Obama disappoints religious right repeatedly

This isn’t new news, but I’m cleaning up loose ends since I promised to post these stories to the blog on the last show.

Dobson ‘Disappointed’ Obama Skipped Day of Prayer Ceremony

Evangelical author and radio host James Dobson said that he is “disappointed” that for the first time in nearly two decades there was no representative from the White House during the National Day of Prayer event.

“I have not asked to meet with the president and certainly he has not asked to meet with me, but I would just like this country to remember its foundation, to remember its heritage and honor it, especially on the day set aside by George Washington in the beginning for prayer in this country,” he said. “And I would hope that that would have occurred.”

The president has disappointed James Dobson. Folks, can I get an “Awwwww”?

It wouldn’t be right to give Obama full marks for snubbing Dobson without noting that it came out later that Dobson didn’t actually invite him to the event.

Only ‘Pro-Life’ White House Officials Invited to Prayer Day Event

Focus on the Family founder James Dobson scolded the White House for neglecting to send a representative to yesterday’s National Day of Prayer event at the Capitol, but a source familiar with the situation said the Obama team didn’t have much of a chance. That’s because the event organizers stipulated that the White House representative had to be opposed to abortion rights, according to this source.

“The administration’s representative had to be pro-life,” says the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Nobody else was allowed to go.”

Damn, now Obama has an excuse. I would have preferred it if he had just come out and said “James Dobson can kiss my ass.”

But in other happy news,

Obama budget cuts funds for abstinence-only sex education

President Obama’s new budget would eliminate most money for abstinence-only sex education and shift it to teen pregnancy prevention — a U-turn in what has been more than a decade of sex education policy in the USA.

The proposed budget, sent to Congress last Thursday, “reflects the research,” says Melody Barnes, director of the team that coordinates White House domestic policy.

Since we all know by now that abstinence-only education simply doesn’t work, this appears to be another nice step on the road to moving us back towards being a reality-based country.

Reflections on a lazy Sunday

Apparently the Christians had some big holiday today. I thought today would be a good day to gaze upon all the signs and wonders in this big wide world of ours and make an assessment of just how vividly their God is — um — making his presence known. Or not.

  1. Well, somebody must have pissed the Big G off in New Hampshire. While worshipers at the Alton Bay Christian Conference Center were celebrating Zombie Jesus, a fire broke out that eventually barbecued 52 of the center’s buildings. All I could think of here was, “They had 52 buildings? Whatever for?” Maybe God was wondering the same thing, and this little conflagration was by way of being a friendly suggestion they ought to consolidate. Or at least, add fire extinguishers to the budget next time.
  2. Now, here’s the kind of article one has to be careful with, because it can come across as making fun of death and misfortune, which I’d only ever do if the person in question was Ann Coulter or Garth Brooks. In this case, a retired priest in Pennsylvania plowed his car into a group of worshipers following a Good Friday service, killing one, 89-year-old Madeline Romell. My response to this is a combination of “Poor lady” and “What a dumbass!” Yes, I’m sure he’s horrified about the accident and all. But the elephant in the room no one’s discussing? Why, the fact that God did nothing to prevent this unnecessary tragedy, even something small and entirely within the skillset of an all-powerful being, like causing one of the car’s tires to blow out, or the fuel line to be clogged. Christians offer comfort to themselves by claiming God allows these kinds of tragedies as a way of sending us a message or teaching us some obscure lesson. What will they say it was in this case, I wonder? Stupid accident, some poor old woman dead, other people hurt, and all they’d been doing was praising you, God old boy. So, you know. WTF? Oh yes. You’re imaginary.
  3. And last but not least, our latest bout of criminal Christians, including the Sunday School teacher who has been arrested and accused of the murder of that 8-year-old girl in California, and the 42-year-old Focus on the Family employee charged in Colorado Springs with attempting to solicit sex online from what he thought was an adolescent girl, but was actually — what will they think of next!? — a cop posing as an adolescent girl! D’oh! Insert obligatory “Bubba’s bitch” jokes here. Funnily enough, this later arrest came on the day James Dobson was giving his organization his farewell address, bemoaning that the Christian Right had pretty much lost the “culture war” and that we were all “awash in sin.” Thing is, the “sin” he’s thinking of was not in reference to the actions of his own employee, but seems to be limited to Bill Clinton and the internet. Hell, if that’s all it took to beat you guys, you really weren’t trying. Then again, Jim, if, as you claim, “God is in control” still, then you might want to consider what that means for His opinion of you, considering your bleak admission of defeat, eh?

And in other news, Jesus and Generalissimo Francisco Franco are still dead.

Dobson: clueless on American slavery

I turned on my local Christian station this morning (99.3 FM in Austin) and ran smack into Dobson gearing up for a rant on abortion. I don’t remember how I knew that it was going to be about abortion, but I could tell from a phrase and the tone.

Sure enough, it turns out they were talking about this clip from “The View.” In this clip, John McCain says that Roe v Wade should be overturned so that abortion can once again be thrown as a matter to the states. McCain specifically says: “I want people who interpret the Constitution of the United States the way our founding fathers envisioned.” Whoopi Goldberg asked: “Should I be worried about being a slave, about being returned to slavery? Because certain things happened in the Constitution that you had to change.”

At this point, Dobson breaks in on the clip and berates Goldberg, saying that, of course it’s the CONSTITUTION that outlawed slavery. Specifically, the 13th amendment passed under the Lincoln administration. And so, foolish Whoopi, she should learn some history.

This obviously misses the point, by a very long way. First, McCain’s traditionalist appeal to the “what would the founding fathers do?” argument is very directly countered by Whoopi’s point that the founding fathers supported slavery, even going so far as to write into the constitution that a slave‘s vote is worth 3/5 that of a regular person’s is worth 3/5 of a person for the purpose of census counts (Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3).* That Lincoln had to come along and fix this only emphasizes that point, which is that no, we DON’T always want to strictly go by “original intent.”

In addition, Dobson should turn the page to the next amendment, because that bears very directly on the kind of “states’ rights” argument that John McCain invokes to indicate that RvW should be overturned. Ratified shortly after the 13th, the 14th amendment says:
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Later Supreme Courts recognized this as overruling what was originally a states’ rights justification for slavery. Essentially, before the Civil War, individual states were free to allow or not allow slavery as they saw fit. The 14th amendment says that no, individual states are NOT allowed to override what has become the law of the land.

This was the same legal reasoning that was later used in the Roe v Wade decision. Previously, abortion was a matter that was left up to the states to allow or outlaw. Now it’s not. Nobody’s REQUIRED to provide abortions, but nobody can PREVENT you from having one, regardless of which state you live in. Despite what anti-abortion advocates would like you to think, this is not “legislating from the bench”; this is an ongoing process of exploring the legal ramifications of changes to the constitution, and this process started within a few years of the amendment’s passage.

Whoopi had a perfectly valid point in the above clip. Our current interpretation of what the 14th amendment means is based on the way that historical courts have ruled on the matter. And that’s perfectly constitutional. Unlike, say, the Bible, the Constitution isn’t supposed to “interpret itself” (hah); the Constitution SAYS that the courts have the power to indicate what is Constitutional. Whoopi’s point is that you can’t just go back to the way the founding fathers interpreted their laws, because it’s changed. One of those changes was disallowing prohibitions on abortion. Another was disallowing slavery. The same argument that invalidates one would also invalidate the other.

* Edited: The stricken out passage was a total brain fart. Obviously I wouldn’t have meant to claim that slaves had any vote before the Voting Rights Act. Thanks for bringing that to my attention, Tommy.