Posts Tagged ‘Hinduism’

This Week In Crackpottery #1: Witch Hunts, Psychics, AGW Deniers, & Hindu Nationalists

January 15, 2012

So I had originally thought of calling this regular column This Week In Fucked Up Religious Shit, but a few problems came to mind. For one thing, there are lots of non-religious infuriating, hilarious, or otherwise crazy shit I would have to ignore: psychics, alternative medicine, fringe politics, conspiracy theories, North Korea, and a lot more. Also, I’d eventually collide with the problem of trying to delineate between what does and does not qualify as a religion, which can be tricky at times. I’d rather leave that problem to the IRS.

Anyway, I’m going to try to regularly write about some of the craziest shit that happens throughout the week. When I’m feeling more patient, I’ll try to actually explain how people’s thinking has gone wrong and how we can actually know that, but there will be plenty of mockery too. Sometimes that’s the most appropriate response.

So let’s get to it:

Notorious Nigerian witch-hunter to preach in the US

If you thought religious trolls in America were bad you can take some comfort in that you don’t live in Nigeria, where actual witch hunts are still taking place. I don’t mean some kind of Arthur Miller metaphor for an irrational hysterical atmosphere of false confessions prompted by accusations based on conjecture and hearsay; I mean the HEY LOOK DELMAR THERE’S A WITCH LET’S DONE KILL IT kind of witch hunt.

The good news is that even Houston, Texas doesn’t have a local expert in witch hunting. The bad news is that they’re flying one in to preach at them about the final solution to the witchcraft problem. Her name’s Helen Ukpabio and she’s a “Lady Apostle” at the Liberty Gospel Church. She’s going to be doing something called a “Marathon Deliverance” for 12 days in March.

The poster advertising her visit is lots of fun. For instance, if you have any of the following conditions, please consult your local witch hunter for exorcism and deliverance:

  • Having bad dreams
  • Financial impotency and difficulties
  • Unsuccessful life with disappointments
  • Possessed by mermaid spirit and other evil spirits

So whether you’re poor or sometimes disappointed, or you’re possessed by those pesky mermaid spirits (and who isn’t these days?), Ukpabio can help you “receive freedom from the Lord.”

It’s just too bad she’s incapable of offering her victims freedom from herself. See, the witch hunting problem in Nigeria has gotten so bad that some extremely brave humanists have been organizing efforts to educate people on how we know that people like Ukpabio are dangerous and evil and wrong. Stepping Stones Nigeria has been the victim of attacks from Ukpabio’s Liberty Gospel Church, when members invaded their seminars, beating people up and stealing things.

And true to religious troll form, Ukpabio had the mermaid balls to actually sue SSN for depriving her church of the right to believe in witchcraft. The good news is that Ukpabio apparently believes that when people are presented with the facts about the witch hunting craze, they can’t go on believing in it. The bad news is that that’s just not true, case in point being the fact that she’s preaching the same nonsense here in America in 2011.

Imagine how much cognitive dissonance you’d have to ignore to run an organization devoted to stopping a particular religion (i.e. paganism, animism, or whatever they mean by witchcraft) and then turn around and sue someone else on the false grounds that they’re doing the same thing, which you really are doing.

Hopefully there will be some organized protests against this hateful lying bitch in Houston, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, check out this video she made about How Witchcraft Works. I could only watch a minute or so at a time without pacing around like an inmate in a psych ward that’s running low on medication, so you know, be warned.

Coast to Coast AM’s New Year’s Prediction Show

Former C2C AM host Art Bell, seen here recording a Bauhaus album.

Besides the Twilight Zone marathon, the best thing about New Year’s is how the “psychic” industry clings to the change in calendars in order to make a bunch of predictions for the next 12 months. The problem in writing about this is that these people usually do this on their own websites, which of course they can alter or delete when their predictions fail.

So the good folks at Something Awful are archiving a few of the predictions from one outlet in particular: Everyone’s favorite late-night radio talk show for truckers on massive amounts of amphetamines, Coast to Coast AM. Besides keeping a reliable archive to fact-check when it comes time for next year’s fake psychic circlejerk, it’s a nice case study in how psychics give the superficial appearance of having supernatural powers. Also, they’re pretty funny. For example:

Major earthquake in central/northern California in May.

Fuzzy language is a good way to cover your bases if you’re pretending to have magical powers. What makes an earthquake “major?” It’s not clearly defined anywhere. Of course there is seismic activity all the time all over California. So all you have to do to call this prediction a hit is take all the seismic data, find the day with the most activity during May, and call that a “major” earthquake. Other predictions use a similar approach by referring to “a plane between life and death,” “a major find of buried treasure,” “More tornadoes than usual,” “bad weather,” and a “very large object.”

Some predictions are just mundane and probable, if only because they’re based on things which are already happening. The economy will slowly improve, you say? Wow, what a risky prediction! Even if we all get hit with the coming global super-collapse of all civilization in six months, whoever predicted the economy slowly getting better can still claim accuracy since the economy slowly got better for a few months.

And then some of these predictions contradict each other. Also, they’ll never fucking happen:

Hillary Clinton will win the election over Obama.

Donald Trump will win the election as a third party nominee.

Obama… will cancel the election in November.

Bigfoot will be elected to the presidency.

And some are just incoherent and goofy:

Ron Paul will win the Republican nomination, but it will end up that drag queen RuPaul won through some accident in the vote count.

End of days will become disco nights. Blondie will write the sequel to the Rapture. The three wise men will be some three wise guys.

One domestic and one natural, with one being unnatural, will change the outcome of the election.

Finding a whole new species of human beings.

The Earth will supernova because of nitrogen and helium in the core of the Earth, not molten iron like everyone thinks it is.

So, uh… yeah. Be on the lookout for that stuff, too!

Fox News columnist offering $500 for someone to disrupt a science documentary about climate change

Remember back when Charlie Sheen was a thing and he was bitching and whining about how he only bought hookers because he didn’t know what to do with all his money? Junk science enthusiast and Fox propagandist Steve Milloy doesn’t have that problem. Miloy’s even more passionate about his bad ideas than Charlie Sheen is, so he’s willing to throw money at anyone stupid enough to repeat his nonsense in public.

There’s a screening of a documentary on climate change this Monday, January 9. Milloy wants to pay someone $500 to ask a question for him at the panel afterwards, because he’s way too much of a coward to do it himself. And even though he hasn’t seen the documentary, he knows his question won’t be covered in it. The problem for him is that it won’t be covered in the documentary because his question is stupid:

How long will it take for the 3 x 1023 drops of water in the Himalayan glaciers to disappear?

What prompts his stupid question is that the press release of the documentary mentions that the Himalayan glaciers are “disappearing.” Well obviously there will be no problem with that at all until EVERY SINGLE DROP of the glaciers has already melted. So there! Checkmate, scientists!

Sri Ram Sena flies Pakistan flag over an Indian government building

In America, far right-wing militia types talk about the government staging false flag operations while calling into Alex Jones’ ham radio show under a pseudonym like “One-Eyed Leroy.” In India, the far right-wing militia types actually do the false flag operations themselves.

Sri Ram Sena is this horrible group of Hindu Nationalists in India. In a lot of ways they’re not too different from Christian Nationalists. I first wrote about them about a y ear ago when they were making the news for attacking women at pubs and threatening to attack unmarried couples celebrating Valentine’s Day in public. They also threatened to kidnap and forcibly marry them as punishment. And they raided their political opponents headquarters.

Along with physically attacking love wherever they see it, they also have a bug up their ass about Muslims. Especially those Muslims in Pakistan. See, there’s a bit of ugly history between the two countries, and some still haven’t let go of the old hostilities. So yada yada yada, now they both have nuclear weapons aimed at each other.

But even mutually assured destruction isn’t bad enough for some people, and that’s where the Sri Ram Sena enters the picture. They were alarmed at how many people don’t seem to care too much about hating Pakistanis anymore, so they hatched this plan to raise the flag of Pakistan over government buildings in India. Police say their goal was to create “communal disharmony” in the area because there is a large Muslim population there.

So people saw the flag, probably assumed it was either a mean-spirited prank or even a sign of an actual invasion of some sort, and threw rocks at their local Muslim prayer hall.

You would think that a really devoted Hindu Nationalist would buy into their own propaganda enough to not think that this kind of shit were necessary. If there really were another India-Pakistan war looming and only Hindu Nationalism could save India, why would anyone need to dishonestly provoke hatred in that way? The whole basis of their worldview is that these fights are ones people really care about and the conflict they dream about really is inevitable.

But that’s the problem with faith. It’s just not good enough of a reason to believe something, and even the most die-hard proponents of it recognize that. Deep down, they have the same doubts as the skeptics. They know the gods / God isn’t really going to smite their enemies, so they’re going to have to do it themselves. And that’s what’s really scary.

Hindus and Hindon’ts

January 2, 2012

War on Christmas News — Heathen Edition!

We’re getting to that time of year again when the snow starts falling and we all come together in the spirit of harmony and goodwill to wage War On Christmas. But as we get into the serious anti-Christmas fighting over the next few week, we might take a moment or two to consider the less fortunate among us who might not have a Christmas to wage war against. And by that, I mean Hindu and Buddhist fundamentalists.

Not many of us here in the West get too worked up about these two religions. Liberals want to be ecumenical, inclusive, and multicultural, so they tend to withhold harsh criticism of minority (in America, at least) religious views. Conservatives believe Hinduism and Buddhism are just different forms of Islam, so they figure they’ve already got it covered. But what both groups miss is that these religions make claims which are just plain wrong. And those wrong beliefs can lead to some terrible actions.

A couple of recent news items raise this issue. For starters, in India a 14 year old boy was found strangled in a field. His name was Neeraj Kumar, and he was a member of the “untouchable” caste. Except it’s no longer PC to call him an untouchable — and you can touch him, apparently. Now they call them Dalits. It’s still OK (socially if not legally) to have caste system biases in some parts of India. Go figure.

“My uncle knew George Harrison!”

According to the BBC article, the boy’s family had been a-fussin’ and a-feudin’ with a higher caste family, one member of which shared a name with the murdered boy. And as we’ve all learned from The Big Lebowski, having the same name as a rich person leads to conflict. But in this case, most stoners won’t find much humor in it. The rich family had been pressuring the poor family to actually change the name of their children because they didn’t want to share a name with a Dalit, who they believe are somehow lower than them. The good news for the rich family is that they don’t have to worry about associating with someone lower than them because there is nobody lower than them, ridiculous bullshit about karma and reincarnation notwithstanding.

Anywho, the police say that this murder is the culmination of this absurd fight. With a billion people in India, you’d think even the most backwards of them would get used to some name overlap, but I guess not.

Representing Buddhism, we’ve got King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, but you can just call him Phra Bat Somdet Phra Poramintharamaha Bhumibol Adulyadej Mahitalathibet Ramathibodi Chakkrinaruebodin Sayamminthrathirat Borommanatbophit. That’s his official title. Seriously. Some insecure guys get sports cars to compensate for their, um, shortcomings; others give themselves insanely long and silly titles.

“Hey Adulyadej! Is that some kind of goofy hat or did an elephant take a shit on your head?”

Like the caste system in India, the Thai monarchy is justified in religious terms. In the early days it was a mixture of a Hindu emphasis on military power and the teachings of Buddha. The current monarch is a staunch defender of Thereveda Buddhism. Back in the 1950s he became a monk for a couple weeks because one of his relatives died, which is apparently a thing Thereveda Buddhists like to do. He even wrote a book based on a traditional Buddhist story.

Buddhists try to reach what they call enlightenment, for some reason. Enlightenment means you monitor the private text messages of the citizens you rule over and throw them in prison for a couple decades if any of them insult you. That’s what happened to the 61 year old Ampon Tangnoppakul, whose lawyer says doesn’t even know how to send text messages and “loves His Majesty the King.”

Tangnoppakul has a reason to lie, though. This isn’t the first time King Adulyadej has gotten his panties in a bunch over someone saying mean things about him. Back in 2007 the Thai government banned YouTube after it refused to remove videos mocking the monarch. That same year a Swiss man was sentenced to 10 years in prison for dabbing some black paint on the king’s portrait while drunk. Others are currently serving long sentences in prison for such trivial “offenses” as posting pictures or forwarding Facebook messages critical of the thin-skinned dictator. Not standing during the royal anthem is also considered a crime in Thailand on the grounds that it insults the monarch.

The judge in Tangnoppakul’s case found him guilty and sentenced him to 20 years in prison. Tangnoppakul wasn’t there to hear the verdict in person though because as the NY Times article cited above notes, the prison he was kept in was surrounded by floodwater at the time of his sentence. Personally I doubt the authorities had any intention of letting him leave the prison even without a guilty verdict from the judge.

That really says it all when it comes to the Eastern religions which even critics of religion often treat with kids’ gloves. How messed up are your priorities when the government would rather scour the internet for critics (or develop nuclear weapons, in India’s case) than do something about massive flooding to the extent where a prisoner can’t even leave his cell for his own trial? For some reason Hinduism and Buddhism get this reputation as ‘peaceful’ religions, but even a quick glance at the news over the past week or so shows that such a reputation is totally unjustified.

Updates!

April 5, 2011

There are a few updates on groups from my 5 Religious Organizations You Should Hate article.

Appolonia Mathia, a reporter who covered the massacres of the Lord’s Resistance Army, died in a motorcycle accident.  She was with her son at the time of the accident and he is apparently still in a coma.

And in slightly more upbeat news, a relative by marriage of Bal Thackeray and fellow member of the Sri Ram Sena is huffing and puffing over a model’s proposal to appear naked for the Indian cricket team if they won the Cricket World Cup against Pakistan.

“We are totally against such vulgarity and obscenity,” fumes Shalini Thackeray of the right wing Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. Shiv Sena says it will handle things ‘their way’ if the government doesn’t step in to stop such gimmicks.

Poonam Pandey, the model in question, responds:

“I don’t care if people have a problem. I am one of the most downloaded models online. I don’t need to do this for publicity. I am doing what I want to do.”

And an update from that update is that India did win the Cricket World Cup. Pandey is calling for patience and assures everyone that she intends to fulfill her promise.

OK, and this is the last one. Remember when the former first lady of Japan did all that crazytalk about eating the Sun and traveling to other planets on flying saucers? Well a Christian Dominionist named C Peter Wagner is saying that that kind of thing is the reason for the Sendai earthquake. This guy is very upset with what he believes is a pagan stronghold on Japan, which prevents God’s love from stopping tectonic plates from killing lots of people. Specifically, he thinks that the Japanese head of state fucks a Sun Goddess. Literally.

So this not the kind of Christian who thinks that witchcraft, casting spells, demons, and that sort of thing are bad because they aren’t real and merely distract attention from the theology he happens to prefer. He really thinks all that stuff has real, empirical effects on the physical world. Which I would think makes him a lot closer to a pagan or demon worshipper than the mostly secular people he’s projecting that belief onto.

5 Religious Organizations You Should Hate

January 21, 2011

It’s a list. You love lists.

A common response to criticisms of religion is that its adherents can sometimes do good things, even if it’s for irrational reasons. That’s fair enough, but at the same time it’s useful to remember that while some good can be mixed in with the bad, sometimes religions create institutions of pure evil. Here are a few of them: (more…)

Killing for God in India

December 8, 2010

From the Washington Post:

NEW DELHI – A bomb blast in the Hindu holy city of Varanasi, during the height of the daily sunset prayer ceremony Tuesday, injured at least 32 people and killed a 2-year-old child, officials said. Authorities said the blast was a terrorist attack.

One of the survivors later took to the Twitter in order to blast the Supreme God in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism Vishnu for its negligence:

Yes, that is still funny. I have decreed it so.

A group called Indian Mujaheddin claimed responsibility, calling it retaliation over a court ruling dividing some “holy” site between Muslims and Hindus. Indian authorities aren’t sure if it’s homegrown or based in Pakistan. Either way it’s fueled a partisan divide between the ruling party in India and their own equivalent to our teabaggers:

A spokesman for the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, which leads the opposition, blamed the bombings on what they said was the government’s lax attitude toward terrorism and expressed anger that the holy Hindu city, often called the Hindu Mecca or Indian Jerusalem, was targeted.

For those who don’t remember (i.e. everyone reading this), I called the Bharatiya Janata Party the equivalent to our teabaggers because they’re a pretty extreme right-wing political party who last year went on a crusade against single women drinking in pubs, which then evoked a hilarious international response.

In the dreary tradition of religious stories that appear here, there’s pretty much no protagonists here. Indian Mujaheddin – well, obviously fuck them. The victims, they’ll probably keep believing in and worshiping deities which apparently stood by and watched while people actively praying to them were targeted by a rival faction of superstitious morons. And even the ones taking the most hard-line position against the terrorists are only doing so in order to defend their own superstition and to make political hay of it.

Today is Blasphemy Day

September 30, 2009
OK, buddy. As long as its this God thing punishing us and not you.

OK, buddy. As long as it's this "God" thing punishing us and not you.

Four years ago today, some Danish newspaper printed some drawings of Mohammed and yada yada yada, a bunch of people burned shit down and then yada yada yada, now it’s Blasphemy Day.

The Center for Inquiry is having a Blasphemy Contest. The deadline is midnight tonight for verbal submissions (< 20 words), and the cartoon version is yet to be fully described.

There have been a lot of issues regarding blasphemy still, which is just completely fucking insane. This isn’t just about remembering some cruel past where people were severely punished or even killed because of what they said.

In the “liberated” Afghanistan, 24 year old journalist Parwiz Kambakhsh was given a 20 year sentence for blasphemy. His “crime” was in downloading an article which was critical of Islam’s treatment of women. Although, to be fair, he was recently pardoned by Karzai.

In India, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has been involved in attacks on women in pubs. They were said to be acting “obscenely.” By drinking with men to whom they were not married. That’s “obscene.” This is where you end up when you start allowing people to think they have a right to not be offended by anything ever.

The BJP then started a War On Valentine’s Day by trying to intimidate non-married couples from going out in public and maybe doing something OBSCENE like kissing or holding hands or something AWFUL like that. So some opponents of the BJP and their supporters started a campaign to send BJP leaders pairs of old ladies’ pink underwear.

And this past July, Ireland passed an anti-blasphemy law which made it a crime to cause “outrage among a substantial number of the adherents” of the religion so blasphemed. Since this is the nice, civilized western world, instead of decades in some of the worst prisons in the world, “offenders” are to be charged with a €100,000 €25,000 fine. There is now a campaign to repeal this legislation.

So celebrate Blasphemy Day today by offending someone. Not just anyone. Try to find someone who thinks they have a right to not hear about any ideas that might offend them and show them that they have no such right. Because if they did, nobody could ever say anything ever, since what we consider to be offensive is subjective. I might find the idea of another “National Treasure” movie offensive and nauseating, but that doesn’t mean I should be able to have Jerry Bruckheimer arrested.

Or should I? Does he ever travel to Ireland? Maybe these blasphemy laws have an upside after all.

Follow-up: “Faith is no reason”


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