Faith Freed The Slaves? More Tea-Bagging Bullshit

“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.” – Unknownteapartynonsense

I wish we lived in a place more like the America of yesteryear that only exists in the brains of us Republicans. – Ned Flanders

Another unsurprising and complete gaffe, in a long and embarrassing line of them:

The insane lie about slavery that Christian conservatives are spreading

The fanatical right in the US has a problem on its hands and that problem is American history. History tells a tale that does not fit the narrative of the Tea Party and libertarian version of American’s founding and history.

That was evident this week, when former senator Jim DeMint, who is head of the Heritage Foundation, a libertarian think tank, made the claim that it was not the government that freed the slaves, but faith.

Talking to Jerry Newcombe on the radio show  Vocal Point, DeMint said, “[Abolitionism] came from a growing movement among the people, particularly people of faith, that [slavery] was wrong.” DeMint goes out of his way to say big government had nothing to do with freeing the slaves; it was on the Constitution and Lincoln, because obviously neither of those is big government. DeMint goes on to say:

The reason that the slaves were eventually freed was the Constitution; it was like the conscience of the American people. Unfortunately there were some court decisions like Dred Scott and others that defined some people as property, but the Constitution kept calling us back to ‘all men are created equal and we have inalienable rights’ in the minds of God. But a lot of the move to free the slaves came from the people; it did not come from the federal government. It came from a growing movement among the people, particularly people of faith, that this was wrong. People like [British abolitionist William Wilberforce] who persisted for years because of his faith and because of his love for people. So no liberal is going to win a debate that big government freed the slaves. In fact, it was Abraham Lincoln, the very first Republican, who took this on as a cause and a lot of it was based on a love in his heart that comes from God.

DeMint misses some important historical points here. For starters, while he is correct that Lincoln was a Republican, he ignores the history of the Democratic and Republican parties and their ideologies at the time. The roles of the party had been reversed and did not fully change place until around the time of President Roosevelt’s New Deal.

Secondly, there is no historical evidence Lincoln governed with faith. Lincoln never joined a specific religion, yet he did appear to believe in some form of God or deity. This however is not sufficient evidence that Lincoln fought to free the slaves because of a religious or faith-based obligation to do so.

DeMint also misses another important piece to the historical puzzle: most churches refused to take part when offered a leading role by abolitionists. As historian John R. McKivigan explains in his book  The War Against Proslavery Religion: Abolitionism and the Northern Churches 1830-1865, “All but a few small denominations balked at a commitment to uncompromised abolitionist principles and programs. As a result, civil war and government ended slavery in 1865.”

History is not on the side of DeMint, who is fighting to change the country’s history to fit a new narrative he has for the Tea Party and the far right. DeMint knows the true history of this country is built upon the backs of liberals, union men and women, and those who fought against an oppressive South, ruled by then conservative Democrats, who are now in turn the conservative right’s Republican Tea Party.

While crediting Lincoln with freeing the slaves is actually historically inaccurate in his intentions, it is correct that the war Lincoln chose to fight did bring an end to slavery. Lincoln himself said he was not interested in freeing the slaves when going to war—his goal was preserving the Union, and freeing slaves happened to be a later part of his military strategy.

Lincoln wrote in a letter to abolitionist Horace Greeley in 1862:

“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing  any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing  all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.”

So while in the end Lincoln’s decision to go to war with the South to save the Union did result in the freeing of the slaves, this was not his intention. DeMint is continuously wrong in his assertions and his invented history in which his party saved the day and freed the slaves without big government, only a Constitution and God himself.

This narrative DeMint is trying to create has a thorn in its side that it does not even try to remove, and that is that the South still holds onto anger over its Civil War loss. They still fly Confederate flags and refer to the war not as the Civil War, but as the war of northern aggression. Some cities still have monuments erected in celebration and remembrance of fallen Confederate heroes. This does not sound like the narrative of those who hold faith so deeply they fought to free slaves. Instead, it tells a tale of a radical Christian Right that fought to the death for its “god-given right” to own slaves.

This does seem to be the latest trend in Tea Party politics; if only history were different and they could be the heroes, their lost political capital could be regained. They want to appear as though they stand against tyranny and will fight for the little person.

Inventing history and creating heroes out of thin air is what the Tea Party is trying to rally behind. These are the exact events we are watching play out in Nevada right now, with rancher Cliven Bundy taking up arms with a band of libertarian fanatics against the Bureau of Land Management.

Bundy stopped paying his federal fees for letting his cattle graze on government-owned land and went as far to say, “I don’t recognize [the] United States government as even existing.” This type of delusional rhetoric is exactly what the Tea Party is about.

Their desire to enact a political revolution is so obsessive they are willing to cling to anyone with a gun who will stand up against the US government. They ignore the fact that Bundy is nothing more than the freeloaders they campaign against, refusing to pay his rent and stealing from the US government by using its land to feed his cattle.

Apparently, a white Tea Party libertarian is a revolutionary, and a group of them are national heroes; yet when police evict a minority family from their home at gunpoint because they failed to make rent, the minorities are freeloaders living off the American citizens tax dollars.

Just as DeMint is fighting to change the history of America to include his band of slave owners as abolitionists, the party is trying to use someone like Bundy, who for all intents and purposes is a domestic terrorist, as a national icon against their invented tyrannical government.

False narratives are the sign of a party in its death throes. We are witnessing a party struggling to stay relevant in a world that has become increasingly liberal. The erratic behavior from the right is nothing but a response to the current climate that shows liberalism has won.

Markos Moulitsas of Daily KOS writes, “But if you wonder why conservatives seem to carry perpetual grievances, it’s because they know they have lost. The entire world around them has left them behind. Heck, they’ve created an entire alternate media world in which to cocoon themselves. But they know they’ve lost.”

The right knows the fight is moving out of their hands: more than a dozen states have legalized gay marriage, their religious beliefs are being squeezed out of government, and the population is done with pampering the corporate elite.

This changing political climate has the right scared and backed into a corner. It should come as no surprise they are lashing out and grasping at straws. From extremists pointing guns at federal agents to a retelling of historical events, the Tea Party rhetoric machine is gassed up and ready to spread mythology and endorse violence and terrorism until its final breath.

Jebus wept. What the fuck is up with these people? I stopped watching the news a while ago, because of my blood pressure. And that was because, almost inevitably, some Republican was always blathering out some of the most ignorant and uneducated dreck, that I would extend my hands claw-like toward the set, and yell, “How in FUCK did this idiot get elected?!?” I’m sure many of you have had similar responses.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: we need to abolish the Republican Party in this country. It does nothing but harm: restricting reproductive rights, gay rights, always braying for the White Jay-sus and the sacred cow of capitalism. It’s enough. Tell every Republican you meet: “You’re on the wrong side.”

That’s what I always do.

Till the next post, then.

Posted in Absurdity, America's image, Crazy fundies, Delusion, for fuck's sake!, Politics, Religion, Stupidity | 4 Comments

‘So Help Me God’ Nixed From Air Force Pledge: Famous Witch Doctor Freaks Out

pat-robertson-a-prophet-for-our-tiI have a long, long list of people that I wish I could slap some intelligence into. Mostly that list consists of Republicans and/or the Religious ‘Blight’ (as I not-so-fondly call them). And this idiot is in the top 10.

Pat Robertson loses it after Air Force nixes ‘God’ oath for atheists: ‘How can they fly?’

TV preacher Pat Robertson lashed out at a “Jewish radical” on Thursday who he said was responsible for God being removed from the Air Force oath.

This story has been updated. Please see below.

The Air Force announced on Thursday that the words “so help me God” were an optional part of the oath after an atheist airman crossed out the words on his reenlistment paperwork. Military officials had initially refused to accept the paperwork, but Department of Defense General Counsel eventually ruled that the words could be omitted.

Although the American Humanist Association had represented the airman, Robertson on Thursday blamed Military Religious Freedom Foundation President Mikey Weinstein for the movement against religion in the armed services.

“There’s a left-wing radical named Mikey Weinstein who has got a group about people against religion or whatever he calls it, and he has just terrorized the armed forces,” Robertson opined. “You think you’re supposed to be tough, you’re supposed to defend us, and you got one little Jewish radical who is scaring the pants off of you.”

“You want these guys flying the airplanes to defend us when you got one little guy terrorizing them?” he asked. “That’s what it amounts to.”

“You know, we swear oaths. And ‘so help me God,’ well, what does it mean? It means with God’s help, and you don’t have to say you believe in God. You just say, ‘I want some help besides myself [with] the oath I’m taking.’”

The televangelist concluded that the entire situation was “crazy.”

“What is wrong with the Air Force? How can they fly the bombers to defend us if they cave to one little guy?”

Update, 4:19 p.m. EST: Weinstein responded to Robertson’s remarks in a brief statement to The Friendly Atheist.

“Pat Robertson is to human dignity and sanity and integrity and character what dog shit is to a fine French restaurant on the menu,” Weinstein was quoted as saying.

Seriously, the only reason this moron isn’t homeless and babbling on the streets to himself, is that he’s a ‘priest’. That’s a job for some slacker who can’t focus on anything except his delusions. Of course, if you want a best seller on the NY Times list, or a built-customer base for vacuous useless product brands, just declare yourself a Christian at the top of your lungs (saying you’re newly born-again will increase your sales!), claim ‘gawd’ told you so, rinse, repeat.

As for ‘one little Jewish radical’ terrorizing the entire armed forces of the USA? Honkey, please, stop saying stupid shit. You’re just not making your religious cronies look bad, you’re weakening the species every time you spout gibberish.

Of course, it’s like telling thunder to not follow lightning.

Till the next post then.

Posted in Absurdity, America's image, Boo-fucking-hoo!, Crazy fundies, Education, for fuck's sake!, Politics, Religion, Stupidity | 4 Comments

Because Not Being Able To Discriminate Is The Same Thing As The Holocaust

HolyWar3Endlessly entertaining, the religious among us are pretty much comic relief. Like this asshole:

Anti-LGBT Campaigner: Gay Activists Sending Us to Concentration Camps

During an interview on June 20th, the leader of an anti-LGBT group in Texas said that gay activists want concentration camps for those who refuse to sell wedding cakes to gay couples and discriminate against them.

Raging Elephants Radio host Calver Kamau Imani asked Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values, to comment on a Colorado baker who refused to sell wedding cakes to same-sex couples earlier this year.

“And so the homosexual couple, whether it’s man and man, woman and woman, whatever, they go to this specially created commission to deal with this, file a complaint against the business, and so the commission says ‘No, you’re gonna make this cake, plus, you’re going to go to concentration camp… Is that what you’re telling us, Jonathan?” asked Imani.

“That’s right, that’s right…You know, they tried to do something like that here in Texas — I think it was a bill by Senator Rodney Ellis that dealt with hate crime stuff, where they would’ve forced you to participate in an event of the quote-unquote community that you had offended. I mean, this is what they want. I mean, there’s no question. I’ve seen it… I’ve seen them try to do it with legislation here in Texas at the state level. It is a goal of theirs to put people in jail that disagree with homosexual marriage, without question or the homosexual lifestyle,” responded Saenz.

According to Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation (GLAAD), which is a non-profit organization that promotes the image of LGBT individuals in the media, Saenz has defended the proposal of ex-gay therapy as a proven scientific measure in Texas. However, Texas Republican Party discredited the proposal calling it “reparative therapy” in its party’s platform that was released earlier this month.

It’s a relatively simple equation. Paranoid schizophrenic? Don’t worry! You will never ever have to be medicated, or locked away for everyone’s safety AND yours – you can always get a job with the Republicans, or a fake job like a priest or minister.

And then they can tend to the Christian refugees at the ‘Wouldn’t Sell A Cake’ Camp.

But morons like Saenz? I honestly, seriously, wish for a method where I can smarten people like this butthole by slapping I.Q points into them. He’d be a genius by the time I was done. Oh well.

Till the next post then.

Posted in Absurdity, America's image, Bad God!, Crazy fundies, Delusion, for fuck's sake!, Politics, Religion, Stupidity | 4 Comments

Left Behind? Go Fuck A Duck, Robertson

As if the willful ignorance of the American people in re: religion and its nonsense isn’t enough, we now get an earful from dipshits like Phil Robertson. Personally, I’d like to smack that red-white-‘n-blue bandana off the ignorant fuck’s head.

So it’s not enough that this ignorant hick has his own show (which I’d be happy to blissfully ignore anyway), but these backwards barbarians are now trying to exert their influence in the public sphere by putting forth the most simplistic nationalistic rhetoric that even a half-baked Republican wouldn’t stand behind.

The world is a-swirl with cause celebre opinions mouthed by woefully uninformed celebrities spouting trash (think Kirk Cameron, Jenna McCarthy, Jim Carry – jeez, there’s WAY too many of these fucktards to count). And to top all the latest codswallop off, Robertson is actually funding another Left Behind movie:

“Like most Christians, my family and I can truly say that we’re excited about the soon return of Jesus”

Duck Dynasty reality star Willie Robertson is taking his star power to the movie business. The A&E star has signed on as an executive producer of upcoming Nicolas Cage starrer Left Behind.

Robertson, who has starred on the reality show about duck hunters, is featured in a new video on the faith-based film’s Facebook page, revealing that he was a “silent” partner on the project.

“Like most Christians, my family and I can truly say that we’re excited about the soon return of Jesus,” he says. “And I’m sure if you’ve been watching the news lately, you know that that return could be any day now.”

The film, based on the book series of the same name by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, follows Rayford Steele (Cage) who is piloting a plane during the Rapture when millions of people around the globe simply vanish. On the ground, his daughter, Chloe Steele (Cassi Thomson) is among those left behind, forced to navigate a world of madness as she searches for her lost mother and brother.

“I believe people are going to make that life-changing decision to follow Christ on the way home from the theater,” adds Robertson in the video.

Vic Armstrong directed the film, which hits theaters Oct. 3. Co-written by John Patus and Paul Lalonde, who is also producing alongside Michael Walker and Ed Clydesdale of Stoney Lake Entertainment, the film also stars Chad Michael Murray, Nicky Whelan, Quinton Aaron and Jordin Sparks.

Yeah, bad news, Robertson: Jesus is a fictional character. Your entire epistemology is based on lies, not facts. And this entire movie is argumentum ad baculum at it’s very worst: Be a good little sinner, or imaginary sky-daddy is going to leave you very alone.

Honestly, I wish the wankers would leave. That would mean more resources for the rest of us, and no more of their constant hypocrisy about ‘free will’ and their enthusiasm to take it away while blathering about it.

As for Nicholas Cage: I’m pretty much done watching any of his movies anyways. Usually doing a religious movie like this spells the end of a career which was never that scintillating anyways.

People shouldn’t take the word of some furbillies living off in some swamp, whose only exposure to literature is a compilation of fairy tales told around the campfire by a bunch of Iron Age shepherds. (I know, I know, it’s too much to ask, but a man can dream.) I personally am going to take scientists far more seriously than a bunch of duck hunters, that’s for sure. The equivalent analogy would be, that I would take advice from a dentist, not the idiot who yanked his bad tooth out by tying it to a big door and slamming the door.

Seriously, a lot of people get to picket movies, some  of them for stupid pitiful reasons. As atheists, I think we should gather protesters around the USA, and march with placards announcing ‘the Rapture will never happen: we are in midst of the Crapture’ (or something like that: mottos/jingles aren’t my forte).

And this belief in oncoming doom? It destroys lives. How many people are not going to even try to improve themselves, their lives, or other peoples’ lives, because the sky is falling?

So Robertson: your ill-earned profits would’ve been better applied to ending world hunger, boosting educational resources, or given to some REAL charity, rather than putting together a movie for an apocalypse that’ll never arrive.

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

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 | 9 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.

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