Monday Reads: What’s Love Got to do with It?Posted: April 6, 2015
I’m always grumpy after we spend a weekend of folks getting all righteous about whatever form of holiness they foist on the rest of us. I have to admit that I like the general idea of celebrating spring, the end of winter, and baby animals. That’s much better than a weekend of glorifying death and destruction on the part of supposedly perfect loving deity. I found a few things that got me thinking and thought I’d share them with you.
The first is a very interesting letter from Albert Einstein to the NYT decrying the outbreak of fascist Zionism. The year is 1948 and it should be reprinted because the brilliant man was prescient.
December 4, 1948
TO THE EDITORS OF THE NEW YORK TIMES:
Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our times is the emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the “Freedom Party” (Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine.
The current visit of Menachem Begin, leader of this party, to the United States is obviously calculated to give the impression of American support for his party in the coming Israeli elections, and to cement political ties with conservative Zionist elements in the United States. Several Americans of national repute have lent their names to welcome his visit. It is inconceivable that those who oppose fascism throughout the world, if correctly informed as to Mr. Begin’s political record and perspectives, could add their names and support to the movement he represents.
Before irreparable damage is done by way of financial contributions, public manifestations in Begin’s behalf, and the creation in Palestine of the impression that a large segment of America supports Fascist elements in Israel, the American public must be informed as to the record and objectives of Mr. Begin and his movement. The public avowals of Begin’s party are no guide whatever to its actual character. Today they speak of freedom, democracy and anti-imperialism, whereas until recently they openly preached the doctrine of the Fascist state. It is in its actions that the terrorist party betrays its real character; from its past actions we can judge what it may be expected to do in the future.
Attack on Arab Village
A shocking example was their behavior in the Arab village of Deir Yassin. This village, off the main roads and surrounded by Jewish lands, had taken no part in the war, and had even fought off Arab bands who wanted to use the village as their base. On April 9 (THE NEW YORK TIMES), terrorist bands attacked this peaceful village, which was not a military objective in the fighting, killed most of its inhabitants 240 – men, women, and children – and kept a few of them alive to parade as captives through the streets of Jerusalem. Most of the Jewish community was horrified at the deed, and the Jewish Agency sent a telegram of apology to King Abdullah of Trans-Jordan. But the terrorists, far from being ashamed of their act, were proud of this massacre, publicized it widely, and invited all the foreign correspondents present in the country to view the heaped corpses and the general havoc at Deir Yassin. The Deir Yassin incident exemplifies the character and actions of the Freedom Party.
Within the Jewish community they have preached an admixture of ultranationalism, religious mysticism, and racial superiority. Like other Fascist parties they have been used to break strikes, and have themselves pressed for the destruction of free trade unions. In their stead they have proposed corporate unions on the Italian Fascist model. During the last years of sporadic anti-British violence, the IZL and Stern groups inaugurated a reign of terror in the Palestine Jewish community. Teachers were beaten up for speaking against them, adults were shot for not letting their children join them. By gangster methods, beatings, window-smashing, and wide-spread robberies, the terrorists intimidated the population and exacted a heavy tribute.
The people of the Freedom Party have had no part in the constructive achievements in Palestine. They have reclaimed no land, built no settlements, and only detracted from the Jewish defense activity. Their much-publicized immigration endeavors were minute, and devoted mainly to bringing in Fascist compatriots.
My friend who used to take me to Temple with her when we were in high school but is now a very vocal atheist reminded me that this week end many celebrate a god the father and his act of murdering Egyptian babies and supposedly his own son. I’d really never thought about it that way but, yeah, that’s kinda right. What a far cry from the celebration of spring and the idea of new life after a long winter.
So, my second offering is from Alternet and it’s headline speaks for itself: “A Brutal Christianity: We’ll See More Cruel Laws like Indiana’s Until the Christian Right Is Defeated.” There’s no sign of the gentle and all loving Jesus I learned about in Presbyterian Sunday School in any of these laws.
In recent years, religious believers have sought and largely won a cascading array of rights, privileges and exemptions from laws and duties that otherwise apply to all Americans.
- The right to discriminate in public accommodations and hiring practices.
- The right to interfere with a religious outsider’s family formation, sexual intimacy, and childbearing decisions.
- The right to interfere in a religious outsider’s dying process.
- The right to exemption from humane animal slaughter regulations.
- The right to use public funds and other assets to propagate the values and priorities of the religion.
- The right to freeload on shared infrastructure without contributing to it.
- The right to refuse medical care to women and children.
- The right to engage in religiously motivated child abuse (psychological abuse, physical abuse, neglect or medical neglect) with impunity.
- The right to exemption from labor practice standards.
Liberal people of faith who don’t share the dominionist goals or moral priorities of fundamentalists often are appalled by these objectives and many insist that laws like the one recently passed in Indiana aren’t about religious freedom but rather bigotry itself, or misogyny, or some other morally tainted and self-serving mindset. They are both right and wrong.
Yes, these laws do condone bigotry, and misogyny, and other ugly prejudices. But the photo of those present at the signing of Indiana’s bill—its major proponents—is telling. It mixes white male politicians in suits with a proud array of Catholic nuns in habits, monks in cassocks and an orthodox Jew in a top hat. Like many of those advocating segregation during the Civil Rights Movement, the advocates of this bill are genuinely motivated by devout religious beliefs.
In an ideal world, civil laws that seek to promote the general welfare and religious codes might be aligned, and even in our imperfect world religion often promotes generosity, kindness, service, and conscience-driven behavior. But the world’s major religions all have ancient roots, and thanks to the rise of literacy during the Iron Age, they all have sacred texts that anchor believers to an Iron Age set of social scripts and moral priorities including some truly horrific ideas.
The Christian Bible endorses slavery, racism, tribal warfare, torture, the concept of women and children as chattel, and the death penalty for over 30 offenses. (You likely qualify.) It offers an exclusive alternative to eternal damnation, driving believers to seek converts when and where they can. It teaches that infidels have no moral core and advocates separation from religious outsiders. It elevates sexual purity to the level of moral purity. It makes a virtue out of certitude. Small wonder, then, that sincere believers seeking to do the will of God sometimes end up seeking the right to do harm.
I continue to drop my jaw when this odd assortment of people feel put out by having to deal with the rest of us who live differently. But, when you see which parts of the Bible they draw on, they look completely separate from many other believers in the same religious sect.
Meanwhile, the usual Republican Suspects were trotted out on the Sunday Shows to show us how we will know what they are by their “love”. First up, Rick Santorum who frothed as expected by quoting Westborough Baptist Church.
Likely Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Sunday quoted Westboro Church’s infamous “God Hates Fags” slogan in defense of an Indiana law that allowed Christian businesses to discriminate against same-sex couples.
After Indiana revised its law to allow so that it did not override anti-discrimination ordinances in local municipalities, Santorum told CBS host Norah O’Donnell that he had hoped for more religious protections.
“I think the language they had is better language, this is acceptable language,” he explained in an interview that aired on Sunday. “It doesn’t do a lot of the things — it doesn’t really open the debate up on some of the more current issues.”
“I think the current language that the federal law is — and now Indiana is — has been held to have a pretty limited view of religious liberty — religious freedom is in the workplace,” the former Pennsylvania senator insisted. “And I think we need to look at, as religious liberty is now being pushed harder, to provide more religious protections, and that bill doesn’t do that.”
Santorum argued that wedding planners should not be forced to serve same-sex couples because “tolerance is a two-way street.”
“If you’re a print shop and you are a gay man, should you be forced to print ‘God Hates Fags’ for the Westboro Baptist Church because they hold those signs up?” he asked. “Should the government — and this is really the case here — should the government force you to do that?”
“And that’s what these cases are all about. This is about the government coming in and saying, ‘No, we’re going to make you do this.’ And this is where I just think we need some space to say let’s have some tolerance, be a two-way street.”
Bobby Jindal keeps jumping the shark too. This time MTP showcased his nonsense.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) said over the weekend that Christians in Indiana needed a law to make sure that they were not forced to serve same-sex weddings, but LGBT people in his state did not need “special legal protections” against housing and employment discrimination.
During an interview on Meet the Press, Jindal asserted that businesses in Indiana were facing “discrimination.”
“Businesses that don’t want to choose between their Christian faith — their sincerely held religious beliefs — and being able to operate their businesses,” he opined. “Now, what they don’t want is the government to force them to participate in wedding ceremonies that contradict their beliefs.”
“So I was disappointed that you could see Christians and their businesses face discrimination in Indiana, but I hope the legislators will fix that — rectify that.”
But when it came to a New Orleans ordinance protecting LGBT people against housing and employment discrimination, Jindal suggested that government was trying to solve a problem that did not exist.
“I don’t think there should be discrimination certainly against anybody in housing and employment,” he said. “That’s not what my faith teaches me. I think the good news is our society is moving in a direction of more tolerance.”
“My concern about creating special legal protections is, historically in our country, we’ve only done that in extraordinary circumstances,” the Republican governor continued. “And it doesn’t appear to me that we’re at one of those moments today.”
According to Jindal, “there are many that turn to the heavy hand of government to solve societies problems too easily.”
“I do think we need to be very careful about creating special rights,” he declared.
And it looks like the Pope has a schism on his hands. One of these Bishops is a holocaust denier. That ought toput the entire thing into perspective for you.
Two renegade Catholic bishops plan to consecrate a new generation of bishops to spread their ultra-traditionalist movement called “The Resistance” in defiance of the Vatican, one of them said at a remote monastery in Brazil.
French Bishop Jean-Michel Faure, himself consecrated only two weeks ago by the Holocaust-denying British Bishop Richard Williamson, said the new group rejected Pope Francis and what it called his “new religion” and would not engage in a dialogue with Rome until the Vatican turned back the clock.
Williamson and Faure, who were both excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church when the former made the latter a bishop without Vatican approval, are ex-members of a larger dissenting group that has been a thorn in Rome’s side for years.
Their splinter movement is tiny – Faure did not give an estimate of followers – but the fact they plan to consecrate bishops is important because it means their schism can continue as a rebel form of Catholicism.
“We follow the popes of the past, not the current one,” Faure, 73, told reporters on Saturday at Santa Cruz Monastery in Nova Friburgo, in the mountain jungle 140 km (87 miles) inland from Rio de Janeiro.
“It is likely that in maybe one or two years we will have more consecrations,” he said, adding there were already two candidates to be promoted to bishop’s rank.
The monastery had said Williamson would ordain a priest there at the weekend but he was not seen by reporters, and clergy said it was impossible to talk to him. Faure ordained the priest himself.
Asked what the new group called itself, Faure said: “I think we can call ourselves Roman Catholic first, secondly St Pius X, and now … the Resistance.”
The Society of St Pius X (SSPX) is a larger ultra-traditionalist group that was excommunicated in 1988 when its founder consecrated four new bishops, including Williamson, despite warnings from the Vatican not to do so.
It rejected the modernizing reforms of the 1962-65 Second Vatican Council and stuck with Catholicism’s old Latin Mass after the Church switched to simpler liturgy in local languages.
Former Pope Benedict readmitted the four SSPX bishops to the Catholic fold in 2009, but the SSPX soon expelled Williamson because of an uproar over his Holocaust denial.
In contrast to Benedict, Pope Francis pays little attention to the SSPX ultra-traditionalists, who claim to have a million followers around the world and a growing number of new priests at a time that Rome faces priest shortages. Their remaining three bishops have no official status in the Catholic Church.
Faure said the Resistance group would not engage in dialogue with Rome, as the SSPX has done. “We resist capitulation, we resist conciliation of St Pius X with Rome,” he said.
What is it about religion and bad eggs?
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?