Well, it’s nice to know she’s not nuts or anything

By now this story, about some pathetic cult member who has pled guilty to the starvation death of her infant son provided the charges are dropped once he comes back to life (a condition I imagine the DA’s office gleefully agreed to), has made the rounds. It would be easily to laugh at this kind of arch-stupid irrationality if it weren’t for the fact it claims the lives of innocent victims. Here’s a poor little kid who died because the adult charged with his care was a deluded idiot, in the thrall of similar deluded idiots. The cult she belonged to was something called “One Mind Ministries”. Replace “One” with “No” and you’re a little closer to the mark.

It’s also tempting to comfort yourself with the reassurance that, at least, this is the sort of thing that takes place in lunatic fringe cults, and fortunately mainstream religion, risible as it is, doesn’t go around killing and hurting its kids as much. This is the point where it’s helpful to be reminded of the tens of thousands of kids sexually molested by benign, trusted, avuncular Catholic priests, and the numerous cases of parents, not belonging to some wacko church obviously on the farthest of far-out fringes, arrested and charged with killing their kids by refusing to take them to doctors for easily treatable illnesses, preferring “faith” healing and prayer instead.

Unreason kills. Period. That one form of unreason happens to gain mainstream acceptance over others makes it no less an example of unreason, and no less dangerous. It’s time to deprogram, not just extremist nutjobs like Ria Ramkissoon, but the whole frackin’ human race from this insidious thing called religious faith.

Remember Tony Alamo?

I’ve let the blog lie fallow for several days, I know. I’ve been involved in — uh — other things, about which I will talk here as soon as I can. As it’s been several days, I thought what better subject to discuss in getting back in the swing of things than Tony Alamo (pronounced A-lah-mo, apparently).

You may not have heard of this guy, but in Austin we’re fairly familiar with his antics. Every once in a while you’ll walk out of the supermarket to find that the windshield wipers of every car in the parking lot are clutching copies of Alamo’s trashy four-color newsletter, dutifully distributed by his followers, who seem indifferent to the amount of litter they are creating when the majority of them are simply chucked aside by exasperated shoppers. On more than one occasion, I’ve cleared out an entire lot of Alamo newsletters and recycled them. I had an angry confrontation with a couple of Alamo’s clods while doing this several years ago, the upshot of which was that I, evidently, was the “nut,” despite the fact they were ones belonging to a cult run by a convicted felon.

Oh yes, Alamo has an impressive rap sheet. Like Kent Hovind, he failed to report his ministry’s payroll taxes, which cost him a six year stretch. His church runs a bogus charity that was caught red-handed selling donated goods for profit on eBay. He’s an avowed polygamist, who’s been accused any number of times of child abuse (both sexual and otherwise). He has a hate-on for the Catholics second only to Jack Chick’s, which has led to the SPLC classifying his church as a hate group. And finally, he’s just plain batshit insane. After his wife died in 1982, he kept her body on display at his compound for six months, telling his followers she’d be resurrected. (What resulted from that is nearly too bizarre for words.)

Through all of this, the bastard has managed to keep preaching, keep a following, keep scamming money, and, reportedly, keep fucking little girls. Is there anything a truly evil person cannot manage to pull off, even with the law on his tail half his life, as long as he attaches the label “religion” to it?

Well, Alamo’s reign of error may be puttering to a close. Early today the feds raided Alamo’s compound in Arkansas, as part of a child porn investigation. No one has been arrested yet, but it is expected that a warrant for Alamo is forthcoming. Alamo displayed his usual paranoiac class when interviewed about the raid: “Where do these allegations stem from? The anti-Christ government. The Catholics don’t like me because I have cut their congregation in half. They hate true Christianity.” Whatever. Tell it to Bubba while he’s making you felch him in the showers, you dirty old man you.

So, another crazy bites the dust once and for all, we can only hope. At the very least, hopefully we won’t have to deal with cleaning up any more of those stupid newsletters off the pavement.

Can I just be the 5 millionth person to say, “Eeewwww!”

Possummomma, being a parent, has quite a lot to say about this:

I know I haven’t commented much on the recent FLDS raid or its subsequent fallout, particularly as it’s practically a local occurrence. Mainly, my reaction was just to shake my head. It now appears that the state was completely punk’d, at least as far as that original phone call that led to the raid, now widely considered a hoax, is concerned. And the state’s draconian approach to its raid — simply to swoop down and haul everybody off without much at all in the way of a preliminary investigation — has led to its humiliation following the court’s recent ruling that the raid was just all kinds of wrong.

On the other hand, what clearer evidence do you need that pedophiliac sickness was part of these people’s standard operating procedure than the above photographs, showing übercreep Warren Jeffs smooching one of his child brides? I mean, it just makes you ill to look at it.

Something clearly has to be done to put the kibosh on these little cults that victimize children — as yes, you can call what you do “spiritual marriage” all you like, but all you’ve done is concoct a spiffy metaphor for “rape” — and shield themselves from repercussions by saying “But it’s our religion!” But the state’s raid wasn’t the right one. And you just know the FLDS will simply see this as a vindication of their way of life in opposition to the Satanic government that seeks to oppress and criminalize them. What to do?

If you’re running a con, go for the richest mark you can!

The fad of Kabbalah mysticism, that seems to have conned nearly as many Tinseltown hangers-on as Scientology, has such a transparently silly racket that, because it’s so obviously stupid and fraudulent, it’s no wonder some of the richest and most high-profile celebutards are falling for it. MSNBC reports that Madonna, who popularized warding off evil spirits with a few inches of red twine around your wrist, is now spending $10,000 a month on “specially blessed” Kabbalah water! Yoiks! I always thought most bottled water was a big scam (a suspicion long-since confirmed), but to spend as much money in a month on the stuff as someone with a serious cocaine habit really makes me cringe at the way fate (or whatever) always seems to dictate that the people with the most money in our world are those with the fewest brains.

Maybe I’m just in the wrong business. Damn these morals of mine! They keep me from slicing into the lucrative religion pie.

Warren Jeffs sentenced; must serve at least 10 years

Polygamist cult leader Warren Jeffs was sentenced today for being an accomplice to rape by running his “Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints” as a sex farm for himself and older male members, forcing teenage girls into marriages with cousins and other men often old enough to be their grandfathers. Good riddance.

Now, I wonder how our pal Rhology will assess this situation. I assert, based on “personal” and “societal preferences” (yes, that slurping sound you hear are my eyes rolling yet again), that was Jeffs did was morally wrong because it is harmful to force any unwilling person into sexual submission and/or a marriage that they don’t want, and it’s especially bad to further manipulate them into consent by scaring them that they might jeopardize their rumored “eternal salvation” if they resist, when what’s really going on is that you have an oppressive theocratic society in which males dominate and subjugate the females and treat them like property. Freedom of choice, especially choices dealing with whom you marry and have sex with, should be left up to the individual. To remove that choice from a person simply because you wield power over them is abusive. I know these are not things I should ordinarily have to explain, but remember we’re dealing with Rhology here. Basic human nature eludes him.

So, I invite Rhology to explain whether he approves or disapproves of what Jeffs did, based on his vaunted “objective morality” that he still has yet to define. I invite him especially to give better reasons than the ones I’ve listed, based on this “objective morality,” as to why he think Jeffs was wrong for forcing underage girls into marriages, if indeed Rhology thinks he was.

Demerits for simply falling back on such unsupported presuppositions as “atheists don’t have objective morality so they’re in no position to condemn the acts of Christians.” (Though I suspect Rhology doesn’t consider Jeffs, leader of a splinter Mormon offshoot cult, to be Christian.) Remember, Rho, we’ve heard your premises over and over. We’re still waiting for you to defend and explain them. And whether my reasons are just “personal” or “societal” preferences, are my conclusions about the morality of Jeffs’ acts wrong? And if not, can we agree that your whole “objective morality vs. preferences” mantra is a big fat rhetorical red herring?

Two sleazy rackets that go extra-sleazy together!

From CNN comes this fascinating article informing us that some Christian churches have started incorporating, of all things, Scientology literature into their ministries. One of these churches is right down the road in Houston, where Rev. James McLaughlin of the Wayman Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church (that’s already a head-swirling doctrinal combination as it is) has begun teaching from late sci-fi hack L. Ron Hubbard’s The Way to Happiness.

“I’m looking for solutions, and the people that I help, they don’t ask me who L. Ron Hubbard is,” said McLaughlin, who works with addicts. “You know what they say? ‘Thank God.'”

Well, sure they do, because religion basically appeals to emotionally weak and vulnerable people who aren’t big into rationalism and critical thinking in the first place. All you have to do is sell them warm, fuzzy hope in an easy-to-absorb, Sesame Street-level lesson plan, and they’re hooked. They don’t notice the discrepancies between Scientology’s and Christianity’s disparate teachings, because they’re not the kinds of people who think about their beliefs. They just believe their beliefs.

Still, these ministers ought to know better. It’s bad enough they’re pushing Christianity’s repugnant dogmas in the first place. To be patently indifferent to Scientology’s repellent history of cult indoctrination, harassment, intimidation, and outright murder as long as they get some kind of vapid “feel-good” message across shows their moral bankruptcy in all its dark splendor.