Another currently relevant comic by The Atheist Pig…
(click the image to see it full-size at TheAtheistPig.com)
The Onion has a great satire piece that hits the bullseye when it comes to Christian dogma. I’ve written before about how Christianity gives a free pass to sin, but The Onion, as usual, puts its satirical wit to good use and hammers the message home.
The first few months behind bars were the worst of my life. Every night I’d stare into the darkness, waiting for the nightmares, waiting to hear those horrible screams all over again. Even here behind these thick penitentiary walls, there was no hiding from what I’d done to that poor family.
Then, one night, it happened: I lay alone in my cell, my only companion the visions of wickedness that filled my head. Suddenly, there was a light, and somehow the light spoke to me. It was the voice of Jesus Christ. He told me he had died for the sins of mankind and all could find peace through his salvation. Was I ready to repent?
Uh, let me think about that for a sec. Yup!
It was a stroke of unbelievable luck. Here I thought I’d spend the rest of my life agonizing over that night I broke into a random house and methodically tortured all five of its residents, but Jesus was like, “Nah, you’re good.” He took all those years I expected to wallow in suffocating guilt for having forced a mother to choose the order in which I strangled her children and wiped them away in a jiff.
Which is ironic because the family I murdered in cold blood was praying to Jesus like crazy the whole time.
It gets better… and really shows the horrid problem with Christianity. It really says that you can do whatever you want and all you have to do is accept Jesus and confess your sins and everything is put right. It’s a free pass to engage in abhorrent behavior. (more…)
Lately, I’ve seen a lot of excuse-making in the form of, “Well they did it, too!”
I’ve seen this in relation to the sexual abuses by the Catholic Church (and yes… at this point, it’s not just priests, it’s the church), racism and bigotry by tea party protestors, and political activity (or non-activity, as the case may be). In most cases, the people making the statement are trying to justify the actions, as if calling out an opponent’s indiscretions somehow makes the indiscretions of the defended group acceptable.
In every case, it’s a petty response made in an attempt to vindicate the accused. It’s also rationally and ethically indefensible. How can you defend child rape by saying, “He did it, too?” How can you defend overt racism, bigotry, and hatred by saying, “He did it, too?” How can you defend obstructionist, ethically dubious, divisive behavior by saying, “He did it, too?”
Raping a child is not suddenly acceptable behavior if you point out it’s been done by someone else. The Catholic Church has attempted to do just that. Shuffling pedophile priests to alternate locations for decades in order to avoid criminal charges or damage to the reputation of the Church is not morally defensible. It’s vile. It’s reprehensible. It’s immoral. It’s despicable. It’s illegal.
Spewing lies, hate speech, racial epithets, bigotry, and intolerance is not acceptable behavior, no matter who does it. The Tea Party is obviously in the spotlight at the moment for this type of behavior, but it’s not unique to them. However, attempting to justify the behavior by pointing out that people behaved that way during the Bush administration does nothing to validate it. It simply makes the defenders look petty and vile themselves. Why would you even attempt to justify racism, bigotry, and hatred? Why would you not just condemn it outright… without qualifications… without caveats… without justifications?
Using questionable political tactics to obstruct progress as opposed to collaborating to create a nationally beneficial policy is not ethically defensible, either. Both parties have done it, but that doesn’t make it acceptable. When the only goal your political team supports isn’t to help the country, but is to thwart the other team, it’s time to look for another career.
Ethical and moral misbehavior should be called out and condemned regardless of whose actions are being called into question.
The defense of that behavior is, itself, ethically atrocious.
A man in Dallas, Texas is facing charges after explicitly stating (by filing papers in a federal court) that he will use deadly force to stop an abortion. In the filing, he asked for a restraining order against law enforcement, asking that “officers not be allowed to harm him if he had to harm someone else.” He went so far as to name the specific clinic along with the date and the time when he would pay his visit.
From the MSNBC article:
Erlyndon Joseph “Joey” Lo, 27, of Plano, filed documents there Friday saying his religious beliefs entitled him to use deadly force to prevent an abortion. He listed the name of a clinic, its address and the time he was going to show up â€” noon that day.
“I plan on saving at least one human life in Dallas, Texas,” Lo wrote.
Fortunately, the FBI takes these kinds of threats pretty seriously, especially one that includes such detailed specifics, and Lo is now facing two charges, one for using interstate commerce to communicate a threat to injure and another for threatening force to “intimidate and interfere” with clients and employees of a reproductive health clinic.
Twenty-seven year old Lo, a Southern Methodist University law school graduate who lives with his parents, is serving as his own attorney, which may explain the absurd nature of the class-action lawsuit that he’s filing, seeking “more than $999 trillion in damages.” He’s also asking the court to pay him $1,000 per hour in attorney fees. He has also filed suit against the U.S. Supreme Court in an attempt to outlaw abortion.
Like almost all abortion rights opponents, Lo’s stance is based on religious belief.
From the Dallas News article:
He says he has been a Christian since he was in fourth grade.
“I accepted Christ into my life when watching TV. Some guys were really strong and breaking ice. They invited me to accept Jesus into my life and ask him to forgive me for the ways I sinned. I did so, and I was changed,” according to his site.
After doing “a lot of research on Wikipedia and the Internet,” he “decided to become a Catholic. Today I am a good Catholic, and I’ve never been better.”
And from the MSNBC article (emphasis mine):
“My religious beliefs include the beliefs that an individual is alive at the moment of conception, abortion is murder and is the worst murder of all murders possible because these babies are completely defenseless, and I am entitled under my religious beliefs to use deadly force if necessary to save the innocent life of another,” Lo wrote.
Where Lo differs (outwardly, anyway) from many others who oppose abortion rights is in his belief that he is entitled to use deadly force. Whether he thinks this makes him a sort of “holy warrior” is unclear, but what is clear is that religious belief is the root cause of his self-righteous, extremist stance. Not rational thinking, not reasoned morality, not scientific fact, not biology… religion.
This isn’t some radical form of Islam, either. Lo is Catholic. Not only is he Catholic, but he considers himself a “good Catholic.” There are, of course, those who will say that he’s not a “real” Catholic, but for every person who says that, there are plenty more who will make identical counter claims. It’s the “No True Scotsman” fallacy and doesn’t hold water. He’s a true Catholic… a true Christian… as much as any other Catholic Christian. Obviously he holds some varying beliefs from some other Christians, but that doesn’t make him less of one.
Religion encourages fuzzy thinking and superstition. It encourages unquestioning acceptance without supporting evidence. It encourages blind obedience in (questionable) authority. It encourages a self-righteous, unwavering belief that it, alone, reveals truth, defines morality, and creates meaning.
It creates a self-perpetuating fantasy world… where people like Joseph Lo thrive.
The Superbowl ad featuring Tim Tebow (which has yet to be seen) has been causing a big brouhaha lately… with pro-choice groups opposing it to pro-life (anti-abortion) groups defending it. I’ve mostly ignored the situation, but after reading a Facebook note by Pam Stenzel and the accompanying comments, I figured it was time to toss my opinion into the mix.
Note: You can read the public Facebook note above, but you need a Facebook account to access it. You can also read the comments to the note (which I won’t address here), some of which are just as wrong-headed (if not more-so) than Stenzel’s piece.
Just to get it out of the way, I couldn’t care less if CBS shows the ad or not. I doubt if it’s anything over the top. Focus on the Family paid their $2.5 million for the ad, so bully for them. Tim Tebow sounds like a nice guy who’s done some nice charity work and is, evidently, a good football player. He and his family are overtly religious, having beliefs with which I obviously disagree, but they’re entitled to their opinions. Focus on the Family is well-known for its bigotry and intolerance toward homosexuals and pro-choice views, so I have more of a problem with them, but again… free speech.
On to Pam Stenzel’s note…
Stenzel starts with this (emphasis mine).
Tim Tebowâ€™s pro-life ad on the upcoming Super Bowl is sure making the news and making lots of people uncomfortable. We’re always harping on athletes to be more responsible and engaged in the issues of their day, and less concerned with just cashing checks.
Really? We are? That’s funny, because what I normally see is people telling athletes and other celebrities to shut the hell up and stick to making movies. Since when have we (perhaps this is an exclusive “we” club) wanted our athletes to become political or social commentators?
Interestingly, Stenzel, who titles her post “Tim Tebow and the National Organization for ‘some’ Women!” claims that because of their opposition to the ad, the National Organization for Women isn’t pro-choice… they’re pro-abortion. She says…
Tebow’s 30-second ad hasn’t even run yet, but it already has provoked “The National Organization for Women Who Only Think Like Us” to reveal something important about themselves: They aren’t actually “pro-choice” so much as they are pro-abortion.
Interestingly, her piece never really explains how or why they are pro-abortion instead of pro-choice. Perhaps Stenzel’s low-tolerance worldview sees pro-choice as pro-abortion regardless of who delivers the message? …or perhaps it’s because her statement is blatantly false.
Here’s her summary of the Tebow story.
She [Tim Tebow’s mother] got pregnant in 1987, post-Roe v. Wade, and while on a Christian mission in the Philippines, she contracted a tropical ailment. Doctors advised her the pregnancy could be dangerous, but she exercised her freedom of choice, chose life, and now, 20-some years later, the outcome of that choice is her Heisman Trophy winner son.
It’s the classic “You would have killed Beethoven” argument which Richard Dawkins dissects in his Washington Post op-ed piece. It’s a silly argument for being pro-life. Aside from the fact that it could easily be turned on its head using Charles Manson or Pol Pot or any other “evil” person, it implies that, if only there would be no abortions, there would be more superstars in our midst. Dawkins does a fine job of dismissing it, so there’s no need to dwell on it here.
Stenzel does say that something we can all agree on is that everyone “wishes the ‘need’ for abortions wasn’t so great.” Yes, she put quotes around the word “need.” That aside, yes… I think pretty much everyone could agree that fewer abortions are better (they just don’t agree as to why fewer abortions are better). Stenzel’s solution is abstinence. That’s her whole shtick. However, her disgust and disapproval for anything other than her puritanical version of morality infuses her message, writing statements such as [sic]…
“Apparently NOW feels this commercial is an inappropriate message for America to see for 30 seconds, but women in bikinis selling beer is the right one.”
“We need celebrities who are self-possessed and selfcontrolled enough to use their wattage to advertise commitment over decadence.”
“You know what we really need more of? Famous guys who aren’t embarrassed to practice sexual restraint until mariage, and to say it out loud.”
“Promiscuity is so the norm that if a stud isn’t shagging everything in sight, we feel faintly ashamed for him. How sad.”
Seriously? Given context, a Superbowl ad featuring bikini-clad women selling beer (I don’t think I’ve seen that one, but I’m looking forward to it) is perfectly appropriate.
I don’t even know what she means by “commitment over decadence.” Commitment to abstinence? Does decadence meaning “sex before marriage?” Perhaps it means “anything short of a Christ-like perfection.”
The absurdity of “practice sexual restraint until marriage” is perhaps revealing. After marriage, guys don’t have to have any restraint? Is that what Stenzel believes? What is bad about pre-marital sex, anyway? She seems to have a blanket problem with it and I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that it’s a biblical objection.
The last statement is an over-the-top straw man caricature that deserves no response other than outright derision.
Stenzel just keeps digging herself in deeper as she goes.
Abortion doesn’t just involve serious issues of life, but of potential lives, Heisman trophy winners, scientists, doctors, artists, inventors, Little Leaguers — who would never come to be if their birth mothers had not wrestled with the stakes and chosen to carry those lives to term.
Didn’t she already cover this? Didn’t I already respond with something indicating that that same list of “potential lives” could also include murderers, rapists, child molesters, drug dealers, and evil dictators? What about the mothers of those people? Stenzel doesn’t say, but if she were honest, she would include those categories in her list, too. She would also include women who don’t have sex when they ovulate… or men who masturbate.
Then Stenzel continues her rant against NOW.
But when a woman uses her right to choose but chooses life instead of an abortion, NOW has a fit!
No, Stenzel. That’s not the case. They don’t have a problem with a woman choosing to have a child instead of having an abortion. They have a problem with Focus on the Family’s bigoted, anti-choice imposition of their bronze-age values on women. Even though I haven’t seen the commercial, I can place a fairly safe bet that the message, though perhaps subtle, is “If you choose to have an abortion, you’re immoral.” That is what NOW sees as the problem and that is why NOW is actually for all women.
They promote a right to choose.
I have written several articles about Ray “The Banana Man” Comfort. Most of them have in one way or another dealt with him being obnoxious, ignorant, egotistical or all three. This article deals with his utter lack of taste.
Since Michael Jackson died there have been an abundance of jokes at his expense circulated around the Internet. Â Some of them are really funny. Hell, I’ve told a few to friends. Was I in bad taste? Maybe to some but I’m not a Christian minister like Comfort. I also will not be profiting from the telling of my jokes.
Comfort’s, Living Waters Ministries, is currently selling these adorable dead Michael Jackson tracts on their website. That’s right folks step right up and purchase your “commemorative million dollar bill” tracts. Â Yep, one stop shopping, tasteless religious propaganda and snake oil all on one convenient website!
All joking aside this is incredible. Not only does Comfort shamelessly use Michael Jackson’s image to promote his agenda, he’sÂ PROFITING from it.
The million dollar question: Will you go to Heaven when you die? Here’s a quick test. Have you ever told a lie, stolen anything, or used God’s name in vain? Jesus said, “Whoever looks at a woman …etc.,etc.”
Since the death of Jackson they are actually promoting the sale of these tracts by calling them, “commemorative”. As much as I don’t care for Comfort’s smarmy way of pointing fingers at sinners on street corners, even I did not think he was capable of stuping this low. Truly shameful. I guess Comfort forgot Matthew 21:
Matthew 21 -And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,Â Â And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
Look out Ray Comfort. If Christ does come back Â (disbelief suspended) I think he’s heading right for your ministries.
God has ordered some pretty despicable things to be done during his tenure over mankind. The destruction of entire cities, blights, plagues, multiple smitings, disease, pestilence, and genocidal floods. It’s an impressive resume by any mass murderer’sÂ reckoning to be sure but there’s more! God loves to torture and kill children or gutlessly order his minions toÂ torture and kill children.
Every nightÂ on the evening news we hear about murder, rape or any number of brutal crimes being committed. Â Horrible to be sure but society does become immune. RarelyÂ is the water cooler abuzz with talk of any but the most disgusting of these crimes, unless a child is involved. Our society finds, rightfully so, that crimes such as this involving children are of the most heinous nature. It’s a fact that more often than not, child predators are the first to be beaten or killed by their fellow inmates once incarcerated. Even criminals agree that these choice individuals are fair game for a rather rude introduction intoÂ our penal system. God help himself should he ever take up residence within the American penal system, for he would certainly be due a beating.
God has always had a special place in his heart for children. I suppose that’s why he at times singles them out for his own particular brand of cruelty and barbarism. Jesus may “love the little children” but God…not so much. Here’ s some of God’s greatest hits:
These are examples of a modern day misinterpretation of God’s will by man, you say? These are not actions that God would ever have endorsed, you say? Nice try. These are actually rather “meek and mild” examples of God’s depravity. We can look to God’s divinely inspired instruction manual, the bible, for some of his most horrid and genocidal greatest hits.
Do not withhold discipline from your children; if you beat them with a rod, they will not die. If you beat them with the rod, you will save their lives from Sheol.
From there Elisha went up to Bethel.Â While he was on his way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him.Â “Go up baldhead,” they shouted, “go up baldhead!”Â The prophet turned and saw them, and he cursed them in the name of the Lord.Â Then two shebears came out of the woods and tore forty two of the children to pieces. (2 Kings 2:23-24 NAB)
If even then you remain hostile toward me and refuse to obey, I will inflict you with seven more disasters for your sins.Â I will release wild animals that will kill your children and destroy your cattle, so your numbers will dwindle and your roads will be deserted. (Leviticus 26:21-22 NLT)
Paul Fidalgo, who is the blogger at Bloc Raisonneur, also posts as the DC Secular Examiner on Examiner.com. He posted a piece today about “The Apparently Weak Faith of the Unfaithful Republicans” which had a bit to say about Governor Sanford, but more about the bigger picture.
One great point he made about those politicians who are so in-your-face about their religious piety and moral values (“Christians all, and every one of them extremely noisy about it” says Fidalgo), is that the reason they fessed up isn’t because of… well… here’s what Fidalgo said (emphasis his):
It was not the wrenching guts of a tortured soul that got Sanford, Vitter, Ensign, or Craig to fess up. They didn’t fear for their timeshares in the afterlife, nor did they see a vision of a tut-tutting Jesus hovering over them while in passionate throes. They held their conferences, released their dour statements, and apologized to those unwise enough to have faith in them, because they got caught.
His post is definitely worth reading and highlights the pseudo-devotion of this type of Christian.
What also got my attention was a comment made by Chris Henson about Christian morality in the comments section at the end of the post. I’ve posted similar things myself here, but he phrases it in a wonderfully colorful way that I needed to share.
Yeah, but “God gave his only begotten son” so that Christians can break all the rules they want to. Probably the most convenient twist of religious chicanery ever devised. You’ve got one book spelling out the “Commandments” and “Deadly Sins.” Then you’ve got the other book with this hippy dude who died so you can pretty much sin all you want to.
It’s like “Eat Yourself Thin.” Or “The Four Hour Work Week.” Combined, the Old and New Testaments should be called “Sin Yourself Righteous!”
Sin Yourself Righteous!
Christians tend to make the claim that morality comes from God or the bible, but in reality, biblical religions just teach that you can have a free pass to sin without consequence.
It seems that some politicians take advantage of that.
I wasn’t going to comment on Governor Mark Sanford and his Argentinean affair because that sort of thing seems to happen all the time in politics. However, there have been a few revelations that have added a bit of eyebrow-raising interest and I found myself thinking that, not only is the guy a scumbag for cheating on his wife, but he seems to be a hypocritical religious zealot as well.
From what I understand, Sanford has been a big proponent of “Christian values, character, and honesty” in South Carolina. Since he’s also a Republican, one can generally assume that he’s onboard with the “morality platform” of the Republican party.
That’s just some of what makes his infidelity a bigger deal than it would be for the average person on the street… or Democrats, for that matter. While Democrats do speak of values, honesty, and faith, they don’t do it in the same heavy-handed, in-your-face kind of way that Republicans do, so to the casual observer, it’s a bigger show of hypocrisy when Republicans have a adultery-related scandal than when Democrats do. That said, Sanford seems to have ratcheted up the negative appearance all by himself.
Not only did he have the affair with the Argentinean woman, which reportedly turned sexual only during the last year of their eight-year relationship, but he’s admitted to having “crossed lines” with other women during his twenty years of marriage.
Sanford also said that he “crossed lines” with a handful of other women during 20 years of marriage, but not as far as he did with his mistress.
“There were a handful of instances wherein I crossed the lines I shouldn’t have crossed as a married man, but never crossed the ultimate line,” he said.
He didn’t define the “ultimate line,” but the general assumption is probably that he meant intercourse. Whether he defines it the way Bill Clinton did is another matter.
However you define it, the trouble seems to run deeper than just sex. Sanford repeatedly refers to the woman as his “soul mate,” which seems, to me, like something he wouldn’t say… or feel… if he’s telling people that he’s committed to working things out with his wife.
In emotional interviews with the AP over two days, he said he would die “knowing that I had met my soul mate.”
Sanford insisted his relationship with Maria Belen Chapur, whom he met at an open air dance spot in Uruguay eight years ago, was more than just sex.
“This was a whole lot more than a simple affair, this was a love story,” Sanford said. “A forbidden one, a tragic one, but a love story at the end of the day.”
How is his wife supposed to take him seriously or trust him at all when he says things like that? I’m not suggesting he lie about it. I’m just pointing out that he doesn’t sound like someone who really wants to make nice with his wife. He’s throwing himself a pity party by telling the public that he’s doomed to a life of unrequited love… but, oh yeah… he’ll still try to fall back in love with his wife.
And then, of course…
“I owe it too much to my boys and to the last 20 years with Jenny to not try this larger walk of faith,” he said.
Notice that he doesn’t owe anything to his wife… just to the boys and to a twenty-year timeframe. And what is this “larger walk of faith” to which he refers? Faith in what? Sadly, he doesn’t say.
Perhaps Sanford has faith that he’s just like the biblical King David and will be forgiven by God and allowed to continue on his merry way. Evidently, he’s fond of referring to “moral absolutes” and “God’s law” and other faith-based ideas, regardless of how hypocritical it makes him seem.
He doesn’t seem to be alone in his hypocrisy, either. According to an Associated Press story, Sanford’s “spiritual advisor,” Warren Culbertson knew of the affair, yet in his spiritual “boot camp,” he “passed” Sanford and his wife with flying colors. Defending Sanford, Culbertson said he was simply caught off guard by “the power of darkness.”
Culbertson also thinks that the only thing holding his friends’ marriage together right now is “their vow to God.”
“Because it’s not feelings â€” it’s not emotions,” Culbertson said, the smile fading from his tanned face. “For most Christians, at some point in your marriage, if you’re married long enough, you do it because that’s what we’re called to do â€” out of obedience instead of out of passion. And I think that’s where Mark and Jenny are right now.”
Funny how Sanford’s “vow to God” didn’t mean much when he was chatting up his Argentinean mistress… but that’s what’s going to save his marriage now? I find Culbertson’s statement of marriage infuriating and insulting because it implies that only Christians have marital issues and they stay in a marriage out of “obedience” instead of out of love, loyalty, or honor. It’s morally despicable to do what’s “right” because of obedience of the rules in a 2000-year-old religious text rather than doing what’s right simply because it is right… because it’s what you promised to do… because it’s what’s best for your wife and family… because you don’t want to hurt those you love… because you can intellectually overcome your baser nature.
It seems Sanford can’t do that, and despite his spouting biblical statements and comparing himself to King David, he seems to have no grasp on morality… or on decency… or on honesty. The bible doesn’t give him that and it never will… nor will it give it to anyone. While it has some nice things in it, it’s sadly lacking in any meaningful moral guidance, something that is demonstrated over and over and over again, not only in politics, but in everyday life.
Sanford shouldn’t be asking for help from any gods or for forgiveness from anyone other than his wife and kids. They’re the only ones who can grant him any kind of meaningful forgiveness.
Anything else is imaginary.