Archive for Christian

Santorum & The Evil That Men Do

Posted in Favorite Quotes, Politics, Religion, Science with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 5, 2012 by halmasonberg

“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction.” –Blaise Pascal.

It seems almost daily that I read another comment or another statement steeped in fear and hatred uttered from the lips of Rick Santorum, self-proclaimed Christian and American moralist. I do, thankfully, realize that Santorum does not represent all of Christianity and its followers, but he does represent a portion of them. Keep in mind, though he is currently at the bottom of the heap, he is still, as of this writing, a GOP presidential candidate in a playing field whittled down to four contenders. This means there is a large enough portion of Americans who share his views, his intolerances, his fears, misunderstandings and judgements of things that, well, any good Christian would normally leave up to God and not assume upon themselves.

Sadly, as Mr. Pascal once pointed out in the above quote, religion has spurned some of the most vile hatred and suffering known to man. And I think it’s rather easy to assess by the goings-on in the world today, that some things have not changed. Unfortunately for any forward-thinking individuals, men like Rick Santorum represent a part of society terrified of change. And, one could easily come to such a conclusion, of themselves.

Part of me feels sorry for men and women such as these since their lives appear to be made up largely of running away and holding on to the past with such desperation as to exhaust themselves of all humanity. Ironic, given that they claim to represent the most compassionate and forgiving of all beings. But this is in words only. Actions tell a very different story. The pain and suffering brought on by men like Rick Santorum is immeasurable, and it is considerable. Make no mistake, lives will be lost while others trampled. All in the name of one who is no longer here to protect his good name and teachings.

The bright side to all of this is that at least Santorum’s particular brand of bigotry is now out there for all to see. And those easily swayed toward his proclaimed “solutions” are no longer hidden from public view to boil and swell beneath the surface. They are out there where we can confront them, and ourselves, in the bright light of day. Good things will come from this in the bigger picture. It’s a step forward. Like a detoxing of the American psyche. We may feel a bit ill while we’re going through it, but hopefully we will come out the other side healthier and happier. If we choose to tackle it.

As for how we got where we are in the first place, well, history is full of men like Santorum. Perhaps the recent study published in the latest issue of Psychological Science explains part of it.

“Despite their important implications for interpersonal behaviors and relations, cognitive abilities have been largely ignored as explanations of prejudice. We proposed and tested mediation models in which lower cognitive ability predicts greater prejudice, an effect mediated through the endorsement of right-wing ideologies (social conservatism, right-wing authoritarianism) and low levels of contact with out-groups. In an analysis of two large-scale, nationally representative United Kingdom data sets (N = 15,874), we found that lower general intelligence (g) in childhood predicts greater racism in adulthood, and this effect was largely mediated via conservative ideology. A secondary analysis of a U.S. data set confirmed a predictive effect of poor abstract-reasoning skills on antihomosexual prejudice, a relation partially mediated by both authoritarianism and low levels of intergroup contact. All analyses controlled for education and socioeconomic status. Our results suggest that cognitive abilities play a critical, albeit underappreciated, role in prejudice. Consequently, we recommend a heightened focus on cognitive ability in research on prejudice and a better integration of cognitive ability into prejudice models.”

As one who does not believe in God in a traditional sense (therefore a heathen and going to hell in the minds of many), I have always assumed that it took a level of non-thinking to allow oneself to so completely abandon reason and take the words and teachings of the bible and, not only accept them as literal, but to allow oneself to become swayed by the interpretations of such texts by those with ulterior motives. However, I do not believe all who believe in God to be less educated or less intelligent than those who do not. But there is a certain ilk that have always been ready to take to the streets to express their intolerance of others; those who would kill, maim and damage their fellow man in the name of their God. A God of love? A God of vengeance? Which is it, then?

What are we supposed to think when Rick Santorum tells you that contraception is “not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”?

How things are supposed to be. If Mr. Santorum believes this, then he is free to refrain from the use of such tools and activities. But when he believes his beliefs should be law… This should be of great concern. Santorum warns of fascism and socialism and why you should be afraid… But nothing endangers freedom more than men and women who think like Rick Santorum. His beliefs suggest the ultimate form of fascism.

When Rick Santorum tells you what marriage is, he presents it as fact, as indisputable evidence.

“Marriage is what marriage is. Marriage was around before government said what it was. It’s like going out and saying, ‘That tree is a car.’ Well, the tree’s not a car. A tree’s a tree. Marriage is marriage.” 

“It’s like handing up this and saying this glass of water is a glass of beer. Well you can call it a glass of beer, it’s not a glass of beer, it’s a glass of water. And water is what water is. Marriage is what marriage is.” 

“I can call this napkin a paper towel, but it is a napkin. Why? Because it is, what it is.” 

But what Santorum is really saying is that this is what marriage is for Rick Santorum. And therefore it should be for all others. By law. Like it or not, there are those who do not share and were not raised with Mr. Santorum’s limited definition. And we are Americans, no more or less so than he is. Just as Santorum’s God is not everybody’s God, Rick Satorum’s definitions and interpretations are not everyone’s. Nor should they be. That would be similar to asking a nation to publicly mourn the death of their beloved leader, Kim Jong Il, even if they did not, in fact, love him or mourn his loss. And then imprison those who did not either mourn publicly or mourn sincerely. Is that the America Santorum’s followers envision? Because if it’s not, then they best rethink their stance and support of such an individual. Or is that low IQ getting in the way of reasoned thought again?

“[Marriage] is an intrinsic good … we extend certain privileges to people who do that because we want to encourage that behavior. Two people who may like each other or may love each other who are same-sex, is that a special relationship? Yes it is, but it is not the same relationship that benefits society like a marriage between a man and a woman.” 

What he means is that such a relationship does not benefit Rick Santorum. I’ll tell you right now that he does not speak for me. Same sex marriages have benefitted me in my life and my world, the kind of society I want to live in. And it damn well benefits same-sex couples who are (guess what?) members of this society. Again, what doesn’t benefit Rick should not benefit anyone in Santorum’s world view.

“Whether it’s polygamy, whether it’s adultery, whether it’s sodomy, all of those things, are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family.” 

Once again, these may be things that Rick Santorum chooses not to engage in, but he is not in a position (no pun intended) –and it is the point of this write-up that he should not be– to tell others what sexual activities they should or should not be doing where two consenting adults are concerned. But Santorum’s answer to that would be:

“If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything.” 

The truth is that consensual sex in the home does NOT make polygamy or bigamy or incest legal. It DOES, however, allow one (or two or three or four…) to engage in certain sexual activities that some other folks may find startling, offensive and even a little off-putting. It seems, however, that even a healthy and imaginative sex life is off-putting to Mr. Santorum. When you allow a man like this to tell you what you can and can’t do in bed… But Mr. Santorum disagrees:

“The idea is that the state doesn’t have rights to limit individuals’ wants and passions — I disagree with that. I think we absolutely have rights because there are consequences to letting people live out whatever wants or passions they desire. And we’re seeing it in our society.” 

The world Rick Santorum envisions has more in common with the Crusades than it does with the teachings of Christ. And like many other religious zealots before him, Santorum will fight to ensure HIS way of life at the exclusion of all others:

“The battle we’re engaged in right now on same-sex marriage, ultimately that is the very foundation of our country, the family, what the family structure is going to look like. I’ll die on that hill fighting.” 

Rick Santorum is too mired in his own fears, fear of change, fear of reality, fear of difference, fear of things he wasn’t taught, fear of things he doesn’t understand, fear of the dark and the unknown. And it has turned him into a man mired in hatred and intolerance.

“You can say I’m a hater. But I would argue I’m a lover. I’m a lover of traditional families and of the right of children to have a mother and father. … Isn’t that the ultimate homeland security, standing up and defending marriage?” 

Marriage, he fails to point out, as Rick Santorum sees it. And Santorum’s “logic” is no better than claiming the KKK doesn’t hate blacks, they simply love white supremacy. No, even science, the ground beneath his own two feet, the air he breathes, and the very planet he lives on is not enough to convince Mr. Santorum that the world may not always be the way he wants it to be. The way he so clearly needs it to be.

“I’ve never supported even the hoax of global warming.”

In Rick Santorum’s world, there are no other valid points of view, no other opinions of note, no other interpretations than his own. Rick Santorum would fight to make his beliefs your beliefs. All the while pointing out the dangers of others. And if he gets his way, when the time comes and he has passed from this world, you will mourn his death. Whether you want to or not.

The Ugly Americans: Reverend Jones & Friends

Posted in Politics, Religion with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 7, 2010 by halmasonberg

I’ll start out by saying that I’m thrilled to see so many people standing up to oppose Reverend Terry Jones’ intention to hold a “Burn A Quran Day” event on September 11th. In the face of the overwhelming ignorance, hatred and blatant religious and ethnic bigotry opposing the proposed building of an Islamic Community Center near Ground Zero, Rev. Jones’ disgusting intent just adds fuel to an already out of control fire raging through America. Add the lunatic-gathering at Glenn Beck’s “Take Back America” rally and Sarah Palin’s daily tweets of extreme ignorance and vile attacks, and we have a picture of a dangerous country succumbing to its own panicked state of fearfulness.

What would the American picture of Islam be if some nut-job over in Afghanistan gathered people together to start burning copies of the Christian Bible? Or the Jewish Bible? Would we easily be able to separate an extremist like this–that one in a million religious kook–from the rest of the population? Hell, we already know we can’t separate a group of terrorists from an entire nation and/or religious belief.

And even when Gen. David Petraeus claims that Jones’ actions, if carried out, will almost certainly endanger American soldiers overseas as well as place Americans everywhere (including right here at home) in even more peril, and the Reverend still insists that “Burn A Quran Day” is enacting God’s will… Well, one has to question whether Jones’ God cares all that much about this little country of ours or whether he’s just a vengeful entity who likes to “stir the pot” and see what happens.

Sadly, it’s people like Reverend Jones who are, in my opinion, no better than the terrorists who attacked this country. He is putting his personal beliefs over the lives of lord knows how many people and claims to be on a mission from God. “We actually feel this is a message that we have been called to bring forth,” claims Jones. “And because of that, we do not feel like we can back down.”

Irony of ironies.

“Maybe it’s time to stand up. Maybe it’s time to send a message to radical Islam that we will not tolerate their behavior,” added Jones.

Hmmm… What if we changed the words radical Islam and replaced it with America and placed that same sentence into the mouths of the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11.

“Maybe it’s to time to stand up. Maybe it’s time to send a message to America that we will not tolerate their behavior.”

As a result of his actions and some of the negative attention it has drawn, Rev. Jones has started wearing a .40-caliber pistol strapped to his hip. Now there’s a good picture. A man of God insisting on endangering human lives (American lives, for those that separate) and carrying a pistol in case someone tries to stop him from going through with his “religious obligation…”

And so the lines blur even more…

“Islam is of the Devil,” read the signs Rev. Jones has posted in front of his church.

Wasn’t America the incarnation of the devil in the eyes and words of the Al Qaeda?

The Quran, according to the all-knowing Rev. Jones is “evil because it espouses something other than biblical truth and incites radical, violent behavior among Muslims.”

Is that what it does? Cause I’m guessing the same could be said about the Torah. It certainly espouses some different biblical truths than Rev. Jones’ preferred version of the holy book. And if you’re Palestinian, you might well believe that it also incites radical, violent behavior in Jews.

Why, it seems to me that Rev. Jones’ bible is inciting radical behavior in him and his followers. Behavior that may well lead to violence and killing as a direct result. Violence and killing Rev. Jones is well aware of. If he wasn’t, do you think he’d still be armed with that .40-caliber pistol strapped lovingly to his hip?

There’s that fine line again. I just can’t keep it all straight…

Who exactly are the good guys?

Is America Worth Saving?

Posted in Politics, Religion with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 21, 2010 by halmasonberg

It’s a question I’ve asked myself many a time. In fact, I find myself asking it about the entire human race from time to time. And the answer’s always the same: I sure as hell hope so.

I’d like to believe that we can grow and mature, learn from our mistakes. But like children who never believe the lessons of their parents and have to find out for themselves, the hard way, we continue to shoot ourselves in the head and then complain that no one told us the gun was loaded.

Two days ago, Massachusetts voters shat on the memory of the late Ted Kennedy by not only choosing a Republican to take his still-warm seat, but possibly killing an already watered-down Health Care Bill that was Mr. Kennedy’s life mission and dying wish. Did this really happen? How quickly we forget the atrocities committed by the Bush Administration. The party and ideology that destroyed our economy by redistributing wealth from the middle-class to the wealthiest Americans and corporations while simultaneously throwing us into a trillion dollar war that we had no moral or social right engaging in. Every American soldier who lost their life in Iraq lost it for a lie. And there are over 3,000 of them. Not to mention the over 100,000 Iraqis killed in that same ongoing war. The American people were twice victimized. First by the 9/11 attacks, then by a president who took advantage of our fear and shock. And now we’re voting these people back into power? Really?

Apparently, it is quite a task for the average American to measure the effectiveness of a president like Obama who saved us from falling into the abyss of an economic depression. Perhaps it would have been better if we had fallen into that abyss so that Americans would then have some understanding of what Obama accomplished by pulling us out. But too many Americans don’t seem to be able to weigh what a massive accomplishment avoiding that depression was and is. Or how close we were to it and what that reality would have looked like. We are an undereducated, incurious lot. And we are easily led. Sarah Palin, George W. Bush, Glenn Beck… They are all modern-day Joe McCarthys and legions of Americans are following them all over again.

All this said, Obama can certainly take a more definitive stand. Playing nice, it seems, gets little-to-nothing done. On the other hand, and I believe this is Obama’s logic, if we keep pushing our differing agendas in opposition to the other party, then we may find America in a damaging game of back and forth wherein one party is elected into office, disregards the other party’s beliefs and desires and forces its agenda no matter how severe (as the Bush Administration did from day one), and then the other party takes over again and reverses course until the first party takes control (again) and makes another u-turn. It’s a deadly circle that we could spin in for centuries without accomplishing a damn thing of consequence. Problem is, Americans only seem to respond to extremes. Subtlety is not taught in school and seems to float above the heads of many who miss the boat entirely and are lost and confused when someone points out what has been going on. They simply don’t believe it because they don’t have the tools to see it. We have societal and historical ADD. One year into the Obama Administration and hoards of Americans are already growing impatient and have forgotten the treacherous 8 years of lies, deaths and economic imbalance. Not to mention that we had a president on a religious Jihad all his own. From attempting to amend the constitution to conform to his Christian definition of marriage, to preemptively attacking Iraq in order to “erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”

So as sad as it may be, it seems the only way forward is to either try and meet Republicans halfway, or make the firm decision to move forward regardless of their wishes while we still can; to get as much done now and hope some of it sticks through later administrations. The biggest problem with meeting Republicans halfway, it seems, is that they don’t appear to be interested. So far as I can tell, the game that’s being played is “oppose Obama at every turn.” The notion being that if Obama is truly successful at fixing our national health care disaster, then he will most certainly get re-elected. And perhaps another Democrat will come after him! And God forbid he should bring any of these wars to an end or actually strengthen the economy. Then the corporations and the high-powered bigwigs who live off the blood of the less fortunate won’t get what they so desperately want (and have grown used to). And those very powerful organizations and the people whose pockets they regularly line will suffer greatly. And they are not willing to let that happen. Even if that means denying the American people their basic rights or fulfilling their basic needs. Like health care.

So, these men and women and the corporations behind them scream foul and create illusions of collapse and spoil that strike at the hearts of our most frightened and ignorant until they take to the streets en masse spouting misconceptions and incredulous at the mere notion that someone might actually be attempting to better their lives. And the Independents who don’t believe in anyone but knew that they were tired of Bush start to tire of Obama as well until they’re voting us right back into the abyss we just barely managed to crawl out of. And then there’s the lazy Democrats who just don’t get themselves out there to vote or campaign with enough vigor or resilience. Or the Blue Dog Democrats who just seem to be Republicans under a different name.

Meanwhile, Obama is in danger of being neutered by asking us to rise to an occasion we simply may not be ready for. His attempt to bring the parties and American people together ends up looking to Democrats like he’s not willing to go the extra mile and really take on the forces at hand –essentially “just another politician”– and Republicans see it as a sign of weakness and an opportunity to pounce.

All the while, the world watches and prays that we, currently the most powerful nation in the world (with China fast on our heels), find ourselves in the midst of a growth spurt that finally moves us out of our infancy and propels us into the world of the mature and self-aware. In the meantime, we’re a nation that essentially still believes in Santa Clause, hopes he’ll show up, and then shoots anything that comes down the chimney.

Exporting Hate & Terror In The Name Of God

Posted in Politics, Religion with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2010 by halmasonberg

Sounds like something one might accuse Al Qaeda of. But what if it were suggested the United States of America were on a religious crusade all its own? Last year, former French President Jacques Chirac told the world that, while the White House was assembling its “coalition of the willing” to invade Iraq, then president George W. Bush appealed to their common faith in Christianity during a private chat. According to Chirac, Bush stated:

“Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”

While this is old news by now and a quote I’ve referenced before, it seems to have been one-upped by a recent report that weapons maker Trijicon has been supplying high-powered rifle sights to the U.S. Army and Marines with coded references to specific Bible passages. One such reference on the gun sights is 2COR4:6, also known as Second Corinthian 4:6 of the New testament:

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

These “Jesus-encoded” sights are being used by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan in the training of Iraqi and Afghan soldiers. Oddly enough, U.S. Military rule prohibits proselytizing of any religion in Iraq or Afghanistan. The whole notion behind this rule was to prevent any country or individual from claiming the United States was on a religious “Crusade.” Well… it seems some, including but obviously not restricted to the president who led us into those very wars, were, indeed, on a religious crusade. So where does that leave us now?

The American people were lied to about WMDs, our own CIA directly misled Congress, we defied the United Nations, we angered and alienated much of the world with that defiance, we resorted to torture tactics we swore we would never use, we engaged in a preemptive strike against another country for the first time in our nation’s history, and over 100,000 human lives have been lost that would not have been otherwise… At what point do Americans realize that the Bush Administration turned the United States of America into a rogue nation and desecrated almost everything we have claimed to stand for? And still I see people finding reasons to support that same administration, all the while professing that President Obama is attempting to destroy our nation, trying to make us a socialist country, a totalitarian country, even a fascist country.

So while the largest corporations in the States get fat on the blood of Iraq, including Trijicon who have a $660 million multi-year contract to provide up to 800,000 sights to the Marine Corp and even more to the U.S. Army, America’s own citizens have been tossed into a deep recession. And the president who has managed to prevent that recession from becoming a full-on depression, all the while trying to repair a deeply damaged health care system that doesn’t care for its own, has come under attack as a man who is trying to destroy this country and everything it stands for.

At what point do we heed the lessons and shame of Joseph McCarthy and the fear that drove that man and his many, many followers? At what point do we face up to the fact that our country and its citizens were lied to, led astray? At what point do we, as a nation, choose to enter into adulthood and face our own demons? When do we, as Dick Cheney would call it, “Man-up”?

A recent hearing in the U.K. on that country’s involvement in the war in Iraq revealed that the U.S. was already discussing plans to invade Iraq less than a month after George W. Bush took office. This was, if you haven’t already figured it out, long before the 9/11 attacks. These plans are well-documented in the Downing Street Memo transcribing the minutes of a meeting between Tony Blair’s senior ministers on July 23, 2002.

That same recent U.K. hearing also reportedly revealed that Blair lied to the public when he claimed that Britain’s objective in the invasion of Iraq was ‘disarmament’ and not ‘regime change.’

Too bad we haven’t yet had hearings of our own on this side of the Atlantic. Maybe it would open some of those tightly shut eyes still mourning the loss of the good Christian president who so valiantly protected our nation through what is known as the Bush Doctrine which includes a policy of “preventive” war which held that:

The security environment confronting the United States today is radically different from what we have faced before. Yet the first duty of the United States Government remains what it always has been: to protect the American people and American interests. It is an enduring American principle that this duty obligates the government to anticipate and counter threats, using all elements of national power, before the threats can do grave damage. The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction – and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack. There are few greater threats than a terrorist attack with WMD.

To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively in exercising our inherent right of self-defense. The United States will not resort to force in all cases to preempt emerging threats. Our preference is that nonmilitary actions succeed. And no country should ever use preemption as a pretext for aggression.

But what is it we’ve actually done? According to the above-mentioned U.K. hearing:

In the public record, there is a large amount of evidence that vividly illustrates Bush’s long-standing intent to invade Iraq, Bush’s willingness to provoke Saddam Hussein into providing a pretext for war, the fact that the Iraq war began with an air campaign almost a year before the March 2003 invasion and months before Congress approved the war, Bush’s widespread attempt to crush dissent and manipulate information to justify the lies he used to start the Iraq war and the lack of planning for the aftermath of the Iraq war as well as the lack of a fundamental understanding of the Iraqi society.

To further illustrate then President Bush’s “mission” as he saw it, I quote a passage from his 2003 State of the Union address:

“Americans are a free people, who know that freedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation. The liberty we prize is not America’s gift to the world, it is God’s gift to humanity.”

Unfortunately, men like George W. Bush never seem to understand that what they see as the “right” way for America is not the only way. I’m not saying all nations shouldn’t be free, I’m saying that we, America, do not have all the answers and it is beyond arrogant to assume we do. It is downright criminal to take that misguided belief and stake human lives on it. Especially when that belief is weighed down by religious conviction; by a man and an administration with little understanding of the culture, people and religions of the countries they are invading. Many great nations before ours have fallen in pursuit of the very same fallacious ideologies that drove Mr. Bush and his followers.

But how do you get a country and its people to follow along on such a path? Author Naomi Klein wrote in her book The Shock Doctrine that the Bush Administration exploited  a “window of opportunity that opens in a state of shock, subsequently followed with a comforting rationale for the public, as a form of social control.”

For any country to grow, it must take a cold, hard look at itself. It must ask the difficult questions. We have an opportunity now to start fixing the deep damage that was incurred during the Bush Administration and the 9/11 attacks on our country. Both victimized the American people. Neither wound is anywhere close to being healed. But in taking that deep look, we might find that we–as abhorrent a notion as it is–may have temporarily become our own worst enemy and the exporters of the very thing we claim to be fighting against.

Lively Doesn’t Want Gays Killed, Just Eliminated

Posted in Politics, Religion with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2010 by halmasonberg

Scott Lively, the president of one of the most hateful organizations in America -Abiding Truth Ministries- has spoken out against Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. A bill he, in essence, helped create.

“I suggested they liberalize the law, not to make it more [harsh]. What’s the gay agenda in Uganda? It’s the attempt to homosexualize the country like they did in so many other countries. … To change the moral foundation of the society, away from a marriage-based culture, to one of sexual anarchy.”

Well, it seems Mr. Lively’s outspoken opinion of homosexuals has rubbed off on Uganda’s lawmakers –who were already severely homophobic– to the point where they are proposing a bill that would, if passed, make Homosexuality punishable by a lengthy prison sentence or, in many cases, death.

So what was Lively doing in Uganda in the first place?

He was invited.

According to Lively himself:

“They were concerned about the attempts… by American and European gays, mostly men, who were coming into their country, messing with the young men in the country, and trying to influence their political and cultural policies.”

Lively visited Uganda to give a series of talks along with Don Schmierer and Caleb Lee Brundidge, two American evangelical Christians who are well known for their teaching that homosexuality can be “cured.”

According to Stephen Langa, who organized the Ugandan event, the purpose of these talks was “the gay agenda — that whole hidden and dark agenda.”

I guess they succeeded. And many lives may be lost as a result. Certainly many lives will be destroyed. And many will be directly linked to Mr. Lively’s “teachings,” despite his insistence that he does “not believe in incarceration for homosexuality.” Unfortunately, Lively’s assessment of his talks in Uganda is that “Our campaign was like a nuclear bomb against the ‘gay’ agenda in Uganda.”

According to Wikipedia:

For three days, according to participants and audio recordings, thousands of Ugandans, including police officers, teachers and national politicians, listened raptly to the Americans, who were presented as experts on homosexuality. The visitors discussed how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how “the gay movement is an evil institution” whose goal is “to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.”

These talks are widely considered to have been instrumental in the development of the Uganda Anti-Homosexual Bill which would:

“broaden the criminalization of homosexuality in Uganda, including introducing the death penalty for people who have previous convictions, who are HIV-positive, or who engage in sexual acts with those under 18,introducing extradition for those engaging in same-sex sexual relations outside Uganda, and penalising individuals, companies, media organizations, or NGOs who support LGBT rights.”

So let’s take a look at Mr. Lively’s credits to see who else he’s been influencing lo these many years. In addition to heading the Abiding Truth Ministries –which it should be stated is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center– Lively was also the co-author of a book titled THE PINK SWASTIKA which suggested direct links between homosexuals and the Nazi Party. He is also the former state director for California’s branch of the American Family Association, which is an organization that promotes so-called conservative Christian values. Those values basically boil down to being anti-pornography, anti-gay, pro-life, and in favor of “traditional” marriage only. They also support deregulation of the oil industry and oppose the Employee Free Choice Act which, if passed, would “amend the National Labor Relations Act to establish an efficient system to enable employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to provide for mandatory injunctions for unfair labor practices during organizing efforts, and for other purposes.”

The American Family Association defines itself as “a Christian organization promoting the biblical ethic of decency in American society with primary emphasis on TV and other media”

Lively also formed the anti-homosexual group Watchmen on the Walls based in Riga, Latvia, which supports conversion therapy and describes itself as “the international Christian movement that unites Christian leaders, Christian and social organizations and aims to protect Christian morals and values in society.”

Those Christian morals and values include anti-gay rallies wherein gays and lesbians are pelted with bags of excrement. A practice I’m sure Jesus would have approved of.

So why waste time writing about such lunatics as Lively and his associates? Because it’s people like Lively who help spread hatred, fear and gross misunderstanding. And in doing so, they have a direct negative impact on the lives of many human beings. This is the same reason I write about Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Glenn Beck, etc. Because, while they may only represent a fringe, folks should at least be aware of what is being said and how it is being heard.

And while I don’t know where Mr. Lively and friends claim to get their information about the “gay agenda” from, you can read about Mr. Lively’s agenda right here, in his own words and in crystal clear black and white.

From Lively’s DECIPHERING ‘GAY’ WORD-SPEAK AND LANGUAGE OF CONFUSION:

“If homosexuality is not innate, it must be acquired. And if it can be acquired, we dare not allow homosexuality to be legitimized to our children. If there remains any shadow of doubt as to the cause of homosexuality, we must err on the side of protecting our children. Indeed we must actively discourage them from viewing homosexuality as safe and normal, when in fact it is demonstrably neither safe nor normal. It bears noting here that normalcy is functioning according to nature or design. Normalcy is not based on popular opinion.

“…The truth about homosexuality is self-evident. Self-evident truths are not taught, they are revealed. Helping people overcome “gay” sophistry does not require teaching them new facts and figures or raising their level of intellectual sophistication. On the contrary, it requires a clearing away of the misinformation that obscures the simple reality of things.”

In God We Trust. Or Else. You Listening, Tiger?

Posted in Politics, Religion, Science with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2010 by halmasonberg

Wasn’t it George Orwell who said, “As with the Christian religion, the worst advertisement for Socialism is its adherents”?

While folks like Sarah Palin and the staff of Fox News spend much of their time screaming threats of Socialism at their more left-leaning fellow Americans, it seems the hardcore religious right are becoming a more visible entity in this country. I don’t remember there being TV news channels back in the day that were grossly committed to espousing and dignifying the misguided efforts and beliefs of this very odd faction of human beings.

As Obama and his supporters (and many of his critics) try and make changes to benefit the daily lives of Americans, offer them choices, enhance equality and freedom, we still hear the loud, frightened cries of those who have not even yet managed to bring themselves to embrace the notion of evolution. They’re still working on the universe was created in a week” plan. No wonder the Bush Administration and many of its political predecessors had so much trouble planning ahead and projecting into the future. Everything worth accomplishing should and could be done in a week! Mission accomplished anyone?

So while the shouts of “Socialism!” and “Totalitarianism!” persist, we move slowly away from an administration that restricted human freedoms by passing a law that would allow individuals to be placed under arrest with no charges officially filed or rights allowed. And those arrests and subsequent imprisonments were proclaimed “indefinite.” That same administration led us into a preemptive attack on another country for the first time in American history. But unlike Kubrick’s DR. STRANGELOVE, our leaders did so with full knowledge and intent, disregarding the recommendations of the United Nations, who, it turns out, were correct in their assessment of the situation in Iraq. And through all of this, the Bush Administration found every possible way to overturn any criticism that their particular brand of torture was inhuman. They insisted it was not only legal, but necessary. And when faced with legal implications, they actually tried to redefine torture itself so that they could legally continue in their God-mandated actions.

I wonder what Jesus would think about all of this?

It seems odd to me that so many of these Bush supporters and Palin supporters are actually running around in fear of totalitarianism, fascism and big government under the Obama Administration. Especially considering that the Bush Administration and many Republican administrations before (though Clinton can be lumped in here to an extent, as well) catered grotesquely to the massive corporations that have, in essence, become the government of the United States (and, perhaps, the rest of the world). The very fears these people are now espousing and their accompanying accusations were actually flourishing as a reality under their own God-approved world leaders.

There has been few things in my lifetime that seemed more moralistically damaged than the Bush Administration. They not only diminished our hundreds-year struggle to make and keep America “The Land Of The Free,” but they did it under the name of God and Christianity. There is nothing more offensive to my understanding of Jesus and God–any God–than the actions of the Bush Administration and the current portion of Americans still engaged in these beliefs.

Understand, this is not a Democrat versus Republican issue. Nor is it an anti-religion issue. This is an argument between a group of people who believe in true freedom and equality –regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation– and a group of people who believe in those things with a set of parenthesis attached. It seems that simply claiming to be a good Christian is enough to justify almost any act of brutality or injustice so long as you can connect it to your religious beliefs and convince yourself that you are on the side of “right.” That you are “chosen” or “saved.” What a terrifying notion. This faith-based bit of simple-mindedness has brought us such God-approved events as the Spanish Inquisition and the Salem Witch Trials. It seems that only in retrospect can the public at large recognize the atrocities committed in the name of the Lord.

But what is one to expect from a belief system that suggests believers will go to heaven, while the rest of humanity will spend an eternity in hell? Is this what the universe has been boiled down to in the glorious and creative minds of the human race?

A few weeks back, I wrote a short piece on Dick Cheney and the Bush Administration’s torture policies and I held them up against some of the insightful and thoughtful teachings of Gandhi. One very angry woman wrote to me proclaiming “You’re obviously NOT a Christian man!” I wondered what gave me away? My quoting Gandhi or my not endorsing torture?

Today, Fox News’ Brit Hume commented on golfer Tiger Woods’ one chance to save himself, not only from his current public scandal, but from the very fiery depths of hell itself:

“The extent to which he can recover seems to me depends on his faith. He is said to be a Buddhist. I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. My message to Tiger would be, ‘Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.”

Tiger has spoken openly in the past about his religious beliefs:

“I practice meditation. That is something that I do, that my mum taught me over the years. We also have a thing we do every year, where we go to temple together. In the Buddhist religion you have to work for it yourself, internally, in order to achieve anything in life and set up the next life. It is all about what you do and you get out of it what you put into it.”

Clearly the words of a blasphemer.

I wonder how many Americans are out there right now commenting not so much on Mr. Woods’ all-too human difficulties and challenges, but on the indisputable “fact” that he may well rot in hell. He doesn’t need a therapist. He needs to have faith. Not in himself, but in another. And if he does so, he can finally realize that he is not only above the law, but the rest of humanity.

Jesus Was Not A Jew! Good Ol’ Fashioned American Common Sense

Posted in Politics, Religion with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2009 by halmasonberg

JesusUSAI can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to argue with acquaintances to convince them that Jesus was a Jew. “Jesus was not a Jew! He was a Christian!” is the answer I most often get. It takes me a full 3 to 4 seconds before I recompose myself, lift my jaw back into a closed-mouth position, and explain how all this actually works.

But no matter how often I find myself in this strange predicament, I’m always just as horrified and saddened by the lack of education and basic intelligence so often flaunted by some of my fellow Americans. And I’m no genius, mind you! Just some dude with a basic education who’s trying to keep up and always feeling one step behind. Sometimes two! But, man-o-man, the ignorance I’ve bumped up against on my own little journeys.

I remember taking a poll once on how many people believed in god and, if they did, what their personal definition of god was. I remember there was a significant number of responders who, when asked if they believed, answered unequivocally “Yes!”. When asked as to their definition, I was often repelled with the angry response, “I don’t know! Who the hell thinks about that kind of stuff?!”

So maybe it’s not stupidity, but a lack of thinking that so many suffer from. Maybe it’s just laziness. I don’t know. But whatever the cause, the symptoms terrify me. Especially when faced with life or death decisions like war and health care.

So when I question the intelligence of some Americans and get the occasional angry response, I simply have to shrug. If you want me to think more Americans are smart, stop acting so stupid. When people I know vote for McCain because they believe Obama’s gonna take away their guns even though they don’t have the proper medical coverage, barely earn enough to buy the food they need, own a home that is in a mortgage crisis, complain about their kids’ education, can’t afford private school, have two family members with disabilities, live just above the poverty level, and want the right to have an abortion if need be, I have to wonder if they have a clue what they’re actually voting for.

Then add the fact that Obama’s a Muslim, was born in Kenya, hates whites, is a Nazi, and eats babies for breakfast… I start praying (and I’m technically an atheist) that some of the smarter individuals I know start spreading some facts around. I’m not saying you have to believe what I believe, but at least understand what YOU claim to believe!

Perhaps this is why I enjoyed Bill Maher’s rant SMART PRESIDENT ≠ SMART COUNTRY in The Huffington Post today. Here’s an excerpt:

headshot…On the eve of the Iraq War, 69% of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was personally involved in 9/11. Four years later, 34% still did. Or take the health care debate we’re presently having: members of Congress have recessed now so they can go home and “listen to their constituents.” An urge they should resist because their constituents don’t know anything. At a recent town-hall meeting in South Carolina, a man stood up and told his Congressman to “keep your government hands off my Medicare,” which is kind of like driving cross country to protest highways.

I’m the bad guy for saying it’s a stupid country, yet polls show that a majority of Americans cannot name a single branch of government, or explain what the Bill of Rights is. 24% could not name the country America fought in the Revolutionary War. More than two-thirds of Americans don’t know what’s in Roe v. Wade. Two-thirds don’t know what the Food and Drug Administration does. Some of this stuff you should be able to pick up simply by being alive. You know, like the way the Slumdog kid knew about cricket.

Not here. Nearly half of Americans don’t know that states have two senators and more than half can’t name their congressman. And among Republican governors, only 30% got their wife’s name right on the first try.

Sarah Palin says she would never apologize for America. Even though a Gallup poll says 18% of Americans think the sun revolves around the earth. No, they’re not stupid. They’re interplanetary mavericks. A third of Republicans believe Obama is not a citizen, and a third of Democrats believe that George Bush had prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks, which is an absurd sentence because it contains the words “Bush” and “knowledge.”

People bitch and moan about taxes and spending, but they have no idea what their government spends money on. The average voter thinks foreign aid consumes 24% of our federal budget. It’s actually less than 1%. And don’t even ask about cabinet members: seven in ten think Napolitano is a kind of three-flavored ice cream. And last election, a full one-third of voters forgot why they were in the booth, handed out their pants, and asked, “Do you have these in a relaxed-fit?”

And I haven’t even brought up America’s religious beliefs. But here’s one fun fact you can take away: did you know only about half of Americans are aware that Judaism is an older religion than Christianity? That’s right, half of America looks at books called the Old Testament and the New Testament and cannot figure out which one came first.

And these are the idiots we want to weigh in on the minutia of health care policy? Please, this country is like a college chick after two Long Island Iced Teas: we can be talked into anything, like wars, and we can be talked out of anything, like health care. We should forget town halls, and replace them with study halls. There’s a lot of populist anger directed towards Washington, but you know who concerned citizens should be most angry at? Their fellow citizens. “Inside the beltway” thinking may be wrong, but at least it’s thinking, which is more than you can say for what’s going on outside the beltway.

And if you want to call me an elitist for this, I say thank you. Yes, I want decisions made by an elite group of people who know what they’re talking about. That means Obama budget director Peter Orszag, not Sarah Palin.

And just to put the proper tag on all of this, Sarah Palin brought my point (and Mr. Maher’s) home beautifully today on her Facebook account by writing:

The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

Yes, Sarah, not only is the moon made of cheese, but so is the space between your ears. I’m not sure which is more terrifying, the notion that Sarah Palin, like her protege Joe The Plumber, really has no clue what she is talking about, or that she knows very well what she is talking about and is purposefully misleading her brand of “followers” and other Americans for reasons other than their own best interests.

Ignorance or greed? Both are extremely dangerous and can lead to the same destructive end. And when lives are lost, they are not brought back. Not even by Jesus.

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