Religious Entrenchment: The ‘Higher Power’ Clause

12steptranslate(Hat tip to the Atheist Republic, where I learned about the following story.)

In the next few weeks, I am going to try address (read: bitch about ) the constant reminders of superstition in our culture, what I like to call the ‘god nods’. One never realizes how ubiquitous that is, until you become an atheist. Then, it seems the newly-self-aware atheist is being bombarded by all kinds of folderol, from ‘bless you’ when you sneeze, to reading about some tea-bagging idiot proclaiming ‘GAWD!’ from the podium while running for president. It just seems like it’s EVERYWHERE – a body can’t turn around in some states without being slapped in the face by a cultural anachronism from the last century.

Case in point:

Atheist Sent To Jail For Rejecting God, In Blatant Violation Of The Constitution

The Constitution doesn’t apply, apparently, when it comes to atheists. Barry Hazle, an avowed atheist from California, has had his parole revoked, and you’ll balk at why. According to Courthouse News Service, Hazle rightfully sued his parole officer, several corrections officials with the state of California, and Westcare Corp. for revoking his parole after his “congenial” refusal to acknowledge a higher power in a required 12- Step Program.

Hazle said that he had already expressed discomfort with participating in religiously based drug treatment programs after a plea of “no contest” to a methamphetamine possession charge. Despite the fact that everyone involved knew he was was an atheist, Hazle was released from prison into a 90-day treatment facility, where all of the programs available followed the 12 step method, which requires the acknowledgment of a higher power. When Hazle refused to participate, the staff reported him to his parole officer, and he went back to prison for 100 days.

Hazle filed a efderal civil rights suit seeking damages for false imprisonment and other civil rights violations. San Francisco U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell found the defendants in Hazle’s case liable for civil rights violations. However, when he turned the case over to a jury, they awarded Hazle zero damages.

Hazle appealed for a new trial, and was denied. Finally, a three- judge panel of the 9th Circuit found that Hazle was entitled to damages in his civil rights suit. From Judge Stephen Reinhardt:

The district judge’s finding of liability establishes that Hazle suffered actual injury when he was unconstitutionally incarcerated. Given this undisputed finding that Hazle’s constitutional rights were violated, and applying the rule that the award of compensatory damages is mandatory when the existence of actual injury is beyond dispute, we hold that the district judge erred in refusing to hold that Hazle was, as a matter of law, entitled to compensatory damages. We therefore reverse the district judge’s denial of Hazle’s motion for a new trial.

I’ll say he is entitled. And if the damages awarded are something insanely small, we’ll know where this nation stands with regards to the First Amendment: it only applies to some. Then again, we already knew that, didn’t we?

This is something we may all have encountered (I certainly have, multiple times). I have had a lot of friends in AA – but the ‘higher power’ thing? If someone asks me (no, not in AA thankfully), I’d simply state that humanity would be my ‘higher power’, which likely Hazle didn’t come up with. This goes hand-in-hand with the question, ‘don’t you want to be part of something larger’? Already am. Humanity. This also applies to the concept fronted by the ‘divine command’ folks. You know who I mean – the idiots who try to take credit for human morality, and try weakly to argue that all their morality comes from their imaginary friend, and somehow everyone else is ‘borrowing’ their morality (reification fallacy – how can anyone ‘borrow’ an abstract? Is there interest charged? Batshit crazy, that is).

The “selective rights” thing is going to be a thing of the past – equal rights. What a concept.

Because yes, freedom OF religion requires freedom FROM religion. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Till the next post then.

Posted in Absurdity, America's image, Atheism, Ethical behavior, for fuck's sake!, Religion, Separation of church and state | Leave a comment

Extreme Religiousness As Mental Illness: File This Under ‘About Bloody Time!’

strongmedsA casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith proves nothing – Nietzsche.

I think (but am not sure: the inevitable encroachment of entropy has claimed more than a few brain cells) that I’ve been on about this for some time. And voila! Someone finally has gotten a clue:

American Psychological Association To Classify Belief in God As a Mental Illness

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), a strong and passionate belief in a deity or higher power, to the point where it impairs one’s ability to make conscientious decisions about common sense matters, will now be classified as a mental illness.

The controversial ruling comes after a 5-year study by the APA showed devoutly religious people often suffered from anxiety, emotional distress, hallucinations, and paranoia. The study stated that those who perceived God as punitive was directly related to their poorer health, while those who viewed God as benevolent did not suffer as many mental problems. The religious views of both groups often resulted in them being disconnected from reality.

Dr. Lillian Andrews, professor of psychology, stated, “Every year thousands of people die after refusing life-saving treatment on religious grounds. Even when being told ‘you will die without this treatment’ patients reject the idea and believe that their God will still save them. Those lives could be saved simply by classifying those people as mentally unfit for decision making.”

“Jehovah Witnesses for instance,” Dr. Andrews continued, “will not accept blood under any circumstance. They would rather die than to receive life-saving donor blood. Many religious people believe they have “healing power” in their hands. Many believe they can communicate with God using a personal language, which is unknown to anyone but the communicator and God (known as speaking in tongues). Many often tell of seeing spirits. All of these are signs of a mental break and a loss of touch with reality. Religious belief and the angry God phenomenon has caused chaos, destruction, death, and wars for centuries. The time for evolving into a modern society and classifying these archaic beliefs as a mental disorder has been long overdue. This is the first of many steps to a positive direction.”

With the new classification, the APA will lobby to introduce legislation which would allow doctors the right to force life-saving treatment on those who refuse it for spiritual reasons on the grounds that they are mentally incapable of making decisions about their health.

The American Psychological Association says more information about the study and the new classification will be made available to the public in their upcoming journal (which is expected to be release in early August).

Whoo hoo! Hurray for the APA!

Now of course this isn’t targeting your average believer – for the most part, a lot of these folks sit around smoking cigarettes in their trailer parks, deluding themselves that they’re a part of a grander scheme (yeah, some divine plan there – dying broke and toothless, waiting for the handout from on high that never comes). No, the folks I worry about are the Mansons and the Chos – or we can reach back in time and look at all the lives that could’ve been saved if people had just realized that religious fruitcakes like Jim Jones, David Koresh or Timothy McVeigh (yeah, don’t bullshit me: any idiot who says ‘science is my religion’ is obviously covering for his faith) should’ve been put in some kind of institution, not become leaders of any sort. Joan of Arc? Crazy. And if it hadn’t been for her antics, we’d not have had Gilles de Rais. (Shudder)

And this is the part that cracks me up: we could, under the auspices of this study, commit a HUGE percentage of the GOP (if not all of them). I don’t trust a single one of those pricks as far as I can sling a piano. As I’ve stated (endlessly no doubt), folks who will put their faith above decisions that affect everyone are not to be trusted in office, because these people will ruin other lives due to ‘belief’.

And of course, those recalcitrant (read: stupid) parents who are convinced, regardless of all the evidence available, that their ‘gawd’ is going to cure their sick children. Maybe we should have all potential parents tested. And don’t get maudlin on me: we’ve all seen at least one instance on Facebook where some woman or man are behave in a manner unbefitting a human being, let alone a parent. And think about this: in order to adopt, you will be put through a literal wringer being vetted, but if you just give birth, hey, no harm no foul. Talk about inequitable.

But I digress.

Slowly but surely, our species is finally beginning to awake from the fever-induced fugue of religious thought. We can only hope that it continues as it has, albeit quickly.

Till the next post then.

ADDENDUM:

Yes, it has been pointed out that this is a satire – which I took seriously because A. I was seriously exhausted, & B. I should’ve known it was too good to be true. Apologies.

Posted in Atheism, Crazy fundies, Delusion, Religion, Religious decline, Skepticism | 9 Comments

Tempest In A Teapot: The Paper Tigers Of The GOP

papertigerPaper Tiger: Paper tiger is a literal English translation of the Chinese phrase zhilaohu (紙老虎). The term refers to something that seems threatening but is ineffectual and unable to withstand challenge.

Well now, it’s been about two weeks since Obergefell v. Hodges, and we were promised civil disobedience and/or war. Let’s just see who’s been threatening what:

James Dobson (another person on my top ten I’d-like-to-slap-some-smarts-into-you list), has predicted civil war and the imminent collapse of Western civilization.

Rick Joyner (another nobody who can’t get a regular job) says that this in preparation for the coming of the Antichrist.

Mike Huckabee, everyone’s least favorite Republican (Young Earther? Shouldn’t be in office then), has been calling for civil disobedience. Sorry Fucked-up-bee, having Chuckles Norris on your side means shit in the real world.

This is the one that really pisses me off: black pastor groups rallying people for this nonsense. It’s bad enough there should be some kind of sympathy there (yeah, slavery and sexuality are different, but the principle remains the same), but skin color is not a precondition for deciding who gets civil rights – yes, everybody is aware that the African American population spearheaded the civil rights movement, but it’s not just about race. Anyone wants to get into that, fine – just read the definition.

So I’ve been waiting (only kinda joking) for war to break out, civil disobedience to spill over into the rioting streets, people tearing each apart, etc. All the signs of an imminent impending collapse.

Nothing.

Honestly, it’s kind of anti-climactic. We were promised sturm und drang, didn’t even get a light sprinkle. Maybe it’s too early in the game to tell, but thus far, the world just keeps on spinnin’.

Republicans are all mouth and trousers, it seems. Not really a surprise, though.

Till the next post then.

Posted in Absurdity, Boo-fucking-hoo!, Crazy fundies, Delusion, Gay Marriage, Politics, Religion, Religious decline, Sexuality, Superstition | 4 Comments

Happy Fourth Of July To A Freer America

gawdwilljudgeThis is perhaps the happiest I’ve been (ideologically) in a long while.

On June 26, 2015, the Scotus ruled on Obergefell v. Hodges, coming to an historic landmark ruling that allowed same-sex marriage.

Because let’s face it: the only real argument against same-sex marriage is a religious one. Prior to the advent of Christianity, homosexuality was not only a recognized lifestyle, it was no huge deal to most of the ancient world. It was actually recognized in a few countries back then. It wasn’t until the Roman emperor Constantius II laid out a death sentence for this sort of ritual, that it became anathema. Then the Christians cracked down on this kind of behavior, because it was banned by their ‘holy book’. In fact, these alleged purveyors of the ‘religion of love’ indulged in some pretty horrific shit like:

In the thirteenth century, in areas such as France, male homosexual behavior resulted in castration on the first offense, dismemberment on the second, and burning on the third. Lesbian behavior was punished with specific dismemberments for the first two offenses and burning on the third as well.

(Though how someone would engage in that act after castration is a mystery.)

And so it was written, so it was done. As the evil priests of that old whore Christianity demanded, people were pre-programmed to hate and feel disgust at something we know now is not an ‘abomination’, but the expression of love two people felt for each other, regardless of genitalia, two adults whose business (sexual or otherwise) is theirs alone, not to be repressed and destroyed because of small-minded delusion.

And this rampant homophobia is embedded deeply in our culture. Teenagers still use the word ‘FAG!’ to denigrate some poor lonely isolated individual who is disliked (yeah, I got some of this ugly nonsense directed at me at that age, fucking un-fun.), and people have been savaged (and likely still are) over a sexual preference that is only disgusting if you have some serious insecurities about your own sexuality.

As an anecdote: back in the 80’s (or as I like to call it, the last century) I went to see the film Cruising. Mind you, I was still a young man, still chock full of ridiculous nonsense. I had to walk out, because the gay sex made me queasy and uncomfortable. Now, I can sit through Game Of Thrones (or Spartacus), see two men kiss (or more), and just shrug, thinking ‘good for them!’ I don’t fast forward to the hetero- scenes, I usually just wander off and come back at whatever time I feel like.

It makes me happy, to see that there’s a little less discrimination in our world.

But of course, the American Taliban is up in arms. That’s no surprise. In fact, the plethora of willful ignorance makes me want to get a Louisville slugger and start re-arranging knee-caps. But regardless of emotional vitriol, the Christians do have a good weapon: they can cry like little fucking babies because they didn’t get their way. It’s always all right when the rulings are in their favor, but they roll around on the floor, beating their heels and fists against the ground in temper tantrums like the ignorant spoiled children they are. And of course, scream their favorite delusion of  ‘Persecution!’ (as Jon Stewart once pointed out, ‘How can you be persecuted when you’ve been in charge for 2000 years?’)

And all I can say is; if you are forcing your religious beliefs down my throat, how is that in any way American?

Till the next post then.

Posted in America's image, Crazy fundies, Delusion, for fuck's sake!, Gay Marriage, Politics, Religion, Sexuality | 2 Comments

And The World Changes A Little More For The Better..

GayMarriageEvolution

As you all likely know, a profound change for the better has happened in this country. Gay marriage is now legal.

It is a pivotal instant in history, one that will have tremendous impact on our lives. One more piece of religious tomfoolery has been removed from our culture, one less evil excuse for tribalism, one more level of civilization has been added.

Let’s do a tally. I wonder what that fuckwit from last week is up to? Soaked thoroughly in kerosene, contemplating dropping the match while he belts out “Closer my lord to thee?”

No such luck. All mouth and trousers, tra-la tra-la. Still waiting for the bonfires, but self-immolation was apparently merely incendiary rhetoric, what a surprise (yawn).

More of the what-the-FUCKs!

Conservatives, however, reacted angrily, with nearly every Republican candidate for president excoriated the ruling. Perhaps the strongest condemnation came from Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who just declared his candidacy. He said the decision would lead to an “an all-out assault on religious freedom guaranteed in the first amendment” and later suggested eliminating the Supreme Court entirely.

“The Supreme Court is completely out of control, making laws on their own, and has become a public opinion poll instead of a judicial body,” he told an Iowa crowd during a speech.

“If we want to save some money, let’s just get rid of the court.”

Seriously, I want this fuckwit out of office. Right now. Because this is what the Rethuglickan party is: a bunch of selfish, narcissitic incompetent fools, who throw fucking temper tantrums whenever thwarted. Nobody anywhere has demonstrated that this would infringe on anyone’s freedom. In fact, demanding an adherence to one particular rule from one particular religion is called…? What? Can’t hear you. That’s right: a violation of Separation of Church and state. so basically, these assholes have been infringing on the public’s freedom of (or from) religion. So boo-fucking-hoo, guess what? They’re the violators.

But enough of that. It’s a better world today than it was a week ago. Today, two consenting adults are allowed to marry. Religious discrimination has taken a mighty blow: that we might topple it with many more.

Till the next post, then.

Posted in America's image, And now for something completely different, Gay Marriage, Marriage, Religion, Sexuality, Values | 6 Comments

Burn Baby Burn! Homophobes Gone Loopy!

christhomophobeHard to believe but true:

Texas pastor Rick Scarborough is willing to be burned to death to oppose gay marriage

Move over, couple who promised to get a divorce if gay marriage was legalised, because one Texas pastor has taken his opposition to marriage equality one step further.

Rick Scarborough, a Baptist pastor and Christian political activist, has said he would be willing to be burned to death in his fight against gay rights.

He made the bizarre pledge while speaking to EW Jackson, a right-wing minister and politician, on the National Emergency Coalition show, a podcast linked to Jackson’s group, Staying True to America’s National Destiny (STAND).

Speaking about his commitment to traditional values in the face of public condemnation, Scarborough said: “We are not going to bow, we are not going to bend, and if necessary we will burn.”

Scarborough did not specify whether he was talking about self-immolation, or being burned for his views by other people.

On the same show, the preacher made another pledge to sacrifice himself for his views, this time talking about the ‘persecution’ of lay Christians who oppose gay rights – such as the Oregon bakers who refused to make a cake for a gay wedding.

He said: “The preachers need to get out front, the leaders need to get out front, out front of these ordinary citizens and say: ‘Shoot me first.'”

When not making boldly suicidal claims on internet radio shows, Scarborough can be found running Vision America, an organisation that aims to “inform, encourage and mobilise pastors and their congregations to be proactive in restoring Judeo-Christian values” to America.

He has previously called AIDS “God’s judgement”, and is the author of the 2006 book, Liberalism Kills Kids.

Oh wow. Talk about stupid hate-mongers. I’d like to attend that (if he went through with it that is: I’d never tie a human being to a stake and set them on fire, because I’m a secular humanist, not a homophobic shitheel), if only to chuck Molotov cocktails into the flames. It would be nice if these nincompoops martyred themselves en masse: saves time, money, resources, protect the children and the gay people from the rantings of hairy-eyed fanatics.

But one of the facets of any civilization is that dissenting voices should not be stifled, that even that obnoxious jackass Scarborough gets to have a say, however repugnant and ignorant his opinion may be.

But maybe someone should pelt this moron with a water balloon filled with urine, or something like that. Before you object, remember this asshole?

So pretty much, let them talk, let ‘em squawk, but take no shit off these losers. I’m more and more tempted to go out in the field and start shouting these delusional panderers down.

Till the next post then.

Posted in Absurdity, Bad God!, Boo-fucking-hoo!, Crazy fundies, Delusion, for fuck's sake!, Gay Marriage, Religion, Stupidity | 2 Comments

Imaginary Persecution–Last Gasp Of A Dying Ideology

Christian PersecutionNo doubt we’ve all seen it before (or had it brought up): this ‘poor little me! Pander to me! Don’t criticize!” And when that particular sympathy fuck doesn’t work, let’s whinge on about how their ‘minority’ is ‘persecuted’.

Witness:

Pastor Fears America Will Start Exterminating Christians, Nazi-Style

Christians love to think of themselves as the quintessential victims. Nowhere is that reality more apparent than on the conservative media outlets like Fox News.

During a recent segment on Sean Hannity’s program, a panel attempted to respond to a very popular clip from Bill Maher that outlined how the ‘War on Christians’ is little more than a matter of perception, and self-martyrdom.

As part of the panel, a pastor Hannity brought onto the show said:

“This isn’t imaginary, it’s real. And sure, it doesn’t rise to the level of having your head chopped off by Isis in the Middle East, but it’s all the same attitude that allows for those attacks.”

He wasn’t done there though, Reverend Robert Jeffress needed to take this comparison all the way back to Nazi Germany.

“I want to remind people that, you know, the Nazis weren’t able to take the Jews to the crematoriums immediately. The German people wouldn’t have allowed for it. Instead, the Nazis had to change public opinion. They marginalized the Jewish people, disparaged them, and make them objects of contempt.”

As I write this, I’m turning on my lamp with the cover made out of Christian skin, and am remembering all the Gaswagens I saw on the road today coming back from my martial arts classes. Last night, the Amerikan Gestapo rousted my Christian neighbors and hauled them to concentration camps in the middle of the night. The sky blackens from the dark smoke roiling up from all the burning churches that litter the Amerikan countryside, soon to be ash.

The above paragraph is, of course, utter bullshit.

So what are the maroons proposing? Thought police, to keep people courteous? Yeah, so much for that fucking free will nonsense, which the Christians pay lip service to but never espouse.

And people dying for a cause, does not validate the cause. Lives laid down are just that, laid down. If we were to accommodate this idiocy, then by that logic, Mani was just as correct as the assholes who brought down the Twin Towers.

And man oh man, don’t you wish there was a Godwin’s Law for television media? (Not that anyone takes Fox News seriously, anyone with a brain anyways.)

Maybe they’ll marginalize themselves out of existence. Irrelevance is their medium, after all.

Till the next post then.

Posted in Absurdity, Boo-fucking-hoo!, Crazy fundies, Delusion, for fuck's sake!, Funny, Religion, Stupidity | 5 Comments