Let’s Treat them Like a Country

The Vatican would like to be a religious concern when it wants to inflict its “moral teachings” on non-Catholics, control Cardinals and Bishops based on church teachings, and not pay taxes. On the other hand, the Vatican would like to be a country when the Pope is named in lawsuits or when they would like to sweep their minions away to the Vatican when they face legal trouble in some country. The Vatican has done a great job of advancing their agenda with this sleight of hand. For those of us with a shred of skepticism, it smacks of a con game. “Heads I win, tails you lose.” Since being a religion has never helped the Catholic Church with its depravities, let’s force them to just be the little tin-pot country they want to be.

The first thing that has to happen is that the Cardinals, Bishops, and Priests here in the US all need to have their country loyalty questioned. One cannot serve two masters. Are they American citizens subject to US law? If so, then there should be no cover-ups, no hiding behind “church state separation” (where it suits their needs), and no misdirection of the legal system. Those who swear their loyalty to the Pope or god or some other authority should have their US citizenship revoked.  If the Vatican wants to issue them passports, that’s fine. However, let’s be clear: they are guests in our country and subject to our laws.  If they violate them, those involved should be prosecuted or deported. If they behave as organized criminals, then subject their institutions to racketeering laws and have their assets seized until they have had a proper trial. With their stonewalling, that could take centuries.  So be it. Since their criminal activities run internationally, such as money laundering and sex crimes, then let them be subject to international courts, where needed, to bring them into line.

Tax favoritism of Catholic properties should be stopped immediately. There is no reason why the US Government should be subsidizing foreign governments, especially those that have harmed American children. As a point of comparison, Saddam Hussein never harmed Americans, let alone on our own soil. An objective look at their government activities leads one to the conclusion that they are not a friendly nation. Let their activities be scrutinized by the CIA. Let’s stop publishing their press releases in our newspapers.  The USA should not be foreskin-whipped by a bunch of child molesters and their enablers.

Just this month, “US” Catholic Bishops have thrown a little tantrum over their “religious freedom.” Like frothing Muslims when someone draws a cartoon, they have learned that behaving like bratty children gets media attention. This time, they want the US government to bend US laws so that they can control the reproduction of others. Why, exactly, have we let foreign governments control our nation’s hospitals? Why are they holding so many medical ethics board seats? Supreme Court seats? What about the real religious freedom of skeptics not to have to subsidize blatantly criminal organizations?

The Catholic “pro life” stance is just self-serving ploy. Those familiar with the history of the church should be aware of the centuries of torture and genocide it has perpetuated. Remember the Crusades? The Cathars? Witch Burnings? The Inquisition? Auto-da-fé? The rape of the Americas? After its silent assent of the Holocaust (“I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator. By warding off the Jews I am fighting for the Lord’s work.”), the Catholic Church contrived its pro-life policy out of a sense of survival. An educated Europe turned away from this horrible murderous institution. How will the parasite nation go on? We all know that God will not provide and nothing fails like prayer. Its only means of survival is to get its clutches into the next generation, the poorer and more gullible, the better. Buy low, sell high.  Their newfound “value” of human life is strangely proportionate to that life financial value as a potential tither. If the Catholic Church would like to manufacture humans, then let them fund their project themselves. If they will not fund the children they want to create, then they are the abortion murderers, are they not?

It’s time to treat the Vatican as a country—one with its own self-interests almost universally at odds with ours. Let’s make them stop using Americans and America for their ends.  Let’s bring the crime ring to justice.

God says pedophila ok

Dateline: April 1, 2010 – The Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI issued a decree today saying that pedophilia is not a sin. According to the decree, the Roman Catholic Church no longer bears any responsibility for the ongoing child molestation scandal that has rocked the Church in the United States, Ireland, and several other countries for several decades. The decree was issued Ex Cathedra, which according to Roman Catholic Church dogma, is the result of divine intervention and protected from the possibility of error by God Himself.

Ex Cathedra decrees are rare, but this particular one may have been unique. The Pope himself is alleged to have shared the details of his conversation with God with his most trusted cardinals. A Vatican insider, speaking on the condition of anonymity explained what happened. “The Pope was in his cell praying and begging repentance for his role in the ongoing scandal for the ten thousandth time. Then he came out saying, ‘God doesn’t give a shit’.” The Pope was reportedly shaken but overjoyed by the unusual revelation.

Vatican accountant Father Guido Cartamoneta expressed relief over the momentous pronouncement. “It’s a great day for the Catholic Church. This resolves all of these issues that have been hanging over our head for so long. It’s just in time for the Easter donation season!”

Former Cardinal Bernard Law of the Boston Diocese also expressed his pleasure over the announcement. “I feel vindicated for my role in moving priests between posts. Maybe now life will return to normal and can get back to the business of filling our youth with the Holy Spirt.”

The Vatican: A Nation of Sexual Perverts

It seems that the Vatican has been in the news a lot lately. It appears that the Pope was personally involved in a pedophilia cover up. A scandal has broken in Brazil. There’s an international inquiry into a Catholic cult and its sexual-predator leader who was a favorite of John Paul. A Vatican homosexual prostitution ring was exposed. Given the frequency and longevity of these problems, one can be certain there are systematic problems with the Catholic Church and its leadership.

It seems very clear to me that the sexual perversions of the Catholic Church are systematic, of their own making, and that they are powerless to fix them. Let’s take a look at the contributing causes.

  1. Sexual control. The Vatican would like to control everyone’s sexuality. Most people don’t like to be controlled and people will be sexual despite attempts at control. One of the side effects of abstinence-only sex education and virginity pledges, for example, was that teenagers opted for “porn star sex,” to circumvent the control. The Vatican has mandated the missionary position and prohibited condoms for its laity to increase the number of potential future tithers. In the US, most Catholics ignore such mandates. Priests don’t get to ignore the Vatican, so they have to find their outlets somewhere outside the realm of normal sexuality.
  2. Guilt. Promoting guilt has been a holy cash cow for the Vatican. Believers are held to an unreasonable standard of being “without sin.” They fail by design and have to confess their sins and receive penance. The mechanism reinforces the guilt and binds the believers closer to the church. The vicious cycle perpetuates with the church gaining control over the believer. When guilt is combined with sexuality, it can become part of the fetish. Forbidden fruit is sweeter and the more forbidden, the better. Promoting guilt about sex has the inevitable consequence of warping sexuality.
  3. False hope. A person who is aware he has a problem will gravitate to an institution that purports to have a solution. By promising an omnipotent entity that can solve any problem, the Vatican draws in the people who are most desperate for a “cure.” Such people are most likely to embrace the dogma and blame themselves when it fails. From an outside perspective, it is clear that the Vatican has yet to “cure” anyone.
  4. Convenient cover. Positions of authority and trust provide the best cover for someone who should not be trusted. Such a person can abuse the authority while publicly condemning exactly what he is doing in private. If a predator has risen high enough in the ranks, he can even use his authority to ensure he will never be investigated or, if he is, avoid damaging penalties. The recent case of Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado is just one example.
  5. Temptation. Any organization playing a public service role will provide many opportunities for interaction with people who can be easily persuaded to “return a favor.” Service organizations that focus on children are naturally going to attract pedophiles.
  6. Abuse of power. By playing the role of “father” and “the representative of God,” priests have a variety of ways of manipulating the victim. Threat of God’s wrath can make a potent silencer. Most victims have already given the church a great deal of control over their lives. It is very difficult to extract ones self from such a web. Even if a victim is steadfast in defending himself or herself, he or she can be bullied by agreeing to be silent in exchange for a payoff. A less powerful organization would not have the luxury of this bullying. Most people who donate to a church are not aware of the percentage of their “charitable donations” are used to perpetuate abuse. Moving abusive priests between churches is an obvious abuse of power. So is actively obstructing investigations, as the Pope has done. He even claimed diplomatic immunity as head of the Vatican to evade a lawsuit.
  7. Evasion of responsibility. The Vatican’s response to the pedophilia scandal has been a long study in the art of responsibility evasion. The Vatican has blamed the victims, gays, the “permissive culture” of the United States, gays again, the devil, and gays. They have whined that the abuse scandal interferes with their “charity work.” They have whined about the cost of reparations and how they can’t afford it and they will go bankrupt. They have insisted that church-state separation allows them to do anything they want without consequences. They have said they were unaware that pedophilia was harmful to the victims. They have blamed the moral character of the priests (deflecting from the systematic cover up). They have pretended to self-police. They have prayed, confessed, and invoked God. They have cried “religious persecution.” They have claimed that other professions have just as many pedophiles. I don’t know of anything they haven’t done or said to deflect responsibility for their problem. The Vatican is quick, however, to make pronouncements about sex or condoms while claiming moral authority from God. Such ballsy displays of hypocrisy should lead to worldwide ridicule – not blind subservience.
  8. Complicity of the laity. Despite decades of controversy, Catholic laity still funds the church. Such people clearly care more about magic crackers than their fellow human beings. Non-Catholic Christians have also abetted the crimes of the Catholic Church through the bogus concept of religious tolerance and “thou shalt not judge.” This complicity has meant that the systematic abuses of the Catholic Church in the US have gone largely unpunished by the US legal system. Fortunately, other countries value their citizens above long-standing pedophile rings. Perhaps some justice will come from Europe.

Of these eight causes, the first six are intimately tied with the Catholicism. It is unlikely these causes will ever change. The last two are more about how the public responds to the abuse. While the Catholic Church will always be a spawning ground for sexual perversion, public outcry has some potential to limit the power of the Catholic Church and reduce its numbers. There is clearly no God available to clean up their mess, but the proper application of secular laws and lawsuits can go a long way to cleaning up this festering problem and reducing the number of future victims.

Oh, the Irony

I had to chuckle when I read about the recent study that investigated the alleged link between homosexuality and pedophile priests, only to find no connection. The Catholic Church has been blaming gays, pop culture, and even the victims for their problems. Now, it seems they have one less group to blame. (Don’t hold your breath on them stepping up to the responsibility plate, though.)

What made this study even more delicious is that the Catholic Church funded it. It reminds me of the 2006 intercessory prayer study that the Templeton Foundation funded that showed that nothing fails like prayer. I’m willing to bet that in both cases, the funding agency thought for sure that their world view would be vindicated. Both groups each had millions of dollars riding on the bet.

Reality bites, sometimes.

I think these are both excellent uses of religious funds.

Roman Polanski

Once again, I’ve been away from the blog for a few days, this time because I was attending the fantastic Fantastic Fest at the Alamo Drafthouse, and my mind has been in movie mode for a solid, wondrous week. Which means that while ACA’ers were busily batcruising a week ago, I was a few blocks away at the Paramount theater squealing like a little girl while George A. Romero signed my ticket to the premiere screening of Survival of the Dead. Much as I love the gang, I’ll have to miss a batcruise for that one, folks. Too bad the movie was crap, though.

Anyway, another incident involving a film legend went down recently, and while it may seem to have nothing to do with atheism, it was an event that gave me lots of food for thought about matters I’ve often discussed here on the blog and the TV show. I speak, of course, of the arrest of Roman Polanski in Switzerland on a fugitive warrant for his drugging and rape of a 13-year-old girl more than 30 years ago.

Opinions have been divided over Polanski ever since he fled the country upon realizing that the judge handling his case at the time — who, it must be said, has been revealed as something of a publicity hound — was about to renege on a plea deal. On the one hand, there are those who have categorically condemned Polanski as a slimy pedo, and on the other, cineastes who point to Polanski’s great films and stature as one of the world’s master directors, and the crime as simply some sick aberration that shouldn’t tarnish the man’s entire life. And besides, the victim, now in her 40′s with a family of her own, has forgiven him.

Debates along those lines can and will go on for ages, and they are. Following Polanski’s arrest, battle lines were drawn along familiar borders. Many of Polanski’s industry pals have rushed to his defense, demanded his release, and offered all manner of apologia for his misdeed. Conversely, read feminist blogs, and it’s clear they’ll be satisfied with nothing less than Polanski’s mutilated corpse dragged down Hollywood Blvd. behind a truck.

For my own part, I would not want to live in a world in which an artist like Polanski wasn’t able to create. His best films are landmarks. Repulsion is the great film about psychosexual neurosis. Rosemary’s Baby is a horror masterpiece, dealing with religious horror themes in a way the campy and atrociously scripted The Exorcist could never touch. Chinatown is one of the best movies ever to come from a major studio. And even his underrated adaptation of Macbeth, shot while he was still grieving over Sharon Tate’s murder, is the darkest and most violent version of Shakespeare ever filmed. So yes, that Polanski is a great artist ought to be beyond dispute.

He also drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl.

This is a bad thing.

In deciding where I should draw my own conclusions here, I had to consider the way in which I like my atheism and overall fondness for rationalism to inform my thinking. The key factor is moral and intellectual integrity. By that. I certainly don’t mean adopting inflexible dogmatic views and attitudes, but I do mean being consistent and not a hypocrite.

Repeatedly, on this blog and the TV show, I have been ruthless in my condemnation of religious pedophiles. Tony Alamo, Warren Jeffs, adult Muslims in the Middle East who enter into arranged marriages with girls as young as eight or nine — I’ve seen no reason to cut them slack. And so I cannot cut Polanski any either. Certainly, I do and will always revere him as an artist. But the crime is a crime is a crime. Time doesn’t make it go away. Nor does the minor detail that the difference between Polanksi’s rape and those committed by the likes of Alamo and Jeffs is that Polanski never tried to justify it on religious grounds. Do I plan to denude my DVD collection of Polanski’s films? No. Why? They’re great films, that’s why. But just as O.J. Simpson’s double murders don’t diminish his accomplishments as a football star, neither can his football accomplishments be waved around as if they diminish the murders.

So if I cannot cut Warren Jeffs, Tony Alamo, and whoever-the-frak-else among religious wackaloons any slack when they victimize kids, nor can I cut Polanski slack. As an atheist, I think it’s an important factor in retaining my own integrity that I do not allow personal anti-religious bias to influence my opinion, and make me treat crimes by the religious more harshly than the same crime committed in a context where religion had no role. It’s hard for people to free themselves of biases, and those of us who pride ourselves on reason must be doubly diligent that we don’t make excuses and plunge into the same hypocrisy we see from the religious.

I think the arrest needed to happen, if only so that the whole affair can now play out as it must, and neither Polanski nor his victim have to go on living with it as some sort of Sword of Damocles hanging over their lives. Polanski will always be a great filmmaker. But he drugged and raped a kid. At 76, it’s past time for him to man up and face the consequences. If the court is harsh, so be it. If it’s lenient, so be it. But it must be faced. And Polanski’s defenders ought to know better than to embrace the casual insouciance of that last line in Polanski’s greatest movie: “Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.”

Toodles, Tony!

And…it’s convictions on all ten counts for pedophile cult leader Tony Alamo! Naturally, his response is the typical self-aggrandizement of the pathologically narcissistic. “I’m just another one of the prophets who went to jail for the Gospel.” Some “prophet”; he couldn’t even prophesy his own fate. No, Tony — or Bernie, I mean — you’re just another one of the perverts who went to jail for porking little kids.

So, to complete our celebration of Alamo’s downfall, I guess it’s time now to pick our winners in the “Can you write like allexus8?” contest. So…below are the links to the entries, and in the sidebar is the poll to vote, which will only be open 5 days. (There is such a thing as flogging a joke to death.) Have fun, and maybe, in five days, I’ll have thought of a prize. Unless allexus8 wins. You’ve already got your prize, haven’t you?

The entrants are… (feel free to imagine a drum roll here, if you want to play this out to full cheese effect)


Something distresses me about this photo of Alamo. I’m sure the resemblance to our very own beloved John Iacoletti is totally coincidental.

Vile child-rapist Tony Alamo is going down!

In the wake of recent, more interesting news, the child-sex trial of cult leader Tony Alamo — whose followers used to circulate his full-color newsletters under windshield wipers all around Austin and elsewhere — has been playing out largely under the radar. What stuns me about all of this is not just the ghastly spectacle of a senior citizen “marrying” little girls as young as eight or ten. It’s the way in which Alamo — or, shit, any authority figure at all — can exert such a powerful and hypnotic hold over his followers that the very parents of these little girls themselves became active participants in the violation of their children.

This is the authoritarianism of religion taken to its sickest inevitable extreme, and it illustrates the profound danger of accepting absolute authority as a concept in the first place. And I see this whole trial as a perfect chance to engage mainstream Christians, who, I suspect, would not hesitate to condemn Alamo’s actions in the strongest possible terms. Yes, what Alamo did to these girls is unspeakably appalling, no less so than that he justified it by claiming it’s what God wanted. But look at scripture, and you’ll see episodes of child abuse either directly prompted by divine command (Abe and Isaac) or carried out with tacit divine approval, such as the scene in Genesis 19 in which Lot offers his two virgin daughters to a lust-crazed mob (who, being gay, say no thanks).

Lot’s daughters don’t seem to have been all that offended at being offered as sexmeat by their father, since, later in the same chapter, they get him drunk and fuck him. Those biblical family values, I tell ya! Anyway, the point is: Is what Alamo did to children in the name of God any more reprehensible than what God either orders or tolerates seeing done to kids in the Bible, and the way their parents are so agreeable to it?

Have we mentioned lately that Islamic culture is evil?

Well then, let’s take up the slack, shall we? From Saudi Arabia, that oasis of egalitarian, progressive civilization at its apex [/snark], comes word that a court has ruled that the 8-year-old child bride of a 47-year old man, married off to him by her father as a way of paying off the father’s debts to the man, will not be able to have the marriage annulled. But hey, at least the court is doing its best to let everyone know how fair they’re being about all this. After all, they’ve gotten the groom to agree not to consummate the marriage until the girl reaches puberty, which means, lucky thing, that she’s got until about age 11 or 12 before she gets raped. And once she hits puberty, she’ll be allowed to file for divorce with the court. I’m sure they’ll just as fair to her then as they’re being now!

There are human rights organizations, apparently, even within Saudi Arabia, who are vehemently opposed to these arranged child marriages. How these organizations manage to exist without being regularly raided and their members dragged into the street and shot (oh, I forgot, “beheaded” is more Saudi style) is a question for another time. All we need to remember now is how this is just another indicator of how sick a society can get when fundamentalist religion — especially one as barbaric and misogynist as Islam — runs the show, and how, even a full decade into the 21st century, there are still victims of pre-medieval injustices living and suffering around the world today.

It would be nice if the US were willing to take a principled stand on this sort of thing. But you see, a little bit of oil is enough to lubricate a conscience rusty with such built-up gunk as “integrity” and “principle”. And Saudi Arabia has much more than a little bit of oil to go around. Let’s see, they force pre-pubescent kids into marriage, their radicalized young men crash planes into our buildings…but they’ll always be our “allies”. As long as the pumps are going.

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.

Apology Apologetics

We’re sorry that the Pope just doesn’t know what a proper apology looks like. An apology is a request for forgiveness for harm done. However, a proper apology requires that the person apologizing admit to the harm he has caused and display an understanding of the impact on the victim. A proper apology requires a demonstration of learning to show that the perpetrator has changed his ways and will avoid making the same mistake in the future. A proper apology means taking responsibility for one’s own actions. Such an apology is a sign of moral maturity and growth as a human being. The Pope’s July 19thapology” to victims of the Catholic church’s pedophilic predilections simply doesn’t measure up. We’re sorry that anyone thinks the Pope has offered a valid apology.

The Pope did not bother to address the victims of the Church’s crime. Instead, he issued his pretend apology to an audience of bishops and seminarians. He certainly didn’t admit his own wrong doing. Ratzinger actively perpetuated a long-standing policy of official secrecy of sex abuse claims by clergy and issued an order for clergy to obstruct justice in sex abuse claims. We’re talking tens of thousands of victims over more than forty years. Simply put, the Catholic Church is a racket.

His attempted apology, said in part, “Victims should receive compassion and care, and those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice.” He certainly didn’t want to draw any attention to his own role in this sordid affair or that of the Catholic hierarchy. Remember that in 2005, he requested diplomatic immunity in the US for his crimes to evade a lawsuit where these facts would be front-page news for weeks. That would be bad for business. Besides running a pedophile ring, he is the head of the pretend nation called the Vatican. We’re sorry that the Pope has no intention of taking responsibility for his actions. We’re also sorry that the Pope, presumably the very best that Christianity has to offer, doesn’t even meet remedial standards of moral behavior.

We’re sorry that the Pope’s edicts put the Catholic hierarchy in the US in a conflict of interest. Were they to follow the Pope’s order and actively impede criminal investigations, lie, blame others, and claim church-state separation to avoid taking responsibility for their actions? Or would they do the right thing, follow US law, and side with the victims in bringing the criminals to justice? We all know the answer: “screw the victims.” Let us count the ways. We’re sorry that the Catholic hierarchy is all too happy to sell out children to save their own sanctimonious butts. We’re sorry that anyone looks to the Catholic church for moral advice.

We’re sorry that the media will dutifully print the latest moral ramblings of a cad in a funny hat, but they give a free pass to a foreign head of state who is actively controlling his Bishops here in the US. These stooges are systematically violating our laws with impunity. In this age of “the war on terror,” you would think that someone would give a shit about some actual harm done to Americans on US soil by foreign interests. We’re sorry that the media aids and abets such blatant contempt for our country, our citizens, and our laws by simply ignoring it.

We’re sorry that the Catholic laity still amply funds the Catholic church despite their systematic abuse of children. We’re sorry they don’t get to watch the real-life kiddie porn they’ve funded with their tithes. We’re sorry that so many people are happy to sell out children for magic crackers and make-believe trips to see Jeezus after you die, somewhere over the rainbow. We’re sorry that the rest of Christianity is so enthralled with the concept of “religious tolerance” that they’re happy to overlook the problems of their Catholic brethren, so that the Catholics will do the same when they perpetrate their own immoral acts. We’re sorry that Christians are largely ignorant of the long history of crimes of their religion.

We’re sorry the Bible says nothing negative about pedophilia. Children are disposable property in the Bible, owned by their father. We’re sorry that believers worship a god who is either too powerless to help children or who gets off watching the show. We’re sorry that believers think that because they worship such a god, they have done their part to make the world a better place. We’re sorry it never occurs to them that maybe their god doesn’t exist, they should stop being dupes, and maybe stop the harm.

We’re not sorry for the secular courts and twelve-member juries of ordinary people who have done more to clean up this sorry mess than God and all of Christendom with its empty claims of moral authority and power.

There is a little lesson in there somewhere.