Nel's New Day

January 25, 2015

Don’t Force the Actions of a Few to Represent All

Aftershocks of the recent 17 killings in France starting at the Charlie Hebdo headquarters in Paris have reverberated throughout the world. People are still claiming that cartoonists should realize that they could be killed if they displeased someone, sending the similar message that women are raped because of what they wear and how they behave. Conservative Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, said that Carbonnier might still be alive if he had not been “so narcissistic.”

The media has escalated the fury toward Muslims through its extensive messaging about the tragedy. Hours before the tragedy, a car bomb killed almost 50 people in the Yemni capital, Sanaa, as men lined up to enroll at the police academy. There may have been ties between the two disasters, but only one of them was highlighted. Yemen almost silently suffers through the Western media while millions of people in the U.S. blame all Muslims for the Paris event.

Howard Dean has taken a lot of heat for asking that these killers not be called “Muslim terrorists” because they are only thugs who don’t follow Mohammad’s philosophy as identified in the Koran. As with 9/11, conservatives abstract the actions of a very few to an entire group and use the killings for personal gain by fomenting greater fear in the United States. For example, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, “It’s not an attack on our homeland, but it’s definitely an attack on our way of life. There’s a perfect storm brewing to have this country hit again.” He called on the president to “admit” that the attack was motivated by religion.

In The New Yorker, George Packer denied that the killings had a relationship with the ethnic tensions and poverty in parts of Paris. He wrote that the entire reason was the support of “Islamist ideology.” As Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote, however:

“Poverty, political oppression, systemic corruption, lack of education, lack of critical thinking, and general hopelessness in these countries is the spark.”

Abdul-Jabbar pointed out that the reason for this violence is always money. These attacks never change the behavior considered undesirable by that attackers: people keep writing, publishers keep publishing, and ideology just becomes more defiant, as in the case of 9/11. According to Abdul-Jabbar:

“[Attacks are] about swaggering into a room, flexing a muscle, and hoping to elicit some admiring sighs …  more recruits and more donations to keep their organization alive. They have to keep proving they are more relevant than their competing terrorist groups. It’s just business.”

Bill Maher is now using his show to promote hatred toward Muslims. Once noted for being anti-religious, he has moved to attacks primarily on the Islam faith, ignoring Christian terrorists. During one show, Maher could not come up with any Christian violence since the 16th century. Last December, however, Larry McQuilliams fired more than 100 rounds in downtown Austin (TX) and tried to burn down the Mexican consulate because law enforcement killed him. He had a map pinpointing 34 other buildings, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and several weapons as well as a copy of Vigilantes of Christendom, a book connected with the Christian-focused white supremacist group Phineas Priesthood. McQuilliams had left a note in the book describing himself as a “priest in the fight against anti-God people.”

McQuilliams’ Christian terrorist attack follows many others in the name of Christianity. Ku Klux Klan crimes are against not only minorities but also Catholics and Jews because of the KKK’s Christian fundamentalism. Members of The Order, a militant Mormon group, murdered Jewish talk show host Alan Berg in 1984. Members of the Christian group Army of God have been responsible for bombings at clinics where women can get abortions and for the explosion at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta (GA). Scott Roeder, the Christian killer of Dr. George Tiller, said that his faith was the reason for shooting Tiller in the head in 2009 while the doctor was ushering at his church. Christian Wade Michael Page killed seven people at the Milwaukee Sikh Gurdwara in 2012 in an effort to stop non-white non-Christians from having an equal role in society.

Northern Ireland and Northern India have extensive histories of Christian-on-Christian violence while the Lord’s Resistance Army in Western Africa uses Christianity to recruit child soldiers and force them to terrorize local villages. In 2011, Norweigian Anders Behring Breivik used bombs and guns to kill 77 people, many of them teenagers, in his goal to preserve “Christian Europe.” Even he has not been recognized as a Christian terrorist: a piece in The Guardian claimed that “his ideology had nothing to do with Christianity but was based on an atavistic horror of Muslims.”

In the eight years during George W. Bush’s reign, the number of hate groups, many of them with Christian roots, increased 54 percent. While people in the U.S. fear Islam attacks within the country, the Hutaree, an extremist militia group in Michigan that touts Christian inspiration, has more weapons that all the Muslims charged with terrorism in the United States since the 2001 attacks. Yet no one has asked Christian leaders such as Billy Graham or Rick Warren to openly oppose violence committed in the name of Christ, and the media has largely ignored any possibility of Christian terrorism.

These “lone wolf” attacks by lonely alienated people of all religions use religious ideas for excuses rather than reasons for violence. Despite a claim from an al-Qaeda official, there is no evidence that a higher religious authority sent the Paris killers to commit their crimes. Said and Cherif Kouachi were raised in a secular household, and the latter man described himself as “an occasional Muslim.” The cartoons in Charlie Hebdo ridicule entire races or cultures.

Defending religion is an excuse for committing horrible deeds to express rage and show power and glory. The KKK rides around in white sheets and burn crosses to intimidate people. Anti-abortionists harass women on the sidewalks in front of women’s clinics whether the women are there for a surgical procedure or just an examination.

Abdul-Jabbar wrote:

“When the Ku Klux Klan burn a cross in a black family’s yard, prominent Christians aren’t required to explain how these aren’t really Christian acts. Most people already realize that the KKK doesn’t represent Christian teachings. That’s what I and other Muslims long for—the day when these terrorists praising Mohammed or Allah’s name as they debase their actual teachings are instantly recognized as thugs disguising themselves as Muslims. It’s like bank robbers wearing masks of presidents; we don’t really think Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush hit the Bank of America during their down time.”

Conservatives complained that Muslims are not condemning the actions of the Charlie Hebdo killers. Check here for statements from CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations; Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA Spokesperson Qasim; Muslim Council of Britain; French Muslim Council (CFCM); Union of Islamic Organizations of France (UOIF); Arab League, an organization representing 22 Arab countries; Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association; Muslim Advisory Council to the NYPD; Birmingham (AL) Islamic Society; Hassen Chalghoumi, imam of the Drancy mosque in Paris’s Seine-Saint-Denis suburb; Muslim Canadian Congress; United Arab Emirates Foreign Ministry; and others.

An entire religion cannot be blamed for the actions of a few. If that were true, the United States should turn against the Christian religion. Just as Fox owner, Rupert Murdoch, wants all blacks to take responsibility for the actions of a few, so does he want the two billion Muslims in the world to be blamed for the Charlie Hebdo murders. Yet he didn’t expect the Tea Party or whites to take responsibility for the actions of Jerad and Amanda Miller when they killed five people, including two police officers, in Las Vegas. Never has the right-wing media called on the white race to expel its “cancers.”

Several people in the Paris Kosher grocery store Hyper Cacher are still alive because of a Muslim. When Amedy Coulibaly opened fire in and killed four people, Lassana Bathily, a Muslim employee, hid people in the walk-in freezer. Should we say that the bravery of Bathily represents all Muslims?

December 7, 2014

Fundamentalist Christians Move toward Theocracy, Terrorism

A definition of “Christian” differs among followers of Jesus and Christ. More progressive people who follow the beliefs of the Christian bible rankle at the thought that those who want differ in thought are also Christians, but fundamentalists Christians do self-identify themselves as Christians. Moderate and progressive Christians do not seem to be successful in defeating the move toward a theocracy in the United States. Only by casting transparencies on the beliefs and actions of fundamentalist Christians, can people understand the dangers of Christians who want to force everyone in this country to follow their specific religion.

Last week, a reader to Nels New Day wrote, “Christian is such a widely used and mis-used tag that gets thrown around, it has lost all meaning.” I agree that the meaning has disappeared, but those who refer to themselves as Christians have gained a great deal of power in the country. As long as people self-identify as Christians, I’ll continue to refer to them in this way.

Conservatives Christians will control the Congress in less than a month, and the president could be a conservative Christian in two years. These are some issues we can expect.

According to research published by the Public Religion Research Institute, almost half the people in the United States (49 percent) and fully 77 percent of white evangelical Christians think that any natural disasters come from the biblical “end times” and not climate change. One-fourth of people in the United States believe that the Earth’s temperature has not been rising at all, despite scientific proof. Only 22 percent of Republicans think that humans have any connection with possible climate change, despite over 900 peer-reviewed scientific articles supply evidence. It appears that climate denial is a religious belief.

Rick Santorum, who may be a presidential candidate—again!—once said that the idea of separation of church and state makes him want to throw up. Now he’s telling his audience that the “words ‘separation of church and state’ is [sic] not in the U.S. Constitution, but it is in the constitution of the former Soviet Union. That’s where it very, very comfortably sat, not in ours.”

To be accurate, the U.S. Constitution does not use those exact words, but James Madison and Thomas Jefferson supported Roger Williams’ support of the concept from 1644. Madison, sometimes called “father of the constitution,” wrote, “Strongly guarded … is the separation between religion & Gov’t in the Constitution of the United States.” The USSR did copy—and ignore—some United States’ First Amendment principles such as freedom of speech and press, which might make Santorum think these are also Communist beliefs.

Bill O’Reilly is again using the mythical “War on Christmas” to improve Fox network’s ratings. According to fundamentalist Christians—and Fox supporters—anyone who tries to “diminish the celebration of Jesus’ birthday” is a “bully who tries to push other people down in order to make themselves feel better.” That’s the testimony of a therapist, Dr. Karen Ruskin, LMFT (Licensed Marriage & Family Counselor) who appeared on O’Reilly’s show in response to a billboard posted by a group of atheists. Ruskin and O’Reilly also claim that atheists who voice their opinion are gang-like and sadistic as well as being emotionally confused and in denial.

American-Atheist-Billboard-1024x298

Todd Starnes is another persecuted Fox pundit, this time by The Disney Channel. When their website didn’t accept an email from a 10-year-old girl, she and her mother assumed it was because she had used the word “God” in her email. Both Starnes and Elizabeth Hasselbeck, in a segment called “Looks like Disney has frozen out God,” complained about Disney. The company reported that their profanity filter lists the word “God” because many people use it in that context and would have explained if the family had contacted them.

Pope Francis has compared fundamentalist Christians to fundamentalist Muslims, and there are similar believes.  For example, the Fox network objects to women voting or being on juries, and some Christians believe that women cannot be raped by their husbands because the marriage vows give them consent to perform sexual acts anytime and in any way that they wish.

Most of the recent terrorist activity in the United States has come from radical Christians, white supremacists, and far-right militia groups:

  • Wisconsin Sikh Temple massacre, Aug 2012: White supremacist Wade Michael Page used a semiautomatic weapon to murder six people with a semiautomatic weapon.
  • The Dr. George Tiller Murder, May 2009: After Tiller’s clinic was firebombed in 1986 and he was shot five times in 1993 by Christian Right terrorist Shelly Shannon, the doctor was shot and killed by Christian Right terrorist Scott Roeder.
  • Knoxville Unitarian Universalist Church shooting, July 2008: Shooting people at random, Christian Right sympathizer Jim David Adkisson killed two and injured seven others. He gave hatred of liberals, Democrats, and gays as the reason.
  • The Centennial Olympic Park bombing, July 1996: Best known for the Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta during the 1996 Summer Olympics that killed spectator Alice Hawthorne and wounded 111 others, Eric Rudolph used his Christian belief to bomb a woman’s clinic in Birmingham (AL) in 1998 that killed Robert Sanderson, police officer and part-time security guard, and caused nurse Emily Lyons to lose an eye.

Pastor Steven Anderson, leader of Tempe’s (AZ) Faithful Word Baptist Church, has a way to “have an AIDS-free world by Christmas“: execute all gays. He claims to get the solution from Leviticus 18:22. With no college degree, Anderson’s claim to fame is that he has memorized over 140 chapters of the Bible “word-for-word,” according to his church’s website. He also argues that “remarriage is adultery” and in favor of keeping women silent in church. Pastor Vernon Meyer with Sun Lakes United Church of Christ compared Anderson to terrorist leaders: “That’s no different than what ISIS is doing in Iraq and Syria. God tells them to go kill anybody who’s different from them.”

Some religions beliefs require parents to kill their children despite the 1944 Supreme Court ruling that “the right to practice religion freely does not include liberty to expose… [a] child… to ill health or death.” The District of Columbia and 38 states, however, provide religious exemptions on child abuse and neglect, preventing Child Protective Services from investigating and monitoring cases of religion-based medical neglect and discourage reporting. Seventeen states have religious defenses to felony crimes against children, and 15 states have religious defenses to misdemeanors.

One of these religions is Church of the First Born, with over 100 churches in 20 states. Over 30 years ago, Rita Swan founded Children’s Health Is a Legal Duty (CHILD); in 1998 she teamed up with pediatrician Seth M. Asser to investigate child fatalities associated with faith healing. Of 172 children withheld from medical care on religious grounds, 140 had a 90-percent likelihood of survival with routine medical care. At least 82 dead children were connected to the Church of the First Born.

Conservative Christian legislators believe that charities should be done through their religion and not through government. New Beginnings in Tampa (FL) is an example of what would happen with this shift of control. This program, that claims to help homeless people addicted to drugs, alcohol, or both, get clean and get back on their feet to live more productive lives free of substance abuse, uses what CEO Tom Atchison calls “work therapy.” Residents work for local businesses and events but get no income from doing this. The homeless people not only work on labor crews but also telemarketing, construction, landscaping, moving, and even grant writing. If they don’t participate in the labor program that puts money into the CEO’s pocket, they’re charged $600 a month for meals and rent.

There is evidence that the program also takes food stamps, Social Security checks, and other income from the residents, even over the $600. Part of the program’s mission is counseling to its residents, but the charity has no staff to work with residents’ mental illness and addiction problems. One contractor claims that New Beginnings has overbilled Florida for $80,000. Atchison is so pleased with the money that he is making that he’s trying millions of taxpayer money by taking control of Hillsborough County’s newest homeless shelter.

According to fundamentalist Christians, God—who is channeled through legislators—is completely in charge despite the U.S. Constitution, and he wants terrorism throughout the country to control anyone who believes in climate change, human rights, and freedom of thought.

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