They don’t really answer that question in this commercial, but the vague response seems to be this: Terrible things would happen, that’s what! OMG OMG WTF Be afraid!
This idea of the Christian God being like an abusive stepdad who threatens to kill his family if they don’t buy him a nice tie for Father’s Day definitely has its biblical basis. Some of the more modern Christians try to frame this as if God’s usually protecting us, and that when horrible things happen that’s just the physical world attacking us for being sinful and it happens as a result of God’s inaction. But then there’s Isaiah 45:7:
I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
I still don’t get why people who believe in gods never seem to consider the possibility that God’s as petulant and childish as he appears to be in the Bible. If a real person made these kinds of threats, they’d probably be locked away. But when it’s an imaginary deity, suddenly they deserve worship. It makes no sense at all.
That last sentence was brought to you by Captain Obvious.
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.”
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.
Hey, remember those distinguished gentlemen from Amarillo, Texas who like to execute Santa Claus in effigy and harass patrons of swingers’ clubs? Their leader is running for mayor of Amarillo. Here is a video of him in what looks like a church, announcing his candidacy:
At the 1:47 mark, you can hear him say this (emphasis mine, factual and grammatical errors his):
“It is time that Christians rise up and start taking responsibility of their civic duties seriously and start running for office.”
Yes, the time has come for Christians to start running for office. They must start doing this. For too long, only non-Christians have been running for office.
He prefaces all this with a long reading from Romans 13, which I initially thought was the one the KKK likes so much. But after checking back to where I heard that, it turns out it was actually the 12th chapter of Romans. So it’s totally different! Oh, except he has the exact same “Christian flag” as the “Grand Wizard” of the Klan in the Safran video.
I don’t think this means Grisham is a secret Klansman, or even that he’s necessarily racist. The Christian flag seems more like a dog whistle than the established flag of any particular Christian extremist organization. If you go to the Focus on the Family HQ in Colorado Springs, you will see it there also:
According to Wikipedia, it was first designed in early 20th century Brooklyn, probably by Satanic hipsters trying to be ironic. So again, Grisham’s not necessarily a Klansman just because he and the KKK share a flag, just like he’s probably not a communist just because he seems to strongly imply in his campaign video that he’s going to try to use government power to shut down what I’m sure is Amarillo’s totally happening bar scene. But still, very creepy, especially if he ends up winning.
This article from the Jakarta Post is very short and concise, but it has an M Night Shayamalan-ish twist. Here’s the lede:
Violence broke out on Tuesday at a blasphemy trial in Temanggung, Central Java, immediately after prosecutors read out a five-year prison sentence demand for defendant Antonius Richmond Bawengan.
I was kind of hoping that this would mean the people watching the trial started attacking the prosecutors for suggesting such an absurd sentence for this “crime.” But here’s the twist:
Trial spectators suddenly attacked the defendant, prosecutors and judges, while a group of people outside the courtroom broke windows and set parked cars on fire, kompas.com reported Tuesday.
The fact that they attacked everyone instead of just one or the other side leads me to believe that they probably thought that five years in prison was too lenient of a sentence. Which is just so crazy that it makes me want to lie down for a while to let this headache pass.
Of course, it could just as easily be that the spectators weren’t a uniform group all sharing the same opinion. It was probably just a heated environment, which tends to happen when the government panders to idiots by keeping and enforcing ridiculous laws.
Last Friday, Rachel Maddow had a segment on the opposition to all the anti-gay sentiment in Uganda, centering around the recent murder of gay rights activist David Kato. A bishop there spoke at his funeral, and Maddow played an excerpt of the video. Here is part of the transcript:
I’m not lgbt but I know people that are lgbt and I respect them for what they are and I believe they are going to heaven. They are going to heaven. If they don’t believe, that’s another matter about you if you are a believer, don’t be discouraged.
Even the more liberal, ecumenical religious leaders who lean more towards universalism than their fundamentalist counterparts in Uganda can’t seem to help bashing non-believers. They can respect the LGBT community for what they are, but they can’t respect the freethought community for what they are.
Richard Land is this radio talk show guy who went and had James Dobson of Focus on the Family on. Some poor intern at People For the American Way listens to all of these shows and excerpts the really funny parts. Just recently, they found this:
Land: You know, it’s true because boys have learned – first of all, they’re not encouraged to be aggressive; they’re encouraged to be passive and be perpetual boys – and so they’ve learned, in a culture that is training women to be sexually aggressive, to just stand and wait.
It’s why so many of our young people aren’t getting married – I know girls like this, women like this in the twenties and thirties who desperately want to get married.
Dobson: I have one of them. I have a daughter who is the catch of the century – I mean she is a wonderful, beautiful girl and she loves people, she loves the Lord and there are no guys out there.
I mean there are very few that are not tainted by the sitcom kind of attitude toward men where they’re just fools …
Land: They’re adolescents. They’re middle-aged adolescents. I have a daughter as well who would very much like to be married.
OK, I get the hint! I will aggressively date both of your daughters! Finding James Dobson’s daughter’s picture (above) was easy, but I have to say that maybe the fact that I found it at a website called LadiesEncounter.com has something to do with the fact that she’s not married. Her name is Danae, and here is a short description of the lecture or whatever she gave for that group:
Cups are made of fine china, stoneware, ceramics, plastic or paper…it’s what’s inside them that counts. Danae Dobson, Christian author and speaker, spoke about what spills out of our cups in her lesson “Don’t Bump My Cup.” She revealed how situations from receiving a harsh word to a crisis reveal what is inside of a person.
She sounds very fascinating! I would love to spend an evening with her discussing how we are all just like little cups. Awesome!
Anyway, I learned that Land was referring to one of his two daughters, and I don’t know which one it was and I’m not even sure if the people with the corresponding names are his daughters, so I’ll just lay off them, I guess. Even I’m not that mean.
So in South Carolina, this kid brought his devil-worshipping dog to his aunt’s house, where she then did the responsible thing and made sure it couldn’t harm any children. At least that’s one way of putting it.
Another way of putting it would be that some crazy lady tortured and killed her nephew’s dog because it chewed on her Bible. From CBS:
A Spartanburg County woman has been charged with felony animal cruelty, accused of hanging her nephew’s pit bull with an electrical cord and burning its body after the dog chewed on her Bible, authorities said Monday.
When questioned by police and animal control officers, Miriam Smith told them the female dog named “Diamond” was a “devil dog” and she feared it might harm neighborhood children…
In case you were wondering, the article does have a picture of what a chewed up Bible might look like. And you should know that this is not the actress Miriam Smith who appeared in films like Capote and television shows like The X Files. I’m sure she would never do such a thing.
But this Miriam Smith apparently would and did. She called the pet a “devil dog.” I would bet that she used “devil” as an adjective a lot. And the problem is that nobody ever questioned her on it. She’d make some offhand comment about how this dog or that cat or the palmetto tree over there is possessed by the devil, and nobody would say something like,”Hey, what the hell are you talking about? You don’t seriously believe in demon possessions, do you?” Or, if they did, she just shrugged them off as just another demonic possession to be hanged and burned later.
But just maybe if enough people did respond that way instead of “respecting her beliefs” and saying nothing, as if it’s normal to believe in devils and demons in 2011 (and yes I do see the irony in referring to a Jesus-based dating system), then maybe Miriam Smith would’ve felt just a little bit less comfortable with the idea that her beliefs were acceptable, and tragedies like these could be avoided.
Let’s all listen to this nice young man explain why only “virtuous” people should be allowed to vote, if we’re even going to bother with that old voting thing anymore. If we keep letting just anybody vote, we’re all going to die of cancer. Or something.
Salman Taseer was the governor of Pakistan’s most populous state from 2008 until he was shot and killed today. The main suspect is Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, an elite security guard who police say was angry at Taseer over his opposition to Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy legislation. Here is the law in question from Pakistan’s criminal code:
Whoever, with the deliberate intention of wounding the religious feelings of any person, utters any word or makes any sound in the hearing of that person or makes any gesture in the sight of that person or places any object in the sight of that person, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.
§ 298 then elaborates into some of the details, and there’s also more in § 295. The punishments vary from a fine up to death. It’s strange that there’s such a wide range since none of the specifics seem like they should be crimes at all: drawing Mohammed or defaming him, proselytizing for the wrong version of Islam, defiling the Qu’ran, stuff like that.
The death penalty associated with blasphemy in Pakistan has never actually been carried out. So when ignorant people like Qadri get worked up over efforts to reform these kinds of backwoods laws, they’re not necessarily looking for the government to actually execute people accused blasphemers because, after all, they never did. What they get out of it is a society where vigilantism and witch hunts are within social norms. You won’t automatically attract ridicule by making an offhand comment about how the Ahmadiyya should be persecuted because the law and the government are on your side, after all. But if they’re not, then it’s just that much more difficult to popularize an intolerant point of view.
The Annals of Improbable Research (the people who do the Ig Nobel Awards) were apparently browsing the Angelfire archives and stumbled across this guy who has calculated Jesus’ IQ, and it’s 300! Or maybe 450. It’s somewhere between those two, and this Bob person gives his calculations a little more wiggle room by qualifying them as “within this author’s ability to reasonably measure.”
And it’s a good thing Bob made sure he limited his Jesus IQ test to what’s within reason. You wouldn’t want irresponsible people to measure Jesus’ IQ in an unreasonable way. Sure, maybe there’s no evidence Jesus even knew how to read or write and maybe all of the main historical data on Jesus was second or third hand hearsay written by mostly anonymous sources who use a lot of mythical elements in their contradicting accounts of Jesus, but it’s important to stay within the bounds of reason, for example by claiming he had an IQ of around 400.
Repent Amarillo is this Christian quasi-militia group which became famous when they started trolling swingers’ club patrons a few months ago. Now they have moved on to more serious matters, which of course means they made these awesome sweatshirts and wore them while executing Santa Claus in effigy.
The very serious man in this video reads out the list of crimes Santa has committed. The first one’s idolatry – obvious, really, because of all those people who worship him. And the second one is that he lies by claiming that he actually exists. But how can he do the lying without existing? And how can you execute someone who doesn’t exist? Isn’t Repent Amarillo buying into the lie of Santa Claus existing by executing him? After all, you need to exist first before you can be executed. As Rene Descartes put it in Discourse on the Method:
This proposition, I think, therefore I am, is the first and the most certain which presents itself to whomever conducts his thoughts in order. The runner-up is, Then I get executed by a freelance Texan firing squad.
So then this distinguished gentleman calls Santa out for not having a soul and then says something about global warming.
I’m no expert on firing squads, but I was under the impression that they usually don’t 1. have their guns aimed for them by leveling them on a rack, 2. have the target only a few feet away 3. wear pretty pink earmuffs, and 4. hilariously mispronounce coup de grace.
Naushad Valiyani, a doctor in Pakistan, is being held on blasphemy charges. Usually these kinds of charges are used for some nonreligious reason, similar to how sex and drug charges can be used to target political dissidennts in the West, and this case is not an exception to that rule. From The Independent:
The case began when Muhammad Faizan, a pharmaceutical representative, gave Mr Valiyani his business card. When the doctor threw it away, Mr Faizan filed a complaint, noting that his name was the same as the Prophet’s.
Wow, and we thought “Big Pharma” in America was bad. At least they’re not trying to get doctors killed for ignoring their sales pitches.
According to the source of all knowledge:
“[Cholera t]ransmission is primarily through consuming contaminated drinking water or food… Primary treatment is with oral rehydration solution and if these are not tolerated, intravenous fluids. Antibiotics are beneficial in those with severe disease.”
But according to some rural Haitians, cholera is transmitted primarily through witchcraft, and primary treatment is performed by killing practitioners of witchcraft. Violent witch hunts originating in the Grand Anse region of Haiti have resulted in the murder of at least 12 people so far. But on the other hand, cholera has killed nearly 1,900 so far, so the armed hordes have a bit of catching up to do in order to be quite as evil as the cholera itself. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitiution:
Machete-wielding mobs have since lynched and killed a dozen people accused of practicing such witchcraft, burning the bodies of their victims, national police spokesman Frantz Lerebours said.
The Haitian government is on the side of sanity here:
In response to the killings, the government in Port-au-Prince issued a statement Thursday imploring: “Cholera is a microbe … The only way to protect one’s self against cholera is to observe the principles of hygiene.”
“There is no cholera powder, nor cholera zombie, nor cholera spirit” and Vodou priests “can neither treat cholera, nor make a powder that gives cholera,” it said.
That should clear things up, right?
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.