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Yessss…come over to the Dark Side!

One of us! John Cole has seen the light…err, dark?

But from where I stand these days, the only thing I see religion doing in the public sector is gay bashing and telling women, mostly poor and desperate and in deplorable financial and personal situations, what to do with their bodies. I see busybodies deciding what drugs they can dispense to which customers, or deciding that they don’t have to issue a marriage license because of some petty deity that I don’t believe in told them to hate their fellow citizens and ignore the law. In a country in dire financial straits but still spending billions and billions of dollars on education, I see religious folks actively and openly working to make our schoolkids dumber. I see them shooting people who provided a medical procedure, and I see others rummaging through people’s personal lives to find out who hasn’t lived up the word of God. I see glassy-eyed fools running for President claiming that vaccines that save lives actually cause cancer, or that if you get raped and are pregnant, you should just lie back and think of Jeebus and make the best of a bad situation. In fact, everywhere you look these days, if Christianity or religion is getting a mention, it means something ugly is happening and someone somewhere is being victimized, marginalized, or otherwise abused. Go read some of the arguments against integration and you’ll see the same bible verses used today against homosexuals. Fifty years from now, they’ll be recycling them again to trash someone else they don’t like or who isn’t good enough for them.

Comments

  1. says

    Reading Ross Douthat ought to make anyone with a conscience and two brain cells to rub together want to denounce religion, loudly. That’s why it’s gratifying to hear someone like John “I just see no point in being a dick about it” Cole say this:

    So, I’m sorry, Ross. I don’t give a shit about your invisible Jeebus, I don’t care if under the iron hand of Obamacare there might be a little more access to contraceptives, and until you and the rest of your godbothering pals get your act together and stop being a burden and cancer on society, I really don’t care what you think. Deal with it.

  2. ajb47 says

    That is a beautiful rant. Because it’s true. That paragraph needs to be enshrined somewhere.

    AJ

  3. Brownian says

    In fact, everywhere you look these days, if Christianity or religion is getting a mention, it means something ugly is happening and someone somewhere is being victimized, marginalized, or otherwise abused.

    Oh, that’s just the liberal media. You never hear about all the good the churches do for the poor ethnics who don’t know any better.

  4. Gregory Greenwood says

    It certainly seems that Cole has changed his stance, but when it coms to ‘seeing the light’ he may only be getting part of the spectrum. Statements like;

    You can’t argue with people about it, because none of it is based on logic or reason, most of it is so ingrained in who they are because they’ve been instructed to believe since they were born and spent their lifetime going through the rituals, and I just see no point in being a dick about it.

    (Emphasis added)

    and;

    Again, I’m not naturally inclined to be antagonistic towards religion. My parents are both religious and are definite believers. I like Sundays off, I like the Easter and Christmas break, I don’t care if we have to do silly things like pray before certain events (I can just think about other things while they babble), it doesn’t bother me that In God We Trust and other such statements are everywhere in public life, and so on. I’m not some crazed reactionary on the issue.

    (Emphasis added)

    Make me somewhat wary to say the least. An ‘ally’ who views those who oppose public, effectively manditory prayer and the shoe-horning of religious language into every corner of government as ‘crazed reactionaries’ may ulimately transpire to be no ally at all.

    Don’t be surprised if he decides to throw us under the bus in the future, should it serve his purpose or help him polish his credentials as an accomodationist and not at all ‘shrill’ or ‘dickish’…

    That aside, the sentiment in his post was, for the most part, extremely well put and cut directly to the heart of the issue – religion, as it is commonly practiced in the US (and indeed the bulk of the planet) today, is not merely nonsense, but manifestly toxic and harmful nonsense that shouldn’t be given a pass simply to shield the sensibilities of theists.

    One phrase from the post in particular caught my eye;

    Fifty years from now, they’ll be recycling them again to trash someone else they don’t like or who isn’t good enough for them.

    I could easily imagine a future where, should so called ‘H+’ technologies become practical, fundies would use almost the exact same arguments to claim that transhumans were ‘evil’ or ‘abominations’ that shouldn’t be afforded the same rights as ‘decent citizens’ (read: xians)… only for a series of scandals to come to light where it transpires that rich fundies used those self same technologies to extend their own lifespans.

    Hypocrisy is one of the fundie sacraments, afterall…

  5. says

    Well, Cole used to be a Republican. He’s now a mainstream Democrat, one might say an Obamabot.

    I’m hoping that he’ll eventually start realizing that institutional politics in the U.S. are broken and that we need solutions in addition to, if not in place of, the DLC and DNC crowd. Likewise, I’m hoping that he throws off accommodationism.

  6. petejohn says

    I can’t really disagree with any of that. If the religious did mostly good things I’d view them as deluded people who are good in spite of their beliefs. But when “God’s on your side” it’s perfectly reasonable to also believe that those you dislike (or are told to dislike by an old crappy book attributed to said God) are NOT on God’s side and therefore not worthy of respect. Religion is a powerful thing that makes people act like trash, do dumb things, and divide themselves along otherwise arbitrary lines. Even more frightening is that it gives assholes a good excuse to do lousy things to other people. I think the late Mr. Hitchens had it right when he said that religion poisons everything.

  7. rickschauer says

    It is demonizing behavior. Sin, guilt judge, atone. It keeps their lttle worlds alive with irrelevance.

  8. Rick says

    Ya, that really is a great rant. Although, the going along with prayer stuff really annoys me. I can’t be that accommodating.
    Anyway, he reminded me of a quote I read recently,

    You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.
    Anne Lamott

  9. Akira MacKenzie says

    The comment section is depressing though. Filled to the brim with the usual “moderate” and “liberal” religionist scum, making excuses for their delusions and desperately trying to disassociate themselves with the Christian Reich (i.e. the “they are not Real Christians” gambit).

    Also, an “atheist” who doesn’t think the “In God We Trust” issue is a big deal deserves as much respect as anti-abortion women or African-Americans who vote Republican: fucking NONE!

  10. raven says

    Most Catholic women in U.S. use birth control | Reuterswww.reuters.com/…/us-most-catholic-women-us-use-birth-cont- …Cached

    14 Apr 2011 – Some 98 percent of sexually active Catholic women in the United States have used contraceptive methods banned by the church, research …

    Ross Douthat is a Bill Donohue class Catholic church defender. One of the few left who isn’t a priest. He is an idiot.

    The vast majority of the Catholic members don’t agree with them 98% of Catholic women in relevant cohorts use birth control and the Catholic family size is the same as the national average. I don’t think they are going to freak out if Obamacare covers contraception.

    There really aren’t that many Catholics any more. They claim 22% of the population. It’s more like 15%. In the last few years, 22 million Catholics have left the church.

  11. crowepps says

    In November the bishops said priests would be instructing Catholics not to vote for Obama because the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and failure to defend DOMA were “an assault on religious liberty”.

    In January, the bishops assert the same priests will be instructing Catholics not to vote for Obama because of birth control.

    We have another 10 months to go. If the same voters are going to be told monthly not to vote for Obama monthly, it isn’t going to make a bit of difference. They aren’t allowed to not vote for Obama more than once.

  12. Brain Hertz says

    Gregory Greenwood:

    Make me somewhat wary to say the least. An ‘ally’ who views those who oppose public, effectively manditory prayer and the shoe-horning of religious language into every corner of government as ‘crazed reactionaries’ may ulimately transpire to be no ally at all.

    I think you’re being a little unfair to John here. What I’m pretty sure he means by “not being a dick about it” is not starting arguments with people who practice religion in their own space. He’s been pretty consistent (recently, at least; I know there’s been a substantial change over time) at opposing people pushing religion into public policy in whatever form it takes. I don’t think I’d exactly characterize him as an accomodationist.

    (I read Balloon Juice on a regular basis, and have done for some time)

  13. otis says

    “still spending billions and billions of dollars on education”

    sorry but that statement puts a dent in an otherwise well written passage

  14. Gregory Greenwood says

    Brain Hertz @ 16;

    I think you’re being a little unfair to John here.

    Perhaps, but I have been burned before by people who claim to be allies only to transpire not to be when the chips are down. I am yet to be convinced that Cole isn’t going to turn out to be one more who fits that pattern. I would like to be wrong, but we will have to wait and see.

    What I’m pretty sure he means by “not being a dick about it” is not starting arguments with people who practice religion in their own space.

    I do not share your confidence – accusing so called ‘new’atheists of being ‘shrill’ or ‘dickish’ simply for being unapologetically godless and directly taking theists to task for their more harmful and ridiculous claims is a well established delegitimising tactic among accommodationists like Mooney. The use of similar language here may be simply an unfortunate coinicidence, but then again it may not.

    He’s been pretty consistent (recently, at least; I know there’s been a substantial change over time) at opposing people pushing religion into public policy in whatever form it takes. I don’t think I’d exactly characterize him as an accomodationist.

    And yet he characterises people who oppose the ubiquity of public paryer and the use of exclusitory, sectarian religious language by govenment entities in a society supposedly predicated upon the seperation of church and state as ‘crazed reactionaries’.

    Crazed reactionaries.

    That certinly sounds like an acommodationist to me.

    If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

  15. csue says

    crowepps @ 15 -

    If you have proof of this, send it IMMEDIATELY to the IRS.

    Tax-exempt orgs in the US MUST stay out of partisan politics, or lose their tax exemption. If there’s a drive in the US among Catholic churches to tell everybody in their pews who to (not) vote for, they are way over that line.

    Personally, I’d love to see them lose their tax exempt status. :>

  16. mcwaffle says

    Balloon Juice is a good site, I’ve followed it for a while. It’s basically for people who are burned out on Daily Kos.

  17. ChasCPeterson says

    Go read some of the arguments against integration and you’ll see the same bible verses used today against homosexuals.

    like what?

  18. Matt Penfold says

    We have another 10 months to go. If the same voters are going to be told monthly not to vote for Obama monthly, it isn’t going to make a bit of difference. They aren’t allowed to not vote for Obama more than once.

    Does that not endanger the tax-exempt status if the Catholic Church in the US ?

  19. psocoptera says

    csue @ 20 -

    I had the same thought, but do you really think the IRS would act on it? They haven’t acted on some of the mega churches that engage in similar behaviors; they just investigate and issue warnings. Still, it would be a lovely way to lower the nation’s debt…

  20. Matt Penfold says

    I had the same thought, but do you really think the IRS would act on it? They haven’t acted on some of the mega churches that engage in similar behaviors; they just investigate and issue warnings. Still, it would be a lovely way to lower the nation’s debt…

    I’m not sure the Catholic Church in the US has much money left, given the amount it has had to pay out to the victims of abuse and in legal fees.

  21. cosmovan pelt says

    John Cole has been an atheist for years, as far as I know. The seeing the light bit for him was turning fervently anti-GOP. He is very much on board with being anti-stupid, and I recommend his blog, though front page posters are sometimes at odds with each other (sometimes this is good, sometimes just silly). Cole frequently curses his own commenters, which is good fun. If he doesn’t mean it in a good-natured way, I’ve misunderstood it.

    Here’s one of my favorite political bits from him, from shortly after Obama’s inauguration:

    I really don’t understand how bipartisanship is ever going to work when one of the parties is insane. Imagine trying to negotiate an agreement on dinner plans with your date, and you suggest Italian and she states her preference would be a meal of tire rims and anthrax. If you can figure out a way to split the difference there and find a meal you will both enjoy, you can probably figure out how bipartisanship is going to work the next few years.