Category: Religion

Nutball neo-Confederate talk grows louder


a_v_d via Shutterstock/Salon)

A Saturday ago at the annual conference of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal accused President Obama and other Democrats of waging a war against religious liberty and all but openly threatened a violent revolution…“I can sense right now a rebellion brewing amongst these United States,” Jindal said, “where people are ready for a hostile takeover of Washington, D.C., to preserve the American Dream for our children and grandchildren.”

Of course, Jindal’s speech didn’t come out of nowhere. Jindal is notorious as a weather vane, not a leader. So this is a clear sign of the need to take threats of right-wing violence seriously — and to look to its justifications as formulated on the Christian right…

“Something has changed in recent years,” Frederick Clarkson notes, as “disturbing claims are appearing more frequently, more prominently, and in ways that suggest that they are expressions of deeply held beliefs more than provocative political hyperbole.” He also cites “powerful indications in the writings of some Christian right leaders that elements of their movement have lost confidence in the bright political vision of the United States as the once and future Christian Nation — and that they are desperately seeking alternatives.”

Perhaps most ominously, there is a growing convergence of theocratic and neo-Confederate thinking, Clarkson finds…

At least some of the historic culture warriors of the Christian Right seem to be considering an ostensibly unlikely coalition with the Neo-Confederate movement. The coalition would lead their followers in religious and political directions in which violence is as likely as the outcomes are uncertain…

In short, if you think that secession talk has been crazy since President Obama took office, it could get significantly worse. The sort of standoff we saw at the Cliven Bundy ranch could pale in comparison to what a religiously motivated group — certain that God is on their side — might do…

Father C. John McCloskey, a 61-year-old priest in the reactionary Opus Dei order, predicted in 2001, and again in 2012, that conservative Catholics and evangelicals would need to band together in a civil war of secession. The “secession of the ‘Culture of Life’ states,” he predicted, would emphasize “the fundamental issues of the sanctity of marriage, the rights of parents, and the sacredness of human life,” and that the secession would precipitate “a short and bloody civil war” that would break the country into what he calls “the Regional States of America.”

RTFA for more of this collective theocratic silliness. Just in case you think idjits won’t be moved to violence.

Then, just for giggles at the so-called mainstream of the Southern Right, check out these folks who still call themselves Republicans. A poll, released Tuesday, finds that 37 percent of those who supported Chris McDaniel, the Tea Party gasbag in the Mississippi Republican primary runoff would support the Confederate states if there were a second Civil War. Just 38 percent would back the United States, and 25 percent were unsure.

Yup. They’re still out there in the dark somewhere.

Thanks, Mike

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World Council of Churches calls for fossil fuel divestment


The altar where the Koch Bros worship

The Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, a fellowship of over 300 churches which represent some 590 million people in 150 countries, endorsed fossil fuel divestment this week, agreeing to phase out its own holdings and encourage its members to do the same. The WCC Central Committee is made up of dozens of influential religious leaders from around the world, meaning the decision could resonate far and wide.

“The World Council of Churches reminds us that morality demands thinking as much about the future as about ourselves–and that there’s no threat to the future greater than the unchecked burning of fossil fuels,” said Bill McKibben, the founder of 350.org, a global climate campaign that is supporting the divestment effort. “This is a remarkable moment for the 590 million Christians in its member denominations: a huge percentage of humanity says today ‘this far and no further…’”

The endorsement is a major victory for the fossil fuel divestment movement, which has seen a surge of momentum amongst religious institutions over the last few months. In recent weeks, the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in the United States committed to divest, the University of Dayton in Ohio became the first Catholic institution to join the campaign, and the Church of Sweden have come out in favour of divestment.

Overdue.

Thanks, Mike

Christian forgiveness doesn’t change the recidivism rate of rapists

Tennessee police arrested 46-year-old Christian pastor Roy Neal Yoakem in Kentucky Monday for allegedly raping a 14-year-old member of his congregation.

Police say Yoakem sexually assaulted the boy at least twice, once at the New Gospel Outreach Church in Scottsville, Kentucky and once at his home in Gallatin, Tennessee. Kentucky police initially arrested Yoakem in June, but he was arrested again Monday as charges continued to mount and his past history came to light.

In 2005, Yoakem was convicted for sexually abusing an 8-year-old boy and had to register in Tennessee as a sex offender. He was eventually moved to the New Gospel Outreach Church and allowed to continue preaching because, as interim pastor Stephen Bratcher told WKRN, “The Bible teaches forgiveness and to give people chances and not to turn people away. — If there [was] anything I can do to go back and change it I would.”

Yoakem is currently charged with aggravated statutory rape, sexual battery by an authority figure, statutory rape by an authority figure and fugitive from justice.

Like the headline says.

Court rules parents haven’t a right to send their unvaccinated kids to school

In New York City, parents do not have the right to send their unvaccinated kids to school if another student has a vaccine-preventable illness…That’s according to a Brooklyn Federal District Court judge, who ruled earlier this month that a parent’s constitutional right to freely exercise their religion does not always make their children exempt from vaccination requirements.

New York City schools require all students to get a series of basic vaccinations in order to attend classes. But in New York State — along with several other states — laws say that parents can opt out of these requirements for religious reasons.

When three families in New York City recently tried to do so, their children were barred from attending school, leading them to file suit against the city. Citing a 1905 Supreme Court case — in which the court ruled that Massachusetts was permitted to fine a man $5 for refusing a smallpox vaccine — Judge William Kuntz ruled that the court had “strongly suggested that religious objectors are not constitutionally exempt from vaccinations…”

All this comes as increasing numbers of parents around the country are refusing vaccines, leading to outbreaks of a number of diseases that could have easily been prevented. Earlier this spring, during a measles outbreak in New York, the unvaccinated sibling of a home-schooled child who’d been infected was barred from attending public school. That sibling ultimately contracted the disease, and keeping him home prevented it from spreading further.

The idjits and ignorant have every right to believe what they do, say what they wish – and keep their silliness out of everyone else’s lives.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Ironic lawsuit of the week

Lawyers for two Guantanamo Bay detainees have filed motions asking a U.S. court to block officials from preventing the inmates from taking part in communal prayers during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The lawyers argue that – in light of the Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby decision – the detainees’ rights are protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act…

During Ramadan, a month of prayer and reflection that began last weekend, Muslims are required to fast every day from sunrise to sunset. But what is at issue in this case is the ability to perform extra prayers, called tarawih, “in which they recite one-thirtieth of the Quran in consecutive segments throughout the month…”

The detainees’ lawyers said courts have previously concluded that Guantanamo detainees do not have “religious free exercise rights” because they are not “persons within the scope of the RFRA.”

But the detainees’ lawyers say the Hobby Lobby decision changes that

“Hobby Lobby makes clear that all persons – human and corporate, citizen and foreigner, resident and alien – enjoy the special religious free exercise protections of the RFRA,” the lawyers argued in court papers…

As much as I disrespect the conservative members of the Supreme Court for their allegiance to ideology over the Constitution of the United States – you have to enlarge and expand the definition of stupid for their inability to foresee the results of their reactionary pimping for churches.

It ain’t news. They no doubt knew the tidal wave of Republican governors would roll out everything but the kitchen sink to revive racist practices designed to stop Black folks from voting after they gutted the Civil Rights Act. I have to assume they counted on fundamentalist nutballs erupting into a feeding frenzy with the Hobby Lobby decision. It fits nice and tidy into the War on Women. Like most reactionaries, though, they can’t see any further than the flies sitting on end of their nose.

Thanks, Mike

Bill in Congress to guarantee right to contraception – who will try to stop it?

GOP-war-against-women

Democrats in Congress said Tuesday that they had developed legislation to override the Supreme Court decision on contraceptives. The bill would ensure that women have access to insurance coverage for birth control even if they work for businesses that have religious objections.

The bill, put together in consultation with the Obama administration, would require for-profit corporations like Hobby Lobby Stores to provide and pay for contraceptive coverage, along with other preventive health services, under the Affordable Care Act.

The measure could be on the Senate floor as early as next week, Senate Democrats said. House Democrats are developing a companion bill, but it faces long odds in the House, which is controlled by Republicans. Speaker John A. Boehner described the Hobby Lobby decision last week as “a victory for religious freedom.”

Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, who led efforts by Senate Democrats to respond to the ruling, said: “Your health care decisions are not your boss’s business. Since the Supreme Court decided it will not protect women’s access to health care, I will.”

Ms. Murray wrote her proposal with Senator Mark Udall, Democrat of Colorado.

Ms. Murray’s bill criticizes the court’s majority opinion and declares that “employers may not discriminate against their female employees” in the coverage of preventive health services.

To this end, it says that an employer “shall not deny coverage of a specific health care item or service” where coverage is required under any provision of federal law. This requirement, it says, shall apply to employers notwithstanding the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Someday the role our original constitution played in leading separation of church and state throughout the world will once again be recognized back where it started. Right here in the Heart of the Free World.

More or less, eh?

Priest says soccer is Gay – You can tell by the shoes

While thousands of Russian fans were left devastated by their team’s early exit from the World Cup tournament, one Orthodox priest has openly rejoiced at their failure, denouncing the contest as a “homosexual abomination.”

Priest Alexander Shumsky seems to have taken particular exception to the brightly colored footwear on display in Brazil, writing in his column on Christian website Russian People’s Line that players who wear green, yellow, pink or blue shoes helped promote the “gay rainbow.”

“Wearing pink or blue shoes, [the players] might as well wear women’s panties or a bra,” Shumsky wrote, adding that he was also offended by the “unthinkable” hairstyles of some of the players in Brazil.

The 2014 World Cup has seen competitors from across the globe sport a range of colorful shoes, with all three of the major sporting brands — Adidas, Nike and Puma — unveiling brightly colored designs at the tournament in an effort to capture something of the Brazilian carnival flair.

But for Shumsky, the marketing campaigns appear to have had the opposite effect.

The liberal ideology of globalism clearly wants to oppose Christianity with football. I’m sure of it. Therefore I am glad that the Russian players have failed and, by the grace of God, no longer participate in this homosexual abomination,” the priest wrote in his online column.


Shumsky is still pissed-off that Robbie Coltrane beat him out for the part of Rubeus Hagrid in HARRY POTTER.

Thanks, Mike

Atheist freed from Nigerian psychiatric hospital – because of doctor’s strike!

A Nigerian man detained in a hospital psychiatric ward because he did not believe in God has been freed.

Mubarak Bala was released because of a doctors’ strike which has seen many patients discharged, a charity said.

Mr Bala said he now wanted to reconcile with his family who committed him to the hospital in Kano where he says he was held against his will for 18 days.

But he said he wanted to leave the predominantly Muslim north of Nigeria after receiving death threats.

A humanist charity which took up his case said that Mr Bala, a chemical engineering graduate, was freed on Tuesday but news of his release was not made public until he was in a secure location.

“There are still deep concerns for Mubarak’s safety in a part of the country where accusations of ‘apostasy’ can be deadly,” the International Humanist and Ethical Union said…

In a statement released on Friday, Mr Bala said he was now staying with some of his family, had been assured of his safety and wanted to put things behind him “for the sake of reconciliation”…

He said he retracted “some derogatory remarks I have made online, out of anger”.

His lawyer, Muhammad Bello Shehu, told the BBC Hausa Service this did not refer to his faith but to remarks he had made about his father who he accused of being an Islamic leader who could not afford to have a non-Muslim in the family.

After the 29-year-old was admitted to a psychiatric ward at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, he sought help from friends via email and social media until his phone was confiscated, according to IHEU.

Mr Shehu said that no further legal action would be taken but that Mr Bala wanted another doctor to evaluate him to put it on the record that he was not suffering from a mental illness as the hospital has concluded.

Good thing we live in a modern country where there is separation of church and state.

Oh.

Supreme Court conservatives continue to crawl on their knees back to the 19th Century

The Supreme Court offered a further sign Thursday that it favors letting employers with religious objections avoid the Obama administration’s so-called contraception mandate.

Over the vehement objection of its three female justices, the court blocked the administration from forcing an evangelical college in Illinois to sanction insurance coverage for emergency birth control, even though it would not have had to offer the coverage itself.

In doing so, the court made clear that it’s not done with the religious liberty issue following Monday’s ruling that closely-held, for-profit corporations with objections to certain contraception methods do not have to offer this type of coverage to their employees.

Noting that appeals courts across the country are divided on how religious nonprofits such as charities, hospitals and colleges should be handled under the regulation, the court said “such division is a traditional ground for certiorari” — a decision by the justices to resolve the issue.

In the meantime, the court said women employees of Wheaton College should be able to get emergency contraception services from private insurers — without requiring the college to sign a form it claims would make it complicit in the transaction.

Ironically, it was that arrangement — in which objecting religious nonprofits would sign over their responsibility to offer contraception coverage to insurers or third-party administrators — that the court cited Monday as a potential solution for profit-making companies such as the craft store chain Hobby Lobby.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan, dissented from Thursday’s order. She said the accommodation already granted to nonprofits “is the least restrictive means of furthering the government’s compelling interests in public health and women’s well-being.”

Those who are bound by our decisions usually believe they can take us at our word. Not so to­day,” Sotomayor said. Declaring insufficient the very accommodation it held out Monday as a possible solution for Hobby Lobby “evinces disregard for even the newest of this court’s precedents and undermines confidence in this institution,” she said.

I’ve never had any confidence in liars who pimp for rightwing religious nutballs, scum who lied through their teeth for validation from the equally-corrupt Congress which approved their nominations.

Did anyone really expect today’s Republican SCOTUS to be the bastion of separation of church and state assumed of previous courts? Liberal or conservative, questions of constitutional principle were rarely couched in terms of employers forcing religious servitude upon employees. Not anymore. Not since bible-thumping bigots joined the ranks of corporate flunkies already scaring the crap out of incumbent Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats.

You can find enough members of Congress nowadays to validate a Supreme Court parking ticket for a bishop.

Religious groups evenly split over same-sex marriage

The opposition to same-sex marriage is often characterized as religious in nature, but major religious groups are close to evenly split on the issue.

The following chart, based on the Pew Research Center’s own table, breaks down the split:

There are Christian and Jewish groups on both sides. Quakers are supportive, while Mormons aren’t. And two major religions — Hinduism and Buddhism — don’t have stances that are clear enough for Pew to interpret.

A church’s stance on the issue also doesn’t necessarily reflect the population that actually follows the faith. While the Vatican takes a very clear stance against LGBT rights, most American Catholics don’t view homosexuality as morally unacceptable. Most American Catholics don’t even view homosexuality as a sin, Pew found.

Still, some groups with religious roots are definitely among the most ardent opponents of same-sex marriage rights. As LGBT advocacy group HRC points out, the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage rights, has ties to the Mormon Church and Catholic Church. But Pew’s findings show the connection doesn’t necessarily reflect on all religions or even worshipers within those sects.

RTFA for the details and digressions. For the life of me I do not comprehend those religions and their leaders who are less than forthcoming in a public way about their support for civil rights. It didn’t used to be so. Early days, when I woke in jail on a Sunday or Monday morning it was no surprise to be sharing that cell with a Buddhist monk or a Catholic priest.

Days since, there has been no special repression of religious advocates for peace or equal rights. But, religious voices in favor of progress are dim and drowned out by anti-abortion bible-thumping, chickenhawks ready to spill Muslim blood on a foreign land – like Tennessee, Protestants who protest lawful rights for gay or lesbian couples. Where did they go this 50% of Believers?

There are people we elect to provide leadership in law and economy. There are people we choose, generally because our parents chose before us in some tired regression, to provide leadership in social well-being and morality. And neither of those classes have the courage or inclination to perform to their job description.

We’re left with the reactionary herd and disciples – elected or God’s minions – and frankly I’m pleased to see the nation in general and especially the generations new and about to be new eager to press on ahead of their papier-mache leaders.