Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Where Did That Come From?

November 17th, 2015 1 comment

The very cogent point is made that no one believes that people like the KKK, who claim Christianity is a core value, is representative of Christianity and Christians, but somehow we do believe that ISIS, or Islamic extremists in general, are representative of Islam and Muslims.

Two points are made, however: first, that fundamentalist Islam is ascendant if not dominant in the Muslim world, and second, that these fundamentalists are more extreme, oppressive, and violent than their counterparts in the Christian world. As far as I understand the situation, these are true; this should not be denied, excused, or minimized.

Those facts should be contextualized and understood, however. Why is there more radicalism, more oppression, more violence in that world? Is it something about Islam?

A point we miss is our own hand in the matter—indeed, we even harshly criticize those who even suggest that somehow we have any responsibility for the current state of affairs. However, for the past century, the Middle East has been overrun by Western forces and interests, much to the detriment of the people there. Regions conquered, made into colonies, borders redrawn (sometimes randomly), resources plundered, governments overthrown, with constant invasions and slaughter over time.

Now imagine if the tables were turned. What if the Arab and Islamic, and not the Christian European and American cultures, were ascendant and powerful coming into the 20th century? What if Europe and North America were invaded by Islamic countries, our borders redrawn, our people killed and pitted against each other, our resources plundered and puppet governments installed? What if our attempts at self-government were overthrown, our fragmented nations put into the hands of sadistic dictators? What if, say, Italy were handed over to the Armenian or Romani people as a homeland, and the natives evicted from their domain of many centuries, marginalized and subjugated, their holy city in the hands of people from a different culture?

If all of this were done to the Christian world at the hands of the Islamic world… what would we be like by now?

Something tells me we would rather uncomfortably resemble the radical Islam that we see today. I think that we are much less different than we believe.

As a result, when dealing with the issues we have before us, we must take these facts into account and consider what will or will not work as a long-term solution for the region—especially before heading off into yet another war of conquest that will again slaughter tens if not hundreds of thousands of civilians.

Categories: Political Ranting, Religion Tags:

The Inevitable False Equivalency

September 8th, 2015 4 comments

Davis-StanleyIt was bound to happen: with Kim Davis, conservatives found their false equivalency.

Charee Stanley, a Muslim flight attendant working for ExpressJet, converted to Islam a year after she started working as a flight attendant. A year after that, she learned that she was prohibited by her faith not just to drink alcohol, but to serve it as well. She asked the airline for exemption from the duty of serving alcohol, and the airline reasonably accommodated her.

The accommodation should be simple to figure out: when serving meals, she always does the food end, and not the drink end of the cart. And if a passenger asks for an alcoholic beverage at any other time, she takes the order and hands it off to another attendant. If that causes her coworkers to complain that she’s causing them more work, then she can simply pick up the slack in other duties. Simple.

But then this happened:

It seemed to be working out until another flight attendant filed a complaint against Stanley on August 2 claiming she was not fulfilling her duties by refusing to serve alcohol, Masri said. The employee complaint also said Stanley had a book with “foreign writings” and wore a headdress.

Well, it’s not hard to figure out what happened there. The headdress and “foreign writings” complaint are an unmistakable tip-off: the co-worker, clearly hostile to Muslims, and probably a fundamental stripe of Christian, either was freaked out by a religion they did not understand or just simply was filled with hate. I would gladly lay down a sizable bet that had the attendant asked for an exemption because her Christian beliefs prohibited serving alcohol, the complainer would have had no problem with it. Even if she had a Greek bible.

Sadly, the airline felt that this was more trouble than they wanted to deal with, and responded by rewarding the asshat xenophobe and essentially fired the Muslim attendant—precisely the opposite of what I would have done were I running the outfit.

Not that I am completely on Stanley’s side: if her religious sensitivities make handling the affair too difficult, she has no right to demand the exemption; if the position more or less requires the handling of alcohol and there’s no easy way around it, then that’s the job. If it would have caused too much extra work for her co-workers, again that would be a problem. Stanley didn’t have the right to demand the exemption were it an undue burden for the employer or others on the job.

However, that wasn’t the case: handling the affair was, for quite some time, a simple enough matter. It was only when her hostile co-worker complained that the problem arose. The difficulty issued not from Stanley’s exemption, but from the co-workers personal issues. Stanley was essentially fired not for her religious beliefs, but because of bigotry on the part of a co-worker, which the company unreasonably accommodated.

So the Muslim flight attendant sued the airlines, the issue hit the media, and now right-wingers are gleefully whining about how those hypocritical liberals are coddling the Muslim in what was the exact same situation as Kim Davis, whom those same nasty liberals were savaging.

This is a much different sentiment than what’s been said about accommodating Kim Davis’s religious beliefs at her place of employment. In addition, Stanley’s job duties were known when she took her position, unlike Kim Davis, who had her responsibilities change after the Supreme Court ruling.

Many will state the difference is that one position is a public office and the other is not. This too is flawed. According to Davis’s opposition, the fact she is an elected official changes what’s expected of her, and they therefore believe she should have resigned if she could no longer comply with her duties. However, if we want to talk about the proper way to handle an elected position, let’s discuss what Kim Davis should have faced. There should have been an immediate recall election. Why didn’t her opposition do this? Because they knew she’d likely be reelected. Therefore, does this not infringe on the rights of voters to choose their county officials? The appropriate procedure was circumvented in an attempt for the liberal left to demand their way.

So, let’s look at the objections stated above:

#1: Stanley knew her job requirements when she took her job. Sure; and if her converting to Islam made it impossible to do her duties, then the result would be the same as Davis: live with the conflict, or quit. However, Stanley had an accommodation that was simple and easy to carry out, as was demonstrated.

#2: Kim Davis had her responsibilities change after the Supreme Court ruling. Yep. And if the Supreme Court ruled that headdresses were a health hazard for flight crews and that religious exemptions could not be made, the same would have applied to Stanley.

#3: It is flawed to argue that the cases are different because one position is a public office and the other is not. It is not at all flawed. Davis had to swear an oath to uphold the law, and was not exempt just because the law changed. Also, if Stanley didn’t want to serve drinks, that would not send her to jail.

#4: The proper way to handle Davis’ situation would have been an immediate recall election. Um, no, actually, that’s stupid. That would suggest that the public had the right to judge whether or not Davis could ignore the law; they do not. Had Davis won a recall election, it would have simply landed Davis right back where she was at the start: in contempt of court.

As quickly becomes apparent, the objections are based on convoluted distortions, misrepresentations, and apparent ignorance of how things work, with attempts to dodge the central issues and claim issues where none exist.

Not to mention that there is one major, significant difference that cannot be honestly ignored: Stanley agreed to serve customers with a work-around, while Davis explicitly refused any work-around, and forbade all workers in her office from doing their duties. Davis’ actions would be the equivalent of Stanley forcing the entire flight crew to stop serving alcohol against the airline’s strict orders.

Indeed, Davis was specifically offered an accommodation by the court, exactly like the one Stanley was offered—in this, their cases were the same. The difference was that, while Stanley happily accepted hers, Davis outright rejected hers. Stanley was happy to allow others to enjoy their rights, Davis was intent on denying others their rights.

Do you think I would care one bit if Davis had done exactly what Stanley had done, and allowed people to enjoy their rights under the law while herself avoiding direct participation? Absolutely not. No one would have. Davis could have avoided any problems from the start by doing that.

Liberals have absolutely no problem with anyone of any religious calling receiving accommodations for their beliefs, so long as this does not infringe on the rights of others or interfere with their lives in any significant manner. So come down from the ceiling, conservatives—the hypocrisy is not from this end.

Remember those religious orders that refused to allow their workers to get health care if treatments the orders objected to would be included? They were also offered accommodations, and had they accepted them, there again would have been no big deal. Liberals would have been perfectly fine with that. However, the religious orders instead insisted on denying their workers the right to health care of their choice. The religious orders did not try to accommodate, did not try to keep their hands clean while allowing individuals the right to practice their faith as they wished; instead, the deliberately extended their own participation far beyond what was acceptable, and insisted on controlling the lives of others where they had no right to do so.

That’s the line: affecting the lives of others, denying them their rights, interfering with their lives. Accommodations can almost always be made. It is not the people these Christians disapprove of who are causing the problems, it is the Christians demanding religious control beyond their own right to do so.

The First Amendment gives you the right to free practice of religion, and it gives the same right to everyone else. Yours is not special, it does not extend to covering others you believe you have dominance over.

Categories: Religion Tags:

When You Love Persecution Way More Than Reality

September 5th, 2015 No comments

Kim Davis’ lawyer actually said this:

“Back in the 1930s, it began with the Jews, where they were evicted from public employment, then boycotted in their private employment, then stigmatized and that led to the gas chambers. This is the new persecution of Christians here in this country.”

Yes, because back in Nazi Germany, 83% of the German people were Jews, along with 90% of the lawmakers, and all of the highest leaders. The Holocaust then began when one Jewish person violated the law and went to jail because she was trying to force non-Jewish Germans to follow Jewish religious beliefs. You see, it started exactly the same way!

Good analogy. Except for, well, everything. However, this is the new reality for many conservative Christians: in the vast majority, with virtual dominance over just about everything in the country, but if they are not allowed to force everyone else to do exactly what they say, well then, persecution and gas chambers for 83% of the country is up next.

Because if Christians are not allowed the violate the law and deny other people their civil rights in the name of their religion, then how can this be called a “free” country?

All snark aside, this is what they truly believe. For them, the norm is not equality for all, it is religious hegemony of Christianity over everyone else, and anything short of that is persecution of all their kind.

I wish I were kidding.

Categories: Religion Tags:

No, That’s Not the Way

May 11th, 2015 1 comment

I am getting tired of people saying that so long as there are Muslims who threaten violence for drawing images of Muhammed, the proper—even necessary—response is to do it more and more, to shove it in their faces to show that they cannot intimidate us.

You’ll have to forgive me, but that is such an unforgivably shallow and narrow-sighted reaction that it is rather startling to me that so many people seem to agree with it. That is absolutely not the way to react.

First, let’s not forget that most Muslims who would be gravely offended by drawings of Muhammed do not approve of killing people who offend them. These are the people you want to have on your side—so what the hell do you think is so brilliant about pissing them off?

Imagine a comedian is performing in front of an audience. Most of the people are into the act, enjoying the show. However, a few jerks in the audience are heckling and generally trying to derail everyone’s enjoyment. How should the comedian react? Is the proper response to insult the entire audience? Maybe say, “So this is the kind of idiot who typifies this city? Boy, everyone who lives in this town seems to be a flaming moron!”

Of course the comedian won’t do that—because it is eminently stupid. All it would accomplish would be to offend the very people you want to have on your side. All it will do is drive away the people who want to support you, and put many of them into the company of those you were trying to put down.

With this so plainly evident, why is the reaction of “champions of free speech” to do exactly the wrong thing? Why is the “necessary” reaction to the jerks and the extremists somehow inevitably the one course of action that will offend the good people the most, and only help the jerks and the extremists?

The reaction to violence against those who draw comics about Muhammed should not be to draw more comics about Muhammed. The reaction should instead be to draw comics featuring the schmucks who react violently to cartoons of Muhammed. Draw a cartoon of that person holding a piece of paper marked “Drawing of Muhammed,” and have the schmuck be wetting his pants and crying like an infant, shouting “KILL, KILL, KILL!!” while some reasonable Muslims stand by commenting, “What a dick.”

Why isn’t that evident?

Categories: Religion, Social Issues Tags:

Jeb Bush and Religious Liberty

May 10th, 2015 Comments off

As of late, the expression “religious liberty” has worked as a code word for a variety of right-wing positions; it is a “dog whistle” term amongst conservatives, similar to “academic freedom” (teaching conservative Christian doctrine in public schools) or “strict constructionist” (favoring conservative ideology over constitutional law).

“Religious liberty” currently applies to two issues in particular: reproductive rights and discrimination based upon sexual or gender orientation and identity. However, it will doubtlessly be applied to any issue conservatives see fit which could possibly be framed as a point of religious ideology.

As a sign that virtually any Republican candidate must bow to the extremists on such issues, Jeb Bush gave a now-obligatory speech at Liberty University, “religious liberty” being the theme. That he spoke at commencement and not just at some required assembly speaks to who the favored candidate is.

The speech, of course, blew all the right dog whistles; there was no doubt that Bush was making references to sex & gender discrimination, though he refrained from being that specific. Bush was specific enough to mention reproductive rights by name, speaking on the issue of how conservative Christians should be allowed to make decisions affecting how others live based on their own personal religious ideology.

Of course, foisting one’s beliefs on the lives of others doesn’t sound good even to Christian conservatives, so they have to veil it with a layer of meaningless obfuscation and blame the people trying to stop religious interference with that exact wrongdoing:

“The mistake is to confuse points of theology with moral principles that are knowable to reason as well as by faith. And this confusion is all part of a false narrative that casts religious Americans as intolerant scolds, running around trying to impose their views on everyone. The stories vary, year after year, but the storyline is getting familiar: The progressive political agenda is ready for its next great leap forward, and religious people or churches are getting in the way. Our friends on the Left like to view themselves as the agents of change and reform, and you and I are supposed to just get with the program.

”There are consequences when you don’t genuflect to the latest secular dogmas. And those dogmas can be hard to keep up with. So we find officials in a major city demanding that pastors turn over copies of their sermons. Or federal judges mistaking themselves for elected legislators, and imposing restrictions and rights that do not exist in the Constitution. Or an agency dictating to a Catholic charity, the Little Sisters of the Poor, what has to go in their health plan – and never mind objections of conscience.

“I don’t know about you, but I’m betting that when it comes to doing the right and good thing, the Little Sisters of the Poor know better than the regulators at the Department of Health and Human Services. From the standpoint of religious freedom, you might even say it’s a choice between the Little Sisters and Big Brother – and I’m going with the Sisters.

See? By demanding our religious standards be enforced by law, we are not involving theology! We’re not the ones imposing dogma, it’s the secularists! This is not about religion because our religious beliefs are based on reason! We’re just trying to be good, moral people by forcing everyone else to follow our moral code and those liberals are trying to force their views on us by not letting us!

Also, you may have noticed one of the anti-LGBT dog whistles in the above quote, even if you don’t recognize it. The part about ”officials in a major city demanding that pastors turn over copies of their sermons,“ which ominously implies that government is attempting to either intimidate pastors or to demand the right to edit their speeches.

If your source is Fox News, then this is over a law allowing ”men to use the ladies room and vice versa,“ and this is all about secularists attempting to suppress freedom of religion.

In fact, it is over a Houston anti-discrimination ordinance, one which was challenged by local preachers who wanted the right to discriminate, and so used their pulpits to get signatures of petitions in a way that may have violated the city charter—thus the subpoena for ”all speeches, presentations, or sermons“ related to the issue, so that the validity of the petitions could be measured. And the court ruled in favor of the city.

Which no doubt is one of the cases referenced by Bush when he mentioned ”federal judges mistaking themselves for elected legislators,“ paraphrasing another right-wing dog-whistle expression, ”legislating from the bench,“ which means ”judges who make legal decisions that we disagree with.“

Bush’s speech was chock full of platitudes involving charity, the homeless, the lonely, the ill, the weak, and the innocent… even ”giving hope to the prisoner“… despite the fact that Bush’s own policies have callously disregarded these exact populations.

All part of the new right-wing approach to social justice: talk the talk, but walk the other way.

Categories: Religion, Right-Wing Hypocrisy Tags:

Religious Persecution

December 17th, 2014 2 comments

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.

Categories: Religion Tags:

When You’re Privileged, the Irony Is Hard to Catch

November 9th, 2014 4 comments

In Tracy, CA (about 50 miles east of San Francisco), a couple of kids are in danger of failing a high school speech class because, in a school assignment to recite the pledge to the school, they left out the words “under God.”

In one sense, the kids are out of line: they were told that they were required to read the pledge as presented, and if they felt uncomfortable with the assignment, they could get an alternate one. Instead, they chose to lead the recitation, and violated the rules given. While one of the students claimed he felt he would not be graded fairly with the alternative assignment, one kind of gets the feeling that they in fact wanted to make a statement.

And that is where they are not out of line; instead, the pledge, or more specifically, those who feel it must be forced upon the student populace, are out of line. I focused last month on the idea that the pledge itself is inane, but that was a more general assessment based on the fact that it requires young people to take an oath they do not understand. The inclusion of the words “under God” is another very solid reason the pledge is not a good idea.

Aside from the fact that the inclusion of “under God” is a late addition (the pledge was introduced in 1892, and the “under God” was tacked on in 1954), it is a clear violation of the First Amendment separation of church and state. Like making the national motto “In God We Trust” and slapping it on every piece of currency, it not only deviates from the original intention (the national motto was, even if not codified by law, “E Pluribus Unum” since the time of the founders), but it foists religion, indeed a specific religion (we all know which God is being referred to, after all), upon the people by government fiat, in stark contradiction to the establishment rule. In fact, the addition of “so help me God” to official pledges is expressly forbidden not by the Bill of Rights, but by the main body of the constitution itself, forbidding religious tests for public office. If you don’t think it’s a religious test, imagine what would have happened to Obama, or any other president, had they specifically omitted those two words from their inaugural oaths.

And yet, these illegal incursions are allowed to persist, usually under the spurious excuse that it’s not important, just a “little thing,” why are you even making a deal out of this at all? And then a Supreme Court justice attempts to overturn the First Amendment on the very basis that these incursions have become accepted in everyday government and social business.

And this is highlighted beautifully in the Tracy Unified School District’s public response to the two students’ actions:

“When you’re leading the pledge, you’re representing the school,” Strube said in an interview Monday . “I would say it’s not appropriate to leave it out when you are leading it for 2,000 people.”

This perfectly shows up the fallacy of the inclusion of religious text. How is it appropriate to direct a diverse group of students to make a religious statement on the direction of a government agency, but somehow inappropriate to not direct them to make a religious statement? If you are harming the religious students by leaving out the religious statement once or twice, how are you not harming the non-religious students every other time?

To say that it’s tradition or even law only makes it worse.

Seriously, it is time to retire this rather silly and, frankly, unconstitutional ritual.

Categories: Religion Tags:

No, It’s Not Religion That Gets You Dragged Off to Jail

October 19th, 2014 1 comment

For a while now, there has been paranoid claims from the religious right that society is becoming so hostile to religion that Christians could be arrested for their beliefs. Much of this is over Christians who condemn homosexuality and see hate laws and anti-discriminatory measures as direct legal attacks on their faith. Back in 2009, some Christians fretted that they could face “legal sanctions” for merely expressing their God-given beliefs.

Earlier this year, three congregations were shocked when actual city police officers marched into their churches and arrested three pastors. The police officers and the pastors all claimed in the video of the event that the arrests were for “defending the faith.” The congregations later learned that the entire event was staged, the arrests mock ones, intended to show how difficult it had become to preach one’s beliefs in current times.

Recently we have seen a series of movies showing Christians being persecuted for their beliefs, from a ridiculous movie about a college Philosophy professor forcing his class to admit God doesn’t exist, to a movie literally titled “Persecuted,” about a government conspiracy to create laws to, apparently, mute Christianity by mixing it with all other religions, or something. I haven’t seen the movie, so I don’t know if the reviews or the movie itself is bizarrely unclear. The main character is framed for a crime he did not commit, and stands to be imprisoned.

And just now, Texas Senator Ted Cruz stated that he believes there is a “real risk” that clergy will literally be arrested and imprisoned for advocating “traditional marriage.”

All this despite the fact that, not only are Christians not being arrested and imprisoned, but the law is trending very strongly against any such eventuality. While others are being granted legal rights that these religious conservatives deplore and wish to stop, any law which even seems to infringe on religious freedoms, even tangentially, is being struck down—even if it means limiting the freedoms of people who believe differently.

Indeed, if you want to find anyone being sent to prison for their beliefs, you’r going to have to look at atheists. In California, in 2004, Barry A. Hazle, Jr. was arrested for meth possession. California law, in the wake of Prop 36, states that you have to be given three chances to remain sober. Hazle was in the process of being served with his second warning when police serving him found an unopened bottle of Whiskey in his apartment; that liquor got him sent to prison. The sentence was later overturned, as a court decided Hazle was arrested for a third offense which was committed before he was informed he had expended his second one.

In the meantime, Hazle went to prison for a year. After one year, he was offered a chance at parole—but only if he agreed to enter a rehab program. Hazle agreed, and was released on parole. However, a problem soon turned up: the rehab program demanded that all its members “recognize a higher power,” i.e., God. Hazle, an atheist, had problems with that. According to records, he “congenially” stated his concerns and requested a different program. Since no secular program was found, his parole officer sent him back to jail for another 100 days.

He sued and won a sizable settlement, and California has since changed its laws not to so discriminate.

However, Hazel essentially served 100 days in prison for being an atheist; a Christian would have been allowed to go free.

In a society where Christians win national news coverage for their alleged “persecution” just because a business refuses to print religious material for copyright reasons, can you imagine what the reaction would be if a Christian were sentenced to jail because they refused to renounce God? Holy Crap, the Internet would explode and there would be weeks of non-stop coverage on Fox. Hazle’s story barely made the news, mostly just local reports.

And although California changed its laws, there are many states which have not; and in many other ways, atheists are marginalized and given second-class citizenship—something Antonin Scalia (who calls atheists “irrational,” believers “worldly wise,” and believes that atheism “certainly favors the devil’s desires”) recently claimed was completely constitutional.

No, it’s not religion that is being persecuted in the United States.

Categories: Religion Tags:

Religion Is Only the Cause When It’s Those Guys

October 11th, 2014 1 comment

How is it that whenever a Christian attacks, maims, or kills someone based upon hateful scripture, it’s not really Christianity that’s at issue—the guy is obviously mentally unstable! Has nothing to do with the actual religion!

But when a Muslim beheaded someone? That’s definitely Islam, a religion of hatred.

Slight double standard here?

Categories: Religion Tags:

Question What You Agree With

September 8th, 2014 Comments off

The Dish just cited a recent survey which says that 34% of Americans support removing “under God” from the pledge. I have always supported this point of view, so of course I want to check if this is a legit survey, or somehow slanted. You always have to do that: check the legitimacy of any fact you hear, but especially those that agree with your worldview. Not to mention that one-third sounds a bit high for such an idea in the United States as it is right now.

Sure enough, the survey was commissioned by a Humanist organization—not enough to negate it, but enough to arouse suspicion. Interestingly, the report begins by citing another such survey, in which an “evangelical research firm” found only 8% support for the same idea. That survey reportedly only asked the question about removing the words “under God” without context.

In contrast, the poll commissioned by the Humanist organization had the question presented within a fairly specific context:

For its first 62 years, the Pledge of Allegiance did not include the phrase “under God.” During the Cold War, in 1954, the phrase “one nation indivisible” was changed to read “one nation, under God, indivisible.” Some people feel this phrase in our national pledge should focus on unity rather than religion.

And that got the 34% positive response.

Both polls were clearly biased. The first poll, by the religious organization, asked the stark question without context, “if they believed ‘under God’ should be removed from the Pledge.” Given without context, it has the sense of asking the respondent to make a choice against religion. Otherwise, it is up to the listener to apply a context, and many, having heard so much of the “war on Christianity” in the media, doubtlessly allowed that to influence their answer.

The Humanist take on it, however, was even more biased. It provided not only a very specific context, but a justification as well. It noted that the original pledge did not have the words “under God,” and that pressures from the now-defunct Cold War caused the new inclusion (thus providing the justification for removal), and then set the context for removal as one which promotes national unity. Essentially, it became a question about whether or not you support unity.

So it would appear that both are not accurate, and the actual range of support is somewhere between the two.

A context does need to be provided, but the tricky part is, what context? If people are asked if they approve of the “new health care law,” about 50% don’t like it; if asked about “Obamacare,” the disapproval is likely to be higher. However, if you ask people about the specific contents of the law, supports increases dramatically.

So, what context to provide for removing “under God” from the pledge? Probably one which presents the two primary arguments for and against. For example:

Many believe that the words ‘under God’ should remain in the pledge to demonstrate the religious nature of the country; others believe that the words, added during the Cold War, violate the separation of church and state and actively exclude non-theists. Do you believe the words should be removed from the pledge?

When polling, the two views should be swapped in order of presentation half the time, and the question should also be worded, “should be kept in the pledge” half the time.

I’d like to see what that wording gets in response. My guess would be about 20% in favor of removing it—about the number of non-theists in the country, give or take fence-crossers on either side.

Of course, the response should be 100% for removal; I believe strongly in the principle that any inclusion of religion, especially in a pledge so closely associated with citizenship and national fealty, is a threat to the freedom of belief—and indeed, Supreme Court “Justice” Antonin Scalia has used exactly this camel’s nose to justify the negation of separation and church—in his words, “manifesting a purpose to favor . . . adherence to religion generally.”

Nevertheless, when I see evidence presented which supports my point of view, my first reaction is to embrace it—but my considered response is to question it.

Categories: Religion, Social Issues Tags:

Jesus Is to Save Christians, Not Guide Them

August 11th, 2014 1 comment

One element of Christianity that I have discovered over the years is that, for many Christians (in America, at least), Jesus is most emphatically not a role model. He is a savior, a rescuer, a hero image. Christians are to worship him as they would a hero—and like a hero, they leave the saving and rescuing to him, and otherwise adopt a “don’t try this at home” attitude.

Have you ever heard Christians say, “When it comes to turning the other cheek, I’m more of an old-testament kind of Christian”? Have you noted so many Americans who have plenty for themselves coldly shouting to turn refugee children away at the border? Have you noted a preponderance of Christian values claimed by people who clearly prefer money over morality?

It crystallized for me when I read about reactions from Christians in a neighborhood where a sculpture of Jesus as a homeless man on a bench had been placed:

Jesus is not a vagrant, Jesus is not a helpless person who needs our help. We need someone who is capable of meeting our needs, not someone who is also needy.

To this woman, Jesus was not someone who you emulate. You do not have to actually follow his teachings, because, I assume, they’re just evidence of how great Jesus was. It’s not like Christians are supposed to do those things.

No, Jesus is more like Superman: he flies around and rescues people, not you. You admire him, and depend on him to help you. But you don’t try to go around flying or stopping crime yourself.

For such people, Christianity is not about becoming a better person. Instead, it’s mostly about the perks.

This understanding clears up a lot.

Categories: Religion Tags:

Do Unto Others As You Would Not Have Them Do Unto You

May 14th, 2014 6 comments

Schools in Kentucky have been allowing the Gideons to distribute bibles to elementary school children. Noting that the schools are prohibited from favoring one set of beliefs over another, a Humanist organization decided to go to the same schools and offer free books on Humanism.

The parents’ reaction? Some of them pulled their kids from school rather than allow them to be exposed to such horrors. Others hovered menacingly over the Humanists as they put their books out for any interested students to pick up—also presumably to intimidate any students who dared show any interest:

A small group of adults and children followed Freethinkers Jim G. Helton and Torey Glassmeyer to Walnut Hill and Jones Park, glowering at them from the parking lot as they delivered the books after 5 p.m. Thursday.

Before they arrived at Jones Park, parents walked into the school and demanded to see the table where the books were going to be displayed. Local media were barred from entering the schools and were politely asked to leave when they entered the building.

“We’re here to defend God and his glory,” said one woman, who declined to be named. A male companion muttered to himself as he scanned the parking lot for their car.

One can imagine what these people’s reactions would have been if Humanists had acted the same way when Christians distributed bibles to students.

I do have one question, however: aren’t these angry bible folk the same people who insist that in Science classes, students should be exposed to “both sides of the controversy,” and then be allowed to “decide for themselves”?

I think this is called “situational discrepancy.” Or “hypocrisy” for short.

Categories: Religion Tags:

More Christian Persecution!

April 12th, 2014 Comments off

You see stories like this all the time in the conservative media: child does something related to religion, intolerant school teacher punishes the crying child, the War on Christianity goes on….

Unsurprisingly, these stories seem to appear only in the conservative media—especially Fox, WDN, and a variety of right-wing Christian publications—and other than that, just the local press where the story happened.

Just as usually, the story is more of a press release by the aggrieved parents’ attorneys, with the story too fresh to contain any meaningful comments by school administrators, often too bound by rules to make statements about students’ cases.

In this particular story, it is told that a first-grade class was filling out Valentine’s Day cards, an age-old stupid activity where children are forced to write something nice to every other child in the class. I remember having to do this. It is kind of on par with having to recite the pledge of allegiance: the kids do it only because they’re told to, not because they want to or really understand what they’re doing. These students were allowed to add stickers to their messages on the cards; some put Star Wars or Despicable Me stickers on theirs, others had various common designs, like one student who affixed a sticker with a skull saying, “You’re a Rock Star!”

But this one child was putting a message about Jesus on his cards, so, reportedly, the teacher “confiscated” them and made the boy cry. And naturally, the parents sued. Their child’s First Amendment rights were being violated! And look at the other cards! Skulls! Guns! That’s allowed, but a loving message from Jesus is not?

Sounds open-and-shut, doesn’t it? If you read the Fox News version, it sounds even worse. You have to apply critical thinking skills to realize that the narrative is told completely by the plaintiffs (actually, their attorneys), and there is nothing from the defendants—in other words, the story, as told, is essentially as biased as you’re going to get. Most readers will not pick up on this, however, and will accept the narrative as straight reporting of facts.

Here’s the real heart of the story in my opinion: the message the child “wrote” on the cards:

Happy Valentine’s Day!

St. Valentine was imprisoned and martyred for presiding over marriages and for spreading the news of God’s love. In honor of St. Valentine’s Day, I want you to know that God loves YOU!!!!

“…God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

…And that’s where the card becomes objectionable: the message was not from the child. The message was from the parents. And it was a message of proselytization.

I mean, really, I can understand a 7-year-old choosing stickers of cute skulls or Lego Star Wars figures (examples chosen by the parents/attorneys to highlight what horrible stuff was allowed)… but I do not think any 7-year-old is going to write a message about martyrdom and then print it out along with a Bible verse.

Clearly what happened was that the parents saw an opportunity to spread the word of God and gave their child the message to hand out to other students. Their child obviously had no idea what the card said, without doubt not understanding words like “imprisoned,” “martyred,” or “presiding,” nor what “giving his only son” or “not perishing” is all about.

In essence, the child was only a conduit for the parents’ religious message.

I’ll bet you this: if the child wrote a message about “Jesus loves you” which was clearly written by a 7-year-old, I think the teacher would not have taken the cards. The fact is, the child’s First Amendment rights are not at the center of the case.

If and when the school eventually releases an opinion, I do not expect stories explaining such to be so widely distributed. Only if the case wins, or if it is shut down and so counted as evidence of the persecution of Christians, that’s when we’ll hear about it again.

In the meantime, it is yet another “example” of the “persecution” of Christians in the ongoing “War on Christianity” proving America’s “intolerance” for religion.

Categories: Religion, Right-Wing Lies Tags:

Recently, In Fundie Land…

March 23rd, 2014 1 comment

Creationists are demanding equal time on TV to refute Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos episodes which discuss evolution.

I find it fascinating that people like this make demands of this sort. It highlights a common conservative shortcoming: they rail and scream about how bad something is, then they try to do the thing they railed against but even more so, and then they freak out when they meet any resistance to it.

You see, these are the same kind of people who detest the very idea of “equal time,” especially in the context of the Fairness Doctrine. They spend a great amount of time decrying the very concept, acting like it is some kind of socialist fascism, and just an excuse for liberals to take over Fox News and conservative radio. (This is interesting on another level, because it shows up how they know that the media is in fact conservative, else the Fairness Doctrine would benefit them!)

But when they see some documentary or news report that says something they don’t like, their knee-jerk reaction is—naturally—to demand equal time.

They don’t call it the “Fairness Doctrine,” which they hate, but that is exactly what they are asking for. What we call the “equal time rule” is limited to political candidates in a campaign (not to mention, documentaries were exempt from the rule). The Fairness Doctrine is about allowing equal time in the media for opposing views on important issues—which is exactly what is being called for now. Neither the rule nor the doctrine is still in force, though; equal time was done away with not too long ago, and the Fairness Doctrine was scrapped in 1987.

Another aspect to the creationist demand is the idea that somehow, creationists aren’t getting equal time in the media. Which, of course, is laughable—there are all kinds of fundamentalist religious TV shows and even whole networks running 24-7; should scientists be able to demand equal time on their channels? Again, the hypocrisy and double-standard are thick and deep.

The Westboro Baptist Church remains clueless after the death of their former pastor, Fred Phelps. As the church members protested a music concert, a group of people across the street held up a banner that read, “Sorry for Your Loss.” Poignant, and to the point—it expressed sorrow for anyone’s death, sympathy for those in grieving, and served as an example of how one reacts properly to those who have lost a loved one.

A member of the Westboro group responded, “I don’t even know what they’re saying.”

That response speaks volumes.

And, for the really low-hanging fruit, let’s just note that Sarah Palin recently chastised women who wear a “symbol of death around their neck.” She was referring to women who wear a necklace with a tiny coat hanger in protest of the campaign to criminalize abortion. As usual, she did not think two inches beyond her immediate words, or else she would have realized that she herself has worn a symbol of death around her neck all of her adult life.

How about chastising anyone who wears the cross as a symbol for the love of Jesus and yet consistently campaigns against that which Jesus actually stood for?

Christians Not of Christ

March 2nd, 2014 1 comment

A sculpture was set up outside a church in Davidson, North Carolina, a replica of a work that can be seen in various places. The sculpture portrays a man wrapped in a blanket on a bench, clearly homeless. His feet stick out the end of the blanket, where one can see stigmata, and understand that this is supposed to be Jesus.


Some residents in the area were not happy. One woman called the police to report a vagrant man in her upscale neighborhood, and then seemed more offended when she found out it was a statue of Jesus. “Jesus is not a vagrant, Jesus is not a helpless person who needs our help. We need someone who is capable of meeting our needs, not someone who is also needy.”

Another resident was “creeped out”:

My complaint is not about the art-worthiness or the meaning behind the sculpture. It is about people driving into our beautiful, reasonably upscale neighborhood and seeing an ugly homeless person sleeping on a park bench. It is also about walking by this sculpture at night and passing within inches of the grim reaper. These are the impressions that this sculpture gives. I have stepped over actual homeless people sleeping on a sidewalk in New York City and not been as creeped out as I am walking past this sculpture.

You know, I’m not a Christian, and I’m often not the sharpest appreciator of art that you’ll find, but I got this one immediately.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”

In that sense, the sculpture is a thing of beauty, and this is coming from someone who is not a big fan of religious art, to be honest. You should consider, approach, and treat any homeless person with the same love and respect you would to someone like Jesus Christ. Thus, Christ wrapped in a blanket on a bench is not saying Christ is weak; it’s saying that homeless people are people. I would think that Christ would love this sculpture.

Unfortunately, many Christians are not actually Christians.

Here we have two people whose first reaction to a homeless person is to call the police or else just walk over them and feel creeped out. I would say that this sculpture is a good test; even if you don’t “get” the reference, if your reaction to the sculpture is to want to get this thing out of sight, then you did not pass the test.

It’s kind of like when you hear people say, “When it comes to turning the other cheek, I’m more of an Old-Testament Christian.”

Again, I am not a big fan of the church, but I am a big fan of a lot of the New Testament teachings attributed to Christ. And it seems to me that if you are going to call yourself a Christian, you kind of have to at least try to adhere to the teachings of Christ.

If you are a Christian, it should not be all about making yourself feel better, and it should not be because someone else is taking care of you. It’s not about joining a club and being comfortably select. It should not be easy. Being a Christian should be about becoming a better person.

Or do I have it wrong?

Categories: Religion Tags:

My Right to Deny Yours

February 26th, 2014 2 comments

There’s a very simple rule: your right to swing your arm ends where my nose begins. Your rights, freedoms, and liberties are not to be used as a license to abridge the rights, freedoms, and liberties of others. It’s not hard to figure out.

There’s a whole new strategy amongst the Religious Right: to deny those rights, freedoms, and liberties to groups and classes of people, and to restrict a range of activities, against which religious conservatives are prejudiced, all in the name of their own “religious freedom.”

You want access to birth control? Well, so long as I am even peripherally involved as a taxpayer or an employer, my freedom trumps your right: I can deny you access, either by restricting what insurance you receive, or even by being a pharmacist.

You want equal rights as a human being? Well, not if I have to interact with you. I have the right to treat you like a non-person if I happen to be any random person doing business with you, even as a doctor or law enforcement officer.

You know what? That’s not only wrong, it’s asinine. It’s so clearly wrong that it should be obvious to anyone and everyone. If any such law is passed, it is an embarrassment; if any such law is upheld, it will be a violation of the most essential principles of our society.

The Religious Right is on a new kick: I get to use my religion to harm others.

No you don’t. You have no such right. Period.

Late note: when even religious bigot Newt Gingrich says you’re going too far, take that as a hint.

Categories: Religion, Right-Wing Extremism Tags:

God’s Subjective Morality

August 22nd, 2013 1 comment

This is the kind of thing that is truly frightening to hear people say:

It’s right for God to slaughter women and children anytime he pleases. God gives life and he takes life. Everybody who dies, dies because God wills that they die.

God is taking life every day. He will take 50,000 lives today. Life is in God’s hand. God decides when your last heartbeat will be, and whether it ends through cancer or a bullet wound. God governs.

So God is God! He rules and governs everything. And everything he does is just and right and good. God owes us nothing. …

The Bible says, “Thou shalt not murder,” yet God says to Joshua, “Go in and clean house, and don’t leave anything breathing! Don’t leave a donkey, child, woman, old man or old woman breathing. Wipe out Jericho.” …

So I would vindicate Joshua by saying that in that setting, with that relationship between God and his people, it was right for Joshua to do what God told him to do, which was to annihilate the people. …

An example of this right now is that God has given the sword to the government (Romans 13:4). Therefore I believe the government has a right to take a rapist and a murderer and to put him in jail. Or to kill him.

Essentially: God created all, and so He can do anything He pleases with his creations. There is no higher morality for God, no accountability; whatever He does is, by definition, good. He says commit genocide, therefore that act of genocide is right.

Already I have problems with that. God can literally make anything right by saying so, without regard to consistency or, for that matter, any restraint of any kind. God has no responsibility for tending to his creations. Or, at the very least, He is supposed to have Really Good Reasons for doing apparently horrific things and we are simply to trust Him on it.

Beyond the specter of an omnipotent being of that nature, the real worry is that this is not just about God. God serves as a model for many. The relationships to fatherhood are virtually countless, both literal and subtle. And the model which says “Whatever I say goes, and I don’t have to explain myself” is as frightening as authoritarianism often is.

However, that’s far from the greatest worry. Far more horrifying is the combination of two facts:

Fact #1: Anything God commands is moral, right, and good; and
Fact #2: People decide what God commands by reading scripture and interpreting what it means.

Take, for instance, the quoted author’s justification for the death penalty: Romans 13 states that God has given His seal of approval to the governing authorities—so whatever a government does is equal to God’s will, and is moral, right, and just. Go ahead, read it. There are no exceptions; presumably, it means any government. How this applied to the Soviet Union, for example, I am not sure, but I am certain there was some explanation which got around that apparent contradiction, there always is.

Not scared yet? Just remember that while Romans 13 is pretty straightforward, there is so much in the Bible which can be construed as meaning virtually anything a person wishes it to mean.

What this comes down to is that, ultimately, Christian morality is meaningless, as it is whatever one decides it to be.

That is not to say that in any given setting or situation, it means anything goes. What it means is that, like the quoted author’s submission to governmental authority, whoever is in charge gets to decide what the rules are.

Again, authoritarianism.

And in case you disagree, well, just remember that not only is God (meaning whoever speaks in God’s name) the source of all good, but there is no possibility of any good from any other source. No matter how good it seems, no matter how kind, generous, fair, or just someone or something appears to be, if they do not bow to God (meaning representatives of God, specifically our God), then they are simply without good.

Naturally, not all Christians feel this way. But it’s the ones who do who scare me.

Categories: Religion Tags:

He IS the Messiah! Or At Least One of Them

August 13th, 2013 Comments off

A few days ago, a child support judge in Newport, Tennessee decided a case from two parents disagreeing over their child’s surname.

The mother, Jaleesa Martin, wanted to name the boy Messiah DeShawn Martin, using her surname only. The boy’s father wanted the boy to have his surname, McCullough. The reports make it unclear whether the couple is married or not.

The case should have been simple, but the judge did something unexpected: not only did she decide in favor of the father, but she decided in favor of herself: in addition to giving the boy the surname “McCullough,” she also struck down the baby’s first name as well, replacing it with the mother’s surname, making his full name Martin DeShawn McCullough.

The reasoning the judge gave was even more problematic:

The word Messiah is a title and it’s a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ.

The judge gave other rationales as well, in particular that they lived in a heavily Christian community and that bearing a name like that would create difficulties for the child. Perhaps—but that’s not for the judge to decide.

Making such a change because you worship Jesus Christ is, without question, unconstitutional. The judge cannot force her own beliefs on the parents or the child.

Not to mention, this would not be the first time a baby has been named “Messiah” in the country:

In 2012, 762 other Messiahs were born in the U.S., making it the 387th most popular name for U.S. boys in the U.S., according to the Social Security Administration. And because only 368 Messiahs were born in the U.S. in 2011, it’s also the fourth-fastest-growing boys’ name in America.

Not to mention that an another acceptable baby name is “Salvador.” Meaning: “savior.”

And that’s what “Messiah” can mean as well—both specifically and generally. “Messiah” is defined not only as the deliverer of the Jewish nation (Jews do not see Jesus Christ as the Messiah), but also as “a leader or savior of a particular group or cause.”

In short, the baby’s name was perfectly fine, and the judge screwed up. The question is, why did she screw up?

The apparent cause was that she allowed her religious beliefs to sway her decision; this is a teachable moment, as many people are likely not aware that such religious bias is not uncommon in supposedly objective legal decisions. In child custody cases, for example, judges often side with a religious parent over one who is an atheist. And then we have Anthony Scalia attempting to force his own religious beliefs on the entire country by essentially trying to nullify the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

However, there is a difference possibility, or perhaps a contributing element: this happened in the South. The judge is white. The baby is black. There’s certainly no direct evidence, but when you have an arsonists’ convention and the building next door bursts into flames, it is perhaps unwise to ignore the arsonists as suspects. Had the baby been white, would the judge have done the same?

Categories: Religion, Social Issues Tags:

Scientists Do the Work, God Takes the Credit

May 23rd, 2013 4 comments

From a news report that caught my eye:

Timing, faith, heroics, preparation and a bit of luck spared thousands.
Local, state and federal officials credit luck, happenstance, timing, faith, heroics, preparation and the seasoned experience that comes with living in the heart of Tornado Alley for the relatively low victim count.

Really? Faith was one of the elements? How did that work?

Of the elements listed, “luck,” “happenstance,” and “timing” all pretty much mean the same thing, and are true. Some people survived simply due to chance.

“Heroics” I get as well—for example, teachers risking their lives to save their students.

“Preparation” definitely—storm shelters no doubt saved many lives. Related to that would be “seasoned experience,” which both led to the preparation and informed people what to do in cases like these.

But “faith”? Where did that come in? I mean, let’s say we’re assuming God controls everything, at least as far as nature is concerned (people have free will). Okay, but then that means that he sent the tornado. I don’t see how faith helps you there. And if it means that praying saved people, then that must also be applied to those who did not survive: did they fail to pray? And if so, did God kill them for it? What if they did pray but died anyway; how would faith have helped them there? Surely there must be many among the survivors who did not pray; why were they left alive?

So, really, I don’t see how faith could possibly be included in that list. Maybe as a coping mechanism afterwards, but in terms of keeping people from harm? Hardly. So why force that into the list? Read the article, and you will see no evidence whatsoever to support the inclusion.

Eventually, the “news media” was also credited, albeit only near the end of the article; acknowledgment of the communication system for warnings is appropriate, surely more than faith was.

However, something far more relevant was pretty much ignored: science. You know how all those people got warned so quickly? Scientists studied how weather works. Scientists, some of whom risk their lives chasing these storms to get the data required, worked out the mechanics of tornado prediction. And scientists developed the technology which brought the message to these people. Not to mention that engineers designed the building structures and shelters that saved so many lives.

So, really, the biggest thanks of all should go to scientists, who probably were #1 on the list of life savers.

How many thanks did they get? How many were mentioned in stories like these?


But faith gets a big “thank you.” Not as big as God himself, though; see the video at top, in which Wolf Blitzer awkwardly tries to actually press a “thanks” to the Lord for the woman and her child surviving the storm. It’s not just that she was an atheist, but rather that Blitzer seemed so eager to get a “Thanks be to Jesus!” out of her.

Next time, Wolf, ask someone if they might want to say a word of thanks to the nameless scientists who did most of the work. But then, if he did that instead of trying to praise Jesus, then he’d be part of the War on Christianity™.

Categories: Religion, Science Tags:

Mandatory Religious Deference

April 2nd, 2013 5 comments

In the United States, we live under the protection of religious freedom. This means that, as far as government and the law are concerned, we may believe, or not believe, as we wish.

However, this is a legal protection, not a cultural one. Culturally, there can be all sorts of religious discrimination. More than that, there can be religious bullying.

Think of it in terms of working at an office where most of the people there are, let’s say, die-hard Dodgers fans. They not only hang Dodgers pennants and other paraphernalia up, they get offended when you put up a banner for any other team (especially if it’s bigger than their pennant). In fact, they get upset if you don’t put up a Dodgers pennant in your cubicle or office. They get downright pissy about it, in fact. A coworker emails everyone:

Can I just say how disappointed I am that even though the Dodgers won yesterday, Linda chooses to celebrate by hanging her daughter’s artwork instead.

And you know you’re going to catch all kinds of dirty looks and snide remarks all day.

You would probably dread working in an environment like that. Not just because you’re the outsider, but because the majority of people there are such asses about the fact that you’re not—and that you’re not praising or worshipping them or their favorite things.

Well, welcome to the United States of America. Today, Google did not choose to represent the mainstream holiday or event (as is often the case) and instead chose to post something out of the mainstream—Caesar Chavez’s birthday, in this case.

Conservative Christians across the nation were offended. Some were livid. A few representative tweets:

Google thinks Cesar Chavez is more important than Easter. #whoareyou #happyeaster

Why is Jesus not on google but Cesar Chavez and his 86th birthday is ???

Wow. Congrats Google, youve managed to alienate all Christians in America today: instead of celebrating Christ, they celebrate Cesar Chavez.

That last one has just about the right ring to it: fail to put us above and before everyone else, and you risk our wrath. Many reported their intent to move exclusively to Bing.

Seriously, you would think that Google is a church or something, in that not recognizing Easter is completely out of character, a slap in the face. Since when has it become a requirement for businesses to genuflect? Why expect them to celebrate Easter with a special graphic? Why on earth would you get upset if they don’t?

“You said ‘happy birthday’ to Mark on his birthday, but not to me on mine? Well, don’t expect me to give you the time of day from now on!”

Yes, it is just that petty and pissy.

Not that it is anything new. You know about the infamous “War on Christmas,” right? Same thing. It consists mostly of Christians whining about how a few people are saying “Happy Holidays” instead of joining the popular chorus of “Merry Christmas.”

“Happy Holidays” is inclusive: it includes Christmas, but also everyone else. It’s perfect when you are speaking to a large number of people or are unsure of what holiday a particular person celebrates.

“Merry Christmas,” on the other hand, while perfectly fine for addressing someone you know celebrates the holiday, happens to exclude anyone who is not a Christian.

Demanding that retailers say “Merry Christmas” and forbidding them to say “Happy Holidays” is like men demanding that crowds be addressed as “Gentlemen” only, and getting all offended when “Ladies and Gentlemen” is used instead.

Seriously, if you hear “Merry Christmas” two dozens times a day, hear Christmas carols on nearly every radio station, see special Christmas episodes of most of your favorite TV shows, are bombarded with Christmas decorations and jingles everywhere you go… is it really going to put you out that much to hear the occasional business cheerfully wishing you a happy holiday?

If you can’t be satisfied with hogging 99% of the pie and then sharing the last sliver with others, then you’re a whiny, selfish, self-centered ass.

And you’re giving Christianity a bad name.

Honestly, would you want to be a Dodgers fan if all their followers were dicks?

Categories: Religion, Right-Wing Hypocrisy Tags: