New Heights Middle School (SC) still doesn’t get it

So, we moved the blog and I’m sheepish about how to work this new-fangled thang. And Martin sends me a wrist-slap to say (basically), “Hey, you need to get over to the new blog and try it out, you lump!” So, now I’m at the point where I’m thinking “What do I talk about?” And three things immediately spring to mind that merit mention:

1. Dallas Pastor Robert Jeffers’ endorsement of Rick Perry that was just an open promotion to vote on purely religious grounds, completely disregarding or demonstrating unawareness of what “no religious test for office” means, and also no comprehension of the problems that arise from the unholy union of church and state. History alone should be sufficient, but if not, look at the many nations where they are under an active theocracy to get an idea of how well that works.

2. A Muslim Advice website I came across that has both depressed and shocked me. I very strongly suggest everyone go and spend some time there and poke around to see how your life would change if you had to live a Muslim life. Consider what it might be like for people born into Islam (and Muslims believe you are born into it, just like Jews) for whom the indoctrination doesn’t sink in, or who come to a conclusion later that it’s not correct. What would it be like to know this is bullshit and still have to live this life? If I started listing all the letters and answers that disturbed me, this would become the Islamic Critique blog for the next 10 years.

But I’m going with the last one, number 3, because it’s the easiest one to analyze, and as someone who is verbose in the best of cases, this is probably best. It simply doesn’t take a lot of words to describe what is wrong with this: A public school in South Carolina has stepped up to demonstrate, one more time, that Christians in the U.S. South just can’t get certain things to sink into their heads. No matter how many times you trot out their own Golden Rule to them, they seem to have a marked inability to actually understand it. They fully get the first bit, “Do unto others.” It’s the second part that gives them trouble, “as you would have done to you.”

New Heights Middle School in South Carolina brought in a Christian rapper and had the kids rap along about Jesus. Don’t get me wrong. I get that religious bands don’t have to do a show that would be considered religious, but in this case the reports are that it was clearly religious in nature. Is this even rare, though? How many times do we hear about public school sponsored prayers or rallies in the Bible Belt? The two most common criticisms are the illegality of it and the pure lack of understanding by the families that this is even a problem on a basic good will level. Those most likely to comment on these stories with stupidity such as “Good for the school!,” would be the first ones to have a total melt down if the rapper had been promoting some other religious view. So, they appear to “get it” when you put them in the shoes of people outside their religion; but, the moment you put them back in the majority Christian seat, the lesson dissipates like so much smoke into thin air—a sort of religious amnesia?

OK, so let’s try this again, Muslim rapper OK? No, that would be an outrage. Then the Christian rapper is an outrage, get it? No. OK, so let’s try this again, Hindu rapper OK? No, that would be an outrage. Then the Christian rapper is an outrage, get it? No. And so on, and so on, and so on.

This is the danger of “I’m right and they’re wrong” when it comes to religion. It completely destroys perspective and the capacity to judge one’s own behaviors as problematic for others. When something would completely outrage and piss you off if someone else did it, there is no reason it should be a mystery or shock to you when others are outraged or pissed off when you do it to them. It’s just not hard enough to cause this sort of cognitive difficulty. “How would that make YOU feel?” is a tool used to teach toddlers how to think before they act. There is just no explanation for so many adults being unable to grasp such a simple concept. Beyond “it’s not legal,” their own basic human decency should kick in and help them understand what is wrong with what they’re doing. Even their own religion commands them to consider this. They label it their “Golden Rule,” but they still can’t seem to actually understand it. They “get” that the non-Christian thinks, as they do, that the other guy is incorrect (or even just that they could be incorrect), but in their heads, THEY’RE right. And, so, if “I” was wrong, and “you” were right about what god wanted, then I’d want “you” to promote “the truth” to “me.” And so, when it comes to Christian perspectives over those of others, in a nation where a majority is Christian, in a very sick way, they ARE following the Golden Rule—shoving “the truth” down the throats of everyone else who is “wrong” and who needs “the truth.” I think, in a twisted way, they think they’re helping and not being offensive assholes.

Of course, I could be wrong, as someone else suggested on another strand, and they could just be passive-aggressive people who want to piss people off. That certainly wouldn’t be anything new on the religious scene, either.

Non-Prophets 9.9!

Well, here it is at last, gang. Probably the last of the guerilla episodes, as the regular series is set to resume, I do believe, this coming weekend!

Gia Grillo, Chris Conner and I reteam, and end up spending a lot of this episode wagging our fingers at some of our fellow heathens, expressing our dismay at the way some people in the atheist camp got caught up in the wave of Muslim-bashing that arose around the Park51 controversy. While none of us likes Islam, naturally, most of the rhetoric was simple hate speech from the Fox News wingnut camp that grossly generalized all Muslims, even those who are peaceful and loyal U.S. citizens, under the “terrorist” banner. That some atheists actually fell into that trap of emotion-clouded unreason is something we hate to see.

Then we smack around Phil Plait a bit for his “Don’t Be a Dick” speech, and talk about accommodationism vs. confrontationalism.

Not to be a whiner, but holy hell balls this one was tough to edit. But I think the mix is superior to 9.6, even though our different mics and the fact we were basically recording a three-way Skype call means it still isn’t audiophile material by any means. (I apologize for my harsh S’s.) I hope you all enjoy it, and I’m off for a nap. If you’d rather wait for the iTunes feed, Matt tells me he’ll do the necessary admin stuff to get it up on the feed either tonight or tomorrow, so you won’t have to wait days and days like last time. And if you want art for your iPod, download the above graphic and stick it in yourself. With 9.6 Russell told me I inadvertently changed the art for the whole feed by embedding it in the episode beforehand. Durp.

Consider the comments to be an open thread on the episode.

The disgraceful cost of the Iraq War

In the news today is word from Afghanistan that those wacky pranksters in the Taliban thought it would be a hoot to spray some teenage girls walking to school in the face with acid. Now two of them are blind! Hooray for the religion of peace. (Because it is, of course, against their precious religionthat women should be educated.)

Why is this part of the disgraceful cost of the Iraq War? Why, because if we hadn’t pulled troops out of Afghanistan in order to invade Iraq, a country that had exactly two things — jack and shit — to do with 9/11, then we could have spent the last five years still in Afghanistan, killing every single living member of the Taliban we could find. Which is no less than they deserve. Oh, dear. Was that not sufficiently politically correct? Good, I’ll say it again. Every single living member of the Taliban should be killed. Summarily. And left to rot in the street. Or a ditch. I’m not particular.