Posts Tagged Bible
When I first saw this I thought it was a freaking joke made up by someone with the worst sense of humor. That, or a piece of cartoon/anime porn. I mean she does look like she was fisting his ass. Outside of porn and S&M, how do you even come up with a scenario like that?
Turns out, this pile of garbled shit is the result of the fermented mind of a religious person to be found in the Old Testament of the glorious Bible, Deuteronomy 15: 11-12 to be exact.
“If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, 12 you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.”
I swear the Bible is the most hilarious work of fiction ever written.
May I remind our religious brethren that if anyone today came up with something like that as part of their religion, we would recommend they receive full psychological evaluation.
Seriously though, this isn’t divine anything, this is a cry for help.
There exists a narrative among some human rights activists, feminists and even progressives – in this country and elsewhere – that women wearing hijab in the from of burkas or any kind of other veiling in Muslim countries is a matter of cultural perspective and tradition that needs to be respected and is off limits to criticism.
This narrative, born out of a false sense of cultural relativism, insists that every woman who covers herself is doing so out of her own free will, is not forced to do so and in fact lives a life of happiness and contentedness under a welcoming and warm religion and men who do not at all view women as less than their equals.The wearing of the hijab and the practice of veiling are, therefore, seen as mere cultural differences and any such criticism of the hijab and the (patriarchal) culture that stands behind it, constructs it, perpetuates it and propagates it are seen as arrogant, western ethnocentric attempts at imposing one’s owns values onto others.
Frankly, that’s a load of crap.
No one is patronizing Muslim women with respect to the veils they have to wear as a direct result of the oppressive religion and patriarchy they live under. Being under the yoke of an oppressive religion and a stringent patriarchy that views women as second class human beings is a matter of cultural difference the same way slavery is.
A woman saying she enjoys wearing the hijab is like a slave saying he enjoys his shackles.
Muslim women who say they are ok with it and do not mind it don’t know any better and are speaking out of ignorance following a lifetime of socialization, manipulation and indoctrinated into believing that the oppressive patriarchy they live under is working in their favor and was just part of their culture.
It is not.
The hijab or any kind of other covering and veiling requested of women are not cultural artifacts or traditions that need to be respected and preserved any more than any kind of other act of oppression of and discrimination against women is.
They are tools and symbols of oppression and control of women that need to be exposed for what they are and abolished.
Body, Autonomy, Agency, Equality
The best and most effective way to control a woman is to control her sexualityand with it her body, thus stripping her off her autonomy and agency. A deeply dehumanizing act.
Controlling a woman’s body by policing what she wears and else does with it is treating said woman’s body and the woman herself like the property of her husband who then effectively just becomes her owner and proprietor.
It is a deeply misogynistic, not to mention offensive and invasive custom.
A man seems to be the extension of the state in such Islamic countries – as he does not respect a woman as an equal and thus as a self-governed, rights-bearing, autonomous individual human.
Subverting another human being’s agency is a very serious offense.
Hijab and veils in the form of burkas are symbols of oppression used to police women and their bodies to conform to norms established and created by men in a deeply patriarchal system.
Women do not cover themselves up because they want to. They cover themselves up because they have no other choice; because the patriarchy and the oppressive religion they live under dictates that they do.
Furthermore, the belief that policing women’s bodies and reproduction is acceptable and needs to be respected accordingly as part of someone’s culture is deeply problematic with rather dire consequences as the track record of how women are treated in such countries shows.That is nothing that deserves to be respected.
Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring, has, according to Human Rights Watch, “long [been] viewed as the most progressive Arab country with respect to women’s rights.”
The evidence does not support such an assertion unless one considers not stoning women to death, not making them marry their rapists or allowing them to have driver’s licences, progressive. Arab Spring my ass. Tunisia is apparently only considered “more progressive” vis a vis places like Afghanistan, Pakistan or Iran. Being a notch better than the worst of the worst does not make you a progressive.
Men and politicians in Islamic countries, and yes I am lumping them all together because this is one rare instance where there are no exceptions, want to limit choice and marginalize women so as to be able to better control them. Just because in Tunisia they don’t stone women to death and allow them to have an education past fifth grade does not make them pro women. If you set the bar pretty darn low, it is not hard to exceed it.
What all this ultimately boils down to is that there is nothing about how Islam views and treats women that serves a decent purpose, and certainly nothing that advances women’s agency or autonomy. Not even in Tunisia.
The Veil As A Symbol of Patriarchy and Oppression
It is dehumanizing and insulting to be a woman navigating in a society in which you are not, uncompromisingly, respected as a man’s equal. It is terrible to be the sister, mother, daughter, student, friend or coworker of people who treat you like second class human beings.
It is demeaning to be raised in a world in which everyone around you, including your own father and brothers and partner hold the view that you not deserve equal opportunity and equal access. People who believe that you deserve less respect, less dignity, less agency, less autonomy, less opportunity, less voice, less ownership of self, less of your humanity.
The truth is that women in Islamic countries have to cover themselves up because of men who wrote the Koran and dictate the moral code of the nation, with devastating consequences. These women have no choice, which is the ultimate form of control and oppressions.
Not being stoned to death, being allowed to attend school and even university or being allowed to walk around without a head cover once in a while is not being liberal and woman friendly. Those are nothing but token gestures by Islamic oppressive patriarchs who are not really respecting a woman’s agency and humanity and much less really believe in it. These men are just allowing women, no permitting them, to do such things based solely at their discretion.
A permission that can be revoked at any time as the patriarchy sees fit.
There is nothing autonomous, liberal and feminist about men permitting women to be free and navigate through society without shackles once in a while and only in places and spaces they are willing to let them navigate without the threat to bodily harm.
If women are to ever gain any kind of autonomy and are to rise from the oppressive patriarchy that has been and continues to enslave and oppress them - overtly and covertly – they, first and foremost need autonomy over their bodies. They need to be agents of themselves rather than the subjects of the patriarchy around them where they are at their mercy and discretion, only allowed to behave in ways they deem acceptable and appropriate.
This is a crucial, if not the most important step towards independence because nothing robs a person of their personhood and humanity than not being able to make decisions pertaining to their own body. It cannot be emphasized enough.
This is what Amina Tyler was symbolizing and protesting when she posed nude on her facebook pic, the words “Fuck your Morals” painted on her bare chest.
Amina Tyler and FEMEN
This March, a Tunisian woman named Amina Tyler posted two topless photos of herself on Facebook. In one, “Fuck Your Morals” is painted across her bare chest. In the other, she is wearing eyeliner and bright lipstick, scrawled down her chest in four lines are the Arabic words ”My body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone’s honor.”
Tyler founded a Tunisian chapter of the feminist group FEMEN in February after seeing photos of the group’s activists online. Based in Kiev, FEMEN counts over a hundred and fifty thousand active members and has become famous—to quote the organization’s Wikipedia page—for its “noticeably erotic rallies,” strictly topless, against groups and individuals it perceives as corrupt, including the sex industry, the Church, sharia courts, Vladimir Putin, and Silvio Berlusconi.
After Tyler’s photos went up, an Islamist activist hacked the Facebook page of FEMEN’s Tunisian branch, posting religious videos and verses. One divinely inspired message read “Thanks to God we have hacked this immoral page and the best is yet to come.” Another said, “The page has been hacked and God willing, this debauchery will disappear from Tunisia.” In the meantime, news agencies frantically reported that Tyler had been committed to a psychiatric hospital, that her parents had disowned her.
In late March, Tyler told Italian journalist Federica Tourn that she believed she would be beaten or raped if Tunisian police tracked her down. She claimed that “nothing they could do would be worse than what already happens here to women, the way women are forced to live every day. Ever since we are small they tell us to be calm, to behave well, to dress a certain way, everything to find a husband. We must also study to be able to marry, because young guys today want a woman who works.”
But women, she said, are ready for change: We “have reached the height of self-determination: we no longer obey any authority, neither family nor religious. We know what we want and we make our own decisions.”
Tyler has received numerous death threats and stated that she is afraid for her life and the lives of her family.
In Tyler’s honor, protesters declared last Thursday, April 4th, Topless Jihad Day. A petition in her defense had fifteen thousand signers, including outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins. In capital cities, university-aged women with crowns of orange and lilac flowers painted their torsos for solidarity: “Bare breasts against Islamism,” “No sharia,” “Free Amina.”
Muslim Women Against Freedom
As to be expected, there has been a barrage of protests and objections to FEMEN’s and Amina’s approach. Islamic cultural centers all around the world, even those that claim to be supposedly pro women’s rights, and Muslim women themselves have protested, calling FEMEN’s approach “highly counterproductive and detrimental to Muslim women across the world.” As one Muslim woman and so-called activist wearing hijab on her profile pic on the Huffington Post stated “their [FEMEN] tactics are a part of the ideological war that is going on between neo-colonial elements in the West and Islamic societies. Their aim is not to emancipate us from our presumed slavery, but instead reinforce Western imperialism and generate consent for the ongoing wars against Muslim countries.”
As Muslim Women Against Femen spokesperson Ayesha Latif told HP, she finds FEMEN’s approach “racist as well as evidence of colonial feminist rhetoric that portrays Arab/Muslim women as oppressed.” She added:
“It is incredibly inappropriate and offensive that they’re taking advantage of the stereotype that us Muslim women have to face in order to further their questionable cause.
The assumption they promote is that we are subjugated creatures controlled by men, who need to be liberated by a group of perfectly groomed white women posing nude and using shock tactics.
For them, the more you strip the more of a feminist you are – that’s Western feminist ideology. That’s not liberation for us, but that doesn’t make us anti-feminist.
We wonder how many Muslim women they have actually spoken to?”
Questionable cause? Presumed slavery? Being pro hijab does not make us make anti-feminist? Not Subjugated and controlled by men? Don’t need liberating?
Exactly what Planet are these women from? And how intellectually comatose at best and deeply manipulated at worst do you have to be to believe that wearing your shackles in the from of veiling does not make you anti feminist? Or a slave to your men and religion? Or controlled by men and unliberated?
Women like Latif are precisely the reason this movement and the work of FEMEN is so important as clearly the oppressed do not see themselves as oppressed.
It is also amazing to see that amidst the death and rape threats Amina received, among others from Tunisian imam Adel Almi, chair of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, who proclaimed that Tyler “deserves to be whipped or stoned to death”, the problem seems to be FEMEN, Amina’s bare breasts and Western feminists.
Instead of acknowledging their horrible situation and use this opportunity to bring attention to the cause of oppressed women in the Muslim world, all people like Latif vest their energy in is condemning efforts by FEMEN to give their cause a voice, publicity and direction.
After all, as we all know, Muslim women have such a great track record of protecting their freedoms and rights. They have the right no not talk to any men. The right to get beaten by their husbands and any male relative really. The right to not go to school and get an education. The right to be obedient and quiet. The right to let their bodies be treated like state property. You name it.
You know you have mastered the art of complete control when those you do control have come to believe it is not only in their own self interest but that in fact no control is taking place at all. Just take one look at North Korea and the true, fanatical devotion of North Koreans to their leader as example of believing the lies one is told.
Who knew that a pair of bare tits, which are completely natural and normal body parts used primarily to nurse a newborn, and something so fundamental such as demanding autonomy over one’s own body, refusing to be subjugated and passed around like state and male property, demanding equal opportunity, equal access, respect, dignity, agency, a voice, ownership of self and thus more of one’s humanity could threaten self righteous, god loving and god fearing and supposedly moral people and their minions such as Latif to feel so threatened that they have to issue death threats.
Sometimes you have to engage in a radical, symbolic act to force the issue. And I am not talking anything violent but radical enough to rock the boat. Thirty of foorty years ago something like that would have been unheard of. But today people aren’t shocked.
Amina was making a statement. And given how autonomy over one’s body is the number one tool of oppression in Muslim countries, it is understandable why she chose to expose her breasts.
Making a woman wear hijab and cover herself up – at the request of a man, under the threat of violence if disobeyed - in ugly, shapeless wear that obliterates her femininity by, literally, covering up every inch of her womanhood in cloth is as oppressive and disrespectful and as quashing to autonomy and agency it can get.
The hijab tells a woman that not only is she not given a voice in the political and professional sphere but that her entire womanhood, including her body parts, are under the control of a man who ultimately seems to be serving as the proxy for the institutionalized oppression of women by the state and its religion, Islam.
It is the ultimate oppressive act, robbing a woman of her autonomy, agency, and the ability to consent dictating that women cannot and should not be their own best decision-makers, their own best advocates, and their own best protectors.
If you aren’t even allowed to wear what you want, how can you expect that you will ever be granted anything else? Such as equality?
Therefore, women’s liberation in the muslim world, much like any kind of other liberation, is not going to happen only through diplomacy and negotiations. Diplomacy only works with reasonable people who are willing and ready to have a discussion with you as their equals. Entities who are interested in engaging in good faith discourse to amend their ways and get rid of systematic, institutionalized misogyny. There can be no discussion had with entities, in this case men, whose response to your protests against subjugation is that you be stoned and raped. You don’t negotiate with Sith.
You Do Not Free Yourself From the Shackles of Oppression by Nicely Asking For It
It didn’t work when this country was founded and our ancestors fought the Revolutionary war. It did not work when the French Revolution took place. And it did not work during segregation. Some uprising, albeit peaceful, is needed.
Women in the West had to fight tooth and nail for their freedoms and rights (and we are still lagging in many ways). Burning of bras anyone? Protests? Marches? It happened in act of defiance, not by nicely asking for it.
The male leaders of Muslim nations are neither interested in nor do they care to sit down and have discussions on how to treat women as fully autonomous, right-bearing, equal human beings. They don’t believe that women are their equals. If such men were to ever grant them any freedoms it will be at their discretion and on their terms and only in the form of something like “you can get an education” or “you may get a driver’s license.” It will not be real equality. Not as long as Muslim women act like fucking minions unwilling and unable to stand up and fight back.
Amina is a symbol for standing up to religious oppression and the patriarchy that informs it and I stand in solidarity with her when I say, Fuck Your Morals. There is nothing moral about oppressing women and stripping them of their humanity and dignity.
A look at history shows us that none of the Christmas traditions observed have anything, whatsoever, to do with Jesus or Christianity.
In fact, Bible forbids the decoration of trees (see Jeremiah 10). That is the case because around the time the old testament was written, people knew that some cultures and traditions already did worship trees and vegetation and decorated them as part of their religious rituals.
Centuries before the Christ was allegedly born, many cultures - in response to the changes in the natural world such as the changing of the seasons – brought evergreen trees into their homes for decoration in the month of December to celebrate the beginning of winter.
Much like the celebration of All Hallows’ Eve, or Halloween, originally influenced by western European harvest festivals and festivals of the dead with possible pagan roots, particularly the Celtic Samhain. The original spelling of the Celtic festival of Samhain was Samuin. Samuin was the name of the festival historically kept by the Gaels and celts in the British Isles and the name itself is derived from Old Irish and means roughly “summer’s end”. It marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the ‘darker half’ of the year. This was a time for stock-taking and preparing for the cold winter ahead; cattle were brought back down from the summer pastures and livestock were slaughtered. In much of the Gaelic world, bonfires were lit and there were rituals involving them.
Samhain was seen as a time when the ‘door’ to the Otherworld opened enough for the souls of the dead, and other beings such as fairies, to come into our world. The souls of the dead were said to revisit their homes on Samhain. Feasts were had, at which the souls of dead kin were beckoned to attend and a place set at the table for them. However, harmful spirits and fairies were also thought to be active at Samhain. People took steps to allay or ward-off these harmful spirits/fairies, which is thought to have influenced today’s Halloween customs, such as placing fire inside a Pumpkin or originally turnips to thwart off those bad spirits.
I have always found the connection and fusion of the natural and human world and the integration of the former into human customs and traditions very fascinating. In response to the movement and rotation of the Earth in relation to the sun and with it the creation of the seasons – from the fruit full, warm and long days of the spring and summer months to the dead, frigid cold and dark season of the winter – a myriad of traditions and practices have developed, especially when it comes to observing the changes of the seasons. All Hallows Eve, a festival to bid farewell to the light part of the year in order to welcome the dark is one example of such pagan tradition and why we celebrate Halloween.
The other is Christmas.
Evergreens were used in ancient pagan celebration of the Winter solstice as a reminder of the green plants that would return with the resurgence of the sun god. The practice continued in various forms throughout the ages.
The ancient Egyptians honored their son god Ra with palm leaves and evergreens.
The early Romans decorated their homes and temples with evergreen as part of the Saturnalia festival – the festival of Saturn, the god of agriculture.
The Vikings of Scandinavia believed that evergreens were the special plant of their god Baldur and they burned yule logs in feast until the last amber burned out.
The actual Christian tradition involving Christmas trees appeared in Germany in the 16th century while Christmas trees were seen as pagan symbols throughout the US until the 1840s.
The Winter solstice accounts for the selection of Christmas day as December 25th. People noticed that in late December the days became noticeably shorter and the sun ceased its movement to the south. So the Winter solstice was celebrated for the birth of the sun. The US did not even make Christmas day a national Holiday until June 26, 1870.
The exchanges of gifts is also pagan in origin stemming back to the festival of Saturnalia and originally banned for that reason by the catholic church in the middle ages.
Christmas carols trace back to the middle ages as well, however, not as religious songs, but as common folk songs sung during harvest festivals. They were only later integrated into worship by religious figures like Martin Luther.
The mistletoe is a happy Christmas tradition but few consider that the mistletoe was once considered a mysterious and magical plant by the Druids and the Greeks and the pagan symbol of life and fertility. In Scandinavia mistletoe was considered the plant of peace under which enemies could declare a truce.
Christianity Has Nothing To Do With it
When Christianity began being forced on people and took over other religious and spiritual beliefs, especially the pagan traditions of above, those traditions were often preserved and carried over but now they were celebrated in the name of the new God, Jesus Christ. In a way Christians fused the old pagan traditions with Christianity, with the “desired” effect of getting more converts that way. That they picked Christmas to fulfill their religiosity and not All Hallow’s Eve is completely arbitrary as both are pagan traditions celebrating the transition of the seasons.
I’m a fan of Christmas. I enjoy time with family and friends, time off work, the light display, decorating, the sounds and smells of the season, snowmen, toy stores and Christmas markets. However, I celebrate the season understanding that none of it is related to Jesus Christ or Christianity and that the customs found in Christmas are strongly rooted in pagan folklore and traditions, which, in turn, find their origins in the natural world around us – celestial bodies and the position of the planets and with them the resulting seasons, summer and winter, life and death.
If you think about the importance of Solstice for our ancestors who lived without the convenience of electricity, gas heat and stored food, Solstice would have been the first light at the end of the tunnel during the cold half of the year. That’s what it is really about. All the religiosity around it is 100% and completely man made, much like religion itself.
It is also sad, in a way, to see people turn generous, loving and giving for around one month of the year, just so they can go back and behave in the same greedy, self serving, assholish ways for the rest of the year lobbying for the poor to get less benefits and showing up at rallies for universal health care with guns seriously holding the view that if you do not have access to health care services and thus cannot pay for them, you deserve to get sick and subsequently die. The thing is, if you are a Christian, Christmas should be everyday, not just one day a year because let me remind all those pious people of what their very own savior, in the very book they believe to be the truth once said “whatever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me” (Matthew 25:40)
Given the history of Christmas and the facts surrounding its existence, it feels almost surreal to me that anyone would draw a connection between the two and decidedly make Christmas a Christian holiday with all the Christian symbols and talk thrown in, including that charlatan the Pope. When people then get upset that there is a war on Christmas and thus indirectly on Christianity, the surrealism and absurdity of it all takes on a whole new level. Much as it is the case with all religion, it is as if these people created a hell of their own making and now whine that they are being persecuted.
In other words, much like their religion, the notion that Christmas is about Christianity is all in the head of religious people who set all these artificial rules around it and then complain they are not being adhered to by everyone and even whine that they are being allegedly persecuted for insisting that Christmas is about Christianity and Jesus, instead of a pagan holiday that has been co-opted by religious nut jobs to get more converts and thus push their nonsensical, religious agenda.
The fuckery of religious people, much like stupidity, has no bounds. Aside from the majority of the general population – that I frankly don’t really expect much out of – now also politicians, entertainers and even washed up celebrities have fallen for the Dark Side (religion and all the liabilities thereof) and they continue interjecting the darkness onto all aspects of everyone’s life, falsely calling their perpetuation of bigotry and hatred, ”freedom of speech” and “freedom to religion.”
The latest example of public figure bigotry (for today that is. New, famous bigots seem to pop up every other day), is Kirk Cameron – former child star and teen heartthrob of the popular TV sitcom Growing Pains, evangelical nut job extraordinaire and current washed up celebrity tool for bigotry with nothing worthwhile to his name for the past decade but religiously themed movies and advocating far-right Christian evangelical causes.
A couple of years ago, he distributed 50,000 copies of an altered version of Darwin’s On the Origins of Species at dozens of U.S. universities to convince students that what they really need in life is not knowledge and facts, but myth, fairy tales and bigotry. His altered version contained an introduction explaining ”Adolf Hitler’s undeniable connection” to the theory of evolution, and highlighting “Darwin’s racism” and “his disdain for women.” Cameron’s edition also exposes the “many hoaxes” of evolutionary theory, while presenting a “balanced view of Creationism.”
A couple of weeks ago, he stepped into a firestorm of controversy when he appeared on Pierce Morgan explaining that he believes that homosexuality is “unnatural” and “ultimately destructive.” He said: “I think that it’s detrimental, and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization.”
On the issue of marriage equality Cameron remarked, “Marriage was defined by God a long time ago. Marriage is almost as old as dirt, and it was defined in the garden between Adam and Eve — one man, one woman for life till death do you part. So I would never attempt to try to redefine marriage. And I don’t think anyone else should either. So do I support the idea of gay marriage? No, I don’t.“
After his deluge of unfounded insults and bigotry, Cameron actually had the nerve to complain about how unfair it is all to him actually, since he doesn’t get to just freely express his “opinion” anymore and gets judged for them and how religion is so much under attack, making it really hard for him and the rest of the Evangelicals to express their bigotry and ignorance unhindered. He was complaining that liberals and atheists (the religious Rights’ favorite fall guys acting on behalf of Satan apparently) were trying to restrict religious freedom and were interfering in peoples’ lives and their right to religion.
Yes, dear readers, there is nothing like an unembarrassed hypocrite from the Right. It is certainly hilarious (I am hemorrhaging on the inside) that he should criticize Darwin for his alleged “disdain for women” when it has been Evangelical Christians like Cameron that have been debasing and degrading women for centuries and continue to do so even in the year 2012; the Blunt Amendment, which would let employers opt out of a new federal health-care mandate for their employees if they have religious objections and the Abortion Ultrasound Bill, which requires women to undergo a medically unnecessary and invasive transvaginal ultrasound before having an abortion and which was signed into law in Virginia on March 7, 2012, are the latest examples of the kind of respect and esteem religious people have for women.
But it hasn’t all just started this year. Last year alone, more than 1100 reproductive health restrictions were introduced in all 50 states. Restrictions to abortion rights skyrocketed to record levels in 2011, nine states reduced funding for family planning, Texas reduced its reproductive health budget by 66%, six states passed restrictions on family planning funds and New Hampshire prevented planned parenthood from recieving Tittle X funds. (Source: Think Prgoress). All these laws are solely and exclusive based on religious grounds.
So you understand that I find it both laughable and insincere for Cameron and religious people everywhere to complain that government interferes with them and tells them how to conduct their lives.
But the buck doesn’t stop there. Religion is permeating and infesting public life and policy on all levels. Ohio Exit Polls from the last GOP candidate election revealed that for over 80% of Republican voters in Ohio it matters that a candidate shares their religious beliefs. These voters are in stark agreement with the Taliban on this one.
And make no mistake about it: all candidates – in both parties – have been constantly trafficking in religious pandering. Even President Obama, who is a smart man, said, – with a straight face – that “I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins and that I am redeemed through him.”
He is a better actor than I thought if he is able to say something so stupid and truly outlandish with a dead pan expression. It is like saying “I believe that the pink elephant circling the orbit died for my sins and I am going to make public policy decisions based on said pink elephant in orbit.”
I don’t think people understand the extent to which such answers are utterly scandalous and detrimental for this country. That only 18 percent of Republican voters in Ohio say that they cast their votes without any religious prejudice at all is frightening. And the fact that no one seems to see that is even more disturbing.
The media are only interested in which candidates these people vote for, but there is no headline saying that religious bigtory is rampant among Ohio voters, which is what the real cause of contention should be. Why? Because the media, just as the majority of the general population, consider it perfectly acceptable, and a given, for presidential candidates to have to discuss their religious beliefs when campaigning and answering questions about government.
“I don’t see how we can have a separation of church and state in this government if you have to pass a religious test to get in this government. And I want to warn everyone in the press and all the voters out there if you demand expressions of religious faith from politicians, you are just begging to be lied to. They won’t all lie to you but a lot of them will. And it will be the easiest lie they ever had to tell to get your votes. So, every day until the end of this campaign, I’ll answer any question anyone has on government, But if you have a question on religion, please go to church.”
Bigotry Trying to Pass as Freedom of Speech
I must say that in way, it pains me to see Kirk Cameron, one of my teen celebrity crushes from back in the day, having fallen so deeply and so irreversibly into the claws of religious bigotry and with it hatred and the complete annihilation of common sense and intelligent thought. What’s worse, he thinks that there is no problem with what he is doing and saying because, after all, we live in America, which bigots seem to have mistaken for carte blanche to spread any amount of unfounded bullshit and hate speech they want against any group.
When Cameron stands up there, on TV, saying that he believes homosexuality is destructive to society, the kind of message he sends is very clear. This is no longer about him expressing his views on an issue, this is him instigating violence and hatred and it is irresponsible to do so in a time where teens who try to come out, are being bullied and harassed and driven to suicide in some cases.
Words have consequences and the word of people in the public sphere have even bigger consequences, because a lot of people hear them. Cameron’s instigation of hatred, which he and everyone defending him is trying to brush under the carpet as just harmless expressions of opinion, has very real life consequences, ultimately rendering him an irresponsible person.
I am tired of this country having fallen into a stupor of anti scientific ideologies and anti intellectual mentalities under the guise of fair play and equality. Religious people, and religious people alone, are solely responsbile for the decline in education and knowledge. Rick Santorum, who is a potential presidential candidate, homeschools his children out of fear that the outside world might actually teach them reality and facts instead of the fairy tales and made up crap he and his pious doormat of a wife teach them. He fears knowledge and ideas that emerge in a college setting so much that he is, literally, holding his children hostage at home, depriving them from access to it, because any idea that does not conform to the narrow lens with which he views the world is considered dangerous.
Religion is the Poison of the Mind, the Killer of Innovation and Philosophical Suicide
While I strongly believe in the “live and let live” mantra and that everyone is entitled to believe in whatever they want to believe in (Jesus, Mohammed, Santa Clause, the Eatser Bunny), I feel that I can no longer just sit by idly and politely nod, thus giving credence to the misinformation, ignorance, and lies of religious people and their followers, because there is an inherent and palpable danger in doing that.
There is nothing honorable and polite in giving credence to insanity. If my actions allow for the truth to be suppressed and for fallacies to take its place and influence everyone else’s life, then my actions in that regard need to change, which means speaking up against religion.
Kirk Cameron believes in things that a fifth grader’s textbook could disprove. He is dangerous because his faith is not just confined to his personal realm, but it is infesting society. He is advocating it on TV, in schools and he is judging others based on his skewed beliefs. He believes that facts and knowledge are secondary, if not irrelevant, to god and the fairy tales spewed in the Bible.
When a child makes up an invisible friend, we smile and think it is really cute. But when an adult does pretty much the same thing, we call it faith and elevate that fictional person in their mind to some kind of authority figure; the divine.
Subsequently, the person with said holy invisible friend in fairy tale land wants everyone else to conduct their lives according to this fictional reality they have created, no matter how detrimental, and any opposition or criticism is called foul play and infringement upon their right to religion.
And as long as us intellectuals, us logical and intelligent people, remain pushovers, people like Cameron (and Santorum, Gingrich, Romney and the other 250 million living in this country) will continue the infestation and contamination of the public sphere with their backwards, unfounded, bigoted religious beliefs.
Out of fear to be branded intolerant, religious people have been given far too much leeway to continue spreading ignorance, bigotry, anti-intellectualism and misogyny.
Alas I would rather be a logical beast than an uneducated sheep, because there is nothing glorious or heroic or even admirable in giving credence to the kind of thinking that has ultimately proven detrimental for society.
The hatred and vile diatribes lodged against women, homosexuals, transgendered people, atheists, liberals and evolutionists is mortifying. And neither Rush Limbaugh, Kirk Cameron, Rick Santorum, or anyone really, has a right to use their words to incite their cult-like followers to act out against others whom they happen to disapprove of and/or disagree with because their views don’t conform to their religious views.
The First Amendment
The First Amendment separates church from state, explicitly saying that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
Being anti abortion and making it into law is respecting an establishment of religion.
Saying that gay people are sick abominations and should not get married because marriage is defined as between a man and a woman according to god, is respecting an establishment of religion.
Demanding that stem cell research be defunded because using microscopic cells of an embryo in the fridge is murder and against god’s plan is respecting an establishment of religion.
Santorum demanding that people only have sex for procreation and ought not to use contraceptives because it goes against god’s plan, is a law respecting an establishment of religion.
Demanding that they teach Creationism and Intelligent design in schools to make religious people feel better is respecting an establishment of religion.
Wanting school prayer is respecting an establishment of religion.
Degrading a woman into being transvaginally probed to shame her into carrying a pregnancy they don’t want to term because aborting such pregnancy goes against your religious beliefs, is respecting an establishment of religion.
Free speech does not apply to this. Religious people are, per the First Amendment, free to exercise their faith without government persecution but they are not free to make laws or establish policy that incorporates and respects their faith.
Why the fuck do religious and non religious people alike not understand that and call demands for them to stop infesting public policy and government as infringing upon their freedom to religion.
It is like the King of France saying that the demands of his subjects for equity constitute an infringement upon his rights to oppress them.
Religious people have set into motion a plan and worldview which is a slap in the face to the enlightened and reason and they keep getting away with it by pulling the “right to religion” card – which they completely misinterpreted and misrepresented as shown above. For far too long, religious people have put us intellectuals and rational people, the atheists, on the defense where we have to, time and again, guard against and explain ourselves to these delusional fools.
It was about time, however, that they started defending their unfounded stance, their delusions, their fairy tales, their bigotry. No one should have to sit by idly and politely nod when these people take humanity down a dangerous path.
Kirk Cameron is a delusional, severely ignorant fool who is so blinded by his faith that he doesn’t even recognize how detrimental his actions and words are. He seriously considers calling an entrie segment of society destructive as his inalienable right and in a very un-christlike manner, his message is not, as he have us believe, of love, but of hatred. This is not the kind of mindsets we should embrace and condone for the sake of politeness.
As Mark Twain said “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
A Dallas minister and the members of his religious community were outraged this past week about the national organization of African Americans for Humanism‘s plans to display an atheist message on a prominent billboard in Dallas, Texas. The billboard was proposed by the organization as part of their country-wide Black History Month campaign aimed at encouraging African Americans to look critically at their faith, according to KDAF TV. This, of course, resulted in a deluge of protests by community members who feel threatened by such “ungodly” messages that “[support] gays and lesbians” and else apparently constitute a threat to society and - according to one of the hate emails sent to the organization – “screw up lives”.
The World Through the Eyes of Religious Nut Jobs
I find Pastor Kyev Tatum, who is the head of the Fort Worth chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference who also calls himself ”God’s appointed leader” and who is one of the entities outraged by these ads, and his response quite symptomatic of the disease that is plaguing this nation in particular and the world in general: religion. He said: ”It’s a sad indictment on the state of affairs for us as a community. We got major issues going on within our community that we need to address, and this is an unnecessary debate.” He pointed to things like high incarceration and high teenage pregnancy rates in the black community, issues “that we could be working on that are more critical.” He went on to say that ”When you rely on freethinking, [<--- I really love that] “and you rely on your own individualism to make your decisions, you oftentimes make unrealistic and irrational decisions. It’s irrational, in my thought process, for them to put those kinds of signs up,” when they could be focusing on more pressing social problems.
He has a thought process? Doesn’t look like there is much going on up there.
I must say it is also quite amusing hearing someone like him, who essentially believes in the talking snake, a man walking on water and coming back from the dead, criticize anyone for irrationality. The fact that most people, including his deluded constituents, don’t get that, is disturbing.
Furthermore, what Pastor Tatum doesn’t realize in his deluded wisdom, just like most religious people I guess, is that those problems he recites, such as teen pregnancy, are a problem because of religion and the actions the church endorses. The Planned Parenthood and contraception debates of late are just two examples to the point. In fact, if it wasn’t for religion these teens would get actual, fact-based sex education instead of being taught abstinence, which we all know doesn’t work. It. Just. Does. Not.
Not only does it not work but by not teaching about contraceptives, such a policy often results in teens coming back with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HPV – which can lead to cervical cancer – as well as the very unwanted pregnancies Pastor Tatum complains about.
So, for this man to step out and quite ignorantly state that religion was the cure for the disease it and people like him create is not only ridiculous but, jokes aside, supremely ignorant.
That he finds “freethinking” a problem doesn’t surprise me at all. Religion is anti-intellectualism and independent thought that allows you to discover facts and learn about new ideas are abhorred. But it is always stunning to actually hear someone spew this much unfounded crap in one go. “How dare you do some thinking of your own instead of relying on fairy tales, anecdotes and hocus pocus essentially to guide your decisions“.
Let me just say that if god appoints someone like him as a leader, I am not sure if I would wanna have much faith in that god.
When Religion Becomes Part of the Problem
Reverend Tatum and his kind are part of the problem. This man is essentially endorsing and encouraging ignorance and has turned intellectual curiosity into a liability rather than a strength and an asset.
It also makes you wonder whether these “religious” folks are actually grounded in their beliefs much given how threatened they feel by some words on a sign. In fact, it often seems like religious folks try to convince themselves more than anybody else that they are right and their way the only way.
It is also ironic to see these nut jobs fear that their right to religious freedom is threatened in any shape by these billboards when it is in fact their faith that has been infesting the public sphere and with it public policy for centuries, making everyone’s life miserable. Attacks on Planned Parenthood, women’s reproductive rights in general, defunding stem cell research, prayer in schools, teaching intelligent design, abstinence and a myriad other public policies as a direct result of religious doctrine represent just some of the few issues that us non-religious folks have to endure at the hands of the religious Right or religion, period.
Insecure, evangelical Christians also seem to need constant visual and verbal reminders and validations. After all, that is why we have ”God” on our money and in our pledge and in our schools and public buildings.
It all somehow feels like they are hanging on by a thread, like children trying to keep believing in Santa Clause out of fear that they won’t get presents otherwise.
The same Constitution that guarantees these Churches the right to practice their faiths freely, also guarantees the right of atheists and non-believers to display that Atheist billboard.
The Best Way to Become an Atheist is to Read the Bible
Someone once said that “the best way to become an atheist is to just read the Bible” cover to cover. And it is true. The thing people don’t realize is that atheism, science, evolution or liberals are not the things that give religion a bad name: religious people and religion give religion a bad name.
Studies have shown that people who turn away from religion don’t do so because of atheism or evolution taught in schools, but because at some point they just get fed up with all the backwards, narrow minded crap they read in holy books and their applications in life. They are so appalled by the bigotry, hypocrisy and narrow mindedness of religion and its followers that they turn away. As one reader once wrote me:
“I turned away from religion because I got tired of all the prohibitions and self-censorship involved: don’t think this, don’t read that, don’t go here, don’t talk to those people, etc.
It was like trying to look at the world through just one tiny, limited, mono-colored lens. I knew the world was bigger, more beautiful, more interesting, more dangerous, more ugly and more complex than this little lens would let me see. I just couldn’t sustain the pretense anymore.
It was not until I was much older that I began to really see the dark side of religion and be glad that I left it behind.”
Should We Respect Other Views?
One of the things I often hear from religious people who don’t take kindly to being criticized about their faith is that one should respect other peoples’ faith, as if both views were equally valid and it just so happens that one person believes in Jesus and god while another doesn’t. Or as if this was a matter of taste, like preferring chocolate flavored ice cream over strawberry flavored one, or blonde hair over brown. The difference of course is that preferring one flavor over another doesn’t generally result in detrimental consequences for those who prefer the other flavor.
No one in their right mind should ever have to respect anyone’s fairy tales and backwards beliefs, however, as fact. Especially if those fairy tales and the beliefs that inform them have serious detrimental consequences for society and everyone living in it. And I am not even talking ancient history, such as the Crusades and witch burning. I am talking United States in the twenty-first century. Imagine how many lives could have been saved, for example, if our idiots-in-chief George W. Bush and Reagan before him hadn’t defunded stem cell research based on their….yes, religious beliefs.
Religious people also say that one cannot generalize from a small group of what they call “fanatics” or “extremists” to all religious people. As if their kind of religiosity was rational and made sense as opposed to the “zealots.”
But the truth is that if you are religious there is no grey area: you are automatically disqualified as a rational human being whose views on the subject ought to be respected. I don’t have to respect or accept your faith, I merely tolerate it and that only as long as it does not infringe upon my rights. But alas it does, so I judge you and dismiss you because frankly there is no acceptable level for irrationality, ignorance and bigotry.
Religious people are all insane – there is no difference between the “extremes” and moderates.
Everything about religion is extreme. If you believe in a man walking on water or Noah’s arc and that a woman was made by taking the osteopathic tissue of a man, not to mention the pile of unfounded crap to be found in religious scripture that just reek of bigotry, racism and misogyny, you are fucking insane and that is a non-negotiable. I don’t have to tolerate people believing in fairy tales and bigotry and then imposing it on others and this bad habit of being forced to give credence to peoples’ fantasies that have very real life consequences for the rest of us, is not something to be proud of strive for. It is stupid.
Preaching the Gospel of “I Don’t Know”
Only a fool claims to have all the answers. Religious people are fools.
Atheism is not a “religion” or“faith”; in fact, atheism is irreligion. It simply means that one does not believe in god any more than in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Pink Elephants, Bigfoot or the Healing Power of Crystals. There is no difference in believing in Jesus or in Santa Clause, only that we have been conditioned to believe the former to be true and the latter just a fairy tale. A child born to Catholic parents will grow up Catholic, while that same child, if raised by a Muslim family, would grow up being a Muslim.
Do non-believers have all the answers? No, but that doesn’t mean that the Bible, Koran or Torah are the truth. We may not be able to “prove” that god does not exist, but we don’t need to. The burden of proof is not on the skeptic. It is like saying, ‘there is a pink elephant in the room and if you cannot prove it, then it means it is real.”
The fact that one does not currently know what came before us, if anything, or before the Big Bang or how all the details of evolution work does not mean that one “must” believe in god or Jesus or Mohammed. I, for one, am perfectly willing to accept that I do not know everything and that some things are yet to be discovered by human kind.