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?

October 26, 2014

Religious Beliefs ‘Not Reasonable’

scalia425x320“Religious beliefs aren’t reasonable.” That’s what Justice Antonin Scalia said in court on October 7, 2014 during oral arguments for Holt v. Hobbs. Mark that date! Of course, the man who ruled that businesses can have religious beliefs (Hobby Lobby) wasn’t dealing with Christianity. The case concerned whether a Muslim prison inmate in Arkansas would be allowed to keep his beard because of his religious beliefs.  [Photo by Pete Marovich, Zuma Press]

In context, Scalia’s statement came from asking the plaintiff to believe that a half-inch beard would fulfill his religious requirement for a full beard. Before October 7, the justice had claimed that religious beliefs are beliefs and therefore don’t need justification with facts. The four drugs in the Hobby Lobby case didn’t actually produce abortions, but the Supreme Court determined that this didn’t matter. What mattered was that the plaintiffs believed that the drugs would result in abortions. No need for facts. The Court got so carried away that they extended the original decision that satisfied Hobby Lobby owners to all forms of contraception with no religious justification.

Arkansas’ argument is that an inmate can hide something in a beard, even in a one-half inch medical beard permitted in 44 other states. Some of those states have no length requirement for beards, and the state’s attorney could not cite any security problems with beards in other states’ prisons. Arkansas has no limit on the length of hair on inmates’ heads. Then the state claimed that the ban on beards was to “keep prisoners from disguising themselves.”

Hobby Lobby plaintiffs suffered little questioning about the “sincerity” of the corporation’s beliefs. The company even provided birth control coverage to their employees before the Affordable Care Act mandate. In the case about a Muslim prisoner wanting to grow a beard, Scalia was intent on forcing the plaintiff to justify his religious beliefs.

For the first time, I agree with Scalia: religious beliefs aren’t reasonable. Here are some examples of the bigoted hypocrisy of “Christians.”

After Jan Morgan, owner of an Arkansas firing range in Arkansas, declared that her business is a “Muslim-free zone” because they are all killers, Larry Pratt, director of Gun Owners of America, plans to give her award for her action. It’s his opinion that “the Quran … is an instruction to go kill people.” On the other hand, the bible is far more violent than the Quran.

Dan Patrick, the GOP nominee for Texas lieutenant governor, follows the Texas School Board’s desire to require the teaching of creationism in public schools. His rationale is that children become confused because they learn about creationism in Sunday School and then about evolution on week days. This position follows his belief that “there is no such thing as separation of church and state.” As a newly-elected state senator, Patrick walked out of the chamber because a Muslim delivered the opening prayer. Patrick believes in tolerance but thought that remaining during the prayer would signify endorsement. He recently praised Phil Robertson (Duck Dynasty) for his leadership in bigotry toward LGBT people, minorities, and women.

According to the Christian bible, Jesus would have tried to heal the people faced with the current Ebola epidemic.  The “Christian” far right, however, wants to close the border and stop people from going to fight the disease in West African. At the same time, they spread fears about undocumented immigrants from Central America although there are no cases of Ebola among them and oppose the free treatment that the few people in the U.S. have received if they are infected with the disease. Ebola could be stopped at the source with millions from the United States, but the far-right prefers to spend trillions of dollars to kill hundreds of thousands of Arabs.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) has ratcheted up his rants against gays, cohabators, and divorced people after Pope Francis stated that the Catholic Church should be welcoming to these groups. If King gets his way, these people won’t find eternal salvation in heaven. Asked if divorce and cohabitation are sins, he said:

“What was a sin 2,000 years ago is a sin today, and people that were condemned to hell 2,000 years ago, I don’t expect to meet them should I make it to heaven.”

King did mitigate his remarks by saying that he needed to read the pope’s document carefully before “passing judgment” on it.

Last spring, King said that entrepreneurs have “God-given rights that our founding fathers defined in the Declaration,” but LGBT people have no rights because being gay and lesbian is a “self-professed behavior” and can’t be “independently verified.” Two years earlier, he said that LGBT people should just lie about the sexual and gender identity to avoid being fired. Three years before that he wanted the name of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Bill changed to the “Local Law Enforcement Thought Crimes Prevention Act of 2009″ because he doesn’t believe in hate crimes.

Douglas MacKinnon, a former aide to Ronald Reagan and speech-writer for him and George H.W. Bush, doesn’t want to wait for heaven in order to avoid LGBT people: he wants the South to secede and form an ultraconservative independent state named Reagan. As author of The Secessionist States of America: The Blueprint for Creating a Traditional Values Country … Now, MacKinnon has everything planned for this achievement. His focus is on Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, leaving out Texas because of the “incursions … from some of the folks in Mexico.” He claims to have the help of a military veteran friend and a group that includes “a constitutional law expert, two former military officers, two former diplomats, a minister, another special operator, and experts on banking, energy, farming, and infrastructure.”

MacKinnon is disturbed with “our leaders” who want:

“… to erase our borders, do away with the rule-of-law, expand the nanny state into a theology, bankrupt or punish American companies in the name of fighting climate change, do away with the Second Amendment, censor or demonize the history of Western civilization and replace it with multiculturalism, give every kid a trophy and turn them into wimps, continue to support the completely unfunded public-employee pensions which are destroying the financial solvency of cities, counties, and states across our nation, add billions every day to our $17 trillion in debt, destroy our health-care system to substitute socialized medicine, vilify fossil fuels, and attack all faith in God with a particular and unhinged bias against the Christian faith.”

Because all the Southern states except Texas take more money from the federal government than they pay into it with their taxes, Reagan–the country–could save the rest of the country lots of money!

Fox and Friends co-host, Ainsley Earhardt, has an argument against separation of church and state in public schools: everyone should accept the “culture” of Christianity instead of requesting the removal of Christian plaques from taxpayer-funded Texas schools. As a representative of the 77 percent of U.S. population declaring themselves to be “Christian,” Earhardt asked two people involved in the debate to talk with her on the show—both of them supporting the plaques. As Pastor Justin Coffman said:

“We’re all about wanting to see the cause of Christ go further. We want to see the cause of Christ in more public arenas in the American culture. We don’t want to take things away from. We want to see Christ in our schools.”

Tiffany Davlin complained that a secular group could “come into a community, which is a strong Christian-majority community, and say what we can or cannot have.”

“Attempt to bully us,” Coffman echoed.

“Yeah,” Earhardt agreed. “Yeah, Justin, you touched on it: the War on Christianity.”

Fox needs a war while waiting for the War on Christmas.

A Texas Justice of the Peace subscribes to the “culture” of Christianity in the South by beginning court sessions with bible readings, followed by a prayer. He promises that the case of anyone who is offended “will not be affected.” Too bad MacKinnon doesn’t want Texas in his new country of Texas.

“Religious beliefs aren’t reasonable.” Justice Antonin Scalia said that on October 7, 2014.

October 5, 2014

Religion Overriding U.S. Constitution

Jan Morgan, owner of the Gun Cave Indoor Shooting Range in Hot Springs (AK), bans Muslims from using her facility with the following logic:

“Not all muslims are terrorists, but almost all terrorists in the world right now are muslim. Since you can’t determine by visual assessment, which ones will kill you and which ones will not, I am going to go with the line of thought that ANY HUMAN BEING who would either knowingly or unknowingly support a “religion” that commands the murder of all people who refuse to submit or convert to that religion, is not someone I want to know or do business with. I hold adults accountable for the religion they align themselves with.”

Using Morgan’s logic, not all men are mass murderers but most mass murderers are men. These are the people who believe that they have the right to kill and mostly follow the Bible which is far more violent than the Koran. If Muslins lose their rights to bear arms, then everyone can lose the so-called rights of the Second Amendment. Far-right people think that President Obama is a Muslim who is taking gun rights and religious freedom from people. That’s what Morgan is doing.

The “pro-life” people are now coming out for pro-death for any woman who has had an abortion. In a recent piece in the National Review, Kevin D. Williamson started out by claiming that liberals and 20-somethings (probably also those liberals) are “too dumb to vote.” His problem is writer Lena Dunham’s encouraging young people to vote. Without segue, he wrote that we should “get Big Government out of the bedroom” into an anti-abortion rant. When asked if people who have had abortions should spend life in prison, Williamson wrote, “I have hanging more in mind.” He justified his opinion by writing he was “old fashioned” and then quickly deleted the tweet. (The Internet never forgets!) Williamson is opposed to the concept of the death penalty except for women who have had abortions. He is a frequent guest on the Fox network.

When Charles Perry was recently sworn in as a new Texas state senator, he used his inauguration speech to deliver his beliefs about the secular nature of the United States making it like Nazi Germany. The values of Germany in the first part of the last century do, however, bear a strong resemblance to current GOP viewpoints:

  • Obsession with national power and pride as well as security and war
  • Rule of the few and survival of the fittest
  • Indoctrination through education of revisionist history
  • Hatred of intellectuals and unions
  • Obsession with keeping women in the home
  • Strong alignment with corporations
  • Racial superiority of the white race
  • Use of scapegoats for problems
  • Obsession with Christianity and creating a Christian state

One Supreme Court justice who would agree with much of the Nazi philosophy above is Antonin Scalia. In a speech last week at Colorado Christian University, he argued that the First Amendment statement of separation of church and state doesn’t mean “the government cannot favor religion over non-religion.” Scalia has always claimed to be an originalist, meaning that he follows the words in the U.S. Constitution; therefore he says that the protection of the First Amendment is only “freedom of religion,” not “freedom from it.” After joining the Court’s majority opinion in Town of Greece v. Galloway, permitting the New York town to open city council sessions with sectarian prayers, he is pushing for public prayers in schools, legislatures, and courtrooms.

The same crowd that cheered Scalia and eagerly awaits his decision to support their Christian superiority are most likely the ones calling on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to recuse herself for any cases on abortion. The conservatives’ biggest distress is Ginsburg’s statement that state legislatures and courts cannot be trust to ensure that poor women have access to reproductive health services. Conservative law professor Josh Blackman said that it appeared she had made up her mind about the law. He has made no comment on Scalia’s and Thomas’ biases. For example, Scalia has said that the Constitution has no guarantee for the right to privacy, a part of the Roe v. Wade pro-choice decision and the Griswold v. Connecticut right to contraception rulings. He has also compared homosexuality to bestiality and murder.

Another justice caught up in using religion for his decisions is Samuel Alito. One of his references in the Hobby Lobby ruling came from a 1935 religious tract, “Moral and Pastoral Theology.” The citation supports the proposition that when one person helps another to commit a sin, even by a non-sinful act or with no approval of the sin, the person has compromised “cooperation” in the sinning. Alito evidently considers any opinion that differs from his own is a sin-enabling act. That’s Alito’s excuse for allowing Hobby Lobby to refuse its employees any contraception through insurance.

When Ginsburg asked about other religious beliefs such as vaccines, blood transfusions, Alito stated that his decision “is concerned SOLELY with the contraceptive mandate.” (His actual words, opinion p. 46, emphasis supplied.) If a law offends his personal religious beliefs, then that law violates the constitution. He did not make a legal decision, just a religious one.

“The Bible says homosexuality is wrong. I forget the chapter. It’s somewhere between the talking snake and the virgin birth.”— Viktor Winetrout.

Jeanne's Jesus

Thank you for reading my blogs. I’ll be gone for a week but return next Sunday.

September 28, 2014

Control by Religious Fanatics

ISIL has established school curriculum in the occupied Iraqi city of Mosul, declaring that it seeks to “eliminate ignorance, to spread religious sciences, and to fight the decayed curriculum.” History classes are on hold until a revised history can be written and codified, and offensive pictures are to be removed from textbooks. Science classes are to be taught in accordance with religious doctrine, including the banning of evolution as a subject. In its anti-homosexual, anti-women and pro-death penalty approach, ISIL opposes all other religions. Imagine if you woke up in the morning and found yourself in a country controlled by religious fanatics? That would happen in the U.S. on November 5, the day after this year’s general elections.

Political right-wing leaders in the United States support the following:

Texas is trying to approve new textbooks that place Moses into history lessons.

The Wilks brothers, Farris and Dan, are using millions of dollars gained from fracking to put the Bible back into public schools. Their church, Assembly of Yahweh (7th Day), believes “That the Bible, as originally given, was true and correct in every scientific and historical detail. Every translation of the Bible is not necessarily one hundred percent correct, however.”

“Religious” organizations—including businesses—object to telling the federal government the names of insurance providers because their female employees might be able to get birth control from the government.

The Family Research Council Values Voters Summit had speeches from many political leaders, including presidential wannabes Bobbie Jindal, LA governor and Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY). Former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin also made an appearance. An FRC premise is that freedom of religion applies only to Christians who oppose same-sex marriage. Bobbie Jindal calls anti-discrimination laws a “silent war on religious liberty.”

Televangelist Pat Robertson believes that the Bible supports genocide of those who oppose against people of different religious beliefs.

Oklahoma’s GOP state Senator John Bennett claimed in a town hall meeting all Muslims are violent and need to be removed from the U.S. like “a cancer” that “needs to be cut out.” Complaining about the violence in the Koran, he ignored the fact that the Bible has more violence than the Islam holy book. Religion historian Philip Jenkins said on NPR, “Much to my surprise, the Islamic scriptures in the Koran were actually far less bloody and less violent than those in the Bible.”

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) wants the federal government to spy on mosques to defeat ISIL. The U.S. estimates that ISIL has about 12 U.S. citizens in the country, but most of the Muslims in this country rejects the organization. They view ISIL as an abomination because it deviates from Islam fundamentals in destroying Qur’an copies, murdering Muslims, killing innocent youths, using rape and sexual slavery.

After a teacher harassed a student and threatened punishment for not reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, the ninth-grader contacted the American Humanist Association for help. The Supreme Court ruling that compelling people to recite the Pledge violates the First Amendment hasn’t reached Beaufort County, South Carolina. Although a form of the Pledge was written in 1892, “under God” wasn’t added until 1954.

Kentucky senate candidate Robert Ransdell told listeners Constitution Day at Kentucky University that “I believe that there is no such thing as racial equality. You see that in our cities everyday.” He added, “Blacks used to know better when they did not see whites as…easy targets. When they knew that there were real consequences if they were to attack a white person, especially…a white woman or a white child. Black people are a race of savages living in a white nation.” This was after he posted 20 campaign signs across the Cincinnati suburb of Florence stating, “With Jews You Lose.” He has 200 more signs.

with jews we lose

Quiverfull is a fundamentalist Christianity that rejects all contraception, including family planning, as a form of abortion because the faithful must “out-populate the enemy” to win the culture wars. In this patriarchal cult, men are “leaders, teachers, initiators, protectors and providers,” and women are “helpmeets” who serve men by being “submissive and yielding.” Girls cannot date but must be “courted” under the watchful eye of the father until they can marry and “experience their first kiss at the marriage altar.” The Duggar family of the TLC show 19 Kids and Counting are adherents to Quiverfull. Men who constantly criticize their families are “hating the sin, but loving the sinner.” Domestic abuse, economic and emotional, is praised in their beliefs. All the Quiverfull beliefs—that men and women have separate and complementary gender roles, that sex should be restricted to marriage and is primarily for procreation, that the secular world is a threat that children must be sheltered from—come directly from the mainstream conservative Christian movement.

Catholic priest Father Jonathan Morris, Fox network contributor, wanted to stop a Satanic black mass because it was “inciting violence” by mocking Christians. He said on The Fight for Faith that Oklahoma City must stop the mass because it has a “responsibility to defend the good governance of its people.” Morris used that excuse to declare that the mass was not “free speech” and therefore against the First Amendment. He used the examples of desecrating a Koran or speaking “pro-Nazi stuff right in front of my church” as non-protected speech. It actually is protected, but as stating Christian beliefs is protected by the First Amendment.

Televangelist Rodney Howard-Browne has claimed that the federal government, under President Obama’s orders, is building concentration camps and gas chambers while preparing to institute martial law. Howard-Browne is known for leading prayer groups with senior U.S. Congressmen, including Rep. David Jolly (R-FL). A “leading congressman” told the televangelist that the dollar is about to collapse, food will become scarce, and riots will start within 12 hours.

“For Christian swingers, things are not easy.” So reads the first line of a website advocating wife-swapping for Jesus. Cristy and Dean Parave had trouble finding other couples who wanted to discuss Bible verses while trading partners, so they now shop on the net. Cristy said that God created people “to breed and enjoy each other.” She’s also pretty sure that God wouldn’t be angry with wife-swapping. Want to take a look? Go to FitnessSwingers.com. Dean said, “I’m getting to people that probably never even visited church,” the usual excuse from Christians so that they can whatever they want. Last year, the website ChristianSwingers.com preached the same idea. Dean stated that he’ll keep swinging until God sends him a sign.

Wrestling also has its own group—the Christian Wrestling Federation. Their goal is “to be a Christian outreach ministry that shares the love of Jesus Christ, through wrestling events around the world.” Their website also uses the excuse that “the Bible says we are to use unique and different ways to reach people for Christ.” The CWF thinks that Jesus would like to see someone handcuffed to the ropes before getting stomped, chocked, and kicked. After this, the handcuffed person is released and led to a room where they are told to give their lives to Jesus Christ.

Hypocrisy from the religious right in Kansas: Massive tax cuts for the wealthy have left the state with a $238 million budget deficit by 2016. Instead of raising taxes for the wealthy, Kansas plans to pay for part of the deficit is to sell thousands of X-rated items seized from five sex shops in the state because the businesses didn’t pay $163,000 in states taxes.

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