Wounded, Old, and Dangerous

3 06 2012

I have a fundamental problem with the religiously deluded- far too many of them aren’t willing to leave me alone. It isn’t just me, you understand. There’s a minority among religious types in this country- almost exclusively some flavor of christian- which is incapable of keeping their puritan noses out of everyone else’s business.

I honestly don’t care much if you worship some god or -ess. Zeus, Yahweh, Buddha, Hubbard, Flying Spaghetti Monster- all of these are equally nonsensical in my eyes. You can worship any god or conglomeration of gods to your heart’s content until such time as that worship infringes on the rights of another person. You may deeply believe that everyone not belonging to your own special version of god-bothering is going to be devoured by the Great Green Arkelseizure at the end of time and be denied the companionship of the Winslow in the afterlife, and I will support your right to believe it- even if I think it’s a load of dingo’s kidneys. You can even feel smug and superior about the fact that you have a ticket to the forever beer party at the Pirate Volcano with the blessings of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and all us lesser mortals will miss out. Your privilege. Where I draw the line is when you try to get your mythology codified into law, or force others to act and believe as you do. I am not willing to live in a theocracy, and I refuse to stand by while a bunch of fanatics do their utmost to turn my country into one.

The fanatics in question happen to be a particularly virulent strain of evangelical christianity which has been working for decades to get fellow-believers elected or appointed to positions of authority in hundreds of school districts, county commissions, and other local offices across the country. From these seemingly-minor vantage points, the neo-puritans have been carefully trying to make their mythology the law of the land. As small-time officials in various local political organizations, these pernicious god-botherers have been making policy for schools, city and county ordinances, and local election boards. As the numbers of fellow believers has grown in these seemingly minor positions, a host of deeply un-American legislative excesses have begun appearing in the national spotlight. One need only look at Super-Puritan Rick Santorum’s baffling rise to prominence to see how far their power goes. In a rational world, Santorum would have been laughed off the stage at the first political rally. The fact that he actually made it into the primary process is a demonstration of the power of the religiously deluded over our political processes.

But wait! There’s more.:

Oklahoma doctor refuses to provide rape victim with emergency contraception due to his religious beliefs.

Pregnancy Begins 2 Weeks Before Conception’ Now The Law In Arizona

Wisconsin State Senator wants to outlaw divorce

Kansas passes bill allowing doctors to lie about life-threatening conditions if it would prevent abortion

Indiana lawmaker claims Girl Scouts are a front organization for militant lesbians

New Hampshire lawmaker wants married couples to practice abstinence in lieu of using birth control

Tennessee wants to protect anti-gay bullies from “persecution”

And of course, there’s Kitzmiller v Dover

What do all of these documented examples of public idiocy have in common? The idiots pushing these agenda items are all firmly convinced that they have the moral authority and duty to force their version of their religion onto the rest of us. It’s telling that in Kitzmiller, the evangelical judge lambasted several members of the Dover school board for resorting to  misrepresentations and outright lies in their crass attempt to force every student in their district to submit to their mythology.

It’s always helpful to use their own words against them. Here is the source for this image.  Those quotes from Phillip Johnson, one of the founders of the so-called “intelligent design” movement, reveal the extent of the god-botherer’s willful refusal to allow anyone to have an opinion or belief contrary to his own. The unstated meaning of those quotes is that most of the US is not stupid enough to fall for their bullshit, so the fanatics have to sneak around and try to brainwash the children to perpetuate their religious delusions.

Allow me to repeat that: Fanatical christians are forced to resort to trying to subvert the children of America because the adults aren’t quite stupid enough to fall for it.

That brings me to the headline for this post. Every time the religious fanatics have tried to stand up in the public eye, they have been soundly smacked down by the courts. Even in Mississippi, where education is often more fundamental than scholarly, these pernicious fanatics failed to get a majority of voters to approve their bullshit legislation. Evangelical leaders have long been calling for increased recruiting, as the bulk of their followers are largely elderly, but traditional recruiting has not been keeping up with the number of fundamentalist loons who’ve been dying or otherwise losing their usefulness. They’re old, and getting older. The bulk of America’s youth don’t care about most of the evangelical core issues, and the leaders of the evangelical movement are starting to face the real possibility that their free ride at the expense of their gullible followers may be coming to an end.

The evangelical movement never did have a majority among American christianity. If you separated all the protestant denominations individually, the largest christian group in the US would be catholics. Even granting that most Americans self-identify as christian of some flavor or another, this means that the fundamentalist evangelical movement is- at best- a tiny minority of the US population. All of the major religious groups are shrinking, mostly due to a seemingly-endless string of scandals involving senior leaders of various denominations. There is also, of course, the fact that the core tenets of their mythology are often profoundly unpleasant to everyone except puritans.  By far the fastest-growing philosophical demographic in the US are agnostics and atheists. This does not bode well for the fundie-loonies.

Realizing that they’re on the wrong side of the demographic bulge, the fanatics are growing desperate. They’ve tried and failed to get their mythology turned into public policy, their membership is dwindling and/or growing less useful due to age, and the new generation of Americans think that they’re a bunch of hypocritical fuckwits. They’re like a wounded animal, and fanatics rarely just go quietly into the night. Perhaps that is why the recent flood of extremist legislation coming from various states has a feel of desperation to it. Instead of realizing their dreams of power to punish the unbelievers, the religiously deluded fanatics are starting to realize that they’ve only managed to piss off everyone outside their particular circle of fellow believers- specifically including the more tolerant christians who make up the overwhelming majority of American christianity.

What will these imbeciles do when their already-tenuous grip on authority is finally sundered? If we are all very lucky, they’ll slink back into the shadows and dream up some new long-term conspiracy to somehow convince and persuade the rest of the country to let them have the reins of power. We can deal with that pretty easily by bringing up their own statements and previous failures whenever one of these nutballs pokes his or her nose into public. Some of these fanatics have actually complained that they’re being “persecuted” whenever their own words are used against them, which ought to show you how divorced from reality they are.

What I worry about is the possibility that they’ll decide to go down fighting. Even thought they’re only a tiny minority of Americans, and only a fraction of those might be willing to use violence against their neighbors, this has a lot of recent precedent in other countries. Our version of religious fanatics are often referred to as “American Taliban” for a reason.

They wouldn’t win any such contest, of course, but they could do a lot of damage before we put the last one in prison. The best way to help prevent this troubling possibility is for the rest of the christians in America to deal with their fellow religionists. Cut them off from their support network- the mild sympathy one naturally feels for those who have something in common with you. Unless you are a rabid christian dominionist, it is highly unlikely that most christians share any philosophical traits with their fanatical brethren. When someone tries to use their understanding of scripture to justify atrocities (like the “Good News Clubs” teaching children why unbelievers should be exterminated), feel free to tell them to fuck off. Pay attention to what the fringe worshippers of your religion are saying and doing, and make it clear to the rest of the world that those violent shitheads don’t speak for you. Staying silent only creates the impression that you are fine with what the fanatics are doing. This distresses everyone with functional logic systems and encourages the fanatics.

My religious philosophy is pretty simple:

Current status: Disgusted

Current music: Some Nights by fun

Mortal Danger

17 09 2009

The pernicious god-botherers are at it again. In the apparently never-ending quest by the religiously stupid to destroy our civilization, a new voice has appeared in the wilderness. Judging by this moron’s screed against curiosity (reported in the New York Times Opinion pages), one may safely assume Duke University qualifies as a wilderness.

According to Paul Griffiths, professor of Divinity at Duke University, curiosity is a vice. One is tempted to inquire as to how someone without curiosity was able to earn a PHD, but that would probably be unkind and unfair. It is profoundly unfair to make fun of the senile and incontinent dotards among us, or so I am assured by my supervisor at work and the empty suits spewing garbage disguised as journalism on television.

So let us leave aside questions about the Professor’s mental capacity and degree of hypocrisy and concentrate upon his message: curiosity is a mortal sin. A quick perusal of search engine results for “mortal sins” brought me to a website about Thomas Aquinas. Oddly enough, curiosity wasn’t mentioned, although the various “sins” listed in the linked page could probably be forced to fit.

Therein lies the problem with the god-deluded pinheads among us: They are willing- nay, eager- to warp and twist their own “sacred” texts in order to force others to stop doing something which which the religiously indignant disagree. They never cry out against their own failings. Rather than following the teachings of their founders, those afflicted with the religion virus are determined to root out the motes in our eyes while ignoring the twenty-story cathedrals constructed from the beams in their own.

Ignorance is not bliss. The ignorant religious individual may in fact be blissful, but their contentment comes at the price of being raging dickheads to everyone not willing or able to violently campaign against the recognition of the real world about them. Some of Professor Griffith’s fellow religionists claim religious discrimination when they are prevented from discriminating against those with other religions (“We must punish the heretics for their blasphemy!” “Sorry, bub. Can’t let you do that.” “Why are you oppressing me?”). Their blissful ignorance is a plague upon our technological civilization. The religious are content to say, “I do not understand this, therefore it must be the work of God.” Fair enough. If you don’t want to learn more about our universe, that’s your privilege.

Unfortunately, this is not good enough for the god-botherers. Since they are too intellectually lazy to actually think, they demand that no one else be permitted to think, either. Given the power to do so, far too many supposedly god-fearing men and women would happily return all of humanity to the golden age of religious barbarism from millennium ago. “How dare you say that the Earth revolves around the sun?” “Sorry, bub. The evidence we’ve gathered shows pretty clearly …” “Blasphemy! Evidence means nothing when in conflict with the word of God! Burn the heretic!” When these dolts are regularly (and properly) ridiculed and derided because their anachronistic and autocratic demands bear no relation to consensus reality, they all too often set about trying to force reality into the grim little mold of their paranoid and archaic fantasies. In doing so, the religiously deluded manage to cause a great deal of harm to the society in which they reside. Sometimes they cause harm by destroying public discourse with their shrill refusal to accept anything less than total subjugation of the laws of physics to their nonsensical whims. Sometimes they do harm by infecting the political process of their home countries. Worst of all, some resort to violent action to destroy anyone who denies their faith.

I propose we wall off a portion of the planet- some relatively small, dismal, and unpleasant land which nobody really wants. Set armed guards about the place, to prevent the inmates from escaping. Any True believer who so desires may choose to enter this Reservation at any time after reaching voting age to practice his or her religion to their hearts’ content, but they will never be permitted to leave. Crusades, pogroms, jihads, infanticide, whatever they want to do to one another in the Reservation will be no concern to anyone on the outside. The rest of the planet can continue learning and growing, while the deity-diddlers can either shut up and go along for the ride or go to the Reservation for life.

Note that no one would be forced into Coventry for their beliefs. Anyone who wants to believe in a god or gods without trying to foist their delusions upon their neighbors will be permitted to join the rest of the world as we develop a better understanding of the universe. Any religious ass-hats who insist on trying to force others to believe as they do will be given the choice of shutting their yaps or getting sent to the Reservation.

This is not discrimination. This is self-defense. The religious pinheads are actively trying to destroy our civilization in favor of their theocratic despotism, and they aren’t even trying to conceal this. One of the candidates in the last US Presidential election publicly said he wanted his holy book to be the supreme law of the land, for just one example. These people have made no secret of the fact that they want to force everyone in this country to believe as they do- in every repellent aspect, and are therefore committing treason. They are the enemies of freedom, and the enemies of anyone who wants to think freely. I, for one, refuse to submit to the supposed mercies of religious zealots. Anyone who wishes to believe in a deity is free to do so until they try to force their beliefs on me. At that point, the religious dickheads have made themselves my enemy, to be dealt with as wolves are.

Here’s a little light reading on how ridiculous the god-botherers can get:

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said “Stop! don’t do it!” “Why shouldn’t I?” he said. I said, “Well, there’s so much to live for!” He said, “Like what?” I said, “Well…are you religious or atheist?” He said, “Religious.” I said, “Me too! Are you christian or buddhist?” He said, “Christian.” I said, “Me too! Are you catholic or protestant?” He said, “Protestant.” I said, “Me too! Are you episcopalian or baptist?” He said, “Baptist!” I said,”Wow! Me too! Are you baptist church of god or baptist church of the lord?” He said, “Baptist church of god!” I said, “Me too! Are you original baptist church of god, or are you reformed baptist church of god?” He said,”Reformed Baptist church of god!” I said, “Me too! Are you reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1879, or reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1915?” He said, “Reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1915!” I said, “Die, heretic scum“, and pushed him off.

To those words of wisdom from Emo Phillips I will add a few words on the subject from several more prominent personages:

The most preposterous notion that H. sapiens has ever dreamed up is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of all the Universes, wants the saccharine adoration of His creatures, can be swayed by their prayers, and becomes petulant if He does not receive this flattery. Yet this absurd fantasy, without a shred of evidence to bolster it, pays all the expenses of the oldest, largest, and least productive industry in all history. –Robert Heinlein

At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols. -Aldous Huxley

When we blindly adopt a religion, a political system, a literary dogma, we become automatons. We cease to grow. -Anais Nin

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. -Blaise Pascal

The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality. -George Bernard Shaw

We must respect the other fellow’s religion,but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart. -H.L. Mencken

Man is the religious animal. He is the only religious animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion– several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat, if his theology isn’t straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother’s path to happiness and heaven. -Mark Twain

The more I study religions the more I am convinced that man never worshipped anything but himself. -Richard Francis Burton

All religions are the same:  religion is basically guilt, with different holidays. -Cathy Ladman

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.  -Seneca the Younger

I contend that we are both atheists.  I just believe in one fewer god than you do.  When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours. -Stephen Roberts

It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics. -Robert Heinlein

As for me, I am a heretic. I am an infidel, a nonbeliever. I speak fluent blasphemy. But I make no attempt to force the rest of the world to believe as I do. This puts me in mortal danger from the followers of various deities.

Bring it on.

Current status: Enraged

Current music: Smaointe by Loreena McKennitt