Monday, May 30, 2011

The Worm In The Apple, or Seriously, I'm Not Crazy

I consider myself a reasonable man.

I am not given to conspiracy theories. Birfers, troofers, moon landing hoaxists and other nutbars receive their due laughter from me. As an atheist, I stay vigilant and mindful of my thoughts and actions to make sure I'm not assuming too much and running off on a false premise.

I really, really, REALLY wish this looked remotely close to a false premise.

This, coupled with the recent revelations from an ex-Liberty University-schooled pastor (hat tip to Hemant Mehta at The Friendly Atheist for that one) is painting a very, very nasty fucking picture of what's going on here.

From the first link, about how many schools are using state funds to buy textbooks from evangelical Christian-supremacist publishers, and how closely tied that insanity is with the right wing in America in general:

Unsurprisingly, the textbooks are fiercely anti-abortion and virulently anti-gay, similar to the ideology of Religious Right organizations (heavily funded by Betsy DeVos and family) that have been labeled hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. A Bob Jones current events text argues against legal protection for gays, stating, “These people have no more claims to special rights than child molesters or rapists.” The text uses an often-repeated phrase that homosexuals and abortion-rights supporters are “simply calling evil good.”

Ffffffffffffffffffffffffffffuck. Seriously? That's what they're putting in schools with innocent people's tax money?

They also teach a radical laissez-faire capitalism. Government safety nets, regulation, minimum wage and progressive taxes are described as contrary to the Bible.

Oh because it wasn't insane ENOUGH. As if Conservapedia's attempt to rewrite the Bible to make it LESS FUCKING LIBERAL weren't sufficient proof that they're willingly going for an echo-chamber approach to drag America away from democracy and into the hands of priests.

The A Beka civics text states, “God’s original purpose for government was to punish the evil and reward the good.” The same text describes the ideal form of government. “All governments are ordained by God, but none compare to government by God, theocracy.”

Well APPARENTLY NOT, the sons of bitches that they are. Holy fucking shit, I'm less than a page into this post and I already feel like I need a shower. Might as well plough on. What else?

Predating today’s “tenther” movement, the texts consistently accuse the federal government of exceeding its constitutional authority as described in the 10th Amendment and taking powers that belong to the states. The 14th Amendment, passed during Reconstruction to give citizenship to African Americans, is criticized as taking away state’s rights.

Concerning slavery in America, a Bob Jones high school text states, “To help them endure the difficulties of slavery, God gave Christian slaves the ability to combine the African heritage of song with the dignity of Christian praise. Through the Negro spiritual, the slaves developed the patience to wait on the Lord and discovered that the truest freedom is from the bondage of sin.”

Really?! They REALLY fucking went there and outright stated that waiting for things to change and relying on Christianity is the way out of slavery?! With their little fucking Bronze Age book where every single bastard prophet, from Moses to Jesus, is FINE WITH SLAVERY...they think their faith is the key to ending it? Fuck, when the American Civil War started, the bastard secessionists were citing the Bible in favour of their perceived right to keep slaves. Fuck your scripture, you bastards.

There's also some boilerplate in this shit about evolution being destructive to American society, which could only really be accurate if they defined 'American society' as...well, exactly the kind of ignorant pigfucker theocracy they're trying to superimpose on the country, to be honest. There's even some really old-fashioned shit about Communism being the "spawn of Satan" (their fucking words)and more recently topical bull concerning global warming:

Global warming is presented as a theory that is “simply not supported by scientific evidence,” and is supposedly promoted by environmentalists for destructive reasons, according to the A Beka economics text. ““Global environmentalists have said and written enough to leave no doubt that their goal is to destroy the prosperous economies of the world’s richest nations.”

Gotta love how they read 'environmentalist' as 'someone who wants to take away my money'. Love it in a vomiting-until-your-ears-leak-bile sort of way.

There's even anti-fiminist hinting in there, with a story of a fictional corporation going under due to a lawsuit from a female junior exec who was passed over for promotion in favour of a man.

A quiz in the teacher’s guide for the A Beka eighth-grade text Matter and Motion asks, “Why did superstition take the place of science during the Middle Ages?” The answer key tells us, “People did not have the Bible to guide them in their beliefs. Many looked back to the false ideas of Aristotle.” The next question is, “Why did modern science begin so suddenly in the 1500s?” The answer given is, “As people returned to the authority of the Scriptures during the Protestant Reformation (1517), they started learning the truth about God and His creation.”

No, you FUCKING LYING SHITWEASELS, the reason superstition took the place of science during the Middle Ages was because if you weren't obediently superstitious about the correct things, CHRISTIANS WOULD BURN YOU ALIVE.

A three-page section in this A Beka text leads with a headline “Two Faiths: Creation and Evolution” and states, “Creation, not evolution, is based on a reasonable faith.”

Evolution isn't based on any kind of faith, the same way the nuclear fusion inside a star isn't based on faith. Let alone the reasonable kind. That's the whole problem with these fucktards, really: their faith is the strongest mental force they've ever encountered, so they think - and they think this because they cannot, literally cannot conceive of any other way to come up with a conclusion - that every other statement ever made has been a statement of faith, not of fact. I'd almost give them this paragraph, except that creationism, while based on faith, sure as fuck isn't based on the reasonable kind.

The teacher’s edition of a A Beka geography text describes “Modern Africa’s Needs” as follows. “Africa is a continent with many needs. It is still in need of the gospel. Many people have gone there as missionaries but the continent is so vast, and spirit worship and the Muslim religion so strong, that only a small percentage of Africans claim to be Christians..."

Still in need of the gospel?! Most of the population of the fucking continent is HIV-positive because a sinister old Christian virgin (we fucking hope he's a virgin, given the Vatican's semi-official sexual preferences) told them condoms MAKE AIDS WORSE. If there's one fucking thing that whole place needs less of, it's scripture. Get some fucking good teachers in there instead of some priests, and we might have something...oh no, wait, here's why they think it doesn't count.

An A Beka text reads, "The doctrines and practices of the Roman church had digressed so far from Scripture that the church was compelled to keep its members from reading the Bible and discovering the truth."

They're actually right on that one. It took me until I read the Bible to discover the truth. That's how I became an atheist, via a brief period of Buddhism that lasted until I heard about karma. The problem here is that little word 'truth'. It does not mean what they think it means.

They're even going after mathematics. One of their book synopses describes FUCKING SET THEORY as a burden on modern teaching. I can only conclude that they saw Venn diagrams, didn't like the way two separate (but equal) colours were mixed together, and concluded that it was miscegenationist propaganda.

My attitude concerning America is starting to lean toward the 'get out before the Christian Taliban complete their fucking takeover' side of the meter. It's not helping that according to the second link (yeah, remember that?):

I want you to know that the fundamentalist political movement is the beginning of a cultural revolution that will take our nation to a very dark place. You have to understand that this has been methodically planned and is being carried out with the utmost vigilance. In accordance with their worldview, my old friends do not in the least care about what you think. They are against democracy, and they are seeking to end the rule of the majority in our great country.

They truly believe that if you have not been “saved,” you are living under a curse and are incapable of knowing what is best and that because of this you should be ruled over. You should also know they do not believe that even centuries-old Christian communities (Catholics, Anglicans, Greek Orthodox, etc.) are “saved,” only those who think like they do.

Speaking as someone whose nation's history actually involves that shit having been enshrined in law at one point? THIS IS A VERY BAD THING TO HEAR. It's time to get the ratfucking hell out of America, or start pushing back. Hard. It was founded on sanity. Don't let it die screaming in a straitjacket with a cross round its neck.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Save the Date!

Because this Saturday, on May 21st 2011, the rapture will happen. At least according to Harold Camping, and the thousands who believe him. Of course, he also predicted that it would end in 1994, but he was wrong that time.

And as the world laughs at these people who are selling all their worldly possessions, buying up billboard space, and taking to the streets to advise people that the world will end, I have a less ridiculing reaction. I think about the unborn babies of the pregnant women who believe this shite, and I think of how messed up their lives are going to be, born homeless because their parents were so Christian that they quit their jobs, sold their house, and await the second coming.

Of course, my classmates had to talk about it. They got the facts wrong and laughed about the world ending, and they brushed me aside when I didn't join in their ridicule and instead tried to correct them. The rapture isn't the end of the world. It's the start of the end, when God calls those who believe back to heaven, and those on earth will have to deal with things like the Anti-Christ, global wars between heaven and hell, global natural disasters, plague, and everything between. It's a touchy subject for any Christian, and not something to be laughed at.

So, as they laughed and got the facts wrong, my heart went out to those now in the streets, praying and trying to persuade others to join Christ. But at the same time, I have to wonder, is this the right thing for them to do?

For one, isn't the Rapture supposed to be unpredictable? "He shall come like a thief in the night", isn't that what it says?

Also, is it really good for people to suddenly quit their jobs and sell their worldly possessions in preparation for their last days on earth?

In my opinion, it isn't a smart thing nor is it a very Christian thing to do. These people are putting all their faith into a prediction of a human, who can and has been wrong. And instead of selling their worldly possessions and giving them to the less fortunate, who will still be less fortunate if they are called to heaven, they set themselves up for ridicule by buying billboard space. Sure, it's for the good of the people, but a man cannot live on spiritual faith alone.

Another point to bring up is those with children. Just by thinking that the children will be brought up to heaven with them is, in my opinion, like giving up on the children. It's an immoral and unfaithful thing to do! You don't just suddenly stop caring about a person when you feel like their in a good state. And even so, what if their lives fall apart? Why are these parents setting up their children for failure?

And a last point is this. Instead of setting themselves up for ridicule and anger, why don't these people live out their last days on earth being good Christians? (Or for that matter, why didn't they start before?) Instead of protesting gay marriage or ordering the public to pray for forgiveness, why don't they live by example? Give money to those who need it. Invite the poor and the homeless into your homes (as opposed to outright selling the houses). Put love and time into volunteer work. These are just examples, but these are things that people could start doing. Instead, I imagine them sitting on the sides of roads with signs saying "Repent! Are you ready for the Second Coming?", living in a tent, and spending their days yelling at those who laugh back, and praying in vain for those who won't listen.

It's late and I'm not making much sense. In any rate, from a Christian's point of view, this is my thoughts on preparing for a rapture. Live a life as you would anyway. Prepare for tomorrows. Live for today. Care for humanity, don't preach at it.

-The Christian

Monday, May 9, 2011

Doing It Pretty Much Right, Actually

At least on this issue.

That's an article from a site called Religion Dispatches, on an awesome video ad that highlights the importance of accepting LGBT believers into congregations, in part of an initiative called Believe Out Loud. Since the B in LGBT includes my girlfriend, I'm naturally in favour of anything that helps her stay happy without hiding who she is, including through her choice of worship.

As is to be expected, a Christian group (in this case one called Sojourners) refused to air the ads. What I didn't expect - and this is a very good indicator of how easy it is to fall into assumptions without evidence - is that this article in Religion Dispatches is actually lamenting this refusal by Sojourners, and actively taking the right stance - that LGBT people are people first, LGBT second. It's probably the first religious-sourced article I've ever seen actively advocating the welcoming of what could be called 'alternate' sexualities into congregations. For that, I applaud them. It's taken a damn long time for this statement to come. A lot of us had given up on more than a radical fringe of the monotheistic faiths ever actually accepting LGBT worshipers, instead of castigating them when they come out and thus frightening and pressuring those who are in the closet to stay right in there.

Of course, Sojourners' reasons - if they can be called such - are the same old coy, evasive bigotry-concealing bullshit we always hear from fucks like these:

I called the folks at Sojourners and asked what the problem was, what the “sides” in question might be. The first response was that Sojourners has not taken a stance on gay marriage (the ad is not about gay marriage); or on ordination of homosexuals (the ad is about welcome, not ordination); that the decision, made by “the folks in executive” (why such a high level decision?) was made quickly because of the Mother’s Day deadline. The rationale kept shifting. The reasoning made no sense.

Bullshit. My Frantic Weaseling Detector is bleeping like a reversing transport truck full of TV language censors. But this is all the same old bullshit we've all heard before from these wastes of glial matter, and that's not what I want to focus on today. Today, a church has caught my eye not by doing something so bad that it's outdone its fellow churches for fuckery, but by doing something actively good in opposition to 'popular' dogma - that is, in opposition to opinions that are popular among the dogmatic. They're bucking tradition, even if it's just a little. But with traditions like this shit, someone really is due a good bucking.

Few can doubt the need for this campaign. Public Religion Research finds that two-thirds of Americans blame the recent spate of young gay suicides in part on negative messaging that queer kids receive from the religious community. With an election cycle just over the horizon, LGBT concerns are very likely to be a topic of conversation on the airwaves, in our congregations and around the dinner table in many places around the country. Are our church leaders equipped to thoughtfully address this topic? Do they have practical tools to begin (or advance) the conversation forward in our churches?

Believe Out Loud is more than four years in the making. Virtually every mainline Protestant LGBT denominational advocacy group is a partner, making it a credible place for church leaders to turn for help on this issue. We have asked ourselves why Sojourners, a preeminent voice for justice in the religious community, rejected our ad buy. Does the organization not really believe in welcome for “everyone” in our churches or do they believe everyone is welcome, but they are afraid to “believe out loud” for fear of alienating some constituents? On one level, it doesn’t really matter. Their dilemma, apparently, is a ringing testimony for both the urgency and the necessity of this campaign since the issues they confronted are similar to those that face congregational leaders in addressing this concern within their settings. In recent years, American society has made significant strides forward towards full equality for LGBT persons. Tragically, the church has lagged well behind. Clearly, there is more work to be done.

Clearly. This is a good first step, guys and/or gals. Keep going, and don't fuck it up by retreating back the way you came. Not even once. And maybe one day there'll be a church that doesn't inspire revulsion in me through its teachings.