Category: Religion

Christian lawyer wants proposal on California ballot to ‘shoot the gays’

target of bigots

A California lawyer says he wants to legalize the execution of gay people, and there may be nothing the state’s attorney general can do to stop the proposal from moving forward.

Matt McLaughlin, an attorney in Huntington Beach, California, filed paperwork to bring his proposal, which would sanction the killing of gay and lesbian residents on the basis of their sexuality, before voters in November 2016.

The initiative, named the “Sodomite Suppression Act”, is awaiting further review by the office of the state attorney general, Kamala Harris, who does not appear to have the authority to block it. However, the measure is unlikely to reach voters, as the California supreme court can intervene to prevent measures that violate the state constitution from reaching the ballot.

The so-called “shoot the gays” proposal would mandate “any person who willingly touches another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification be put to death by bullets to the head, or by any other convenient method”. McLaughlin, a lawyer since 1998, declared in his proposal that it is “better that offenders should die rather than that all of us should be killed by God’s just wrath”.

The initiative would also make it a crime to support gay rights, punishable by a $1m fine, up to 10 years in prison and expulsion from the state. It would be illegal to distribute “sodomistic propaganda” to “any person under the age of majority”. Being a “sodomite” or distributing “sodomistic propaganda” would disqualify a resident from serving in public office or public employment and from enjoying any public benefit…

This isn’t McLaughlin’s first controversial measure. In 2004, he tried to qualify an initiative…that would have added the King James Bible as a textbook in California public schools…

Aside from the fact he’s a scumbag of the first order, it could be interesting to see how large the idjit vote might be for a bigot-centered proposal like this. He might outpoll the Tea Party.

American Presbyterians vote to recognize same-sex marriage

The largest presbyterian group in the US has voted to recognize same-sex marriage, the latest sweeping move by the church to acknowledge it as Christian.

Presbyterian Church USA voted on Tuesday to amend its constitution to extend marriage rights from “a man and a woman” to “two people, traditionally a man and a woman”.

A majority of the church’s 171 governing bodies ruled in favor of the change, which will affect the church’s more than 1.7 million members, including those strongly opposed to marriage equality.

Individual pastors who oppose same-sex marriages can still opt out of performing same-sex marriage ceremonies or allowing them to be held in their church.

The group’s general assembly approved the constitutional amendment in 2014, but the “two people” measure needed to be ratified before the constitution could officially be changed. On Tuesday night, 87 had voted in favor, and 41 had voted against…

In recent years, the church has adopted more inclusive policies: in 2011, it undid an anti-same-sex marriage amendment by allowing LGBT pastors in the church, and last year ministers began performing same-sex marriages in states where it is legal…

Paul Detterman, national director of the Fellowship Community, a conservative group that opposes the decision, told the New York Times he expects the decision to drive practitioners out of the church. He said, however, that the vote might also compel people to stay in order to defend their stance…

The Covenant Network of Presbyterians, which pushes for LGBT inclusion in the church, praised the amendment. “We rejoice that all couples can now see those relationships solemnized before God and the Christian community in marriage, at the discretion of ministers and sessions,” the group said in a statement.

I like the libertarian sense of the amendment. It allows those church members whose brain and heart are trapped in the Dark Ages to remain there. Of their own free will.

Mummified Buddhist discovered inside ancient Buddha statue

When you think of what your final resting place will be like, statue-mummification doesn’t usually come to mind. That was the case, however, for one Buddhist master immortalized within a religious idol.

Researchers at the Meander Medical Center in Amersfoort, Netherlands discovered the mummified remains of a monk inside a Chinese statue of Buddha. The remains, which are presumed to be of Buddhist master Liuquan of the Chinese Meditation School, are the first of its kind to be found. The remains are believed to date back to 1100 A.D.

The entire body was found inside, folded in the same resting position as the exterior of the Buddha statue.

Buddhist art expert Erik Brujin supervised a full CT scan and endoscopy of the Buddha. Samples were also taken of the mummies thoracic and abdominal cavities, revealing scraps of paper scribed with ancient Chinese characters.

Researchers believe this “living Buddha” may be an example of self-mummification, which entails a life of extreme solemnity and austerity. After a strict diet comprised of water, seeds, nuts, roots, tree bark, and special tea for 2,000 days, the monks would be sealed in a stone tomb.

Following another 1,000 days after the monk’s death, the tomb would be opened and the state of the body checked. Monks who had mummified would be placed in temples and venerated. Those who had not achieved mummification would be respected, but remain entombed. In the past, some believed this type of mummification was less a form of death, and more so a highly spiritual state and advanced form of enlightenment.

For those who choose to study the thoughts, writings on philosophy of Buddha the man, the twists and turns taken by those who turn that body of work into a religion are often little more than a curiosity. Still, I guess our species can be as interesting for the ways we kill ourselves – as the ways we kill others, the rationales we use to justify both.

The greatest conspiracy ever created — extra-terrestrial reptoid invasion

Last November, the political fate of America was once again put to a vote. But for the millions of Americans who believe in lizard people, this vote had bigger implications — like thwarting an ongoing plot of world domination.

The idea of shape-shifting lizards taking human forms in a plot to rule America and the world has become one of the most majestic and marvelous conspiracy theories created by mankind (or lizardkind, if you will). In 2008, “lizard people” found its way onto the Minnesota’s midterm ballot with some controversy.

As pundits continue to extrapolate on what the Republican win in the midterms means for the country, there are people around this country who hope their votes did something crucial — kept the country safe from lizard people for the next few years…

What is a lizard person?

It’s just what it sounds like.

Lizard people are cold-blooded humanoid reptilians who have the power to shape-shift into human form. According to David Icke, a new-age philosopher and one of the most prominent theorists in the lizard people game, these creatures have had their claws in humankind since ancient time, and world leaders like Queen Elizabeth, George W. Bush, the Clintons, and Bob Hope are all lizard people…

How many Americans believe in lizard people?

Back in April of 2013, Public Policy Polling conducted a poll about conspiracy theories like aliens, an impostor Paul McCartney, and, of course, lizard people. And the polling organization found that 4 percent of Americans believe in lizard people, while another 7 percent were unsure. Taken to its absurd extreme, that would imply around 12 million Americans, Philip Bump, a lizard person scholar and writer at the Washington Post, found. (Public Policy Polling is a serious outlet, but it’s also known for some trolly polls, so these results have to be taken with a grain of salt.)

Keep in mind that this might not be counting all the people who, in their heart of hearts, believe that lizard people exist but are nervous that they will be found out if they publicly disclose their beliefs.

RTFA for more of this crap.

Of course these folks haven’t as much support as people who think the Earth is flat.

Mississippi Bill puts Jesus at the wheel — without qualifying drivers license

A few years ago, someone created a Facebook event page for “Jesus, Take the Wheel” Day. It encouraged Christian drivers to remove their hands for a total of five minutes on the highway on a particular day and let Jesus control the car.

That turned out to be a joke (thankfully), but Mississippi legislators may soon pass a very real bill that lets people get behind the wheel of a vehicle they have no business driving… as long as it’s church-owned:

House members on Thursday [Feb. 5] passed a bill exempting mid-sized church buses from the state’s commercial driver’s license requirements, prompting one lawmaker to call it the “Jesus Take the Wheel Act.”

The bill, HB 132, would help congregations lacking a CDL-certified driver transport up to 30 passengers in a church-owned vehicle…

Current law requires CDL-certified drivers for any vehicle transporting more than 16 passengers, including the driver. The bill would amend that law to exempt church buses designed to carry 30 passengers or less.

It’s a ridiculous and potentially-harmful exemption. Keep in mind that obtaining a CDL license isn’t that hard. You simply have to pass a written test, a driving test, and a physical exam…

If state officials care so little about the safety of passengers in these church-owned vehicles — and the people who have to be on the road with these drivers — they may as well just pass a bill allowing Jesus to take the wheel.

An automatic parallel with the stupidity of allowing religious/philosophical exemptions from vaccination. Just as safety amd the public good is the mandate for public health regulations the same is true for regulations affecting travel on public highways.

There really is no need to debate every portion of the Constitution that bothers superstitious people who think the safety of their holy butts is guaranteed by some wraith in the clouds.

This Week in God

When we last checked in with the fine folks in Orange County, Florida, home to Orlando among other communities, the school board had already agreed to allow an evangelical Christian group to distribute Bibles to school children. The Satanic Temple heard about the arrangement and asked for equal treatment – they had some Satanic coloring books they wanted to share.

If the board members refused, the Satanic Temple would sue and almost certainly win – the Supreme Court has already said public schools can’t discriminate based on religious viewpoints. If the doors were open to an evangelical group to distribute Bibles, then Orange County would seem to have no choice but to open the doors a little wider to accommodate every other religious group.

This week, Ian Millhiser explained the school board decided it’s time to close the doors altogether.
The school district, in other words, could allow Christians and Satanists alike to distribute literature to students. Or it could exclude both. But it cannot discriminate against the Satanists because it disagrees with the Satanic viewpoint. At a school board meeting Tuesday night, the board decided to go with a version of option B. Under their new policy, some literature may still be distributed, “but nothing that is religious, political or sectarian,” according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Every time these kinds of controversies arise, the underlying principle is always the same: when it comes to religion and public affairs, the government can’t play favorites. First Amendment principles demand that no American is treated as a second-class citizen.

The ideal solution, it would seem, is for public officials to stay out of the religion-promotion business altogether.

Let us return to separation between church and state.

Yes, I realize fundamentalists often believe this never was the case. They also believe the Earth came into existence 6000 years ago. I have no problem with someone wanting to believe silly crap. But, unless they can provide historical or scientific evidence to prove their case – they will be ignored.

Once we got past World war 2 and resumed our journey towards a modern new world appurtenances like religion quickly began to fall away from most useful political constructs – ranging from jurisprudence to public schools. Because some fundamentalist True Believers have fought successful rear guard battles in political backwaters has little or nothing to do with the course our nation should follow.

That includes the reactionary dullards stuck into the Supreme Court by opportunist politicians.

Seeing Jesus’ face on your toast is perfectly normal – sort of

dog toast

Researchers have found that the phenomenon of “face pareidolia”–where onlookers report seeing images of Jesus, Virgin Mary, or Elvis in objects such as toasts, shrouds, and clouds–is normal and based on physical causes.

“Most people think you have to be mentally abnormal to see these types of images, so individuals reporting this phenomenon are often ridiculed,” says lead researcher Prof. Kang Lee of the University of Toronto’s Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study. “But our findings suggest that it’s common for people to see non-existent features because human brains are uniquely wired to recognize faces, so that even when there’s only a slight suggestion of facial features the brain automatically interprets it as a face,” said Lee…

Researchers also found that people can be led to see different images–such as faces or words or letters–depending on what they expect to see, which in turn activates specific parts of the brain that process such images. Seeing “Jesus in toast” reflects our brain’s normal functioning and the active role that the frontal cortex plays in visual perception. Instead of the phrase “seeing is believing” the results suggest that “believing is seeing.”

I guess that explains why I keep seeing Sheila our Australian Shepherd on my morning toast. Some people believe in God. I believe in Dog.

Creationists get knickers in a bunch over JFK and Carnival Cruise Lines advert

It’s that special time of the year. The Super Bowl is over, we are still reeling (or happy, if you’re into that sort of thing) over the Worst Play Call In History, and wingnuts have now had a couple days to decide which of the commercials were the evilest and demonic-est of them all.

Ken Ham, that creationist nutbag who debated Bill Nye The Science Guy last year, and who is pretty sure that all nonexistent aliens burn in hell, has made his decision, and the winner of this year’s post-Super Bowl Two Minutes Hate will be Carnival Cruise Lines, who had the utter gall to make a commercial that featured a nice quote from John F. Kennedy, about how we all love the ocean because we used to live there before we lost our gills during Evil-lution. Here is that Kennedy quote, for your handy reference:

“I really don’t know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it’s because in addition to the fact that the sea changes, and the light changes, and ships change, it’s because we all came from the sea — and it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea — whether it is to sail or to watch it — we are going back from whence we came.”

Uh, sorry, John F. Kennedy and fancy boat company, but Ken Ham…responded on his Answers In Genesis website:

Don’t you just feel this “personal connection?” After all, your ancestor came out of the sea and evolved by natural processes to produce you. Blah, blah, blah. RTFA if you think you’re missing anything. They quote whole chunks of this crap and even include the attack upon Neil Degrasse Tyson, to round it up.

So, of course, because Fundamentalist Christian dinguses are all convinced that everyone secretly believes as they do, and because they think they represent the mainstream of their own religion, a few of them took to the Twitter (also created by God, duh) to express their displeasure at the newfound atheism of Carnival Cruise Lines. If you watched the ad above and listened to those words from JFK and you’re not getting how any of that implies that Carnival Cruise lines is an atheist god-hater, that’s because you are not a dumb creationist jackhole like this guy…

Anyway, so John F. Kennedy and a fleet of unsaved boats are the devil, Goddidit, the end.

Once again, fundamentalist True Believers prove to be funnier than most of the commercials on Super Bowl Sunday.

Oh, and BTW, the commercial got it wrong because JFK got it wrong, We’re 0.9% salt, the ocean is 3.5%…

Why are scams more common on the Right than the Left?


Click to enlarge

Since the tea party burst onto the political landscape in 2009, the conservative movement has been plagued by an explosion of PACs that critics say exist mostly to pad the pockets of the consultants who run them….A POLITICO analysis of reports filed with the Federal Election Commission covering the 2014 cycle found that 33 PACs that court small donors with tea party-oriented email and direct-mail appeals raised $43 million — 74 percent of which came from small donors. The PACs spent only $3 million on ads and contributions to boost the long-shot candidates often touted in the appeals, compared to $39.5 million on operating expenses.

….[Democrats] have mostly avoided the problem, though they also benefit from the lack of tea party-style insurgency on their side. That could change if the 2016 Democratic presidential primary inflames deep ideological divisions within the party. But on the right, this industry appears only to be growing, according to conservatives who track it closely.

And this problem isn’t limited just to consultants who set up PACs to line their own pockets. Media Matters reports that right-wing outlets routinely tout—or rent their email lists to people touting—all manner of conspiracy theories and out-and-out frauds. Here’s an excerpt from Media Matters’ list:

Mike Huckabee sold out his fans to a quack doctor, conspiracy theorists, and financial fraudsters.
Subscribers to CNN analyst Newt Gingrich‘s email list have received supposed insider information about cancer “cures,” the Illuminati, “Obama’s ‘Secret Mistress,'” a “weird” Social Security “trick,” and Fort Knox being “empty.”
Five conservative outlets promoted a quack doc touting dubious Alzheimer’s disease cures.
Fox analyst Charles Payne was paid to push now worthless stocks.
Newsmax super PAC boondoggle.
Right-wing media helped “scam PACs” raise money from their readers.

…So here’s my question: why is this so much more common on the right than on the left? It would be nice to chalk it up to the superior intelligence of liberal audiences and call it a day, but that won’t wash. There’s just no evidence that liberals, in general, are either smarter or less susceptible to scams than conservatives.

One possibility is that a lot of this stuff is aimed at the elderly, and conservatives tend to skew older than liberals. And while that’s probably part of the answer, it’s hardly satisfying. There are plenty of elderly liberals, after all—certainly enough to make them worth targeting with the same kind of fraudulent appeals that infest the right.

Another possibility is that it’s basically a supply-side phenomenon. Maybe liberal outlets simply tend to be less ruthless, less willing to set up scam fundraising organizations than conservative outlets. In fact, that actually does seem to be the case. But again: why? Contrary to Vogel’s lead, this kind of thing has been a problem on the right for a long time. It definitely got worse when the tea party movement created a whole new pool of potential patsies, but it didn’t start in 2009. It’s been around for a while.

So then: why is this problem so much bigger on the right than on the left?…It’s got to be something institutional, or something inherent in the nature of American conservatism. But what?

Ken Vogel probably grew up in the age of solid-state communications – instead of vacuum tube-powered radios. He missed the generations of Americans who were told by radio preachers to “place your hands on the radio and feel the warmth of God reaching out to save you!”

Of course they were warm. You could burn yourself on those suckers if you reached inside the radio – or first couple generations of TV’s – and touched the tubes.

True Believers accept authority easier than any skeptic. While folks on the Left often get there because of skepticism learned from watching a corrupt establishment lie about damned near everything. The veneer of lies was more than evident in that classic Republican candidate debate when the moderator asked how many didn’t believe in evolution. A few – the preachers – threw their arms up right away. The rest dragged their arms up as they looked out at the audience of True Believers. They knew they had to join in or be rejected by the idjits.

And so it goes. Want to buy some underwear woven with copper wires to aid your virility?

Israeli newspaper photoshops women out of Paris Unity Rally

What women?

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany was right there next to the president of France on Sunday, marching through the streets of Paris for all the world to see — all the world, that is, except the readers of an ultra-Orthodox newspaper in Israel.

The newspaper, HaMevaser, altered a third-page photograph of the march to remove Ms. Merkel and other female leaders, setting off snickers and satire on social media.

Ultra-Orthodox publications generally avoid pictures of women for reasons of modesty, and their intended audience has been known to scratch women’s faces out of bus advertisements and to bar them from running for public office in their parties. But some people saw the deletions from the Paris photograph as a more serious sin.

“It is rather embarrassing when, at a time that the Western world is rallying against manifestations of religious extremism, our extremists manage to take the stage,” Allison Kaplan Sommer commented on a blog for Israel’s left-leaning newspaper Haaretz. She berated HaMevaser for “denying the fact that in the wider world, beyond the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, women do stand on the world stage and shape events…”

An Irish satirical news source, Waterford Whispers, responded by posting its own “feminist newspaper photoshop,” featuring the same Paris street scene with three female leaders depicted, but no men.

Newspapers catering to ultra-Orthodox Jews have been embarrassed before by their handling of news photographs depicting women. In 2011, Di Tzeitung, a Brooklyn-based publication, apologized for digitally altering a photograph to remove Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was then secretary of state, and another woman from a scene in the White House Situation Room.

Fundamentalist nutballs are worth laughing at 24/7.

Still, please be be unrelenting in the fight to keep theocratic crap from becoming the law of the land. They have no shortage of ignoranus supporters.