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.

[Read more…]

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.

More on the cost of religion

Via Ed’s blog comes this report of volunteers at a crisis pregnancy center lying to women.

For several minutes, a CPC employee told horror stories about the dangers of being on birth control, saying she typically tries to talk women out of using it. She likened birth control to “tremendous dosages of steroids,” and belittled her patient for opting to flood her body with artificial hormones. “You really want that stuff inside of you? You have a brain, think and choose here,” she said. “Any of that stuff is just not good for you…”

The CPC employee falsely asserted that condoms and birth control pills are about equally effective at preventing pregnancy, and claimed that using condoms doesn’t actually prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted infections. “They’re naturally porous — there’s always a chance of them breaking, a chance of spillage,” she said. “The only safe sex is no sex.”

[Read more…]

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).

New year, same old hate

The Catholic Church in England has issued a broad denunciation of child abuse, including child sexual abuse, and called for a full investigation of any individual or organization involved in systematically molesting children or aiding and abetting in such molestations. Or wait, I read that wrong. The real evil they want to combat, according to the NY Daily News, is two adults being able to experience the same kind of loving, committed marital relationship as any other couple.

Roman Catholic leaders in England and Wales took to the pulpit on Sunday to rail against proposed legislation that would allow same sex couples to legally marry.

“Government policy cannot foresee the full consequences, for the children involved or for wider society, of being brought up by two mothers without a father’s influence or by two fathers without a mother’s influence.” Most Reverend Bernard Longley, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, told parishioners in a letter that was read aloud during Sunday services.

Ah, see, I knew there was something about children in there.

[Read more…]

Clay County schools lose a good man

The Florida Times-Union reports that the Clay County school district has lost an unusually talented superintendent.

Ben Wortham closed his office door behind him last week ending a 43-year journey that has taken him from the classroom to superintendent of Clay County schools…

Three weeks after he became superintendent in 2008, the state cut the district’s funding by 5 percent. That was a $16 million loss in the middle of the school year. It was the first in a continuing series of similar state funding cuts to school districts statewide…

He said the district’s weathered the financial storm “with just a minimum of disruption to our district in the way of classroom and personnel.”

Clay is designated “an academically high performing” district by the Florida Department of Education. It’s one of 17 such districts statewide.

It also ranks 12th by student achievement statewide. It has an overall grade of “A” from the state. Clay’s graduation rate is 94 percent, while its dropout rate is 1.2 percent annually.

He was defeated by a fellow Republican who made a campaign issue out of “See You At The Pole” prayer rallies.

[Read more…]

Religious right to meddle

The Conservative Hideout is all up in arms about what they call a “war on Christians.”

Notice that there seems to be a war on Christianity under way? Well, the folks at Hobby lobby have noticed, as they went to court to escape the the ObamaCare regulations that require them to provide coverage for the abortion pill. Unfortunately, it seems that at least one federal judge seems t think that Religious Freedom really doesn’t exist.

By “Religious Freedom” (capitalized), the writer of course means Christians having the power to control women’s lives with or without their consent. The idea that women might also be entitled to religious freedom (in the sense of actual, you know, liberty) does not seem to occur.

[Read more…]

FFRF files suit against IRS

The Washington Post reports that the Freedom From Religion Foundation is suing the IRS for selectively failing to enforce laws against political advocacy by non-profit organizations.

The lawsuit argues that the IRS is not enforcing the federal tax code, which prohibits tax-exempt religious organizations from electioneering. Not enforcing it is a violation of equal protection rights because the same preferential treatment is not provided to other tax-exempt organizations such as the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the lawsuit contends.

Interestingly, a number of Christian activists have been pushing for churches to deliberately violate the law in hopes of provoking just such a confrontation in court. This isn’t a bunch of unbelievers launching a mere nuisance lawsuit, this is the other side responding to taunts of “bring it on” from certain believers who want all such restrictions removed. Well, removed from believers anyway. I’m sure they see these restrictions as perfectly reasonable when applied to, say, the FRFF.