Category: Religion

Christian nutball leader changes End of Days prediction from yesterday to “soon”

The leader of a Christian group who claimed that the world would end on Wednesday has admitted his prediction was “incorrect”…Chris McCann, head of the eBible fellowship, warned that the planet would be destroyed “with fire” on 7 October. This did not happen.

“Since it is now 8 October it is now obvious that we were incorrect regarding the world’s ending on the 7th,” McCann said.

McCann originally told the Guardian that by Thursday the world would be “gone forever: annihilated”. McCann based his claim on an earlier prediction by Christian radio host Harold Camping, who said the world would end on 21 May 2011. Camping’s forecast also turned out to be incorrect…

In case you didn’t notice.

“…It was surprising that it did not occur. But the comforting thing is that God’s will is always perfect.”…

While the world did not end, McCann said on Thursday it would be obliterated “soon”.

“I also know that God knows exactly when that end will come,” he said. “So we’ll keep studying the Bible to see what we can learn.”

Trying to make decisions about reality based upon a 14th Century book written by a Royal committee requires several levels of logical fallacy. Not that logic or reality has much to do with the whole End of Days delusion.

Sex education is a human right — Erika Sánchez

When I was 17, I thought I might be pregnant. I had just fooled around with an acquaintance of mine, and my period was a few days late. Though there was no real penetration and fertilization was practically impossible, I convinced myself that I was carrying a fetus and that my life was over.

I took a pregnancy test. It came back negative, but I was still terrified. What if it was wrong? What if I had taken it too early? I frantically scoured the Internet for information. I was just a few months shy of my 18th birthday and learned that the law required my parents’ consent for an abortion. I knew I would never carry out a pregnancy at such a young age and that my conservative, immigrant parents would never agree to the procedure, so I considered my choices, which included traveling to a state without parental consent laws or asking my friend’s mom to take me to the clinic and pose as my own mother. On top of it all, I worried about the cost. I was hysterical — until I finally got my period.

This experience demonstrates how abysmal my sex education was. The overarching message that girls received in my high school health class was that if we had sex, we were going to get knocked up. Our school’s teen pregnancy rate was very high — we had a daycare full of students’ babies — so it seemed quite plausible to me…

What I needed was information and support, but I didn’t know where to turn. Unfortunately, our education system has not improved much since I was a teenager. Sex education continues to be under attack in the United States despite the overwhelming amount of evidence that a comprehensive curriculum can save young people’s lives. Teaching children about the importance of using condoms and getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, can keep them from making detrimental choices. Experts estimate that one person age 15 to 24 in the U.S. is infected with HIV every hour of every day. But while some developing countries such as Guatemala and Indonesia are taking important steps to improve their sex-education programs, our country keeps gutting them indiscriminately.

RTFA for the breadth of what Erika Sánchez has to say.

I think you and I know who is responsible for lousy education becoming worse. There is a broadly cast minority of Americans whose belief systems are rooted in ignorance, in a conviction that knowledge not only is forbidden fruit; but, a danger to stability and safety – to be prohibited. Only the guidance of some priest, pundit or politician is acceptable. Only rules formulated in the dark Ages can be trusted.

This defines a number of conservative currents in American ideology. They are embraced by fools.

Air Force clinic fires technician accused of being a witch

Groucho got it right

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is representing a former Air Force contractor who says she was fired from a dental clinic at Fort Meade, Maryland, after complaining that her co-workers discriminated against her because she was Hindu. She claims they then accused her of being a witch.

Group founder and president Mikey Weinstein wrote in a letter to officials: “We have spoken with witnesses at the clinic under your command who have universally confirmed that, not only did this horrid harassment take place, but ever since the execution of her punishment for failing the religious test imposed by the leadership of Epes Dental Clinic, a particular offending party has effusively celebrated her replacement by a Catholic woman by saying publicly that ‘It’s good to see we got an angel, since last time we had the devil.’”

The alleged harassment violates a “vast sea” of Defense Department and Air Force directives as well as the U.S. Constitution, Weinstein writes.

“The No Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of our nation’s Constitution absolutely forbids the exact same type of practices which are so commonplace under your command in the brazen establishment of evangelical Christianity as the only approved solution for religious belief in the 579th D[ental] S[quadron] of the Epes Dental Clinic at Fort Meade…”

Reached by Air Force Times, Deborah Schoenfeld said that her co-workers at the Epes Dental Clinic harassed her over her Hindu faith, claiming she was satanic for wanting to practice yoga and meditating.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, two of her former co-workers confirmed Schoenfeld’s account to Air Force Times and said that other employees at the dental clinic are devoutly Christian and deeply suspicious of Hinduism. One of them confirmed that she was referred to as a “Hindu witch.”

One co-worker, who Schoenfeld said prayed for her to find Jesus, told her that meditation summons demons, adding that “all the soldiers who are doing meditation and yoga to help their PTSD, they are getting infected also,” Schoenfeld said.

When her requests for help through the chain of command went nowhere, she filed a formal complaint on Sept. 2, Schoenfeld said. That day, she was fired for allegedly using profanity against a co-worker, although she was not allowed to know who had accused her of doing so…

As it is so often in the United States, “defending religious liberty” means supporting only the advocacy of Christianity, evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity to the exclusion of all other belief systems religious or secular.

Hypocrisy and bigotry come along for the ride.

Christian imitation Boy Scouts ban gays – they ban Mormons and Jews, too

Ban Gays, Ban Mormons, Ban Jews – leaders in Christian ideology, they say!

The DC summit, organized by the conservative Family Research Council Action, is headlined by no fewer than seven GOP presidential candidates. For many years, the Boy Scouts have had a place of honor at the event, presenting the American flag as the color guard. This year, though, the Scouts are nowhere to be found. In their place are boys from Trail Life USA, the outdoor adventure and character development group created last year as a Christian alternative to the Boy Scouts. Joining them were American Heritage Girls, the religious alternative to the Girl Scouts.

Trail Life was founded by a religious-right activist from Florida, associated with James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, who was active fighting the Boy Scout policy change. The group’s official policy on gays says:

We believe that homosexuality is sinful and immoral, as is any sexual activity outside of the sanctity of marriage between a Man and a Woman. Consistent with this belief, we have specific policies that address membership and sin in both youth and adult members.

Trail Life also excludes Mormons and Jews

The booting of the Boy Scouts from the event isn’t all that surprising. The Family Research Council, which sponsors the Values Voter Summit, has been an ardent opponent of the Boy Scouts’ acceptance of gays. Earlier this year, FRC head Tony Perkins lamented that the Boy Scouts were moving “away from their moral standard of being morally straight and clean and moving into open homosexuality.” He claimed that both the Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts “are done” as organizations because of their acceptance of gays.

A regular speaker at the event, Mat Staver, with the legal group Liberty Counsel, said last month that the change in policy at the Boy Scouts meant that “you are going to have all kinds of sexual molestation. This is a playground for pedophiles to go and have all these boys as objects of their lust. This is insane, and we need to literally abandon the Scouts because the Scouts, unfortunately, have abandoned us.”

The proto-fascists who have assigned themselves the mantle of American Conservativism can rest assured they haven’t been abandoned by the political hacks who really count on their votes, their money, their support: Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Lindsay Graham, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump all showed up. They don’t have a problem with groups banning religions in the name of religious liberty.

Blood moon Sunday night — don’t hold your breath waiting for the end of days

Click to enlarge

A rare astronomical phenomenon Sunday night will produce a moon that will appear slightly bigger than usual and have a reddish hue, an event known as a super blood moon.

It’s a combination of curiosities that hasn’t happened since 1982, and won’t happen again until 2033. A so-called supermoon, which occurs when the moon is closest to earth in its orbit, will coincide with a lunar eclipse, leaving the moon in Earth’s shadow. Individually, the two phenomena are not uncommon, but they do not align often…

Appropriately, some loonies need to be cautioned

A rare confluence of a lunar eclipse and a supermoon set to happen this weekend has prompted such widespread fear of an impending apocalypse that the Mormon Church was compelled to issue a statement cautioning the faithful to not get caught up in speculation about a major calamity…

It’s unclear how many Latter-day Saints buy the theory, but Mormon leaders were worried enough that they took the rare step this week of issuing a public statement cautioning the faithful not to get carried away with visions of the apocalypse.

Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints told its 15 million worldwide members that they should be “spiritually and physically prepared for life’s ups and downs,” but they urged them not to take speculation from individual church members as doctrine and “avoid being caught up in extreme efforts to anticipate catastrophic events.”

True Believers really work at validating their ticket to the Great Beyond over simple astronomical events like this. It’s enough to make some believe the Earth is round.

Carly Fiorina’s anti-abortion blather about Planned Parenthood is crap!

At Wednesday’s debate, Carly Fiorina received thunderous applause for challenging Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to watch a specific scene from the Planned Parenthood sting tapes. The scene, she said, showed “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”

But when asked for a citation, her campaign replied with a video that isn’t from the Planned Parenthood sting tapes at all — and that still doesn’t show what Fiorina said it did…

I sent Fiorina’s spokeswoman a second email outlining my questions, and asking her again to point me to the video that Fiorina meant to reference in her remarks. She replied with a link to the Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway’s recent piece, “Watch the video that Planned Parenthood and its media allies deny exists…”

[Some of] these things are in the Human Capital video. But they still are not the scene that Fiorina describes. There’s no footage of the moment O’Donnell describes, nor is there proof offered that it occurred — there’s no moment to “watch,” as Fiorina urged debate viewers.

Moreover, the footage of the fetus in that video isn’t from the Planned Parenthood videos. One image is of a stillborn baby, initially included in the video without the mother’s permission. Other footage appears to come from a collection of stock footage of fetuses. “The stock footage was added to the video to dramatize its content,” fact-checking website Politifact concluded. “We don’t know the circumstances behind this video: where it came from, under what conditions it was obtained, or even if this fetus was actually aborted (as opposed to a premature birth or miscarriage).”…

The most generous reading of Fiorina’s remarks are that she mistook what she saw in the videos. It is possible to watch the Human Capital video and think the footage of fetuses was shot in a clinic; this is, after all, a documentary about Planned Parenthood. And when she discussed “someone saying we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain,” she may have mistook something the former StemExpress technician says in the same video, where she describes the fetus as being “intact.”

But this isn’t the defense that Fiorina has offered. “Rest assured, I have seen the images I talked about last night,” she told Good Morning America Thursday morning. If these images Fiorina says she’s seen do exist, she still has not shared them…

But the real divide here isn’t about what Fiorina saw. It’s about abortion. Planned Parenthood workers are comfortable with fetal tissue research because they are comfortable with abortion — they don’t believe a first-trimester fetus to be a living, feeling human being, and so they see the donation of fetal tissue for medical research to be an obvious, unalloyed good. Abortion rights supporters can watch the videos and still believe in a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy…

Which side are you on is still the question forced by all the political blather from the Right. Whether it comes from Carly Fiorina or Michelle Bachmann. Does a woman have the right to consult with her physician and decide to have an abortion?

I would only add in the simple scientific question acknowledged as normal and productive by virtually every medical researcher. Once an abortion has been performed does a woman have the right to assign that tissue to medical researchers?

My answer to both is “Yes”.

Taxpayers get to pay the price for official state bigotry

Two months after the U.S. Supreme Court ended the legal debate over gay marriage by declaring that the constitutionally protected civil right to marriage must be extended to same-sex couples nationwide, attorneys general and governors who fought it are receiving unpleasant souvenirs of failure: Invoices from the attorneys who beat them.

States that defended same-sex marriage bans — most did, to some extent — are now being asked to pay the legal fees for those litigants under a 40-year-old federal law that says the court “in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party … a reasonable attorney’s fee as part of the costs.”

Or as Michigan attorney Dana Nessel put it: “It’s the price governments pay for defending bigotry.”

Defeat won’t come cheap — or, in many cases, without further legal wrangling.

Michigan is weighing its response to a $1.9 million demand from attorneys for April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, plaintiffs in one of the four cases that went to the Supreme Court and was decided in June. In Kentucky, another state involved in the Supreme Court showdown, the bill for services rendered is $2.1 million. South Carolina has been ordered to pay $130,000, and Florida’s attorney general is fighting a tab of about $700,000.

Several states have struck agreements already. Pennsylvania settled for $1.5 million, Wisconsin for $1.05 million, Virginia for $580,000, Oregon for $132,000, Colorado for $90,000, Utah for $95,000 and North Dakota for $58,000. The varying prices reflect the length of the battles or their intensity.

“This is exactly what Congress created this law for,” said Stephen Rosenthal, a Miami-based attorney who fought Florida’s ban. “It’s a recognition that people need lawyers to fight the government, which has lots of lawyers, when they feel their civil rights are being violated. To encourage lawyers to take these cases, you need to provide the potential to get paid in the end.”

The attorneys general of Michigan, Florida, South Carolina and South Dakota did not respond to requests for comment.

Sometimes the creeps who fight tooth-and-nail against progress get what they deserve. Taxpayers – who elected creeps to represent them – get to foot the bill.

Symbol of a past whose time is over

Since Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk Kim Davis was taken into federal custody Thursday for refusing the Supreme Court’s order to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples (and subsequently released on the condition she not interfere with the issuing of marriage licenses), the religious right has made the Democrat into an icon. Republican presidential candidates are elevating her as the poster child of the Barack Obama administration’s alleged crusade against religious liberty. But by using her government position to force same-sex couples into conforming to her religious beliefs, Davis has instead cast herself as a lasting symbol of bigotry…

While Davis’ actions could be misconstrued as civil disobedience, what separates her from actual civil disobedience leaders is that her actions are rooted in a denial of equality, rather than a push for greater equality. In his Letter From a Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King wrote,

“So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?”

In refusing the court’s order to recognize same-sex marriage, Davis is no different than Alabama governor George Wallace, who vowed “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,” and defied federal authorities by blocking a doorway to prevent two black University of Alabama students from going to class.

Kim Davis’ era is over. It’s time to impeach her and replace her with a clerk who will do the job without discrimination.

According to Pew research, American support of marriage equality went from 57 percent opposed and 35 in favor in 2001, to 55 percent in favor and 39 percent opposed in 2015…Even the right-leaning National Journal admits that support for gay marriage is up by at least 30 points among virtually all demographics — the only demographics that doesn’t include are African-Americans (up by 26 points), Southerners (up by 25) and Republicans (up by 21 percent). Davis and her supporters fall into a very vocal minority.

Americans have largely evolved beyond their hatred. While racism remains rampant 50 years after desegregation, racists can no longer deny equal access to public places solely based on the color of someone’s skin. And while homophobic views still pervade much of the rural United States despite the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality, same-sex couples in Rowan County, Kentucky, are finally having their marriages recognized. Kim Davis’ era is over. It’s time to impeach her and replace her with a clerk who will do the job without discrimination.

Even on the lowest common denominator of local politics – Kim Davis got her job as a replacement for Mommy who was retiring. All Americans are accustomed to the dangers of generational family politics. We’ve suffered through generations of Bushes starting with a Hitler supporter.

And by the way, one of her deputy clerks is her son. Ready to carry on the family traditions of religious bigotry – and nepotism.

At least federal judges are willing to serve the public good in Kentucky

April Miller and Karen Roberts

A county clerk in Kentucky who refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on religious grounds was held in contempt of court by a U.S. federal judge on Thursday and sent to jail.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis was led away by U.S. marshals who confirmed she was under arrest.

“The court doesn’t do this lightly,” District Court Judge David Bunning said in ordering that she be taken into custody.

Bunning also said his earlier injunction ordering Davis to issue marriage licenses applied to everyone and not just the four couples whose suit in July had accused Davis of not doing her job.

Davis has refused to issue licenses to any couples, gay or straight, since the U.S. Supreme Court in June ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry under the U.S. Constitution, citing her Christian beliefs.

Before and during the hearing, about 200 demonstrators on both sides of the issue gathered outside the courthouse, some chanting slogans and many holding signs. As word of the ruling emerged, supporters of same-sex marriage erupted in cheers.

Davis’ seven deputies still face their own reckoning as Bunning assigned each of them attorneys and said their fate would be determined at a 1:45 pm EDT hearing, warning them they could face fines or jail…

The hearing in Ashland, Kentucky, lasted just over two hours. Crying at times, Davis maintained that a marriage can only be between a man and a woman and she was unable to recognize same-sex marriages…

Also testifying was April Miller, who along with her partner Karen Jacobs had three times tried to get a marriage license from Davis’ office. They were one of four couples who sued Davis in July.

Throw away the key!

I have no sympathy for someone who runs for elective office and then refuses to obey the law of the land.

This is an individual who individually and as a member of her religion claims that violating the civil rights of other Americans is somehow godly. Just plain old-fashioned crap. The same lies used to hinder normal lives for people of color, of minority religions, of nationalities somehow unacceptable to this year’s favorite flavor of bigot.

She gets no sympathy from this jailbird who willingly entered cells in a half-dozen states because local law decided whether or not someone could go to school or sit down and have a crappy soft drink – based on the color of their skin.

I never expected to see anyone like Ms. Davis sitting-in alongside me. And never did. That’s not condemnation of all religious folk. You should know that, by now. Second-best time I ever had in a jail cell was discussing religious history with a Catholic priest busted in the same demonstration in Chicago.

She adds to the number of people who reject her kind of religious beliefs out-of-hand because of her denial of civil rights, civil liberties, for all Americans.

UPDATE: 5 of 6 deputy clerks say they will start issuing kicenses tomorrow. Davis wants to be released, then – but, the judge rightfully doesn’t trust her to keep from interfering. Not so incidentally, the one deputy who wouldn’t obey the law is her son. Not enough she’s paid $80K/year – she puts her kin on the payroll, too.