Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category


There’s been a lot of head scratching, both from the corporate media and from the left, about why white evangelicals were attracted to Donald Trump in the first place (81% voted for him), and why they’re sticking with him — a sad excuse for a man who, by their own moral standards, is garbage: a narcissist, hypocrite, habitual liar, boastful sexual predator, mob crony, bully, swindler, scapegoating racist, and entitled rich kid who’s never done an honest day’s work in his life.

Why are evangelicals sticking with and fervently supporting  this walking embodiment of the Seven Deadly Sins (as Grant Brisbee so eloquently puts it)?

Pundits have provided many answers to this question, some correct in part. Here are a few of the most common answers:

  • Trump’s hatefulness and racial scapegoating appeal to evangelicals, because evangelicals are racists. In a lot of cases, this is undoubtedly true. (Check out the maps of evangelical religious belief in the U.S. and maps showing the locations of lynchings: the maps almost perfectly overlap. Even though most lynchings took place decades ago, religious beliefs have largely remained static [evangelical] where the vast majority of lynchings occurred.)
  • Trump finds it easy to manipulate evangelicals, because evangelicals are dumb and uneducated. There is an inverse correlation between IQ and religiosity, and among predominantly white religious groups evangelicals are among the least educated.  So, Trump’s anti-science, anti-intellectual, “ignorance is strength” rhetoric is tailor made to appeal to evangelicals.
  • Trump plays to evangelicals’ sense of victimization. Many evangelicals are so unhinged that they believe Christians are being persecuted in a land where Christians comprise 70% of the population and over 90% of lawmakers. The “religious freedom” (to discriminate) bills so popular with evangelicals and their political manipulators are testimony to this. Trump flatters evangelicals, plays to their delusions, and presents himself as their defender.

There’s much truth in the above, but there’s more to it. In addition to presenting himself as evangelicals’ defender, Trump has also positioned himself as being as mean spirited and authoritarian as most of them are. For once, one suspects that Trump is being genuine. To quote Fred Woodworth, viciousness and vindictiveness run “like a white hot wire” through American evangelicalism, as they do through Trump’s rhetoric. To cite but one of innumerable examples of the viciousness that characterizes evangelicals, among American religious groups evangelicals are the most likely to support torture.

But most importantly, white evangelicals are authoritarian. They’re ready, in fact eager, to use violence and coercion to impose their beliefs on others, and they see Trump as a convenient tool to that end. His viciousness, hypocrisy, and authoritarianism bother them not a whit. (Undoubtedly, many evangelicals are willfully ignorant of these things — blind to the blindingly obvious; others probably admire these qualities, because of mutual resemblance.)

Evangelical pastors laying hands on Donald Trump

To evangelicals, the ends justify the means, even if that means is a steaming pile of moral toxic waste. Even though Trump isn’t one of them, they see him as the means to their ends.

That is why evangelicals overwhelmingly support Donald Trump, and that is why they’ll continue to do so.

 

 


William Blake

As the caterpillar chooses the fairest leaves

To lay her eggs on, so the priest lays his curse

On the fairest joys.

–William Blake, Proverbs of Hell


(For the last few months we’ve been running the best posts from years past, posts that will be new to most of our subscribers. This one is from July 2013. We’ll be posting more blasts from the past for the next several months, and will intersperse them with new material.)

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A FEW QUESTIONS ABOUT THE BIBLE

1. Why do the Ten Commandments forbid worshipping false gods, graven images, and taking the lord’s name in vain, rather than slavery and torture?

2. Why doesn’t the Bible condemn slavery  or torture anywhere in its pages?

3. Why does the Bible command slaves to be obedient to their masters? (1 Timothy 6:1, 1 Peter 2:18, Ephesians 6:5)

4. Why does the Bible instruct slaveholders on how to treat (and mistreat) their slaves? (Exodus 21:20-21, Exodus 21:2-6)

5. Why does the Bible endorse slavery? (Leviticus 25:44-46)

6. Why does the Bible command female subservience? (Ephesians 5:22-23, Colossians 3:18, I Corinthians 11:3, I Corinthians 14:34, I Timothy 2:11-12, Genesis 3:16)

7. Why does the Bible treat women as “unclean” inferior beings? (Job 25:4, Revelation 14:4, Leviticus 12:2-5, Leviticus 15:17-24, 32-33)

8. Why are Christians fixated on the “abomination” of homosexuality, when the Bible also lists remarriage (Deuteronomy 24:4), “lying lips” (Proverbs 22:12), usury (Exodus 18:10-13), sex with an “unclean” woman (Leviticus 18:19, 27), short-weighting (Deuteronomy 25:13-16), and, of course, sacrificing a blemished ox (Deuteronomy 17:1) as abominations?

8. Why is the Bible filled with contradictions, such as “[F]or I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger forever” (Jeremiah 3:12) vs. “Ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn forever” (Jeremiah 17:4)?

(See also Ezekiel 18:20 vs. Exodus 20:5; James 1:13 vs. Genesis 22:1; Matthew 6:19 vs. Proverbs 15:6; Exodus 21:23-25 vs. Matthew 5:39; Proverbs 3:13 vs. Ecclesiastes  1:18; Ecclesiastes 1:4 vs. 2 Peter 3:10; Matthew 10:34 vs. Matthew 26:52; John 5:31 vs. John 8:18; John 5:28-29 vs. Job 7:9; John 10:30 vs. John 14:28; and Genesis 32:30 vs. John 1:18 vs. Exodus 33:23).

10. If these blatant contradictions are the result of mistranslation, why should any other part of the Bible be more reliable?

11. Why does the Bible mention only plants and animals found in the region familiar to its authors?

12. Did the same god who created sunsets, hummingbirds, and butterflies also create cockroaches, scabies, Donald Trump, and Bill O’Reilly? (Helpful hint: google O’Reilly falafel.)

13. What happened to all of the water after the great flood? (If all of the ice on Earth melted, it would raise the sea level by less than a hundred meters.)

14. Why does the Bible command “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (Exodus 22:18)? (See also Leviticus 20:27.)

15. Why does the Bible command the murder of EMTs, firemen, nurses, doctors, convenience store clerks, and everyone else who works on the sabbath? (Exodus 35:1-2, Exodus 31:14-15, Numbers 15:32-36)

16. Why does the Bible command the murder of rebellious children? (Deuteronomy 21:18-21, Leviticus 20:9)

17. Why does the Bible command parents to beat their children? (Proverbs 23:13-14)

18. Why does the Bible command mass murder and the taking of juvenile female sex slaves? (Numbers 31:17-18)

19. Why does the Bible command murder (burning alive) of those who have sex with their mothers-in-law? (Leviticus 20:14)

20. Why does the Bible command the killing of innocent beasts that are victims of sexual abuse? (Leviticus 20:15)

21. And while we’re on the topic, doesn’t the death penalty for bestiality seem a bit over the top? (Leviticus 20:15)

22. Why are your morals so much better than those of the god of the Bible?


DEATH, n. For Christians, a blessing — the gateway to heaven, the portal to paradise. It speaks volumes of the generosity of Christians that they so freely bestow this blessing upon their enemies, yet routinely do all in their power, even in extreme old age, to deny this same blessing to themselves.

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–from the revised and expanded edition of The American Heretic’s Dictionary, the best modern successor to Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary

American Heretic's Dictionary revised and expanded by Chaz Bufe, front cover


Here’s the latest installment in our ever-popular Internet Crap series, which mixes links to sick and absurd but amusing crap with links to useful crap. Enjoy!

  • Skeptic Magazine has a great piece on a new successful hoax of a postmodernist academic journal. The piece begins:

    The androcentric scientific and meta-scientific evidence that the penis is the male reproductive organ is considered overwhelming and largely uncontroversial.

    “. . .We used this preposterous sentence to open a ‘paper’ consisting of 3,000 words of utter nonsense posing as academic scholarship. Then a peer-reviewed academic journal in the social sciences accepted and published it.”

  • Walking disease vector Milo Yiannopoulos’s publicists claimed, to Publishers Weekly, that his new self-published book Dangerous sold 100,000 copies during its first week. It turns out, according to industry reporting firm Nielsen BookScan, that it was only about 18,000. (To avoid misunderstanding, please understand that when we refer to Yiannopoulos as a “walking disease vector,” we’re referring to emotional, not physical, illness.)

  • Raw Story reports that “Conservative Christian reality TV star Toby Willis gets 40 years in prison after pleading guilty to child rape.” What channel was carrying the Willis program? You guessed it! TLC.  Raw Story further reports that “Willis’ rape case is the third sex scandal that plagued TLC. In 2014, the network first canceled ‘Here Comes Honey Boo Boo’ after Mama June rekindled a romance with a convicted sex offender. In 2015, it axed ’19 Kids and Counting’ following Josh Duggar’s molestation scandal.”
  • Well, this is a first. The Saudi government is usually in the news for persecuting atheists, committing judicial mass murder, forbidding women to drive (among other worse affronts), and committing war crimes in Yemen, but it’s come up with a new, amusing, and amazing offense it can use to hammer its citizens: excessive butt kissing.
  • If you’ve been listening to right-wing misrepresentation of Black Lives Matter,  please give a close listen to Dr. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, a found of Black Lives Matter, who presents a very insightful analysis of current political conditions in the United States, and how we can improve them.
  • Finally, the headline here (almost) says it all: “Juggalo March on Washington: Insane Clown Posse fans to demand end to ‘gang’ designation.”

For now, that’s all folks.


H.L. Mencken

“The cosmos is a gigantic fly wheel making 1,000 revolutions a minute. Man is a sick fly taking a dizzy ride on it. Religion is the theory that the wheel was designed and set spinning to give him the ride.”

–H.L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy

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Decades ago, I picked up a copy of the Bible published by The Way International (a prominent evangelical group). They used the above quotation in place of a dedication at the beginning of the book–but they omitted the final sentence, thus providing yet another example of the fine character traits (in this case honesty) routinely exhibited by Christianity’s most fervent proponents. Mencken would almost certainly have been, in equal parts, delighted and disgusted by this.

The only reason I recognized The Way International’s deliberate misrepresentation of Mencken’s quote was that I had recently read A Mencken Chrestomathy while compiling The Heretic’s Handbook of Quotations; at least 99.999% of other readers would never have spotted The Way’s dishonesty, which is undoubtedly what they were counting on.


(For the last few months we’ve been running the best posts from years past, posts that will be new to most of our subscribers. This one is from early 2014. We’ll be posting more blasts from the past for the next several months, and will intersperse them with new material.)

Any system of ideas with an abstraction at its center—an abstraction which assigns you a role or duties—is an ideology. An ideology provides those who accept it with a false consciousness, a necessary component of which is other-directedness. This leads those who accept the ideology to behave as “objects” rather than “subjects,” to allow themselves to be used rather than to act to attain their own desires. The various ideologies are all structured around different abstractions, yet all serve the interests of a dominant (or aspiring dominant) class by giving individuals a sense of purpose in sacrifice, suffering, and submission.
The Revolutionary Pleasure of Thinking for Yourself, by Anonymous

Contrary to what the anonymous authors of The Revolutionary Pleasure of Thinking for Yourself  state, there are other types of ideologies. Some make no demands on you (other than for money), but instead promise you the world for doing nothing, simply because you’re so special. The clearest examples of this type of ideology are New Ageism and Prosperity Gospel theology.

New Age and Prosperity Gospel peddlers promote an inverted, solipsistic ideology in which individuals are posited as being “totally responsible” for their own circumstances, because of their thoughts—in other words, if they simply want something badly enough (usually money), it will come to them. To put this another way—one which New Age and Prosperity Gospel hustlers themselves use—people who are rich and healthy choose to be rich and healthy.

The problems with this assertion are so obvious that even pundits and preachers occasionally notice them: most blatantly, that if the rich choose to be rich, the poor must also choose to be poor, children with brain cancer choose to have brain cancer, and six million Jews chose to be murdered by the Nazis.

This type of childish magical thinking serves the interests of those at the top of socio-economic heap in several ways: it divorces the individual from social context; it allows the rich and powerful to feel smug about being rich and powerful; it induces self-loathing in the poor and oppressed; and it actively discourages the poor and oppressed from taking action to improve their own lives.

While the inverted wish-fulfillment ideologies appear to differ radically from conventional, duty-specifying ideologies, they serve the same ends. They help only those at the top of the socio-economic dungheap and those clawing their way up it over the backs of everyone else — New Age and Prosperity Gospel hucksters and other parasites — not the terminally gullible who they’re swindling, nor anyone else.

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Note:  Most of the above originally appeared in slightly different form as an addition I made anonymously to the See Sharp Press edition of The Revolutionary Pleasure of Thinking for Yourself.