Friday Reads: The Evil Men Do

noblemartyr1Good Afternoon!

I’m late today because I’ve been grading nonstop for a few days now and just slept the morning away.  Let’s see what I’ve missed in my few days of being bubbled.

Y’all know I take any organized religion with about the same respect as I do any communicable disease.  They’ve all created their share of wars and social problems.  They all have impossibly evil zealots and a few impossibly good storybook characters.  I’ve just yet to find one that’s consistently moral.

You have a right in this country to believe whatever you want to believe.  I take The Constitution pretty seriously on that account. I also take it pretty seriously on the account that the Government shouldn’t be in the business of favoring any one religion no matter how many folks take it seriously.  The President showed up at one of Congress’ Proof of Piety events and spoke truth to Evil and wow has the shit hit the fan.  Violence, self-righteousness, and meanness spews from the religious.  It always has it always will.  Even Buddhists have their share of tormentors which is probably one of the few religions not responsible for violence on a huge scale. The pious ought to live the fuck up to it.

Earlier today President Obama spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast, where he discussed freedom of expression along with highlighting the many acts of barbarism that are happening now and have happened throughout the centuries which were justified under the guise of religion. He also explained in depth about how as Christians, we can overcome these perversions of religion. President Obama spoke for about thirty minutes and used almost three thousand words today, but the only part of the speech the right wing media is focusing on is when he brought up the Crusades.

Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ. Michelle and I returned from India — an incredible, beautiful country, full of magnificent diversity — but a place where, in past years, religious faiths of all types have, on occasion, been targeted by other peoples of faith, simply due to their heritage and their beliefs — acts of intolerance that would have shocked Gandhiji, the person who helped to liberate that nation.

How dare the president put into context the historical atrocities performed over centuries in the name of God! As usual the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue took front and center stage on Fox News and was fuming because Obama dared to mention Christ and demanded that he apologize. Neil Cavuto actually defended Obama for the most part which kind of surprised me, but Donohue, the pedophile priest apologist didn’t.

Cavuto: Bill Donohue called that an insult to all Christians and said the president needs to apologize, but I think what he said Bill, obviously you’re worked up over it, “look, what’s done in the name of religion has often caused some heinous acts,” you argue he hasn’t said this enough about Islam.

Donohue: I’m saying this, had he said just said that, that people have killed in the name of their God and it’s not unique to one religion, who could argue with that? But he didn’t do that, did he? He spoke with specificity. he singled out the Crusades and the Inquisition. There’s so many myths about

Yes. The Crusades were a gay old time and are totally misunderstood. So was The Spanish Inquisition and the Salem Witch Trials.  No historian truly gets it. Witch-scene4

The President’s full remarks are posted at the White House site.  I was glad to see him welcome His Holiness the Dali Lama because this is one Buddhist who does represent the peaceful part of a major religion and doing anything for him pisses off the Chinese.  The Chinese are one of the countries who don’t let people freely believe and actively persecute believers.

I want to offer a special welcome to a good friend, His Holiness the Dalai Lama — who is a powerful example of what it means to practice compassion, who inspires us to speak up for the freedom and dignity of all human beings.  (Applause.)  I’ve been pleased to welcome him to the White House on many occasions, and we’re grateful that he’s able to join us here today.  (Applause.)

There aren’t that many occasions that bring His Holiness under the same roof as NASCAR.  (Laughter.)  This may be the first.  (Laughter.)  But God works in mysterious ways.  (Laughter.)   And so I want to thank Darrell for that wonderful presentation.  Darrell knows that when you’re going 200 miles an hour, a little prayer cannot hurt.  (Laughter.)  I suspect that more than once, Darrell has had the same thought as many of us have in our own lives — Jesus, take the wheel.  (Laughter.) Although I hope that you kept your hands on the wheel when you were thinking that.  (Laughter.)

spanish_inquisitionThe President is right.  Slavery, Jim Crow, and the burning of women at the stake were all American Traditions defended by the pious of the many branches of one of the major religions.   The pious need to own that too and not confabulate more myths than already exist in the religion itself.

At a time of global anxiety over Islamist terrorism, Obama noted pointedly that his fellow Christians, who make up a vast majority of Americans, should perhaps not be the ones who cast the first stone.

“Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history,” he told the group, speaking of the tension between the compassionate and murderous acts religion can inspire. “And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”

Some Republicans were outraged. “The president’s comments this morning at the prayer breakfast are the most offensive I’ve ever heard a president make in my lifetime,” said former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore (R). “He has offended every believing Christian in the United States. This goes further to the point that Mr. Obama does not believe in America or the values we all share.”

Obama’s remarks spoke to his unsparing, sometimes controversial, view of the United States — where triumphalism is often overshadowed by a harsh assessment of where Americans must try harder to live up to their own self-image. Only by admitting these shortcomings, he has argued, can we fix problems and move beyond them.

“There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency, that can pervert and distort our faith,” he said at the breakfast.

African_woman_slave_tradeWe can grapple with the evil that ISIS is doing but we also need to grapple with the evil that happens when any religion gets on full display in a government.  One only needs to look at Saudi Arabia and its treatment of women or Israel and its treatment of people of Palestinian descent to see exactly how persecution plays out. Persecution by the Christian majority is playing out in this country today.  It’s not just a historical artifact.  Women’s health is being held hostage by mistake beliefs about fetuses and sexuality.  The intellectual development of children is being held hostage by science denial as is any major action we could take to save animals, people, and our environment from Climate Change.  The persecution of GLBT minorities and the denial of their rights plays out daily in states all over the country as does serious prejudice when legislators demand judicial candidates pledge allegiance to their personal make believe friend.

A South Carolina lawmaker is fielding accusations of violating the U.S. Constitution after sending judicial candidates a questionnaire asking their legal opinions on controversial topics and the nature of their relationship to God.

According to The State, Republican state representative Jonathon Hill issued a 30-question survey last week to candidates currently campaigning to become judges in South Carolina. Judges are elected by legislators in the Palmetto State, and while the survey itself was enough to raise eyebrows, Hill has garnered staunch criticism for the nature of his questions: among other controversial inquiries, the survey asked candidates how they would approach a case where a woman sued for equal pay, whether or not they would perform a same-sex marriage, and whether they have a “personal relationship” to God.

“Do you believe in the ‘Supreme Being’ (SC Constitution, Article VI, Section 2)?” one of the questions read. “What is the nature of this being? What is your personal relationship to this being? What relevance does this being have on the position of judge? Please be specific.”

Another question asked candidates how they would respond to attacks on LGBT people in South Carolina, where there are currently no hate crimes laws on the books.

“In a case where someone was assaulted because he was gay, would you consider it a ‘hate crime’ and increase the penalty?” the question read.

None of the candidates responded to the survey, and representatives from the Judicial Merit Selection Commission, which oversees the election that will be held this Wednesday, reportedly contacted Hill to tell him that the Code of Judicial Conduct bans judges from answering several of his questions. This is primarily because doing so would functionally amount to a promise to decide future cases a certain way, as opposed to taking each case on its merits.

Also, since the would-be judges are candidates in an election, asking them specific questions about their faith and spiritual affiliations effectively amounts to a “religious test.” Such tests are explicitly forbidden in Article VI, paragraph 3 of the U.S. Constitution, which reads “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

crusadesReligious ignorance and bigotry is on display any time some one hands Mike Huckabee a microphone. Recently, it’s been on display when any one hands the microphone to the Governor of Louisiana.   But, wingnuts will be wingnuts and the gamut of wingnuttery is on full display today if you hit any of the right wing blogs.

Rush Limbaugh devoted a segment of his show to what he said were the president’s insults to the “whole gamut of Christians” and Twitter’s right wing piled on. Guests on Megyn Kelly’s Fox News show spent 15 minutes airing objections to the president’s comments.

Meanwhile, we’re gearing up for Mardi Gras down here. The piety patrol is already out harassing people in the streets. I frankly cling to the sentiment of one of my favorite songs ” Imagine … no religion too”.

Have a great day!!! This is an open thread.

23 Comments on “Friday Reads: The Evil Men Do”

  1. NW Luna says:

    Oh yeah, the Crusades…. slaughtering people in the name of gawd. Oh, and take a side trip to Byzantium to slaughter other Xians and loot, burn, and pillage a great city.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Great post, Dak. Good for Obama for “speaking truth to evil” and sending thousands of wingnuts to their fainting couches.

  3. Fannie says:

    Fantastic post today. I cheer you for your every word, and Obama’s words during the Prayer breaksfast.

    They burned women in Salem, they stoned and beheaded thousands, in the name of God.

    • dakinikat says:

      You read the words of their Jesus in the new testament and you wonder if they’ve ever read them at all!

      • ANonOMouse says:

        Today’s post was excellent. Every time you post on this subject I want to stand and cheer. And I don’t think most of them have ever “read the words of their jesus in the new testament”, if they had they wouldn’t continue behaving in such unchristian ways. I’ve long contended that while nearly everyone I know claims to be Christian, I don’t really know any Christians. Most of them are acolytes of Paul and are Paulians, the rest rely on the punishment and damnation god of the Old Testament, which is anathema to the purported teachings of jesus.
        Ahhhhh, but what do I know, I’m a heathen. 🙂

  4. Sima says:

    The more I learn, the more I realize our ‘exceptionalism’ whether governmental, religious, social, legal… is not really. Am reading a book about ancient roman law and it details the struggles that society went through, and how over time their law changed from one that was about contracts to one that was vengeful and about revenge and punishment. Ohh, and their law went from at least trying to treat everyone equally to having status built into it. You got a better deal if you were rich and high status. If you weren’t, too f*ing bad. Off with your head!

    The author makes a comment about how the society struggled with what happens after death, and the religions surrounding that. And here we are, doing exactly the same thing. Yeesh.

  5. Stephen Winham says:

    Not to be left out of any nutty, national issue, our esteemed Governor has, after careful consultation with his handlers, no doubt, joined the fray:

    • NW Luna says:

      Just another Rwingnutjob who ignores that Obama did indeed criticize current (as well as historical) acts of violence in the name of religion.

    • dakinikat says:

      He better get the attention while he can. One year from now he’ll be nothing but another K Streeter in the Beltway.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    It figures he’d chime in.

  7. NW Luna says:

    I would like to thank state Sen. Pam Roach for publicly acknowledging what really drives the complex affairs of politicswhat really drives the complex affairs of politics and public policymaking.

    Namely money. With a dose of revenge.

    Roach, R-Loose Cannon, or, depending on your point of view, R-She-Says-What-Nobody-Else-Will, was chairing a Senate committee Thursday when in a major breach of political protocol she decided to tell everyone what was really going on.

    The businesspeople seated in front of her to testify on a bill had contributed money to her opponent in the last election, she announced. This was horrible, and it wouldn’t go unpunished.

    “I think it’s terrible, myself. You need to know where your money’s going,” she scolded one of the shellshocked panelists. “Because you know what? I won.”

  8. dakinikat says:

    People who wonder why the president does not talk more about race would do well to examine the recent blow-up over his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast. Inveighing against the barbarism of ISIS, the president pointed out that it would be foolish to blame Islam, at large, for its atrocities. To make this point he noted that using religion to brutalize other people is neither a Muslim invention nor, in America, a foreign one …

    • NW Luna says:

      IIRC, there’s something in the New Testament about fixing your own faults before you start complaining about someone else’s faults.

      Oh yeah, these guys are selective readers of their own bible.

  9. NW Luna says:

    The Pew Research Center, in a poll released last week, found two-thirds of Americans supported mandatory vaccines. But there was a deep strain of suspicion among those under 30 years old, with 41% thinking vaccines should be a parental choice. ….

    She also said that scepticism was growing among young people across the political spectrum – people who are not as familiar with the risks of childhood diseases because of the overall effectiveness of vaccination programmes.