Saturday, November 19, 2011

Catholic bishops, cretins, pedophiles and birth control

 [Photo by AP/J. Scott Applewhite.]

I am so damn sick of religious people insisting that it's their way or the highway.  It matters not what religion or what cult within any religion, they are all the same.  Give the religious a little power and they will do everything within their power to force the rest of the world to believe as they do and act as they say.

That's the road the Roman Church has taken, all the way from the Nicene Council in the 4th century to the seat of American episcopacy in the 21st century.  When the so-called "orthodox" took control in 381 CE, they immediately banned all books they didn't like and required everyone to toe their theological line.  Those who dared disobey the orthodox bishops were killed and their books were burned.  If the American bishops had their way today they might not kill, but you can be sure that no one would be able to publicly or privately disagree with them or print anything not approved by the Vatican!

Down through the years, there has been no religion more horrendous and murderous than the Christian religion, represented mainly by the Roman Church.  Those defined as heretics were routinely burned at the stake.  So-called witches were raped by priests and then brutally murdered.  Jews were sought out and killed wherever they were found.  Dissent was disallowed and mercilessly suppressed.

Protestants were no better.  Martin Luther was a vicious hater and had no problem killing those who opposed him.  He took the side of the princes rather than the peasants in a war where thousands were slaughtered!  Luther hated Jews with a passion, and the book he wrote on the Jews became the blueprint for Adolph Hitler's "Final Solution."  John Calvin, representing another Protestant faction, actually killed one of his closest supporters who dared oppose him as Calvin became more insane.

Today, in the United States, the Roman Church does not have the power to torture, maim or kill dissenters.  But that does not deter them from attempting to force their beliefs on every man, woman and child in the country!

The issue of the moment is birth control.  Because the Roman Church has medieval and non-scientific views on sexual issues and behavior and because it has hitched it's wagon to an other-worldly mythical theology (which even the ancient Greeks would reject), it promotes the notion that sex is only for procreation and not recreation!  Therefore, anything that gets in the way or procreation is taboo.  They have the audacity to claim this is the will of God.

It's fascinating that a bunch of celibate, male, priestly characters running around in dresses would claim the right to circumscribe the sexual behavior of normal human beings!  Not only so, but the Roman Church, filled as it is with the worst hypocrites, has no moral authority whatsoever.  That ship, as they say, sailed long ago.

Studies have shown that somewhere between 25 and 50 percent of Roman Catholic priests are homosexuals.  Not that that is necessarily bad except for the fact that the church teaches homosexuality is a disorder of creation and homosexual behavior is a sin!  Every gay priest is living a hypocritical life!

I'm not sure of the percentage of priests and nuns who are child-abusers and pedophiles, but many thousands of Catholic children are suffering long-term damage from the treatment received at the hands of these cretinous "religious" leaders.  Almost every day a new story appears in the media related to child sexual abuse by priests who are supposed to be mediators of God's love in the world!

Now, the Roman Catholic bishops in the USA (these are the same bishops who, for years, have used every device at their disposal to hide and cover up the sexual abuse of their clergy!) are lobbying hard to make it more difficult, if not impossible, to obtain birth control devices in this country.  Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance providers are required to provide contraceptives without a co-pay.  Note this applies to "private" insurance plans.  This has nothing to do with government money or government insurance plans.

Note also there is an exemption for certain religious groups.  Irin Carmon, writing at Salon, says, "An institution which provides its employees with health benefits can qualify for it, if its major purpose is to employ and serve co-religionists - like a church.  That's not enough for the Catholic Church, which says (though possibly not in these words) that it doesn't want to subsidize the shameful non-procreative sexing of its employees at affiliated hospitals, charities and universities, whether they agree with the Church about birth control or not."

And all this in spite of the fact that studies done for a number of years have shown that a large majority of Catholic men and women have used contraceptive devices in direct opposition to the teaching of the Church!

The bishops are lobbying the Obama administration to deny those who disagree with the sexual views of these male celibates the right to "essential medical care."  We've got to hope Obama will not bow to the wishes of these bishopricks.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Georgia, public schools, and the Bible

Nobody would ever mistake the state of Georgia for a progressive state.  But Georgia doth love the Bible!

There are 180 schools districts in the state of Georgia.  Public school districts.  School districts which are paid for with taxes paid to the state by its hard-working citizens.  These are not religious schools or Sunday Schools.  Because they are public school districts they are bound by the constitutional provision that the state must refrain from mixing religion with public education.  Public schools contain students of many different faiths or of no faith.  It is not the business of the public schools to teach material from any particular "holy" book for any reason.

Georgia missed that constitutional lesson along the way.  Or more likely, Georgia is flouting the law!  Forty eight of its schools districts have been conducting "Bible education classes."  Because Georgia is overrun with fundamentalist Christianists, it has been able to get away with this by claiming they don't teach any particular religion but rather the "literature" of the Bible.  But what the Bible says depends on who is interpreting it.  And the material they use interprets the Bible from a fundamentalist Christian perspective.  One example is that all the magical stories are treated as factual.

Honk, honk!  The material used in these classes is from an fundamentalist Christianist outfit called the Bible Literacy Project.  The BLP is a thinly-disguised attempt by radical Christianists to foist their religious/biblical beliefs on unsuspecting and basically ignorant young people.  It appears that you could sit through a year's worth of classes and never learn that the creation stories, the Noah story, the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Moses, David and Solomon are mythological in nature and not historical.  You can read a more detailed and scholarly analysis of BLP material here.

What's quite humorous is that while the Bible Literacy Project is less offensive than other such biblical "projects," it isn't fundamentalistic enough for the nutcases on the far right, like World Net Daily and you can get the flavor of their hostility to it here.

But however one feels about the Bible and however one interprets the Bible is irrelevant.  The Bible is not to be taught in our public schools.  Neither should the Quran be taught in our public schools.  Nor any other religious "holy" book.  Georgia has enough Christian churches to gag a god!  It seems most sensible that those churches should be the sites for Biblical "literacy," or any other biblical studies.  That's why there are churches, which, by the way pay no taxes!

Well, there's good news in and amidst the economic decline.  Because of the lack of funds, only 16 school districts are able to offer Bible classes in the coming year!  Budget cuts, you know!  That's still 16 too many, and these school districts are still in direct violation of our constitution (the Law!) but that will not deter them from what they perceive as a "good" thing.

Bible studies are not "good" things when run by fundamentalists who interpret the Bible according to their faith.  Can't really blame them, though, because if they turned that around and really understood what the Bible was and how it came to be and how it was written, they'd probably lose their faith!

So, we can rejoice that fewer young people will be exposed to a faulty understanding of the Bible.  And perhaps we can take all of this as a good sign; a sign that Georgia's school districts don't take "biblical literacy" too seriously.  When push comes to shove, economically, the first thing to go is Bible classes!  Yeah!

Now, perhaps there could be a special emphasis in history and civics classes about how our Constitution provides for a separation of church and state and how, if students want to know more about their particular religion or holy book, they should ask their parents or their pastors/priests!

Washington pours federal money (welfare) into the coffers of the wealthy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Steven Spielberg to direct epic of mythical proportions!

The Huffington Post is reporting today that Steven Spielberg has expressed an interest in directing an epic film titled "Gods and Kings."

The film would tell "Moses entire life story.  A sweeping narrative about the biblical figure's birth through death, which would include the story of the Jews' emancipation from Egypt and years in the desert..."

This is really quite humorous.  I know that Spielberg is an entertainer and doesn't worry too much about the difference between fact and fiction.  He wants to draw people in to watch his film and there's nothing wrong about that.

The funny thing is that most biblical scholars today are convinced that Moses is a mythical figure not an historical one!  Scholars of the Bible and archaeologists studying the ancient Near East have been unable to discover any external evidence for the Israelites' sojourn in Egypt, the person of Moses, the escape from Egypt, the crossing of the Sea of Reeds, or the wandering in the desert!

NO evidence whatsoever.  The Egyptians, who kept quite detailed records never mention Israelites living in their midst.  Moses is not cited in any Egyptian document.  There is nothing recorded anywhere that mentions 600,000 Israelites escaping from Egypt with the Egyptian army on their heels, or of a sea parting or the Egyptian army drowning when the parted seas came back together.

What is especially damning is the fact that archaeologists, after extensive work for many years, have yet to come up with a shred of evidence of the Israelites desert wanderings.  If 600,000 people had actually plodded around the desert for 40 years, there should be a great deal of Israelite trash and treasure buried beneath its sands!  Maybe even the Ark of the Covenant!

It is pure craziness to think that such a large group could go unnoticed for any period of time.  Egyptian police stations were placed at various intervals all the way up to Palestine.  The Egyptians would know very quickly of any large group of people in the desert.

But I guess fiction is stranger than reality; and more fun.  So, in Spielberg's epic we'll probably see Moses in his wee basket in the river.  We'll see him in the Pharoah's court.  I wonder, though, how Spielberg will film the plagues and the "passover?"  You can bet Moses will be a heroic figure as he defies Pharoah and leads his people out of the land, through the water and into the desert.  I wonder, too, if Spielberg will include the bit where Moses finds a wife out in no-man's land and adopts the religion and the god (Yahweh) of his father-in-law?  That's an interesting touch.  Could this be the same god of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah and his sons, Abraham and Isaac, etc?  Nah, probably not.  Moses wouldn't have known anything about that god and those folks.  Those stories hadn't been created yet.  So, we've got a new god and new commands. 

Being an epic filmmaker of some note, you can expect Spielberg to give you a rollicking good time watching the Israelites bumping into each other in the desert; ignoring Moses and his so-called Ten Commandments; flaunting the laws of god; eating manna; worshiping a golden calf and dying by the thousands by the hand of one really pissed-off god.  And the climax will come when poor Moses, old and withered and disappointed in his people will not be allowed by his beloved Yahweh to enter the "promised land."  Poor Moses, no matter how hard he worked, no matter it wasn't his fault the Israelites were so damn stubborn, god, being a hard-nose, said Moses just didn't cut it.  No promised land for him!

Of course, the assault on and the conquering of the promised land is also mythical.  It never happened.  In fact, most everything in the Hebrew Bible never happened.  But, hey, there are some good stories, and if Spielberg wants to film one of them that's OK with me.

Except for one nagging concern:  there are already too many ignoramuses who actually believe this stuff.  If Spielberg presents it as history, it simply perpetuates ignorance and gives the Christian fundamentalists more ammo in their fight against biblical literacy and common sense!

Rick Santorum makes a fool of himself. Again.

Maybe Santorum could go live in another country; say Saudi Arabia.  His views would be welcome there and he could be a closet Christian while pretending to be a Muslim.  In this country he's really a closet Muslim extremist into Sharia-type laws while pretending to be a Christian. 

It is possible, however, that some real Christians see through him for what he is:  a bigoted, 16th Century Roman Catholic whose Christianity has no relationship to the Jesus character of the Gospels. 

Well, hell, Christianity as a whole today has little or no relationship to the Jesus character of the Gospels.  Christianity is "Paulinism in disguise."  But that's another whole article.

Rich Santorum believes single moms give the Dems an advantage!

It's hard to describe someone as despicable as is Rick Santorum.  One of the things the Roman Catholic Church could do to scrub its image is excommunicate Santorum.  Can someone be excommunicated just for being incredibly stupid and prejudiced?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

GOP contenders hate Jesus!

 Photo by Richard Shiro/AP

By and large, most of the current crop of nutcases running for the Republican nomination for president, are professing Christians solidly in the ultra-right fundamentalist camp.  They believe that Jesus was god and also the son of god who was sacrificed on a cross in Jerusalem about 30 CE. 

That sacrifice was propitiatory which means it satisfied god's blood lust.  We are all "sinners" and thus it is only right and just because God is just that God kill us for our sins.  But Jesus' death atoned for our sins; his death was a substitute for ours so now God, happy as a lark because his need for justice was satisfied, gives eternal life to all people who "confess" Jesus is god and are thereby "born  again." Those who fail to believe or accept Jesus as the sacrificial lamb whose bloody death on Calvary was necessary to earn God's forgiveness, will burn forever in hell complements of the loving creator who made them in his image.

These fundamentalist Christians also believe that Jesus is coming back soon at which time true believers will be "raptured" into heaven and the rest of us will have hell to pay.  Additionally, they are certain every word in the Bible is the word of God and absolutely true no matter what the subject matter is.  If there is ever a conflict between science and the Bible, the Bible has the last word.  Most of these fundys do not accept the theory of evolution as explanatory relative to life's origin and subsequent development, because they perceive evolution to be contrary to the ancient creation myths in Genesis, chapters 1 and 2. 

What strikes me is the fact that in spite of their protestations of profession of faith, these Republican contenders really don't know the Bible and they have no clue what the Jesus character said and did as recorded in the Gospel story(s) about him.  Or, if they do have a clue, they don't care and hate him so much they do the opposite of what he instructed his followers to do.

For example, today Michele Bachmann, perhaps the most ignorant fool of the bunch, slammed President Obama for banning the torture method of waterboarding.  She said she would, if elected, make that a tool of her fight against the Islamic terrorists.  She said waterboarding has successfully provided us with essential information about our enemies.  The rest of the contender clowns jumped on board to agree waterboarding was a wonderful addition to our arsenal of anti-terrorist weapons.

Actually, they are dead wrong on every count.  It has been shown over and over again that torture in whatever form does not work.  The person being tortured will say anything, make up anything, just to get the torture to stop.  The truth is, no matter what Dickie Cheney claims, torture has provided us with no important information.  But whether it works or not is ultimately irrelevant!  It goes against everything we stand for in this country.  It is unconstitutional!  And that's the most important indictment against it.

Finally, and this matters only to people who profess to follow Jesus, it goes against everything Jesus taught!

But consider, all these Republican pretenders to the throne claim to love Jesus.  They do not love Jesus!   They hate Jesus.  They must, for Jesus said to love your enemies, to turn the other cheek, to never resort to violence.  It is inconceivable that anyone who gives a damn about what Jesus said would condone waterboarding or any other form of torture.

These would-be presidents are hypocrites of the highest (or maybe lowest) order!  They do not love Jesus!  They hate Jesus and they refuse to follow Jesus' teachings.  They publicly deny their Lord every time they open their mouths!  They are, as one author called their type years ago, "A Generation of Vipers."

But there's more.  The Jesus of the Gospels went out of his way to take care of the sick and the needy.  The Jesus of the Gospels taught his followers to go the extra mile, to love their enemies, to turn the other cheek, and if someone wants your cloak, give him your coat, too.  He also said that we should not bear false witness!

That's not the Jesus of  Bachmann, et. al.  These Republican vipers would destroy our country's safety nets for the needy.  They fight tooth and nail every attempt to provide the poorest among us with the resources to survive in an increasingly hostile world made more so by the machinations of the richest of our brethren.  They want to torture those they perceive as enemies and lock away forever those they hate.  Perry even prides himself on how many people he has legally murdered as governor of Texas!  These vipers want to bomb a country and a people they consider to be the enemy!

As to bearing false witness, each of them lies through their teeth at every opportunity.  They lie about our president, about our Constitution, about our heritage.  They lie about their background and their beliefs.

Finally, the Jesus of the Gospels said straight out that riches will void your passport to the heavenly gates.  Rich people don't have a chance in hell of reaching paradise.  He said it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.  Obviously, a camel can, under no circumstances, go through the eye of a needle!

But what do these Republican vipers do?  Accumulate wealth!  As I recall ol' Newt recently blew about a quarter of a million on baubles at Tiffany's.  They defend to the death their rich friends in positions of corporate power.  As for the least among us who need health care?  Forget it!  The elderly who depend upon Social Security?  Take it down!  Privatize it and make the Wall Street barons richer!  And for those who cling to Medicare to meet their health needs?  Cut their damn benefits!

But they do not, under any circumstances, ask the rich to pay their fair share.  That's "socialism," say the vipers as if Jesus would care about labels!  In fact the New Testament indicates that the earliest followers of the Jesus character "held all things in common," and distributed resources fairly among the group as to each person's need.  Sounds like "socialism" to me.

These vipers do not believe that Bible story, either.  The actually believe Jesus was a capitalist and that's why they worry so much about our national debt (well, except when George W. Bushski ran it up by several trillion fighting illegal and stupid wars!  They didn't care about the national debt then!)

It should not be necessary to discuss religious beliefs held by people running for the presidency.  But these contender/pretenders have brought it on themselves.  They hold up themselves as paragons of virtue, or faith.  They pretend a belief in Jesus such as they have is vital for a president of the United States.

I think more and more people, watching the sickening display of amorality put on by these Republican candidates, are realizing their religious beliefs are a sham.  They are the Pharisees praying in the public square so that people will see them and thus hold them in greater esteem.  Jesus denounced those Pharisees for the hypocrites they were, just as he denounces Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich.  God, especially Gingrich.  George W. Bush is probably the only one who has done more harm to our country than Gingrich!

So, if you are a Republican and you are called upon to vote for a Republican candidate for president, remember there is no religious test.  Your vote should not be based upon the religious beliefs of any candidate.  But, if you find that a candidate's life contradicts what that candidate professes to believe, you must, in good conscience, vote for another.  Even if it's a Democrat.

One final word:  All of us are hypocrites to a certain extent.  That's only to say we do not always act in accordance with our beliefs.  So, in an election like this, what might be most important is to choose the one who is the least hypocritical, the lesser of two evils, so to speak.

At this point I can't imagine any individual with a conscience voting for any one of the current crop of Republican candidates.  Every one is a major hypocrite, a liar, and a phony and their religion is a sham!