Nel's New Day

December 30, 2014

Predictions for 2014 Fall Flat

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 7:38 PM
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A favorite end-of-the-year activity, especially from conservatives, is predicting doom and gloom for the coming year. Here are three failed predictions for 2014, recorded by Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman:

Ebola: The “outbreak” of the dread disease affected fewer than a half-dozen people in the United States, and only one died. There may have been fewer problems if Texas had been more concerned about health issues instead of sending away a person who evidenced Ebola.

Economy: Conservatives predicted disaster because of what they call socialism. They have been predicting that President Obama is killing the market economy, but the stock market keeps going up as the gas prices go down. Plus the economy grew five percent in the last quarter. Forget the argument from conservatives that the stock market is benefitting only the wealthy—although most of it recognize this as the truth. It’s the conservatives who believe in “trickle-down” economy. If the rising stock market benefits the rich, then everyone should be wealthy. This is another of their predictions that doesn’t work.

Insurance: Conservatives keep saying that more people will lose insurance than those who gain it because of the Affordable Care Act. The number of people in the nation without insurance fell by about 10 million. The same conservatives claimed that this reform would break the budget. Premiums are far less than predicted by a nonpartisan group, overall health spending has the lowest increase in decades, and cost-control measures are doing well. A year ago, the media was obsessed with technological problems in the website; now there is no reference to the people who have insurance.

More failed predictions:

Marriage equality: The number of states with legalized same-sex marriage has more than doubled to 36, and the divorce rate for heterosexual people hasn’t skyrocketed.

Marijuana: Despite legalization in two state and decriminalization in several others, the drug cartels haven’t taken over. Instead, they’re losing billions in profits and power.

Russia: Conservatives kept saying that the weakness of President Obama made him a failure as a leader and Vladimir Putin’s strength made him highly successful. Instead, Russia has a massive recession and is forced to strong-arm corporations to use their almost useless rubles instead of the strengthening dollar.

Pat Robertson, wealthy televangelist, annually broadcasts his predictions for the upcoming year on his 700 Club. Last year, he started his video by saying, “Check it out when the year’s over. Was I right or wrong.” You decide; the year has only a few days left. Here is what God told him a year ago about the year 2014:

The world is going to be chaos: Chaos would be more aptly described as 2008 when the U.S. economy went into free fall and created a global financial crisis.

“This year we’re not going to have a unified world”: That’s an easy one to agree with because there is never a unified world. 

“There’s going to be some kind of credit crisis, and I think China is going to lead the way.” No credit crisis to the United States—at least more than usual. Russia may have one, but it hasn’t created a problem for the United States government.

“The Iranians will have a nuclear device before the end of the year”: Didn’t happen.

“Republicans will win control of the Congress, but they will not have a veto proof majority”: He got that right, but every other media outlet had the same message from God.

The president is going to be discredited and withdraw to Hawaii: The president’s rating keeps going up—from 42.6 percent at the beginning of the year to 47 percent now—and he’s on a roll to make executive orders while Congress dithers. The only withdrawing he’s done is his usual winter holiday vacation in Hawaii which conservatives—as usual—decry.

“It’ll be the greatest year in the history of the church”: Robertson predicted miracles and healings that “will be unbelievable, all around the world”: Haven’t heard of any.

 “Islam is going to be in retreat”: At this time, ISIL is forging ahead, and Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. Protestant and Catholic church membership shrank to new lows in 2014.

Robertson has had many failed prophecies in the past: start of World War III (1981); Jay Rockefeller elected as president in 1996 (1991); hurricanes ravaging the U.S. coasts (2006); successful conclusion to the Iraq war and troops leaving the country (2007); massive terrorist attacks on the nation that decimate cities and kills millions (2007); and major economic crash (2012).

In the election of 2014, more people voted for Republicans at the same time that they supported positions that these same Republicans oppose. The coming year will show an interesting clash between voters’ wishes and their representatives:

Marriage Equality:  Twenty states legalized marriage equality compared with only eight in 2013. As of Monday, 36 states, hopefully including Florida, will provide marriage for same-sex couples. Support for same-sex marriage is over 55 percent, a 15-point increase in only five years. Around the world, twenty countries also have legalized marriage equality.

same sex marriage

Minimum Wage: Twenty-one states will boost the incomes of 4.4 million minimum-wage earners at the beginning of January 2015. For the first time, 29 states plus the District of Columbia, will have minimum wages higher than the federal minimum of $7.25, with Washington topping them out at $9.47. Four of these states approved the increase through ballot measures.

Marijuana Legalization: Three states passed medical marijuana laws this year, and two states legalized marijuana for adults to be regulated like alcohol. Only Florida lost its statewide marijuana measure, this one for medical marijuana, thanks to opposition from the millions of dollars from billionaire Shel Adelson. Even so, over half the voters supported medical marijuana: the measure received 58 percent of the vote but needed 60 percent to pass.

Climate Change: People from more than 1,000 organizations walked in the People’s Climate March in New York, including trade unions, schools, and faith-based, social justice, student, and public health groups, among others.

Cuba: Normalizing relations with Cuba could lead to a dramatic shift in Florida politics as the younger Cuban vote is turning Democratic.

Racial Justice: The public awareness of blacks being killed by an increased militarized police force can lead to reform in this area.

Areas to Watch: Money in politics, violence against women, student loan debt, inequality, the environment, women’s issues, and labor issues.

Change for the better—that may happen in 2015.

January 5, 2014

Religious Shifts in 2014

What’s up for 2014 in the world of religion? Luckily for us, Pat Robertson has a direct pipeline to God as long as the televangelist shows up at a special mountain retreat. He missed last year’s predictions because the weather kept him away—Robertson, not God. The year before, God’s messages led Robertson astray, especially the one in which Mitt Romney would defeat President Obama and be a two-term president.

God’s predictions at this year’s retreat:

  • Severe economic problems that will devastate the global economy;
  • An non-unified world;
  • Emergence of a nuclear Iran;
  • Islam in retreat while “people in the pews” are blessed;
  • GOP takeover of the Senate but not veto-proof majority;
  • Leadership of China;
  • “Greatest year in the history of the church”;
  • President Obama withdrawing and becoming a Hawaii surfer. (Yes, Robertson really said that!)

Mayor Tom Hayden has further shredded the thin veil between church and state when he proclaimed 2014 as “The Year of the Bible” in Flower Mound (TX). Not everyone is happy. Resident Curt Orton said, “He was elected mayor. Not as the spiritual leader of Flower Mound.”

The Dallas chapter of the Anti-Defamation League said:

“As a public official, he [Mayor Hayden] has both a moral and legal duty to equally serve his constituents of all faiths or no faith. Regardless of his benign intent, the Mayor’s action is highly inappropriate, not to mention likely unconstitutional. It can only serve to divide residents along religious lines and conveys a message of exclusion to constituents whose faith tradition does not include the Bible. We urge the Mayor to reconsider the issuance of his proclamation.”

Hayden’s idea is on a website thebible2014.com that gives a different scripture each day. By the end of the year, readers will supposedly finish reading the Bible, according to Jon Bell of Calvary Chapel. The “Comments” section has been disabled because of too many responses. It might be interesting to know what kind of responses. Hayden did point out that no one voted on this proclamation. He thinks that it’s just the sort of announcement that all elected leaders make.

A further move to destroy the First Amendment comes from Bryan Fischer, of the American Family Association, who wants to eliminate all public office holders who believe in evolution. Because people who believe in evolution don’t know that all our rights come from God, they are unable to uphold people’s rights.

“We don’t share ancestors with apes and baboons. In fact, I would suggest to you if a politician, if somebody wants to be, wants to exercise political power, and he is an evolutionist, he is disqualified from holding political office in the United States of America because he does not share the political worldview that established the United States of America, and made it the greatest nation in the history of the planet.”

If Fischer goes to pieces at the idea of his relationship to “apes and baboons,” can you imagine his reaction to being related to a banana. In fact (scientific fact, at least), human DNA is about 50 percent identical to banana sequences. Think about that the next time you eat a banana.

The anti-science position growing among Republicans is damaging the level of education in this country. U.S. 15-year-olds place 21st in the world in science, four places lower than in 2009. Vietnam, which participated this year for the first time, scored better than the U.S., and students in East Asian countries and provinces took seven of the top ten places. Shanghai, China’s largest city, is #1 in the world in science testing.  

Of three states that increased its participation in testing, both Connecticut and Massachusetts scored higher than the international average. Florida scored lower. The two states above average are considered blue states whereas the one below average is controlled by Republicans. It would be interesting to see how the other red and blue states compared.

Fischer and other literalists (fundamentalists who think that everyone must believe how each of them personally interprets the Bible) may have increasing trouble with Pope Francis. Last November the pope struck out at Christian fundamentalism as “not healthy”:

“It is not a good strategy to be at the center of a sphere. To understand we ought to move around, to see reality from various viewpoints. We ought to get used to thinking.”

Thinking is a concept that doesn’t fit with extremists’ Christian culture. Perception from a different point of view is also not in Christian fundamentalist realms.

The pope thinks that “some time of real contact with the poor is necessary.” It may make people more understanding of their plight instead of seeing them as lazy users. Pope Francis does follow his own directions: he is known to dress as a regular priest at night and go out on the streets to minister to the poor.

Pope Francis supports other beliefs that Christian fundamentalists don’t: environmentalism; assistance for immigrants and the marginalized; and respect, kindness, and understanding for atheists and Muslims. He calls on his flock to be more in line with the teachings of Jesus. Fundamentalists twist their own Bible to oppose the New Testament and turn Jesus into a capitalist warrior.

Pope Francis preached:

“In ideologies there is not Jesus: in his tenderness, his love, his meekness. And ideologies are rigid, always. Of every sign: rigid. And when a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought… For this reason Jesus said to them: ‘You have taken away the key of knowledge.’ The knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and also moralistic knowledge, because these close the door with many requirements. The faith becomes ideology and ideology frightens, ideology chases away the people, distances, distances the people and distances of the Church of the people. But it is a serious illness, this of ideological Christians. It is an illness, but it is not new, eh?”

Another of his teachings is also offensive to Christian fundamentalists:

“God reveals himself not as one who stands above and who dominates the universe, but as He who lowers himself. It means that to be like Him, we do not have to place ourselves above the others, but come down, come down and serve them, become small among the small, and poor among the poor.”

 Pope Francis has company in opposing the stranglehold of extremist Christians. People are beginning to react more against fundamentalist Christian attitudes:

  • Atheists are more willing to declare their non-religious beliefs, for example, atheist, Rebecca Vitsmun, when CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked her if she thanked the Lord for living through the Oklahoma tornado.
  • A new generation is more willing to express their personal beliefs.
  • Human rights are expanding, for example the number of states legalizing marriage equality and the demands to end the rape culture and lack of women’s rights allowed in the Bible.
  • Cognitive scientists are beginning to openly explore the relationship between religion and mental illness such as anxiety disorders, panic, and depression.
  • Communities are building outside religion to bring together those with like beliefs to provide support through community service, lectures, and recreation.
  • Giving, once led by faith communities, is now being taken over by those outside the religious structure.
  • Texas, a state that controls the content of textbooks, will teach biological science after publishers refused to include creationism in the books.
  • Organizations such as Freedom from Religion are beginning to chart wins in their work to bring back more separation of church and state, and many of the leaders are young people.
  • Young people who were isolated in homeschooling now have a network, Homeschoolers Anonymous, to lend support for each other. Others in church schools are starting to protest the bigotry, for example when hundreds of them walked out after a Bellevue (WA) school fired a gay teacher.

Between Pope Francis’s teachings and the changing demographics of the United States, the country may move away from a militaristic country of unfettered capitalism toward more compassion and acceptance for others.

October 27, 2013

Republican Jesus™ v. Tea Party Jesus

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 2:10 PM
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During the past few decades, conservative groups have adopted Republican Jesus™ as the motivating factor behind their politics.

  • Are you not white? Republican Jesus™ hates you.
  • Are you a woman? Republican Jesus™ hates you.
  • Are you gay? Republican Jesus REALLY hates you. And so on.

The problem with Republican Jesus™ is that he isn’t Republican enough. Thus extremists developed Tea Party Jesus. At birth, Tea Party Jesus swore that he cared nothing about social issues, just those economic ones called Taxed Enough Already and Obamacare. He ignored the fact that taxes were the lowest in 50 years.

And that the namesake for Tea Party Jesus was an 18th-century “tea party” that didn’t protest taxes. The protester opposed a tax cut for the international corporation East Indian Company that undermined local businesses. While he uses “Taxation Without Representation!” for a slogan, Tea Party Jesus has the best representation that billions in corporate money can buy as corporations destroy small businesses.

Republican Jesus™ really liked Tea Party Jesus because he voted against President Obama, the only thing that Republican Jesus™ really cared about at the time. Even when Tea Party Jesus obsessed about President Obama’s birth certificate and constantly made racist remarks about the president, Republican Jesus™ didn’t seem to worry. But it kept getting worse.

  • Tea Party Jesus believes that being taxed lower than he was in Reagan’s 1980s is the same as being overburdened with taxes.
  • Tea Party Jesus believes that the financial crisis of 2008, brought on by Wall Street running amok, is proof that we need less government regulation.
  • Tea Party Jesus is absolutely positive that the deficit has gone up since Obama took office.
  • Tea Party Jesus knows, just knows, that President Obama is a secret Muslim.
  • Tea Party Jesus believes that ACORN stole the 2008 election.
  • Tea Party Jesus also believes ACORN stole the 2012 election. They’re not entirely clear how that is possible since ACORN ceased to exist in 2010 but, darn it!, they believe!

Republican Jesus™ does have strong similarities to Tea Party Jesus. Both love guns more than they do people. Both love the rich like a dog loves its abusive master. Both love the free market even if they can’t define it. And both love the Constitution—at least the Second Amendment.

The two of them, however, part ways at hate. Republican Jesus™ uses hate because it sells well, but he’s willing to drop any hate rhetoric if it hurts him at the voting booth. Tea Party Jesus really does hate, so much that he thinks he can say his angry rhetoric openly. Republican Jesus™ knows that open racism is bad for his business, just as trashing women and bashing gays doesn’t get him votes. Tea Party Jesus, however, takes great pride in his hate.

  • Tea Party Jesus wants you to know how much he hates homosexuals. But don’t you call him a bigot!
  • Tea Party Jesus wants you to know how much he despises the poor.
  • Tea Party Jesus wants you to know how little he thinks of women’s rights.
  • Tea Party Jesus wants you to know he thinks rape isn’t really a crime.
  • Tea Party Jesus wants you to know how much he hates porch monkeys crackheads n*ggers black people. But don’t you call him a racist!
  • Tea Party Jesus wants you to know how much wetbacks drug mules dirty illegals Latinos disgust him. Still not a racist!
  • Tea Party Jesus wants you to know how much he sneers at the lazy young who only want the same affordable college and job opportunities and pensions and Social Security benefits that HE got. Tea Party Jesus EARNED all that good stuff by being born at the right time to the right family! Get your own!
  • Tea Party Jesus wants you to know how much he hates Muslims.
  • Tea Party Jesus wants you to know how much he loathes contraception in all its forms. If whores have sex, they should pay for it with disease and pregnancy.
  • Tea Party Jesus wants you to know how much he hates the very idea of government and that’s why you should put him in charge of it.
  • Tea Party Jesus says these things in private, in public, on stage and in front of cameras. Over and over and over again. It’s like a form of Tourette’s except instead of cursing, he says what he’s really thinking. Loudly.

Republican Jesus™ wants Tea Party Jesus to be quiet, but his bubble protects him. Inside the bubble, voices tell Tea Party Jesus “You’re the smartest boy in the room, Tea Party Jesus!” “Everyone loves you, Tea Party Jesus!” “You’re going to win the election in a landslide, Tea Party Jesus!” If he fails, Tea Party Jesus cries and rants, “It’s not MY fault! It’s Republican Jesus’™ fault! Bad Republican Jesus™! You’re just not conservative enough!”

Republican Jesus™ keeps trying to clean up Tea Party Jesus’ messes, failing to remember that he raised Tea Party Jesus to be blind, hateful, and angry. Getting closer to reality, Republican Jesus™ is making plans to defeat Tea Party Jesus in the next election. The question is whether Tea Party Jesus has gotten so strong that they will take the primaries and lose the general election. We’ll know what happens in a little more than a year.

A few examples of Tea Party Jesus in action:

Televangelist Pat Robertson wants his money and doesn’t mind letting his listeners know. When an elderly woman concerned with her husband’s medical bills asked Robertson it was okay if she didn’t tithe, Robertson blamed her for the illness. He told her that if she had tithed that he would have stayed healthy.

In another response, Robertson blamed a woman for being bad at praying away her young son’s deafness. He claimed that he could cure deafness through prayer. If she hadn’t done so, she’s doing something wrong. Another of Robertson’s blame game is that tornado victims are responsible for the disaster because they should have prayed it away.

Bryan Fischer, spokesman for the American Family Association, is well known for hatred. Most recently, the AFA supported the anti-LGBT crusade in Russia that cheers people openly beating up others for their sexual orientation and gender identity. The Christian group also uses hate speech against Muslims, pro-choice supporters, and atheists.

Because of AFA’s attack on the LGBT community with lies and hate speech, The Southern Poverty Law Center classified AFA as a hate group in 2010. Now the AFA is threatening to sue the U.S. military because an army instructor said that AFA is a hate group. Fischer claims that the AFA loves everyone:  “We love homosexuals enough to tell them the truth about the moral, spiritual and physical dangers of homosexual conduct.”

The Pentagon rewarded Fischer’s bad behavior deciding that the instructor was wrong to classify AFA as a hate group. That’s why Tea Party Jesus wins. He wails “Unfair,” and others back off. AFA accused the military of generally attacking Christianity by labeling one Christian group as a hate group, yet AFA’s membership is 180,000 out of the 316 million people in the nation, 77 percent of whom identify as Christians.

Tea Party Jesus was present in a restaurant when a group of self-identified Christians left a message telling their waiter that they refused to leave a tip because he is gay. The message read:

“Thank you for your service, it was excellent. That being said, we cannot in good conscience tip you, for your homosexual lifestyle is an affront to GOD. Queers do not share in the wealth of GOD, and you will not share in ours. We hope you will see the tip your queer choices made you lose out on, and plan accordingly. It is never too late for GOD’s love, but none shall be spared for queers. May GOD have mercy on you.”

Last month, customers left the message “None, n***er” in the designated space for a tip after they were served by a young black woman. The month before, a South Carolina restaurant denied service to a group of blacks on the others of a white customer.

Under the guidance of Tea Party Jesus, TV host Glenn Beck told his audience that parents should beat their children to teach them that their rights “come from God.”

The question is, do we continue to support Tea Party Jesus–or even Republican Jesus™?

September 8, 2013

Working for Separation of Church and State

The Pledge of Allegiance is back in the news, after the 9th Circuit Court ruled three years ago for the 11 states in its jurisdiction, that the pledge does not represent a government endorsement of religion. This time, the case is in Massachusetts where the Commonwealth’s highest court is hearing a case, asking that the Pledge wording revert to its past form without “under God.” The pledge worked quite well for over a half century throughout both world wars until 1954 when Congress thought that the word “God” would protect the country from the Red Menace of the USSR Communists.

Fox “News” host Dana Perino, said that if atheists don’t like having “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, “they don’t have to live here.” She might be upset if she knew the pledge’s background. It came into being after Francis Bellamy’s words were used in 1891 as a device to sell U.S. flags to public schools as a premium for subscriptions to the magazine Youth’s Companion.   Co-founder of the Christian Socialists, Bellamy championed the “rights of working people and the equal distribution of economic resources” and supported public schools—two issues which Fox opposes.

Another ray of hope this week came from Oklahoma where the Tulsa Public School District is defying Christian leadership by abandoning abstinence-only programs. This year schools will use comprehensive sex education in grades 7, 9, and 11. The abstinence-only state has the fourth highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation, and nearly half of all these pregnant teens don’t graduate from high school. Without the necessary education, they can’t get good jobs which causes a higher rate for welfare in the state. About one-fourth of young unmarried mothers end up in poverty, also a cause of teen pregnancy.

For every dollar that Okahoma sends to the federal government, the state receives $1.36, making Oklahoma a welfare state. A look at the ranking of states receiving federal funding reveals that the vast majority of conservative states are welfare states; only Texas pays more than it receives. In these states that spend millions on failed abstinence-only programs, students don’t know how to protect themselves from HIV, STDs, or unwanted pregnancies, costing the federal government more money.

Two stories about drag queens in the news this week are downright fun.  Jose Sarria, known as the Rosa Parks of the gay rights movement and Empress Jose I, died last month at 90 and left the agenda for his funeral service at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral. Female titleholders from his Imperial Court, which he created in 1965, were to wear “black/dark full length (understated) mourning attire, crowns, shoulder length veils covering both crowns and one’s face” along with “black gloves (opera length if wearing short sleeves).”  Males titleholders were “respectfully requested to wear dark suits, crowns and white gloves.” Ten limousines and six buses brought mourners to “a sensational and inspirational graveside ceremony” where Sarria was sent off with full military honors, a band concert, and a song from drag performer Donna Sachet. He was buried next to self-proclaimed Emperor of the United States, Joshua Norton, who died in 1880. It was the event of the season.

sarriaSarria served in the United States Army during World War II. Under five feet tall, he was too short for the height requirement, but he got into the Army Reserve after the attack on Pearl Harbor by seducing a major on the condition that the major approve Sarria’s enlistment. From there he was called up to active duty. When Sarria ran for a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1961, he was the first openly gay man to run for office. Although defeated, he became a powerful voice for gay rights.

The Advocate provided a wonderful photo spread including Sisters-of-Perpetual-Indulgencex633The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and elected city officials. Other photos are available on Google.

dufty_etcx633

Other drag queens are planning an action at the Westboro Baptist Church headquarters in Kansas. Planting Peace, an anti-hate nonprofit group for equal rights, plans a drag show at its Equality House on October 26. The facility, painted in rainbow colors as a symbol for peace, compassion, and positive change, is located across the street from Westboro’s Topeka buildings. The event will be called the “Drag Down Bigotry” walk-a-thon.

Filmmakers Lara Zizic and David Turner are premiering their film Mission Congo at the Toronto International Film Festival this Friday, and Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network isn’t pleased. CBN is considering legal action against the depiction of Operation Blessing and how it diverted charitable activities to Robertson’s mining projects. Although volunteers for the international medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) performed the vast majority of work to save Rwandan refugees, CBN claimed the credit, and Robertson raised millions of dollars. He continues this charade despite the official investigation accusing him of “fraudulent and deceptive” claims for running an almost non-existent aid operation.

Some of the most damaging criticism of Robertson comes from former aid workers at Operation Blessing, who describe how mercy flights to save refugees were diverted hundreds of miles from the crisis to deliver equipment to the televangelist’s diamond mining concession. The documentary shows how dredges, used to suck up diamonds from river beds, were delivered hundreds of miles from the crisis in Goma to a private commercial firm, African Development Company, registered in Bermuda and wholly owned by Robertson. The pilot said that of the 40 flights he flew into Congo, just two delivered aid, and the others were connected to the diamond mining. He had the words “Operation Blessing” removed from the tail of his airplane.

Revelations of Robertson’s fraudulent Congo activities were initially exposed in the Virginia newspaper, the Virginian Pilot, in the 1990s. Robertson has a history of mining controversies in Africa when he supported the then president of Liberia, Charles Taylor, during that country’s civil war without revealing at the time that he had an $8 million investment in a Liberian gold mine. Taylor was already indicted by a UN war crimes tribunal at the time and was later convicted of crimes against humanity.

Another church group has been exposed for its racism. The Freedom House Church wants “only white people” as greeters, according to a pastor, Makeda Pennycooke. He explained that “first impressions matter” and the church needs “the best of the best on the front doors.”

Obamacare may be linked with Syria when the U.S. House returns. On Washington Watch, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) talked to Family Research Council head Tony Perkins about the importance of defunding Obamacare. Jordan’s suggestion was to hold the budget and debt ceiling raise as leverage (aka blackmail); Perkins one-upped him by saying that the president should choose between funding Obamacare and funding a war in Syria (aka blackmail). Personally I vote for Obamacare!

Separation between church and state is getting even thinner after the Southern Baptist Convention banned members from taking part in weddings, counseling sessions, and couples retreats for same-sex couples. The Convention provides the greatest number of active-duty military chaplains.

American Family Association’s Sandy Rios has already given up on any hope of winning in Syria. Her position is that intervention is doomed because homosexuals and pregnant women have taken over the U.S. military. Another self-proclaimed Christian told his radio flock that people who attend gay weddings should tell the grooms “they shall both be put to death.” Kevin Swanson recommended holding up a sign with  Leviticus 20:13 – “If a man sleeps with a man as he sleeps with a woman the two of them have committed an abomination and they shall both be put to death.”

AugustaColorado’s first gay Speaker of the House, Mark Ferrandino, and his partner, Gret Wertsch, have adopted a daughter, and even a conservative blogger congratulated the couple. Not so former state Sen. Dave Schultheis (R-Colorado Springs) who posted a comment calling the adoption “perverted” and “deliberate child abuse.”

And just because it’s Sunday, we’ll end with the Catholic leadership, this time Bishop Thomas Paprocki’s interview with the Washington Times, controlled by the Unification Church. One of his issues dealt with David Letterman’s joke: “I am telling you if there is anything kids can’t get enough of it’s a 76-year old virgin. Come on, world youth day, or as the Vatican calls it, a salute to altar boys.” Paprocki thinks that this is just plain bigotry and ignorance because the Catholic Church’s success in dealing with the situation:

“For one thing it shows the ignorance of someone who identifies the Catholic Church and, particularly the priesthood, with sexual abuse. Certainly, we have had our unfortunate share of scandals and sin and the church is dealing with that. I would venture to say that of any institution in the country – perhaps in the world–I don’t think anyone is dealing with it as responsibly as the Catholic Church has. So public figures like that continue to point their finger at the Catholic Church and say you have a problem with sexual abuse and people are ignoring where most sexual abuse is taking place. It’s occurring in families. It’s occurring in schools.”

Paprocki’s blinders led him to claim that the main force behind child sex cases was “none other than the devil.” He also claimed that voting for Democratic candidates will doom a person to Hell and said that country is now a “pagan” culture no different from the era of the Roman Empire which oppressed and martyred Christians. He did overlook the fact that the church leaders have neither corrected the problem nor given appropriate restitution to the victims. With the Pope’s permission, they just move all their money into a safe place—the cemetery fund.

July 14, 2013

Fundamentalists Can’t Turn the World Backwards

It’s almost as if fundamentalist evangelical Christians are suicidal because of how much they look forward to the Rapture—the idea that Jesus will come back to Earth, leaving no one alive. Four out of ten people in the United States think that their Christ will show up here by 2050. That may be the reason that they have no interest in preserving the planet for future generations.

According to “End Times Theology,” a study by political scientists David Barker and David Bearce, “A belief in the Second Coming reduces the probability of strongly agreeing that the government should take action [in slowing climate change] by more than 12 percent.” The reason is that “end-times believers ‘know’ that life on Earth has a preordained expiration date, no matter what—and that all Christians will be raptured before the going gets too tough.” Over three-fourths of Republicans identify as end-timer believers.

Discussing the study, one woman epitomized the extremist Christian’s apathetic, fatalistic attitude toward climate change: “Of course I don’t want [polar bears] to die, but you also have to realize this is just a part of the world coming to an end like it’s supposed to. And there’s nothing really that they can do.” She continued, “That’s why we need to be educated in the Bible, so we know what signs to look for. Because you’re just wasting all that money on research when it’s, sadly, not going to help.”

End-believers plan for the future, however, by keeping bank accounts and sending their children to college. Many of these people reason that people should not do anything about the climate because “God is in control.” Maybe that’s the reason that the conservatives want to give all their money to the wealthy and the corporations and destroy the United States. But why do they bother to take Social Security and Medicare from older people and food stamps from the poor if there is nothing that can be done. They are paying their legislative representatives to do nothing.

Until the Rapture, however, fundamentalist Christians complain about giving rights to those not of their religion. Pat Robertson on Monday complained that Facebook doesn’t have a “vomit” option for photographs of same-sex couples. He followed that statement three days later by saying, “We are not anti-gay.” Robertson thinks that gay people are just confused straight people “because they have forsaken God, it’s not something that is natural and when people reunite with the Lord, the Lord will get their priorities the way it is supposed to be.”

The televangelist gives reasons for this LGBT confusion, one being child abuse: “A lot of people are into this homosexual thing because they’ve been abused….” Another reason is that some gay people “maybe got some chromosomal damage that’s different from heterosexuals.” His solution is another ex-gay ministry to emerge after the disappearance of Exodus “to help people who want out.”

In discussing LGBT people, Robertson warned that the land will “vomit you out.” He explained that Leviticus puts homosexuality on the same abomination level as incest and bestiality “and those who do that in the Old Testament were stoned to death.” Like other fundamentalists, he said, “Which is going to take precedence, the Supreme Court of the United States or the holy word of God?” Following their literal reading of the Bible, the extremist Christians may think about purchasing slaves.

Also last week, Robertson recommended following Egyptians by overthrowing President Obama because of Obamacare.  “You know, they revolted in Egypt against the oppressive actions of the Muslim Brotherhood and this example of state socialism is something that Americans should rise up against,” he said, complaining that it was a partisan initiative.

Conservatives conveniently forget that Republicans, led by the Heritage Foundation, proposed the Affordable Care Act in the 1990s. And they’re still upset because President Obama won the last democratic election, despite the massive illegal efforts to stop people voting.

The Church of England suffers from the same ambivalence toward LGBT people as Robertson. It launched an anti-homophobia school campaign at the same time that it affirmed its opposition to marriage equality. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said, “The majority of the population rightly detests homophobic behavior or anything that looks like it and sometimes they look at us and see what they don’t like.” Approximately 20 percent of UK students are taught in a Church of England school. It appears that the religious group wants people to like them more.

The former Archbishop claimed that marriage equality will destroy society, shred heterosexual marriage, and damage children. (Sounds like the U.S. fundamentalists!) The Church of England has also moaned about how legal marriage equality will force the schools to “teach” gay marriage.  Without accepting marriage equality, the Church will most likely fail in its anti-homophobic campaign.

States in the U.S. suffer the same ambivalence as the Church of England. The Supreme Court ruled that the nation recognizes marriage equality just days before Indiana made state marriage equality a felony. According to an Indiana law, same-sex couples applying for a marriage license in the state after July 1, 2014, can be punished by 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine. Anyone performing a same-sex marriage, including clergy and judges, will be guilty of a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of $1,000. Indiana has made same-sex illegal in a statute, but they plan a constitutional ban when legislators meet in the January-March 2014 session.

Pastor Kevin Swanson suffers no ambivalence on Generations Radio. The Colorado wildfires have already been blamed on abortion and LGBT people; Swanson has added a third problem—the way that people, mostly women, dress. He started out with complaints against women wearing “a male style of dress” in the 1980s followed by Sen. Carol Moseley Braun dressing in a pants suit in 1993. “Pantsuits, pantsuits everywhere,” Swanson said before he moved on to video on a 14-hour flight from Australia.

“I’ve never seen so many breasts in all of my life …. I mean every form of aberrant sexuality and women’s breasts are shown in front of me almost nonstop for fourteen hours. It’s just such an oppressive, horrible, horrible world,” Swanson declaimed before he moved on to androgyny.

“How many young boys are running out and doing the metrosexual thing with the skinny pants and the little fairy shoes. They’re working on the gender blender for themselves and they don’t want to look like a man and God is just so upset, He hates it when man are not manly in their approach. 1 Corinthians 6 speaks about homosexuality and feminine behavior and feminine dress for men. God does not want men to be androgynous and feminine like in their approach; He gave them facial hair for a reason.”

Christianity is also a good excuse to not pay taxes, according to a software entrepreneur who has failed to pay income tax for a decade. Doing so would break his “blood covenant” with God, according to Chester Evans Davis, 56, of Oregon City. He said, “My hands, my feet, my words, my ideas, my labor, my actions are all and have been given to the Lord for his glory.”

U.S. District Judge Michael Simon didn’t buy the argument and found Davis guilty of transferring money in an effort to hide it from the government, attempting to file harassing liens against federal officials, and trying to obtain arrest warrants against IRS employees. Davis now owes $7.1 million in taxes and penalties along with eight years and one month in prison. Most of the success in his company, ESA International, came from federal contracts. Davis’ friend Thomas Schultz, who called himself a “private attorney general,” said that “the labor of a human being is not a taxable commodity.”

Sadly for all these people, the world seems to be inexorably moving forward instead of returning to earlier centuries.

June 13, 2013

Good News Other Than Rampant Bigotry

Congress is lower than cockroaches, found one poll six months ago. The nation’s legislative branch isn’t doing any better now; it’s at the bottom of 16 institutions—for the fourth consecutive year. Only 10 percent of the respondents had confidence in Congress, almost 25 percent down from last year. The rating is the lowest level of confidence that Gallup has ever found for any institution on record.

Despite the low rating, there is some good news, some of it from Congress itself. The 60-vote GOP mandate in the Senate has bitten the party that has obsessively used this super majority. The GOP-proposed amendment to immigration reform that border security must satisfy them for at least six month before any other action got only a 57-43 vote today. Two Democrats voted against tabling the amendment, and five Republicans joined the Democrat majority to vote it down.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who introduced the amendment, said, “This vote proves this ‘open and fair process’ is a farce. The majority is afraid of having a true vote on my amendment.” His problem is that the GOP senators have blocked almost all action in the Senate for year, excessively using this mythical super majority mandate.

The bill already has provisions for border security, requiring apprehension of 90 percent of people trying to cross the southern border illegally. In addition, the bill has very restrictive conditions. If the immigration reform bill were to become law, undocumented people in the U.S. could not approach legal status for at least 13 years. That could only happen after people undergo a background check, pay a fine and back taxes, learn English, and wait in line for a green card.

While Congress remains inert, the courts are moving forward. With less than two weeks to deliver all its decisions for the past session, the Supreme Court announced a unanimous ruling that companies cannot patent parts of naturally-occurring human genes. This reverses almost 30 years of  the lucrative practice of awarding gene patents, which included one company controlling the test on a genetic disposition toward breast cancer. Myriad Genetics was sued because its ownership to the human gene kept other companies from developing tests.

Surprisingly, the silent Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the decision that maintained laws of nature, natural phenomena and abstract ideas are not patentable. The court did throw companies a bone, ruling that they could patent synthetically-created DNA.

SCOTUS still has not announced before they recess, possibly on June 27. A year ago, the most waited-for decision, Obamacare, came out at the end of the court’s year, giving Chief Justice John Roberts a chance to get out of the country a few days after he voted on what the conservatives perceived to be the wrong side. The marriage equality decisions will probably be announced immediately before the end of June as was the June 26, 2003, decision on Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down state laws banning same-sex intimacy. 2003.

A recent federal court decision involving the Supreme Court may be appealed to SCOTUS. Judge Beryl A. Howell ruled against the law that bans organizing protesting and signs in front of the Supreme Court to be unconstitutional, calling the 1949 legislation passed by Congress “unreasonable” and “substantially overbroad.”

Charles A. Whitehead, founder of the Rutherford Institute, said about the decision:

“Judge Howell’s frank, no-holds-barred ruling affirming the Supreme Court plaza as a free speech zone throws a lifeline to the First Amendment at a time when government officials are doing their best to censor, silence and restrict free speech activities.”

Another First Amendment right, separation of church and state, is being celebrated this week in the 50th anniversary of School District of Abington Township, Pennsylvania v. Schempp. This case stopped daily Bible readings and saying the Lord’s Prayer in schools, declaring the practice unconstitutional. In the past few years, the Pennsylvania legislation has regressed, having declared the year 2012 as “The Year of the Bible,” October 2012 as “Prayer Month,” and May 3, 2012 a “Day of Prayer.” William Penn, early champion of religious freedom, probably wouldn’t agree.

On the negative side, however, the lizard part of conservatives’ brains promoting bigotry was active two days ago:

George Zimmerman’s murder trial: Discussing jury selection for the man  who stalked, shot, and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, former NYPD detective Harry Houck said, “Listen, Trayvon Martin would be alive today, okay, if he didn’t, alright, have a street attitude.” This is the excuse for someone who ignored a 9/11 dispatcher’s order to stay in his car before he followed his prey.

The Boy Scouts of America’s decision to permit gay members: On his 700 Club show, televangelist Pat Robertson said:

“[The LGBT community is] willing to rip apart the framework of traditional marriage, to rip apart an organization that has done so much good for young people… All for one thing, that the way they do sex will be accepted in the mainstream of society…  It’s been a marvelous institution, and to see that torn up in order to accommodate a few kids who want to do sex with each other, I mean, it boggles the mind.”

Muslims’ complicity in extremist terrorism: Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) said on the House floor that Muslims in the United States did not condemn acts of Islamic extremist terrorism against the U.S. and are therefore complicit in attacks, past and future. Accusing them of deafening silence, he himself did not hear the ways that Muslim leaders and communities have condemned the terrorists’ violence and extremism. For example, immediately after the Boston bombers were identified as Muslim, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued a statement:

“As Americans, we are a united force against any form of tyranny, whether it be in the form of terrorism or otherwise…Terrorism has no allegiance to faith or ethnicity, and we have been witness to that over the past few years. What happened in Boston and Watertown last week does not reflect on anyone except for those who carried it out. It is not a reflection of ethnic identity, religion, or national affiliation.”

The Obama administration’s announcement that it will not block access to Plan B for any woman or girl: Laura Ingraham angrily responded, “It’s a good deal for pedophiles, a good deal for people who commit statutory rape against young girls.”

The virulent attack against an 11-year-old boy through Twitter: Singing phenomenon Sebastien de la Cruz (pictured above with his parents), featured on America’s Got Talent, gave a beautiful rendition of the national anthem at the San Antonio Spurs game. The unleashing of racist hate was unforgivable as shown by two of the disgusting tweets:

“This lil Mexican snuck in the country like 4 hours ago now he singing the anthem” –@A2daO

“Who let this illegal alien sing our national anthem?” –@MCyrus2

De la Cruz, the son of a Navy sailor, was born and raised in San Antonio. With grace, he answered the rants:

“People don’t know, they just assume that I’m just Mexican. But I’m not from Mexico, I’m from San Antonio, born and raised; a true Spurs fan.”

This response shows that there is hope for the future.

May 19, 2013

Religion, Our Country’s Culture Crisis

As I grew up, politics and religion seemed to be separate, unlike the last few decades. My partner (a very smart person!) and I pondered about when and how the fundamental evangelical Protestants became the power in the United States.

After the rigid Puritans settled the New World during the seventeenth century, other persecuted religious groups coming to America diluted the Puritans’ power. Although evangelicals, Baptists, and Methodists proselytized the colonies in the eighteenth century, thinkers behind the organization of the new country were largely Deists who, in their rejection of the Christ’s divinity, were comparable to today’s Unitarians. They were the ones who cemented the “wall of separation” between church and state. At the same time, the American Revolution strengthened the view that God was “partial” to this country.

During the nineteenth century, revivals crossed the country in spurts, and new religions such as the Mormon Church, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Church of Christ, Scientist gained their footings. The revivals of the early twentieth century established fundamentalist Christian religions such as that of the Foursquare Church from Aimee Semple McPherson, immortalized in the Elmer Gantry, a book by Sinclair Lewis made into a movie starring Burt Lancaster and Jean Simmons. During its early popularity, this religious approach occurred primarily within poorer populations and in the South. After the 21st Amendment overturned prohibition in 1933, Protestants seemed to be a religion that didn’t try to control people in the United States through the government.

John F. Kennedy’s election started that included eight years of Democratic presidents. This was the time when the conservative Southern Democrats left the party for the GOP and when conservatives laid the groundwork for later domination. During the next 24 years, the only Democratic president, Jimmy Carter, was a Southern Baptist who served just one term. 

Ironically, Tea Party that claimed to have no concern for social issues ultimately gave fundamentalist Christians the power that they craved. These conservative factions gained control through the organization of savvy politicians such as Dick Armey (formerly of FreedomWorks) and funding from corporations that found their ideology useful in adding to corporate wealth.

As the growing Tea Party was co-opted by fundamentalist Christians, it changed from the party for smaller government and no taxes into one that worked to change the United States into a theocracy. The result was a larger, controlling government because of restrictive laws to force people into their morality and their obsession to investigate anything they thought could damage the opposition. The corporations continued to financially support them because the Tea Party members support laws that increased corporate wealth. 

Now the dichotomy between fundamental and mainstream Protestantism is causing a crisis of identity within the nation. In Clash!: 8 Cultural Conflicts That Make Us Who We Are, Hazel Rose Markus and Alana Connor address the acrimony between the two parts of Protestantism.

Moderate Protestants believe in science as part of their religion, and the history of their persecution in Europe showed them the importance of the wall between religion and government. Fundamentalists don’t agree. Former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), a Southern Baptist, calls evolution a mere “theory,” and Texas Gov. Rick Perry agrees. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), an evangelical Lutheran, dismisses both evolution and climate change, calling it “voodoo, nonsense, hokum, a hoax.”  Other Republican leaders—Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, etc.—go along with the non-belief in science.

The country’s only Catholic president, John F. Kennedy, said, “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.” Santorum, a Catholic who ran for president last year, reported that when he first read these words, he “almost threw up.”

Conservative Protestants want clear social hierarchies, traditional moral codes, and more God in their lives. Their God is their best friend while moderate Protestants have a more distant God. Although warmer, the conservatives’ God is more wrathful, angrier, and more punishing while moderate Protestants see their deity as more benevolent and forgiving.   

An example of this punishment comes from a Texas judge, John Roach Jr., who invoked his “morality clause” and punished Carolyn Compton for living with her partner out of wedlock. If the partner doesn’t move out within 30 days, Compton will lose her two children. Because Texas does not recognize same-sex marriage, Compton cannot marry, Page Price, her partner of three years. Therefore she loses her loving partner or her children to an abusive man.

Fundamentalists also perceive God’s punishing the entire country. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) recently claimed that the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the Benghazi attack were judgments by God as a way to punish America.

Pat Robertson’s recent marriage advice to a woman who called his program and asked how to forgive her cheating husband shows the fundamentalist perspective of hierarchy.

As the woman was talking, Robertson interrupted her:

“Stop talking about the cheating. He cheated on you. Well, he’s a man, okay. What you do is begin to focus on why you married him in the first place, on what he does good.” 

“Does he provide a home for you to live in? Does he provide food for you to eat? Does he provide clothes for you to wear? Is he nice to the children, do you have a happy family? Does he take the kids to sporting events? Does he go out and watch their Little League games? Does he share with you stuff that is going on? 

“And…uh…is he handsome, or is he, you know, what is it? Start focusing on those things and essentially fall in love with him all over again, and I recommend that you reach out and touch him. Touch his face! Hold his hand. Look into his eyes. Talk to him…”

“He must have some good points, or you wouldn’t have married him. So, give him honor, instead of trying to worry about it…but recognize, like it or not, that males have a tendency to wander a little bit. What you want to do is make a home so wonderful that he doesn’t want to wander.

“Reach out and think of the good stuff, then begin to thank God that you have a marriage that is together and that you live in America and that good things are happening…” 

Thus the Seventh Commandment applies only to women. 

Will Robertson continues his belief about LGBT people, who he equals with murderers and rapists and thieves? Or continue to believe in Bachmann’s theory of punishment about the 9/11 attacks being caused by feminism, ”a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians”? When pigs fly?

The Arizona government has established the same anti-LGBT punishment policy. After Phoenix included LGBT and disabled citizens in its anti-discrimination law to give them rights in housing and employment, religious leaders, including the Roman Catholics, said that the new law could “trample on religious liberties.” To save religion, Rep. Eddie Farnsworth and Sen. Steve Yarbrough reintroduced a tweaked, already-defeated bill as an amendment to an unrelated bill in order to skip a second public hearing. 

Language for the bill written by a conservative group, Center for Arizona Policy, states that no government entity can “burden” religious freedom, a “stand your ground” law for the religious. It allows people to discriminate against anyone they want if they claim religious grounds as an excuse—discrimination based on personal belief. The bill passed the Arizona House by a vote of 32-24.  

The Christian News calls it a way “to expand protections for the free exercise of religion.” The bill now goes to the Senate which has 17 Republicans of 30 members. At least one Republican representative had a bit of sense. “Can I create a religion and then claim infringement?” asked Kate Brophy McGee. 

What an interesting idea! Would that happen if we have a theocracy or do we have to follow just one religion,  that of the fundamental evangelical Protestants. 

April 14, 2013

GOP Wants Theocracy in the U.S.

Once again, the U.S. voters have shown their ignorance. According to an Omnibus Poll, sponsored by YouGov.com and the Huffington Post, 11 percent of adults in this country think that the Constitution permits the establishment of a state national religion, and another 31 percent don’t know. The same study shows that 32 percent of the people actually want a Constitutional amendment to make Christianity the official religion of the United States. Only 52 percent oppose this idea.

Those people supporting a theocracy based on the “Founding Fathers” don’t know that James Madison, “father of the U.S. Constitution,” wrote about the need for the separation of church and state in an 1822 letter to Edward Livingston:

“Every new and successful example, therefore, of a perfect separation between the ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance; and I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together.”  He continued, “We are teaching the world the great truth, that Governments do better without kings and nobles than with them. The merit will be doubled by the other lesson: the Religion flourishes in greater purity without, than with the aid of Government.”

Ironically, the same percentage of people who want Christianity as a national religion are also the only supporters of the GOP approach to social and cultural issues. That leaves the other two-thirds of the people opposing the policies that failed to get a GOP president and Senate in the latest election. So what’s the GOP to do?

Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus led the charge in rebranding Republicans, trying to move away from the Old Testament and toward greater success in next year’s election. The far-right groups are upset with the possibility that the GOP might change their position on social issues, especially marriage equality, and have threatened the GOP.

Thirteen high-profile conservatives representing influential groups wrote Priebus to rebuke him for his conclusions of the “autopsy” to determine the failure of the election. The letter concluded: “We respectfully warn GOP Leadership that an abandonment of its principles will necessarily result in the abandonment of our constituents to their support.”

Within the letter, the writers demanded a resolution to re-affirm the party’s 2012 national platform passed in Tampa (FL) and called for renewed bans on abortion and same-sex marriage. Nine of the 13 groups are 501(c)3 tax-exempt organizations, legally prohibited from supporting political parties. The IRS might want to look into these groups

Tony Perkins, president of the right-wing Family Research Council, has called on his people to stop contributions to the GOP until it starts “defending core principles.”

At the meeting this last week, the RNC faithfully toed the Christian line, confirming its opposition to marriage equality and its support of “core values” adopted last summer, including the statement that the country’s “rights come from God.” They rejected the recommendations from the “autopsy” that Priebus announced last month.

A committee vote changed the policy that the winner of a state caucus or primary automatically gets to control its delegates, but a later vote of all 168 delegates to the meeting didn’t pass the change. The purpose of this policy, adopted last summer in Tampa (FL) before the GOP presidential convention, was to keep candidate Ron Paul from getting votes. Without a change, the policy will have the same effect on his son Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) if he makes a try for presidential candidate, keeping him from getting delegates.

The new GOP policy permits more states to award delegates on a winner-take-all basis instead of proportionally, decreasing the possibility of grassroots candidates to get any support at the convention. The “autopsy” recommended regional primaries, giving the advantage to more moderate candidates who can raise a great deal of money.

It’s hard to see what “core principles” that Republicans aren’t defending. States are working even harder to ban abortions and eliminate reproductive rights. In just the first quarter of 2013, states proposed 694 bills relating to women’s bodies—all of them punitive.

Arkansas alone wants to defund Planned Parenthood and any organization that has contracts with abortion providers or referrers, including power and water companies, health insurers, and medical suppliers. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) wants the United States to be a place where no one even thinks about abortion.

State legislators are also proposing a plethora of bills to establish official state religions, eliminate sex education, and make sodomy illegal for everyone.

Perkins also wants the religious to keep their guns because the government may come after all those God-fearing, Bible-thumping evangelists. About the new gun legislation, which has almost no chance of passing, he wrote:

“I’m very concerned about this measure; I am concerned about where it may go once it gets to the Senate floor and what might happen in the House. This idea of background checks is very concerning given the fact that the United States military has been increasingly showing hostility toward evangelicals and Catholics as being somehow threats to national security and people that need to be watched.

“Well, what does that have to do with gun control? Well, what happens if all the sudden you are identified as an evangelical, bible-believing fundamentalist and the government decides you’ve got to be put on a watch list? Part of the provisions of this background check is kind of a system where if a caution comes up when they put your name in, you don’t get a chance to buy a gun.”

Meanwhile televangelist Pat Robertson is going after the country’s foreign policy. He thinks that Secretary of State John Kerry’s work on a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians violates Christianity,  warning that Kerry is “asking for the wrath of Almighty God to fall on this nation.”

Robertson also claimed that any deal including territorial concessions to the Palestinians, including Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem, will lead to divine retribution and “catastrophic” consequences. “We should do everything we can to restrain our leaders from this course of folly and it is a course of folly and it will result in terrible suffering for people in the United States,” he said.

Every time that government entities meet, they should read the the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

April 7, 2013

Religious Views in Red States

With DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) possibly disappearing over the western horizon, is there the chance that DORA will appear in the east? North Carolina is the first state that considered a try for an “official state religion,” and conservative legislators in Congress might be unconstitutional enough to attempt a “defense of religion act” for the entire country. Although the GOP House speaker in North Carolina has killed the legislation, it doesn’t mean such a law is dead across the nation.

The original argument is that  the constitutional prohibition in making laws to establish a religion fits only the United States, not individual states. Other states may try for it next.

House Joint Resolution 494, the Rowan County Defense of Religion Act of 2013, stated that North Carolina “does not recognize federal court rulings which prohibit and otherwise regulate the State of North Carolina, its public schools, or any political subdivisions of the State from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.” GOP state Reps. Harry Warren and Carl Ford introduced the bill after the ACLU sued Rowan County to stop them from opening public meetings with a Christian prayer. Their argument was that the Constitution only protects separation of church and state federally, not in individual states.

Right now, this bill and any similar one could not go into effect, based on the U.S. Supreme Court case, Lemon v. Kurtzman. The law advances one religion, in this case Christianity, as a primary goal. But some legislators thought they had a way around the “Lemon Test.”

Using nullification, lawmakers think they can disregard or subvert federal law and court rulings, and they’ve been getting away with their approach as shown by the proliferation of anti-abortion laws, including “personhood” that violates Roe v. Wade. In Mississippi, legislators have filed a bill creating a state committee to determine which federal laws the state will obey and which ones they will ignore. Lawmakers claim that they have that power because of state sovereignty.

In another Sunday story from the South, evangelical Liberty University, founded by Jerry Falwell, has been known for banning alcohol, dancing, kissing, women wearing skirts “shorter than the top of the knee,” R-rated movies, music not “in harmony with God’s word,” and a Democratic Party group. The school will, however, allow loaded guns everywhere on campus including in classrooms. Jerry Falwell, Jr. is proud “that Liberty is a little more open than some schools.”

Also from the Rachel Maddow blog, Morality in Media is calling Attorney General Eric Holder the nation’s top “pornography facilitator” for not using law-enforcement resources to crack down on pornography. Pat Robertson has also decreed that ignorance is necessary for miracles: that’s why  “people raised from the dead, blind eyes open, lame people walking” seem to “happen with great frequency in Africa.”

Those who follow Robertson, famous for his televangelism program The 700 Club airing on his own Christian Broadcasting Network, shouldn’t be surprised at some of his recent statements:

Men with “rebellious” wives should live where wife-beating is legal. “I don’t think we condone wife-beating these days but something has got to be done” about wives who fail to “understand authority.” Robertson recommended moving to Saudi Arabia where a husband can legally batter a wife.

Secondhand clothes have demons that must be cast out before the previous owner’s evil infects the purchaser. Because witches may have cursed these clothes, praying over them is a good precautionary measure. “Hey, it ain’t going to hurt anything to rebuke any spirits that happened to have attached themselves to those clothes.”

Women’s newfound discovery in sex and eroticism is amazing.  “The thing that shocks me. We always thought this was a male thing. But now it looks like 30% of women are involved in pornography.” He was referring to Fifty Shades of Gray and was surprised that the author doesn’t look like a “glamour queen.”

People should beware of “scamsters in religious garb quoting the Bible.” This came from the man who requested that people who cannot afford to pay their bills continue to send him money. “There is no way you can out give God. You can’t do it. It’s just $20 a month. And if all of us do it together, it gets to be millions and millions and millions of dollars!” And that’s why Robertson is wealthy—millions and millions and millions of dollars.

The government will soon round up Americans for unknown reasons. “Long trains full of armored vehicles, personnel carriers with armor, what are they for, the army going into battle against the enemy? They’re used by Homeland Security against us.” This conspiracy theory has been making the rounds back into the last century. 

Abortion is a lesbian conspiracy. Lesbians have a “deficiency” of not having babies, and therefore, “If these married women don’t have children, if they abort their babies, that puts them on a level playing field.” Robertson missed the studies showing that unwanted childbearing is strongly associated with poverty and stress.

Atheists want to steal Christmas to make Christians miserable. “Atheists don’t like our happiness, they don’t want you to be happy, they want you to be miserable. They’re miserable so they want you to be miserable.”

The earthquake punished Haitians for overthrowing slavery in the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-centuries.

“…something happened a long time ago in Haiti and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French, uh you know Napoleon the Third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the Devil. They said we will serve you if you’ll get us free from the French. True story. And so the Devil said, ‘OK, it’s a deal.’ And they kicked the French out. You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after the other, desperately poor. That island is Hispaniola is one island. It’s cut down the middle. On one side is Haiti, on the other side is the Dominican Republic. Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, etc. Haiti is in desperate poverty. Same island.”

Divorce is wrong unless the woman gets sick. For a man whose wife’s senility is making him lonely, Robertson said, “I know it sounds cruel, but if he’s going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again. But to make sure she has custodial care, somebody looking after her.”

Robertson may seem fairly moderate compared to Pastor Steven Anderson of the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe (AZ). Part of his ministrations includes his rant about how women shouldn’t have sex, publicly speak, read books of their own choosing, dress how they want, and look at/think about/acknowledge any men apart from their husbands who they must always, always obey.

Regarding the marriage equality debate in the Supreme Court at the same time as North Korea’s war threat, Southern Baptist Convention leader Fred Luter asked on a Christian talk show, TruNews with Rick Wiles, “Could the two be connected?”

Also Dave Agema, Michigan RNC chair, claims, in addition to other disgusting lies, that LGBT people account for a high number of murders in cities. The new kinder, gentler GOP is not calling for his resignation. Agema has support from Michael Reagan, the former president’s son, who said that marriage equality will lead to legalizing murder.

Yesterday, I wrote about the massive differences between red and blue states. Obviously this runs to conservative religious beliefs which, ironically, also correlate with high use of prescription drugs. A study released earlier this year shows that Mississippi is still the most religious state in the nation, closely followed by other southern states—Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma—and then Utah.  These states also have the highest use of anti-depressants topped by Utah where residents are twice as likely to be on these medications as the average U.S. population. Of the top ten religious states, nine have higher than average use of anti-depressants.

Of the ten most religious states in the nation, six are also on the list of top-ten most medicated states. Dr. Jane Barlow, vice president of medical strategy and clinical quality for Medco Health Solutions, said that the rates of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes are higher in these states than the national average, particularly West Virginia. “The growth in prescription drug use [is driven in part by] chronic diseases that are largely preventable and are linked to lifestyle and physical activity.”

Once again, states with the highest level of mental and physical health issues want to drag the United States down to their level.

January 13, 2013

Christians Attack Women, Children; Chick-fil-A Loses

Every week after I publish the “Sunday Blog” about religion, I think that there can’t be anything more to report on in the next week. I’m always wrong.

The Buckeye Education School, a Christian school in Berea (OH), must consider children expendable because they used their students, as young as 13, to gut an old building to prepare the site for the new school. Although the walls were filled with asbestos, there were no precautions taken, not even protective gear for the kids. Both state and federal law require trained and accredited personnel to perform public building asbestos abatement.

On December 13, regulators found debris, potentially containing asbestos, in three dumpsters and strewn around the property. Buckeye Education is overseen by Sterling Education; its vision statement includes “adequately funded academic programs and safe, well-maintained, proper school facilities.”  Even a single fiber of asbestos can lodge in the lung, causing inflammation, scarring, and possibly cancer. The students will be immediately x-rayed and tested, but the effects of asbestos exposure could take as long as 30 years to manifest. Buckeye School is now under criminal investigation.

Another attack on children came from a dialog between Matt Dillahunty, moderator of the Atheist Experience cable show out of Austin (TX), and a caller who identified as “Shane” that went sour after Shane tried to convince Dillahunty that he actually believes in God. The subject was raped children. Dillahunty expressed frustration with the God of the Bible who allows children to be raped. Shane responded, “First of all, you portray that little girl as someone who’s innocent, she’s just as evil as you.” Listeners didn’t know who “that little girl” is, but Dillahunty cut off the conversation at that point.

If a couple has problems, it’s the woman’s fault. At least that’s what Pat Robertson told a 17-year-old boy who wrote to Maxim magazine about his father’s spending too much time playing computer war games while the boy “noticed how alone my mom feels.” After Robertson suggested that the boy get his parents to go on a romantic weekend, the televangelist moved onto the real problem—from his perception:  “You know, it may be your mom isn’t as sweet as you think she is, she may be kind of hard-nosed. And so, you say it’s my father, he’s not paying attention to mom, but you know mom…” he trails off before a nasty chuckle before he talked about a woman who sought advice.

“A woman came to a preacher I know—it’s so funny,” Robertson continued. “She was awful looking. Her hair was all torn up, she was overweight, and looked terrible…” Robertson’s punchline?  “And the preacher looked at her and he said, ‘Madam, if I were married to you, I’d start to drink too.’”

The week may not be complete without hate speech from Bryan Fischer (American Family Association). This one concerns ENDA, a proposed bill that would provide federal LGBT employment protections.

“Once [ENDA] goes into effect, which says that no business can discriminate against anybody no matter how bizarre their sexual perversity is, their sexual deviancy is, no matter how abnormal their sexual orientation is, you cannot take that into account in personnel decisions… [If the law goes into effect] the homosexual lobby will send a flaming homosexual into that Christian bookstore to apply for a job. They’ll send a guy in there wearing stilettos, a dress, and dangly earrings and dare the owner of that Christian bookstore not to hire him.”

As with other laws, religious organizations would not be required to hire LGBT people even if they weren’t wearing stilettos.

Tony Perkins (Family Research Council) is competing with Fischer for paranoid winner of the week. To Perkins the military is suppressing religion by testing a new Mind Fitness Training Program to keep soldiers mentally fit and reduce depression:

“What a coincidence–so does faith! Unfortunately, the military seems intent on driving religion out and replacing it with wacky substitutes. They’ve added atheist chaplains, Wiccan worship centers, and now, meditation classes. But none of them are as effective or as constructive as a personal relationship with God. Unfortunately, though, it’s mind over what matters–and that’s faith.”

The pilot program combines yoga, breathing exercises, and meditation with other training. In 2012, the U.S. military averaged one suicide every single day; service members are more likely to commit suicide than be killed on the battlefield. The force-feeding of evangelical beliefs at military academies doesn’t seem to have helped.

Sometimes the good guys win: Jason Selvig and Davram Stiefler, two Brooklyn-based comedians and social commentators, can keep their parody website, ChickfilaFoundation.com, despite a lawsuit from the Atlanta-based fast-food chain to close it down. A classic video on the website shows the two creators going into one of the restaurants with a coupon for a free chicken sandwich if they renounce their homosexuality: “Trade your Homosexuality for a FREE Original Chicken Sandwich!”  The site appeared after the corporation’s president, Dan Cathy, openly came out against marriage equality and donated $2 million to anti-gay groups. Selvig and Stiefler not only won against the corporation but also got a free chicken sandwich when they used their “coupon” in San Francisco.

Trade-Your-Homosexuality-for-a-free-chicken-sandwich

Perhaps you too can get a free Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich!

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