Posts Tagged prayer
“The mixing of government and religion can be a threat to free government, even if no one is forced to participate…. When the government puts its imprimatur on a particular religion, it conveys a message of exclusion to all those who do not adhere to the favored beliefs. A government cannot be premised on the belief that all persons are created equal when it asserts that God prefers some.”
— Harry Andrew Blackmun, U.S. Supreme Court Justice, majority opinion in Lee v. Weisman, 1992
On this Easter, as you address the world and the people
sheep who have flocked around you to listen to your hopeful phony messages about love, peace and understanding – concepts you merely like to talk about it seems in lofty attire while releasing doves into the sky but which, given your Church’s track record even as we speak, you have no intention of actually ever backing with real, meaningful actions, let me, as an atheist whom you graciously say is not a monster after all, tell you a few things.
Now, I am not inclined at this moment to go into a whole discussion about the absurdity of religion and, in particular, of your particular brand of faith that prompts you to “pray” for peace every year and every year we don’t get this peace you, as a especially pious man, have been lobbying for, but I will tell you that Easter is a Pagan tradition that has hardly anything to do with Jesus.
Easter eggs and bunnies and the Spring equinox have as much to do with Christ as Christmas trees, mistletoe and the fall equinox and winter solstice. In fact, there is really nothing Christian or Biblical about forty days of Lent, decorated trees in your homes, engraved images and symbols of Ba’al and Ishtar, the sun Gods, the use of Evergreen and mistletoe, the latter of which Pagan priests (Druids) used to conjure black magic in love potions, “sunrise services”, Santa Clause, decorated eggs, rabbits, hot cross buns and the Easter ham symbolizing and worshiping the Goddess Ēostre.
These things, however, have everything to do with the ancient pagan traditions of Babylon and Mesopotamia. Engaging in such activities makes professing Christians nothing but idolaters, but I guess you know that being the head of the Church. Woops.
Secondly, since you are talking about peace and its importance and how to achieve it, let this lowly atheist enlighten you on the fact that you do not achieve peace by talking about it, but by identifying what the impediments to it are and addressing the challenges that stand in the way of peace, accordingly.
In the larger sense, you achieve peace by recognizing the inherent dignity in all of us; by creating bonds of friendship and bridges of cooperation among people regardless of their identities and inherent attributes.
You achieve peace by respecting and acknowledging an individual’s personhood and inherent value as a rights-bearing, autonomous human being whose agency as a human being should be respected and upheld.
You achieve peace by inspiring those who follow you to respect and acknowledge an individual’s personhood and inherent value as a rights-bearing, autonomous human being deserving of the same rights as everyone else.
You achieve peace by empowering women – which entails recognizing them as fully equal human beings who have the right to maintain control over their bodies and reproduction; as people with their own agency and a right to self-governance because viewing and treating women as second class human beings who ought to have no control and agency over their own bodies according to the finest tradition of your oppressive , bigoted, misogynistic Church and its practices for hundreds of years, is precisely the reason why women are not empowered.
And make no mistake about it: empowerment of women has everything to do with both peace and economic stability and is, in fact, an integral part of it. By taking a profoundly anti-choice stance, you marginalize women and disempower them, which leads to the very poverty you want to see end.
You create peace by spending some of your tax exempt riches on the under-privileged and poor in society; on educating the ignorant; on giving opportunities to those less fortunate; on giving a voice to the weak, defenseless and exploited by creating communities of support, trust and tolerance where each individual’s autonomy and agency are respected and upheld, instead of spending that money on hate campaigns to insure that gays and lesbians do not get to marry or on political campaigns aimed at controlling what women can do with their bodies.
Sadly, none of that is happening in the Catholic church which still argues that women should not have employment equality; that they should not have access to contraception and abortion; that gay/bi people should not be allowed to marry (which, in the US, denies lots of same-sex partnered people crucial access to partners’ employee-sponsored healthcare, which is a major financial issue); etc.
Colluding with the police to cover up the sex crimes of your priests and blaming allegedly gay priests for the massive cases of pedophilia in your church – thus equating homosexuality with pedophilia – does not constitute having done the most you can for victims of childhood abuse as you claim, nor does it constitute “transparency and responsibility” on your part as you also like to claim.
condescend to touch a man disfigured by facial tumors as a result of his neurofibromatosis, the church crafts your image as the benevolent leader and compassionate man who does not shy away from touching a man afflicted with a disfiguring disease, even though not treating someone with a disease or disfigurement like a monster is the most basic sort of human decency, not particularly warranting special accolades, especially not for a man of the cloth who claims to be all about love, acceptance and divine compassion.
Calling transgendered people demonic – is cruel, harmful, dangerous and indecent, not to mention explicitly dehumanizing. It is, per the Church’s own position on demons, eliminationist. It is not a recipe for peace.
As long as you marginalize members of the queer community, as long as you uphold discrimination against women, as long as you value fetuses more than the people carrying them by ordering Catholic hospitals to refuse to give life-saving abortions, or refuse to dispense emergency contraception to rape victims; as long as you refuse to allow unmarried same-sex partners to visit one another in the hospital, and as long as you spend millions of your organization’s tax exempt money on hate, then you are, frankly, nothing but a dirtbag – no matter how many speeches you hold fellating the idea of peace in velvet tones neatly wrapped in false humility and empathy.
When you manifestly refuse to advance a complex deconstruction of the reasons for poverty, such as empowering women, it is mendacious to argue that you are saying bold and challenging things and are a purveyor of peace.
Peace is not achieved by treating some people in society – such as women, gays, lesbians and transgendered individuals – as less than, ultimately dehumanizing them in the process and depriving them of their rights and privileges – as if they were yours to give in the first place. Helping these individuals to be given the same kind of access, rights and opportunities as everyone else, however, are the things that will empower people and promote peace.
Peace is not achieved through heart-warming speeches, lofty metaphors and, most of all, prayer. Peace requires a lot of hard work and hard decisions, including the elimination of bigotry and “othering” and all the other myriad of things the Chruch does that are diametrically opposed to the concept of peace and are right-out harmful.
Peace requires humility and thus examining and then eliminating the very things that stand in its way.
That Progressives remain fascinated with you is mystifying as it is beyond the soft bigotry of low expectations. It is an epic failure on their part to truly recognize the evil behind your organization’s seemingly loving, all-inclusive facade.
Are you against regulation? Do you hate the EPA? Do you think in case of a national disaster, such as chemical spills or hurricane Katrina, the first entities arriving at the scene are Mitt Romney, Bain Capital, General Electric and other Fortune 500 companies? Do you think the government and its regulatory agencies holding corporations that handle your food, air and water, accountable was some kind of a conspiracy by a socialist Kenyan to take away your god-given freedoms and a ploy to destroy your American way of life?
That’s ok, because you have a lot in common with Freedom Industries and the citizens of West Virginia – a chronically Red state whose residents have been voting against their own self interest so much, they deserve the Darwin Awards if you ask me.
Last month, a storage tank leaked 10,000 gallons of a chemical used to wash coal into the Elk River, about a mile upstream from the intake for West Virginia American Water, the largest water utility in the state, leaving over 300,000 residents without access to safe drinking water. As a result of the spill, emergency rooms treated hundreds of patients for symptoms related to chemical exposure and numerous people were admitted with acute symptoms and who knows how many people have been exposed to levels that will show effects over time.
In a second spill later in February, more than 100,000 gallons of waste from a coal processing facility leaked into a tributary of West Virginia’s Kanawha River, blackening six miles of Fields Creek.
West Virginia is the prime example of what happens when you put corporations, who are paying off politicians, in charge while keeping regulators out and neuter the few remaining ones to a degree that they may as well not be there.
Lack of regulation in a state where coal and chemical companies form the heart of the economy ultimately allowed for a chemical storage facility to sit on the river and close to a water treatment plant.
As Angela Rosser, the executive director of West Virginia Rivers Coalition points out, the site of the spill has not been subject to a state or federal inspection since 1991. That is because West Virginia law does not require inspections for chemical storage facilities — only for production facilities because as we all know, spills can only happen during the production phase of a chemical, and not during its storage.
Critics say the problems are widespread in West Virginia where coal and chemical industries, such as Freedom Industries which is responsible for the first spill in January, are powerful forces in the state’s politics and which have long pushed back against tight federal health, safety and environmental controls.
This is not the first chemical accident to hit West Virginia’s Kanawha Valley.
After an explosion at a West Virginia chemical plant owned by Bayer CropScience killed two employees in 2008, a 2010 congressional investigation found that managers refused for several hours to tell emergency responders the nature of the blast or the toxic chemical it released. It also found that they later misused a law intended to keep information from terrorists to try to stop federal investigators from learning what had happened. The plant manufactured the same chemical that was being processed at the time of a gas release in 1984 that killed 10,000 in Bhopal, India.
In 2009, an investigation by The New York Times found that hundreds of workplaces in West Virginia had violated pollution laws without paying fines. In interviews at the time, current and former West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection employees said their enforcement efforts had been undermined by bureaucratic disorganization; a departmental preference to let polluters escape punishment if they promised to try harder; and a revolving door of regulators who left for higher-paying jobs at the companies they once policed.
“West Virginia has a pattern of resisting federal oversight and what they consider EPA. interference, and that really puts workers and the population at risk,” said Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council and a lecturer in environmental health at George Washington University.
Naturally, no charges have been filed against the company that, ironically enough, goes by the name of Freedom Industries.
Oh yes, the irony here is biting.
Freedom Industries reminds one of Freedom Fries, the Statue of Liberty, apple pie and red-white-and-blue. I envision sunny picnics being held for employees on the AstroTurf overlaying the semi-leaking chemical landfill next to the toxic chemical plant, to rally them up against them evil, socialist Liberals who want the EPA to interfere with their time honored right to be exploited and poisoned and to take away their America and guns as they know it.
I bet it is named Freedom Industries because the owner of the plant, in some jingoism induced nostalgic delusion, wanted to show the world what we can achieve with the freedom of free enterprise bestowed upon us by Jaaysus, god and the Founding Fathers.
Looking back, in what appears to be a strange twist of fate, what they really meant with Freedom Industries, of course, – which is incidentally what all Republicans mean when they talk about freedom and America the wonderful blah blah blah – is the freedom to be exploited and poisoned without any avenues of recourse and accountability, because accountability in the form of regulations is for socialists, Liberals, gays, the French and other similar suckers. We here don’t need them. We have our guns, our Bible and the god-given right to be exploited and poisoned by the hard working job creators and American Dream generators of big industry.
Wake up Call
Thing is, the residents of West Virginia are just now getting up to a rude awakening and realizing that they do need these pesky regulations they have been religiously voting against for the past half a century. Now that the toxic shit has hit the fan, so to speak, many resident are just now seeing this as a “wakeup call” on the need for better regulations, according to new polling data released Monday.
The poll, conducted by Hart Research Associates and commissioned by the Sierra Club, found that 73 percent of residents polled agreed that the state “has paid too little attention to addressing threats to air and water,” and felt that the spill was a signal that “things must change.” Seventy percent of the people polled also said they thought other incidents like this would occur if efforts are not made to prevent them.
No shit! Imagine that, regulations actually being good for people. A truly radical idea in this country.
Yet, I must admit, have very little sympathy for the people of West Virginia who made their toxic waste and now will have the pleasure to bathe in it. I suggest trying to pray away the chemicals, dear residents. I hear West Virginia is a highly religious state so I am sure god keeps an eye out for you and can, with his magic wand of omnipotence, make it all go away.