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Friday, 31 August 2007

Martial Pastors

Earlier I posted about a creepy government program involving martial law, terrorism, and the use of clergy to manipulate a worried populace. I wondered what would happen to those of us who do not go to a church and do not regard the clergy as any sort of an authority. Now I see that someone else has also speculated about such matters. Over at OpedNews.com, Joe Park has more details that frankly scare the shit out of me.
A KSLA-TV news report from Louisiana has confirmed the story that Clergy Response Teams are being trained by the federal government to "quell dissent" and pacify citizens to obey the government in the event of a declaration of martial law.

The report confirms the existence of a nationwide Homeland Security program which is training pastors and other religious representatives to teach their congregations to "obey the government" in preparation for a declaration of martial law.
This is really a very serious matter.
A whistleblower who attended one of the training sessions reports that the feds were recruiting religious leaders to help implement government Homeland Security directives in anticipation of a terrorist attack or a nationally declared emergency.

The first directive was for pastors to preach to their congregations Romans 13, the often taken out of context bible passage that was used by Hitler to hoodwink Christians into supporting him, in order to teach them to "obey the government" when martial law is declared.
It was stressed that the pastors needed to preach subservience to the authorities ahead of time in preparation for the round-ups and to make it clear to the congregation that "this is for their own good."
I've been thinking about this for the last couple of days. I really am having trouble wrapping this around my brain. What the hell is wrong with these people? Have they never taken a civics course during high school? There is so much that is patently and unconstitutionally wrong with this sort of activity. This is subversion and treason at the very least. Why do moderate Christians not challenge these people? Unbelievers like myself are ignored for the most part when we point out these statements.

Don't these pastors realize that they are subverting the laws of the land and perhaps aiding and abetting treason? And what will they do with those of us that they round up? Put us in cattle cars on the way to a death camp? Have these idiots never studied recent history?
Pastors were told that they would be backed up by law enforcement in controlling uncooperative individuals and that they would even lead SWAT teams in attempting to quell resistance.
Could they really handle the 24 million American citizens who do not belong to any religion? And what would be the cost of dissent? Our lives?
So there you have it - Homeland Security is working with local police departments and religious leaders to prepare for a declaration of martial law and in particular to develop techniques they will employ during the crisis to "quell dissent."
Well certain groups, like Christian Embassy, who are associated with dominionist leaning churches, such as the Assemblies of God, have close ties with the military. And these groups probably also have close links with law enforcement agencies as well. And mercenary contractors such as Blackwater are also owned, ran, and staffed by fundamentalist Christians.

So that possibly pits these groups, as well as sympathetic fundamentalist citizens, against those of us who don't subscribe to these religious viewpoints. And in addition, we have preachers such as Joseph Fuiten, an AOG pastor who lately has stated that those who don't think as himself should not be considered citizens. It seems that the more these guys reveal their agenda, the more frightening their plans appear.

I will continue this in further posts, once I've researched more of the the links.

Friday Fungus: A Stinky Member

The Stinkhorn mushroom (Phallus impudicus) is a stinky, slimy member (so to speak) of the fungi.

Monday, 27 August 2007

Pervert Alert: His Own Private Idaho

Sen. Larry "Woody" Craig (R-Idaho) was arrested in a public restroom for soliciting sex from an undercover police officer. According to MSNBC, Sen. Craig was arrested in June, pled guilty, and paid a fine for lewd behavior in a public restroom. What is it about conservative Republicans and public restrooms? I guess the dirtier and kinkier and more public the sex is, the better they like it.

Over at DailyKos, the thread has a lot of hilarious comments. Family values, my ass. What about his wife and children?

Oh, and over at Idaho Values Alliance, check out the bonus bytes section:
One of the tragic characteristics of the homosexual lifestyle is its emphasis on anonymous sex and multiple sexual partners. It is a little-acknowledged secret that many active homosexuals will have more than 1,000 sex partners over the course of a lifetime (the average among heterosexuals is seven – still six more than we were designed for). This sordid fact of homosexual life surfaced yesterday in an AP article yesterday that reports on the number of arrests police have made for indecent exposure and public sex acts in the restrooms at Atlanta’s airport, the busiest in the world. The increased restroom patrols, begun to apprehend luggage thieves, instead uncovered a rash of sex crimes. Airport restrooms have become so popular that men looking for anonymous sexual trysts with other men have advertised their airport availability on Craigslist. One such ad was from a man saying he was stuck at the airport for three hours and was looking for “discreet, quick action.” (AP: Arrests Up in Atlanta Airport Restrooms)
Hahahahahahahahahahaha. What irony.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Scary Overview of Fringe Evangelicals

Excellent overview of the infiltration of fringe evangelicals in the US military force can be found here at truthout. Chilling summary as follows:
"One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal," said Bill Moyers, a journalist-commentator for the Public Broadcasting Service in a speech to Harvard Medical School in December 2004. "It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington. Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a world view despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. When ideology and theology couple, their offspring are not always bad but they are always blind. And there is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts." Moyers is an ordained Baptist minister.

Friday, 24 August 2007

Friday Fungus: Toxic Black Mold

Toxic Black Mold (Stachybotrys chartarum) is a very toxic mold that grows in damp areas in houses, causing many health problems.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Don't Worry Anna, Sometimes a Conspiracy is Just a Conspiracy

Channel 12 in my home state of Louisiana has a sensational but scary story here. Apparently, if martial law is declared, clergy members allied with the government will be there to counsel people to obey the government.
Could martial law ever become a reality in America? Some fear any nuclear, biological or chemical attack on U.S. soil might trigger just that. KSLA News 12 has discovered that the clergy would help the government with potentially their biggest problem: Us.
and
For the clergy team, one of the biggest tools that they will have in helping calm the public down or to obey the law is the bible itself, specifically Romans 13. Dr. Tuberville elaborated, "because the government's established by the Lord, you know. And, that's what we believe in the Christian faith. That's what's stated in the scripture."
And what will they do with those of us who don't fall under the authority of any church? Round us up, and then what? What would we have to do, find a cover church?
But gun confiscation is exactly what happened during the state of emergency following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, along with forced relocation. U.S. Troops also arrived, something far easier to do now, thanks to last year's elimination of the 1878 Posse Comitatus act, which had forbid regular U.S. Army troops from policing on American soil.
But I think this plan is unenforceable. Even in New Orleans after Katrina, people were supposed to relinquish their firearms, but did not. And I have relatives who came into New Orleans via the waterways to rescue some of the stranded people. They were heavily armed, because of all of the rumors circulating about gunfire in the city. They found they had no problems, and there weren't roving gangs at all. Just a lot of tired and hungry people. The Blackwater guys gave them a wide berth. After all, who wants to tangle with a bunch of heavily armed Cajuns?

The Rapture is not a Viable Exit Strategy

In an article in the Los Angeles Times, Mickey Weinstein and Reza Aslan discuss the increasing links between the military chain of command and proselytizing, fundamentalist Christian groups.
Last week, after an investigation spurred by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, the Pentagon abruptly announced that it would not be delivering "freedom packages" to our soldiers in Iraq, as it had originally intended.

What were the packages to contain? Not body armor or home-baked cookies. Rather, they held Bibles, proselytizing material in English and Arabic and the apocalyptic computer game "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" (derived from the series of post-Rapture novels), in which "soldiers for Christ" hunt down enemies who look suspiciously like U.N. peacekeepers.
Like I've said before, why would soldiers in their off hours play a game about hunting down and killing civilians that differ from themselves? The Straight Up guys must be clueless dweebs who don't have a clue what military service is like. Led by idiots like Stephen Baldwin, they think the military is some sort of muscle bound club full of brainless street fighters. One look at their overtly butch t-shirts tells me exactly what sort of guys they are. A group of immature phallically challenged individuals disparately trying to be men.
Apparently the wonks at the Pentagon forgot that Muslims tend to bristle at the word "crusade" and thought that what the Iraq war lacked was a dose of end-times theology.
Duh, wouldn't you know.
It's time to actively strip the so-called war on terror of its religious connotations, not add to them. Because religious wars are not just ugly, they are unwinnable. And despite what Operation Straight Up and its supporters in the Pentagon may think is taking place in Iraq, the Rapture is not a viable exit strategy.
It seems like this is another ingredient in the Religious Right's recipe to force Jesus to come back. I had, until a couple of years ago, thought that the religious Christians believed that Jesus would come in his own time, and not by the Religious Right's schedule.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

VoteVets Letter for Pat Tillman

Over at VoteVets, they are getting a petition to the White House for further inquiry into Corporal Pat Tillman's death. Here's the contents of the letter.
Mr. President:

On behalf of the veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, and those troops still in theater, I implore you to reconsider your decision to invoke claims of executive privilege in refusing to share vital documents regarding the death of Corporal Pat Tillman with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

As you know, this week the Associated Press obtained the medical examiner's finding at the time of his death that Corporal Tillman's fatal wounds seemed to indicate shots fired from ten yards away, or less. The doctors who examined Corporal Tillman urged a criminal investigation into his death be opened at that time, and were refused. Since that time, the Department of Defense has put forth two explanations for the death of Corporal Tillman, the first of which was proven false, and a second which now seems to have been proven to be a lie, as well. In both cases, the White House has actively pushed these false findings to the public.

Your administration has faithfully shared a number of documents with the committee, but has withheld a number of requested documents under the specious argument that sharing the documents would violate confidentiality among you and your staff. For instance, the Committee has requested a number of communications between senior administration officials and the Pentagon, which may offer important details into the death of Corporal Tillman, and if there was an attempt to cover them up, by some in the Executive Branch.

Respectfully, Sir, when it comes to outright lies conveyed to the public about the death of a soldier - especially one like Corporal Tillman whose service was used as a recruiting poster for the military - there is nothing which cannot be shared with the Legislative Branch or the people.

Confidence in the institution of the military from those within is at stake, the longer you withhold information. The longer questions remain about the death of Corporal Tillman and possible White House involvement in an ensuing cover-up, the more our troops will question whether this government will properly honor their sacrifice and let their families know the truth, if they are killed in action. It is simply impossible for the military to function, if those in its ranks do not have full faith in our leadership up the chain of command, all the way to Washington.

Additionally, by letting questions fester regarding the death of Corporal Tillman, you are placing an undue burden on our recruiters, at a time when our Army and Marine Corps can ill-afford more of a drop off in recruiting. Our military depends on being able to visit homes and gaining the trust of mothers and fathers to allow their 18-year old son or daughter to wear the uniform. What mother would allow her son or daughter to serve a nation she feels will not honor her child's service?

Finally, as Commander in Chief, you owe the complete and total truth to Corporal Tillman's mother, Mary Tillman. It is the duty of any officer to write to the families of those under us who were killed, and tell them the entire truth regarding their love one's death. To lie about any details or withhold any information would not just cause unjust pain to the survivors, but is to dishonor the fallen. As our nation's top commander, it is your duty to Pat Tillman and his family to release all materials related to his death.

For the good of our military, our troops, the Tillmans, and our nation, I respectfully call on you to comply with all past and future requests of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on the matter of the death of Corporal Tillman.

Respectfully,
I signed it this weekend. Dear reader, if you support this, you should sign as well.

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Clowns for Jesus

Well, it looks like the Steven Baldwin and the Operation Start Up guys will not be sending their bizarre care packages with the Left Behind games in them. Max Blumenthal over at The Nation and ABC News exposed their plans. Looks like these folks won't get a tax credit for the game. Oh, it's just too bad.
OSU president Jonathan Sprinks in a recent press release said of Baldwin, "Since God made a difference in his life, he's been very outspoken."

Sprinks came under fire from bloggers for writing on his Web site, "We feel the forces of heaven have encouraged us to perform multiple crusades that will sweep through this war-torn region," about OSU Tour's planned trip to Iraq. "We'll hold the only religious crusade of its size in the dangerous land of Iraq."

The above text has been removed from Sprinks' site but can be viewed on the cached page.

Sprinks did not return requests for comment on this article.

The Defense Department's only comment on the record was that the OSU Tour is "currently not planning on sending any care packages to the troops in Iraq."

In addition to the game, OSU Tour's "Freedom Packets" were supposed to include pocket-sized editions of the New Testament, evangelical DVDs and books, baby wipes and phone cards, according to its Web site.
So we see the real reason was to send out the games. Why can't they send out the rest of items in the care packages? I'm sure the soldiers would appreciate the phone cards and baby wipes. Sounds to me like the guys at OSU are acting like children. I guess if they can't send the religious items, then they don't want to send anything at all. Waaah. What a bunch of clowns.

Friday, 17 August 2007

Friday Fungus: Radioactive Fungi


The fungus Cladosporium sphaerospermum can harness dangerous radiation to grow.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Suicide by Armageddon

Earlier I discussed the superstitious behaviors of some fundamentalist Christians. I showed that some fundamentalist sects such as the Assemblies of God type Pentecostals engaged in such behavior as anointing in oil and cursing enemies (imprecatory prayer). You know, the only difference between them and a witch doctor is the voodoo dolls. They have voodoo crosses after all.
how these young people wrote down on small pieces of paper the names of “non-Christian students” at the school and nailed them to a cross they brought to accompany the prayer service.

But I really think that they are trying to work a really big spell, one which is trying to get Jesus to come back. Think of Buffy and the Master from the first year of Buffy. All of the meddling in the Middle East is designed to accomplish this goal. What else could explain the incredibly stupid decisions made in this region?

Check out this article and video by Max Blumenthal for an example. All of these people are using Israel and the Jews, and war with Iran, as ingredients in their spell to bring back Jesus. And with Jesus comes Armageddon and death (or exit to heaven for these guys). And like any crazy mass murderer they don't care how many they take with them when they go.

Okay, perhaps that was a little over the top. But hey, this subject almost always gets a rant out of me. Pentecostal like "God Warriors" like Margaret Perrin scare the shit out of me with their irrational behavior.

Crusaders for Hire

Looks like I'm not the only one to recognize the similarities between today's soldiers for hire (represented by Blackwater) and yesterday's crusaders. See this article for more details on privately contracted armies. Paul Nyden over at the Charleston Gazette has an interesting editorial.
Blackwater executives, and many government officials who work with them, are evangelical ideologues, both authors point out.

Edgar Prince, founder of Blackwater, grew up in a politically conservative, evangelical Catholic family near Detroit.

Blackwater, based in the Great Dismal Swamp near the North Carolina coast, has become the nation’s largest mercenary company.

L. Paul Bremer, who oversaw Iraq for one year after the U.S. invasion, is also a conservative Catholic, who was always protected by Blackwater guards during his time in Iraq.

John Negroponte, who succeeded Bremer, previously helped create “death squads” in Vietnam in the 1970s and coordinated Washington’s “covert support for the Contra death squads in Nicaragua and for the Honduran junta” in the 1980s, Scahill writes.

Jim Steele, who worked for both Bremer and Negroponte, also helped organize counterinsurgency groups and death squads in El Salvador and Nicaragua.

Joseph Schmitz, forced to resign as the Pentagon’s Inspector General amid growing controversy, took a job with Blackwater in 2005. His government resume lists membership in the “Sovereign Military Order of Malta,” a Christian militia founded in the 11th century before the Crusades.

“It all comes down to this,” Schmitz said in a speech while at the Pentagon. “We pride ourselves on our strict adherence to the rule of law under God.”

The irony, Scahill points out, is that while Iraq goes up in flames, Blackwater’s future seems bright.

Both authors warn of increasing dangers to world peace and American democracy.

Many of our own intelligence and military officials fear a continued backlash from the brutal actions of many mercenaries.

In addition, Scahill notes, many active-duty American soldiers harbor resentments toward mercenaries paid so much better and accountable to no one.

What the future holds is unclear.
and
Companies like Blackwater also recruit and hire hardened soldiers from repressive regimes such as South Africa during the apartheid era and Chile under Augusto Pinochet, who overthrew Salvador Allende in a Sept. 11, 1973, coup and remained in power until 1990.
and
Private contractors also lead to increased violence against local people in Iraq.

Pelton and Scahill both describe how mercenaries rained gunfire on "moving targets" in Iraq and Afghanistan, without knowing whether the targets were insurgents or peaceful citizens, adults or small children.

For example, they routinely shot at ambulances bringing wounded Iraqis to hospitals in Fallujah, Scahill writes, hospitals that were already "a death row for innocents" because the U.S. embargoed medical supplies.
Wow, a bunch of money hungry, evangelical thugs. I wonder if any of these characters were near Corporal Pat Tillman when he was shot. After all, what better target for a crusader than an unbeliever.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Finally Getting to Hitchens New Book

Well its been a really busy summer this year. We're adding a bedroom to the house, and I'm working on my thesis, and our son is getting ready for school. In addition to all of this, I decided to build this blog. Also I've started reading Christopher Hitchen's new book God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. I also found a website with a lot of Hitchen's writing and articles while searching for a cover image of his new book.

But my writing for this blog will be a little slow for the next couple of weeks, as I'm caulking baseboards and painting in the new bedroom that we have built.

Getting Away with Murder?

It looks like the Army really won't be investigating Corporal Pat Tillman's death after all according to an article over at truthout. Several high ranking officers will be "mildly censured".
Official reprimands issued to three high-ranking Army officers are only mildly critical of their mistakes after the friendly fire death of Pat Tillman and at times praise the officers.

The Army also said it would not include the reprimands in the officers' military records, according to documents reviewed by The Associated Press.
What a crock of shit.
Some of the details that emerged after Tillman's death included that he was close enough to see the men shooting at him when he was killed; his uniform was burned after his death; medical examiners' suspicions about the bullet holes in his head were ignored; and comrades were also ordered not to discuss his death.

Even though Pat Tillman was well liked and well regarded in his unit, all it takes is one nutcase to have it in for him. Tillman was openly a non-believer and all it would take to silence him was one religious zealot.

I have a personal experience of this type of situation. I've always been fairly open about being a non-believer. Several years ago, a co-worker threatened me by saying he wanted to shoot me in the head because I'm not religious. He did this in front of other co-workers. The presence of witnesses did not stop him from making threats. But I knew that he was a coward, all talk and no action.

I walked right up to his face, looked him straight in the eye and replied in my best southern drawl "Well my Daddy taught me to shoot when I was five. Honey, I'd just love for you to show up at my front door." Talk about backing down fast. But I was always careful never to be alone with this freak. It only takes one time for someone like this to actually take action.

Management transferred the guy. They would have fired him, but I said no, transfer him. It wasn't his wife and kids fault he was an idiot. But the threat was on his files and I did not want to have to always keep watching my back. He was transferred out of town and good riddance.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Zombies for Christ

In the Christian Embassy film, the Christians being interviewed seem to have a goofy and credulous expression on their faces when speaking about their religious viewpoints. This is especially unattractive on the military personnel in the film. If I was serving under any of these officers, I think that I would loose any respect I had for him or her. And what a bunch of cowards, trying to act like they did not know that endorsing a religious organization in uniform was a no-no. Either these people are stupid or ignorant, this in unattractive for a senior military officer.

I've seen this credulous, gullible expression before. On Moonies selling flowers in the late 70's and during the early 80's. Oddly enough, the Christian right has strong ties to the Moonies.

Friday Fungus: Truffles

The Black Truffle (Tuber melanosporum) is a very rare edible fungus.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Pervert Alert: McCain's Campaign Going Down

Previously I mentioned that Bob Allen, McCain's campaign chair was arrested for offering to give a cop a blow job. And his excuses were really pathetic. All he could think of was the fact that there were several black men in the area. Apparently, he was so freaked out, Allen needed the comfort of a man's penis in his mouth to calm himself down. A bizarre pacifier.

This post over at Crooks and Liars has a video of the Daily Show's take on all of this. Absolutely hilarious alternate excuses for Allen to use. It also looks like McCain will lose against any Democrat that is running.

Pervert Alert: A Bird in the Mouth is Better Than 2 in the Bush

What is it about Republican anti-gay crusaders and blow jobs? It looks like this is a new fad for Republicans this year. Glenn Murphy, the chairman of the Young Republican National Federation, tried waking up a friend by giving his dick a tongue bath. Heh Heh Heh. Here's the police report. Another chickenhawk goes down.


I wonder how many at the convention are in denial and in the closet?

Update: I watched the video again. What a bunch of wussies. They sure want to go to war, but want others to do their dying for them. I have asthma, bad knees, flat feet, serious allergies, was under the minimum height and weight, a serious heart murmur, and still managed to join the Air Force. What a bunch of pathetic, cowardly pussies. All mouth (as we see in the news lately), but no action.

Overcompensating Aren't We?



According to Talk to Action, Steven Baldwin, one of the Baldwin brothers, seems to to be the spokesperson for Straight Up. "Straight" Up is doing a tour and shows over in Iraq.
Baldwin became a right-wing, born-again Christian after the 9/11 attacks, and now is the star of Operation Straight Up (OSU), an evangelical entertainment troupe that actively proselytizes among active-duty members of the US military. As an official arm of the Defense Department's America Supports You program, OSU plans to mail copies of the controversial apocalyptic video game, Left Behind: Eternal Forces to soldiers serving in Iraq. OSU is also scheduled to embark on a "Military Crusade in Iraq" in the near future.
What's with the homo erotic name and t-shirts? Is this a gay crusade? In another article over at Talk To Action:
In short, the Pentagon seems to have adopted a new missionary position for the Operation Straight Up Tour and its "Tough-Men Meetings." Basically, the OSU Tour is promoting a holy war against the alleged enemies of Christ -- not unlike, say, a jihad. But there's a difference: jihad does not come with a homoerotic T-shirt.
Oh, come on, you can't say these images aren't homo erotic. Can I say that it seems the folks at Straight UP are probably repressed homosexuals, way, way down in the bottom of the closet? Heh Heh Heh. Or perhaps, they are still little boys who never grew up, and still trying to impress daddy with how manly they are? See Sara's article over at Orcinus for her take on how manly they are. You know, I don't think any soldier would be caught dead in one of these flaming t-shirts, even any soldiers who happen to be gay. And what about female members of the services? I know when I was active duty, I wouldn't have wanted to wear these creepy t-shirts.

The Straight Up guys seem to be like the guys that drive around in the jacked up SUV, with large tires and outlines of naked women on their trucks. Perhaps they are all phallically challenged.

Fleeced and Left Behind

The game, Left Behind: Eternal Forces, had made the news again. See this at Talk To Action for more details and this over The Nation. Apparently a group called OSU is sending the game to our soldiers in Iraq as part of a care package.
The international director of Mr. Warren's Purpose Driven Church, Mark Carver, is a former investment banker who serves on the Advisory Board of the corporation created in October 2001 to develop and market this game. The creators plan to market their game using the same network marketing techniques that Mr. Warren used to turn The Purpose Driven Life into a commercial success. For example, they plan to distribute their merchandise through pastoral networks, especially mega-churches.

and

Imagine: you are a foot soldier in a paramilitary group whose purpose is to remake America as a Christian theocracy, and establish its worldly vision of the dominion of Christ over all aspects of life. You are issued high-tech military weaponry, and instructed to engage the infidel on the streets of New York City. You are on a mission - both a religious mission and a military mission -- to convert or kill Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, gays, and anyone who advocates the separation of church and state - especially moderate, mainstream Christians. Your mission is "to conduct physical and spiritual warfare"; all who resist must be taken out with extreme prejudice. You have never felt so powerful, so driven by a purpose: you are 13 years old. You are playing a real-time strategy video game whose creators are linked to the empire of mega-church pastor Rick Warren, best selling author of The Purpose Driven Life.
And why the hell do they think that soldiers, weary from fighting and in being in dangerous situations, want to play a game that involves killing American citizens? What in the hell is OSU and the Pentagon thinking? Why is the Pentagon leadership allowing this to happen? My guess is that the non butt kissing senior leadership in the Pentagon has been forced to retire over the last several years and has been replaced with a bunch of ass kissing, holy rolling, yes men.

What do these folks at OSU mean when they say they want a new crusade in the Middle East? Don't they read any history at all? Thousands died as a result of the last series of crusades in the region. Do they want a repeat? See this for more details, especially this tidbit:
"The most infamous event from the city's history dates from late 1098, during the First Crusade. After the Crusaders, led by Raymond de Saint Gilles and Bohemond of Taranto, successfully besieged Antioch they found themselves with insufficient supplies of food. Their raids on the surrounding countryside during the winter months did not help the situation. By December 12 when they reached Ma'arra, many of them were suffering from starvation and malnutrition. They managed to breach the city's walls and massacred about 20,000 inhabitants, as they often did when they captured a city. However, this time, as they could not find enough food, they resorted to cannibalism.

One of the crusader commanders wrote to Pope Urban II: "A terrible famine racked the army in Ma'arra, and placed it in the cruel necessity of feeding itself upon the bodies of the Saracens."

Radulph of Caen, another chronicler, wrote: "In Ma'arra our troops boiled pagan adults alive in cooking-pots; they impaled children on spits and devoured them grilled."

Those events had a strong impact on the local inhabitants of Middle East"

See this series of articles over at Talk To Action for the history of the funding, development, and distribution of the game. Both of their target demographics, teens and moderate Christians, were appalled at the game. The moderate Christians were aghast at the idea of "convert or die" and the teens thought the game was lame.

They spent over $34 million on the development of the game. They should have needed only about $2-$3 million to develop the game and perhaps another million to market it. Where did the other $30 million go to? Seems like the marketers found a nice set of rich and gullible Christians to be fleeced. This almost sounds like the plot of the movie, The Producers.

In The Producers, a Broadway producer and his accountant discover they can make more money by producing a horrible play, spending the money on themselves, and declaring the whole effort a loss when it tanks. Hmmmm. Sounds familiar. Oh and of course, they can also take a tax break on all of those copies placed into these bizarre "care packages". It is or course a "donation".

Now they are supposedly developing a new version of the game. I wonder how much money they have fleeced from their "venture capitalists" and donors. I can't understand why people give money to religious project of such dubious value without questioning how the money will be used. I know of several people who have lost money this way and am amazed that they give unquestioningly when the requester is overtly religious. I have seen this so many times, I now have a knee jerk response the opposite way I am approached by a person wanting money for a religious cause, even if the cause is a good one.

You know, the only way they can improve the game is to allow teams to play for both the forces of the Antichrist and the Jesus characters with the same levels of powers. Let the Antichrist and Christ annihilate each other like matter and antimatter. Or see the forces of the Antichrist kick Christian ass. Now that would be entertaining.

Monday, 6 August 2007

Sheltered Home Schooled Person Meets the US Air Force

I've been doing a series of posts on obnoxious religious activity in the military. I did not encounter very much obnoxious behavior directed at myself. Perhaps this was because I was an officer. I did not go to any of the academies nor the ROTC, but entered the Air Force through the Officer Training School (OTS).

At one of my assignments, I managed a small group of computer programmers consisting of junior officers, enlisted and civilian workers. One day we had a new recruit (airman) assigned to the unit. He was supposed to be a programmer but did not seem to know much about computers. I assigned my sergeant to get him familiar with his assignments.

After a week or so, I asked her how it was going. She replied that he told her he had a degree in computer science, but she did not think he was being very truthful. We looked up his college and found that it was some sort of unaccredited bible college. That explained why he was enlisted rather than in the officer corps. It also explained why he new little about computer programming.

She also explained that he was having trouble fitting in the unit. He seemed unable to keep from pissing off everyone who tried to work with him. He never listened to anyone, especially if he did not think they were "Christian" enough for him. Well, it was summer and time for volunteers for "seeds and weeds" details. He was frequently volunteered by my sergeant as she felt he was more productive not working on the software.

Well some months passed. I came into work one morning and my sergeant was cracking up laughing and I asked what the joke was. She explained that our new recruit was found enjoying taking a shower a little too much in the dorms. He was exposing himself with a hard-on and openly masturbating in the shower. She said that he really could not deny it as "The only thing he was wearing was his hand." We had a good laugh over that one and I told one of my male enlisted guys to explain to the new recruit that that type of behavior was unacceptable.

Well a couple of months after this, my sergeant told me of another incident. The new recruit had hurt himself, sprained his ankle or something. Instead of going to an emergency clinic or the emergency room, he calls her up and asks what to do. Mind you, this recruit was not in his teens, rather he was in his late 20's. We speculated that he was probably home schooled, and had lived an overly sheltered life.

I don't know what it was about the mid-west, but there was another funny story about this base. Apparently the base had a flasher. He was in uniform and flashed a senior officer's wife in the library of all places. The joke was that even though he was wearing his uniform, the woman was staring at his equipment too much to get the name on the name tag.

Also my neighbors had a police radio and told of an incident where someone was flashing people in the VFW parking lot. A police officer asked "Could you give me a description on that?" All of the cops and the dispatcher listening in started laughing and cracking jokes. What is it about the mid-west?

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Christian Embassy in the Pentagon for 25 Years

According to the report detailed in my previous post, Christian Embassy has been in the Pentagon for 25 years or more. This was just before I started in the Air Force. I was never approached while I was in the Air Force at all. Perhaps this was because I was fairly open about being a non-believer and maybe these Christians thought I was a lost cause. But I was stationed at Peterson AFB and at the Cheyenne Mountain Complex under Gen Herres, who is on the board of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. I never encountered any problems of a religious nature at all.

But I did hear rumors about some things that happened during the 1970's. Apparently the right-wing Christians tried to get people in at the bottom. By bottom, I mean junior officers. It seems that for some of these guys, the enlisted personnel were usually ignored. Apparently some officers in the silos were saying things such as "God was more important than their orders" and "Would do what he felt God wanted him to do".

WTF? What God wanted? These are supposed to be hand-picked officers who are supposed to be trained to follow orders, not try to figure out What God Wants. They have partial control of weapons that could kill millions, perhaps billions. I also heard at that time that once this was discovered, these officers were quietly removed and replaced with more level headed officers.

These are just rumors I heard form some of the senior enlisted persons who I worked with, but these rumors sound true. If so, the right-wing Christians determined that working from the bottom up like they do with school boards and local government was not the way to approach the military. They failed with that approach. They apparently started working on the top level commanders and have had more success working their way down the chain of command. You get some flavor of this in the official report.

Friday, 3 August 2007

More Military Evangelization In The News

Bruce Wilson over at Talk To Action, is covering the actions of the evangelists in the military. He discusses the efforts of Mikey Weinstein over at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. Also the topic has been discussed on DailyKos. They focus on the top down infiltration of the military of fundamentalist Christian religious and political ideology. Some scary shit.

The military has really changed since I left about a decade ago. But I don't think that all hope is lost. I've seen statistics that show that the number of people identifing themselves as non-believers in the military has reached a new high of around 20%. That is twice what it is in the general population. I think the evangelization efforts may be backfiring or else polarizing the military. Subversion is subversion, and its effects are interfering with the functioning of the military. These officers who claim to want to take over and use the military to enforce their personal opinions should be called what they are, subversives. If they actively call to use the military to take over the country, the they should be identified for the traitors they are. And they should be charged with sedition.

Without total support the lower ranking officers and the enlisted folks, any effort towards a military coup will not succeed. But an attempted coup will cause much damage to the military. There are many in the military, religious and non-religious, who take their oath to support the constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic very seriously. They may not say anything now because there are no actions towards a coup yet. But if something were to threaten their liberty, they will act.

But in the unlikely event that a coup does happen, then this could lead to a civil war in this country. No matter how much they think they control the country, the evangelical Christian population is only estimated to be about 20%. And every scandal and failure of the current administration erodes their support.

When I was in the Air Force, as a junior officer I saw these types of religious people in action. They were very sure of themselves, perhaps overly so. I led a small office of people who knew that even though I was a non-believer, I was a good person. I thought it very ironic that the enlisted folk both within my unit and outside my unit would talk to me before they would talk to their own supervisors who were religious, sometimes even before they would talk to a chaplain. But if necessary I would refer them to a chaplain of their choice if I felt it would help the person.

The officers in the Christian Embassy are arrogant and condescending. These officers show that they believe they are above the rules by appearing in uniform and endorsing the organization. And by saying that they put God above all else, they are not holding to the oath they swore as military officers to uphold and defend the constitution. They should resign from the military and join the ministry if that is truly how they feel. Otherwise they are liars and hypocrites.
A few months ago that would have been an unfounded assertion on my part, but since then I've been working as part of a team effort, under the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, to amass evidence to support that claim. I can't divulge specifics right now, but yesterday I wrote, in general terms, of what I have helped uncover, for MRFF, on the spread of Christian nationalist events, improperly endorsed by the US military, across the nation. Material from that research will be emerging over the course of the next few weeks and months.
But perhaps the problem is much worse than I think, or remember.

Double Standards

Jason Leopold at truthout has an article discussing the involvement of outside evangelizing fundamentalist Christian organizations in trying to convert military members. He also covers senior officers complicit in denying military members their civil rights not to be evangelized.
A report released publicly on Thursday by the Defense Department's (DOD) inspector general has found high-ranking Army and Air Force personnel violated long-standing military regulations when they participated in a promotional video for an evangelical Christian organization while in uniform and on active duty.

The report recommended Air Force Maj. Gen. Jack Catton, Army Brig. Gen. Bob Caslen, Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, Maj. Gen. Peter Sutton, and a colonel and lieutenant colonel whose names were redacted in the inspector general's report, "improperly endorsed and participated with a non-Federal entity while in uniform" and the men should be disciplined for misconduct. Caslen was formerly the deputy director for political-military affairs for the war on terrorism, directorate for strategic plans and policy, joint staff. He now oversees the cadets at the Military Academy at West Point. Caslen told DOD investigators he agreed to appear in the video upon learning other senior Pentagon officials had been interviewed for the promotional video.
As in my prevous post it seems that the evangelists have infiltrated the military from the top down. It was somewhat like this when I was in the Air Force. The guys known as religious nuts were invariably senior officers, not junior officers or enlisted folk.
The 47-page report was also highly critical of Pentagon Chaplain Col. Ralph G. Benson, whom the inspector general's report accused of knowingly misleading the DOD when he requested permission from DOD officials to film a video inside the Pentagon claiming he was interested in gathering information about the Pentagon's "own ministry." In fact, the report says, Benson was determined to use the video to "attract new supporters" to the Christian Embassy, an evangelical organization that evangelizes members of the military and politicians in Washington, DC via daily Bible studies and outreach events. The group holds prayer breakfasts on Wednesdays in the Pentagons executive dining room, according to the organization's web site. Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, founded the Christian Embassy 30 years ago.

Over the past few years, the military has set its sights on prosecuting Iraq war veterans who have completed active duty, soured on the war and participated in antiwar protests while wearing their uniforms. Recently, the US Marine Corps prosecuted Cpl. Adam Kokesh and Marine Sgt. Liam Madden, both of whom were photographed marching in an antiwar protest while wearing their uniforms in what the Marine Corps says was a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Military prosecutors vigorously sought to have both men dishonorably discharged. However, it appears unlikely the military will apply the same standard to the Air Force and Army officers who the inspector general said violated the same code of conduct Kokesh and Madden were found to have broken, according to the disciplinary recommendations of the report.
Seems like quite a double standard here. It is painfully obvious that these religious fruitcakes want freedom only for themselves, that the rules and laws are for everyone but themselves.
Army Secretary Pete Geren, the former acting secretary of the Air Force who oversaw the Air Force's response in 2005 to claims evangelical Christians were pressuring cadets at the Air Force Academy in Colorado, also appeared in the video praising the Christian Embassy.

The Christian Embassy "has been a rock that I can rely on, been an organization that helped me in my walk with Christ, and I'm just thankful for the service they give," Geren says.

The inspector general investigated Geren's participation in the video, but determined he did not act improperly. Geren testified he was unaware the video would be used for fundraising purposes or to attract new members. He was identified in the video as "Honorable Pete Geren Presidential Appointee."

The report said Geren, who was also a special assistant to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, has had a long-standing relationship with the Christian Embassy organization.
I wonder who is trying to control who here. Are the religious leaders trying to control and use the military; or are the politicians trying to use the religious nuts to try to control the military? I think that each is convinced they are in control and it will be interesting to see how this falls apart.

Friday Fungus: Common Earth Ball

The Common Earth Ball (Scleroderma citrinum) grows at the foot of trees. We used to play with these when I was a child by popping them open, and watching the spores puff out.

Latest Round of Bigotry in the Military

Dave Silverman over at the NoGodBlog has a post about a letter received from Kathleen Johnson from MAAF. Here's the text of the letter:
Thought you'd be interested in this report of the first-ever meeting of Atheist service-members in Iraq under the umbrella of the MAAF-Iraq chapter of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers. This meeting was put together by the same young MAAF member who recently had his second letter published in the Stars and Stripes.

One of our members, a young Atheist enlisted soldier, thought he would like to see if he could generate some interest in MAAF meetings at his Forward Operating Base (FOB) here in Iraq (not the base I'm at, by the way). He got things coordinated and started hanging flyers, and after weeks of having to re-hang his flyers almost daily because some vandal kept tearing them down, he finally succeeded in having a small MAAF meeting. I wasn't there because the meeting wasn't on my FOB, but I knew he was holding it and was expecting to hear from him after the meeting. Keep in mind that this young soldier did everything right - he went through the Chaplain's office and jumped through all the hoops it takes to legally hold meetings that are religiously or philosophically based. Four soldiers attended this meeting - all of them very junior enlisted soldiers with the exception of one Major (an O-4), who claimed to be a "freethinker".

Well, to make a very long story a little shorter, the Major turned out to be a fundamentalist Christian who verbally berated the other attendees, accused them of plotting against Christians and disrespecting soldiers who have died protecting the Constitution, and threatened them with punishment under the UCMJ for their activities (said they were "going down") and said he would do whatever it took to shut the meetings down. Keep in mind that by this point, he had two of the attendees (one soldier fled when the shouting started) standing at the position of attention so that he could yell at them, berate them, and humiliate them. This apparently went on for several minutes at which time the Major shut down the meeting by saying he wasn't some "push-over Chaplain" and that he would not tolerate the meetings to continue.

The young MAAF member who hosted the meeting is absolutely freaked out about what happened, but he said he's going to continue with the meetings and isn't going to be bullied by the prayer warriors. I've advised him to immediately notify the Chaplain sponsor of what happened to get guidance while I try to figure out what to do next. I should hear something back from him tonight sometime and there's even a small possibility I might be able to score a mission to his FOB and attend one of his meetings in the next few weeks (if I do, I'll meet with the Chaplain in person).

As for immediate action, he's going to get me the names of his Chaplain sponsor and the name of the officer who disrupted the meeting. My intent right now is to make a formal report to the most senior Chaplain I can find along with possibly an Equal Opportunity complaint against the officer if we can get him fully identified. I may not be eligible to make that complaint because I wasn't there, but I can at least smooth the way for this young troop to make one if he elects to. At the very least, I can make the EO office formally aware of what happened there.

More info will follow when I get it, but right now, feel free to disseminate this information since I've intentionally sanitized it for names and locations. I will be happy to forward any words of support to him if they get mailed to my milatheist@aol.com address - he could really use some encouragement right now, I think.

Kathleen

Kathleen Johnson,
Military Director,
American Atheists, Inc.
kjohnson@atheists.org

This really, really pisses me off. But in a way it shows that the Christianization of the military only seems to be from the top down. Notice the officer, a major, a senior officer, is very angry and intimidating to the junior enlisted personnel.

My nephew is enlisted in the Air Force and has a funny story about his night shift maintenance crew. They are a mixed bag of atheists, agnostics, Wiccans, and liberal Christians. Then one day they had a fresh new recruit who was very fundy join the unit. He tried his best to convert someone, any one at all. Turns out most of his fellow crew members knew much more about the Bible than the fundy Christian. My nephew described how they reduced the new crew member to tears every time he tried to proselytize anyone. They would tear his arguments to shreds. It appears he was home schooled and had never been around anyone with a differing background.

When I was in the Air Force, I was very lucky to be a junior officer under the command of Gen. Robert T. Herres. I was fairly open about being a non-believer and had no problems. I can look back now and see that I was probably very lucky to be stationed at the Cheyenne Mountain Complex when Gen. Herres was SPACECINC. Now he is on the board of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. I think I will go over there and join up and support them. Looks like they are getting ready for a large lawsuit.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

This Has To Be Satire

Over at the Friendly Atheist, Hemant speculates that Baptists for Brownback 2008 is a satire site. It has to be, otherwise the alternative is simply just too frightening.
Today, in an America filled with adulterers and baby-killers, an even worse sinner casts a shadow over them all—the atheist. Yet atheists are difficult to spot. They hide their sinister cult behind masks of smiles, science and soft, pleasant voices. Your next door neighbor might be an atheist. You just can’t tell.

Imagine if it was simple to identify atheists and their tainted works. Would it not be grand? Think how much easier it would be to protect your children’s eyes, ears and souls from atheistic influences if their websites, books, movies and yes, even their very clothes, were clearly labeled with a bright scarlet “A”.

What do you think?
I tell myself that this simply has to be satire. Look at the links on the side of the page. I spent the next half-hour laughing my ass off over the comments to the article. Here are a few:
I cannot seem to post a simple thought here without persecution raining down upon me. Why is it that atheists are so full of hate? Just what is so wrong with my suggestion for an atheist “A”? Is the color scarlet the problem? Or the font? They can be changed. I’m not inflexible.
- Pastor Tobin Maker

I wear a cross on my necklace, one on my bracelet, a WWJD rubber bracelet-thing, and a ring that contains a sliver of the true cross. I make my allegiance clear. I walk the Righteous path. You know your children are safe with me. Now, what of the atheist? We can’t know can we? All we want to know is that is we let our children talk to the man with the ‘A’ on his shirt, that he’s likely to offer them meth or try to sodomize them. Is it so wrong for a parent to want to know this.
- HisWisdomReigns

Those atheists are too deceitful to wear an A on their garments - I think it would have to be tattooed on their foreheads.
- Enola Tibbets

This is a Godly idea Pastor Maker. To long has the atheist menace been allowed to spread its poison undetected in America. Just look at what has happened; price of oil up, the War of Terror faltering, bridge collapses in Minnesota, we can be sure an atheist was involved in each and ever one of these problems. Why the list possible atheists crimes have done to our society is endless. We need to know who they are and what they are up to now! We need them to were these “A”s and also were GPS tracking collars so we can get a handle on the menace the present to America.
- BJ Tabor

Personally, I think Atheists should have the letter “A” BRANDED into their foreheads. That way they can have a small taste of the burning that they will surely feel when they meet their end and arrive in HELL!
- Pasquinade's Princess

Religious zealots could do humanity the same favor by wearing large flaming sacks of feces on their heads.
- FrumiousBandersnark

Now just branding all atheists with an “A” is just the tough love they need. The shock of a third degree burn to their head will get there attention an make them wake up to the fact they have a problem. After all the first step in solving a problem is admitting you have one.
- BJ Tabor

You atheists are making me roll over in my grave! If it was up to me, you atheists would all be taken out back and whipped with a garden hose like that purple teletubby! It is eternally refreshing to read the most wondrous thoughts of Rev. Maker from up here. I would have commented sooner but we only have dial-up. God bless you true believers and keep up the good work, fight the good fight, and keep the faith as you wage the most holiest of wars against the atheists. I would like to add though that my friend Jimmy Swaggart was an adulterer so we may want to cut them some slack.
- Jerry Fallwell's Ghost
I love the names of the posters. And check out some of the other posts. They seem to be similar to Landover Baptist.

Pervert Alert

Another Christian right-wing pervert strikes again. What's with these guys?

Police Say Man Urinated In Front Of Kids, Offered Oral Sex to Cops.
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. -- A Baptist minister has been charged in Tennessee with indecent exposure and driving under the influence.

Police said 58-year-old Tommy Tester of Bristol, Va., was wearing a skirt when he was arrested last week after allegedly relieving himself in front of children at a car wash.

A report also accuses Tester of offering police officers oral sex and says an open bottle of vodka and empty oxycodone prescription bottle was found in his car when Tester was arrested Friday.

Authorities identified Tester as the minister of Gospel Baptist Church in Bristol and an employee of Christian radio station WZAP-AM, also in Bristol. WZAP issued a statement asking for prayers and saying Tester has been suspended during an investigation.

Tester was released Friday on $1,000 bail. A hearing is scheduled for October.
A real party guy. This must be some sort of fad for ministers and right-wing Christian politicians. I guess offering blow jobs to cops must be some new kind of kink. Sorta like living dangerously. You know, I really could keep a pretty entertaining blog just pointing to all of the kinky Christian sex antics. Looks like another one is going down. Heh Heh Heh.

Just Says It All

This cartoon says it all. From Salon magazine here.