Spreading God’s Wrath–er, I mean Love, Globally

In America, the culture wars
Are given up for dead;
We can’t kill gays here (legally)—
Let’s kill them there instead

The bible belt is loosening—
Think bigotry? Think twice!
But hey, the world’s a big, big place…
Uganda sure looks nice.

Ugandan evangelicals;
American support—
A match that’s made in heaven, or
At least that’s one report

America’s morality
Leaves much to be desired;
But now, Uganda’s laws on gays
Are biblically inspired!

Uganda was the first to fall;
Nigeria, this week;
Both, evidence evangelists
Have found a new technique

We welcome the apocalypse
When God rights every wrong
And so we do our level best
To move it right along:

The end of days is drawing near
When God shows us his love
The world stands at the edge of doom…
Let’s give a little shove

Context: The Daily Show’s interview with Roger Ross Williams (third segment at link–individual segments not yet available).

Chris Christy–Model Politician

My eyes are getting misty
As I listen to Chris Christie
While he shows us his sophisti-
Cated grasp of how things are
So he canned some staffer lady
Cos she acted really shady
Which I heard on local radi-
O, while sitting in my car

I’ve been stuck here since September
(When my rage was but an ember)
Now I’m furious, remember-
Ing this traffic jam from hell;
Who’s the scapegoat? Bridget Kelly,
And Chris Christie’s doing swell-he
Showed us all that he can dele-
Gate, and really do it well

Now he’ll finish up his presser
A defiant non-confessor
Though we know he’s an accessor-
Y, a bully, and a jerk
All those vicious lies need quashing:
He’s not bullying, just joshing,
So let’s send the man to Washing-
Ton and let him get to work!

My prediction: All of this will have been forgotten by the short-attention-span public, and do Christie no lasting harm. Besides, who else do the Republicans have?

Supremes Halt Same-Sex Marriage In Utah, While Under Appeal

Though we thought that an era had passed
It was, maybe, too perfect to last
Hundreds thought they were wed
Now the court says, instead,
“Equal treatment? Hang on, not so fast!”

It took a while–long enough for hundreds of same sex couples to have already wed–but the highly-expected appeal finally came through, and same sex marriage in Utah is on hold:

The terse order, from the full court, issued a stay “pending final disposition” of an appeal to the federal appeals court in Denver. It offered no reasoning.

This kinda-sorta happened in California, earlier, when the supremes danced around the issue instead of taking it on:

Judge Shelby was only the second federal judge to strike down a state ban on same-sex marriages, along with Judge Vaughn R. Walker in San Francisco, who in 2010 struck down Proposition 8, California’s ban. That ruling was stayed while it was considered by an appeals court, which affirmed it, and by the Supreme Court.

In June, the Supreme Court effectively sustained Judge Walker’s decision on technical grounds and without reaching the question of whether there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

So the couples in Utah had longer than the few hours some expected, but their concerns were dead on.

Texas (of course) Mayor Declares 2014 “Year Of The Bible)

The Christian mayor of Flower Mound
Created a sensation—
He searched his soul, and thus felt bound
To make a proclamation:

This year, he said, would be the year
The town would find its way
Because they’ll read (he made it clear)
The bible every day

Each day, he posts a bible verse;
They study, to the letter
The world, you see, is getting worse
And this will make it better

If the godless get litigious
Then the mayor will play it tough…
Because Texas is religious,
But, it seems, not quite enough.

Yup, because Texas isn’t quite Christian enough already, the Mayor of Flower Mound has proclaimed 2014 the year of the bible. Or rather, “a” year of the bible, since he wants to do it again in 2015. They’ve got a website and everything:

The Bible consists of 66 books written by more than 40 different authors from all different walks of life over a period of 1.400 to 1,800 years. The amazing thing is that the Bible carries a perfect unity from cover to cover regarding its message and content, which speaks of its divine origin as ultimately written by God and not man.

Well, perhaps actually reading it will disabuse them of the notion that it “carries a perfect unity from cover to cover”.
Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Hmmm… at the time I started writing this, they had a functioning comment section on their site, with all positive comments. Now?

Due to the high traffic the site has experienced, we have disabled the Comments section.

Yeah… that must be why.

Another One To Bookmark

It matters not how you re-word it; they’ve heard it,
Your argument stinks—that’s a matter of fact.
The judge gave to you, in this ruling, a schooling
A thorough rebuking, though written with tact.
You claimed it amounts to miscarriage of marriage
To change what such unions have meant all along;
The judge found your “think of the children!” bewilderin’
Considered your logic, pronounced it dead wrong.

What you label “logic” is tortured—the sort you’d
Expect from a kid, whom you’d then want to scold!
In your view, to give churches freedom, you need ‘em
To keep other churches more tightly controlled!
You say that gay men have the same rights you claim, rights
To marry a woman—whichever they choose!
The judge, as you’ll quickly intuit, saw through it;
Your argument’s specious, and guess what? You lose!

Majorities see what they’ve wanted confronted
When sometimes their wishes are not what they ought
The judge, in his wisdom, saw through you, and knew you
Were moved by religion and prejudiced thought
“Gay marriage” is “separate but equal: the sequel”
It’s one institution, for straight or for gay
Just “Marriage” will do—it’s a beaut! Ah, but Utah,
I love what you’ve done in this ruling today!

It’s one to bookmark. No, not this verse, the Utah Same-Sex Marriage ruling:

The court agrees with Utah that regulation of marriage has traditionally been the province of the states, and remains so today. But any regulation adopted by a state, whether related to marriage or any other interest, must comply with the Constitution of the United States. The issue the court must address in this case is therefore not who should define marriage, but the narrow question of whether Utah’s current definition of marriage is permissible under the Constitution.

Few questions are as politically charged in the current climate. This observation is especially true where, as here, the state electorate has taken democratic action to participate in a popular referendum on this issue. It is only under exceptional circumstances that a court interferes with such action. But the legal issues presented in this lawsuit do not depend on whether Utah’s laws were the result of its legislature or a referendum, or whether the laws passed by the widest or smallest of margins. The question presented here depends instead on the Constitution itself, and on the interpretation of that document contained in binding precedent from the Supreme Court and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Applying the law as it is required to do, the court holds that Utah’s prohibition on same-sex marriage conflicts with the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process under the law. The State’s current laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry and, in so doing, demean the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason. Accordingly, the court finds that these laws are unconstitutional.

It’s a great read–the stories of the plaintiffs make it clear that this is no abstract fight, but a genuine problem for real and relatable people. The judge, Robert Shelby (as is his duty) considers all the state’s reasons for denying marriage to same sex couples, and not only finds them lacking, but occasionally points out that the real effects are likely to be the polar opposite of what the state claims!

I was very interested to see what the state’s arguments actually were; I’ve argued this topic for years, and have yet to find a decent argument against same-sex marriage that was not either inane, fundamentally religious (and thus moot by virtue of the first amendment) or both. Here, though, we don’t have just morons on the internet arguing, but the lawyers for the state of Utah…. and the arguments are the same as you see made by idiots on the internet. Seriously, the state argued that (for instance) gay men have the same right to marry the woman they love as any straight man does. Therefore allowing them to marry the man they love would be giving them additional rights. They really argued that.

The arguments based on the state’s responsibility to promote “responsible procreation within marriage”?

The State has presented no evidence that the number of opposite-sex couples choosing to marry each other is likely to be affected in any way by the ability of same-sex couples to marry. Indeed, it defies reason to conclude that allowing same-sex couples to marry will diminish the example that married opposite-sex couples set for their unmarried counterparts….If there is any connection between same-sex marriage and responsible procreation, the relationship is likely to be the opposite of what the State suggests. Because Amendment 3 does not currently permit same-sex couples to engage in sexual activity within a marriage, the State reinforces a norm that sexual activity may take place outside the marriage relationship.

(page 44, if you are looking)

Seriously, bookmark this ruling; when the idiots on the internet make stupid arguments, and you want the perfect rejoinder (including precedents), you’ll be glad you did.

What Would Peter Do? Denying Jesus For Political Gain

I hear the baby Jesus cried
To hear His name so oft denied—

The cross (for which we all give thanks)
Is merely “intersecting planks”;
The sacred scene, nativity?
“A plastic Jewish family”
That baby, in the manger’s hay?
Without a nametag, who could say?
La Jolla’s cross, so bright and tall?
It’s not religious—not at all!
“In God We Trust”? The phrase is phony,
Ruled to be mere ceremony!
Each mention of our mighty Lord
Is no big deal, and best ignored…

Denying Jesus, through and through—
I wonder, What Would Peter Do?

Looking through the mental and legal contortions intended to preserve Christian privilege, I’ve noticed a trend: The nominally Christian arguers are the ones denying Christ. The latest (on Fox, in Palin’s book, and in comment sections everywhere) is the “plastic Jewish family” that atheists are so unreasonably offended by. It’s not at all that this scene actually means anything–this family (let’s call them the Goldbergs) are just plastic people, so we can put them up in the town square. And now, Ed reports on the even more shocking twist that, without an actual name tag, how can anyone be expected to know that this babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger, is anything other than little Max Goldberg? Wait, what? Jesus? Nah, Jesus would have a name tag saying so.

The “intersecting planks” is nice, too–in Palin’s book she describes a cross as “a horizontal plank intersecting a vertical plank”. It’s just two pieces of wood–why on earth would anyone object to that on public property? Sacred? Nope, nothing religious about it at all.

It’s funny, really–the people who claim to love Jesus the most are the very ones trivializing their sacred symbols.

There’s precedent… but Peter only denied Jesus three times. Lightweight.

Breaking News: Mt. Soledad Cross Must Come Down! (…eventually, perhaps)

Today’s report from San Diego (oh, and read to the end of page 2–there’s a poll!):

A San Diego federal judge made a reluctant ruling Thursday that the cross atop Mount Soledad is unconstitutional, although the chances of the La Jolla monument coming down anytime soon are unlikely.

The latest ruling by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns will likely send the case back to the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court declined to hear the case last year, but said it could reconsider once a lower court enters a final judgment.

Burns ordered the cross to be removed within 90 days, and then stayed that order until all appeals have been exhausted.

That’s right, they have to give a chance to run it by Scalia again, the justice who apparently really actually does believe that a Christian cross is a memorial to war dead of any and all faiths (which must be why the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America–with others–filed the suit). So don’t hold your breath. The Supremes had earlier kicked the case back to the lower court to let it simmer for a bit, rather than have the guts to decide.

As I said earlier…

The cross on the hill was a beautiful sight
On the days when the sky was most bluish;
It stood for the soldiers who gave up their lives
Well, except when the soldiers were Jewish.

The cross on the hill, it looked rugged and old
Though the city maintained it as newish;
The congressman said that it stood for the dead
Well, unless they were atheist, Muslim, or Jewish.

The cross on the hill was a secular thing—
That’s a lie, but it kinda sounds truish—
The judge said it symbolized service and loss
Well, except for the Buddhists, the Hindus, the Pagans, the Jains, the Confucians, the Shinto, the Sikh, the Druids, the Wiccans, Baha’i, Hare Krishna, Zoroastrian, Scientologists, atheists, Muslim or Jewish. Or the religions of the tribal nations who once owned the land the cross is on.

The cross on the hill is religious, of course
Said a Judge who rejected the woo-ish
And it can’t be a symbol for everyone there
If it doesn’t mean Buddhists, the Hindus, the Pagans, the Jains, the Confucians, the Shinto, the Sikh, the Druids, the Wiccans, Baha’i, Hare Krishna, Zoroastrian, Scientologists, atheists, Muslim or Jewish. Or, you know, the indans. Or even Christians who don’t want a symbol, or use a different cross from the Latin Cross, or (fades)


Mt. Soledad Cross Image by Will Fresch–wikipedia commons

Missing From The Picture

The argument was lengthy;
It was fervid; it was strong;
Both participants were certain
That the other one was wrong:

Was the object of contention
A potential, or a child?
Just a maybe, or a baby
With a list of rights compiled?

Is it murder of an innocent
When choosing to abort?
The argument was wholly framed
In questions of this sort

For years, it seems, they stood their ground
And argued with each other…
And not a thought was wasted
On the wishes of the mother.

So, yeah, I saw an article in the National Catholic Register: The War On Religion Is Real And We Are Losing.

These days, we hear so much about “the war on …” this or that, we have learned to drown it out as hyperbolic nonsense promoted by those with an agenda. The war on women is a perfect example.
But I am here to tell you that the war on religion is real and religion is losing–big time.
Being religious is about putting what you believe into every day practice. That is they call it practicing your religion.
But increasingly, the State is imposing barriers to practice of your religion anywhere but in your head or heart. Out here in the real world, religion has no place.

Yes… the fact that the Church is not allowed to impose its desires on the rest of society, through Catholic-approved hospital procedures, through dictating what employees can and cannot have in their earned benefits packages, through (yes, even this!) the requirement that public businesses not be allowed to discriminate! What the rest of us recognize as the reeling in of privilege, this article saw as an attack on the God-given rights of the church. It’s a real war… unlike that silly “war” on women. There is no war on women. “War”, after all, implies that both sides are armed.

But today’s verse is not really about the article. It’s about the comments. I know, I know, never read the comments! But I really did find it astonishing, just how much concern there was for the only person involved–the preborn child. The discussion of the fetus, like the pictures on the protester’s placards, is remarkably devoid of any sight of the woman whose body quite literally surrounds the issue.

We are told that “science tells us” that the baby is its own unique person, with rights. Oddly enough, I think science might also tell us that the woman is a person as well, but this is not mentioned. We are told that “proper medical care” of the mother is only proper when the baby’s welfare is given equal weight (in practice, this can mean that if one dies, both must), because both are equally complete human beings. Good thing the church cares so much it is willing to do the deciding for everybody–everybody gets the same freedom when everybody is the Church’s puppet.

I would love, some time, for the debate to be framed around the woman. She is nothing less than invisible. There is a reason for that; there is no defense once the woman is acknowledged. The church has no right to make her decisions.

Related:
Jennifer, Jennifer
Fetal Testimony
God Is Pro-Choice (Just Anti-Woman)

Rants And Comments

The Coloradan has a fun opinion piece up, complaining that atheism is becoming the US national religion.

It’s a scattershot argument, at once claiming a near 80% Christian majority and demanding protection from persecution, since we are a republic, not a democracy. A fun read.

Anyway, I commented there, but I can’t tell whether it actually posted. I can see it just fine, but the comment count does not include mine. So I thought I’d put it here, just in case.

Ah yes… atheism is claimed by 1.6%, and “Christianity” by nearly 80, and you are complaining.

The situation you describe is unbelievable on the face of it. No rational person—and I assume you are a rational person—would ever claim that atheism was becoming the national religion of the US when all three branches of the federal government are dominated by Christians, when Congress feels the need to take time from their busy schedules to re-verify every couple of years that “In God We Trust” is our motto, when polls show “atheists” remain less likely to get someone’s vote than any other label tested… So, frankly, the situation cannot be as you describe it.

And it is not. The fact is, you are misrepresenting, badly, and you know it.

To begin, you complain of an attack on “religion in public life” or “whenever God finds his way into public view”. The truth is, even the most radical atheists are staunch defenders of the first amendment, and will defend your right to free expression. What we complain about (and what the courts have consistently agreed with) are the attempts to enlist the government (you note “Congress”, but conveniently omit any consideration of the 14th amendment—so it is not simply a matter of Congress siding with a religious view, but any representative of government) to take the side of one religion or another against all others, or against no religion.

In short, you can have religion in public life, but you cannot have it promoted or led by agents of the government. It’s a simple distinction.

You note that 78.4% of Americans are nominally “Christian”. What you don’t mention here, though, is that the various denominations of Christianity do not always agree. My sister is a devout Christian; her church strongly affirms and supports same-sex marriage. My uncle is a devout Christian; his church condemns same-sex marriage. If the government sides with one church, it sides against the other; it has, over the course of our history, been much healthier for churches not to allow the government to take sides.

One thing you had right, though, and I am glad of it—this is a republic, not a democracy. If it were not for our constitutionally protected freedoms, that 78.4%, should they ever happen to agree on something, could deny the basic rights of those who disagree. As is, the 1.6% you are complaining about only have the power they do because the constitution is on their side. One person plus the constitution beats 80% on the wrong side of the law.

I am glad, also, that you mention the founding fathers. It is, indeed, easy to see that they had no hesitation in declaring the importance of their faiths in God (remember, though, they did not share the same religion—there were, in fact, official religions for many of the colonies, so “Christianity” was not seen as the unifying label you treat it as)… which makes it all the more remarkable that the word “God” is not mentioned once in the Constitution, and the only mentions of religion are to expressly prohibit any religious test for office (article 6) and the first amendment (extended to all levels of government in the 14th). If they had wanted to say we are a Christian nation, they had every ability and opportunity to do so. They did not. They chose to keep government out of religion, and religion out of government. So please, by all means, practice your religion (even in public, if you want to ignore Matthew 6:6). But not while you are acting as an agent of government.

Like I said, it’s very simple.

Heh… no verse this time–but I clicked on “first amendment” up there under the title, and I am frankly astonished at how often I *have* written something I could have just pulled up for the situation. Is there nothing new under the sun?

The Insurance Scam

My insurance covers fractures
(Like most policies I’ve known)
Which is wasteful for the people
Who don’t have a broken bone

And it also covers polio’s
Expensive medications
Just in case it makes a comeback—
It’s been gone for generations

Why, my policy protects me
From the rarest stuff on earth
So I’m working on a cunning plan
To get my money’s worth:

From the corners of the planet
I’m collecting rare diseases—
I’ll have people send me samples
From wherever someone sneezes

Every parasite that troubles,
Each bacterium that lurks
Every virus, every prion,
I’m collecting up the works

And from government collections
From Atlanta to The Hague
I’ll grab cryogenic samples
Of each pestilence and plague

I will sample every toxin
That humanity has faced…
If I don’t, you see, insurance
Is at least a partial waste

And I want the proper value
For each dollar, for each dime…
If I live my whole life healthy
Then insurance is a crime.

Cuttlecap tip to Ed, this morning.