Friday, March 31, 2006

Pray about it...

Some religious folk set out to show how prayer heals. I know they were religious since one of them is a chaplain at a hospital. And another individual involved is from a religious hospital.

They studied 1,800 patients who had heart bypass surgery. They divised three groups of patients. Group A was prayed for and told that they may or may not be on the prayer list. Group B was not prayed for and told they may or may not be on the prayer list. And Group C was told they would be prayed for and they were.

Prayer begin on the day of the surgery and continued for each patient for two weeks. And then they looked at which group had the most complications. Group A and Group B were almost identical: 52% vs 51% respectively. The third group, who were prayed for and knew it, actually did the worst of the bunch. For this group 59% had complications.

The study concluded: "Intercessory prayer itself had no effect on whether complications occurred (and) patients who were certain that intercessors would pray for them had a higher rate of complications than patients who were uncertain but did receive intercessory prayer." This was the largest such study of its kind.

And it was biased in a direction that should have helped the case for prayer. According to Reuters, "The patients in the study had similar religious profiles with most believing in spiritual healing...." Now that factor should have encouraged a placebo effect at the very least but apparently not.

Of course they started looking for reasons why this study went wrong. Instead of just admitting that prayer is not effective they concocted this excuse: "with so many individuals receiving prayer from friends and family, as well as personal prayer, it may be impossible to disentangle the effects of study prayer from background prayer."

But that still doesn't get them off the hook. The "background prayer" should have impacted all three groups about the same. So they still have to explain why the people who knew they were getting more prayer than average did worse than the others. And for that they admit they have no answer. There is one but apparently it is an answer they find unacceptable.

And to stay on the safe side they say they did not study private or family prayer which "is widely believed to influence recovery from illness and the results of this study do not challenge this belief." Of course it was widely believed that the sun revolved around the earth at one time but that didn't make it factual.

As I see it the problem is this. We do know there is a placebo effect where thinking that something may be helpful can, by itself, be helpful. I would assume this is true for sugar pills, magnets, prayer, or healing crystals. The items may have no real effect but if a person believes it may that alone can help with healing. Now obviously the act of prayer itself is engaged in because a person imagines it may help. So there should be placebo results because the patients are the one's doing the praying. Ditto for chanting, postive thinking, meditation, etc. One way to remove the placebo effect is remove that person connection. So if you want to test prayer by itself have individuals other than the patient doing the praying.

At this point they have pretty much shown that praying for others does not produce a benefit for them that can be measured. Even if they now do a similar study showing that individuals who pray for themselves do slightly better they would only be confirming the well known placebo effect.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The poor babies...!

Right-wing fundies are whinging and crying. They claim they are victims. Using the most detestable tactic of the Left and embracing "victimhood" as a means of making political gains, these born-again bores are saying there is a war on them. In fact they just finished a two day conference on the "War on Christians" in, where else, Washington, D.C. Why the capitol? Because this is not about their being victims it is about their desire to grab political power. Their victimhood is merely a means to their goal--taking political control of the country and imposing their religious beliefs on the rest of the country.

Let's consider what sort of things they consider attacks on them. If you don't allow them to put their theology in textbooks in state schools they consider that a war. If they are not allowed to teach theology, as science, in the state schools, they consider that war. If they are not allowed to use the state schools to impose religious rituals, like prayer, on students, that is a war. If they are not allowed to decide what publications other people may read they say you are making war on them. If they are not allowed to define marriage for everyone else that is waging war on them.

Over and over a "war on Christians" is really the reluctance to allow them to use state power against the beliefs of others. No one stops owners of private property from putting up a creche scene at Christmas. But fundies want to use state property which means a subsidy for their religiious expression. The police are not knocking on their doors or carting them off to camps. They still go door to door "witnessing" without legal restrictions. They run "ministries" that collect millions but don't have to pay taxes on the income, a privilege not allowed other businesses. But that they are not allowed to incarcerate people for being homosexual they see as persecuting them for their religion.

That they are really after state power is indicated by their main speakers. Start with the Republican office holders that appeared including indicted congressman Tom DeLay. Included were the typical right-wing political activists like Phyllis Schlafly, Gary Bauer and Alan Keyes. Over and over these people are involved in politics. They are seeking power not the right to pray.

How do I know this? Because no one can stop anyone from praying. These people could spend 24 hours a day in prayer without anyone showing up at the door to take them off to the concentration camps. But they don't want to pray at home or in church. They want to be able to use state schools to promote this religious ritual. And that is a very different matter indeed.

One minister, Rev. Robert Franklin of the Church of God in Christ, got it right. He said: "This is a skirmish over religious pluralism, and the inclination to see it as a war against Christianity strikes me as a spoiled-brat response by Christians who have always enjoyed the privileges of a majority position.

Apparently the paranoia of these power-hungry theocrats got the better of them when a fire alarm went off by accident at the conference hotel. Some of them started seeing plots to disrupt them and more evidence for the "war on Christians". But the hotel said they have a mechanical problem in a distant location that caused the alarm to go off in error and that they fixed it.

Rick Scarborough of the right-wing Vision America group said that the conference was to help "offer a strategy for Christians to fight back and ultimately win the culture war and reclaim America." Now I have watched these people for years. They have consistently pushed for political power not their rights but the right to dictate to others. When they speak of reclaiming America they mean using legislation to impose their "values" on everyone. And anyone who opposes that measure is now waging war on them and they are being persecuted. It's rubbish and it's dishonest. But it is typical for fundie power-hungry theocrats. Muslims may face Mecca and pray but fundie Christians seem to pray facing Washington, DC, from whom all power flows.

A journey to reason.

It is no surprise that this is an atheist site and proudly so. Whatever the Taliban or others may think about atheism to the contrary it is, or ought to be, first and foremost a commitment to reason. But for many people reason is a position they arrive at after years of journey.

One may have religious “conversions” but atheism is rarely an over night experience. One doesn’t suddenly “see the light” or as the faithful may assume, “see the darkness” all at once. It is a process. And it can be a very difficult process. Most of us, especially in the US and Islamic nations, are acculturated to be religious. The commitment to reason in the US is, these days, a weak one

I believe that the tendency in religion, especially in monotheistic religions, is toward fanaticism and fundamentalism. The reason for this is simple. Religion only really seems tenable with a fundie interpretation. Once one begins travelling down the road of reason and tries to make religion rational you start surrendering religion bit by bit. If you refuse to think too deeply you may be able to sustain that position. But otherwise you are trapped.

Look at the Bible. Does it, or does it not, mean what it says? If it means what it says then you have to move into fundamentalism of one kind or another. If it doesn’t then you have no real ability to sustain belief. Christians either say the Bible IS the word of God or they says it contains the world of God. If it IS the word then you are in fundamentalism. If you say it merely contains the word you have another problem?

Which parts are the word and which are not? How do you know the legitimate from the man made? Where do draw the line. It’s a process that makes the book almost meaningless from a theological perspective.

I can accept it is the work of men. I have no problem with that. As such it need not be true. It may be useful. It may have truths in it but it is not THE truth. But once you take it as THE word you have problems. You have to go through intellectual gymnastics to avoid being trapped by the viciousness of writings from thousands of years ago. It says you should kill witches though there is no such thing and it means killing innocent people you brand witches in the end. It says you should execute homosexuals. It says all sorts of barbaric things.

The typical individual in the West, mainly due to secular thinking, knows this is absurd. So they have excuses for not taking those mandates literally. They may argue it is no longer applicable or it really means something other than what it appears to say. They rely on hidden meanings or try to turn it into some sort of metaphor. To take it literally is to plunge into the Dark Ages in a very real sense. So they try not do do that with the particularly ghastly passages.

But if one part is a metaphor with no literal meaning then why not the other passages? How do you accept some literally and others parts figuratively? Why not take all of it figuratively? And if it does not mean what it says but has a meaning you have to figure out then does it really have a meaning? Can there ever be an incorrect version of it? Or does it merely become a text used by individuals to justify any position they want to justify without having to prove it?

So I think the Bible either needs to be taken literally or one is headed in the direction of endowing it with no meaning at all or perhaps, with any meaning you want. It thus ceases to be God’s word and becomes your word

And what is done with the word of God is done with God as well.

Karen Armstrong is a smart lady. She was a nun. She is a history writer. She is still religious. But she is moving away from a more orthodox, literal view of religion to one that is more rational. She says she wants to “make sense of life” and is “looking for its meaning and how we can have a better humanity.” I feel for her. Who among us doesn’t want that? I know I do.

She wants to save religion from fundamentalism. Alas the nature of religion is inherently fundamentalist but she does not yet want to admit that. Many people on the journey to reason are in her same position. There is just too much that have to throw out and it can be scary and frightening to surrender the assurances you have from faith. It is so easy to accept answers that are already formed and so hard to think things through yourself.

Armstrong loves religion but hates fundamentalism. She says you “can’t equate true religion with hatred.” She says of the fundies: “If these people went to a psychiatrist, they would be diagnosed with a psychological disorder. The fact that so many people subscribe to this shows a profound unease, fear, a feeling of impotence, rage and pent-up fury.”

But these are people who also feel safe. They feel as if they have answers. They now have a security and a feeling of belonging. And there is no lack of feel superior to those who may well be their superiors. I remember riding on a church bus with some fundamentalists going past the million dollar apartments on Chicago’s Gold Coast and having one low class fundamentalist with little education and less likelihood of ever being a financial success, look up at the rich people and saying how he is superior to them because he has Jesus and those “poor” people up there will burn in hell. There is no lack of envy in the true sense among such people.

In the Washington Post Armstrong is asked if she believes in God. She responds like most non-literalist Christians do these days: “It’s a mistake to define God. I gave it up a long time ago.... To define literally means to set limits. That is a travesty to try to define a reality that must go beyond human thinking.”

I have Christian friends, even ministers, who grapple with this problem all the time. And they end up journeying in a direction where their term God is devoid of meaning. Think of what Armstrong is saying here? Let me take her to mean what she said. I ask her to tell me about her God. What can she do? Not a whole lot. She can’t tell me anything that gives the term meaning. Meaning means definition and she says that is a mistake.

The non-literalist is clearly more humane and sane than the fundamentalist. But holding on to a god that they can’t or won’t define is itself useless. No doubt I could talk to her but would we be able to say anything?

In the end, if you continue your journey, you reach a point where you realize that you can not tell the difference between your concept of God and unbelief. If you take away the concept of a literal meaning, or a definition of some sort you end up with a god who isn’t there. They end up with a package that has no contents but they simply can’t part with the package anyway.

There is a fear that if one says , “I am an atheist” that they will lose something important. All I can do is tell them that is not the case.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Hidden images and miracle soap.

One of the looniest web sites on the Right is World Net Daily. Some time ago they reported that all whites in South Africa were about to be slaughtered. It never happened. But their fevered imagination and tendency to fall for kook conspiracy theories is almost unlimited.

Now they are promoting a documentary that purports to prove that the Catholic Church has had problems with molesting priests due “embedded Satanic and occultic imagery in its artwork---some of it hundreds of years old”.

They report: “Experts are featured in the film to offer detailed accounts of the subconscious programming effects of the sex and occult images on the human brain and how it promotes sex, Satanism and the occult. Religious education materials, songbooks, children's story books, devotionals and the Sunday Missals all have been found to contain embedded imagery.”

At the bottom of their “news” story they promote a book they are hawking: “Is there a dark, worldwide Luciferian conspiracy to dominate the world? Find out in “Brotherhood of Darkness,” WND’s hottest selling book.”

The author is one of the “experts” used in the documentary. Stanley Monteith is the author and his book supposedly reveals the true story behind “secret societies, how they have directed the course of civilization, and how they influence our lives today.” He presents himself as an expert on “the causes of America’s spiritual and moral decline.” His actual area of expertise is that he was an orthopedic surgeon. But somehow once a “Dr.” is put before the name of a kook they become experts on subjects entirely outside their training.

Monteith has written a book a bit closer to his field but not quite in it either. He wrote a little book for a fundamentalist publishing house about AIDS. Of course orthopedic surgeons are not involved in the fields related to AIDS. But to the Right the fact that he’s a doctor qualifies him in all medical fields. It’s like having a car mechanic doing the electrical work on the theory that working on part of the car is like working on any part of the car. Monteith wanted mandatory central records kept on all people who are HIV positive, wants “mandatory premarital, prenatal and neonatal HIV testing” as some ways of dealing with the virus.

If you think this man is nuts follow the rest of the story. He also is featured in an interview with Clayton Tedeton. Who is Tedeton? Why he’s the inventor of Miracle II soap. And on his “testimonial page” for his miracle soap you find two interviews he does with Stanley Monteith. Tedeton says: “It was God who gave me the formula for the Amazing Miracle II Soap. I awoke one night in July, 1980, to see names of minerals all miraculously flashed on my bedroom wall, along with the formulas on how to mix them.” He also calls this “Annointed Miracle Soap”.

Tedeton says he heard a voice regularly speaking to him. And what are the miracles? Well apparently if you use his soap you get healed of all sorts of problems. “God started sending people to me, telling me of the healing merits of both the SOAP and the NEUTRALIZER. Skin cancers being healed were the first healings I heard about from my customers. Then, other healing reports began to come in; Psoriasis, warts, poison ivy, bedsores, athletes foot, and many other skin problems. In this way, little by little, the many products uses became known, many people were saying the SPIRIT of God told them to use the product in a certain way. Customers began to tell me how they used it to kill fire ants, roaches, spiders, fleas, ticks, and many other insects. God has revealed that this product, once it becomes known, will revolutionize CLEANING and will be the answer to HEALTH PROBLEMS, and it will also be a miracle in AGRICULTURE. It will also be the means of employment for people everywhere, thousands of people are selling Miracle II nationwide at this time and giving the glory to God.”

I have tried to listen to the interviews but can’t seem to access them. But I doubt that this nutcase would be peddling his miracle soap with these tapes if Dr. Monteith, the conspiracy/AIDS/hidden images expert were too hard on the man. HL Mencken said that if you find a man is crazy on one topic the chances are pretty good he’ll be crazy on lots of topics.

And when it comes to this “documentary” there are is a whole gaggle of nutcases involved. If I can find the time I’ll post material on a few of the others. Hidden images, secret conspiracies and miracle soap that heals cancer with a formula from God himself. The Right is getting nuttier and nuttier.

Justice Scalia reveals his true colors.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia shocked reporters. The Right wing Roman Catholic Justice was attending a mass in Boston. As he came out of the service a reporter for the Boston Herald asked him whether he faced questions regarding his impartiality over issues of separation of church and state.

Scalia raised his middle finger, a gesture which usually means "fuck you" while saying: "You know what I say to those people?"

Scalia's office is now denying the incident happened. Reporters on the scene say they witnessed it. And allegedly a photo of the incident was taken by a local Catholic publication. Others claim that Scalia used a gesture where one cups the hand under the chin and flicks the fingers backwards.

It matters little which gesture he used. Either way it indicates a disdain for the First Amendment to the constitution regarding separation of church and state.

I'm waiting for the Republicans to announce their new motto: "Strength through unity, unity through faith."

An atheist and his children are soon parted.

Eugene Volokh has a law review article that looks at how courts in the United States routinely deny custody rights over children because a parent is not religious. A recent poll showed that Americans believe that atheists are most in opposition to American values. Judges and legislators have used the power of state to force religious upbringings on children by denying custody to parents who are not religious. The entire article can be download.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Fundies drop intimidation law suit

We previously reported that the anti-gay fundamentalist group, Exodus International, tried bully methods in an attempt to force a web site to remove a parody of the group. They claimed the parody infringed their copyright. And they hired a Christian advocacy firm that spends time threatening people with lawsuits in an attempt to force their agenda. We reported on the matter here.

The website in question, is run by blogger Justin Watt, but Watt publicized the legal threats. And one result was that numerous sites, including this one, republished his parody. So instead of stifling the ridicule the legal threats only expanded them. Watt went to the ACLU and they agreed to defend hinm against this attemnpt of intimidation.

Now the fundamentalists have backed down. They claim they are backing down because a logo was removed from the parody. But Watts noted at the time of the threats that the logo was so faint that it was basically invisible. You actually had to have your attention drawn to it to even notice it. He told them he would remove it even though they held no trademark or copyright on the logo. The logo was a rather unimaginative lower case e faintly appearing as a watermark. It's hard to think that that a simple letter e by itself could be copyrighted.

Personally I suspect that the reason Exodus is dropping the case is simply due to not wanting to go to court against the ACLU. The watermark issue is used as an excuse so that the fudnamentalist nuts can crow that they had a victory. Meanwhile, the parody continues to be seen. But no doubt they will pretend they have won.

Friday, March 24, 2006

USA: Unbelievably Stupid Americans

It is sometimes really embarrassing to be American. I mean really embarrassing. It's bad enough that you now have grocery stores around the country with motorized carts. Why? You might think for the elderly or the handicapped. But no. It's mainly for the fat, the massively fat, disgustingly fat, grotesquely fat that seem to be all over the US these days. Then if you aren't dealing with that turn on the boob tube. You get disgusting shows like Jerry Springer. And the idiots who aren't falling for that are getting their Jesus fix on some other station. The country is a cultural wasteland populated by Bible-believing morons. About the only time an American evens realizes another country exists is when the Head Moron invades it.

Around the world people look aghast at the US and wonder how a total dunce like Bush could be elected. He was elected because he's one of the people. The dumbing down of America via the government schools is now taking its toll. The greedy teacher unions that see the schools as a welfare scheme for incompetent teachers have achieved their goal. Americas are now routinely dumb. And if you want proof of this look at a new study. Who do Americans hate the most? Who do they distrust and think are "un-American" more than anyone else?

Fundamentalists who want to rip up the First Amendment? No. Muslim nut cases who blow people up while they pretend they will spend eternity with a bunch of virgins? N0!

The number one group that Americans love to hate are those dangerous atheists. Get this from the press release on the poll: "Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in 'sharing their vision of American society.' Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry."

Penny Edgell, associate sociology professor and the study’s lead researcher said: “Americans believe they share more than rules and procedures with their fellow citizens—they share an understanding of right and wrong. Our findings seem to rest on a view of atheists as self-interested individuals who are not concerned with the common good.”

As long as you believe in the divine tooth fairy, a cosmic easter bunny, some grand poohba of eternity, they you're an okay fella. Don't fall for the bullshit and something is very wrong with you buddy. Now they have no problem with Mormons who think they will all become gods through the secret, Masonic-resembling, rituals of their temples. They are okay fellas. Even those fundy types with 30 wives who throw the boys out of town so they can have the teenage girls for themselves. See, those guys, they believe in what Americans believe. Not like them atheists.

Of course another poll recently showed that atheists are far less likely to endorse the use of torture. But then torture is a fine Christian tradition. They've done it for thousands of years. Sure they took a century or so off but that was because of them damn liberals who preached that atheistic human rights stuff. But now that "God's folk" are taking charge again well, maybe, a little torture isn't such a bad thing?

People around the world can not believe how stupid America has become. Americans are people who want to throw science out of the schools and bring Jesus in. As if the kids aren't screwed up enough already. That people could actually believe this way is so astoundingly shocking that I'm not even sure what to say. Actually, I will say what I've said for several years now. If you value reason, freedom and individualism get out now. The United States is going into a decline that is more rapid than you can imagine. It is a cultural wasteland. It is run by an idiot. There are only other idiots waiting in the wings to take over. And when it collapses in on itself the stupid and the obese will find their little go carts won't work. But it won't matter because the grocery shelves will be empty. The US has spent its financial capital and is bankrupt. It has spent its moral capital and now substitutes Jesus stories for a moral compass. And it has spent its intellectual capital. Thomas Jefferson is dead. George Bush lives. So get out and do it as quickly as you can.

I’m pissed. Just in case you can’t tell.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Is someone pulling the strings for Chef?

The Scientology cult vs South Park show controvery is not going away. The story reported widely was that Isaac Hayes, who contributes the voice for the Chef character, quit the show in protest of an episode ridiculing the wacko sci fi cult. Then a rerun of the show was pulled allegedly under pressure from dingbat Tom Cruise.

But some questions have been raised whether or not Hayes actually resigned the show. Roger Friedman at Fox News says that Hayes had a minor stroke and was recuperating and had not resigned. Friedman says he spent time with Hayes after the show originally aired and he was not upset about it. And in early January, after the show had aired, he defended it and publicly discussed the show in question. Friedman writes: "That certainly begs the question of who issued the statement that Hayes was quitting "South Park" now because it mocked Scientology four months ago. If it wasn’t Hayes, then who would have done such a thing?"

Friedman notes: "But it’s hard to know anything since Hayes, like Katie Holmes, is constantly monitored by a Scientologist representative most of the time." These are not good people to with whom to get mixed up.

UPDATE: Friedman has posted more. He is adamant that Hayes DID NOT resign. He says that all business communication with Hayes goes through Christina Kimball who he says is "a devoted member of the Church of Scientology". I wonder if he meant demented? He says that Hayes is doing much better after his stroke and will soon be back on the air. If that proves to be the case it will be another black eye for the crazy cult. So I suspect they will be doing their best to stop him from returning.

Religious Americans support torture most

The very idea that the nation founded by men like Thomas Jefferson has degenerated to the level that it supports torture astounds me. And sickens me. It is a blot on the American reputation but then these days the government is so power hungry, and yearning for a global empire, that it should not surprise me. A recent Pew poll asked Americans if they support the use the torture. Choices were "often", "sometimes", "rarely", or "never".

Only 32% said never. But the more religious a person the more likely they were to support the use of torture. And Catholics, perhaps fondly yearning for the Inquisition, or maybe the rap of Sister's ruler on their knuckles, are more likely to support torture than any one else. Only 26% of Catholics said "never". But 72% supported the use of torture at times with 21% doing so often. Only 31% of Protestants, both liberal and fundamentalist, opposed torture. And 41% of those who describe themselves as "secular" oppose the use of torture.

So the non-believers were the one group least likely to support the use of torture. And people argue that religion gives one a moral compass!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The inhumanity of religious fanatics

Seven Muslims in the UK are on trial for planning terrorists attacks on their fellow citizens in the name of their vile beliefs. These men had the materials gathered for their bomb and were trying to contact the Russian mafia to see if they could buy something far more deadly.

In a discussion, that was taped by police, Jawad Akbar discussed whether they should blow up a large nightclub in London, a place guaranteed to kills many innocent people. Akbar had no problem with this: "The biggest nightclub in central London, no one can put their hands up and say they are innocent -- those slags dancing around."

Get how these fundamentalists see life. No one in the nightclub is innocent because they are dancing! Thus they are guilty and it's okay to kill them.

Another suspect in the trial was heard saying how he wished the terrorist bombing in Spain had taken place during the holidays to kill more families. Not enough children died to make him happy.

Once people believe they are acting on behalf of a god they are capable of anything.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Shame on the US.

The despicable Bush administration is playing it soft when it comes to the man in US-controlled Afghanistan who is on trial for his life because he converted to Christianity. Here is what the BBC reports on the US response so far: "The US made a subdued appeal for him to be allowed to practise his faith - but stressed it did not want to interfere." The man can be executed and the Bush Taliban comes up with a "subdued appeal" and a promise to not "interfere".

The US pointedly did NOT ask for the release of this man and instead emphasized the "sovereignty" of Afghanistan. Rubbish. The US invasion violated sovereignty for crimes of bin Laden. Whether you think that justified, or not, is not the issue. Respecting the sovereignty of nations is not the Bush style.

Nor should we forget that Bush was just over in Afghanistan claiming that as result of the US attack the country has now emerged from the tyrannical rule of the Taliban yet here we have a man threatened with execution, legally, because of his religion.The US knows it has the puppet strings in it's hands. If this man is sentenced to death the shame is not just on Afghanistan but on the US as well.

Addendum: In the face of mounting pressure George Bush has finally said something about this case. He said that he expected Afghanistan to "honor the universal principle of freedom". Ditto, Mr. Bush, ditto.

Monday, March 20, 2006

An example of the US "liberated."

America, under Ayatollah Bush, invaded Afghanistan. We "liberated" it according to Bush and now it's a free society with a government the US helped put into place. And how has it changed? Well, not that much apparently. Abdul Rahman converted from Islam, to Christianity, some 16 years ago.

But now he's on trial in Afghanistan for converting. And the government says that the judges are holdovers from the Taliban and they can't do anything about it since the new Afghan constitution respects Islamic law. Of course the new Iraqi constitution, funded by the US, does exactly the same thing. Makes you wonder what the hell all the fighting was about.

Rahman was arrested when it was found he was carrying a Bible. He will be asked to convert back to Islam and if he refuses he will be killed. The "judge" in the case said:"We will invite him again because the religion of Islam is one of tolerance. We will ask him if he has changed his mind. If so we will forgive him." This is how the fundamentalists the world over define tolerance. If you accept their view you are forgiven, anything else will bring down their wrath. There is no true tolerance.

President Karzai, a US funded puppet, has said he will not interfer. Good thing Americans died to "liberate" Afghanistan from the rule of the Taliban. After all they used to kill people for not being Muslims.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

V is for vile, vacuous vipers

Loony-land residents over at the Far Right World Net Daily are always on the lookout for a film to bash. Now with Brokeback Mountain finishing its run they need another target to excoriate. Their new target is the libertarian film V for Vendetta.

But WND turns to some bow-tied twit from an outfit called the Christian Film & Television Commission. Considering that people get more stupid in commissions, and considering that most these fundies start out intellectually challenged to begin with, I guess one shouldn't expect much from this group. And their chairman, Ted Baehr, penned a silly diatribe meant for consumption by brain-dead social conservatives.

First he claims that Oscar's "celebrated left-wing politics and anti-Christian bigotry". What a utter dildo! And I mean that in the nicest way. Though I suspect I may be forced to apologize to dildos everywhere. The Oscars did not such thing. I watched them from start to finish. Had they done that they might have been a bit more entertaining. Now what he means, in Christian logic, is that by honoring films that Christians hate then the Academy is anti-Christian. Certainly there is nothing about Brokeback Mountain that is anti-Christian. It just does share the fundamentalists obsession with hating homosexuals. And to bigots if you don't share their bigotry that makes you the real bigot.

Now Baehr is attack V for Vendetta as a "vile, pro-terrorist piece of neo-Marxist, left-wing propaganda filled with radical sexual politics and nasty attacks on religion and Christianity." That Baehr is not very intelligent is garnered from the fact that, in his "review", he calls the British parliament "one of Western Civilization's most enduring symbols of democracy and republican government..." Apparently he doesn't have the sense to know that a monarchy can't be a republican form of government. But it's not in the Bible so it mustn't be important.

He says the movie is "a thinly veiled attack on the War on Terror now being waged by Prime Minister Tony Blair in Great Britain and President George W. Bush in the United States." Of course the film's story line is based on a famous comic from almost 20 years ago.

That the film is about a future authoritarian world escapes this born-again dweeb. But he doesn't waste time getting down to the real reason he hates this film. He hates this film because the film doesn't hate homosexuals. What precisely is it about these religious nutters that make them so obsessed with what other people do with their genitals? Here is what this fundamentalist hate-monger has to say, the film:

"[A]lso depicts homosexuals as a persecuted, harmless minority of "nice" people. Both of these portrayals are hate-filled, false stereotypes, but the second one is actually contradicted by the secret stash of homoerotic pornography that one of the homosexual characters in the movie hides in a secret room in his house. If all homosexuals, and all homosexual activists, are such goody two shoes, how come so many of them resort to unsafe sexual practices that spread deadly diseases, and how come so many of them promote pornography, support the murder of unborn children through abortion and molest underage children?"

Good god, could the man cram any more venom and hatred into one paragraph? See gay people really are all evil. That is what is saying. They are all nasty people who promote porn, killing babies and molesting children. I suspect he confuses gay men with Catholic priests on that last count.

Baehr claims this film is part of a communist plot! I kid you not. McCarthy and Saint Paul have been born again in this nerd. He claims this comes from "the communist influence of the Frankfurt School... started... by a group of Marxist intellectuals."

Then he simply asserts that the culture war was started by these Commies and and that "is what the Culture war in Hollywood is all about." In fact he shows no link at all. He merely states that a group of commies got together in 1923 in Germany and then jumps to the films he likes to hate without showing a single link between the two. But in fundamentalist circles this is considered high logic.

In Baehr's fevered imagination the only purpose of art is to promote Christian fundamentalism --- which probably shows why he hates a film that is critical of the kind of theocratic society that people like Baehr would like to impose on the world. This film doesn't promote fundamentalism so it's evil. It promotes evils such as "immoral sexual practices conducted outside the bounds of heterosexual marriage." He writes like he thinks. Are these immoral sex acts inherently immoral or only immoral when practiced outside the bedroom of born-again nutters? He is very unclear. It could mean either. In addition this film shows "atheist, pro-homosexual bigotry that creates vile, hateful stereotypes of Christians and their leaders."

Again he is saying that if a film is not explicitly anti-gay then the film is exhibiting "pro-homosexual bigotry". See if you don't hate gays then you are a bigot. And that is how god wants it.

And finally, like some fanatical Islamic mullah, he announces that he speaks directly for some deity. "In other words, God hates it when institutions and people like Time Warner and the filmmakers behind V for Vendetta pervert mankind's ability to create art." The only good art, he says, is that which "informed by frequent reading and serious study of the Bible, which is the World of God." Right! Now this is what the nuts at World Net Daily think is a film review.

I was curious as to what films this deluded Bible addict does find acceptable so I went to his web site. He has a dozen films rated on his web site and not a single one of them is deemed "acceptable" according to his Talibanist views. The film Aquamarine is a kid's film. But Baehr gives the film a "caution" because he says it has a "pagan elements" because the mermaid in it grants wishes. He mentions profanities by which he means a character says "My god". There is also, what he calls, "naturalistic nudity of both male and female teenagers in swimsuits and bikinis". Get that! Wearing a swimsuit is what he calls "nudity".

The film Joyeux Noel is given a "Caution" rating as well. It shows a "woman's naked shoulders and man's naked back exposed, upper male nudity; alcohol use, smoke; and light suggestions of total pacifism..." Oh my god. Is there no end to the depravity of Hollywood. OOPS, it wasn't made in Hollywood. Never mind it's still a commie plot.

Failure to Launch is rated "extreme caution" because of things like a "strong pagan worldview" and "advocating fun as much as commitment". It has "22 obscenities (including one "f" word), five strong profanities and 13 light profanities..." This whack job sits there and counts them apparently. There is even "implied married sex"!

And then there is Shaggy Dog which these nutbars find "abhorrent" for it's "Very strong New Age pagan, false religious worldview..." Spoken like a true ayatollah. It apparently has a Buddhist perspective and, according to this "film review:" "Buddhism is a false religion that leads people away from knowledge of their own sinful nature, the true nature of reality and the redemption that comes through the Gospel of Jesus Christ." If this doesn't show that these fanatics intend to push their damnable theology on everyone and everything around them then I don't know what does. How absurd. This is is a fantasy film but they insist that anything that doesn't have 100% compatibility with their theology is "abhorrent".

Now when you read this wacky material you understand what lunatics the Right-wing have become. Not only does the far Right WND publish this rubbish but Baehr's own site proudly runs a letter they received praising them from the head Ayatollah himself, George W. Bush.

The divine hit list

Religious dementia does not descriminate. It afflicts all faiths. It just reaches epidemic proportions in some places like the Middle East and the American Bible Belt. But even Jews can be infected. Take the rantings of this fundamentalist racist from the National Jewish Front in Israel.

Bird flu has been spreading around the world without any apparent discrimination. It kills birds and it can kill people who live with birds. Now it has appeared in Israel. But apparently in Israel it is the result God wanting to punish Jews who don't support the fanatical claims of Baruch Marzel's National Jewish Front.

Of course nutbars from Jesusland said the same thing when Hurricane Katrina hit. Then it was God wanting to kill people and destroy homes because he was pissed off about a gay party and the Mardis Gras.

Well one of the major news channels in the US just had a report aired on how badly the churches in the South have done because of the disaster. Churches have closed down because they can't continue. On the other hand the French Quarter, where all the sinning goes on, not only survived the disaster but was hardly touched by it. Mardis Gras went on as normal. Apparently this deity meant to close down Mardis Gras but missed and closed down some of his own real estate by error.

So if this is any indication of things then Marzel better shut his trap. He may be next on the divine hit list.

Mullah wants more Christianity in government.

As America moves toward a theocratic imperial presidency one should expect the Christian Right to whine and bitch that they don't have enough power. In reality they should have no power over the life, liberty or property of others. But in their hearts they know they are speaking on behalf of the creator of the universe so powers, they would deny others, they claim for themselves. They follow the old Augustinian view. Augustine said there is an "unjust persecution" which is when the non-believers persecute believers. And there is "just persecution" which is when the believers persecutre non-believers.

A group of fundamentalist Christian theocrats had a meeting in Florida recently. One of the lead speakers is a mullah in the Southern Baptist mosque. He is also the governor for the backwater state of Arkansas. Gov. Mike Huckabee says he is considering a run for the presidency as a Republican (what else?). And he says that the reason is because Christian beliefs are not being pushed down everyone's throats enough. He wants more. Of course he doesn't admit he wants to push his theology down the throats of unwilling people but that is precisely what he means. What he said was that the views of these fanatics was not represented "enough" in Washington. He promised the Christian nutters that if he is elected he will remain true to his extremist beliefs and implied that means he will make his version of radical theocracy law.

Friday, March 17, 2006

God's men in jail -- another update.

I haven't done my regular report on men of God who are spending time in jail. As usual I only report recent arrests. Of course it's not exhaustive, I'm sure I only see the tip of the iceberg.

Itsushi Ehara is a 73 year old Buddhist priest in Tokyo. He was arrested for paying a 15 year old girl to have sex with him. He blamed it on stress. Police say they believe he has done this several times.

Father James Hanely, 69, was arrested again. His previous arrest was for molestation. This time police say he he was threatend a man with a baseball bat.

Father Joseph Coonan, 58, has been charged with assaulting his mother and his sister. Coonan was living with his mother after being placed on administrative leave for sexual misconduct. Police say the priest was drinking during the recent incident.

Father George Silva of Raton, New Mexico was arrested for sexual misconduct. The incident apparently took place during a pilgrimage to Lourdes and Fatima.

Father Paul Clogan, of Marble Falls, Texas, was arrested after he fondled a teen age boy. The boy says he was sitting in a movie theater watching the film King Kong. The priest came in and sat beside the boy and reached over and grabbed his crotch. The boy left the theater and called the police.

Rev. Tim Evans, 43, of Fort Collins, Colorado has been arrested for numerous cases of molestation. It's in the news now because the arrest affidavitt has just been made public.

Kevin Williams, 41, was the minister of music for the New Bethel Baptist Church in Silsee, Texas. But police arrested him for strong arm rape of a child.

Rev. Eugene Marriot, 41, is the pastor of one the largest African Episcopal Methodist Churches in Maryland. His recent arrest revealed his secret life of group sex, bondage, whipping, spankings, and such. He had a mistress unknown to his wife. And even though he and she had broken up she had called Marriot for a date. On the date he became violent and raped her.

And just to show all things are not a one-way street we have the case of a criminal who became a reverend as opposed to a reverend who became a criminal. James Tramel, a convicted murderer, was recently released from prison. He went directly from jail to his new job as minister at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in West Berkeley, CA.

US Taliban threatens Republicans, demand more theocracy

Leaders from the American extreme Right, fundamentalist movement have threatened the Republican Party with desertion if the Republicans don't do more to cram fundamentalist morality down the throats of the American people.

Tony Perkins, haed of the radical Family Research Council, said that Republicans in Congress are not doing enough to push the theocratic agenda. In particular they are not beating up gay people enough!

Bush has dropped in the polls significantly. All the polls show this is due to the utter imcompetency of the administration on domestic issues and the obvious debacle following the invasion of Iraq. But the fundamentalists are trying to spin it as if voters are opposing Bush because he isn't theocratic enough.

Noah's ark? Right!

For some demented reason I ended up watching a report on Pat Robertson's religious network. They do what pretneds to be a news show. And now they have had a report that Noah's ark was found! Yes, you heard right. They say Noah's ark has been found. You may have noticed no one else reporting this find.

There is a good reason for that. They didn't find the ark. What they have is a satelitte photo of what they think is a shape, under snow, that they think looks like the ark or what they imagine the ark to look like.

Now I doubt any ark ever existed. No, I misspeak. I am sure such a thing never existed and if it did it would not be on top of a mountain. The story is fantasy.

You may remember some years ago that people were all excited about statues of faces on Mars only to find no such statues exist. People were looking at shadows from a certain angle and reading into the image something that looked familiar. But from a slightly different angle the image vanishes. It's much the same way you can look at clouds and see images. The human mind looks for familiar things. But in this case it's more bizarre. They showed the "ark" image and it didn't look like an ark to me at all.

I also have a good memory. This is about the 4th or 5th time that I can remember that fundamentalists have used precisely these kinds of images to prove the ark existed. And every single time they found nothing.

One example of the mindset of these people is that they seemed to think was sufficient evidence for them. They said "skeptics" will want more evidence. Yes, but not just skeptics. Anyone who has respect for the truth would want evidence. But Christians have faith and don't need evidence. The really wacko thing is that other Christians are convinced it was found years ago and this isn't it. So how many arks did this Noah fellow supposedly have?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A sign of times to come.

In my periodic trips around the area I have the misfortune of passing many of these fundamentalist asylums called churches.

These evangelicals like to have signs in front of their churches trying to recruit or pass on some sort of spiritual message. I passed one Baptist asylum and they had the following sign. It is supposed to have a deep message---and for Baptists this is about as deep as it gets---and some sort of spiritual meaning while be cute and showing them to be witty at the same time. It fails on all counts.

“It’s not what U do but why U do it”

I was aghast at what this implies. First, it really is a repudiation of basic morality which puts the focus foremost on what you do and secondarily on why you do it. The what is clearly more important than the why. The actions (the whats) are always more important the excuses (the whys). Take a spoonful of arsenic and you die and it does not matter one twaddle your reason for doing so. The what killed you regardless of the why behind it.

It is the “whats” that violate the rights of others not the “whys”. If someone mugs me my rights are violated even if they have a good reason for doing so. If mother needs new dentures robbing a bank is not justified. The what makes it immoral regardless of the why.

My first thought was that the principle this church was pushing really is meant to justify theocracy. It allows “God’s people” to be as vicious as they want because the viciousness (the what) is not as important as the reasons for the viciousness (the why). If they are violating rights to save souls then the why justifies the what.

Then I remembered that this is actually a very old Christian doctrine. A really vile Christian theologian by the name of Augustine wrote letters on this subject around 1600 years ago. Augustine was fighting a Christian sect called the Donatists. And he came to the conclusion that using force and violence against “heretics” was justified. Historian Perez Zagorin wrote of it, “The main point, he claimed, was not whether anyone was being forced to do something, but whether the purpose of doing so was right or wrong.” Or to put it in terms Baptists can understand: “It’s not what U do but why U do it.”

Augustine made his view very clear in a famous letter he wrote in 417 to Boniface. “There is an unjust persecution which the wicked inflict on the Church of Christ, and ... a just persecution which the Church of Christ inflicts on the wicked.” The same, act of persecution for religious beliefs, is thus moral when done by Christians and immoral when done by others.

The idea that there is such a thing as objective morality is not Christian. In fact the old Christian doctrine is that all morality is merely edicts issued by God. Killing is wrong only because God says it is wrong. If God commands it then refusing to kill is wrong. There really is no standard of morality at all everything depends of the whims of a deity. And since the deity doesn’t really exist and thus doesn’t issue orders the theologians, the preachers, the believers, are really not bound by any standard of morality but only by their own belief as to what a non-existent being wants them to do.

As long as they do awful things for glorious reasons then all is justified. The theologian John Robbins, a fundamentalist to the core, wrote:

“The distinction between right and wrong depends entirely upon the commands of God. There is no natural law that makes some actions right and others wrong....
This may be seen very clearly in God’s command to Adam not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Only the command of God made eating the fruit sin. It may also be seen in God’s command to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. God’s command alone made the sacrifice right, and Abraham hastened to obey. Strange as it may sound to modern ears used to hearing so much about the right to life, or the right to decent housing, or the right to choose, the Bible says that natural rights and wrongs do not exist: Only God’s command makes some things right and other things wrong.
...What makes murder wrong is not some presumed or pre-existing right to life, but the divine command itself."

US government goes after television stations

The Federal Communications Commission recently levelled a new record fine against 111 US television stations. The fine of $3.6 million was because a crime show, “Without a Trace” suggested that some teens in the show had participated in an orgy. The key phrase here is “suggested” not showed.

In the new theocratic atmosphere of the United States the government has said that they want to send a clear message to television producers what they will and will not allow. The FCC has become far more strict under the control of religious conservatives. American television shows are far tamer than what is routinely shown on television in other Western countries.

The FCC is in a symbiotic relationship with theocratic Right wing groups. These groups solicit complaints from their members and then the FCC uses the number of complaints received to justify their attack on the First Amendment.

Iraqi Muslic leader "kill gays"

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani of Iraq has issued a fatwa against gay men and lesbians. In a press conference Sistani was asked about what judgement should be made on gay people. His answer was: “Punished, in fact, killed. The people involved should be killed in the worst, most severe way of killing.

Of course the Bush administration invaded Iraq and helped fund a Constitution there that enshrines Islamic theology as law. We were told that the invasion was to stop the Islamic theocrats from taking over. But Bush handed the government to theocrats and funded a Constitution that says that no law contrary to Islam will be allowed.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Another parasitical Muslim cleric stirs up trouble

Over and over we keep finding that radical Islamist are pushing their agenda with tax dollars. And cowardly politicians are afraid to stand up to these bigots lest they be accussed of not respecting multi-culturialism.

In New York City a radical Muslic cleric, Umar Abdul-Jalil, got listed by the city as an official chaplain to the prison system. These Islamists know the character qualities that make good recruits to their hateful ideology. New York City pays the man to recruit criminals for his cause. And they pay him well. He made $76,602 preaching his hate.

Other major cities don't pay for chaplains at all. And I would think separation of church and state would require New York to take these parasites off the government payroll as well. Other cities rely on volunter chaplains but New York says that by paying "we have the ability to choose who we employ." Well, they picked real well. Like most Muslim clerics Abdul-Jalil is a Jew hater who believes in Zionist conspiracies. And he preaches that bullshit, at the expense of taxpayers, to prisoners.

The Islamists are looking for the loopholes in the West and then using them to destroy the West. The Muslim cleric from Denmark who started the world wide riots of Islamic extremists was also on the Danish payroll. And his job was to promote radical Islam to criminals in prison as well. Why is the West so anxious to destroy it self?

The really strange thing is that New York has 21 full-time chaplains. It only had 4 in 1972. But even with 21 that means hundreds of faiths are ignored. There are hundreds of sects in the US. Muslims in the US account for only one half of one percent of the population. But in New York then get one full time chaplain for criminals. Perhaps Muslims are a larger percentage of the criminal population. But since hundreds of sects are being ignored I have to wonder why one sect they made sure got a subsidy was Islam. If you are filling 21 slots you don't give one of them to a religion that represents well under one percent of the population. Not that they should be filling any slots.

But the fact is that Islamist will threaten and intimidate if they don't get their own way. And if the threat of violence doesn't work they will cry racism and bigotry. The West has got to stop allowing those tactics to work.

One final reason this wanker should be taken off the payroll --- just look at his ghastly taste in clothes.

Monday, March 13, 2006

The United Islamic Kingdon

Something fishy is going on at the Telegraph in London. Alasdair Palmer wrote an article “the day is coming when British Muslims form a state within a state.” The article was mysteriously pulled from the paper’s web site. It also vanished from the Google cache. And the individual who edited the article lost her job. I am not saying it’s connected just fishy.

But the article was important. So here is what it said.
It interviewed Patrick Sookhdeo, an academic who had been raised a Muslim. He had been canvassing the opinion of Muslim clerics in the UK regarding how they saw the outcome of the controversy over the Danish cartoons. And he said: “They think they have won the debate. They believe that the British Government has capitulated to them, because it feared the consequences if it did not.”

Precisely. They threaten violence. People cave in and the Islamists know that violence works. Capitulation creates more violence or total surrender.

Dr Sookhdeo said: "It's confirmation of what they believe to be a familiar pattern: if spokesmen for British Muslims threaten what they call 'adverse consequences' - violence to the rest of us - then the British Government will cave in. I think it is a very dangerous precedent."

Sookhdeo has been critical of the British government. He says that the officials in the government see Islam with secular eyes and do not realize how serious the Islamists take their message. To do this he said they intentionally: “... concentrate Muslim presence in a particular area until you are a majority in that area, so that the institutions of the local community come to reflect Islamic structures. The education system will be Islamic, the shops will serve only halal food, there will be no advertisements showing naked or semi-naked women, and so on."

Then the Islamists will demand that these areas be ruled by Sharia law instead of modern legal theories. If they are denied they will pull out accusations of racism and play the multiculturalism card. They will whine that their rights are being violated --- as if one can have a right to violate rights. He notes “There’s already a Sharia Law Council for the UK” and that the government “has already started making concessions.” He said: "The more fundamentalist clerics think that it is only a matter of time before they will persuade the Government to concede on the issue of sharia law. Given the Government's record of capitulating, you can see why they believe that."

Chef throws toys out of his cot and leaves.

Since 1997 Isaac Hayes has provided the voice for the South Park character Chef. Now he has thrown his toys out of the cot, packed his diaper bag and gone off to cry. Hayes protested what he called the show's "inappropriate ridicule of religious communities."

Like most religionists Hayes thinks they alone should be exempt from ridicule. You can challenge anything else but don't touch their myths. But if Hayes has been on the show since 1997 shouldn't he have noticed that the show ridiculed religion regularly. This is no new trend. Yet now he says that "a growing insensitivity toward personal spiritual beliefs." Surely the man saw previous episodes that ridiculed everyone and everything sacred?

Of course he has. What changed was that South Park did a show on the absolutely wacky cult of Scientology and Hayes is one this nuts. Ridiculing Jesus was okay since the Scientology has some space aliene cult instead. But they are notoriously nasty to people who challenge their beliefs. And the very authoritarian cult issues orders so I would not be suprised one bit if Hayes was not ordered to quite the show.

Matt Stone, of the show's creators said they would relieve Hayes of his contractual obligations. "In 10 years and over 150 episodes of South Park,, Isaac never had a problem with the show making fun of Christians, Muslims, Mormons and Jews. He got a sudden case of religious sensitivity when it was his religion featured on the show."

If you want to see the episode that got the Scientologists all upset you can download the entire show here:

It's a hoot. And there is a chance that future showings of the program will not be aired as the Scientologists are a litigious bunch.

Holy blood, holy grail, holy crap!

The authors of the book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail are suing Dan Brown who wrote The Da Vinci Code. Authors Richad Leigh and Michael Baigent say Brown stole ideas from their book.

Leigh and Baigent could win their suit easily if they make one confession. If they admit the book is a work of fanciful imagination and fiction they have a good case. But they want to pretend it's history and if they do I think they have a problem, or ought to have a problem if the law is rational (which is not assumed).

If the book is history then they have a much heavier burden of proof. If I wrote a play about John F. Kennedy and key incidents in his life I would, out of necessity, discuss ideas and incidents that would appear in every standard history about Kennedy. What other alternative is there unless I just make it up?

Now if the Leight/Baigent theory of Christ is correct history then merely including historical facts in a work of fiction can't be considered a crime.

Personally I think they all wrote fiction. But if Brown copied incidents or theories which Leigh and Baigent claim are historical facts I wouldn't hold Brown guilty of copyright violations. You can't copywrite facts themselves.

Of course Leight and Baigent borrowed their characters from the Bible. And the Bible borrowed most the stories of Christ from other myths in the area. I have a century old copy of Arthur Weigall's The Paganism in Our Christianity which outlines how Christian doctrines were borrowed from earlier mystery and pagan cults. Jesus was not the first messiah who it is claimed was murdered for his people and rose on the third day. Nor was he the first born of a virgin, etc.

In 1999 Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy wrote, The Jesus Mysteries, which covers the same theme. The dust jacket has a stunning photo of an ancient amulet showing a crucified god. While to the modern eye it looks like a very old image of Jesus on the cross it is actually from 300 years before Christ and represents the crucifixion of the god-man Osiris/Dionysus. Ancient images of the god with his virgin mother exist as well but they don't represent Christ but pre-date him.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Family values and store refunds!

Chances are that you may not have heard of Claude Allen but he was an Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy. He was popular with the moralists on the Religious Right because he was one of the top people pushing the abstinence campaign in government schools. Allen made sure people knew he was a “born-again Christian”. He also got his start in politics working for Senator Jesse Helms, one of the most hard Right senators in decades.

It appears that Mr. Allen has been arrested. Here is supposedly what happened. According to the police Mr. Allen was involved in a scheme to to steal around $5,000. He had a receipt for some goods from a Target department store and police say he was detected putting the merchandise in his cart and then wheeling it to the refund desk.

I supposed from reports that Alllen was not actually returning merchandise. He would supposedly go into the store with a receipt and pull the same item off the shelf and then take this item and the receipt up for the refund. At the time he was given a citation and released but police continued an investigation. They claim that store video tapes show Mr. Allen pulling this trick repeatedly. They say that on occasion he would walk into the store and purchase an item, take it to his car and pack it away, return to the store and pull the same item off the shelf and take it and the receipt up for a refund.

Bush had perviously nominated Allen to the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals but Democrats stopped the nomination. Allen also worked for the Virginian state attorney general’s office. The Washington Post reports that once “he kept Medicaid funds from an impoverished rape victim who wanted an abortion.” One conservative, former White House counsel, C. Boyden Gray, said that Allen’s nomination was held up because of his “traditional values belief in family, and ideals of personal conservatism.”

Allen resigned from the White a few weeks ago. Coincidence? Nope. He was arrested on January 2nd. Then the investigation started to see how widespread were his actions. His resignation became official February 7. In other words he offered one month’s notice immediately after the incident. But when the resignation went into effect he told the press it was because he wanted to spend more time with his family. I suspect that was not the case. He told one conservative, only a few days ago, he resigned because, if one is going to preach family values, one has to practice them. Nothing was said about the issue of practising the morality of not stealing.

The charges involve swindles at both Target and Hecht’s stores and total more than $5,000. His attorney his peddling the story that it’s a “series of misunderstandings.” Some reports indicate there were 25 such “misunderstandings”.

The half truth and nothing but...

I have argued here that the Religious Right is inherently dishonest. The smart ones know that they can't be honest with the public. They admit their full agenda. I've seen the fundamentalist Christians use this strategy in several countries. They are deceitful.

Here is an example. Now it's an old one but it illustrates the point. This is from something I wrote a few years ago. But it is an example of where one fundamentalist minister openly told people how to be deceitful. Rev. Richard Angwin was, and probably still is, a fundamentalist Baptist minister. He was active in the Religious Right. When he moved to the Minneapolis area run the Temple Baptist Church. And one of his first activities was to get the local gay rights ordinance repealed.

Angwin succeeded and then travelled the US to teach other fundamentalists how to push their political agenda. Well he was in my area giving these lectures on two different days. The first day I went to take notes. Rev. Angwin knew me and he knew I disagreed with him. So he had me thrown out of the meeting. That required a back up plan. So the next day, at the second seminar, I had a friend attend and tape record everything. And here is some of what Rev. Angwin was telling his born-again crowd.

Angwin stressed how important it was that the fundamentalists NOT tell the public their entire agenda. Instead he wanted to concentrate on homosexuals because if he stressed his moral plans for everyone they would not accept his politics. He said he didn't just want to strip homosexuals of rights but had to hide the rest. "Don't say, 'I hate cigarettes, liquor, card-playing, wine, women, song and dance..." Now you may think he's just being amusing. I knew Rev. Angwin. He really did think smoking was a sin, drinking was a sing, playing solitaire is a sin, rock and roll is a sin, dancing is a sin, etc.

He told his fellow fundies "A loof of the people who voted for me are the same bigoted idiots who go out and have an affair on their wife at the same time. You can't get on a chair and say why you're against card-playing and how you're going to shut down all the movie houses and that type of thing. Or how you'd like to run all the Lutheran pastors clear out on their ears, you don't want them around."

Those are verbatim quotes from Rev. Angwin which I just happened across while cleaning out some files.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Faith-based disaster looming.

Lydon Baines Bush, the big government Republican, has once again expanded the size of government. In addition he has once again imposed religion into the government. This time he has ordered the Orwellian Department of Homeland Security (which ought to be abolished) to create an office for "faith-based initiatives".

Among it's tasks will be doling out millions of dollars to church groups. Church and state not only merge in the Bush theocracy but the churches become an arm of the state and the state an arm of the church. Instead of charity work the churches will use money taken from taxpayers by threat of force. They will get subsidized.

The Family Research Council, a right-wing "small government" group, applauded the expansion of state power saying it will help government "coordinate with faith-based groups." The White House said that bring religion into government services will help them accomplish their "mission".

The Washington Post reported: "President bush said yesterday that the federal government gave more than $2.1 billion in grants to religious charities last year—a 7 percent increase from the prior year and proof,k he said, that his administration has made it easier for faith-based groups to obtain taxpayer funds."

It is amazing how quickly the American church groups are lining up to get bought off by Ceasar. Soon they will be dependent on Ceasar for their bread.

Tennessee Taliban works to ban abortion

Republican theocrats in Tennessee are working successfully to change the state constitution to make sure that they later have the right to ban all abortions. Such a law just passed in South Dakota was pushed through by Republican theocrats there.

The Tennessee amendment says that nothing in the Constitution says that abortion is a right. A clause that made exceptions for rape or incest was voted down. The theocrats feel that if a woman is raped and becomes pregnant she has the responisibilty to carry the pregnancy to term. Rape exceptions were voted down in South Dakota as well.

The purpose for the amendment is obvious. The hope is that with Republican theocrats on the US Supreme Court that a challenge to legal abortions can now be made and might win. South Dakota intends their law to do just that. They now feel that Bush has appointed enough justices to the court to push the court in their direction. They want men who vote their religion. Already with robes similar to the mullahs maybe all the justices need are turbans?

Once the Supreme Court reverses itself on abortion then the US Taliban takes the fight to the states where all the Bush states are likely to line up to ban abortion immediately. But they need to make sure that there is nothing in the state constitution which limits governmental power to do that. So much for small government. Please note the theocrats are not traditional Republicans at all. They are advocates of big government. So far all their attempts to change constitutions, either at the state or the federal level, has been expand the power of government over the individual.

The illustration comes from a anti-abortion group. Please note it has the "Uncle Sam" figure holding a rosary. Uncle Sam represents the US government. They don't hide their desire to make the US government an instrument of church policy.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Unintended consequences of Islam

Now here is a strange story. Fundamentalist Islam is inadvertently increasing the amount of gay sex in Islamic countries. The Los Angeles Times has run a story about why this happening.

They interview many men in Afghanistan who, while not gay, say they only have sex with men and boys. The one man said: “It’s just that we can’t see the women to see if they are beautiful. But we can see the boys, and so we can tel which of them is beautiful.”

The LA Times reported that this situation is especially obvious “here in Kandahar, which was the heartland of the puritanical Taliban movement.” Professor Justin Richardson of Columbia University has a good analysis. He teaches psychiatry but his analysis is sound economics as well --- and yes there is an “economic” science of sex. Richardson says:

"In some Muslim societies where the prohibition against premarital heterosexual intercourse is extremely high--higher than that against sex between men--you will find men having sex with other males not because they find them most attractive of all but because they find them most attractive of the limited options available to them."

For those interested in a good analysis of the economics of sexuality read Sex and Reason by Judge Richard Posner. It is readable and rational.

The article notes that the most religious group in Afghanistan is the Pushtuns and they have “a higher incidence of homosexual relations.”

The strangest remark on the subject comes from one of the mullahs --- which indicates he isn’t too bright to start with. He says that 90% of Afghani men “have the desire to commit this sin.” Hell, not even 90% of the men in San Francisco’s Castro district want to have gay sex! He reassures the reporter: “Only 20 to 50% of those who want to do this actually do it.”

That’s a lot! It is anywhere from 18% to 45% of all Afghani men. The Taliban, men after the hearts of Fred Phelps, executed men found having gay sex. Their favorite method was to have the men stand next to brick walls which were then knocked over to crush the men to death. Of course the Reconstructionist Christians want to stone gays to death as well.

It appears that the Islamics of Afghanistan have a tradition of men called halekon. The halekon is a younger, beautiful man who is partnered with an older man. One anti-Taliban told the paper: “The Taliban had halekon, but they kept it secret. They hid their halekon in their madrasas (religious schools).”

One local doctor told the paper that often the halekons are married off to a daughter of the older man so they become part of the family. He also said that a local mullah was caught using a medical examination room for a quickie with a younger man. the doctor said: “If this is our mullah, what can you say for the rest?”

The first man interviewed said that if he is ever actually allowed to see a woman’s face, and she is beautiful, he will immediately have his mother ask the girl to marry him. “I’m just waiting to see her.”

Now there are lots of studies that show that sexual repression has effects that the opposite of those intended. Sex offenders, it has been shown, are more sexually conservatives than the general population. They have see much less pornography and were generally exposed to it at a much later age.

It is likely that strident anti-sexual views popular with conservatives helps create sex offenders of various kinds. The celibacy rules for the Catholic priesthood makes it a place to where people who are sexually troubled can hide out. The pedophile priest is not only given access to children but escapes the questions of his family as to why he has not married. They don’t expect him to marry as a priest and would be upset if he did.

Posner discusses a lot of this in his book, which I highly recommend. Posner notes that banning porn would increase rape since porn is used for sexual release. When one form of sexual release is banned it does not end sexual desire but changes how it is expressed. If voluntary sex is banned then involuntary sex will rise.

In some Islamic countries prostitution has not been abolished at all but changed. A man will “marry” a prostitute, have intercourse, and then divorce her thus avoiding the stigma of adultery.

The rise of fundamentalism, Christian in the US, and Islamic elsewhere, will create millions of new sexual cripples and millions more new victims of predators. But Jehovah and Allah will be pleased.

Journalist under threat by Islamist attorneys

In Yemen a group fo 23 fanatical Islamic lawyers —talk about a lethal combination—have attacked the editor of The Yemini Observer newspaper.

The editor, Muhammad al-Assadi, had republished the Danish cartoons that have brain-dead Islamists around the world in an uproar --- well only in an uproar when told to be in an uproar.

The lawyers told the court that when the supposed prophet Mohammad was told of a woman being executed for insulting him that he approved. This is taken as a request by the scum attorneys to have the editor executed.

Attorneys for the editor say that the gang of attorneys are working with the main Islamist political power.

You know that eventually when the fundamentalist (Christian, Muslim, whatever) is drooling about their god and morality that what they really want is power. They want political power over others. They want the power to punish people, to incarcerate them, to shackle their tongues, and imprison their minds. They want the right to use the violent force of government against others. They are muggers in the name of god.

Islamic bloodbath coming to Indonesia?

One of Indonesia’s leading intellectuals is warning that fundamentalist Muslims may plunge that nation into a civil war. And he saying that if they do the people of Indonesia may slaughter them.

Radical Islamists, like fascist religionists everywhere, are pushing for stricter laws regarding morality and sexuality. True, it’s hard to tell them apart from Republicans these days.

But Bambang Harymurti, editor of Tempo magazine in Indonesia, says that most Indonesians are getting sick of these people. Two provinces are threatening secession over the drive for such laws. In Bali they are worried that the new morality legislation would end with tourists being arrested for wearing bathing suits on the beach --- something which would devastate the tourist dependent economy of the island.

Harymurti says the Islamists have been constantly pushing a “moral majority” agenda and one unpleasant event my create a backlash. “[T]hey’ve created such bad will for a few years, when suddenly the tables turn, people are more than ready to basically slaughter.”

The militant Islamist group, Islamic Defenders Front, have attacked nightclubs and bar. These religious nuts have attacked women because they are travelling alone. Harymurti says he warned these groups “to be careful, because the people are quite angry with you right now.”

In 1965 Indonesians became sick of the communist groups in the country and turned on them. In that blood bath many thousands were killed. Harymurti says the same thing can happen again. Right now, he says, people are afraid because the Islamists travel in packs and are violent but if something snaps the people will “really put you in your place.”

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Pope's agenda is anti-libertarian

Pope Benedict XVI is a sad old man deluded by the idea that he is the vicar of Christ on earth. Right!

Well the Western Catholic Reporter of Canada reports that the Pope has an agenda. They report: "Second on his agenda will be to challenge the libertarian idea of freedom, which the pope sees as a 'tremendously impoverished view.'" If anyone is an expert on impoverished views of the world then the old man in Rome is certainly one of them.

The Pope's view is that "true" freedom is following the church's edict.

This Pope is worse than the last one and the last one was no winner. But then bad ideas come with the job.

Most people are used to seeing Ratzinger in papal drag. We thought a photo of him in his Hitler Youth uniform more appropriate.

The threat of the after life

So what harm can belief in an after life do? Maybe this video will give you some idea.

It is disgusting. Yet people with these ideas are being welcomed into Europe and showered with welfare benefits. Europe has clutched a viper to its breast.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Law would force rape victims to give birth

How far is the Religious Right willing to go to impose their theocratic ideals? Very far. Take the actions of Republican governor Mike Rounds of the sad state of South Dakota. This monster just signed into law legislation that makes abortion a crime. I forces women to act as breeding machines even if they have been raped. No exception is made even in case of incest.

Under the law a physician who helps a women terminate an unwanted pregnancy could spend five years in prison. The women will be sentence to 9 months hard labor, followed by at least 18 years of involuntary servitude.

There is a saying that politics is like cistern tanks --- the big chunks float to the top. And Rounds is clear a very big chunk.

The governor argues that the non-existent child is “the most vulnerable and most helpless... in our society.”

The whole purpose of the bill is to force the matter into the Supreme Court where the Taliban hope that Bush’s packing of the court with compliant conservatives will over turn Roe v. Wade which legalized abortion.

Of course unborn children are vulnerable. That which does not exist is always vulnerable to that which does. The goat of the Religious Right is to make that which exists subservient to that which does not exist ---- sort of the way they want everyone to be forced to obey their god.

Now before the Left gets too upset they should remember they have a similar doctrine called sustainable development. With that theory they argue that people who exist today must not consume resources that people who do not exist (future generations) may need. The existent is subservient to the non-existent.

It seems to me that humans who exist have precedence over human who don’t exist.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Christians protest Academy Awards

The born-again crowd is rather schizophrenic. When Brokeback Mountain came out they attacked it and predicted it would fail. When it didn’t fail and did very well for itself, even outside liberal urban areas, the Christian Right changed stories. At that time idiots like Michael Medved and others argued that the film did well because born-again Christians aren’t really the bigots portrayed by those nasty liberals. Of course the liberals were predicting the film would do well. But religion is made up of myths and lies and so a few more won’t hurt.

So the Christians were now portrayed a good guys who are tolerant and wouldn’t dare protest a film like Brokeback merely because it has a gay them. Right!

Well that message didn’t get out to 61,000 nutters who supposedly signed an anti Brokeback Mountain petition pushed by god addicts at the Center for Reclaiming America for Christ.

These Jesus-fiends attacked the film as “it is just a high-profile attempt to mainstream the homosexual agenda. That this movie uses the classic symbol of the American male – the cowboy – to promote this agenda is offensive to the vast majority of Americans.”

These antigay bigots said they would deliver the petition to the Academy in protest before the Academy Awards were handed out. In reality it is a ploy to garner publicity for a lunatic fringe of the American Taliban.

Meanwhile to show how tolerant the fundamentalist community is a Christian school in Solana Beach, California is attacking actress Michelle Williams, who co-starred in Brokeback Mountain. Williams apparently is a graduate of this school. The headmaster of Santa Fe Christian School said, “We don’t want to have anything to do with her in relation to that movie...” Talibanist Jim Hopson, the headmaster, said that Williams has made decision “which we couldn’t approve” because the film “promotes a lifestyle we don’t promote. It’s not the word of God.”

In spite of the lies of the Right they have been intolerant, hysterical and vile. In other words they were their normal selves. Ben Shapiro is a young twit who says absurd things but gets applause by old conservatives for saying everything they want to hear. He’s anti sex and pro war. He says he practices what he preaches. Well, Virgin Ben practices morality by not having sex. He exhibits his support for the war by hiding out and refusing to join the military. Can anyone say CHICKEN?

Some dreewb from the radical Right WorldNetDaily actually claimed the film was a “piece of homosexual, neo-Marxist propaganda.” Oh sure! Nogodzone is no fan of the Marxist theology. In fact we are quite critical of this religion. But there is nothing Marxist, neo or any other kind, in this film. It’s just typical smearing by the lunatic fringe.

In spite the campaign against the film by the Taliban it has done well. And depending on how the awards go tonight it may get a big boost in the coming weeks. But as of today the film has pulled in around $130,000,000. And it has been among the top ten films in the nation rather consistently since the second week of it’s release. With a couple of Oscars under it’s belt the film will probably get another boost at the box office.

Of course these fundamentalists applauded the film March of the Penquins which, they think, don't come out of the closet and are thus worthy of applause and exhibit the divine will of some god. That film, they said was a raving success. It spent 161 days in theaters across the US and grossed less than Brokeback has in just 84 days. That they call one a success and the other a failure is just an indication of their inability to see facts.


Web Counters Religion Blog Top Sites