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Religious Persecution

December 17th, 2014

In Northern California, a Christian group has been blocked from using a private commercial space in a local strip mall. The congregants do not have a common church within more than an hour’s drive, and so want to rent the 2200-square-foot space in order to conduct daily prayers and Sunday services. However, the local city council, dominated by atheists, voted down the proposal in a 4-1 vote, which was celebrated by many atheists protesting outside the city council, bearing signs that read, “Ban Christianity!” and “Christianity Destroys Lives!” One demonstrator said, “To me, that church is a threat to my freedom, my liberties, and everything I own.”

OK, it’s pretty obvious that story is not correct. It’s clearly pretty outrageous, though a sizable number of right-wingers hungry for an opportunity for righteous indignation would probably believe it if it appeared on Fox or Breitbart, or if it landed in their email box.

However, it’s not exactly untrue. It is simply inaccurate on some details. That event really did happen—except it wasn’t in Northern California, it was in Georgia. And it wasn’t atheists protesting and blocking the use of a space for religious purposes, it was Christians doing that. And they were doing that because it wasn’t a church that wanted to use the space, it was a mosque.

When you hear claims of persecution, it’s almost always Christians complaining about how oppressed they are, about how there’s a war on Christmas, or a war on Christianity, and how much their religious rights an freedoms are being violated every day. But when you look at the specific claims, it’s always because of either (1) imagined slights, like people saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”; (2) situations falsely perceived to be restrictions, like children not allowed to pray in school (they can); or (3) pushbacks against Christian actions which actually violate the First Amendment rights of others, like having required prayer for all students in a school, or using public land exclusively for their religion and none other—but which Christians see as assaults against their own liberties.

In terms of actual persecution in the United States, however, that is something which almost exclusively is committed by Christians against people of other beliefs. For example, the Christian reaction to one of the most common perceived slights—the “Happy Holidays” well-wishing— is to demand people say “Merry Christmas” as a generic greeting—something which actively excludes people of other beliefs, forcing the Christian greeting on everyone.

This story, however, is the more common example of significant religious persecution in the United States—which is most often Christians persecuting others.

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  1. Troy
    December 19th, 2014 at 11:29 | #1

    I’ve been on an English history kick recently and was pretty shocked to learn how bloody the four-sided* religious conflict got there in the late 16th century (against the backdrop of the larger continental Catholic vs. Protestant wars like the 30 Years war of 1618-1648)


    Guy Fawkes was a dude after the Taliban’s heart — his friends plotted for over a year to blow up the House of Lords as the King opened Parliament, their only downfall was a conspirator obliquely tipped off someone they didn’t want to die in the explosion, and he went to the King with the information).

    So if muslims are monsters for being so extremist, so our are vaunted forefathers.

    * Henry VIII created the Church of England, which was just him calling the shots of an otherwise Roman Catholic establishment.

    His son Edward VI in his brief reign established a much more Protestant form, which his Catholic successor (Mary I) undid with a reestablishment of Catholicism, which also involved rather gruesome public executions


    So that’s the main axis, Anglicanism vs. Catholicism.

    Then there was the Puritans, who were our Christian fundamentalists basically. The fourth axis was the minority of religionists, the sensible ones like Quakers, Baptists


    and also the Presbyterians, who wanted a more decentralized church leadership (Presby is “elder”, where we get “Presbyopia”) instead of the top-down Pope/King -> Archbishop -> Bishop hierarchy of tradition.

    The Scots were Presbyterian during all this and their fight against King James (of the “King James version”) attempting to reestablish the traditional hierarchy


    was what precipitated the English Civil War; the Scots fought on the Roundhead side when they got the promise that Presbyterianism would be the church regime of GB.

    Of course, all this bled over into the new colonies to some extent


    Ironically, the “Baptist” of Danbuy Baptist fame,


    is the same “Baptist” of the Southern Baptist Convention, where most of our shithead fundamentalists and Christianist radicals affiliate today.


  2. Troy
    December 19th, 2014 at 13:39 | #2

    In other news, my 2008 MBP unexpectedly gave up the ghost (doesn’t power up). I took it to the nearest Genius Bar and they presented a $600 repair bill for a resurrection (replacement MB).

    I don’t need portability right now (though I prefer laptops*) and want to wait for at least Broadwell or preferably Skylake to hit the MBP (and/or Nvidia’s Kepler or preferably Pascal GPU hopefully in 2016 . . . ) so impressed my formerly mothballed dual 2.6Ghz Mac Pro 1,1 (the O.G. from 2006) back into frontline service.

    Apple doesn’t support anything later than 10.7 for some reason, but the community has created a 64bit EFI hack:


    to get later OSs to install themselves on it, and now that OS X is free beer it’s unambiguously OK to install semi-cracked versions on my own damn hardware (back in 2009 I got a 3000-series ATI card and Yosemite is perfectly happy with that, it’s got the same general featureset as the 9600M GT that was in my late great MBP.

    Being rather neglected, the hard drives in this machine are rather sketchy, so I decided finally going SSD would be a logical upgrade:


    and $200 for 512GB seemed like a a no-brainer for that.

    I also got a 2TB WD “Green” (5400RPM) drive for the new Time Machine partition and general non-SSD storage requirement ($90 from Fry’s).

    A $900 Mac Mini (2.6GHz i5 / 256GB Flash SSD) no doubt runs rings around this, but at this point I only upgrade when I goddamn absolutely have to. (I buy a IIcx, the IIci comes out 4 months later, a 7500 and the 7600 comes out, the B&W G3 and the G4 soon arrives . . . well, I guess with the 2002 800MHz PBG4 and 2006 Mac Pro I’ve gotten some good future proofness at least)

    * my great dream in life is to move back to teh Japan, with just a (not very bulky) backpack.

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