A friendly quibble

The Friendly Atheist just posted a good look at another instance of Ted Cruz’s hypocrisy on the subject of church/state separation, along with documentation showing just how big of a hypocrite Cruz is being. Towards the end, though, he says something that bothers me just a bit.

The question Dougherty asked was: “How and why does your religion play a part in your political decision making?”

Cruz never directly answered that because the truth is that faith plays a role in everything he does. That might be okay if he were a random citizen, but it’s downright illegal when he’s supposed to be the leader of all Americans.

Well, no. I know what he means, but that’s not quite right. It’s not illegal, even for someone in the government, to allow faith to play a role in everything they do. The dividing line comes when they have to choose between their faith and the law. The law must take precedence, including the law that requires the government to be neutral with respect to religion. As long as the believer abides by that constraint, in the execution of his or her governmental duties, there’s nothing forbidding faith from having a role in the person’s life. They just have to make sure they do nothing to impose their faith on anyone else.

In Cruz’s case, of course, the distinction is moot, because he puts his faith above the law, and so he violates the law, and advocates violation of the law, whenever doing so works to establish his religion as “superior” to all others. “Religious liberty” in Cruz’s mind is nothing more nor less than Christian supremacy, and he’s more than happy to force his religious principles on anyone and everyone he can. That’s what makes him a hypocrite when he talks about “defending religious freedom.” Not just the fact that he lives by his faith.

Ok, quibble satisfied. Carry on.

10 “Unanswerable” questions #3

We’re up to Question #3 of TodayChristian’s “Ten Questions for Every Atheist,” and it turns out to be three questions for the price of one.

3.       What if you’re wrong? And there is a Heaven? And there is a HELL!

Since this is really three questions, I’ll give it three answers, and the first will be very short.

Answer #1: There are two differences between this question and the jihadi who threatens to cut off your head unless you convert to Islam. The jihadi is taking personal responsibility for threatening you, instead of trying to blame the threat on God. And the jihadi is only threatening to hurt you one time, instead of threatening you with eternal torment. Other than that, this question and the jihadi are making the same basic argument: believe, or suffer. Bravo, TodayChristian, you’re nearly as good at evangelism as a jihadi.

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10 “Unanswerable” questions #1

I’ve seen a few posts on this, here at FtB and elsewhere, and I thought it looked kinda fun. From a website called TodayChristian.net comes a list of 10 Questions for Every Atheist. According to the intro, this list consists of “Some Questions Atheist Cannot Truly and Honestly REALLY Answer! Which leads to some interesting conclusions…”

And the first of these mind-boggling, unanswerable, gotcha-at-last questions, that no atheist can truly and honestly REALLY answer is this:

1.       How Did You Become an Atheist?

Way to set the pace there, TC.

In my case, the answer to this question is, “Through decades of prayer, Bible study, and even fasting. Plus a promise I made as a youth to believe only what God said, and not what men said about God.”

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A dark, bizarre ritual

If you were raised in a traditional Christian home, as I was, you’ve probably been conditioned to see the Easter story as a noble, uplifting, feel-good kind of story. I don’t even mean a conservative Christian home necessarily. Throughout most of my childhood, my family belonged to a pretty liberal United Methodist church, and even among liberal believers, the annual three-day saga of crucifixion, burial, and resurrection has always been seen as the heart of the gospel, the generous principle of goodness that sincere believers should cling to instead of obsessing over all those picky, literal minutiae like the fundamentalists do.

It took me quite a long time to realize that Easter’s family-friendly facade was masking something very dark, twisted, and bizarre. And I’m not even talking about the exaltation of gore and death, or the so-called “shame of the cross” that the Bible talks about. I’m talking about the perverse and corrupt message this blood ritual sends regarding good and evil and the relationship between them.

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Not just Muslims

A lot of Americans hear about harsh Israeli measures inside the occupied territories, and assume that the Israelis are just defending themselves against terrorist organizations. (Assuming they hear anything at all about it, that is.) But Muslims aren’t the only non-Jews who are being subjected to oppressive travel restrictions, economic sanctions, and the illegal destruction and seizure of private property. Palestinian Christians are also being driven out.

The way Amal sees it, the Israeli military and the settlers, having failed to evict the family by legal means, are now trying to force them out. She remembers the settlers who uprooted 250 young olive trees in 2002, and who permanently closed the road to the farm with rubble. The demolition orders posted on the gate, threatening to destroy the Nassars’ home and water wells. The soldiers who, in 2009, forced her 72-year-old mother out of bed at gunpoint in the middle of the night and made her wait in the cold while they searched the farm.

On this day in history…

I’m sure lots of things happened on Dec. 25th over the years, but as far as history can tell us, none of them involved any virgin giving birth to a baby named Jesus. Although later Gospel accounts have stories about Jesus being born, none of them tell us what day that was, or even give us any clear indication of what time of year. It wasn’t until centuries later that Christians are reported as associating any particular holy day with the story of “The Nativity.”

That’s rather interesting, because it’s consistent with the theory that Jesus was not, in fact, ever born.

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That was then

This Starbucks “tempest in a red cup” has me thinking. When I was a kid, I remember Christians being saddened and upset by the commercialization of Christmas and the increasing tendency of merchants and manufacturers to appropriate Christmas messages as a way of promoting their products for materialistic profits. Today’s Christians howl and threaten boycotts against vendors who fail to commercialize Christmas enough. And when I look at the gap between then and now, I see Rupert Murdock buying a network, and using it to spread pro-business propaganda dressed up as traditional conservatism, or conservative traditionalism, or whatever you want to call it.

Coincidence?

 

Clarification

Some of you may have heard that the Pope made a special visit to Kim Davis during his recent trip to the US—which apparently you weren’t supposed to do, or at least the Vatican is somewhat chagrined that you did. By way of damage control, they’ve released a special statement announcing that the Pope’s visit to Davis should not be seen as indicating that he supports her. They also announced this morning that they’re kicking out a senior priest because he publicly admits being gay.

So just to clarify the Vatican’s press release, the Pope absolutely does support Davis. They just don’t want people to see it.