by P. David Gardner
The stubborn persistence of religious bigots never ceases to amaze me.
Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk in Ashland, made the headlines a while back when she refused, on religious grounds, to issue marriage licenses to homosexuals who wanted to exercise their legal rights to become a couple in the eyes of the law.
Not only did she do that, she promised (and delivered) to stop issuing licenses to heterosexual couples as well, until such a time as the United States court system "came to its senses" and reversed its decision to allow gay marriage in every state of the Union.
The press arrived in due time, photos were taken and video cameras rolled, and Davis got her 15 minutes of fame. But that apparently wasn't enough to satiate the bigot. In the face of court challenges to her ill-considered stance to not perform the job she was hired to do, she continued to make her stand, saying that her imaginary god tells her not to allow gay couples to marry.
In June 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that, under the U.S. Constitution, same sex couples have the right to marry, and ordered officials in every state to issue marriage licenses. Clerks in several states who had refused to issue licenses before buckled under and began enforcing the terms of the law, issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, but there were a few holdouts, including Davis, who filed an appeal to reverse the law. She said that she would not issue licenses to anyone till the law was reversed.
When challenged, U.S. District Judge David Bunning told her in no uncertain terms to enforce the law even during her appeal. She refused and took her case to the U.S. Court of Appeals, which last week refused her request for a stay.
Bunning this week ordered her to start enforcing the law. Predictably, she refused, and is now awaiting whatever sanctions that may come her way as a result of her refusal to obey laws she agreed to enforce when she was elected to office.
Davis came down off her cross long enough to say, "To me this has never been a gay or lesbian issue. It is about marriage and God's word. It is a matter of religious liberty."
Representing gay couples seeking marriage licenses, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky said, "The duty of public officials is to enforce the law, not place themselves above it."
Some interesting news about Davis came down the pike this week. Apparently she is divorced three times, something that her self-proclaimed Apostolic Christian faith frowns mightily upon. So not only is she a raging bigot, she apparently is quite the daft hypocrite as well.
HOT NEWS ADDITION: Kim Davis has been arrested and is headed for jail. Her time in the slammer would be well spent if she takes the opportunity to reconsider her position as she cool her heels. One can only imagine that her religious friends will be stopping by to nail her to a cross.
by P. David Gardner
Not a week goes by any more without us all having to read about something totally despicable done under color of religion.
This time, it's a Port St. Lucie, FL couple who take the prize for “Most Hated Humans Acting Criminally in the Name of The Lord.”
Seven years ago, Rob and Marie Johnson took in a then 13-year-old girl who had recently lost her mother. Nice move, huh? Altruistic, helping a poor girl whose mother had died.
But it didn't take long for them to decide to turn the little lass into a sex slave, in a horrid ordeal that would last for five long years.
Citing Biblical passages cherry picked from the Old Testament and contorted to serve his and his wife's twisted desires, Johnson told the girl that she could only be a part of the family if she agreed to have sex with him and his wife. He forced the girl to call him “Master,” while his wife slammed the girl up against a wall and grasped her firmly by the throat until she agreed to meet the despicable couple's outrageous demands. Unable to fend them off, the girl agreed to their whims.
The girl, who has not been publicly identified, was beaten whenever she failed to follow the couple's commands during the following five years. She was not allowed to use the phone, and was rehearsed in what to tell inquisitive doctors that might ask about her sexual activity.
Police say that Johnson presided over in-home Sunday school classes, and used certain Old Testament passages to justify what he and his wife were doing to the girl.
Now 21 years old, the girl was able to leave the home only when her grandmother bought her a plane ticket to come live with her in Ohio.
The couple is now out on bond, awaiting trial.
Simply outrageous. What humans do to each other in the name of God is both frightening and horrific.
The next time a Christian tells you that you cannot be a moral person without having their God in your life, you can tell them this story. God was supposedly in the Johnson family's life. So no thank you, proselytizers, I can live quite well and ethically without your God.
by P. David Gardner
And he was right. Despite years of scrutiny and some measure of setbacks, his legacy is now worth billions of dollars, much of it socked away into solid investments in real property all over the world.
You can look at that sentence and rightly say that this is dead wrong, that the money-making cult should be shut down or at least taxed to death. But Scientology continues to enjoy tax-free status as a religion, though it is clear to anyone with two brain cells to rub together that the “religion of Scientology” is anything but.
If you turn your gaze to the most popular organized religion in the world, Christianity, you may find that even though it is not cloaked in the same garb of religion as is Scientology, it is just as ruthless a money-making enterprise as the cult is.
The Charlotte Observer has noted that Graham Jr. takes down over $250,000 from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the Charlotte ministry his father started a long time ago. On top of that, he nets more than $620,000 by being the head of Samaritan's Purse, an international relief organization.
What's more, when the economic downturn occurred in 2009, Graham stopped pulling a paycheck from the Charlotte organization because it was in trouble, and had to let staffers go just to survive. But now things have turned around, and the ministry's board told Graham he should be getting paid again. And he agreed with them.
This “God” Business pays, and it pays well, as long as you're at the top of the heap. Meanwhile, a substantial amount of the “flock” which attend services are losing ground every year, often struggling to make ends meet, and going hungry to boot.
What a world.
by P. David Gardner
Oh, Fox News. I guess this is the end of our long and tenuous relationship ... the one where you supposedly protected atheists, that is.
On Monday, the weekend's insanity continued as Fox News "Outnumbered" host Ainsley Earhardt pulled out the big guns and hollered at a contributor for defending atheists, or any minority, really.
"I'm tired of protecting the minority!" she shouted. "What about the majority? What about the rest of the country?"
What devolved quickly into a shouting match began with a segment on a Missouri sheriff's decision to affix "In God We Trust" bumper stickers on the backs of his deputies' cruisers.
When Sheriff Doug Rader got called out for it, he complained about being singled out, claiming that there must be "hundreds, thousands of departments" that do the same.
"Where's our patriotism?" he grumbled. "Any time someone wants to be patriotic and make a symbol these days, they're attacked."
Considering that the bumper sticker isn't so much patrotic as it is a proclamation of theism, it clearly doesn't belong on any government vehicles. Yet other participants on the show agreed with the sheriff's decision. Andrea Tantaros made a tenuous connection between the bumper sticker and currency because money has "In God We Trust" boldly emblazoned on it too.
Fox News contributor Julie Roginsky argued that the phrase doesn't belong on currency either because it could offend atheists.
Which caused a predictable outrage.
Earhardt quickly shut it all down, proclaiming that because a "majority of Americans, 77 percent, believe in some sort of God" and "only 23 percent are atheist or agnostic," the majority should rule out over the minority.
Fortunately, Fox New's mock court of "law" doesn't really apply in the real world, save for entertainment for those a bit vacant in the brain pan.
For if it did, the weighted scales that Earhardt employed on Monday could easily be used to deny a voice to any minority at all, be they LGBT, black, Middle Eastern, Native American or yes, even atheists.
by P. David Gardner
Shhh ... if you listen closely, you might actually hear the quaking of feet in well oiled boots as priests, preachers, deacons and other clergy officials in the United States are no doubt wondering just where their future paychecks may be coming from.
The Pew Research Center conducted a study in 2014 that, when the results were compiled and released in May this year, showed that over several years now, the new generation, dubbed "The Millennials," has become far less likely to identify with a religious group than their parents.
Not only that, approximately 35 percent of adults born between 1981 and 1996 now claim to be unaffiliated with any religion at all.
To add coal to that fire, an increasing percentage of those Millennials not eligible to participate in the study because they were not yet adults at the time of the survey also identify as religious “nones.”
The study does concede that as the Millennials grow older, get married, have kids and begin to more fully realize that they are mortal, they may begin to identify with a religious group. That, however, is mere speculation on Pew's part, and we will not know if this supposition is true for decades to come.
So perhaps those who minister to the faithful may not be too worried about it. They just have to keep hammering folks with the good old “don't go to hell” shtick, and maybe they'll catch a few new ones and bring them into the fold, to tithe their wages to keep the ancient and outdated religions going and going and going.
Those interested may read the Pew report for themselves here:
by P. David Gardner
Can anyone explain to me, using logic and common sense that is, why the Christian religion seems to attract so many gun nuts and other sorts of looneys?
And just how do those ever-faithful, gun-toting acolytes balance their fascination with tools of death with their supposed utter love of, and compliance with, Jesus' teachings?
The last time I perused the Bible, that tattered manual for all things Christian, Jesus urged his faithful to be tolerant of those with opposing viewpoints. To not take vengeance themselves, but to leave it up to God instead. To do good, to seek peace, and to depart from evil.
Yet one needs only to scan the daily news to see for themselves that there are countless examples of supposed good Christians who are the diametric opposites of everything that their own God commands of them.
Just today I read that retired General Wesley Clark is urging the government to toss so-called "disloyal Americans" into internment camps, a return to the shameful days of WWII when the U.S. Government created Nazi-like prisons, which they playfully called "camps," and threw Asians into them whether they were confirmed spies or not. Merely looking Asian was good enough to imprison them because who wants to take chances anyway?
What is a "disloyal American" in Clark's eyes? Why, citizens of the U.S. who are of the Islamic faith, and whom he deems to be "extremist." And how does he define "extremism?" Well, that term seems to be a bit fuzzy. Does this cover those who attend a mosque to practice their faith? Or perhaps those who communicate with their Muslim brothers and sisters in the Middle East? Or only those who have been convicted of acts of treason against the United States?
I suppose that time will tell, if Clark's dreamy eyed future comes to pass.
Then there is the curious case of the gun-toting ex-preacher who urges Christians to arm themselves to fight against "gay rights."
On July 9, Joshua Fuerstein told his Facebook followers that they should use the business end of a gun to protect their First Amendment constitutional rights. "My First Amendment right is guaranteed by my Second Amendment right," he said as he menacingly hefted an assault rifle in a video posted to his account.
And so here is just a little reminder to you supposed devout Christians, of what your faith requires of you. Plucked straight from the Bible, here are some verses that you seem to have forgotten in your mad rush to judgement and calls for violent and abhorrent action:
"The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence." -- Psalms 11:5
"Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it." -- Psalms 34:14
"Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!" -- Psalms 133:1
"Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.'" -- Romans 12:19
"Judge not, that you be not judged." -- Matthew 7:1
"So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." -- Matthew 7:12
"And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, 'Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.'" -- John 8:7
"If you love me, you will keep my commandments." -- John 14:15
You know, I suppose I could be called guilty of cherry-picking verses from the Bible to support my contention that these two men, among countless others throughout history and especially today, are not as holy as they believe themselves to be. I have no doubt that they too could cherry-pick some verses from their "Good Book" to support their actions.
That's what makes the Bible such a horrible book upon which to base a belief system. While anything is open to interpretation, the Bible is especially vulnerable to this. If you read through it, you will find many examples of outright contradictions, tolerance of acts of violence, and more.
So, we've jumped off the deep end now. I guess, in the minds of the misguided devout, it all comes down to this:
"Praise God and pass the ammunition."
by P. David Gardner
The ultra-religious never fail to astound me. Sometimes it's their bald-face ignorance of the scientific facts that lay before them for all to see. Sometimes it's their use of shouting (the louder voice always wins) to make you listen to them.
And sometimes, it's their not-so-clever and convoluted logic (or rather, lack of it) that they use to hammer their preconceived points home to the gullible and anyone else who will listen to their pathetic bleats.
Today was the latter case for me. In one fell swoop of twisted reasoning, a creationist has declared Richard Dawkins, noted atheist, ethologist and evolutionary biologist, to NOT be an atheist as Dawkins believes himself to be.
In a recent article at The Gospel Herald web site, Creation Museum CEO Ken Ham claims that not only is Dawkins not an atheist, neither are me, or you, or any one of the countless atheists on this planet we call home.
"Some Americans call themselves atheists," Ham said in a Facebook post, "and many in other countries openly profess atheism, but as I explain in my article below, there are no atheists now, and there will be no atheists in eternity."
That's quite a bold claim. Just how did Ham come to figure out that wildly ignorant claim?
Well, Ham cited a 2013 appearance by Dawkins on The Daily Show, where when asked by host Jon Stewart what happens when people die, Dawkins replied, "I don't know what happens to us, but I know that our consciousness is wrapped up in our brains. I know that our brains rot."
From that simple statement, Ham extrapolates that Dawkins is indeed not sure about his atheism. That's quite a reach, in this writer's opinion.
"So Richard Dawkins, a man who is so certain there is no God, is not totally certain about what's going to happen to him when he dies," Ham chortled with apparent glee. "And yet he speaks with certainty as he tries to indoctrinate people to believe in his religion of atheism!"
What's that? "Religion of atheism?" I never knew that atheism was a religion. I always assumed it was a distinct lack of religion myself, but maybe I'm wrong.
But further, Ham claims that Dawkins is not an atheist because in his hallowed opinion, no true atheists exist at all because the Bible apparently teaches that every person is born with an innate knowledge of God.
It's all quite preposterous, as Ham's assertions all lie within a book written specifically to further an agenda that was used to control the unwashed masses of the time, and unfortunately that control continues to this very day.
One might take heart in the fact that as such wonky pronouncements continue to unfold in an increasingly secular world full of people waking up to the fact that religion is a sham, it's apparent that the "faithful" are becoming quite desperate to hold onto their flimsy fabric of belief.
by P. David Gardner
In a stunning admission of a lack of any coherent sense at all, a Fox News radio host has proclaimed that Chick-fil-A is now and forever "the Official Chicken of Jesus."
Todd Starnes, a more than slightly unhinged man, made his unprecedented proclamation to an enraptured audience at the Abeline Baptist Church in Agusta, GA this weekend. In what began as a fervid battle cry against same sex marriage and transgender equality, Starnes opened with this gem, saying that it was great to be back in the mighty South, where it was apparently pretty darn easy to find a high-cholesterol-peddling Waffle House and Chick-fil-A restaurants, the latter of which he proclaimed was Jesus' official choice of chicken.
Apparently, Chick-fil-A predates those good old days when even the lascivious Emperor Caligula began his blood-rushing reign over the Roman Empire in 37-41 A.D. At least according to Starnes, that is.
Besides lambasting gays and transgenders, Starnes also proclaimed that the U.S. government will begin persecuting Christians and criminalizing their beliefs in just a few short years.
And he took particular issue with the fact that Oregonian students are being schooled in gender equality.
“The time has come for all of us to stand together with one voice!” Starnes bellowed. “They may demand to know the content of our prayers, they may try to shut down our bakeries, they may try to silence our voices, but we will not be silenced! We will not be intimidated!”
Hallelujah, and pass the chicken please.
by P. David Gardner
Just hold on a fast minute there, pardner. Why, I looked in the mirror this morning and saw myself, an atheist. I see, therefore I must be!
In an impressive display of a crumbling tower of brain power, Si Robertson, head of the infamous "Duck Dynasty" clan and reality TV star, has proclaimed that there is no such thing as an atheist.
"I'm serious," he said, "because there's too much documentation. Our calendars are based on Jesus Christ. Whether you believe in him or not, every time you sign your calendar, you add down the day's date, you're saying he's here, OK? That's documented."
The problem with his logic? Calendars existed before the supposed birth of Jesus. Both the names of the days and the months are wholly based in Paganism, which kind of started out at least a few days before the supposed birth of Jesus Christ.
OK, to be fair, the calendar that most modern-day folk use is indeed based on the Gregorian calendar, named for Pope Gregory XII, who unleashed it on an unsuspecting world back in 1582. The Gregorian is a refinement of the Julian calendar, which corrects for the length of the year so that Easter coincides with the time of year that the early church celebrated it.
So, our modern calendar was "fixed" so that Easter would be celebrated when them Christian folk wanted to celebrate it. No more a reason, no less. If you ask me, that was no solid reason to mess with the calendar, but the Pope had his way.
But oh, I dunno. I sincerely doubt that I acknowledge the existence of Si's supreme being every time I "sign" my calendar (whatever that means; do I really do that?), or whenever I "add" down the day's date.
I guess I could turn the tables around and claim that every time Si and his ilk mutter the word "Thursday," they are accepting of and adhering to Paganism, since Thursday was named after "Thor's Day".
Ya know, the Thor of the ancient Norse gods, spectacularly spangled out in the latest Marvel movies.
Or should I say, when he "signs" his Thursdays?