Religion is abuse, pure and simple. Just check Twitter.

Today on Twitter, one of the big trending memes is “Without God”. Hordes of theists right now are tweeting what they think life would be like if Sky Daddy weren’t around to hold their hand, with the words “Without God” somewhere in the tweet (which is how people get topics trending). The most common tweets are the most disheartening, because they demonstrate with crystal clarity that the most effective tool religion has for keeping people docile and compliant is the utter destruction of their personal esteem. Seriously, what other than religion could get people so eager to boast of their personal worthlessness? Here are actual examples.

@Periyon Without God I have nothing else to live for…

@mandyymanders Without God I would have nothing.

@SupaBaddizI Without God I am nothin, have nothin, && will never be able to accomplish nothin!

@Rieno2 Without God, I wouldn’t know how it feels to LIVE…

@iLoveMJ147 Without God I am nothing.

@BellaKerber Without God, life has no meaning ..

@PeAce_SteLLa Without God : I’m NOTHING ! ! ! ! !

@taylormatthews Without God there can be no knowledge, good, evil, hope or joy.

@DJFoRenZic_JA: Without god, there is no life!

@iK00lKiDd Without God there is no me…

@nanamarie87 Without God i could do nothing…be nothing

And it just goes on and on and on like that. Thousands upon thousands of people, eager to devalue themselves. “I suck! I’m worthless! I’m nothing, nothing, nothing…without GOD.”

This is quite possibly the most unspeakable form of brainwashing a person can endure. It is what George H. Smith in Atheism: The Case Against God is talking about when he states that Christianity has “a vested interest in human misery.” First, convince the believer of their innate lack of value. Get them to believe that there is nothing good about themselves in any way, shape or form. Then offer them a thin straw of hope: God can give you worth. Sure, you’re a completely undeserving piece of shit, but no worries. If you pray and genuflect and abase yourself just enough, he might — if he happens to be in a good mood that day — might condescend to let you past the velvet rope into his Heaven. What’s that? You say you answered the altar call at church? Well, that’s great and everything, but you know, that still might not be good enough. Because without God you’re nothing, you miserable little shitstain! So just remember that.

By this time, you have the believer so utterly intimidated they’re afraid of their own shadow. Even the tiniest scrap of joy they experience in life, they’ll be damn sure to credit immediately to their God, just to make sure they don’t fall out of favor.

You know who else uses these kinds of brainwashing techniques? Abusive spouses. “Without me you’re nothing” is the biggest hammer in the toolkit of the controlling, abusive partner. It’s why abused women don’t leave their men when you’d think all common sense would have them fleeing at the first opportunity. It’s like Stockholm Syndrome. And it’s why it’s so difficult to use reason when arguing with believers about their beliefs. You’re calmly and soberly trying to lay out objective facts, while they’re thinking that if what you say is true, then they’re doomed to a worthless, miserable void of a life, because THEY. ARE. NOTHING.

When you read these tweets, you should understand that when Dawkins refers to the religious indoctrination of children as child abuse, he isn’t fucking around. These tweeters are folks who grew up with that indoctrination into an adulthood defined in its entirety by fear and self-loathing. They hate themselves, pure and simple, and see no pleasure in anything their brief time on this earth can offer them if it cannot be attached in some way to their God.

If this parade of misery isn’t all the reason you need to stand against religion, I don’t know what else is. And any accommodationist who tells me religion should be “respected” even though I don’t believe it will frankly get a swift kick to the jewels. Are you going to tell me to “respect” wife beating even though I’d never do it?

Because it’s all just so depressing, that’s why

I have, as many of you have doubtless noticed, been absent from the blog for most of August, preferring to concentrate on some other things and take a bit of a break from the whole atheist-activism thing. Mainly, this has been due to a real need to decompress. I am frankly in a state of despair regarding America as a whole. The right wing — duplicitous, self-serving and dishonest at the best of times — have simply descended into bugfuck insanity and psychosis. I mean, for Set’s sake, we’ve actually got Republican politicians openly “joking” about killing Obama. What the blue blazing phuque is wrong with these maniacs?

I’ve never seen anything like the mass insanity surrounding the health-care reform “debate,” which hasn’t been so much a debate as a mindless, frothing mob going absolutely apeshit over the most preposterous lies that such bobblehead demagogues as Limbaugh and Beck can cook up. Apparently, Obama is going to send the SS to kick down your door, gun down grandma, and hold you down while they forcibly administer HPV vaccines whether you’re a girl or not. That so many of these people just believe the shit they’re being spoonfed without so much as a pause for thought (a skill they evidently don’t possess) makes it dismayingly clear just how far this country has sunk into near-savagery. The neocon Christian right are no longer even recognizably human; they are simply wild animals driven into a Pavlovian rage at the mere sight of a sliver of red meat, even when (especially when) it’s a wholly imaginary sliver. (After all, as Matt Taibbi has pointed on in Rolling Stone, what kind of fucking morons must these people be to decry as “socialism” a health-care reform proposal designed to preserve as much of the private sector as it can?)

I just don’t want to be in the same dimension with these, um, “people.” I’d rather read lots of sci-fi or hang out with my dogs. Unreason, fear, hate, anger, racism, and literalist Christianity are sending America down the toilet fast, and I think we’re already too far down the U-bend to be drawn back up with even the heartiest application of a plunger.

So. How’s your day?

The Greatest Sin

On last Sunday’s Atheist Experience, Matt and I were talking about “end times” theology as an example of one of the negative impacts of the Bible. I have had a difficult time putting into words my feelings on the subject. I’ve been trying to capture the deliciously sadistic glee that Christians must fantasize about when they think about being swept up to Heaven prior to watching the destruction of the rest of humanity–especially of those who were not as wise as they were to believe in Jesus.

One can be sure there is no empathy in Heaven. That would involve some amount of personal discomfort that a human being would feel when observing the pain of another. Instead, the believer will be in complete bliss while watching the spectacle unfold (as well as those being tortured in Hell).

The happiness of the elect will consist in part of witnessing the torments of the damned in hell, among whom may be their own children, parents, husbands, wives and friends; … but instead of taking the part of their miserable being, they will say ‘Amen!’, ‘Hallelujah!’, ‘Praise the Lord!’.” (Rev. Nathaniel Emmons / 1745-1840)

Twentieth-century apologist C. S. Lewis likened the experience of Heaven to “transsex.” He made the analogy of an adult understanding the pleasures of heaven as like explaining the pleasures of sex to a child. The greatest pleasure the child knows is his love for chocolate, but he simply can’t imagine the pleasure of sex. By analogy, if sex is the greatest pleasure an adult knows, heaven would have something so great as to make sex seem like the passing taste of a chocolate bar. Surely, C. S. Lewis’s concept of heaven would make the would-be Muslim suicide bomber yearning for his 72 regenerating virgins seem rather quaint. (See Atheist Experience episode #413 for more.)

So imagine watching the destruction of all humanity while having a “transsex” orgy simultaneously with all the dead people who ever believed in Jesus. Even without the sex angle, the thought of this being a person’s ultimate desire takes sociopathology to the extreme.

I’ve been at a serious loss for words to describe how I feel about this. I had previously use the term “Christian snuff porn” to describe my disgust, but on Sunday’s show, I likened this rapturous desire to jacking off at a car wreck.

I expect there will be some fallout for that comment. I find it interesting that one of our producers decided to censor the comment on the version of the show that is to air here in Austin. (I do admit that I didn’t take the opportunity to explain why I made it and it may have seemed out of place.) This two second silence got me thinking though: What does it say about our society that we are so shocked by an admittedly twisted sexual analogy, but that millions of Americans yearning for complete human destruction fails to even raise an eyebrow? Why do we give tax breaks to “charities” that promote these ideas, while the atheists who point out the treason to humanity are the least trusted group in the United States? Why is everyone so concerned about Ted Haggard’s sexual proclivities, but the fact that he may have had a hand in influencing Bush to go to war in the Middle East is not newsworthy? Haggard, who was then head of the National Evangelical Association, was meeting with the White House weekly on Bible Prophecies related to the end times. Bush apparently was concerned enough about Gog and Magog to try to get then France’s Prime Minister Chirac involved. Why is this not shocking to everyone? Why aren’t we locking Bush and all of his fellow sociopaths up in padded cell? Keep them where they can’t hurt themselves or anyone else.

I suspect we’re all still too influenced by this sick little religion of Christianity, its torture device logo, glorification of suffering, and its wide path of inhuman destruction. I make no apologies for my comment, however. It’s time our silence stops.

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.

A grim reminder on a grim anniversary: it can happen here

Because people need to remember exactly what was at the root of the most horrific terrorist act of modern times: religious fundamentalism and zealotry. Here is the list of instructions that was found among the personal effects of 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta. Some salient excerpts:

Keep in mind that, if you fall into hardship, how will you act and how will you remain steadfast and remember that you will return to God and remember that anything that happens to you could never be avoided, and what did not happen to you could never have happened to you. This test from Almighty God is to raise your level [levels of heaven] and erase your sins. And be sure that it is a matter of moments, which will then pass, God willing, so blessed are those who win the great reward of God. Almighty God said: ‘Did you think you could go to heaven before God knows whom amongst you have fought for Him and are patient?’

Remember the words of Almighty God: ‘You were looking to the battle before you engaged in it, and now you see it with your own two eyes.’ Remember: ‘How many small groups beat big groups by the will of God.’ And His words: ‘If God gives you victory, no one can beat you. And if He betrays you, who can give you victory without Him? So the faithful put their trust in God.’

When you have reached (M) and have left the taxi, say a supplication of place ['Oh Lord, I ask you for the best of this place, and ask you to protect me from its evils'], and everywhere you go say that prayer and smile and be calm, for God is with the believers. And the angels protect you without you feeling anything. Say this supplication: ‘God is more dear than all of His creation.’ And say: ‘Oh Lord, protect me from them as You wish.’ And say: ‘Oh Lord, take your anger out on [the enemy] and we ask You to protect us from their evils.’ And say: ‘Oh Lord, block their vision from in front of them, so that they may not see.’ And say: ‘God is all we need, He is the best to rely upon.’ Remember God’s words: ‘Those to whom the people said, “The people have gathered to get you, so fear them,” but that only increased their faith and they said, God is all we need, He is the best to rely upon.’

The ultimate “faith based initiative,” this.

Ah Martin, some of you might be saying, of course radical Islamists are violent psychotics. But that’s what their religion promotes. Christianity is all about peace and love and forgiveness and fluffy bunnies. You’d never see that kind of mindset bred here, goodness gracious me no!

Except, of course, we do. Meet “Joel’s Army,” a fast-growing group of Dominionist maniacs so flamboyantly extreme that they even frighten other conservative Christians. In the words of Rick Joyner, a popular pastor associated with the movement:

“As the church begins to take on this resolve, they [Joel's Army churches] will start to be thought of more as military bases, and they will begin to take on the characteristics of military bases for training, equipping, and deploying effective spiritual forces,” Joyner wrote. “In time, the church will actually be organized more as a military force with an army, navy, air force, etc.”

This is how you brainwash a generation of kids into becoming the kinds of killers who strap bombs to themselves and walk into public places. You convince them that any violent act they see fit to commit is fully justified as an act of self-defense. And the best way to feel like you’re a persecuted minority when you really aren’t is by embracing religious piety. Ol’ Adolf had convinced himself of this, when he wrote many religious justifications in Mein Kampf for his anti-Semitism, and the psychology was well understood by Hermann Goering, a much smarter and more cunning man than Hitler, who testified in Nuremberg, “Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.” Goering was speaking in a general political sense there, but the principle applies to religious terror as well. Just replace “pacifists” with “unbelievers” or “unsaved,” and “patriotism” with “piety” or “faith,” and it’s basically the same sentiment.

Joel’s Army have what must be the biggest case of fatwa envy on the planet, and take my cynical little word for it: the only difference between them and al Qaeda is that Joel’s Army simply haven’t gotten around to the “killing people” part of their plans yet. They’re hopeful, indeed, even eager, to see a sea change in public attitudes that will make that kind of activity in America receive the sort of overall public support that Qaeda’s terrorism gets in much of the Islamic world. But that doesn’t mean they’ll wait around to commit acts of violence, any more than the Islamist terrorists have. Proud of their anti-intellectualism and lack of education and worldliness, the cretins of Joel’s Army pray for the day God’s armies swoop down across the United States, killing off all the fags and libruls and establishing a blessed Christian fascist theocracy to welcome the savior’s second coming.

Sure, you might say that, with the vast majority even of Christian denominations contemptuous of the militarist fantasies of JA’s “Kingdom Now” theology, and arrayed against them, that they’re unlikely to gain any kind of majority foothold. But while they might hope for that kind of acceptance, disaffected loons don’t exactly need a majority foothold to be violent. Indeed, the feeling of being further isolated and marginalized might prompt them to action sooner rather than later. And with the far right currently energized by the rise in popularity of Sarah Palin, a book-banning zealot of the fire-and-brimstone old school from a Dominionist church, who knows what kind of plans are fomenting in the brains of these loons, if it looks like even a shred of respectability is suddenly being accorded their views. (Not saying that Palin’s fundamentalism, while too extreme to make her a safe bet in the White House, is as extreme as Joel’s Army. But the link between her church and Dominionist teaching has been noted.)

So on the 7th anniversary of 9/11, it behooves us to remember that not only is the war on terror still not won, it will probably never be won as long as the primary ingredients of terrorism’s recipe — a self-righteous sense of victimhood married to an implacable faith that God is behind you all the way — remain at full boil on the stove. And while we’ve been spending all our time these last seven years nurturing our fear of the Islamists, and wasted countless lives and resources trying to bring the war to them on their shores, over in America we’ve been cooking up our very own divinely inspired wannabe mass murderers, who have as much, if not more, contempt for the United States and its diversity and freedoms as al Qaeda ever had.

Human Race to Islam: Please F.O. and die

Much as I find right-wing jargon to be mindlessly jingoistic and childishly reactionary, they were onto something when they coined the term “Islamofascism.” Here are two reports of the oppressive, totalitarian practices of this depraved religion in action.

  1. Dog walking banned in Riyadh on the grounds it leads to flirting and, possibly, cooties. Here’s something boggling to contemplate about Islamist states. Most totalitarian regimes are run by angry, lonely little pricks who spend their working days in offices thinking up ways to keep people from being happy, ever. But bring Islam into the picture, and your list of “harmless fun activities magically morphed into arrestable offenses” suddenly includes having a pet and meeting girls. And I suppose I would find the concept of an actual division of law enforcement named The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice more laughable — let alone the idea that walking your dog could possibly be something anyone would be demented enough to consider a vice of any kind — if it weren’t for the very eerie likelihood that there are Dominionist Christians in this country who are smacking their foreheads and saying, “D’oh! Why didn’t we think of that?”
  2. White Europeans continue to prove themselves complete pussies when confronted with the spectre of pissed-off guys with beards. (And allow me to forestall enraged replies from white Europeans who aren’t afraid to stand up to Islamist incursions upon your rights, and are embarrassed by those in your cultures, official or unofficial, who let fear conquer them: by all means, feel welcome to sound off in the comments.)

    The thing that radical, Great-Satan-hating Islamofascists have learned all too effectively is that nothing scares citizens of (what said citizens like to think are) free Western democracies than the idea that a Muslim is primed to go batshit bombthrowing crazy at the drop of a hat. Confession time: when I was a younger and callow chap, I was in a psychologically abusive relationship with a woman whose tool of control was her temper. I never knew what I might say to cause her to go off like a fragmentation grenade, and so I said very little, even on days which seemed perfectly normal and on which no argument had yet ensued. Everything could be perfectly pleasant, then I could make some innocuous statement about nothing in particular, and within seconds I’d find myself being screamed at, at window rattling volumes. It was, shall we say, an unpleasant period of my life.

    Islamists like to use a similar tool of control to stifle freedom — free speech, criticism of their beliefs or their politics, artistic expression — in countries that, remarkably, aren’t Islamist theocracies and in which they’re even minorities in the population. Ever since 9/11, the new normal has been that anything could drive a Muslim into a homicidal rage at any moment, and you don’t have any clue what it is, so it’s better not to take chances. Okay, so that may be a stereotype that the vast majority of non-batshit-bombthrowing-crazy Muslims resent, but it’s certainly proven useful to the real agitators among them.

    The latest victim is a novel, The Jewel of the Medina, by debut writer Sherry Jones, which was slated for publication in the UK weeks from now, only to be pulled at the eleventh hour due to fears that the subject matter — the protagonist is one of Mohammed’s child brides — would lead to a Satanic Verses fatwa redux. Isn’t it convenient for Islamists that they no longer even have to fight the “War on Terror” any more? The West just hands it to them.

    Remarkably, the person who sounded the klaxon of fear regarding Jones’s book was not only a Westerner, but a college professor from UT-Austin, Denise Spellberg. Professor, you’re a disgrace to our town. Just like that, all that was needed was the teeniest, tiniest fear that the book might “incite acts of violence by a small radical segment,” and presto, bye bye freedom of expression and speech!

    Okay, so Jones’s novel does sound like lurid crap, in the few excerpts that have appeared online. But if it’s going to be denied publication, at least do so for the right reasons.

I’m with Pat Condell on this one. I see no reason to be respectful or tolerant towards a religion that condones “honor killings” and thinks walking your fuckmothering dog is some kind of threat to civilization itself. This kind of barbarism earns no respect, none, not even a smidgen. And I also stand with old Ben Franklin, whose famous line about how folks who are willing to surrender a little freedom in exchange for a little security don’t deserve either resonates today more than it ever has in history. So, in the spirit of fair play, and as a sop to all those whiny Christians who like to throw the “you only attack us because you’re too scared to go after Muslims” line at us, allow me proudly to strike this blow for freedom!

Now if you’ll pardon me, my dogs want their walkies.

Hey, kids, guns! And Jesus! Find your faith!

Allow me to preface this by saying that I am not against gun ownership. But this sends a rather peculiar message, don’t you think?

An Oklahoma church canceled a controversial gun giveaway for teenagers at a weekend youth conference.

Windsor Hills Baptist had planned to give away a semiautomatic assault rifle until one of the event’s organizers was unable to attend.

The church’s youth pastor, Bob Ross, said it’s a way of trying to encourage young people to attend the event. The church expected hundreds of teenagers from as far away as Canada.

Wha? Gee, what about iPods or XBox360’s? Or do you not want kids playing those evil violent video games or listening to that godless rock ‘n roll or hip-hop? Yeah, an assault rifle is much better. It’s not like a teenager is likely to misuse that.

“I don’t want people thinking ‘My goodness, we’re putting a weapon in the hand of somebody that doesn’t respect it who are then going to go out and kill,’” said Ross. “That’s not at all what we’re trying to do.”

Perish the thought. It never crossed my mind.

Ross said the conference isn’t all about guns, but rather about teens finding faith.

Okay then, I feel better already! You know, when the Muslims give kids deadly weaponry at a religious function, I think they call it terrorism and it’s the kind of thing that makes the sphincters of priviliged white Oklahoman Christian conservatives completely lose their structural integrity. Well, maybe they’re just taking precautions for when Obama’s elected and he throws a huge party for all his Islamofascist friends on the White House lawn. Must be it.

I suppose if this weren’t all happening in the state that gave us the psychotic Sally Kern, it wouldn’t have such a shudder factor. I’d say, “Could be worse, could be Texas,” but I have a feeling this might be an old Texas tradition…