Christian vs. Christian

It’s always good to see internal schisms within Christianity, but not so great when the guy with a $100 million+ fake boat has all the money and power in the argument. You know, like Ken Ham.

In honor of so-called “Pride Month,” “progressive” Christian author Jen Hatmaker published an episode of her podcast featuring her daughter, Sydney, announcing that Sydney is a homosexual. Her family, apparently, has known for some time and decided that it was time to celebrate this with this world.

Such an announcement should break the heart of Christians. The admission that this young woman has embraced a sinful identity will only bring hurt, brokenness, and pain as she rebels against her Creator and his Word, but also distressing is that her mother—a professing believer—has decided this is something good, to be proud of, and to celebrate. (Really this is Romans 1:32 coming to life.)

If you didn’t know it already, tolerance and acceptance aren’t Christian values in Ken Ham’s brand of religion. I only wish all their hearts would literally break, so we could be rid of them.

Hang it up, Steve Shives

Shives does this weekly YouTube satire called The Whirlpool, which mocks a certain Catholic fanatic who has a show called The Vortex. Alas, the satire doesn’t even come close to the batshit ravings of Michael Voris. Watch in wonder.

He is, in all seriousness, comparing Donald Trump to the Emperor Constantine. Like Constantine, Trump is “already emperor”, so all he has to do now is convert to Catholicism, and the Queen of Heaven (and her son, Jesus) will shower blessings and glory down upon the United States of America. So this is what you get when you combine the fanaticism of militant Catholicism with the dumbassery of MAGA zealots. Hold me, Mommy, I’m scared.

I’m sorry, Shives, you just aren’t freaky enough.

Shut up, Shaun King

The right-wing and evangelical Christian sites are all lit up with the news that a BLM activist has declared that statues of white Jesus should be torn down. Cool your jets, people!

  • The statement is from Shaun King, the shameless self-promoter and grifter. He’s just found a new way to inject himself into the discourse.
  • If it’s a Jesus statue on government land, of course it should be torn down, because that’s a violation of church and state separation.
  • If it’s in a church or on private property, leave it alone. You can go ahead and build a shrine to Robert E. Lee in your home, it’s only a problem if it’s on public land and represents a government endorsement of religion (or white supremacy).

I’m an atheist and no friend of Jesus, and I don’t see the point of this fake news.

Proud Boys reveal their true character

Spokane has had about 30 COVID-19 deaths, so a memorial was put together at the city hall, a Christian memorial with a collection of crosses. I’m not so keen on that — do the non-Christians not count? — but OK, it’s harmless and generous and acknowledges the people who died, even if it is a bit presumptuous. I wouldn’t be upset about it at all.

Then someone trashed it. We know who, because they took credit for it. It was the Proud Boys who were quite proud to demolish a memorial, and who have been upset with anyone who tries to protect themselves from the virus.

In another video posted on Facebook, Proud Boys members and other protesters are seen mocking and harassing Robinson as he stands in front of the memorial. He repeatedly asks them to step away and respect his social distance.

The video includes profanity.

“This is what Proud Boys do,” Robinson is heard saying in the video.

One of the Proud Boys members, who identifies himself as “Milkshake,” said he came to the protest from western Washington. He and other protesters repeatedly tell Robinson in the video to remove his mask.

Oh, yeah, personal liberty for us, but not for you!

Also at the demonstration: far-right Christian fanatic and Spokane representative Matt Shea. We had a lot of unkind stereotypes about the inhabitants of the eastern side of the state when I was growing up, and Shea personifies all of them, cranked up to 11.

I made it to Colorado!

As I’ve mentioned before, my wife has been isolated in Colorado — bad timing, she was visiting our family in late February, and all the stay-at-home orders started crashing down in mid-March — so yesterday was the day I was finally free of other obligations to make the long drive down to bring her back home. So here I am. Yeesh, was it a long drive. 14 hours from my door to Longmont, Colorado.

I had something to entertain me, though. The dullest portion of the trip was several hundred miles on I90 in South Dakota, which ought to be embarrassing to South Dakotans, since it exposes the soul of the state. It’s nothing but billboards, big ugly billboards, and they’re all advertising garbage. The most frequent billboards along that stretch of highway are:

  • Wall Drug Wall Drug Wall Drug Wall Drug Wall Drug Wall Drug Wall Drug Wall Drug Wall Drug Wall Drug Wall Drug Wall Drug Wall Drug Wall Drug Wall Drug Wall Drug. Every mile or two there’s another sign to let you know Wall Drug is 292 miles (or whatever) ahead of you, sometimes mentioning some feature you will find there…Western Paintings or Dinosaurs or Cowboy Boots, or to let you know they were mentioned in Reader’s Digest or the New York Times or People magazine.

    I’ve been there, once, almost 20 years ago. It’s a hole-in-the-wall in the middle of nowhere. It’s a rustic strip mall, splattered with kitsch. No, you do not want to visit Wall Drug, unless you have a burning desire for a plastic key chain with your name on it, or want to buy a bad cup of coffee for 5 cents.

  • 1880 Town. Never been there, but jeez they must be desperate. So many signs begging you to come see their blacksmith shop or kids, come get a deputy’s badge from the sheriff.

  • The Gutzom Borglum Story. Apparently, he has a museum somewhere near Mt Rushmore. It’s apparently very patriotic. I guess you could say the creator of that iconic eyesore is patriotic, if taking over native lands, appropriating a beautiful natural mountain, and dynamiting it until it looks like a quartet of politicians is a sublimely American version of patriotism. Been there once, too. Never again.

It does tell you what works in advertising, though. It’s not quality, or cleverness, or information — it’s just straight up mindless repetition. Drill your brand into people’s brains until they think it’s only natural to stop at Wall Drug and see what all the fuss is about. It’s awful. I hate it. It’s a blight on a lovely countryside, and I guarantee you that if those businesses didn’t have thousands of signs poisoning traveler’s brains, no one would bother to stop at those pointless places, and they would dry up and blow away. The demand is entirely artificial.

Which makes it amusing that as I got closer to each of them, their billboards started sporting “CLOSED” notices.

Also amusing: frequently, but with nowhere near the frequency of those tourist traps, landowners along the route started emulating the capitalist advertising policies and putting up their own little advertisements: “JESUS DIED FOR YOUR SINS” was popular. The comparison does not help their cause. It seems that repeating a meaningless mantra is effective at getting people to parrot it back, but it also cheapens it. Jesus is the Wall Drug of religion: cheesy schlock for the masses that is ultimately disappointing, building a following on empty reiteration of slogans.

Can we petition to have everyone who says the word “god” punished?

Like Minneapolis, the city of Mississauga is allowing mosques to broadcast the call to prayer during Ramadan, which seems reasonable, since 12% of the population is Muslim. The only problem is that some people are objecting, for bogus reasons.

An open letter attached to three petitions, two of them hosted on Change.org, calls on Mississauga to reverse the decision, arguing that broadcasting the Islamic call to prayer amounts to a “violation of human rights.”

“Those who would like to celebrate religious holidays should be allowed to do so without infringing on the rights of others,” the letter said.

It also suggests that hearing the Islamic call to prayer would trigger PTSD in soldiers who served for Canada in the Middle East. (Veteran Affairs Canada didn’t answer if any soldiers actually experience PTSD from hearing prayers but said any personnel needing help can reach out to them.)

I don’t get the argument that public religious practices are a violation of human rights. I am offended by the erection of churches all over my town; I can’t walk to the grocery store without passing 3 churches. Have my rights been violated? Hell no. If that’s a violation, that someone could argue that putting a giant spider outside my door for Halloween was violating their rights.

The PTSD argument needs more consideration, but is hard to take seriously in the absence of any individuals who are actually complaining about the problem. It also makes me wonder about the actual root of the problem: soldiers who were sent to Islamic countries to attack Muslims now get to come home and complain about Muslims because they acquired an aversion to the culture while they were bombing it? OK, PTSD is real and irrational, but I don’t think you get to blame the victims of a military operation for your problems. These soldiers, if they exist, should get help for their condition, but putting the problem on the shoulders of Muslim citizens is inappropriate.

And change.org? Really? Once upon a time that site seemed like a good idea, but it has become a morass of petitions, petitions, petitions, all of them destined to be ignored, and they have diluted what influence they might have once had to an absurd degree. Does anyone bother to read those petitions anywhere?

Behold! The Face of God!

I’ve always wondered what he looked like.

You may be somewhat disappointed. You haven’t yet seen the mind behind that rather ordinary face, though, which will leave you a lot disappointed.

A Republican Ohio state representative cited his religious beliefs to explain why he would not wear a mask as recommended by Gov. Mike DeWine (R) to help limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“This is not the entire world,” state Rep. Nino Vitale wrote in a lengthy Facebook post on Monday morning. “This is the greatest nation on earth founded on Judeo-Christian Principles.”

“One of those principles is that we are all created in the image and likeness of God. That image is seen the most by our face. I will not wear a mask,” he continued.

  • This is not the greatest nation on earth — we are one among many, and we need to throw out these politicians who preach American exceptionalism. This unfounded arrogance hinders any effort to make the country better.

  • We were not founded on Judeo-Christian principles, which is not even a thing. We are a secular nation. Or should be. Kick out these religious fanatics.

  • It’s a rather limiting conception of the nature of the hypothetical supreme being of the universe to imagine he is an anthropoid ape with a human face, or even a gaseous vertebrate of some kind, as Haeckel put it. Nino Vitale is some kind of shallow Biblical literalist, I guess. We should also evict those. They aren’t smart enough to govern.

  • I hope he is consistent in his beliefs to the point where if he comes down with COVID-19 or any other respiratory disease that he refuses to be intubated or to wear a mask; if he needs surgery he should do it without any anesthetic gas or oxygen. I want him to go to his maker with his bare face shining splendidly.

Vitale also doesn’t understand the data.

“This is not based on logic, this is based on fear and propaganda and every statistical, data driven study done in the last 2 weeks says death counts are low, the models were wrong, and this is more like the flu,” he continued.

Wrong on all counts. The data says we’ve been underestimating the effects, due to the lack of available testing, and that it isn’t anything like the flu.

It does not fill me with confidence that our government is packed with ignorant religious zealots who want to make policy counter to the evidence. It’s no wonder this country is screwed.

A good start

New York has given Franklin Graham the boot.

After weeks of scrutiny, it was announced over the weekend that the Central Park tent facility run by Graham’s charity Samaritan’s Purse will be wound up, closing to new patients from May 4, before the site is disinfected and dismantled. The eight patients currently being treated at the site will be moved elsewhere.

Notorious anti-LGBT+ evangelist Franklin Graham was granted permission to set up the site back in March, with NYC mayor Bill de Blaiso saying that he had received assurances the group – often criticised for exploiting disasters to evangelise – would not discriminate.

Graham went back against his word almost immediately – forcing all medical volunteers to sign a belief statement that disavows homosexual relationships, publicly comparing homosexuals to drug addicts, and bringing in a film crew to record sermons and evangelist videos.

As usual, Graham’s purpose wasn’t charity, it wasn’t a sincere effort to help people in need, it was a missionary crusade. I like that state senator Brad Hoylman told him to “pack up his tents and leave New York City for good” — can we do that with all the religious grifters? And do it everywhere? It would be a great idea to turn Franklin Graham into a homeless pariah who’d have to roam the world with a tin cup, begging for charity himself.

It’s just too bad that New York did not fully follow tradition and resurrect the old tar and feathers custom.

The gift of Easter

Oh, boy, Easter is this weekend! Aren’t you all excited and looking forward to it? When I was a kid, it was all chocolate bunnies and easter eggs, and we didn’t even think about the religious side of it. I think we might have gone to church services a few times, but that wasn’t something to be happy about, it was kind of a drag.

Now, though, I’m dreading it. A lot of Christians think Easter is a great excuse, even an obligation, to gather together in large groups and infect each other. I think we might even be able to predict a blip in the COVID-19 statistics 2-3 weeks after this weekend. God won’t save you because your purpose is pious, and he certainly won’t save me if you spew more viral particles around in the grocery store to infect me. Stay home. Go into your little closet and pray alone. Please.

We already know that a significant number of COVID-19 cases in South Korea can be traced directly to the Shincheonji cult, and their stealthy habits of congregating to infect each other, and then infiltrating other churches to recruit new members.

South Korea has been remarkably effective and efficient in controlling the disease, it’s sad that their efforts were being undermined by religious fanatics (Daegu, by the way, is where my daughter-in-law is from. Lovely city.)

What’s even sadder, though, are the gormless missionaries who are taking advantage of the idiot president of Brazil’s policies to actively seek out remote indigenous people and kill them with disease. In a time of pandemic, we’re all told to stay-in-place to inhibit transmission of the virus, which makes sense, but these clueless twits are doing the opposite, and charging off to assault uncontacted native tribes with the Lord’s Plague, and also the Lord’s useless Holy Book.

Just like Trump, Bolsonaro has appointed many such fundamentalists to important positions in his government. These appointments include placing evangelical former missionary Ricardo Lopes Dias at the head of the National Indigenous Foundation (FUNAI), Brazil’s governmental agency charged with overseeing the interests of Indigenous populations. In an attempt to quell controversy over his appointment, Dias has said, “I don’t see this as a mission or an opportunity to find new converts.” And yet American missionaries smell an opportunity.

Representatives of the missionary organization Ethnos360, until recently known as New Tribes Mission, “arrived in the Deni Indigenous Territory in Acre state in late February” and acquired a helicopter for the purpose of making contact with uncontacted tribes, according to reporting by Sue Branford for Yes! Magazine. Headed by Larry M. Brown and a member of the Forum of Bible Agencies International (along with better known organizations like the Jesus Film Project and Wycliffe Global Alliance), Ethnos360 focuses on converting “unreached groups.” It also happens to be precisely the organization with which Dias was an active missionary from 1997-2007.

They’re doing more than flouting common sense and reason, they are breaking the law while Bolsonaro looks the other way.

To be sure, Ethnos360’s drive to reach uncontacted peoples contravenes standing FUNAI policy. It’s also certainly a violation of international law, and it arguably falls afoul of the 1988 Brazilian Constitution itself. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that Dias will move against his former organization. And as for Bolsonaro, he once casually remarked, with truly stunning bigotry, “It’s a shame that the Brazilian cavalry wasn’t as efficient as the Americans, who exterminated their Indians.” He may well allow uncontacted groups to be wiped out by missionary zealots.

Sometimes I think the real plague isn’t a physical virus or bacterium, it’s the mind virus of religion that leads people to do real harm with a smug smile on their face and a hymn in their hearts.