The Devil Made Me Do It: Diddling Children

recruitmentposterThere are perhaps fewer things more odious than someone who is a short-eyes. The inability to form healthy adult sexual relationships, predation on the innocent, libidinous urges all out of whack (likely due to religion’s anti-sexual nature) – it’s revolting. I’d personally like to catch these guys in a dark room, with a….never mind, you ken me drift.

It’s a sick sad world it is…mostly because the religious teach people that.

And lo and behold! In the following headline, we see the cheapest of rationalizations:

Missionary Accused of Molesting Kenyan Orphans Blames the Devil

A missionary from Oklahoma who was accused of molesting and raping children at a Kenyan orphanage blamed a demon named Luke for his crimes. Prosecutors have stated that 19-year-old Matthew Durham, who was volunteering at Upendo Children’s Home in the suburbs of Nairobi from April to June this year, sexually abused as many as ten children aged 4 to 10 years, including one who is infected with HIV.

A series of text messages were submitted along with Durham’s court documents that suggest that he did in fact speak to a friend about the supposed alter ego.

“Literally he takes me at night and there is nothing I can do to stop him… I’ve prayed so much, but every night Luke gets what Luke wants,” read one of the texts.

If convicted for aggravated sexual abuse with children and engaging in illegal sexual conduct in a foreign place, among other charges, Durham can be sentenced to life in prison.

The charge sheet says Durham travelled to Kenya from Oklahoma City to engage in illicit sexual conduct with minors at Upendo, an orphanage that specializes in assisting abandoned Kenyan children by offering them housing, food, clothing and access to educational and religious institutions.

Durham’s attorney, Stephen Jones, initially said his client’s confession was the result of some kind of pseudo-tribal psychological voodoo.

In another text message, Durham wrote to his friend, “It takes me at night and I am powerless to what Luke wants. Yes I named him, I know how crazy that is. He whispers in my ear all day and he’s so hard to resist.”

Charges against Durham were still being litigated when his indictment was returned after a federal judge started deliberations over whether the accused should be sent back to his family home in Edmond. Durham was then detained while prosecutors appealed an order for his release on bond, a request that was eventually granted.

An affidavit said that Durham, who had been volunteering at the same orphanage since 2012, wrote and attested a statement admitting to his actions. The affidavit also said that an Upendo official submitted the statement to the United States Embassy in Nairobi.

“The defendant in this matter by his own detailed admission both orally and in writing has brutally raped and molested young girls and boys in an orphanage in Kenya. He has confessed his crimes in writing, on video, and has admitted to a life-long struggle of desires to touch children and child predation,” the appeal filed in U.S. District Court alleges.

However, Jones has challenged his client’s statements saying they were coerced by Upendo officials who confiscated Durham’s passport and kept him in isolation until he agreed to do what they asked him to.

Jones requested Durham’s release to his family on home incarceration as long as the case is being litigated, which according to him can take up to a few months.

“This litigation, with witnesses and alleged victims in Kenya, will likely endure many months… Further incarceration would violate Mr. Durham’s due process right, as he is presumed innocent and will be detained for a prolonged amount of time,” Jones said in a written objection to the government’s appeal.

Durham’s release was ordered by the magistrate for a bail bond of $10,000. The order states Durham’s father as his custodian, who testified to taking leave from his job at the Oklahoma City Fire Department so he can look after his son. The order also requires Durham to surrender his passport, avoid using his cellphone and any computer that can possibly put him in touch with children or any witnesses from the case.

This is emblematic of many of the issues I (as well as many others) have with religion. The views are all stunted and stilted: sexual repression (a powerful, inescapable fact of our biology), the coveting of innocence (overrated I’d say), the cheap rationalization and the abrogation of ethical responsibility. How responsible can you be, if you expect someone else (and an imaginary friend at that!) to clean up after your messes?

The fact that many wack-a-doons slide under the radar due to ‘religious affiliations is little help either.

‘Suffer the little children’ should rather read ‘the suffering children’.

Till the next post, then.

Posted in Absurdity, Crazy fundies, Delusion, Ethical behavior, for fuck's sake!, Religion, Sexuality, Stupidity, Superstition, Tragedy, Values | 4 Comments

Voices In Your Head? Is There An App For That, Or Should You Just Get Therapy?

90% of everything is crap – ‘Sturgeon’s Law’

bargin_exorcism_by_augustusceaserIt is an endless source of amusement, how stupidity outsmarts humanity on a regular basis.

Take this for instance:

Priest Says The Devil Texted Him after Failed Exorcism

A priest has been claiming that he received bizarre text messages from a demonic spirit after carrying out a failed exorcism. Reportedly, the spirit has been berating and threatening the priest ever since he failed to prove his expertise in what he claims to know best – exorcising demons.

Marian Rajchel, a priest who lives in Poland, insisted that his problems started after a supposedly possessed girl from his community was brought to him to be rid of the devil. Soon after Rajchel tried to exorcise the demons out of her, something he believes he did not succeed in doing, he started receiving filthy text messages from the devil.

“The author of these texts is an evil spirit who has possessed her soul. Often the owners of mobile phones are not even aware that they are being used like this. However, in this case it is clear,” he said.

Apparently, the messages said things like the girl would not come out of hell, she belongs to the devil, and anyone that prays for her will be killed. The priest responded to the first message, not knowing that he was communicating with the devil, which is when he received another text message berating him.

“Shut up, preacher. You cannot save yourself. Idiot. You pathetic old preacher,” it read.

This wanker did an epic fail (do the kids still call it that?) because

  1. There’s no such things as demons, and
  2. Obviously someone’s fucking with this guy.

For even more surreal hilarity, there’s this bit of folderol:

Shut Up Devil Smartphone App to Help People Silence Satan

A new app that has been designed for both iPhones as well as Android phones offers users the power to silence Satan. Created by evangelist Kyle Winkler, the Shut Up Devil app, offers users topical messages from the scriptures that is supposed to help them in times of spiritual conflict.

“‘The Shut Up, Devil!’ app is inspired by my own journey through spiritual warfare. A couple years ago, I awoke to a series of condemning thoughts and nagging accusations, reminding me of my every sin since potty training. The constant negative thoughts made me feel disqualified to be used of God, and nearly caused me to walk away from ministry,” said Winkler.

Convinced that he was being attacked by the Devil, Winkler tried to develop a newfound understanding of the scripture.

“I turned to Scripture as a way to help. Throughout the Bible, it refers to the importance of Scripture to help with renewal of the mind and in spiritual warfare. The Psalms instruct us to meditate upon scripture day and night (Psalm 1:2). And those who have observed Jewish people doing this know that this involves speaking it,” he said.

Winkler explained how some figures in the Bible including Jesus and Paul used the scriptures to fight the Devil. He said that reading out Bible verses aloud could truly help Christians’ minds to focus on Christ and ward off Satan and all of his minions.

The iPhone version of the app was launched in October 2013 but the Android version was launched only recently. According to the creator, the platform allows users to look up verses based on certain subjects like discouragement, anxiety, so on and so forth.

Thereafter, users can set alarms and reminders for when the verses need to read out aloud.

Wow. I keep trying to dial 666-666-6666, but it gives me a ‘your number cannot be completed as dialed’. Has anyone got his number? What’s that? Old Scratch was just a cautionary tale spun outta control? Gotcha.

I’d advise this bozo to start taking some anti-psychotics, but he’s too busy making money off of his (and other people’s) stupidity.

And as an addendum, the wholly bibble is 99.999999% crap. The occasional historical fact is the remaining 00.000001 percent.

Till the next post then.

Posted in Absurdity, America's image, Crazy fundies, Delusion, for fuck's sake!, Religion, Stupidity, Superstition | 8 Comments

Give Them Religious Liberty…Or Else!

religiouspersecutionI may have said this multiple times, but it bears repeating: belief is ubiquitous, and not the commodity everyone thinks it is. Oversaturate any market (or economy) with product (or a precious metal that suddenly becomes commonplace), and it lowers or even crashes said market/economy. But America has become an orgy of that mental masturbation we call religion. And now, the Tea-baggers are reaching for the brass ring:

This is a religious civil war: Hobby Lobby only the beginning for new religious theocrats

The United States is still a democratic republic, formally, but what that actually means in practice is increasingly in doubt — and the Hobby Lobby ruling, deeply disingenuous and sharply at odds with centuries of Anglo-American law, exemplifies how that formal reality is increasingly mocked in practice. It is a practice best described as neo-feudalism, taking power away from ordinary citizens, in all their pluralistic, idiosyncratic diversity, and handing it over to corporations and religious dictators in both the public and the private realm. The Supreme Court’s actions are not taking place in a vacuum — though they are filling one: As Tea Party Republicans in the House increasingly bring democratic self-government to a halt, contracting the power of we the people to act as a cohesive self-governing whole, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority shifts ever more everyday power into the hands of private dictatorships.

Hobby Lobby handed for-profit corporations religious rights for the first time in history — a radical break with all previous precedent, and yet a part of a recent pattern, as Norm Ornstein rightly pointed out:

[F]or the majority on the Roberts Court, through a series of rulings that favor corporations over labor or other interests, it is clear that corporations are king, superior to individual Americans—with all the special treatment in taxes and protection from legal liability that are unavailable to us individuals, and now all the extra benefits that come with individual citizenship. Call it the new Crony Capitalism.

The expansion of corporate power in Hobby Lobby has gotten too little attention, and I’ll return to discuss this further below. But the advancement of theocracy — religious dictatorship — is even less clearly seen through the fog of right-wing propaganda about “religious liberty.”

First, however, an important highlight of a neglected aspect of the Hobby Lobby case, the fact that Hobby Lobby’s self-professed belief appeared out of nowhere just in time for them to file suit, as Stephanie Mencimer noted in March:

The company admits in its complaint that until it considered filing the suit in 2012, its generous health insurance plan actually covered Plan B and Ella (though not IUDs). The burden of this coverage was apparently so insignificant that God, and Hobby Lobby executives, never noticed it until the mandate became a political issue.

In short, Hobby Lobby’s “deeply held beliefs” claims are transparently bogus — as well as being scientifically invalid, since none of the methods involved are abortifacients, as Hobby Lobby claims. These would not matter if they only guided individual private conduct; that’s precisely what religious freedom actually means. You’re free to be a religious hypocrite, because letting someone else judge your sincerity can lead too easily to real religious tyranny. But when you’re already in a position to tyrannize others — as Hobby Lobby is — that’s a whole different ballgame. The tyrant’s freedom is everyone else’s slavery.

Historically, theocracy meant top-down religiously sanctioned dictatorship, exemplified in Western history by the divine right of kings philosophy. No one reads John Locke’s “First Treatise on Civil Government” anymore, because it is a refutation of the divine right of kings — one might as well read a refutation of four element theory in physics class. Locke’s “Second Treatise” provided a sharply contrasted legitimate foundation for civil government — the social contract and the consent of the governed. This is the air we breathe, and have been breathing ever since America was born.

And yet, theocracy and democracy are not two utterly distinct phenomena. Theocracy can well hold sway inside the family, for example, while the larger society retains its democratic form. More to the point, one stream of extreme Christian theocratic thinking — the dominion theology of the New Apostolic Reformation — has no problem (initially, at least) assimilating its goals of a theocratic government with the existing two-party electoral system. As researcher Rachel Tabachnick explains:

Instead of escaping the earth (in the Rapture)* prior to the turmoil of the end times, they [the NAR] teach that believers will defeat evil by taking dominion, or control, over all sectors of society and government, resulting in mass conversions to their brand of Charismatic evangelicalism and a Christian utopia or “Kingdom” on earth.

In early 2010, a leading NAR figure, Edgardo Silvoso, founder of International Transformation Network, which played a major role in promoting and passing Uganda’s anti-gay legislation, confidently said, “It doesn’t matter if the Republican or the Democratic candidate wins the governorship [of Hawaii]. Either one is already in the kingdom.” It didn’t turn out that way, because Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii’s popular long-term U.S. representative, defeated both the NAR-supported candidates — one in the Democratic primary, the other in the general election. Still, Silvoso’s vision might have come true, there could have been a contested two-party election in which both candidates were Christian dominionists — and most in the media (and thereby the public) wouldn’t even have known what was going on.

Sarah Palin was the NAR’s first full-throated state governor (revealing videos here), but Rick Perry has strong NAR connections as well — the religious kickoff to his 2012 presidential campaign was entirely an NAR-run event. But the point here is a broader one: The dividing line between theocracy and a democratic republic is not nearly as sharp as most might suppose, in fact, there may not actually be such a line, only a zone of blurriness for everything involved.

While the NAR represents an international evangelical grass-roots force of remarkable power for how little press attention it has gained, the theocratic push from above in America — duplicity framed in terms of “religious liberty” — comes from a Catholic/Protestant alliance forged in antiabortion political battles of the past 30-plus years, which is also undercovered and poorly understood in the mainstream corporate media, despite being grounded in a phalanx of powerful organizations, from the high-profile Family Research Council and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, through more specialized think tanks and legal advocacy organizations, such as the Becket Fund and the Alliance Defending Freedom. A useful reference is ”Redefining Religious Liberty: The Covert Campaign Against Civil Rights” by Jay Michaelson, published by Political Research Associates in March 2013. In it, he writes:

While the religious liberty debate is a growing front in the ongoing culture wars, it is actually an old argument repurposed for a new context. In the postwar era, the Christian Right defended racial segregation, school prayer, public religious displays, and other religious practices that infringed on the liberties of others by claiming that restrictions on such public acts infringed upon their religious liberty. Then as now, the Christian Right turned antidiscrimination arguments on their heads: instead of African Americans being discriminated against by segregated Christian universities, the universities were being discriminated against by not being allowed to exclude them; instead of public prayers oppressing religious minorities, Christians are being oppressed by not being able to offer them.

In the “religious liberty” framework, the Christian Right attacks access to contraception, access to abortion, same-sex marriage, and antidiscrimination laws—not on moral grounds (e.g., that contraception is morally wrong or that LGBTQ rights violate “family values”) but because they allegedly impinge upon the religious freedoms of others (e.g., by forcing employers to violate their religion by providing contraception coverage)….

In fact, there is not a single “religious liberty” claim that does not involve abridging someone else’s rights.

As I’ve already indicated, Hobby Lobby’s “deeply held beliefs” claims are transparently bogus, but this need not always be the case. What is the case is that the inversion Michaelson describes — that of turning anti-discrimination arguments on their heads — both derives from and contributes to states of confusion in which all manner of bogus claims may flourish. As I noted above, there are legitimate reasons why the content of religious beliefs should not be scrutinized when considering questions of free exercise. But when religion is being imposed upon others, the presumptions ought to be reversed; we ought to be extremely reluctant to allow anyone to impose their religious beliefs on anyone else, no matter how light or innocent that imposition might be claimed to be. The views themselves as well as the manner they are imposed on others ought to be scrutinized as rigorously as possible. Don’t want your religious beliefs questioned? Then don’t impose them on others. When push comes to shove, real religious freedom can be just as simple as that.

And the phony “religious freedom” crowd knows it, which helps explain why outright lies repeatedly slip into their arguments, as Michaelson’s report makes clear. For example, anti-gay “religious freedom” advocates routinely repeat the lie that legalizing same-sex marriage means forcing churches to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies against their will — a flat-out lie.

Legalized civil divorce did not force the Catholic Church to marry divorced individuals, and legalized same-sex marriage would not force them to marry gay individuals, either. Institutional religious practice is almost entirely insulated from civil law. What does change are the rules applying to society at large. Michaelson explains:

Typically, there are five tiers of actors:

1. Churches, clergy, and religious institutions

2. Religious organizations

3. Religiously affiliated organizations

4. Religiously owned businesses

5. Religious individuals

The law treats these tiers differently: churches are rarely required to obey antidiscrimination laws, for example, but religious organizations may be, and religious-owned businesses are. Conservative “religious liberty” rhetoric deliberately misstates harms upward, and tactically expands exemptions downward. On the one side, no clergy will ever have to solemnize any marriage against her/his beliefs, yet restrictions on tier 4 or 5 individuals are cynically extended by conservative messaging to tier 1.

Michaelson then addresses the context of the Hobby Lobby case:

On the other side, conservative “religious liberty” advocates are clearly pursuing a staged plan to migrate extensions downward. In the current HHS benefit battle, for example, the Obama administration first exempted tiers 1 and 2, and then, in February 2013, exempted tier 3. Yet still the Becket Fund has objected that “millions of Americans”—i.e., tiers 4 and 5—are still unprotected.

And this is precisely the logic that the Hobby Lobby decision pursued. The Obama administration’s exemptions of Tiers 1 and 2 were not seen as signs of respect for religious liberty, in line with traditional practice, nor was its further exemption of Tier 3 seen as going the extra mile in a spirit of conciliation. Instead, the accommodation made for Tier 3 was used by Justice Alito to argue for similar treatment for Tier 4. The end result is that women in more than half the nation’s workforce can now be deprived by their employers of their most basic reproductive rights, involving birth control, not abortion.

But that’s just one side of the story. There’s also the economic, corporate power side, where things are a bit more complicated. I quoted above from Norm Ornstein, making the point that Hobby Lobby was part of a broader pattern of shifting power into corporate hands. But it’s striking that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce did not weigh in on the Hobby Lobby Case — it produced no amicus brief. In fact, as noted by David H. Gans of the Constitutional Accountability Center, “the only noteworthy corporate voices to weigh in — the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce and the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce — actually came down against them [Hobby Lobby and its supporters].” Gans also notes another brief from dozens of corporate and criminal law professors, “who argued that Hobby Lobby’s argument would eviscerate the fabric of corporate law, undercutting the corporate veil that protects owners and shareholders from liability for the actions of the corporation.” The brief itself begins laying out its argument thus:

Hobby Lobby and Conestoga each asserts that the religious values of its present controlling shareholders should pass through to the corporation itself. This Court should reject any such “values pass-through” concept. To do otherwise would run contrary to established principles of corporate law.

The essence of a corporation is its “separateness” from its shareholders. It is a distinct legal entity, with its own rights and obligations, different from the rights and obligations of its shareholders. This Court has repeatedly recognized this separateness.

This is yet another indication of how radically the Hobby Lobby decision departs from the existing fabric of Anglo-American law. And yet, there are clearly some in the corporate world who welcome this development, and it’s surely no accident that the same five justices produced both Hobby Lobby and Citizens United. So what’s going on here?

The best answer I know of comes from political scientist Corey Robin, and it involves looking much deeper than the framework of corporate law. The day the decision came down, Robin published “A Reader’s Guide to Hobby Lobby,” listing what he called “a few posts I’ve written over the years that should help put the Supreme Court’s decision in theoretical and historical perspective.” They’re all well worth reading, but I want to focus on just one of them, the first of two that Robin described thus:

2. Second, two posts on free-market types and birth control, how even the most libertarian-ish free-wheeler seeks to control women’s bodies: Love For Sale: Birth Control from Marx to Mises and Probing Tyler Cowen: When Libertarians Get Medieval on Your Vagina.

In “Love for Sale,” Robin discusses Ludwig von Mises‘ classic 1922 text ”Socialism,” and some contemporary discussions concerning it, particularly its fourth chapter, “The Social Order and the Family.” Here is where Robin gets to the heart of the matter:

The real reason Mises’s arguments about women are so relevant, it seems to me, is that in the course of making them he reveals something larger about the libertarian worldview: libertarianism is not about liberty at all, or at least not about liberty for everyone. In fact, it’s the opposite.

Here’s Mises describing the socialist program of “free love”:

Free love is the socialists’ radical solution for sexual problems. The socialistic society abolishes the economic dependence of woman which results from the fact that woman is dependent on the income of her husband. Man and woman have the same economic rights and the same duties, as far as motherhood does not demand special consideration for the women. Public funds provide for the maintenance and education of the children, which are no longer the affairs of the parents but of society. Thus the relations between the sexes are no longer influenced by social and economic conditions….The family disappears and society is confronted with separate individuals only. Choice in love becomes completely free.

Sounds like a libertarian paradise, right? Society is dissolved into atomistic individuals, obstacles to our free choices are removed, everyone has the same rights and duties. But Mises is not celebrating this ideal; he’s criticizing it. Not because it makes people unfree but because it makes people — specifically, women — free. The problem with liberating women from the constraints of “social and economic conditions” is that … women are liberated from the constraints of social and economic conditions.

If you want to know why libertarians reflexively embrace the National Rifle Association’s vision of freedom, but not Planned Parenthood’s (contrasting visions I discussed here), you need look no further. This passage also helps explain why there’s at least a germ of historical sense in the otherwise ridiculous Tea Party accusation that Obama is a “socialist”! By using government to empower women to make their own reproductive choices — not just in theory, but for real — Obamacare’s reproductive healthcare mandate really is acting in the socialist spirit as Mises described it, however market-based the mechanisms involved may be.

But it’s worth lingering a bit further with the socialist vision as Mises describes it, because it is so intimately bound up in what a functioning democratic republic actually does, or at least has the potential to do, when, for example, we take the Constitution’s general welfare clause seriously. What the socialists want, Mises argues, is to eliminate all manner of “natural inequalities”. This would, ironically, make everyone—not just privileged, straight, white males of means — into classic libertarian subjects, exercising their own, individual, unconstrained and uncoerced free choice. And this is the very last thing that libertarians actually want.

This helps explain why, for example, today’s Tea Party Republicans reject unemployment insurance as “socialist” — if someone out of work has any freedom at all to hold out for a job that will cover their mortgage, say, that’s socialism as Mises would describe it. And he has a point: socialism really is just another word for collectively removing the hidden and semi-hidden forms of coercion that otherwise shape and control our everyday lives. That’s why public education is socialist, too — and why Democratic politicians as well as Republicans are so eager to destroy it nowadays. But none of these other examples is quite as visceral or far-reaching as that of giving women reproductive autonomy equal to that of men.

This, then, is the bottom line: Conservatives (including libertarians) stand for the preservation and reinforcement (if necessary) of purportedly “natural” inequalities, which automatically structure all of society into overlapping forms of dominance and submission, in which the vast majority of people are inherently unfree “by nature.” Any collective action taken to free people from such dependent, powerless living conditions is anathema to them. Democracy itself is anathema to them. And Hobby Lobby is just the latest signal that they are firmly in charge.

Do they contradict themselves? Of course! So what? Do facts or logic matter anymore? Don’t be ridiculous! Dictatorship means never having to say you’re sorry — much less even a teensy bit wrong. The damages done to the structure and logic of corporate law? Irrelevant!

At the beginning, I wrote, “The United States is still a democratic republic, formally, but what that actually means in practice is increasingly in doubt.” This doubt can simply be summarized in the fact that any action to promote the general welfare will be automatically blocked and denounced as “socialism” by Tea Party Republicans in the House, while at the same time, the 5-4 conservative majority in the Supreme Court rewrites decades or centuries of precedent to further empower the most powerful elements in our society, to the ever-deepening detriment of the whole.

So understand this, folks: even though there is not currently (nor has there ever been) a ‘war against religious liberty’, these monkey-see-monkey-do types, who think their worldview should be everyone’s worldview, are the enemy. It doesn’t matter that there is no such war: these Machiavellian mindfarts think there is one happening, regardless. And when Christians want something badly enough, they bring it to fruition. Don’t believe me? Look it up yourself.

So I hope, as any rational person does, that it won’t come to that. But history tells us these cretins are not to be trusted. The future could end up with people being forced to pray at gunpoint. As histrionic as that may seem, it is starting to look like a very scary reality.

So be afraid. And stock up. It could very well be a long siege.

Till the next post, then.

Posted in Absurdity, America's image, Atheism, Blog against theocracy, Crazy fundies, for fuck's sake!, Politics, Religion, religious right watchdog, Stupidity, Superstition, Values | 3 Comments

Heaven Is Surreal: Hollyweird Is Pandering To The Sheeple Again

bygonesI shop at Safeway frequently (try on a near daily basis). And it’s hard not to notice all the glitter and garbage they pepper the market with. You may know what I mean: shelves stacked with tabloids where the headlines very nearly mug you, the latest and greatest flavor-of-the-month movie that formulaically tugs at the heartstrings (I’ll skip over the sugary treats that I’m avoiding on my diet).

So of course this movie pops up out of nowhere: Heaven Is For Real. It’s even showing up on my Netflix movie mailers. I have barely restrained the urge to rush out to a hobby store and buy a large powerful magnet, and very stealthily handle each jewel cover, secretly running the magnet over the magnetic media. Why would I want to do such a dastardly thing?

Because the afterlife poisons this life. It degrades making our own purposes, it falsely lulls folks into saving up for a future that will never arrive. It sends dullards to their deaths in false righteousness, even though an omnipotent  power requiring that you sacrifice yourself for it is probably the most contradictory concept in the universe.

Had I known this travesty was being shown at theaters, I would’ve been sorely tempted to picket the movie. But that would’ve entitled a bunch of zealots who claim to spread love in the name of their religion to thrash the apostate.

But hey! Let’s examine the alleged ‘evidence’:

In the book, Todd Burpo, pastor of Crossroads Wesleyan Church in Imperial, Nebraska, writes that during the months after his son, Colton’s, emergency surgery in 2003, Colton began describing events and people that seemed impossible for him to have known about. Examples include knowledge of an unborn sister whom no one had told him about and his great grandfather who died 30 years before he was born. Colton also claimed that he personally met Jesus riding a rainbow-colored horse and sat in Jesus’ lap, while the angels sang songs to him. He also says he saw Mary kneeling before the throne of God and at other times standing beside Jesus.

Where to begin? If the dad had been an atheist, and the child had had absolutely NO exposure and/or instruction in Christianity, well hell, that might even shake my steely resolve. But the father was a pastor? Mighty suspect. As to the unborn sister and the great-grandfather? Come on, kids pick up on shit. None of this is particularly earth-shattering. A rainbow-colored horse? That sounds suspiciously like a cartoon of some sort.

Let’s set aside the obvious confirmation bias: the satanic day-care scare of the 80’s and 90’s taught us this;

(snip)

Children are vulnerable to outside influences that lead to fabrication of testimony. Their testimony can be influenced in a variety of ways. Maggie Bruck in her article published by the American Psychological Association wrote that children incorporate aspects of the interviewer’s questions into their answers in an attempt to tell the interviewer what the child believes is being sought. Studies also show that when adults ask children questions that do not make sense (such as “is milk bigger than water?” or “is red heavier than yellow?”), most children will offer an answer, believing that there is an answer to be given, rather than understand the absurdity of the question. Furthermore, repeated questioning of children causes them to change their answers. This is because the children perceive the repeated questioning as a sign that they did not give the “correct” answer previously. Children are also especially susceptible to leading and suggestive questions.

And

(snip)

Interviewer bias also plays a role in shaping child testimony. When an interviewer has a preconceived notion as to the truth of the matter being investigated, the questioning is conducted in a manner to extract statements that support these beliefs. As a result, evidence that could disprove the belief is never sought by the interviewer. Additionally, positive reinforcement by the interviewer can taint child testimony. Often such reinforcement is given to encourage a spirit of cooperation by the child, but the impartial tone can quickly disappear as the interviewer nods, smiles, or offers verbal encouragement to “helpful” statements. Some studies show that when interviewers make reassuring statements to child witnesses, the children are more likely to fabricate stories of past events that never occurred.

Highly damning. Now let’s (briefly) look at NDE’s. The  resuscitation techniques developed in the 20th and 21st centuries have increased the amount of NDE’s reported exponentially. This phenomenon is a likely candidate for the survival of these antiquated nonsenses we call religion. In fact, there are so many variances within these experiences, which occur with some frequency, that they have specifically labeled categories.

Sam Harris puts it thusly;

However, the deepest problem with drawing sweeping conclusions from the NDE is that those who have had one and subsequently talked about it did not actually die. In fact, many appear to have been in no real danger of dying. And those who have reported leaving their bodies during a true medical emergency—after cardiac arrest, for instance—did not suffer the complete loss of brain activity. Even in cases where the brain is alleged to have shut down, its activity must return if the subject is to survive and describe the experience. In such cases, there is generally no way to establish that the NDE occurred while the brain was offline.

Well, let me take a stand right now: until someone can prove to me beyond a reasonable doubt that all those memories, experiences, thoughts, or other items associated with the ‘soul’ exist and go elsewhere after the shuffling off of this mortal coil, that information survives the physical death of the individual, I’m going to have to go with an extreme biochemical response to real or perceived danger.

And what I mean by reasonable doubt, is that it can be codified and replicated in a lab.

Till then next post, then.

Posted in Absurdity, America's image, Crazy fundies, Delusion, for fuck's sake!, Psychology, Religion, Stupidity, Superstition | 9 Comments

A Tea Party Politician Proves God! Let’s Stone The Homos!

gohmertjester“No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says: He is always convinced that it says what he means.” – G.B. Shaw

It’s these dratted headlines that are most embarrassing to our country, and our citizenry. Somehow being a member of the Tea (bag) party is a free pass to say some of the stupidest and most ignorant things any human can say.

For instance:

Louie Gohmert Proves God’s Existence With One Simple Equation

Mocking non-believers for failing to grasp the logic behind the existence of God, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) cited an exchange with the late Texas entertainer Bob Murphey to disprove atheism during a prayer rally in Washington, D.C. Wednesday.

“Bob Murphey used to say, ‘You know, I feel so bad for atheists, I do,’” Gohmert recalled at “Celebrate America,” a three-week-long revival event. “‘Think about it, no matter how smart they think they are, an atheist has to admit that he believes the equation: nobody plus nothing equals everything.’”

“How embarrassing for an intellectual to have to say ‘Yeah, I believe that,'” Gohmert said, citing Murphey. “Nobody plus nothing equals everything.”

Of course, Gomer’s statement is intellectually null & void, pure idiocy: there’s no such thing as nothing, so it’s not an item for use in simple math; there is no simple ‘this + that=everything’ formula (though I’ve heard rumors otherwise). I guess simple minds think alike.

And then there’s this little gem:

Oklahoma Tea Party Candidate Supports Stoning Gay People to Death

Given how savagely anti-gay the mainstream Oklahoma Republican party is, it’s no surprise that the state’s Tea Partiers are so rabidly hateful that they come across more as dark satire than as serious bigots. To wit: This week, an Oklahoma magazine discovered that last summer, Tea Party state House candidate Scott Esk endorsed stoning gay people to death: “I think we would be totally in the right to do it,” he said in a Facebook post. Esk went on to add nuance to his position:

That [stoning gay people to death] goes against some parts of libertarianism, I realize, and I’m largely libertarian, but ignoring as a nation things that are worthy of death is very remiss.

When a Facebook user messaged Esk to clarify further, he responded:

I never said I would author legislation to put homosexuals to death, but I didn’t have a problem with it.

Understandably unnerved, the magazine called up Esk for clarification. Although Esk claimed he didn’t remember the comments, he fleshed out his views:

That was done in the Old Testament under a law that came directly from God and in that time there it was totally just. It came directly from God. I have no plans to reinstitute that in Oklahoma law. I do have some very huge moral misgivings about those kinds of sins.

Pressed one final time about his position on stoning gay human beings to death, Esk dug in his heels:

I know what was done in the Old Testament and what was done back then was what’s just. … And I do stand for Biblical morality.

Seriously, how is it these fuckwits get elected? This is what people get when they don’t vet a political candidate, or worse yet, don’t vote. The inmates running bedlam. Ignorance being spread.

It’s a crying shame.

Till the next post, then.

Posted in Absurdity, America's image, Crazy fundies, Delusion, Education, for fuck's sake!, Politics, Religion, Stupidity | 1 Comment

Right or wrong, or tribal loyalty in the Middle East conflict? Choosing sides

 The conflict in the Middle East between Israel and the Palestinians have been going on for The Gaza Conflictas long as I can remember. While some say it is a human rights issue with one side being bullied and ostracized by another, I have heard the counter arguments that the side we hear most sympathy about in the news media is that the other side simply doesn’t want the other to exist no matter how many concessions are given. Religion and tribalism are at the heated core of this conflict. As long as neither side gives, the fighting and killing and destruction goes on, and on, and on, and on. If Israel should throw in the towel and say they are out of there, have this little piece of crap land will that end the violence? No, it won’t when the other side wants Jews to not exist anywhere. Those who want Jews wiped off the face of the Earth will just follow them wherever they go. When looking at the situation overall, it seems that the reasons for the fighting are simple…both sides hate each other (though it appears one side hates the other a little bit more). The solutions are complicated and seems like a huge stalemate, in my opinion.

I do sympathize with the innocents being caught in the middle of all this violence, and my heart is grieved to see in the news media the many bloodied bodies of children lying in the streets. However, while it is reported that these photos in recent months are from the Palestinian victims of ruthless Israeli bombings, I read other reports that many of the photos of dead kids being exploited are actually of casualties in Syria and other war torn areas of the world. My heart is sad for the children and people who just want to live in peace and cannot because of the political stances of others who are in control of the power.

I ran across this recent article in Huffpost that does bring up several good points to consider before choosing sides…if we care to choose a side in the Middle East mess.

7 Things to Consider Before Choosing Sides in the Middle East Conflict

1. Why is everything so much worse when there are Jews involved?

Over 700 people have died in Gaza as of this writing. Muslims have woken up around the world. But is it really because of the numbers?

Bashar al-Assad has killed over 180,000 Syrians, mostly Muslim, in two years — more than the number killed in Palestine in two decades. Thousands of Muslims in Iraq and Syria have been killed by ISIS in the last two months. Tens of thousands have been killed by the Taliban. Half a million black Muslims were killed by Arab Muslims in Sudan. The list goes on.

But Gaza makes Muslims around the world, both Sunni and Shia, speak up in a way they never do otherwise. Up-to-date death counts and horrific pictures of the mangled corpses of Gazan children flood their social media timelines every day. If it was just about the numbers, wouldn’t the other conflicts take precedence? What is it about then?

If I were Assad or ISIS right now, I’d be thanking God I’m not Jewish.

Amazingly, many of the graphic images of dead children attributed to Israeli bombardment that are circulating online are from Syria, based on a BBC report. Many of the pictures you’re seeing are of children killed by Assad, who is supported by Iran, which also funds Hezbollah and Hamas. What could be more exploitative of dead children than attributing the pictures of innocents killed by your own supporters to your enemy simply because you weren’t paying enough attention when your own were killing your own?

This doesn’t, by any means, excuse the recklessness, negligence, and sometimes outright cruelty of Israeli forces. But it clearly points to the likelihood that the Muslim world’s opposition to Israel isn’t just about the number of dead.

Here is a question for those who grew up in the Middle East and other Muslim-majority countries like I did: if Israel withdrew from the occupied territories tomorrow, all in one go — and went back to the 1967 borders — and gave the Palestinians East Jerusalem — do you honestly think Hamas wouldn’t find something else to pick a fight about? Do you honestly think that this has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that they are Jews? Do you recall what you watched and heard on public TV growing up in Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Egypt?

Yes, there’s an unfair and illegal occupation there, and yes, it’s a human rights disaster. But it is also true that much of the other side is deeply driven by anti-Semitism. Anyone who has lived in the Arab/Muslim world for more than a few years knows that. It isn’t always a clean, one-or-the-other blame split in these situations like your Chomskys and Greenwalds would have you believe. It’s both.

***

2. Why does everyone keep saying this is not a religious conflict?

There are three pervasive myths that are widely circulated about the “roots” of the Middle East conflict:

Myth 1: Judaism has nothing to do with Zionism.
Myth 2: Islam has nothing to do with Jihadism or anti-Semitism.
Myth 3: This conflict has nothing to do with religion.

To the “I oppose Zionism, not Judaism!” crowd, is it mere coincidence that this passage from the Old Testament (emphasis added) describes so accurately what’s happening today?

I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the desert to the Euphrates River. I will give into your hands the people who live in the land, and you will drive them out before you. Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods.” – Exodus 23:31-32

 
 

Or this one?

“See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land the Lord swore he would give to your fathers — to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — and to their descendants after them.” – Deuteronomy 1:8

 
 

There’s more: Genesis 15:18-21, and Numbers 34 for more detail on the borders. Zionism is not the “politicization” or “distortion” of Judaism. It is the revival of it.

And to the “This is not about Islam, it’s about politics!” crowd, is this verse from the Quran (emphasis added) meaningless?

“O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you–then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people.” – Quran, 5:51

 What about the numerous verses and hadith quoted in Hamas’ charter? And the famous hadith of the Gharqad tree explicitly commanding Muslims to kill Jews?

Please tell me — in light of these passages written centuries and millennia before the creation of Israel or the occupation — how can anyone conclude that religion isn’t at the root of this, or at least a key driving factor? You may roll your eyes at these verses, but they are taken very seriously by many of the players in this conflict, on both sides. Shouldn’t they be acknowledged and addressed? When is the last time you heard a good rational, secular argument supporting settlement expansion in the West Bank?

Denying religion’s role seems to be a way to be able to criticize the politics while remaining apologetically “respectful” of people’s beliefs for fear of “offending” them. But is this apologism and “respect” for inhuman ideas worth the deaths of human beings?

People have all kinds of beliefs — from insisting the Earth is flat to denying the Holocaust. You may respect their right to hold these beliefs, but you’re not obligated to respect the beliefs themselves. It’s 2014, and religions don’t need to be “respected” any more than any other political ideology or philosophical thought system. Human beings have rights. Ideas don’t. The oft-cited politics/religion dichotomy in Abrahamic religions is false and misleading. All of the Abrahamic religions are inherently political.

***

3. Why would Israel deliberately want to kill civilians?

This is the single most important issue that gets everyone riled up, and rightfully so.

Again, there is no justification for innocent Gazans dying. And there’s no excuse for Israel’s negligence in incidents like the killing of four children on a Gazan beach. But let’s back up and think about this for a minute.

Why on Earth would Israel deliberately want to kill civilians?

When civilians die, Israel looks like a monster. It draws the ire of even its closest allies. Horrific images of injured and dead innocents flood the media. Ever-growing anti-Israel protests are held everywhere from Norway to New York. And the relatively low number of Israeli casualties (we’ll get to that in a bit) repeatedly draws allegations of a “disproportionate” response. Most importantly, civilian deaths help Hamas immensely.

How can any of this possibly ever be in Israel’s interest?

If Israel wanted to kill civilians, it is terrible at it. ISIS killed more civilians in two days (700 plus) than Israel has in two weeks. Imagine if ISIS or Hamas had Israel’s weapons, army, air force, US support, and nuclear arsenal. Their enemies would’ve been annihilated long ago. If Israel truly wanted to destroy Gaza, it could do so within a day, right from the air. Why carry out a more painful, expensive ground incursion that risks the lives of its soldiers?

***

4. Does Hamas really use its own civilians as human shields?

Ask Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas how he feels about Hamas’ tactics.

“What are you trying to achieve by sending rockets?” he asks. “I don’t like trading in Palestinian blood.”

It isn’t just speculation anymore that Hamas puts its civilians in the line of fire.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri plainly admitted on Gazan national TV that the human shield strategy has proven “very effective.”

The UN relief organization UNRWA issued a furious condemnation of Hamas after discovering hidden rockets in not one, but two children’s schools in Gaza last week.

Hamas fires thousands of rockets into Israel, rarely killing any civilians or causing any serious damage. It launches them from densely populated areas, including hospitals and schools.

Why launch rockets without causing any real damage to the other side, inviting great damage to your own people, then putting your own civilians in the line of fire when the response comes? Even when the IDF warns civilians to evacuate their homes before a strike, why does Hamas tell them to stay put?

Because Hamas knows its cause is helped when Gazans die. If there is one thing that helps Hamas most — one thing that gives it any legitimacy — it is dead civilians. Rockets in schools. Hamas exploits the deaths of its children to gain the world’s sympathy. It uses them as a weapon.

You don’t have to like what Israel is doing to abhor Hamas. Arguably, Israel and Fatah are morally equivalent. Both have a lot of right on their side. Hamas, on the other hand, doesn’t have a shred of it.

***

5. Why are people asking for Israel to end the “occupation” in Gaza?

Because they have short memories.

In 2005, Israel ended the occupation in Gaza. It pulled out every last Israeli soldier. It dismantled every last settlement. Many Israeli settlers who refused to leave were forcefully evicted from their homes, kicking and screaming.

This was a unilateral move by Israel, part of a disengagement plan intended to reduce friction between Israelis and Palestinians. It wasn’t perfect — Israel was still to control Gaza’s borders, coastline, and airspace — but considering the history of the region, it was a pretty significant first step.

After the evacuation, Israel opened up border crossings to facilitate commerce. The Palestinians were also given 3,000 greenhouses which had already been producing fruit and flowers for export for many years.

But Hamas chose not to invest in schools, trade, or infrastructure. Instead, it built an extensive network of tunnels to house thousands upon thousands of rockets and weapons, including newer, sophisticated ones from Iran and Syria. All the greenhouses were destroyed.

Hamas did not build any bomb shelters for its people. It did, however, build a few for its leaders to hide out in during airstrikes. Civilians are not given access to these shelters for precisely the same reason Hamas tells them to stay home when the bombs come.

Gaza was given a great opportunity in 2005 that Hamas squandered by transforming it into an anti-Israel weapons store instead of a thriving Palestinian state that, with time, may have served as a model for the future of the West Bank as well. If Fatah needed yet another reason to abhor Hamas, here it was.

***

6. Why are there so many more casualties in Gaza than in Israel?

The reason fewer Israeli civilians die is not because there are fewer rockets raining down on them. It’s because they are better protected by their government.

When Hamas’ missiles head towards Israel, sirens go off, the Iron Dome goes into effect, and civilians are rushed into bomb shelters. When Israeli missiles head towards Gaza, Hamas tells civilians to stay in their homes and face them.

While Israel’s government urges its civilians to get away from rockets targeted at them, Gaza’s government urges its civilians to get in front of missiles not targeted at them.

The popular explanation for this is that Hamas is poor and lacks the resources to protect its people like Israel does. The real reason, however, seems to have more to do with disordered priorities than deficient resources (see #5). This is about will, not ability. All those rockets, missiles, and tunnels aren’t cheap to build or acquire. But they are priorities. And it’s not like Palestinians don’t have a handful of oil-rich neighbors to help them the way Israel has the US.

The problem is, if civilian casualties in Gaza drop, Hamas loses the only weapon it has in its incredibly effective PR war. It is in Israel’s national interest to protect its civilians and minimize the deaths of those in Gaza. It is in Hamas’ interest to do exactly the opposite on both fronts.

***

7. If Hamas is so bad, why isn’t everyone pro-Israel in this conflict?

Because Israel’s flaws, while smaller in number, are massive in impact.

Many Israelis seem to have the same tribal mentality that their Palestinian counterparts do. They celebrate the bombing of Gaza the same way many Arabs celebrated 9/11. A UN report recently found that Israeli forces tortured Palestinian children and used them as human shields. They beat up teenagers. They are often reckless with their airstrikes. They have academics who explain how rape may be the only truly effective weapon against their enemy. And many of them callously and publicly revel in the deaths of innocent Palestinian children.

To be fair, these kinds of things do happen on both sides. They are an inevitable consequence of multiple generations raised to hate the other over the course of 65 plus years. To hold Israel up to a higher standard would mean approaching the Palestinians with the racism of lowered expectations.

However, if Israel holds itself to a higher standard like it claims — it needs to do much more to show it isn’t the same as the worst of its neighbors.

Israel is leading itself towards increasing international isolation and national suicide because of two things: 1. The occupation; and 2. Settlement expansion.

Settlement expansion is simply incomprehensible. No one really understands the point of it. Virtually every US administration — from Nixon to Bush to Obama — has unequivocally opposed it. There is no justification for it except a Biblical one (see #2), which makes it slightly more difficult to see Israel’s motives as purely secular.

The occupation is more complicated. The late Christopher Hitchens was right when he said this about Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories:

“In order for Israel to become part of the alliance against whatever we want to call it, religious barbarism, theocratic, possibly thermonuclear theocratic or nuclear theocratic aggression, it can’t, it’ll have to dispense with the occupation. It’s as simple as that.

It can be, you can think of it as a kind of European style, Western style country if you want, but it can’t govern other people against their will. It can’t continue to steal their land in the way that it does every day.And it’s unbelievably irresponsible of Israelis, knowing the position of the United States and its allies are in around the world, to continue to behave in this unconscionable way. And I’m afraid I know too much about the history of the conflict to think of Israel as just a tiny, little island surrounded by a sea of ravening wolves and so on. I mean, I know quite a lot about how that state was founded, and the amount of violence and dispossession that involved. And I’m a prisoner of that knowledge. I can’t un-know it.”

As seen with Gaza in 2005, unilateral disengagement is probably easier to talk about than actually carry out. But if it Israel doesn’t work harder towards a two-state (maybe three-state, thanks to Hamas) solution, it will eventually have to make that ugly choice between being a Jewish-majority state or a democracy.

It’s still too early to call Israel an apartheid state, but when John Kerry said Israel could end up as one in the future, he wasn’t completely off the mark. It’s simple math. There are only a limited number of ways a bi-national Jewish state with a non-Jewish majority population can retain its Jewish identity. And none of them are pretty.

After reading these seven questions, I have decided that for now, I am not choosing a side. This is a tribal-religious centered conflict as the author of this blog article states:

Let’s face it, the land belongs to both of them now. Israel was carved out of Palestine for Jews with help from the British in the late 1940s just like my own birthplace of Pakistan was carved out of India for Muslims around the same time. The process was painful, and displaced millions in both instances. But it’s been almost 70 years. There are now at least two or three generations of Israelis who were born and raised in this land, to whom it really is a home, and who are often held accountable and made to pay for for historical atrocities that are no fault of their own. They are programmed to oppose “the other” just as Palestinian children are. At its very core, this is a tribal religious conflict that will never be resolved unless people stop choosing sides.

So you really don’t have to choose between being “pro-Israel” or “pro-Palestine.” If you support secularism, democracy, and a two-state solution — and you oppose Hamas, settlement expansion, and the occupation — you can be both.

If they keep asking you to pick a side after all of that, tell them you’re going with hummus.

 

Posted in America's image, Atheism, History, Islam, Judaism, Politics, Religion | 8 Comments

Voudon Vs. Catholicism–Which Shaman Would You Choose?

Do do that voodoovoodoobankrobbery
that you do so well.
For you do something to me
that nobody else could do! – Cole Porter, You Do Something To Me

Sometimes I think my nose should be flat and I should be suffering a concussion, considering all the facepalms and headdesks I do when reading ‘headlines’ like the following:

Voodoo won’t save Haiti, says cardinal 

Haiti’s first Roman Catholic cardinal has described voodoo as a “big social problem” for his desperately poor country, arguing that the religion offers “magic” but no real solutions to a population deprived of justice and a political voice.

Chibly Langlois, who was made a cardinal by Pope Francis in February, linked Haiti’s belief system to its chronic political problems, which he says force poor Haitians – the overwhelming majority of a population of 10 million – to seek supernatural solutions.

“If a person is well educated and has the financial means, they will go to a doctor [instead of the voodoo priest] when they get sick. If that same person went to the court to get justice they would not go to the voodoo priest to get revenge. It’s a big problem for the church. And for Haiti,” he said.

About 80% of Haitians are Roman Catholic; roughly half the population also practises voodoo – though many do not do so in public. “That’s why voodoo ceremonies are conducted at night–time. They are ashamed to say they practise it,” said Langlois.

Voodoo, which has its roots in west Africa’s pantheist religions but incorporates images and rituals of Catholicism, has played a central role in Haitian society since before colonial times. A voodoo ceremony in August 1791 is said to have helped trigger Haiti’s first big slave insurrection against the French colonisers. It was banned in 1934 and categorised as sorcery in the penal code.

In the 1940s Catholics in Haiti burned voodoo masks and drums in a series of “anti-superstition” campaigns. Meanwhile, Hollywood popularised the (entirely fictional) image of voodoo as a religion of zombies, devil worship and ceremonies involving wax dolls and pins.

Voodoo remained banned in Haiti until 1987, when a new constitution came into force, and it was not until 2003 that it was given legal recognition as a religion with equal standing to Catholicism.

But after decades of uneasy tolerance by the Catholic church, Langlois declared that Haitians cannot follow both religions. “The church cannot – and does not – ignore the cultural elements and uses of voodoo, like the drum, the rhythm, the way of singing. But you can’t be voodooist and Catholic. The Catholic should be pure Catholic; the voodooist should be pure voodoo,” he said.

It is a clear, if controversial, message, for the poorest country in the Americas.

Richard Morse, a Haitian-American anthropologist and musician, whose mother was a voodoo priestess, described the cardinal’s remarks as dishonest.

“If you want to talk about Haiti’s ills, you’ve got to start with slavery, in which the Catholics were very involved. So I’m not sure what good comes of blaming the victim.”

Morse also questioned the Catholic church’s right to prescribe for Haitians. “Voodoo was born in Haiti, of Haitians and it is our culture. Catholicism is imported and we respect it and embrace it but we also love the truth.”

Jeanguy Sainteus, founder of Haiti’s leading dance company, said that he regarded voodoo as being more meaningful than the Catholic faith. “I feel more connected with the lwa [voodoo spirits] than [anything I feel] when I go to church,” he said.

“Voodoo is a religion, like the Catholic faith. It’s certainly not a big problem for Haiti. If people use voodoo properly and if we are open about it and talk about who we really are, it can only be good.”

Sainteus said voodoo’s standing as the religion of the poor meant it was “misused and misunderstood”. He added that the cardinal and other Haitians “need to see voodoo with their eyes, not their prejudice, because it is the key to Haiti’s future”.

Langlois, 55, the youngest of Jesuit Pope Francis’s recent crop of 19 cardinals, is seen to epitomise the Vatican’s determination to refocus the church’s attention on the poor.

He says it was this commitment to the poor that led him to broker negotiations between President Michel Martelly’s administration and the opposition in mid-March, in an attempt to break political deadlock over the organisation of senate and local authority elections that are more than two years overdue.

“As Pope Francis said, he would rather have a church that gets its hands dirty than one that is closed in on itself,” said Langlois. “I should work to help provide a better solution to the country even if I know I’m taking a risk.”

It’s this kind of nonsense that makes me throw my hands up in disgust when I read shit like this. One witch doctor criticizing other witch doctors is pretty much pot.kettle.black. If the Holy Cee (guess what word I substitute for ‘church’?) is really really worried about these folks, howzabout they actually sell their papist trappings and trimmings to help them out? (Rhetorical question, of course: they never shall).

And who would win in a Cage match? The Virgin Mary vs. Baron Samadi? And which belief is wackier? One states that ‘gods’ wander around waiting to possess willing individuals, the other propounds that a human woman untouched by male semen gave birth anyways. Need I elaborate?

Sad, sad world we live in.

Till the next post then.

Posted in Absurdity, Boo-fucking-hoo!, Catholic church, Crazy fundies, Delusion, for fuck's sake!, Religion, Skepticism, Stupidity | 9 Comments