Kentucky City to help defraud gullible investors

As PZ Myers reported a little while ago, the latest scam from Answers In Genesis is to sell junk bonds to gullible investors—bonds that AiG has no binding obligation to ever pay back. Classic sucker bait, right? Anybody who knows anything at all about investing is going to steer clear of the giant red flags all over this investment.

But there’s a new twist in this sweet little con game. Everyone knows that government bonds are a much more sound investment than ordinary junk bonds. So why not sell your junk bonds through some government office, in order to trick people into thinking they’re getting government bonds instead of junk bonds? Ken Ham apparently has enough inside influence to make it happen.

A city in Kentucky may soon offer $62 million in securities for prospective investors to help aid the completion of a Creationist theme park and replica of Noah’s Ark.

Beginning next month, Williamstown may oversee the amount of taxable securities for investors to the project overseen by Answers in Genesis, reported Brian Chappatta and Priya Anand of Business Week.

Yes, for a mere $100,000 dollars, you too can purchase a “lifetime family pass,” allowing you to enjoy a full day of overcooked french fries and half-baked mythology for as long as the park remains profitable. And if it never does return a profit, AiG gets to keep all of your money, absolutely free.

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An observation

The Tea Party’s shutdown strategy is so short-sighted and odious that they themselves no longer wish to admit it was their idea. Yet even as they try to dodge responsibility for this policy, they refuse to abandon it, or to trifle with more democratic institutions like honest negotiations and compromise. Having lit a fuse, and regretted it, they cannot bring themselves to blow it out, because blowing is against their religion. The best they can accomplish is to suck, and to suck loudly.

Every 5 minutes, a martyr

State Representative Rebecca Hamilton (OK) reports an alarming statistic:

According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, one hundred thousand Christians have died for their faith each year in the last decade. That works out to 11 Christians martyred for their faith every hour for the past ten years.

Can you imagine the outcry if this was one the groups that fashion says we should care about? Just consider the sentence 100,000 _______ were murdered because of they were ______ each year for the past ten years. Supply the name of any group whose rights we hear daily that we are supposed to care about.

Right, nobody cares when Christians get murdered, except of course for hundreds of millions who do care, and especially all those liberals who are clamoring for an end to all religious persecution regardless of who the victim is. Sheesh. But what about that statistic? 100,000 Christians murdered for their faith every year for the past 10 years? One new Christian martyr every five minutes? The recent church bombing in Pakistan killed about 80-some Christians, and that was big news because 80 seems like (and is) a lot. One million murdered Christians, just since 2003, seems a bit high.

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Some Christians abandoning Boy Scouts

The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports that some Christians, irate over the Boy Scouts’ failure to discriminate against gays, are leaving the organization to try and start their own initiatives.

Scott Scarborough, a former Boy Scouts volunteer and committee member under the South Plains Council, resigned his position with the organization on Sept. 1 and is bringing an emerging faith-based alternative to West Texas.

This is great news for the Boy Scouts. Without the influence (financial and otherwise) of the narrow-minded bigots, the Scouts will have a much better chance of growing into the kind of helpful, mind-broadening, and character-building organization it ought to have been all along. Someday they might even admit *gasp* atheists.

Meanwhile, the bigots are forming a “faith-based” alternative to the Boy Scouts (and thus unintentionally beginning to turn “faith-based” into the kind of term that “fundamentalist” has become). Their shirts will likely be brown, and they will boldly and prophetically announce their mission as being the oppression of gays, atheists, and anybody else who differs from the ideal white male Christian patriarchy. Oh wait, no, that’s a secret. Better let some non-whites in too, to keep it from being too obvious.

I wish them every bit of the kind of luck they deserve.

At last, a convincing argument

This week on our local Christian talk radio show, they had a guest discussing the recent court case in New Mexico where the state supreme court ruled that a photography business could not claim a First Amendment right to discriminate against gays. (And by the way, the guest also had a book to sell.)

Like the photography business, the guest and the talk show hosts all framed their argument around the idea that the photographer’s decision was not discrimination because it was based on the lesbian couple’s behavior rather than on their status. The court didn’t buy that one, and so the Christians were outraged. How absurd! Giving an entire class of people special privileges just because of their behavior? That’s ridiculous!

And you know, I think they’re exactly right. It is absurd, and completely unjustifiable, to give an entire class of people a special privileged and protected status just because of their behavior, just because their sexual behavior happens to be oriented towards the opposite sex. Separating out heterosexuals, and making them the only class of people who are entitled to the privilege of getting married to one another, is indefensible. The only way to avoid the trap of giving people unearned privileges based on the orientation of their sexual behavior is to grant everybody the same rights and privileges regardless of sexual orientation.

It’s the first time I heard a really cogent and coherent argument from the “traditional marriage” folks, and it’s a shame they believe and practice the exact opposite of what their own argument requires.

Top 5

Attention Twitter fans: are you having trouble deciding what to say about the news that ill health is forcing the pope to retire? Here’s a quick list of Top Five 3-Word Responses to the news:

5. It’s a start.
4. What, no cops?
3. Prayer failed, eh?
2. He deserves it.

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Mayberry Machiavellis

While I’m currently snowed under (literally and figuratively), here’s some interesting reading, from Religion Dispatches, on George W. Bush’s first “faith czar,” and his praise for Obama’s faith-based initiatives.

John J. DiIulio, the first director of George W. Bush’s White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, has taken to the Washington Post to laud President Obama’s White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. In it, he cutely claims to like Obama’s director of the faith-based office, Joshua DuBois, better than “Bush’s first ‘faith czar.'”

Less than a year into his own tenure, DiIulio resigned in disgust, and complained about Bush staffers who sought to dole out favors to religious conservatives rather than serve “compassionate conservativism.” He notoriously coined the term “Mayberry Machiavellis” to describe Bush insiders, who, in relation to faith-based legislation, “winked at the most far-right House Republicans” in attempting to pass legislation for the faith-based office. That bill, which went nowhere, was drafted because Bush staffers thought it “satisfied certain fundamentalist leaders and Beltway libertarians.”

It’s an interesting read, especially in light of frequent accusations that Obama is somehow anti-religion (whilst simultaneously being Muslim, Nazi, Socialist, and Communist, hmmm).

A surprising enemy

Over at latimes.com, they’re reporting that the dishonestly-named “Defense of Marriage” Act has an enemy that may surprise you.

One of the nation’s leading gay-rights advocacy groups, the Human Rights Campaign, has formed a coalition of major companies calling for the repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

It’s no surprise, of course, that the HRC in Washington would use its considerable clout to organize big businesses to fight DOMA, the law that excludes recognition of same-sex marriages.

What will be a surprise to many is that one of the first companies to join the effort was Marriott International Inc., which was founded by a devout Mormon, John Willard Marriott.

Granted, they may be more motivated by the potential for an increased consumer base—more marriages mean more honeymoons, and those honeymooners need a place to stay—but still, this is a great sign.

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More thoughts on gun control

I confess I have mixed feelings about gun control. On the one hand you have situations like the recent shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, where something clearly needs to be done to protect children against mass murder. That one seems like a no-brainer.

On the other hand, I don’t trust the 1% and I’m increasingly unhappy with the increasing subversion of democracy that is being used to turn our free country into a vast machine piping wealth out of the lower and middle classes and into the bank accounts of the very wealthiest, at the risk of financial disaster for the other 99%. Nor am I pleased with ever-encroaching “State secrets” covering up detention, torture, and assassination of “enemies,” including US citizens.

Is it possible that the Founding Fathers, in protecting the people’s right to keep and bear arms “necessary to the security of a free state,” were showing more foresight than expected? Fortunately, a comment on last Friday’s post gives me an opportunity to dig into this a little more.

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Religion and gun control

So I was browsing around the Internet (again), and I found this story:

Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, a coalition of over 45 religious leaders and clergy have signed a letter addressed to the members of Congress, urging them to take immediate action to prevent more gun violence.

The group is calling for three things: criminal background checks for gun buyers, a ban on high-capacity weapons and ammo magazines, and a federal law against gun trafficking. Sounds like a good idea, right? I thought so too. Then I read the headline on the article: Religious Leaders’ Godless Letter to Congress on Gun Violence. Here’s the author’s analysis.

When I read through their website and the letter they sent to Congress, I saw nothing that addressed the real reason for the increase in gun violence, which is the removal of God and the Bible from all aspects of life, public and private.  Once they were gone, so were the standards used for all morals and values…

The response of the religious leaders that signed the letter to Congress have all fallen victim to the secularization that has corrupted the rest of American society.  They aren’t turning to God and Bible for their answers, but to manmade devices that are totally devoid of anything to do with God.

Which sounds all pious and shit, but here’s my question: If you’re a Christian, and you believe that society has become all evil and immoral and wicked and stuff, why are you trying to make sure that you’re outnumbered, not just by evildoers, but by evildoers with high-powered, high-capacity weaponry?

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