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Pure Dobsonian ignorance

On April 15th, a district court in Wisconsin ruled that the National Day of Prayer was unconstitutional. It’s a decision that was a long time coming.

From the article:

Crabb wrote that her ruling was not a judgment on the value of prayer. She noted government involvement in prayer may be constitutional if the conduct serves a “significant secular purpose” and doesn’t amount to a call for religious action. But the National Day of Prayer crosses that line, she wrote.

“It goes beyond mere ‘acknowledgment’ of religion because its sole purpose is to encourage all citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function in this context,” she wrote. “In this instance, the government has taken sides on a matter that must be left to individual conscience.”

No doubt the decision will be appealed because it seems the religious right can’t stand to lose an opportunity to have the government endorse their religion. They’ll claim, over and over, that religion belief and practice is a personal thing and that it’s an issue of freedom, but they don’t really seem to grasp the concept that the freedom should apply to everyone. They seem to feel that it only applies to those who share their faith.

Shirley Dobson, wife of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, seems to take her ignorance a step further. She is quoted as saying (emphasis mine)…

“Since the days of our Founding Fathers, the government has protected and encouraged public prayer and other expressions of dependence on the Almighty,” Dobson said. “This is a concerted effort by a small but determined number of people who have tried to prohibit all references to the Creator in the public square, whether it be the Ten Commandments, the Pledge of Allegiance, or the simple act of corporate prayer – this is unconscionable for a free society.”

The highlighted statement is blatantly and unequivocally false. The people who oppose government-sponsored religious displays are not trying to prohibit religious references in the public square. In truth, most of them (if not all) would fully support the rights of anyone to display their religious beliefs in the public square. That is evidenced by the sheer numbers of churches found all across the country. It’s not uncommon to see three or four churches in a two-block radius of some towns. Religious billboards abound. “Jesus fishes” adorn cars. Crosses hang around necks and decorate roadsides. …and nobody is trying to stop it. It’s freedom.

What they are trying to stop is the promotion of religion by government institutions, including nativity scenes on government property, prayer during government meetings and publicly funded schools, government funding for religious organizations that discriminate based on religion, and any other government support, promotion, or favoritism of any type of religious practices.

So Shirley Dobson has it all wrong, but the sad thing is, the religious right will believe her and they will shake their fists in fury over their perceived persecution… because little by little, their ability to use government to push their superstitious beliefs on the rest of the country is being whittled away. They can’t understand that they are not the ones who are being persecuted. They are the persecutors.

Why do they need to display their nativity scenes on government steps when their are literally thousands of churches where the display would be far more relevant. Why do they need to force all children to pray in schools when children can pray at home, in school, on the playground, and anywhere and any time they want already? Why do they need to demand preferential treatment by the government in support of their religion when their god is supposedly all-powerful?

Their outrage and anger is absurd. It’s ignorant. It’s overbearing. It’s self-righteous and arrogant. It’s hypocritical. It’s intellectually crippling.

…all because of their grandiose superstitions.

Two wrongs make a right?

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.

  • Defenders of the Catholic Church have said, “We’re not the only people who have abused children.”
  • Tea Party supporters have said, “There was racism, bigotry, and hatred during the Bush administration, too.”
  • Political pundits (on both sides of the aisle) have said, “They (the other party) have done this, too, so it’s perfectly appropriate for us to use it.”

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.

Teaching ignorance and bigotry

In the comments section of an American Spectator article about Wikipedia, while there are some good, valid warnings against using Wikipedia as a reputable source for everything, there are some pretty amazing comments…. and by “amazing,” I mean “hyperbolic, right-wing, anti-science, anti-intellectual” comments. Though the article is related to the issue of climate change, that’s not where I want to focus, but I did want to convey the source for this post.

One of the commenters, Margie, responding to a long display of denier talking-points and conspiracy theories, posted that her advice, as a solution, was home-schooling. Here’s her initial comment [sic].

My advise? Home school your children. You have to re educate them anyway when they come home from public school anyway if you want them to learn the truth. The truth being that our founding Fathers were not racists, that God created man, that 2 +2 really does equal 4.. that man really cannot control the environment but God does in His loving kindness since the very beginning of this wonderful planet He has given us, that abstinence really does work, that homosexuality is really sin and God did not make us that way.. and I am sure I am missing some other things too.

Home school if you can!

What she is suggesting is to teach ignorance… to teach willful ignorance of reality… to teach that it’s better to not question, to be satisfied with not knowing, to be bigoted and intolerant, and to believe despite a complete lack of evidence. I’ll grant her the 2 + 2 = 4 part and perhaps the founding fathers part (though I’m not sure the relevance), but aside from that, she’s suggesting we keep children ignorant. Worse, actually… that we keep them misinformed with falsehoods and fantasies.

There is a response by William to her post.

If you want to advise people about schooling, it would be a good idea to learn how to spell “advice”.

Did you know that the bible forbids you to eat weasels?

Though I generally find spelling corrections in comment threads to be a bit obnoxious, in this case it was somewhat relevant. The “weasel” comment was amusing, and if you check his website, it makes sense why he included it. The verse to which he refers is Leviticus 11:29-30, which states (in the King James translation):

29 These also shall be unclean unto you among the creeping things that creep upon the earth; the weasel, and the mouse, and the tortoise after his kind,

30 And the ferret, and the chameleon, and the lizard, and the snail, and the mole.

Of course, Margie responds to William’s comment with…

Picky, picky, picky. Typical Leftist picking on the spelling. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t home schooled..ha!

Judging from your website I’d say you definitely weren’t. An atheist, are you?

Now that would be the real issue here, wouldn’t it?

Another sign that you weren’t home schooled is that you don’t know your Bible. It forbids no such thing, as God declared to call nothing unclean as far as animals, to eat! (Acts 10:13).

If you don’t know God, you know nothing.

Even if you do know how to spell.

It’s a disturbing response, but not surprising, given her previous comment (and the venue). First, he’s automatically a “Leftist.” Then she continues by stating that she’s deduced he’s a scientist (based on his website… it’s true), he’s not homeschooled (also probably true) and he’s an atheist (also true). None of that is an issue except, based on the rest of her comment style, it’s a pretty safe bet that she means it all as a bad thing. Of course, the cherry on top is that she says that his atheism is the “real issue here.” I beg to differ and think it’s more likely her love of ignorance and her belief in ancient mythology that is the “real issue here”… the issue being the quality of education.

Of course, according to Margie, not knowing your bible is also a sign that you’re not homeschooled. Since she wasn’t homeschooled, either, it makes sense that the verse she lists doesn’t say what she thinks it says. Acts 10:13 says (again King James)…

13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.

Perhaps she meant to add verses 14 and 15, but it’s hard to say.

14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.

15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

That seems a bit contradictory to the Leviticus passage, but perhaps God changed his mind… and in context, it doesn’t seem to be particularly supportive of her claim, anyway.

In fact, there’s nothing about most of her claims that is supported by anything factual. She simply spouts unsubstantiated religious platitudes as if they are self-evident truths… in support of something that would be horrendously damaging to the intellectual stability (and development) of our country. In addition, she insinuates that being a scientist (and an atheist, though that’s not necessarily related) is somehow an indication of a poor education. That is a clear, cut and dry example of anti-intellectualism… the idea that the more education and training you receive, the less credible you become.

Margie displays a perfect example of the right-wing attitude that “well-educated” equals “untrustworthy.” She holds to her anti-education position by clinging to her religion’s dogma with pit-bull tenacity, evidence be damned, and decries anyone who doesn’t follow in her self-righteously pious footsteps as the “real issue here.”

Her attitude is one that, sadly, must be constantly challenged in this country. It’s an attitude that, unchecked, would lead us toward a theocracy full of ignorance, something that our founding fathers (something about which Margie makes a knowledge claim) would definitely have not wanted. Our purely secular Constitution is perfect evidence of that.

Of course, not all religious people are ignorant or bigoted or anti-intellectual… but the ones like Margie are. Unfortunately, they’re also loud and plentiful enough that their message tends to spread like wildfire, infecting the public discourse with disinformation, pseudo-science, blatant falsehoods, and vitriolic, spiteful indignation. Rational discussions and open, honest debates are nearly impossible in the environment they create. It’s frustrating. It’s sad. It’s pathetic.

But sadly, like Margie, it’s reality.

Right turn, Clyde… or not.

I’ve mentioned before that I wish the Republican party would “go back to being the fiscally conservative, small government party they used to be instead of the religious, anti-science, anti-intellectual, anti-environment party they are now.”

Andrew Sullivan, over at The Daily Dish,  seems to have the same idea, but in more detail. Andrew and I are not alone, either, since I’ve seen links to his post from two other blogs today, as well as a post by Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs who also put together a list of why he’s parted ways with the Right. No doubt there are plenty more who agree with these folks.

Here’s a sampling of items from both posts that I find particularly noteworthy (though I recommend going through the full posts of both blog authors).

From Andrew Sullivan:

  • I cannot support a movement that holds torture as a core value.
  • I cannot support a movement that holds that purely religious doctrine should govern civil political decisions and that uses the sacredness of religious faith for the pursuit of worldly power.
  • I cannot support a movement that would back a vice-presidential candidate manifestly unqualified and duplicitous because of identity politics and electoral cynicism.
  • I cannot support a movement that does not accept evolution as a fact.
  • I cannot support a movement that sees climate change as a hoax and offers domestic oil exploration as the core plank of an energy policy
  • I cannot support a movement that refuses to distance itself from a demagogue like Rush Limbaugh or a nutjob like Glenn Beck.
  • I cannot support a movement that believes that the United States should be the sole global power, should sustain a permanent war machine to police the entire planet, and sees violence as the core tool for international relations.

From Charles Johnson (reasons why he parted ways with the Right):

  • Support for bigotry, hatred, and white supremacism (see: Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, Robert Stacy McCain, Lew Rockwell, etc.)
  • Support for throwing women back into the Dark Ages, and general religious fanaticism (see: Operation Rescue, anti-abortion groups, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Tony Perkins, the entire religious right, etc.)
  • Support for anti-science bad craziness (see: creationism, climate change denialism, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, James Inhofe, etc.)
  • Support for homophobic bigotry (see: Sarah Palin, Dobson, the entire religious right, etc.)
  • Support for anti-government lunacy (see: tea parties, militias, Fox News, Glenn Beck, etc.)
  • Support for conspiracy theories and hate speech (see: Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Birthers, creationists, climate deniers, etc.)
  • A right-wing blogosphere that is almost universally dominated by raging hate speech (see: Hot Air, Free Republic, Ace of Spades, etc.)
  • Hatred for President Obama that goes far beyond simply criticizing his policies, into racism, hate speech, and bizarre conspiracy theories (see: witch doctor pictures, tea parties, Birthers, Michelle Malkin, Fox News, World Net Daily, Newsmax, and every other right wing source)

I think all of those issues are critical issues with the Right, but I tend to focus in on the anti-science, anti-intellectual issues like evolution and climate change… and then I just continue down the path of monumental incredulity at the crap that is touted, supported, and defended by what used to be a fiscally and bureaucratically conservative and responsible party.

I will grant that not all Republicans are this way, but the party in general (or as Andrew Sullivan puts it… “in so far as it means the dominant mode of discourse among the institutions and blogs and magazines and newspapers and journals that support the GOP”) has taken on the self-righteous air of superiority, while in practice, promoting ignorance, hatred, and the idea that the better educated you are, the smarter you are, and the more experience you have, the less qualified you are to partake in intellectually challenging endeavors.

If this country is going to improve its status (and it does need improving) or even maintain its current position in the world, the Right needs to change its ways or get out of the way, because its current pattern of blocking science and education, glorifying ignorance, and pounding its virtual fists on the podium of bigotry doesn’t cut it and it won’t cut it in the future.

As Charles Johnson said:

The American right wing has gone off the rails, into the bushes, and off the cliff.

I won’t be going over the cliff with them.

I won’t be jumping off that cliff, either.

Hate Crime Legislation Updated

Existing hate crime legislation has been updated with the passing of a new federal law designed to include crimes based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, named for a gay man who was murdered eleven years ago, expands the original list of criteria which includes race, color, religion and national origin. The legislation specifically targets actions, not speech. From the article linked above…

“Nothing in this legislation diminishes an American’s freedom of religion, freedom of speech or press or the freedom to assemble,” said Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md. “Let me be clear. The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act targets acts, not speech.”

That seems simple enough. If there is already hate crime legislation, it should probably include groups that tend to be targets of hate-based violence. Again from the article…

The FBI says more than half of reported hate crimes are motivated by racial bias. Next most frequent are crimes based on religious bias, at around 18 percent, and sexual orientation, at 16 percent.

Sixteen percent seems like a large enough percentage to warrant the special protection offered by hate crime legislation. So there’s no problem, right?

Of course there’s a problem!

Conservatives have opposed it, arguing that it creates a special class of victims. They also have been concerned that it could silence clergymen or others opposed to homosexuality on religious or philosophical grounds.

Doesn’t hate crime legislation automatically create a special class of victims? That’s sort of the point. The opposition is creating a smokescreen argument. The second part of the above quoted paragraph is the most telling… though with an additional attempt at misdirection.

Opponents of the legislation are afraid it would silence clergymen (or others) who oppose homosexuality because of their religion… or on philosophical grounds. Wait… what? I call shenanigans. That’s an attempt by the homophobic religious right to add a smidgen of validity to their bigoted religious arguments. “Philosophical grounds” sounds completely secular… so it’s not just those religious folks who oppose homosexuality, right?

Seriously? No.

I don’t want to state outright that there have never been purely philosophical arguments opposing homosexuality, but I’ve never heard one. I’ve heard a feeble attempt, but in the end, it boiled down to religious belief. Every single argument I’ve ever heard or read in opposition to homosexuality is based on a religious belief… Christianity, Islam, Judaism… take your pick. Philosophy? Not so much.

So the conservatives who oppose this legislation oppose it because of their religiously-based bigotry. That’s really the bottom line. It’s not going to silence free speech. It’s not going to put outspoken, anti-gay, religious zealots in danger of being whisked away to the hate crime gulag. It targets actions, not words.

To highlight the fear-mongering alarmism of the religious right…

That didn’t convince Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., who said the bill was a “dangerous step” toward thought crimes. He asked whether the bill would “serve as a warning to people not to speak out too loudly about their religious views.”

Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, said the measure was “part of a radical social agenda that could ultimately silence Christians and use the force of government to marginalize anyone whose faith is at odds with homosexuality.”

DeMint obviously misses the whole “targets actions” concept, but uses his alarmist “dangerous step” and “thought crimes” and “don’t speak too loudly” phraseology to rouse the faithful… or rather misinform his religious right constituents so they can shout their Leviticus-fueled outrage from the hilltops.

Perkins seems more of a conspiracy theory propagandist… radical social agenda… silence Christians… force of government… marginalize faith… eliminate bigotry… Okay, I made that last one up.

He seems to think that adding homosexuals to a list of people who are targets of hate-fueled violence will somehow “marginalize anyone whose faith is at odds with homosexuality.”

I don’t think the list has anything to do with it.

Kevin Jennings appointed to education department

Kevin JenningsKevin Jennings will become the assistant deputy secretary of education for the department’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools. That’s quite a mouthful. According to this article, “the office oversees financial assistance for drug and violence prevention and is in charge of developing program policy for the Department of Education.”

Among his many distinctions, Mr. Jennings has been the recipient of the Human and Civil Rights Award of the National Education Association, the Distinguished Service Award of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and the Diversity Leadership Award of the National Association of Independent Schools. He seems eminently qualified for the position.

So why do I bring this up? Well… Mr. Jennings is gay. Anyone with a finger anywhere near the pulse of the religious right knows that they seem to feel that being gay is equivalent to child molestation, sexual perversion, subversive indoctrination of children into the “gay lifestyle,” and other atrocities offensive to their god. I saw this attitude in full swing in a recent Facebook discussion.

I’ll give some examples of the discussion here, but without names attached to them. I didn’t ask anyone’s permission, so keeping anonymity is important, though the sentiments expressed should see the light of day to expose the homophobia, intolerance, and factual distortions.

Here are the objections raised against Mr. Jennings at the beginning of the discussion.

  1. He is the founder and former executive director of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
  2. GLSEN is infamous for the “Fistgate Scandal,” a conference in which young teens were guided on how to perform dangerous acts of sexual perversion, including “fisting.”
  3. Mr. Jennings was quoted as saying “Fuck ‘em” to the “Religious Right.”
  4. Jennings wrote the forward for a book called Queering Elementary Education: Advancing the Dialogue about Sexualities and Schooling.

The poster (I’ll call him “Poster Alpha”) was careful to say that he feels Mr. Jennings has the right to live his life however he wants… which is usually the kind of thing you hear when there is disapproval of the life being led. But here are some of his additional comments.

This appointment is just another example of the grossly poor choices our President is making. At the minimum it reveals very poor judgment. At worst, it is another example of how he and his administration are waging battle on core American values.

I’ve known about this dude for a while. He’s a despicable person, who has taken out his anger on, and focused his debauched standards on traditional family values – I say that without reservation. No one should defend or empower a person who wants to trump parental rights and inflict (yes I say inflict!) debauched sexual values on children. Where the heck is the defense of their purity?? I’m so glad my kids aren’t in public school.

And I might add, if the roles were swapped, and a Republican president were to have nominated someone with an ecclesiastic background, there would be no end to the caterwauling from the Left about imposing religious values in the public school system. Tell me, who is the real threat?

I’m not sure where Poster Alpha got his information, but I’m going to venture a guess that it was a site along the lines of WorldNetDaily or MassResistance.org or some other right-wing religious site. It certainly was not an impartial (or even factual) source. Sadly, Poster Alpha will not reveal his sources, even after being asked.

His initial objections were blatantly silly. The only one that really required much looking into was number two (the “fistgate scandal”), but that was easily done. Here are my reactions to each.

1. Jennings founded GLSEN

That boils down to “Oh my god! He’s gay!” So what.

2. GLSEN is infamous for the “Fistgate Scandal”

This is about GLSEN, not Jennings. In actuality, it’s not even about GLSEN that much. GLSEN was one of three sponsors of a “Teach Out” conference at Tuft University about teens and sexual behavior issues. The voluntary conference was for students age 14 to 21 and an attending student asked what “fisting” was. The teachers answered the question, but the conference was being (illegally) taped by a religious right group member and the tape was then used to manufacture a controversy. You can read about the issue here and here. A quick Google search of “fistgate” will bring up plenty of links, some more dubious than others. You’ll find self-righteous outrage along with more even-handed responses.

Jennings was not present at the event and was not responsible for the content of the conference… and GLSEN was only a sponsor, anyway. So bringing up the issue is just plain petty… and silly.

3. Jennings is quoted as saying “Fuck ’em” to the religious right

In actuality, he was quoted as saying “I’m trying not to say ‘Fuck ’em'” which is somewhat different. Either way, however… so what. I suppose it’s a matter of the religious right being piously offended. Somehow, I think they’ve probably given a “Fuck ’em” or two to groups they oppose.

4. Jennings wrote the forward for a book

The book in question is called Queering Elementary Education: Advancing the Dialogue about Sexualities and Schooling (Curriculum, Cultures, and (Homo)Sexualities). It’s only got one review at Amazon, but they have a good synopsis of the book. It doesn’t seem to be about what the title implies and seems like a thought-provoking, interesting book. However, because Jennings wrote the forward, the religious right seems to find him objectionable (again… “Oh my god! He’s gay!”).

The intolerance and bigotry were rampant in the Facebook discussion, punctuated every now and then with a rational response by someone not frothing at the mouth with homophobic mania. Poster Alpha himself ramped up the rhetoric when he added “traditional family values” to the “core American values” Jennings was supposedly assaulting… along with childrens’ purity.

Here’s a sampling of some of the other nonsense from the discussion. These are from one person. I call him Mr. Froth.

However, when people try to promote their own lifestyles upon impressionable youth, youth that are not their own children, that is where I draw the line.

If Mr. Jennings wants to have children and teach them how to “fist” or any other perverted and dangerous methods of “affection” that he practices, that is his own business. (although, one would have to wonder whether child services would get involved if this were happening) When he insists that teaching these methods to other’s children is “enlightenment,” all he is doing is trying to justify his lifestyle.

If I tried to enter the schools and teach my lifestyle of Christian living, I would be run out and probably sued.

Has our society degenerated so severely that teaching deviant sexual practices is acceptable while teaching Christian principles is not? Apparently, it has.

These workshops are no different than cult recruitment events. They are designed to increase the “membership” of Mr. Jennings following.

Overlooking this incredible atrocity to appoint the man to lead our nation’s education would be akin to overlooking a child serial murder’s past to appoint him as summer camp director simply because he had written some books […]

[Jennings] has his agenda and that is to force his views on others, starting with the very young. He is, in fact, developing a “cult” by trying to indoctrinate his beliefs in these youths.

Get this crap out of the schools and actually teach these kids reading writing and arithmetic! Why is that so difficult to understand? How’s that for enlightenment?

This poster seems to be so worked up in a frenzied, frothing rage that he creates all kinds of demons to attack. Promoting lifestyles? Teaching children how to fist? Perverted and dangerous? Justifying lifestyles? Cult recruitment events? Deviant sexual practices? Being gay is like being a child serial murderer? Forcing his views on others?

There’s so much misinformed bigotry and hatred here that I’m not sure where (or how) to start. I was actually surprised that a comparison to Hitler didn’t pop up because it seemed that’s where Mr. Froth was headed.

Evidently, Mr. Froth seems to think that teaching Christian principles is not allowed. In public schools, religious dogma cannot be taught, but it certainly can be taught in private schools, in churches, at seminaries, at conventions and at any other private events. He also seems to overlook the fact that Jennings did not teach at the mentioned workshop, nor was this information being taught in public schools.

And then the workshop in question becomes “these workshops” and are likened to cult recruitment events which are designed to increase membership… in the gay community? It’s an absurd notion and, with every word he writes, he displays an astronomical amount of ignorance and clouded thinking.

Another poster, like Mr. Froth, seems to think that the “fistgate” conference was taught in a public school as part of the curriculum.

[Jennings] has supposedly run programs about bullying; do his efforts to make schools safe from bullying include the bullying from the left and from the gay rights activists? I feel pretty bullied when the president appoints someone this divisive to such a powerful position over the education of children.

Please let me make myself clear, my objection to the man has nothing to do with his personal sexual choices.

[Children] are being taught by the popular culture to disdain the leadership and advice of their own parents […]. We are now politicizing the sexual and moral education of children.

I read things like that and wonder whether the religious right creates such clouded thinking or if such clouded thinking leads people down the path to the religious right. Here, an attempt is made to play the victim card… it’s not the gays that are bullied. It’s the straight people who hate the gays. Then to say that a presidential appointment is akin to bullying? That shows a complete lack of understanding and empathy for the victims of bullying.

Again, there is the claim of not objecting to the man’s personal sexual choices… while showing exactly the opposite. The claim of “it’s all about the children” only goes so far to cover up the homophobia and disgust.

There’s so much more of this type of talk that went on in the discussion. It ranged pretty far off topic from the original appointment of Mr. Jennings, but tended to focus on sex. It’s funny how the religious right tends to focus so much of their attention and talk on sex while claiming that they don’t care what people do in their own bedrooms.

Mr. Froth and the others have gotten the notion in their heads that there is some “gay agenda” that is being forced into the public school curriculum which isn’t fair since “Christian values” cannot be taught there. It shows an astronomical amount of ignorance on their part. I suppose they think that gays are trying to recruit more people as gays.

The objections raised by Poster Alpha to the appointment of Mr. Jennings are petty and irrelevant. They all stem from a basic feeling of homophobia and a desire to keep children from knowing about “alternative lifestyles,” as if they might somehow become victims of a gay plot to rule the world.

With all the accolades and awards Mr. Jennings has achieved in his career, it seems to me that he’s a fine choice.

Fearmongering Bigotry?

I just got an email about a new commercial being aired by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) concerning a “storm” that’s brewing in this country. What is the storm? Same-sex marriage, of course. The commercial is just filled with nonsense, but attempts to convey a sense of dread about how same-sex marriage is taking over the country and taking away the rights of our citizens.

Some quotes:

“Some who advocate for same-sex marriage have taken the issue far beyond same-sex couples.”

“They want to bring the issue into my life.”

“My freedom will be taken away.”

“I’m a California doctor who must choose between my faith and my job.”

“I’m part of a New Jersey church group punished by the government because we can’t support same-sex marriage.”

“Those advocates want to change the way I live.”

It goes on, but then turns brighter by saying that a “rainbow coalition” (oh, the irony!) is “coming together in love to protect marriage.” Then it invites viewers to visit the website and join them (the bigotry there is even more prominent, enhanced by the vehement denials of bigotry).

At the bottom of the video, there’s s line of text stating “The stories these actors are telling are based on real incidents.” No detail is provided, however, so we don’t know what happened to the woman who says, “My freedom will be taken away” or how the New Jersey church group was “punished by the government.”

Regardless of each story’s details, the one common thread is that all of them are born of religion-based bigotry. Sadly, in a country where about a third of the people see evolution as false, it’s not all that surprising. Religious belief removes the motivation for scientific inquiry and curiousity in the same way that it accentuates and validates bigotry and intolerance. Any time a claim is made of “absolute truth,” you can be somewhat sure that “truth” is nowhere to be found. Any time a claim is made of “objective morality,” you can be somewhat sure that “morality” is the last thing you’ll find.

The same-sex marriage opponents are the worker bees of religious dogma. If the ancient holy book claims that same-sex marriage is wrong, then same-sex marriage must be the evil storm of Satan trying to overtake and destroy this nation “under God.” Oh… and no shellfish.

Maybe they’d better form a rainbow coalition.


Looking in the Mirror

The now (in)famous London bus ads which read “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” are about to work their way onto the Toronto Transit System in Canada. As with similar ads in other places, the ads are drawing kudos and complaints from interested parties.

One such complaint came to my attention today via an article on globeandmail.com. It seems that Dr. Charles McVety, president of the Canada Family Action Coalition and the Canada Christian College in Toronto, is claiming that the ads are “attack ads.”

This bit from the article is what really caught my attention (emphasis mine)…

“These ads are not saying what the atheists believe, they are attacking what other people believe,” [McVety] said. “And if you look at the dictionary definition for … bigot, that’s exactly what it is, to be intolerant of someone else’s belief system.”

First, I’d like to point out that the ads specifically do say what atheists believe… there’s probably no God. That’s pretty straightforward and unambiguous.

The major point, however, is McVety’s statement about bigotry. This man, who is complaining about an atheist statement by calling it an attack, whose group, the Canada Family Action Coalition, fought against the legalization of same-sex marriage,  and who is a “prominent evangelical leader” according to the article, has the audacity to accuse someone else of bigotry? His statement is a bald-faced example of classic hypocrisy.

Sadly, however, it’s not an uncommon example of hypocrisy. It’s all too common. Fundamentalists who make accusations of bigotry need to first look in the mirror before opening their mouths.

Christian Bashing?

From the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission comes this list of the top ten instances of Christian bashing in 2008.

Ebonmuse over at Daylight Atheism wrote a nice piece about the absurdity of the whole claim of Christians being persecuted. intelekshual hits on the topic with her (I think) customary acerbic wit.

Christian Oppression?The whole idea of Christians being some sort of persecuted minority is just absurd. The criticisms generally only come when Christians attempt to push their ideology and dogma onto the real minority groups. The blind arrogance of acting as if they are somehow the underdog, as if they have a lock on the “Truth,” as if they’re better than those with different beliefs, as if they deserve pity for withstanding so much persecution… it’s just incredible.

The CADC’s mission statement is this:

The mission of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission (CADC) is to advance religious liberty for Christians by protecting Christians from defamation, discrimination, and bigotry from any and all sources by means of education and selected legal services including litigation, inside the United States and internationally.

“…protecting Christians from defamation, discrimination, and bigotry…”

Who will protect the rest of us from their defamation, discrimination, and bigotry? That remains the much larger issue.