They’re still debating the undebatable at Tuam

A horrific crime was committed by the Catholic Church at Tuam, Ireland. Single mothers and their babies were neglected and died at the hands of a “pro-life” religious cult, ignored, and the deaths hidden away, until the remains of about 800 dead were unearthed. They’d been dumped in a septic tank. That is apparently what Catholics consider death with dignity.

So, you’ve found a mass grave…what do you do next? In the case of Irish authorities, you convene a public meeting and ask the locals if it’s OK if they just ignore all those corpses, maybe put up a nice little plaque or a stone over them, and just move on. It turns out the public wasn’t too happy about the idea of sweeping dead bodies under a discreet rug.

The meeting was supposed to gauge opinion on what to do with the site: (a) leave everything as it is but erect a memorial to tell the world how much we care; or (b) fully excavate the mass grave, exhume and identify the remains, and return the lost loved ones to their grieving families and enable them to rest in peace after a formal and appropriate burial.

Spoiler alert — I was rooting for option (b).

Let’s cut to the chase. What we are dealing with here is a mass grave, one containing the remains of abused persons, people discarded as second-class citizens, coercively separated from their families, born in captivity, and denigrated with the zeal that only religious sanctimony and god-fearing hubris can muster.

It seems simply unconscionable that any humane society would respond to the revelation that nearly 800 babies have been interred in an unmarked grave — a septic tank, no less — and say, ‘Well…let’s just leave them there.’

And yet that is what was being proposed for Tuam.

I agree with option (b), with the addition that a good forensic team be commissioned to identify as many of the dead as possible, along with tracing the paper trail to determine the details of who was responsible and who was lost at Tuam, and the bill, no matter what the cost, should be paid by the Catholic Church. And then they can do (a) and put up a memorial that not only acknowledges the victims but clearly assigns all blame to the Catholic Church for the atrocity.

Bill Donohue, ghoul

Oh god. Bill Donohue weighs in on Anthony Bourdain’s suicide.

If Anthony Bourdain had been a religious man, would he have killed himself? Probably not. The celebrity chef was found dead today in his hotel room in Strasbourg, France.

As I have recounted in my book, The Catholic Advantage: How Health, Happiness, and Heaven Await the Faithful, there is an inverse relationship between religiosity and suicide: those who are regular churchgoers have a much lower rate of suicide than atheists like Bourdain.

Nice of him to use the opportunity of the man’s death to plug his book.

You know, though, I think he’s sort of right: if you’re told over and over again from childhood on that suicide, in addition to ending your life and bringing grief to loved ones, will only lead to even greater misery as you’re tortured for eternity, I can see where it might dissuade some potential suicides. So let’s take it as a given that you can reduce the suicide rate by being indoctrinated in the Catholic faith (there’s data!) with the side effect that you are increasing fear and guilt to achieve your end. Would it be worth it?

If you could save Bourdain by erasing part of his character, do you think he would have chosen it? He had the opportunity, after all — his father was Catholic.

Would reducing the suicide rate be worthwhile if, instead, we increased the rate of child rape?

I’ll just leave this here.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has reached a $210 million settlement agreement with 450 victims of clergy sexual abuse as part of a bankruptcy reorganization, officials announced Thursday.

At $210,290,724, it is estimated to be the second-largest payout by the Catholic church in the U.S., according to the Associated Press. It comes after nearly four years of bankruptcy proceedings and negotiations.

Before you ask…

The largest clergy abuse related settlement to date was reached in 2007 by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which paid 508 victims $660 million.

That’s almost a thousand children in just two cases, raped with the collusion of the Catholic church. Is that a fair price to pay? For anything?

Florida spends $1 billion per year on miseducating kids

The Orlando Sentinel has an article on Christian homeschooling that had me banging my forehead on my desk. It’s a good article, but we’ve been saying this for decades: Abeka, Bob Jones University (BJU), and Accelerated Christian Education are fucking awful curricula. They are promoting Christian ignorance and lying to the kids, and this crap is getting subsidized by the state of Florida.

The social studies books downplay the horrors of slavery and the mistreatment of Native Americans, they said. One book, in its brief section on the civil rights movement, said that “most black and white southerners had long lived together in harmony” and that “power-hungry individuals stirred up the people.”

The books are rife with religious and political opinions on topics such as abortion, gay rights and the Endangered Species Act, which one labels a “radical social agenda.” They disparage religions other than Protestant Christianity and cultures other than those descended from white Europeans. Experts said that was particularly worrisome given that about 60 percent of scholarship students are black or Hispanic.

This is routine. What’s frustrating is that educators and scientists have been pointing out the deficiencies and dishonesty of these companies for years, and it feels like every year someone somewhere will gasp in dismay at the crap being taught, and wonder why no one has done anything about it. This is a different year, same old bullshit, and the state government just keeps on rubber stamping it through.

The Sentinel surveyed the 151 private schools newly approved by the education department to take scholarships for the 2017-18 school year. Seventy-five of the schools provided information about their curriculum either on their websites or when contacted by phone, and 30 of those, or about 40 percent, reported Abeka, BJU or ACE was a part of their academic offerings.

Only half were willing to disclose what they’re teaching? Makes you wonder what the silent, secretive half are doing.

Also, anybody qualifies as a teacher at these schools.

“Honestly, with our curriculum … a certified teacher is not required,” Natasha Griffin, district superintendent of Esther’s School, which has seven campuses in Florida, told the Orlando Sentinel last year.

At Esther’s School in Kissimmee, 11 of 18 teachers lacked college degrees last year, according to a document Griffin sent to the education department. For two of them, 11th grade was their highest educational level. Almost all of the school’s nearly 60 students are on state scholarships this year.

Would like to say that a responsible government would strip these schools of any subsidies and declare that they are no longer accredited in any way. But they won’t.

There’s be another article next year exposing the miserable teaching standards at Christian home schools. And there will be another the year after that. And the year after that. I ought to save them up and use them as kindling for my Viking funeral.

Don’t watch the video at the link unless you really like seeing dullards dully defending their bad curricula.

How many rabbis do you need?

There are 57,000 children of ultra-orthodox Jews in state-funded yeshivas in New York. They are exempt from minimal education standards.

In April, state Senator Simcha Felder (D – Brooklyn) refused to sign off on the state budget unless yeshivas, which accept millions of dollars in government funding, were given more autonomy over curricula. Per a Post editorial, “Felder demanded [legislation] to exempt private yeshivas from state requirements to provide adequate education in basic areas such as English, math, science and history.”

The yeshivas are already black holes of miseducation, and this is going to make them even worse.

“[They] are being denied an education,” said Naftuli Moster, executive director of YAFFED, an organization that advocates to improve secular education in ultra-Orthodox yeshivas. “The main reason has to do with [yeshiva administrators] saying there’s no time to learn stuff [students] won’t use in life — especially boys, who are [expected] to be rabbis.”

Moster added that there are other issues at hand as well: “There are certain things in science and history that contradict portions of the Torah — fossils, dinosaurs.”

Also things like English and elementary arithmetic. According to the story, only about 5% of the boys who go through the yeshiva system become rabbis — and that’s about 5% too many — and the rest are just untrained and unprepared for anything practical or useful, which means that some of the most poverty-stricken areas of New York state are those inhabited by the ultra-Orthodox.

The article interviewed several adult products of the yeshiva system. They came out of it with a cultivated ignorance. The ones in the story, though, are men who scrabbled to make up their deficiencies and get somewhere in life, which makes one wonder about the majority, who never get out and perpetuate the same handicaps on their children.

“Evangelical” is just another word for “hypocrite”

It’s time to face the facts, evangelicals.

This week dozens of prominent evangelical leaders gathered at conservative Wheaton College, in Wheaton, IL, to address the “grotesque caricature” of their faith in the Trump era. The organizer of the gathering, Doug Birdsall, told the Washington Post that under Trump’s leadership, the term “evangelical” has taken on too many negative associations, especially when it comes to racism and nationalism. The goal of the gathering, then, was to address these concerns while returning the word “evangelical” to its core meaning. Rather than a political pariah, an “evangelical” is simply “a person who believes in the authority of the Bible, salvation through Jesus’ work on the cross, personal conversion and the need for evangelism.”

Nah, that’s not what an “evangelical” is — an “evangelical” is a manufactured identity where the most important part is not the religious side, which is merely used as a prop to signal “purity” and in-group membership, but all the political baggage that has come to the forefront.

This is what “evangelical” has come to mean: a total lack of principle. Corruption. Christianity is the perfect example of a whited sepulchre, to use their own language against them.

The amazing thing is that it wasn’t atheists who created that image of them — they did it to themselves, no assistance necessary. It doesn’t take a cartoon to caricature these people.

U.S. President Trump, center, bows his head during a prayer while surrounded by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, right, faith leaders and evangelical ministers after signing a proclamation declaring a day of prayer in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Sept. 1, 2017. Trump declared Sunday, September 3 a national day of prayer for Hurricane Harvey victims. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Now some evangelicals are looking for a way out.

If evangelicalism ever wants to play a more positive role in social and political life, perhaps it’s time its leaders acknowledge that its public image isn’t a “grotesque caricature,” but the thing itself. There’s a weighty theological term and disposition for taking an approach that comes to terms with such hard truths but attempts to chart a new path beyond them: repentance. If that doesn’t happen, then Daniel Schultz is probably right: the meeting at Wheaton will not have accomplished much of anything.

Here’s a weighty theological term for you: apostasy. Get out.

This is what a steady diet of poison will do to you

Alexandre Bissonnette, the Canadian mass murderer who walked into a mosque and opened fire, is not at all remorseful.

“I regret not having shot more people,” the shooter told the social worker, who described him as calm and coherent. “The victims are in heaven and I’m living in hell.”

Earlier in the day, prosecutors revealed searches from Bissonnette’s computer that “indicated the Quebec mosque shooter was obsessed with U.S. President Donald Trump, Muslims, Dylann Roof, mass shootings and feminists,” the Gazzette noted. The Canadian National Observer reported that the shooter searched for Trump more than 800 times before the massacre he committed just over a week after the American president’s inauguration

What an excuse! He imagines his victims are in heaven. They’re not, they’re dead, their families are grieving. Religion sure fucks up your head, doesn’t it?

You know what else he was consuming, besides his bible? Alt-right neo-Nazi garbage.

Just to be fair, Ben Shapiro was very popular with this guy, and he has tried to distance himself from the association.

OK. Bissonnette is a “a deranged POS”, agreed. But then Ben Shapiro is also “a deranged POS”, so I guess it was a case of shared affinities. Looking at all the names on that list, it’s one big garbage pile of deplorables.

By the way, Andy Riga is the journalist reporting on this case for the Montreal Gazette, and is worth following if you care about what happens to “a deranged POS”.

What will destroy America now?

We’ve got a crumbling infrastructure, we’ve got a know-nothing fool in the White House and a mob of sycophants for Wall Street in congress, climate change is going to inevitably wreak havoc on us, and kids are taking AR-15s to show & tell so they can murder their classmates. All these are minor concerns compared to the true danger to our way of life: the Academy Awards. The wingnuts’ heads are spinning over who won an Oscar.

“The Academy Award ceremonies this week provided the best film and best director Oscar to a violation of the worst possible sexual sin mentioned in Leviticus chapter 18,” Swanson said on his radio program today. “Maybe I’ll just leave it there, I don’t want to defile the ears of my listeners. But this was another milestone in the moral degradation of Hollywood and the nation itself. What it did was it presented the ultimate sexual depravity—and, again, I don’t want anyone thinking what this is—but the ultimate sexual depravity as presented in Leviticus 18 is presented in this movie as a tender and romantic and a beautiful thing. Even saying that is just disgusting.”

Swanson proceeded to read a passage from Leviticus 18 in which God warned the Israelites that they would be destroyed if they dared to engage in such depravity.

“God says, ‘Be careful, I might just bring this to you if you violate my law to the level of egregiousness contained in the moral commands in Leviticus 18,’” Swanson declared. “It’s these abominable practices that are being committed in this nation today and glorified at the highest echelons of the nation.”

The psychology of these people is actually kind of interesting. There are large numbers of people who are obsessed with a distorted version of sexual purity, and they gather in large numbers in buildings called “churches” or “congress”, and they reassure each other that they are the clean ones and everyone outside their narrow little group is dirty. This is not a movie about bestiality; it’s a movie about a sentient being with physical differences from human beings, and that has them frothing in revulsion.

I wonder if they’ve actually seen it. I haven’t seen a lot of fundamentalist fury at the other aspect of the movie that is in defiance of their puritanical mores — the casual acceptance of masturbation and female sexuality as perfectly normal and healthy. It might be a good idea to smuggle showings of The Shape of Water into megachurches to show to the congregations. It might have the same effect on theocrats as Slim Whitman’s yodeling had on the invaders in Mars Attacks.

Billy Graham is dead

Y’all remember Billy Graham, right?

On the account of James Warren in the Chicago Tribune, who has filed excellent stories down the years on Nixon’s tapes, in this 1972 Oval Office session between Nixon, Haldeman and Graham, the President raises a topic about which “we can’t talk about it publicly,” namely Jewish influence in Hollywood and the media.

Nixon cites Paul Keyes, a political conservative who was executive producer of the NBC hit, “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In,” as telling him that “11 of the 12 writers are Jewish.”

“That right?” says Graham, prompting Nixon to claim that Life magazine, Newsweek, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and others, are “totally dominated by the Jews.”

Nixon says network TV anchors Howard K. Smith, David Brinkley and Walter Cronkite “front men who may not be of that persuasion,” but that their writers are “95 percent Jewish.”

“This stranglehold has got to be broken or the country’s going down the drain,” the nation’s best-known preacher declares.

“You believe that?” Nixon says.

“Yes, sir,” Graham says.

“Oh, boy,” replies Nixon.

“So do I. I can’t ever say that but I believe it.”

“No, but if you get elected a second time, then we might be able to do something,” Graham replies.

Magnanimously Nixon concedes that this does not mean “that all the Jews are bad,” but that most are left-wing radicals who want “peace at any price except where support for Israel is concerned. The best Jews are actually the Israeli Jews.”

“That’s right,” agrees Graham, who later concurs with a Nixon assertion that a “powerful bloc” of Jews confronts Nixon in the media.

“And they’re the ones putting out the pornographic stuff,” Graham adds.

Later Graham says that “a lot of the Jews are great friends of mine. They swarm around me and are friendly to me. Because they know I am friendly to Israel and so forth. They don’t know how I really feel about what they’re doing to this country.”

After Graham’s departure Nixon says to Haldeman, “You know it was good we got this point about the Jews across.”

“It’s a shocking point,” Haldeman replies.

“Well,” says Nixon, “It’s also, the Jews are irreligious, atheistic, immoral bunch of bastards.”

Now look at how the cookie-cutter obituaries in the major news media are translating this:

The skinny preacher with the booming voice evangelized to nearly 215 million people over six decades and prayed with US presidents from Harry Truman to Barack Obama.

Several presidents, including Lyndon Johnson, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, relied closely on his spiritual counsel.

Let’s not mention what his ‘counsel’ was, mmm-kay? Might expose the dishonesty of the phrase “Judeo-Christian” that evangelicals love to tout.

But now he’s dead. Good. Wish it had happened a few decades earlier.

Why is our government such a mess?

Partly because it is staffed with unrelenting idiots like Nathan Dahm. The Oklahoma senator has filed a bill, Senate Bill 1457, which…well, read it for yourself.

All wildlife in Oklahoma is to be the property of an imaginary being. This could be great news for poachers, who can always insist on waiting for the legitimate owner of the game they shoot to place a formal claim against them. Or that they got approval in their heads from their deity to go hunting.