralph Gregory came to her home, bleeding, after his father shot him.
Watch a report on the shooting, below:
Atheists tend to be more intelligent than religious people, according to a US study.
Researchers found that those with high IQs had greater self-control and were able to do more for themselves – so did not need the benefits that religion provides.
They also have better self esteem and built more supportive relationships, the study authors said.
New evidence: A study has concluded that religious people are less intelligent than non-believers
The conclusions were the result of a review of 63 scientific studies about religion and intelligence dating between 1928 and last year.
In 53 of these there was a ‘reliable negative relation between intelligence and religiosity’.
In just 10 was that relationship positive.
Even among children, the more intelligent a child was the more probable it was that they would shun the church.
In old age the same trend persisted as well, the research showed.
The University of Rochester psychologists behind the study defined religion as involvement in some or all parts of a belief.
They defined intelligence as the ‘ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly, and learn from experience’.
In their conclusions, they said: ‘Most extant explanations (of a negative relation) share one central theme – the premise that religious beliefs are irrational, not anchored in science, not testable and, therefore, unappealing to intelligent people who ‘know better’.
‘Intelligent people typically spend more time in school – a form of self-regulation that may yield long-term benefits.
‘More intelligent people getting higher level jobs and better employment and higher salary may lead to higher self-esteem, and encourage personal control beliefs.’
Study co-author Jordan Silberman, a graduate student of neuroeconomics at the University of Rochester, said: ‘Intelligence may lead to greater self-control ability, self-esteem, perceived control over life events, and supportive relationships, obviating some of the benefits that religion sometimes provides.’
Detailed: The research analysed 63 surveys comparing intelligence levels and religious beliefs between 1928 and 2012
Research from the UK last week showed another drawback to being religious, or at least Christian – you lose out in the race for top jobs.
Official figures show nearly one in four people who have no religious belief now live in homes headed by someone with a senior executive job or a place in one of the professions.
But well under a fifth of Christians are employed in the best-paid and most influential jobs or are married to someone who is, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The last census, carried out in March 2011, showed a fall in the number of people that call themselves Christian in the UK.
Christian numbers in England and Wales, including children, fell by 4.1 million in a decade to 33.2 million.
However there was a 45 per cent rise over the same 10 years in numbers who say they have no religion, to 14.1 million.
Watch as Christian idiots compete to see who can embarrass themselves the most in 2013. If you enjoy my work please support it by donating or picking up a shirt from my website http://www.cultofdusty.com . It really helps.
While Crouch will be remembered in religious circles for starting the world’s largest Christian-owned cable station, let’s not forget how wealthy he made himself on the backs of gullible viewers who were asked to send his station (and, thereby, him) money. It was the prosperity gospel at work: Give us money and God will reward you… even though the Crouches always seemed to be the ones getting all the rewards.
This passage from a New York Times article is very telling of how he used his riches to benefit himself instead of those who were far less fortunate:
Mr. and Mrs. Crouch have his-and-her mansions one street apart in a gated community here, provided by the network using viewer donations and tax-free earnings. But Mrs. Crouch, 74, rarely sleeps in the $5.6 million house with tennis court and pool. She mostly lives in a large company house near Orlando, Fla., where she runs a side business, the Holy Land Experience theme park. Mr. Crouch, 78, has an adjacent home there too, but rarely visits. Its occupant is often a security guard who doubles as Mrs. Crouch’s chauffeur.
The twin sets of luxury homes only hint at the high living enjoyed by the Crouches, inspirational television personalities whose multitudes of stations and satellite signals reach millions of worshipers across the globe. Almost since they started in the 1970s, the couple have been criticized for secrecy about their use of donations, which totaled $93 million in 2010.
In fact, a lawsuit against TBN noted that Crouch had “Private jets, 13 mansions and a $100,000 mobile home just for the dogs.”
What’s even more stunning is how none of that information appears to be found on the messages Christians are leaving on the TBN Facebook page. It’s one thing to grieve for a lost life, but we can’t ignore the legacy he left behind.
He was the epitome of a greedy televangelist. He’s the kind of person responsible for turning many Christians away from the faith — no matter how many people the television station reached — because of his blatant hypocrisy. If he accomplished anything positive with his station, it’s absolutely outweighed by the lives he ruined by taking money from those who could ill afford to part with it but did because they hoped God would give them even more in return.
Just to be clear, I don’t fault him for his wealth. I criticize the way he acquired it. And I hope Christian leaders, in their rush to praise him, don’t forget to condemn that aspect of his life.
He may have been a religious icon, but he was far from a role model.
1. Joe McCarthy was a good guy. A new and extremely toxic myth is beginning to percolate in on the Christian right: Insisting that Sen. Joseph McCarthy, a paranoid alcoholic who saw communist subversives in every corner, was actually an upstanding guy fighting for God and country. In 2003, Ann Coulter published a book she claims vindicates McCarthy, but its impact wasn’t felt until 2010 when the Christian right members who stack the Texas State School Board tried to get the pro-McCarthy theories into Texas school books.
Christian right fanatics attempted to claim that McCarthy had been vindicated by something (wrongly) called the “Verona papers” (they’re actually named the “Venona papers”). There is a Venona project that has reputed historians who show that the Soviets did have spies in the country, but saying that means McCarthy was right is like saying I’m right to call your mother a serial killer because there are serial killers in America. Harvey Klehr, one of the experts working on the Venona project, denounced Christian right efforts to exploit his work to vindicate McCarthy, noting that McCarthy mostly just fingered innocent people in his paranoid haze.
The new information from Russian and American archives does not vindicate McCarthy. He remains a demagogue, whose wild charges actually made the fight against communism more difficult. Like Gresham’s Law, McCarthy’s allegations marginalized the accurate claims. Because his facts were so often wrong, real spies were able to hide behind the cover of being one of his victims and even persuade well-meaning but naïve people that the whole anti-communist cause was based on inaccuracies and hysteria.
That the Soviets spied on the U.S. is neither surprising—not even to liberals—nor indicative that the communist witch hunts were an appropriate response. The Christian right’s interest in rehabilitating McCarthy probably has less to do with readjudicating the anti-communist cause and more to do with their modern-day obsession with promoting paranoid liars in the McCarthy mold to leadership positions. If they can instill the idea that McCarthy was vindicated by history, it will be easier to argue that the current crop of politically powerful right-wing nuts such as Michele Bachmann and Ted Cruz will actually “be proven right by history.” But McCarthy wasn’t and neither will they be.
2. What the Founding Fathers believed. For people who downright deify our Founding Fathers, the religious right is really hostile to accepting them as they actually were, which is not particularly religious, especially by the standards of their time. But David Barton, a revisionist “historian” whose name comes up again and again in these kinds of discussions, has spread the belief far and wide in the Christian right that the Founders were, in fact, fundamentalist Christians who are quite like the ones we have today. Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas confirms this, saying that Barton “provides the philosophical underpinning for a lot of the Republican effort in the country today.”
Barton has convinced the right to believe in their fervent wish that the Founders were religious and even theocratic with quote-mining and outright lying. He likes to whip out this John Adams quote: “There is no authority, civil or religious — there can be no legitimate government — but what is administered by this Holy Ghost.” Problem? Adams was summarizing the opinion of his opponents; that wasn’t Adams’ view at all.
Barton’s reputation took a hit recently. His most recent book, which tried to portray Thomas Jefferson as a “conventional Christian” who wanted a religious government, was so bad that even his Christian publisher decided to reject it. But according to Politico, that’s just a small setback and Barton is quickly being restored to his position as an authority on history for gullible right-wingers. So that means his lies continue to grow and spread in right-wing circles—such as the completely made-up claim that the Constitution (which only mentions religion to insist the government stay out of it) is based on the Bible.
3. God’s protection. If you believe the lie that the Founders intended this to be a religious nation and that secularism is only a recent development, it’s not much of a leap to decide next that God, in his anger, has turned his back on the United States. And therefore that bad things are happening to us because he doesn’t protect us anymore.
You see this belief throughout the Christian right all the time. Every bad thing that happens is blamed on God removing his “hedge of protection” from the U.S. to punish us for turning our back on God in recent decades.School shootings. Global warming. Hurricanes. 9/11.
The problem with this theory should be obvious: If God is turning away from America because we’re supposedly becoming more secular, then things were better back in the day. But when was this supposed Eden of American life supposed to have happened? During the Civil War? The Gilded Age of abusive labor practices? The Great Depression? WWI? WWII? Bad things are always happening, so the notion that they can only be blamed on God’s irritation with us sinners now makes no sense at all.
4. Roman civilization. The Christian right doesn’t just like to lie about our own history; they lie about other nations, too. A popular theory on the right is that the Roman Empire “collapsed” because growing decadence and liberalism caused people to, I don’t know, be too busy screwing to govern. It’s always a little hazy, but the formula is standard: Romans started having a bunch of sex, stuff fell apart, warning for America. Not a day goes by that you don’t hear this theory floated.
The problem with that theory is it makes no kind of sense. It’s not really right to suggest there was some kind decline in “moral values,” by which the Christian right means sexual prudishness, at all. Romans were pretty uptight.The rumors that they turned all perverted and debauched were made up by Christians trying to smear pagan culture. Rome didn’t really “fall” in the sense the Christian pundits mean, anyway. It was more a gradual decline of centralized power.
Anyway, the decline coincided with the rise of Christianity, which under the “God’s protection” theory means that God was punishing Rome for dropping paganism and adopting monotheism.
5. French revolution. One problem with characterizing the American revolution as Christian instead of secular is that there was another one shortly thereafter, built on the same basic ideals, that was undeniably secular due to the aggressive attacks on Catholic power. If the French were so secular, how could the Americans not be? The answer to the conundrum is to lie and claim there was some kind of gulf between the ideals of the French Revolution and the American Revolution.
Rick Santorum floated this theory at the 2013 Values Voters Summit, where he claimed the French revolutionaries were bad because they believed that rights and democracy stem from the social contract, instead of being handed down from God. Fair enough, though really the “reason” is probably closer to how they would have described it at the time, but where he goes off the rails is to insinuate that they were rejecting the values laid out by their fellow revolutionaries in America when they did this. In reality, the arguments of French and American revolutionaries are nearly identical, echoing philosophers like John Locke who were trying to construct an ideal of rights and freedoms that is frankly secularist in nature.
By Zack Ford
“VERDICT: Methodist Pastor Has 30 Days To Renounce His Gay Children Or Be Defrocked”
On Monday, the United Methodist Church convicted Rev. Frank Schaefer on two counts against the Church for officiating his son’s same-sex wedding. On Tuesday, the impaneled jury determined his sentence: Schaefer is suspended for 30 days, and if it at the end of that time he has not renounced his support for marriage equality, he will be defrocked.
Schaefer, however, was unapologetic, refusing the invitation to “repent of your actions”:
SCHAEFER: [The Church] needs to stop judging people based on their sexual orientation. We have to stop the hate speech. We have to stop treating them as second-class Christians. […]
I will never be silent again. This is what I have to do. […]
I have to minister to those who hurt and that’s what I’m doing.
Three of Schaefer’s four children identify as gay.
After his sentence was announced, his supporters began overturning chairs in the courtroom, a reference to the biblical story of Jesus and the moneychangers.
Schaefer’s critics framed his actions as “breaking the rules” and “rebuking” the Church.
Watch Rev. Schaefer’s remarks from after the sentencing, committing himself to being an “outspoken advocate” for the LGBT community. He also added that if a same-sex couple asked him to marry them in the next 30 days, he would do it:
Wanted for Treason pamphlet circulated in Dallas on the very day of JFK’s assassination!
The comparisons to much of the rhetoric and language used by the contemporary Religious and Political Rights smear-mongering, frighteningly contain the same sentiments of the above leaflet, which was handed out in Dallas, Texas the day of John F. Kennedy’s assassination.
Indeed, words and phrases like “anti-American”, “anti-Christian”, and “treasonous” are more of a call to arms than a call to the ballot box.
With this in mind, we should all be cautious of what the Republicans are aiming for in their attacks on Barack Obama.
This flyer, around 5,000 copies of which were distributed around Dallas in the days before President Kennedy’s November 22, 1963 visit, accused Kennedy of a range of offenses, from being “lax” on Communism, to “appointing anti-Christians to Federal office,” to lying to the American people about his personal life.
A popular belief is that Nazism was the polar opposite of Christianity: in Germany, the Nazis planned to eliminate Christian churches while devout Christians opposed the Nazi agenda. Is this perception accurate? No. Some Nazis were anti-Christian and some Christians were anti-Nazi, but the majority were equally at home in both camps.
Traditional evaluation of Christian complicity in the Holocaust and other Nazi crimes focuses on the degree to which Christians allowed themselves to be used for Nazi purposes, but this presupposes a distinction between Nazis and Christians which did not entirely exist. Many Christians actively supported the Nazi agenda. Many Nazis were not only devout Christians, but also believed that Nazi philosophy was animated by Christian doctrine.
The Christianity promoted by the Nazis was labeled “positive Christianity,” a perspective that focused on the relationship between Christian promises of salvation and the German Volk as a special race of people. Point 24 of the NSDAP Party Program, created in 1920 and never rescinded, reads:
“We demand freedom for all religious confessions in the state, insofar as they do not endanger its existence or conflict with the customs and moral sentiments of the Germanic race. The party as such represents the standpoint of a positive Christianity, without owing itself to a particular confession. It fights the spirit of Jewish materialism within us and without us, and is convinced that a lasting recovery of our Volk can only take place from within, on the basis of the principle: public need comes before private greed.”How is all of this possible? How can the reality of the relationship between Nazism and Christianity be so far removed from popular perception? The truth about all this is detailed in Richard Steigmann-Gall’s book The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945.
Christians avert their faces from the true relationship between their religion and Nazism in part because the truth is difficult to bear, but also in part because they simply don’t understand what Christianity was like in Germany at the time.
“Positive Christians may have said little or nothing about the Augsburg Confession or other signifiers of theological orthodoxy, but they nonetheless regarded Christian social theories — “practical Christianity” as it was also known — as a linchpin of their worldview. Although generally unconcerned with dogma, many of these Nazis nonetheless adhered to basic precepts of Christian doctrine — most importantly the divinity of Christ as the son of God. Although they clearly departed from conventional theology in their rejection of the Old Testament and insistence on Christ’s Aryanhood, they were not simply distorting Christianity for their own ends or engaging in idiosyncratic religious meandering. Only by ignoring the intellectual precedents for these ideas can we argue that positive Christianity was an “infection” of an otherwise pristine faith. Rather. These ideas found expression among bona fide voices of Kulturprotestantismus before the Nazi Party ever existed.”
Although Christians today may find it implausible that religion as they practice it could have anything in common with Nazism, they need to recognize that Christianity — including their own — is always conditioned by the culture where one finds it. For Germans at the beginning of the 20th century, this meant that Christianity was often profoundly anti-Semitic and nationalistic. This was the same ground which the Nazis found so fertile for their own ideology — it would have been amazing had the two systems not found a great deal in common and been unable to find a way to work together.
Germany after World War I was regarded as a godless, secular, materialistic republic which had betrayed all of Germany’s traditional morals, values, and religious beliefs. An important aspect of the Nazis’ appeal to the great mass of religiously conservative Germans was the fact that they said all the right things about the evils of atheism, materialism, greed, corruption, law and order, communism, and religious values.
Alongside the Christian Nazis were a number of anti-Christian Nazis who sought to create a new, neo-pagan religion for the German people. These were, however, relatively few in number and their views were never officially endorsed by the Party or by Hitler. Slightly more common were anti-clerical Nazis who continued to accept basic theistic and Christian doctrines, but who repudiated churches and priests. This seems to have been a view gradually adopted by Hitler himself.
Isn’t it true, though, that Hitler sought to eliminate churches and Christianity from Germany? It’s been said that Hitler only spoke positively about Christianity in public because he had to in order to maintain support from the German people; in private, he admitted to his true hatred of all things Christian. This view is based upon allegedly private comments recorded in the book Hitler Speaks, but Steigmann-Gall argues that the balance of evidence indicates that these statements are probably forgeries and are regarded as such by many scholars.
Sometimes people use passages from Hitler’s Table Talks to argue that Hitler was really anti-Christian, but even if the authenticity of this entire collection of reminiscences is acknowledged, there is far more ambiguity and pro-Christian commentary than is usually acknowledged. It would be surprising if Hitler had never said anything critical of churches, priests, and Christianity and so the existence of some negative quotes is expected. What matters most is the overall balance of his commentary — and that is indisputably pro-Christian and pro-religion.
The deliberate promotion of pagan beliefs was a minority within the Nazi Party. Alfred Rosenberg favored the creation of a new religion, but Hitler went so far as to threaten to take action against his book Mythus, and it was banned by some lower-ranking party organizations. Himmler was obsessed with ancient Germans, but Hitler dismissed this as ridiculous — and even Himmler insisted that Christian viewpoints be respected within the SS. At times he admitted that he was less anti-Christian than anti-clerical.
One important point about all this which may be missed is the fact that these and other pagan Nazis never pretended to be anything else — they never affected a pro-Christian stance in public in order to win over the approval of the German people. When Nazis were pagan, it appears that they were unabashedly and enthusiastically pagan, without apology.
This makes it difficult to argue that other leading Nazis, like Goebbels, Goering, and Hitler himself, only pretended to be pro-Christian for the sake of public relations. If they had wanted to endorse a new paganism in Germany, they had ample opportunity. Instead, what we have are a few Nazis publicly endorsing paganism, but most Nazis publicly endorsing Christianity and all official party organs endorsing Christianity, right up to the official party platform.
Reviewed by Austin Cline
By Elizabeth Stoker and Matt Bruenig
The Religious Right Is a Fraud — There’s Nothing Christian About Michele Bachmann’s Values
Last week, the nation’s capital was host to Value Voters 2013 Summit, a three-day political conference for predominantly religious conservatives. Among the smattering of social and economic issues at hand, the overall tenor of the Summit focused on eliminating Obamacare, expanding the tangible presence of Christianity through the public arena and military and preventing the proliferation of easily available birth control and abortion. In speeches, lunches and breakout sessions, American’s Christian Right worked out strategies to bring the values of the federal government in line with their preferred Christian ethical dictates, using democracy as their chief tool.
It isn’t unusual for Christians living in democracies to use the vote to express their ethics, and to shape government to do the same. That the moral and ethical preferences of a given society should inform government is a foundational principle of democracy, after all. And American values voters are far from the first Christians to undertake the project of bringing their government’s policies in line with Christian ethics: European Christian parties have aimed to do the same for decades. But between American Christian voters and their European counterparts, a curious departure opens up: while European Christians generally see the anti-poverty mission of Christianity as worthy of political action, the American Christian Right inexplicably cordons off economics from the realm of Christian influence.
By all means, the American Christian Right is willing to leverage government authority to carry out a variety of Christian ethical projects, especially within the arena of family life. Michele Bachmann would make abortion illegal, and Rick Santorum has stated on multiple occasions that he supports laws against homosexual intercourse. But Christian politicians in the United States curtail their interest in making the gospel actionable when it comes to welfare. While the government should see to the moral uprightness of marriage, sex and family, the Value Voters 2013 Summit was notably bereft of talks on living wages, labor rights or basic incomes.
The notable exclusion of poverty from the Christian agenda would doubtlessly puzzle European Christians, whose support of Christian ethical approaches to family life have always been paired with a deep and vigorous concern for the poor. And, unlike their American counterparts, European Christians haven’t been willing to leave poverty up to individual charity or the market to handle. Quite the contrary: Just as public morality is an arena fit for intervention by a Christian-informed government, so too is welfare. Consider the British Christian People’s Alliance 2010 election manifesto, a document intended to explain the imminently Christian party’s policy goals:
“The Christian Peoples Alliance believes that Britain will return to economic prosperity when government chooses instead to put human relationships in right order. This requires power, income and wealth to be redistributed and for greater equality to be achieved. These are deeply spiritual convictions and reflect a Biblical pattern of priorities…By the end of the next Parliament, the CPA will establish the reduction of inequality as a national target, so that the ratios of the incomes of the top 20 per cent are reduced to no more than five and a half times the incomes of the bottom 20 per cent.”
The CPA election manifesto goes on to explain that their aversion to inequality arises from a uniquely Christian concern for the health of human relationships, which suffer under the weight of massive social inequality. Their position on inequality is hardly an anomaly among European Christian parties. In fact, the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM), a confederation of Christian parties from different European nations operating within the European Union, states very similar goals in its own programme:
“Social justice is a fundamental Biblical teaching and Christian-democrat notion. Social justice demands an equal regard for all. That implies a special concern for the needs of the poor, refugees, those who suffer and the powerless. It requires us to oppose exploitation and deprivation. It requires also that appropriate resources and opportunities are available. In this way, we meet the basic requirements of all and each person is able to take part in the life of the community.”
Toward that end, the European Christian Political Foundation, which is the official think tank of the ECPM, recently commissioned a publication entitled ‘After Capitalism’, which is summarized thus:
“‘After Capitalism’ seeks to rethink the foundations of a market economy and argues that the Bible’s central theme of relationships is the key to rebuilding a system that promotes economic well-being, financial stability and social cohesion.”
It is notable that the multitude of parties that make up the EPCM are not necessarily leftist or wholly liberal parties. They do not generally align themselves with openly socialist parties in their home countries, though their policies toward welfare and equality would likely be branded as such by American Christians. And so the question remains: If European Christians feel the anti-poverty mission of Christianity is as worthy of political action as the ethical values relating to family life, why doesn’t the American Christian Right feel the same?
Economic policy seems a strange place to wall off consideration of Christian ethics, but when it comes to policies that would expand welfare programs or extend particular benefits to the poor, the American Christian Right recoils, and tends to fall back on the rhetoric of personal accountability and individual liberty in matters of charity. But as European Christian parties have shown, limiting economic justice to the arena of charity is a politicalchoice. If the government has a moral role — which the American Christian Right certainly believes it does — then why shouldn’t it participate in the same forms of care individual Christians are obligated to?
No principled reason can be given for the distinction the Christian Right draws between harnessing the state to pursue social objectives and harnessing it to pursue economic objectives. It is a uniquely American distinction as far as Christian politicking goes. What the distinction reveals is that so-called values voters are just a particular flavor of right-wing political culture, one that opts for Christian language and rhetoric when communicating its message. But in that case, it is their freestanding political commitments that inform their Christianity, not the other way around.
The answer to this riddle is therefore not so mysterious. Although nominally interested in harnessing the state to pursue Christian social objectives, the American Christian Right is not detached from the culture it has developed within. Their politics is not one that is Christian in origin; rather, it originates from the same place all other right-wing politics originates, but mobilizes Christian rhetoric and meanings post-hoc to justify its goals.
By Austin Cline,
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.”
Appeals to evolution are only damaging to biblical literalism. Certainly the events described inGenesis 1 are not literally compatible with what science (from long before Darwin’s day) tells us about the antiquity of the Earth. But this is not news. The early Christian fathers pointed out that the creation story must be interpreted symbolically, not literally. Its message centres not on the factual details but on gratitude for the intelligible unity of the creation. Later Christian tradition always understood this, even before the historical details began to be questioned.
This argument is so old that I feel justified in simply replying by reiterating the points I made in an old post.I
I made the central argument more clearly in the comments section, so I’ll start by reproducing most of that remark:
just because science-accepting Christians offer to read Genesis only metaphorically does not exempt them the metaphorical or mythical meanings from scrutiny. Just being a myth does not make the ideas contained within it automatically true.
If this was indeed a book described by God, why is it false both literally and metaphorically? Can’t God get his story right? If he was divinely writing books why not just be literally true and tell us about evolution in the Bible? Why not tell us we emerged through a long process and because we were naturally selected for different environments and ways of life than those in which we presently live, we must take care to correct for some of our ill-fit cognitive tendencies. In other words, if this were a divine book it would get these sorts of facts right. But it doesn’t. Because it wasn’t inspired by God it was dreamed up by ancient people doing the best they could to imagine and wonder what things were like.
There was nothing wrong with that at the time, but now we’ve moved past those primitive guesses and we should accept that authorities once taken to be true simply are not. That’s not “war” against Christianity and religion, it’s how reason works. We abandon ideas and authorities when they are proven false.
The problem with religion is that it wants to freeze us in the past. We must forever think of humanity as fallen, even when we realize we’re just descended from other animals and not from a pristine state of human perfection in a pristine garden. We must forever think that pain comes from a curse when in reality it’s just an adaptive trait that warns us of danger and it existed long before humans could have ever sinned. We must forever think of humans as inherently corrupted by some ancestor’s sins instead of fundamentally innocent beings who learned a set of social relationships of cooperation and hierarchy while still lower order primates and are still struggling to learn the best ways to take care of our own needs and flourishing while balancing the interests of our society.
Religion insists we must always freeze our knowledge, we must suspend our ability to say, “oh, the old religious myths turned out false—we’re not inherently evil, we’re not to blame for suffering in the world, we don’t have to mistrust our natural drives as corrupt—just instead see them as sometimes ill-fit for contemporary society since they evolved in another time for different needs.”
Religion tries to teach people to defer to ancient authorities who have no knowledge credentials and to override free, rigorous, and sincere reassessment of what is good and bad in our nature. Religion teaches you that bronze age people’s fantasies are somehow divine revelations when there is not a single good reason to think so. They have no special knowledge that only a God could give them. They didn’t give us the theory of quantum mechanics as a gift from the designer of quantum mechanics. They don’t seem to know any single fact about that alleged creator’s world that they couldn’t have made up themselves. So why think they got special knowledge from that creator?
It goes on and on and on, Lisa. There is no good reason to believe. The Bible is false on every level. The legal code it gives is repulsive barbarism and the antithesis of the democracy I believe is just and enlightened. The genocides of the Old Testament are the height of immorality. They’re indistinguishable in their evil from the actions of Hitler. There are commands to slaughter men, women, infants, to rip open the wombs of pregnant women. It’s pure corruption and no sign of divine wisdom. It took a turn away from faith to Enlightenment to get the democratic institutions and scientific advancements that make possible an egalitarian society and technological power to extend lifespans into the 70s and to create powerful means of creating and communicating. Faith doesn’t do these things. It freezes knowledge in the past, it teaches us to hate our human nature as fallen, and it opposes the spirit of free, secular society. And in all these ways, it represents an obstacle to people’s free reason and rational decisions about ethics.
the non-literal reading of Genesis is just as false as the metaphorical one. When religious people argue that the Garden of Eden story is unaffected by scientific knowledge they ignore the fact that the Eden myth asserts an initial state of perfection from which we have fallen because of a sin. But that’s not “metaphorically” or “mythically” true. Our ancestors were (1) not even better human beings than us, let alone “metaphorically perfect” humans, in fact they were “lesser” evolved than we are socially, culturally, morally, and physically—pretty much by every standard we have for judging human excellence, (2) they did not incur pain on the universe, either literally or metaphorically, since it already preexisted our arrival by millions of years, and (3) our tendencies towards ethical failings and our sufferings are not punishments for any sins (“original” ones or otherwise, either literally or metaphorically) but are in fact explicable in terms of both the precision and imprecision of complex sets of strategies for social and environmental success that proved most benefiical to our survival. Similarly our intellectual shortcomings have everything to do with an evolutionary necessity for making judgments of a local kind coupled with an evolutionary indifference to judgments of highly precise theoretical kind.
In other words, an evolutionary understanding of primeval history exposes not only that the Genesis story is not literally true but that its mythically presented propositional claims that pain in the universe is connected to moral failing, that moral failing is a punishment for a sin, that the need to work and for women to suffer excruciatingly during child birth are both owed to matters that are our faults, and that humanity was initially better off than we are now are, are all flat out false.
And finally I want to repost two superb videos that add much, much more to those points I just made. The first points out the falsehood, both literal and metaphorical, of Eden myths and the points out the harmful consequences of such thinking.
embedded by Embedded Video
YouTube Direkt And start Christopher Hitchens’s brilliant speech below (maybe my favorite of his) and think about whether the scientific picture of reality he presents is one that we were made in the image of God by a benevolent personal God who selected the ancient Israelites to reveal himself to us and to provide us with our morality:
embedded by Embedded Video
By Austin Cline
Because Christians treat the Jewish scriptures as holy, they must contend with the morality of behavior depicted in those scriptures — both the behavior of those characters held up as exemplary and the behavior of Yahweh. How Christians deal with the issues raised by that behavior can tell us a lot about Christianity and Christians.
It’s no surprise that Christians in the past either ignored the genocidal stories like those in the Book of Joshua (because they couldn’t read the stories themselves) or accepted them as normal (because their own society was so violent). This began to change in the Enlightenment, though, as scholars and philosophers began to subject their own religion to more critical scrutiny.
One theological shift was especially important: whereas in the past Christian theologians assumed that whatever Yahweh did was good because Yahweh did it, during the Enlightenment they started to assume instead that Yahweh did or ordered things because they were good. This allowed them to evaluate the morality of actions and ordered attributed to Yahweh.
The importance of this shift should not be underestimated. The previous approach was ultimately passive because it required a person to accept as legitimate, just, good, and moral, whatever was attributed to God — no questioning, doubt, or skepticism was permitted. The Enlightenment approach, in contrast, required a more active engagement with both the text and one’s own moral reasoning. It required the Christian to not only make a judgment about the actions and commands attributed to God, but take responsibility for that judgment.
As a consequence, many Enlightenment thinkers concluded that the stories of genocide were patently immoral. This contributed to some leaving Christianity entirely because they couldn’t remain part of a religion which worshipped such a barbaric deity. Others concluded that the stories were simply a product of their times — that the ancient Israelites lived in a violent age, were as violent as other societies around them, and naturally believed in a god that would command them to do horrible, violent things.
As John Rogerson writes in “The Old Testament: Historical Study and New Roles,” in Companion Encyclopedia of Theology:
“The Old Testament was not, therefore, a collection of examples of pious living worthy of imitation by Christians; it contained stories of Israelites who lived in barbaric times when human life was valued cheaply, and when belief in God was sufficiently primitive for people to believe that he could legitimately command immoral acts.”
These realizations did not entirely end all Christian use of genocidal stories in their theological systems, though. One major reason is that so many Christians have refused to accept the premise that their god only does or commands things which are good. Instead, they hold to the older view that whatever their god does or commands is, by definition, good. Combined with reading the texts as literal, factual history they conclude that the genocidal destruction of the Canaanites was necessarily a good act.
As a consequence, more than a little bit of time and effort is invested into trying to get people today to accept that genocide is good when Yahweh orders it. Modernity is in large part a product of the Enlightenment, which means that the sorts of moral reasoning that characterized the Enlightenment are now taken for granted. People aren’t as willing to just accept without question the genocide can be good for any reason, even this one, so apologists struggle to find other rationalizations.
William Lane Craig, for example, argues not only that Yahweh was perfectly justified in ordering the Israelites to slaughter the Canaanites, but that any such orders that might come today would be equally justified. Indeed, he argues that we humans have a moral obligation to commit genocide whenever and against whomever Yahweh commands:
The command to kill all the Canaanite peoples is jarring precisely because it seems so at odds with the portrait of Yahweh, Israel’s God, which is painted in the Hebrew Scriptures.
…According to the version of divine command ethics which I’ve defended, our moral duties are constituted by the commands of a holy and loving God. Since God doesn’t issue commands to Himself, He has no moral duties to fulfill.
He is certainly not subject to the same moral obligations and prohibitions that we are.
This is a direct defense of the pre-Enlightenment idea that whatever Yahweh commands is automatically good, but Craig still felt it necessary to argue that the command was somehow good for independent reasons as well:
By the time of their destruction, Canaanite culture was, in fact, debauched and cruel, embracing such practices as ritual prostitution and even child sacrifice. …So whom does God wrong in commanding the destruction of the Canaanites? Not the Canaanite adults, for they were corrupt and deserving of judgement. Not the children, for they inherit eternal life.
So who is wronged? Ironically, I think the most difficult part of this whole debate is the apparent wrong done to the Israeli soldiers themselves. Can you imagine what it would be like to have to break into some house and kill a terrified woman and her children?
The brutalizing effect on these Israeli soldiers is disturbing.
What William Lane Craig is describing here is a completely amoral being — a being that cannot even conceive of morality, much less act morally and exist in any sort of moral relationship. It’s little wonder, then, that it would be described as massacring large numbers of people without second thought or a tiny twinge of the conscience. It has no conscience. No empathy. No moral sense whatsoever.
But why must Christians distort the meaning of atheism at all? Why should they even care if their children are born atheists, especially when it is likely that they will begin brainwashing them at an early age? There are many reasons, ranging from a need to see the child as connected to them through the manner they consider most important (i.e., religion) to the harsh implications of infant mortality to their belief system.
To expand on this latter point, consider the Christian parent whose child dies before the child is capable of forming the cognitions necessary to comprehend theistic belief. According to this parent’s own Christian doctrine, this child is likely destined for hell. This is where non-believers go, and this child is clearly a non-believer. The Catholics toyed with limbo as a way out, but the evangelical Protestants now engaging in America’s “culture wars” never really warmed to this idea. Even theism will be insufficient for such a parent, as a personal relationship with Jesus is thought to be the only vehicle for salvation.
It should be remembered that Christians have created this doctrine for themselves and should be solely responsible for unraveling the many conundrums it presents. Distorting atheism is not an acceptable way out of the mess they have made.
One of the things I like to do here is point out how those who claim to follow the Bible, or whatever holy book you choose, pick and choose the passages that support our chosen beliefs and prejudices.
Right-wing Christians are fond of pointing out, for instance, that homosexuality is a sin because the Bible says so, not because they have a personal problem with the Bible.
And yet they allow their friends and neighbors who choose to do yard work on the Sabbath, to live when they should, according to the Bible, be put to death. The following clip from the West Wing does a fantastic job of making this point.
We may soon have the tools to treat this condition that seems to inexplicably make some people Christians!
According to the Ultra-conservative, Right Wing Christians from the Westboro Church Group, god ordered the slaughter of innocent children in Connecticut!
A disturbingly poisonous example of how religion destroys the human intellect and natural human sense of empathy.
As we reported recently, the superstitious belief in a god that is easily offended and the slaughter of little children is a frequent theme in the bible.
From the Westboro site:-
“God sent the shooter to Newtown, CT. “Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?” Amos 3:6. He is punishing you for your sins against Him (e.g., fag marriage).”
I just don’t know anymore. You’d think that someone from the Christian mainstream would step up and explain “omnipresence” to Fischer. You’d think someone would explain that a God who will go to Nineveh won’t stop at a school room door. You’d think that some influential Christian would explain that Christians don’t worship a God that petty. But there’s never any pushback.
That leaves idiots like Fischer to us; atheists, liberal Christians and religious minorities calling them out. Is there any point? We can chronicle all the horrible things that people like him say, but they just keep on saying them. You can’t embarrass them. You can’t shame them. They live to be offended, and every attack against them just fuels their persecution complex.
Posted by kstreet607
I meant to post this yesterday, but I got sidetracked. I’ve often wondered if Right-Wingers ever get embarrassed when they are proven to be blatantly wrong on an issue.
Then again I doubt it, their embarrassment gene is non-existent.
A bizarre chain email sent to district and school board officials in the Dallas area this October titled “IRVING ISD INDOCTRINATING ISLAM” inspired a recent investigation of “Islamic bias” in the district’s curriculum. Despite the outlandish claims, the district requested that an official from the organization that created the curriculum to respond. The results of a 72-page investigation done by the organization were not surprising: there’s a Christian bias in schools, not a Muslim one.
The official told the board that a bias toward Islam didn’t exist, even mentioning that “she hired a ‘very socially and fiscally conservative’ former social studies teacher who ‘watches Glenn Beck on a regular basis’ to seek out any Islamic bias in CSCOPE [the curriculum].” She “asked her to look for anything she would consider the least bit controversial.” The Dallas Morning News has the details of an investigation that mentioned “every religious reference in the CSCOPE curriculum, from kindergarten to high school”:
– Christianity got twice as much attention in the curriculum as any other religion. Islam was a distant second.
– The Red Crescent and Boston Tea Party reference mentioned in the email were nowhere in CSCOPE’s curriculum, although they may have been in the past.
– If there was any Islamic bias in CSCOPE it was “bias against radical Islam.”
This isn’t the first time Texas has debated the perceived presence of too much Islam in its school books. In 2010, the Texas Board of Education banned any books that “paint Islam in too favorable of a light.” The reasoning was head-scratching: “the resolution adopted Friday cites ‘politically-correct whitewashes of Islamic culture and stigmas on Christian civilization’ in current textbooks and warns that ‘more such discriminatory treatment of religion may occur as Middle Easterners buy into the US public school textbook oligopoly.’” A Texas based civil liberties advocate said at the time that “the members who voted for this resolution were solely interested in playing on fear and bigotry in order to pit Christians against Muslims.”
Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly turns his crusade against his own people.
Police officers in Greece defend a christmas tree. Fox News’ War on Christmas has gone international.
That’s right–O’Reilly has turned his attention away from the immoral (a.k.a. atheist) liberal media and is now attacking members of his own camp for not taking the war seriously enough.
On his Fox News show last night, O’Reilly spoke with pastor Robert Jeffress, one of the few Christmas-warmongering pastors in what they say is a sea of reformist religious leaders.
When O’Reilly asked Jeffress why so few pastors have voiced the appropriate outrage at this war on the holiday, Jeffress replied: “Wimpy pastors produce wimpy Christians, and that is why we are losing this culture war and I believe it’s time for pastors to say, you know, ‘I don’t care about controversy, I don’t care whether I’m going to lose church members, I don’t care about building a big church, I’m going to stand for truth regardless of what happens.’”
What is that truth, you might ask? According to Jeffress, it is debunking the myth that Jesus was a non-confrontational man. Instead, Christians and their religious leaders need to stop being “wimpy” and take up the fight against the ACLU to protect their right to flood the radio stations with bell-clanging Christmas music, to demand that everyone wish them a “Merry Christmas” (for what is more wimpy than a mere “Happy Holidays”?), to worship Jesus and one-day-only 50-percent-off sales on every street corner across America. To, in short, celebrate Christmas!
O’Reilly’s bold new strategy to persecute those on the Christian home front who are insufficiently outraged about the war is almost certain to backfire. Apathy in the ranks is–as history instructs us–often a result of war fatigue or low morale, and attacking these dissidents rarely strengthens the overall resolve. Then again, since this war is entirely fictional, the repercussions are, well, also non-existent.
According to conservative radio host Don Imus, “There’s no War on Christmas, I mean it’s absurd.”
The liberal media, unsurprisingly, agrees with Imus’s opinion.
As The Huffington Post’s Jason Linkins writes, “No holiday is as well accommodated in America as Christmas. It is perhaps one of the best celebrated religious holidays in the history of mankind. You have to go back to antiquity to find more lavish celebrations — like, say, the inaugural games of the Roman Colosseum, which lasted 100 days because the Romans wanted to pull out all the stops to appease the gods they literally believed wanted to kill them all with plagues and volcanoes.”
Then again, that’s just those warmongering liberals using their latest military strategy: the silent game.
The twist, of course, is that the War on Christmas is becoming fairly profitable–although by no means as profitable as Christmas is. Yet, these profit margins are a major motivation for the warmongers to continue battling. As Herb Silverman of the (suspiciously anti-Christmas group) Secular Coalition for America writes, “The much-ballyhooed “War on Christmas” has become a predictable holiday tradition, with Fox News as both director and producer of this manufactured war, presumably for better ratings. Comedians also love the war material they have to play with, so both Fox and comedians have become war profiteers.”
I guess, then, that the war is sort of like Santa: Omnipresent and increasingly jolly, whether we believe in it or not.
Watch O’Reilly and pastor Jeffress’ new attack on their own ranks:
By Kyle Mantyla
On yesterday’s program, Bryan Fischer responded to a caller who asserted that President Obama is “a very evil man” who wants to turn American into an Islamic state by laying out a wide-ranging theory about how Obama is not a Christian but rather a Muslim sympathizer who believes that the United States is fundamentally racist and evil and must be destroyed. And that is exactly what Obama is trying to do, Fischer asserted, by entertaining ideas about capping tax deductions on charitable giving for high-income donors because he wants to wipe out private charity so that people will become dependent on the government.
In fact, when companies lay off workers, Obama rejoices because “he wants to see America and Americans suffer” because “he is Barack the Destroyer; he is out to punish America for our misdeeds, to punish us for our racism, to bring us to our knees, to humble us in the dust so he can rebuild some kind of a socialist utopia on the ruins of what used to be the United States of America”:
The Christian’s Bible is a drug store. Its contents remain the same; but the medical practice changes…The world has corrected the Bible. The church never corrects it; and also never fails to drop in at the tail of the procession- and take the credit of the correction. During many ages there were witches. The Bible said so. the Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church, after eight hundred years, gathered up its halters, thumb-screws, and firebrands, and set about its holy work in earnest. She worked hard at it night and day during nine centuries and imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood.
Then it was discovered that there was no such thing as witches, and never had been. One does not know whether to laugh or to cry…..There are no witches. The witch text remains; only the practice has changed. Hell fire is gone, but the text remains. Infant damnation is gone, but the text remains. More than two hundred death penalties are gone from the law books, but the texts that authorized them remain.
– “Bible Teaching and Religious Practice,” Europe and Elsewhere
Women In The Bible
The exhibit below depicts the Pope as a Nazi pedophile, and some folk ain’t happy with it.
The sculpture is a three-and-a-half metre tall stylised image of the Ratzinger in a state of sexual arousal with his hand firmly on the shoulder of two little boys. It has also been embellished with a Swastika-style crucifix.
The Catholic Church has a history of molesting children and supporting the Nazi’s. The Pope thinks he and his church is untouchable while they hide their immoral acts from the world. Time for them to be held accountable.
Below, A Christmas Gift for your favorite Christian:
I got up early the second day of the conference, took a coffee and a pastry from the hotel lobby, and headed to the convention hall in Springfield Missouri. There was a large crowd outside today. I smiled, eager to meet new friends – until I realized they were Christian protesters.
Skepticon describes itself as the “Largest Free Conference on Skepticism” in the nation, and it has been a well-known atheist convention for several years.
I’d flown in the day before and driven down from Kansas City, passing through pleasant countryside, old white houses, and lots of bible colleges.
As someone with a background in theology and comparative literature, my writing and art focuses on religious themes without actually being reverent; in fact my playful paintings and research into historical religious literature and mystery cult traditions inevitably comes across as blasphemous.
It’s difficult to share my work with theists, who get uncomfortable, and so I’ve begun to make connections with atheists communities. But this was my first time actually participating in an atheist event. As somewhat of an outsider, I surveyed the gathering with the detached eye of a social scientist.
From the protesters outside, you would think atheists were dangerous, or evil, or violent, or somehow harmful to the moral fabric of America. But were they really?
Here are some of the things I noticed about the people attending Skepticon:
Here is a social hypothesis: they are a group of misfits. They were nerds before it became cool and fashionable to be a nerd, meaning they probably got picked on. They didn’t wear cool clothes and probably had trouble making friends. They were ignored – which pushed them further into isolation activities like reading books.
When they grew up they became anti-establishment, anti-ordinary. This was a move based in part on the social ostricization at the hands of the herd, but also the natural effect of education and the evolution of rationality and skepticism from anyone who does enough research. They celebrate their uniqueness and individuality by dying their hair and getting tattoos – proud of their nonconformity.
Interestingly, because they are full of self-motivation, self-empowerment, deliberate and conscientious with a sense of responsibility for their actions, they are more trustworthy: one vendor told me he doesn’t ever have trouble with credit cards or checks at an atheist conference, whereas at a normal conference he wouldn’t be able to trust people.
It was interesting to contrast this group with the crowd of protesters – well dressed, fashionable teens, many Asian-Americans, all huddled into themselves passive-aggressively standing up against a perceived enemy they knew nothing about, obviously sharing a group mentality about what they were doing there.
If I wanted to be mean, I could say that they just looked young, immature, and lacking intelligence. 18 years ago, I could have been one of them.
“If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything” says the fortune cookie wisdom of the religious. And atheists often argue that atheism is not a belief or movement or anything except the absence of belief in a deity. But it simply isn’t true that atheists stand for nothing.
In particular, atheists want people to get educated and make smarter decisions. They want to have the freedom to make their own decisions about what they can do with their lives and their bodies, and they want to share that same freedom with others. Hemant Mehta highlighted the discrimination against young atheists in American Culture; how simply choosing not to pray a long with a high school sports team can make a teenage girl supreme villain of the community.
Atheists aren’t fighting against God or religion. They are simply fighting for their right to respectively not participate without serious social repercussions and abuse. Another speaker, I forget which one, brought up the issue of speaking with Christians.
Some atheists, he said, think the religious “aren’t worth talking to” because they can’t listen. But how many of us were religious at one point in our lives? (A majority raise their hands). “I think we were worth talking to!” he concludes. And he’s right – part of the value of having an organized community of non-believers is to help transition those people who have begun to question their beliefs but are afraid to stop going to church or voice their opinions and ideas.
My favorite speaker at the conference, James Croft, really put all of this into perspective. Atheists are being called “Nones” – having no beliefs and nothing to stand for. They are empty, meaningless, and can be ignored. But the “non-religious” segment of the USA is growing exponentially, and with increasing swiftness. (As it does in every advanced society with open communication and technology and freedom).
James talked about the necessity of building a positive moral community, because atheists DO have things that they are willing to fight for. Important issues include:
The interesting thing is that most of my friends and family, being Democrats, agree with with atheist values. Are these the evil ethics of Satanists trying to bring our country into evil? Yes, say the conservative republicans and religious right.
These political issues won’t be easily solved in the USA anytime soon.
As for myself, I’d much rather live in an America dominated by intelligent, scientifically progressive atheists who care about things like health care and climate change, than in an America led by Christians who determine political laws based on a book written a few thousand years ago.