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Thursday, 18 December 2008

Happy Monkey Everyone


Happy Monkey Everyone. This is my last post for the year. It's vacation time.

Extremists Continue to Enlist in the Army

According to a report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the US military, especially the Army has done little to stop the enlistment by racist extremists. I've covered this in previous reports. Now sometimes the SPLC has overstated threats by racists in the past, but in this instance the FBI is just as concerned.

In addition to the problem with far-right religious military members and chaplains, the Army is dealing with the dark side of far-right extremism, white supremacism and racism. According to the SPLC and the FBI, problems with recruitment lead to military recruiters overlooking obvious signs of membership in hate groups.

The racist skinhead logged on with exciting news: He'd just enlisted in the United States Army.

"Sieg Heil, I will do us proud," he wrote. It was a June 3 post to AryanWear Forum 14, a neo-Nazi online forum to which "Sobibor's SS," who identified himself as a skinhead living in Plantersville, Ala., had belonged since early 2004. (Sobibor was a Nazi death camp in Poland during World War II).

About a month after he announced his enlistment, Sobibor's SS bragged in another post to Forum 14 that he'd specifically requested and been assigned to MOS, or Military Occupational Specialty, 98D.

MOS98D soldiers are in high demand right now. That's because they're specially trained in disarming Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), the infamous roadside bombs that are killing and maiming so many U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Presumably, part of learning how to disarm an IED is learning how one is made.

"I have my own reasons for wanting this training but in fear of the government tracing me and me loosing [sic] my clearance I can't share them here," Sobibor's SS informed his fellow neo-Nazis.

One of his earlier posts indicated his reasons serve a darker purpose than defending America: "Once all the Jews are gone the world will start fixing itself."

In addition to overlooking membership in hate groups, the Army seems very reluctant to actually kick out those racists who are active members and recruiters for hate groups.

Forty members of Congress urged then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to launch a full-scale investigation and implement a zero-tolerance policy toward white supremacists in the military. "Military extremists present an elevated threat to both their fellow service members and the public," U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican, wrote in a separate open letter to Rumsfeld. "We witnessed with Timothy McVeigh that today's racist extremist may become tomorrow's domestic terrorist."

But neither Rumsfeld nor his successor, Robert Gates, launched any sort of systemic investigation or crackdown. Military and Defense Department officials seem to have made no sustained effort to prevent active white supremacists from joining the armed forces or to weed out those already in uniform.

Furthermore, new evidence is emerging that not only supports the Intelligence Report's original findings, but also indicates the problem may have worsened since the summer of 2006, as enlistment rates have continued to plummet, and the military has struggled to meet recruitment goals in a time of unpopular war. Asked about the latest developments, military officials this fall declined to comment.

As someone who was working in a Federal Building when the Murrah Building was blown up, I take this type of threat very seriously. The warning signs were there, but were ignored. When it happened, I knew immediately that it was domestic terrorism. Our office had been forwarded copies of the threats that were received by the law enforcement agencies we shared a building with.

A new FBI report confirms that white supremacists are infiltrating the military for several reasons. According to the unclassified FBI Intelligence Assessment, "White Supremacist Recruitment of Military Personnel Since 9/11," which was released to law enforcement agencies nationwide: "Sensitive and reliable source reporting indicates supremacist leaders are encouraging followers who lack documented histories of neo-Nazi activity and overt racist insignia such as tattoos to infiltrate the military as 'ghost skins,' in order to recruit and receive training for the benefit of the extremist movement."

The FBI report details more than a dozen investigative findings and criminal cases involving Iraq and Afghanistan veterans as well as active-duty personnel engaging in extremist activity in recent years. For example, in September 2006, the leader of the Celtic Knights, a central Texas splinter faction of the Hammerskins, a national racist skinhead organization, planned to obtain firearms and explosives from an active duty Army soldier in Fort Hood, Texas. That soldier, who served in Iraq in 2006 and 2007, was a member of the National Alliance, a neo-Nazi group.

"Looking ahead, current and former military personnel belonging to white supremacist extremist organizations who experience frustration at the inability of these organizations to achieve their goals may choose to found new, more operationally minded and operationally capable groups," the report concludes. "The military training veterans bring to the movement and their potential to pass this training on to others can increase the ability of lone offenders to carry out violence from the movement's fringes."

In addition, Mathew Kennard wrote his thesis about the increase in enlistment of hate group members.

Earlier this year, the founder of White Military Men identified himself in his New Saxon account as "Lance Corporal Burton" of the 2nd Battalion Fox Company Pit 2097, from Florida, according to a master's thesis by graduate student Matthew Kennard. Under his "About Me" section, Burton writes: "Love to shoot my M16A2 service rifle effectively at the Hachies (Iraqis)," and, "Love to watch things blow up (Hachies House)."

Kennard, who was working on his thesis for Columbia University's Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism, also monitored claims of active-duty military service earlier this year on the neo-Nazi online forum Blood & Honour, where "88Soldier88" posted this message on Feb. 18: "I am in the ARMY right now. I work in the Detainee Holding Area [in Iraq]. … I am in this until 2013. I am in the infantry but want to go to SF [Special Forces]. Hopefully the training will prepare me for what I hope is to come."
Somehow, I don't think 88Soldier88 is talking about his future service in Iraq.

As part of the research for his thesis, "The New Nazi Army: How the U.S. military is allowing the far right to join its ranks," Kennard used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain from the Army's Criminal Investigative Division investigative reports concerning white supremacist activity in 2006 and 2007. They show that Army commanders repeatedly terminated investigations of suspected extremist activity in the military despite strong evidence it was occurring. This evidence was often provided by regional Joint Terrorism Task Forces, which are made up of FBI and state and local law enforcement officials.

For example, one CID report details a 2006 investigation of a suspected member of the Hammerskins, a multi-state racist skinhead gang, who was stationed at Fort Hood, a large Army base in central Texas. According to the report, there was "probable cause" to believe that the soldier "had participated in a white extremist meeting and also provided a military technical manual 31-210, Improvised Munitions Handbook, to the leader of a white extremist group in order to assist in the planning and execution of future attacks on various targets."

The report shows that agents only interviewed the subject once, in November 2006, before Fort Hood higher-ups called off the investigation that December.

Another report, also from 2006, covers an investigation of another Fort Hood soldier who was posting messages on Stormfront.org, a major white supremacist website. One CID investigator expresses his frustration at the muddled process for dealing with extremists. "We need to discuss the review process," he writes. "I'm not doing my job here. Needs to get fixed."

A third CID report, regarding a 2007 investigation, notes the termination of an investigation of a soldier at Fort Richardson, Alaska, who was reportedly the leader and chief recruiter for the Alaska Front, a white supremacist group. According to the report, the investigation was halted because the solider was "mobilized to Camp Shelby, MS in preparation for deployment to Iraq."

Some blogs on the right dismiss the SPLC as overly alarmist, but it only takes one highly motivated extremist to cause considerable damage. Timothy McVeigh is an example that should not be forgotten.

Update:

There is a comment addressing freedom of speech and beliefs of service members. Service members can believe what they want, but cannot use their position, especially while in uniform to advocate religious or political views, both popular or unpopular. But I'm not really addressing racist or supremacist viewpoints held by service members. I'm discussing members who are active, participating members of hate groups. Groups who conduct illegal actions such as harassment of minority service members and citizens, murder, and illegal drug and arms dealing. Groups which explicitly advocate the violent overthrow of the the United States.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Hail Santa



I just love this t-shirt. That's right folks, Santa will take you to hell. HehHehHeh.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Olympia Controversy in Miniature



I've decided to reenact the War of the Decorations here on my tree. Happy Holidays is prominently displayed along with two mythological creatures, Baby Jesus and the IPU (in their visible states of course).

God Hates Santa

The Olympia, Washington Capitol building is getting very crowded these days. There is a large Christmas tree, a menorah, a nativity scene, FRFF's sign, a couple of sign's critical of FRFF's message, and a peace sign among others. Groups want to put the Flying Spaghetti Monster and a Festivus Pole up as well.

Well, look who wants to join the fun. Fred Phelps (from godhatefags.com) and clan want a piece of the action as well. This has had me giggling all day. Great comments over here at Pharyngula as well. I hope Fred gets his wish and is allowed to post his signs. He wants to post "Santa Claus will take you to hell".

This whole mess started when the state put up a Christmas tree and a Jewish group wanted to display a menorah and were allowed to. Then a Christian group (Alliance Defense Fund) wanted to put up a nativity scene and had to sue the state to be allowed to put a display up. They won and the state of Washington had to allow free expression at the state capitol. If one is allowed, then all are allowed.
Plaintiff and all other persons and organizations will be treated similarly to other private members of the public in all respects, including access to the areas in the Capitol Rotunda, pursuant to CCF policy attached as Exhibit A, to display a Nativity Scene during the 2007 traditional holiday season.
Fred also has a song to go with the sign:
"You'd better watch out, get ready to cry, You'd better go hide, I'm telling you why 'cuz Santa Claus will take you to hell. He is your favorite idol, you worship at his feet, but when you stand before your God He won't help you take the heat. So get this fact straight: you're feeling God's hate, Santa's to blame for the economy's fate, Santa Claus will take you to hell."
Kudos to whichever nut at the Westboro Baptist Church wrote this little ditty. It's been highly entertaining watching the religious people have fits over what is posted. Way to go FFRF, for firing the opening shot in the War of the Decorations with your sign. The religious nuts are making your point that no decoration should be put up to mark the holiday. Thanks Alliance Defense Fund.

Update:

Here is a video of the Phelps clan actually singing their song. It would be absolutely hysterical, except for the fact that their children are involved in the lunacy.



You know, I really wonder about crazy old Fred. The fixation on anal sex and sex with children is way too creepy. There is a story written by one of his sons on the internet somewhere. I remember reading about Fred's fixation on the youngest daughter, and there was some speculation about incest.

NPR Discovers Atheists in Foxholes



Here is a story about the friendship between two men who did not let their differences in belief get between them, and all NPR could highlight was the fact that one of the men is an atheist. It's as if the staff at NPR are surprised that atheists are humans also. Capt. Benjamin Tupper has a very moving story of his friendship with an Afghan translator, Fayez.
I spent many cold nights in Afghanistan sitting on worn mats in cramped, smoky huts, drinking chai with Afghan and U.S. soldiers. As soldiers often do on quiet nights, we pondered many things, including religion. I was the lone atheist, surrounded by equally convinced Christians and Muslims. There was one thing they all could agree on — that I was going to hell.

Then there was Fayez, one of our Afghan interpreters, who was the most eloquent in explaining the pillars of Islam. One night, I described my faith — that men could do good deeds without interference from God — and my fear that religion caused much of the strife we witnessed daily in Afghanistan. This was met by a chorus of condemnation. Fayez floored everyone by interrupting to say that they all should consider the possibility that I was right. This was a brave thing to do in a country where, even today, people face death for questioning Islam.

It's telling that an Afghan understands more about religious tolerance than those American Christians who were raised in a democratic republic whose constitution explicitly states that its citizen's religious and political opinions can be freely stated without interference by the state.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

No Wonder There Are So Many Atheists and Agnostics in the Military

MRFF has a lawsuit in the works covering this incident that I blogged about a couple of months ago. I did not know the presentation was as bad as it was, so I focused only on the humiliating materials for women. In March 2008, a presentation entitled "A New Approach to Suicide Prevention: Developing Purpose-Driven Airmen" was shown to over 1000 US Air Force service members and emailed to over 5000 others. Chris Rodda describes how she was sent a copy of the presentation. The presenter was our old friend Lt. Gen Bishop. And finally, here is a copy of the presentation kept at the MRFF.
Here at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), we get countless complaints about religiously based mental health and counseling programs, which, over the past few years, have been systematically replacing proven psychological and medical approaches to a multitude of issues faced by military personnel. I've seen so many truly insane, not to mention blatantly unconstitutional, ways that the military is playing with the mental well being of our troops since I began working for MRFF that I really didn't think it was possible for me to be surprised by anything anymore. Then I was sent a PowerPoint presentation by an airman at RAF Lakenheath, the largest U.S. Air Force base in England. On the MRFF scale of classifying by various expletives the egregiousness level of things that are reported to us -- "holy crap," "holy shit," and "holy f..." -- this one, promoting creationism as a means of preventing suicide among our military personnel, was definitely a "holy f..."
Instead of using effective medical techniques and therapy to prevent suicide, now it seems that the US Air Force wants its airmen to "embrace the purpose-driven life"and creationism in addition to the chastity and purity material for females. Here is a slide from the presentation:



The conclusion in the slide appears to be wrong. Isn't II the correct option, after all it shows that you don't need to love God to love man and the self. What the hell is the bizarre fixation on Karl Marx and Charles Darwin? And how will this solve anyone's depression? If anything, having to view such illogical thinking would tend to drive one to suicide. And isn't humanism simply caring for other humans? And aren't there religious humanists as well? What is wrong with these people? This presentation is all about identifying and denigrating "The Other". In this case "The Other" are those military members who are not religious.

Another example of the lack of reasoning skills is slide 3.



I'm not sure who developed these slides, but it seems they are completely unable to think logically. It looks like he is trying to say that the increase in spirituality is directly correlated with the increase in suicides. You know, I think he is onto something.

And one of the more outrageous slides tries to imply that Pat Tillman was a "man of faith".



Pat Tillman was an Army Ranger killed by "friendly fire" in 2004. He was an outspoken atheist. This slide reminds me of a really strange encounter at a charity event I supported last summer. The event was called "42 Events in 42 Days" and was in Pat Tillman's honor. I thought that I would meet some more non-religious in my local area. But most of the people were fundamentalist Christians and seemed totally unaware that Pat Tillman was a very outspoken atheist. What's going on here? Are fundy Christians so insecure in their faith that the very thought of an atheist who gave his life in the service of his country gives them the vapours? So insecure so they pretend that he was a Christian?

All of this dishonesty seems to be driving service members away from the more conservative Christian denominations. The December 2004 Population Bulletin - America's Military Population, Vol. 59, No.4 which analyzes the US Armed Forces regarding race, religion, ethnicity, civilian background, education, etc. A copy of the report is located at the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers.

Religious affiliation or the lack of it is addressed on page 25 of the bulletin. According to the bulletin, the percentage of service members identifying themselves as nonreligious is larger than in the civilian population, even taking into account the younger average age of service members. In the civilian population, younger people are significantly more nonreligious than older people.
We do know the civilian American population has been moving away from the traditional Christian religions and toward other religious groups or eschewing any religious affiliation.34 This latter trend is particularly pronounced among young adults, exactly the age groups most likely to enter the military. In general, the armed forces show lower religious affiliation than the civilian population, even among civilians ages 20 to 39 (see Table 5). A larger share of military than civilians reported they are Christians but are not Roman Catholic/Eastern Orthodox or Protestant, or do not specify a denomination.
This report shows the higher number of the nonreligious in the services, but also the higher number of non-denominational Christians in the military. A lot of non-denominational churches are heavily evangelical. The large number of non-denominational chaplains who have entered the service in the last 15 years may account for the increased friction between the nonreligious service members and the evangelical Christians that have made the news in the last few years.

And who would blame the soldier or airmen for choosing atheism when they see these "spokesmen for Christ" as gibbering madmen when these presentations are given?

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Happy Holidays Assholes


I went shopping at Target this weekend and had an interesting encounter with a cashier. Now, before you think that I'm complaining, actually the cashier was on my side. In addition to the gifts I bought, I decided to get some cards. I usually get some nondescript cards that cover any winter holiday that one might celebrate. But I have a couple of obnoxiously religious in-laws that always send me cards that are almost religious tracts.

This time I decided to get some cards that have a very large "Happy Holidays" greeting on them. These cards will go specifically to a couple of relatives and especially to a neighbor that kept sending us horribly paranoid anti-Obama emails before the election. Even after we asked to be taken off his email list and after we had retaliated back with anti-Palin emails.

Target had a huge selection of Happy Holidays cards for me to select from and I decided on the largest, most obnoxiously Happy Holidays cards I could find. The cashier rang up my items and grinned when she saw the large, obnoxious Happy Holidays cards. "For someone special?" she asked.

"Oh, definitely." I replied. We both laughed. My opening salvo in the War on Christmas.

So Happy Holidays, assholes.

Update:

Looks like a Utah senator, Chris Buttars, wants to mandate that store clerks say"Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays".

Sen. Chris Buttars wants Utah's Legislature to declare its opposition to the "war on Christmas."

The West Jordan Republican is sponsoring a resolution encouraging retailers to embrace Christmas in their promotions rather than the generic "holidays."

"It would encourage the use of 'Merry Christmas,'" Buttars said of the non-binding statement that is still being drafted. "I'm sick of the Christmas wars -- we're a Christian nation and ought to use the word."

Several fellow lawmakers he wouldn't yet name support his effort, added Buttars, who has a long history of championing the socially conservative agenda of the Utah Eagle Forum.

In 2005, right-wing pundit Bill O'Reilly took on the same fight, characterizing the so-called war on Christmas as part of a secular progressive agenda that would open the door to legalized drugs, abortion-on-demand and same-sex marriage.

One advertising executive thinks the Buttars message crosses the line.

"I'm kind of flabbergasted that there is even such a proposal," said Dave Newbold, president of Salt Lake City-based Richter7 Advertising and Public Relations.

"We may be primarily Christian but that doesn't mean that you force your language or beliefs on anybody," Newbold added. "We live in a multicultural area and it's right and proper to be sensitive to the various cultures."

What a prick. Doesn't he have other, more important things to do as a state senator than to worry about what greeting store clerks give to their customers?

Interesting Voting Location



The Center for Inquiry West in Hollywood has been used as a voting location the last couple of years. According to the e-newsletter from CFI West (dated 5 November 2008):
An estimated 2,500 voters filed through the Center yesterday to cast their votes at the three precincts housed there for the historic election. Lines of voters started forming before the polls opened at 7 a.m., and then snaked through the patio and down Hollywood Boulevard throughout the morning. Poll workers, who began setting up their voting equipment at 6 a.m., worked steadily until the polls closed at 8 p.m. By that time, a record-breaking number of more than 80 percent of those eligible voted in Los Angeles County.

With a parking lot, handicapped ramp and large lobby space, the Center has been sought after and used for voting during the past several elections. We at the Center are happy to provide space for such an important community event.

- Jim Underdown, Executive Director
- Bob Ladendorf, Chief Operating Officer
Here is a picture of the inside.

Billboard Censorship



The City of Rancho Cucamonga pressured General Outdoor Advertising to remove the above billboard after complaints from "concerned" assholes. Stuart Bechman from Atheists United in Los Angeles is calling for an apology from the City of Rancho Cucamonga for violating the constitutional rights of General Outdoor Advertising and its customers.

"This is a serious overstep by the city over the boundaries of the First Amendment," stated Stuart Bechman, President, Atheists United. "It's hard to imagine a more innocuous statement of non-belief. But even this was too much for political leaders who are clearly in the pockets of some religious leaders to suppress any expression of views that diverge from the orthodox line."

"City leaders have demonstrated their clear bias towards protecting and providing special privileges to their favored religious beliefs, in clear violation of the California and United States Constitutions. I would like to think that few Christians are so insecure in their faith as to support this action."

Atheists United and other civil-rights organizations expect an apology to all freethinkers from the city and an admission of error on their part; and if they refuse, for the California Attorney General's office to open an investigation on the illegal actions taken by the city.
Hemant Mehta is also posting about this story. According to some of the comments, FRFF and Atheists United may be suing the City of Rancho Cucamonga. I hope they do. The city needs a severe spanking.

It is time that we educate them. They’ll keep doing it as long as we let them get away with it.

I don’t think that AU and FFRF should ask for an apology, they should sue immediately and not settle. At the very least, the Rancho Cucamonga City Administrators should pay for restoring the sign, pay for the days that it was down, pay for the AU and FFRF’s legal fees and then issue an apology.

I agree Hemant. It's time we stop taking shit from these assholes.

There Probably Isn't




The Atheist Bus campaign in London by the Atheist Campaign, Richard Dawkins, and the British Humanist Association seems to really tick off the Rev. Evan Cockshaw. He created a website, There Probably Is, supposedly to explore both sides of the issue. The site is filled with pretty lame stories (emotional appeals) by fellow Christians trying to explain why they are Christians. There are no dissenting opionions offered on the Reverend's site. So much for dissenting views.

PZ Myers wrote a scathing post about Rev. Cockshaw's site, thereby causing the Rev to make an appearence in the comments. What a whiny crybaby. Apparently, Cockshaw filled the search flags for his site with tags for atheists and agnostics. Then he became pissed when atheists found his website and decided to play. You'd think that Cockshaw would have expected this, especially if he was censoring inputs to his site.

Then the Rev attemps to censor PZ by trying to get Seed magazine to pull PZ's post. Seed told Cockshaw to take a hike. HehHehHeh.

And you just know it had to happen, now there is a site, There Probably Isn't. Way to go! And there are pages and pages of stories to read. Looks like there will be plenty of reading for the holidays.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Worshiping at the Golden Calf?

Where's Moses when you need him? And his 10 commandments? This little adoration of the Golden Calf is led by a woman named Cindy Jacobs. Cindy Jacobs, according to CBN, is a co-founder of something called General's International (links to the Joels Army movement?).

This event happened on October 29 last month. I saw this posted on Pharyngula, but the name sounded familiar. I went over on Talk2Action and there were several stories about her, her friends, and their antics.

Cindy Jacobs is a leader in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement within the larger Charismatic Christian community. NAR churches are extremely cult-like and controlling of their members.

These churches preach a warped version of the Prosperity Gospel. Unlike the general Charismatic or Pentecostal churches, NAR churches preach that Christians need to grab power in this world and control everything in order to bring about the return of Christ. According to Bruce Wilson:
As the top leader of the New Apostolic Reformation, which extensive evidence suggests is Sarah Palin's chosen religious and political movement, C. Peter Wagner proclaimed, on June 21, 2006, that "God has declared through His prophets that the wealth of the wicked will be released to the Kingdom of God," and Wagner declared, threateningly, "the enemies' camp will be plundered."
How very Old Testament. Are they going to spare the female virgin non-believers in order to make sex slaves of them? I think death would be preferable than being a sex slave to a toupee clad televangelist. Ewwwwww!

Cindy Jacobs wants to pray for wordly goods and power at the Golden Bull on Wall Street. Has she even read her Bible? According to CBN, Cindy thinks that she can control God and change the stock market in her favor.

For these and other reasons Cindy is calling for a Day of Prayer for the World’s Economies on Wednesday, October 29, 2008. They are calling for prayer for the stock markets, banks, and financial institutions of the world on the date the stock market crashed in 1929. They are meeting at the New York Stock Exchange, the Federal Reserve Bank, and its 12 principal branches around the US that day.

“We are going to intercede at the site of the statue of the bull on Wall Street to ask God to begin a shift from the bull and bear markets to what we feel will be the 'Lion’s Market,' or God’s control over the economic systems,” she said. “While we do not have the full revelation of all this will entail, we do know that without intercession, economies will crumble.”

Looks like Christian spell casting to me. And these are the same people that are worried about witches casting spells. Looks like a case of projection to me. And what happens when her or her follower's prayers aren't answered? Will they grow tired of waiting? Will they "release" us non-believers to God (kill us) and take our property?

Friday, 14 November 2008

Jeremy Hall is Ending the Lawsuit

Specialist Jeremy Hall is ending his lawsuit against the Department of Defense as he will shortly lose standing to pursue the lawsuit by completing his enlistment in the Army. He is finally able to leave the Army after all the hell he has endured since standing up for himself. Best of luck in the future, Jeremy.

Here are some previous posts on the subject:

MRFF Files Another Lawsuit
Spc. Jeremy Hall Receives Death Threat
Jeremy Hall Update

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

To All Those Who Have Served

A Couple of Interesting Election Songs

Here's an interesting Obama ad Cajun style. Makes me homesick for Louisiana, where I spent the first 25 years of my life.



Looks like Sarah Palin has a couple of admirers in Russia.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Atheist?

Who's afraid of the big bad atheists? Apparently both Elizabeth Dole and Kay Hagan. They are running against each other for the US Senate.It looks like the two are trying to out Jesus each other. Never mind the prohibition in the Constitution about there not being a religious test for public office. It sure seems that there is an unofficial religious test for any elected office in North Carolina.

The election for the US Senate in North Carolina has degenerated into a mudslinging fest with atheists and other non-believers stuck in the middle. All of this uproar because Kay Hagan dared to attend a fundraiser held where "Gasp" there might be an atheist or two attending.

Dole's campaign started the whole mess by sending out this press release. Check out the posts at Friendly Atheist and Pharyngula for more details.
On September 15th, Kay Hagan is heading to Boston, Massachusetts to attend a fundraiser for her Senate campaign. What may surprise mainstream North Carolinians is that the fundraiser will be in the home of leading anti religion activists Wendy Kaminer and her lawyer husband Woody Kaplan -- who is an advisor to the "Godless Americans Political Action Committee."
Well golly-gee, she plans to meet with someone who isn't a Christian. Burn her! Call in this woman, we need a God warrior.



Well, the press release and flyers were not enough for Liddy Dole, so her campaign had to get down and ugly with the following ad.



Here is the long version of the ad on YouTube by the NRSC.



And if this was not enough, the Dole campaign decided to send out these little flyers. Well, after all of this, Kay Hagan decided to go on the offensive, and boy did she get offensive. Here are her statements declaring that of course she believes in God and would never intentionally associate with those who do not.
Democratic Senate candidate Kay Hagan angrily demanded Wednesday that U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole stop airing a new ad that questions Hagan's ties to an atheist political group, calling the spot a slanderous and pathetic attempt to maintain political power.

"I am absolutely outraged. How could she go this low?" Hagan said, calling the ad "despicable."

Hagan's attorneys sent a cease-and-desist order to Dole's campaign, saying the "libelous" ad should come down within 24 hours. The order promised legal action if the ad stays on the air.

Wow, instead of a gentle correction stating that she is not an atheist, but a Christian, we get this massive overreaction by Hagan. Of course she's not one of those mean, evil, filthy atheists. And of course her minister has to chime in as well.

The Huffington Post has a good summary of the ads over here. Here is Hagan's first ad.



Now, Dole has responded with another obnoxious ad.



Yet another anti-atheist disaster at CNN.Yeah let's not include an atheist on the panel that discusses atheists.



WTF? "Folks like this?" "That's how you convert them?" Donna Brazile is a bigoted ignoramus.

An excellent response by the Atheist Community of Austin's Non-Prophets Radio hosts. Way to go guys.



This year's election run up has been the most amazing that I've seen. The people who claim that they are so "Christian" are showing their true ugliness. They are wrapping themselves in a cloak of piety and patriotism, all to hide their inner bigotry, ambition, and greed. This confirms my suspicions that the most outwardly pious and patriotic are in fact the least.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

WooHoo, The Thesis is Finally Finished

I finally sent the damn thing off for a review by my committee. Finally! WooHoo. Now I can get back to doing some posting and puttering about the house.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Channeling Joe McCarthy

I've been holed up all week trying to get my thesis completed, with the goal of getting the first draft done this weekend. What happened yesterday? I turned onto Hardball yesterday afternoon and Katrina Vanden Huevel was castigating an earlier interview on the show. DailyKos had already posted the video of Michelle Bachmann ranting on and on about how liberal are"anti-American" and needed to be investigated. Chris Matthews let her hang herself with her own words. And did she ever, talk about releasing your inner Joe McCarthy. Here is the video of Michelle Bachmann.



Here is Katrina's rebuttal of Batshit Bachmann.



El Tinklenberg, her opponent, has raised nearly $500,000 in 24 hours over the internet. Here are examples of more Batshit Bachmann craziness.

Indeed, channeling Joe McCarthy. And I hope her political career ends the same way, defeated and humiliated. Help out Elwyn Tinklenberg over at ActBlue.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Bigfoot-Nessie 08



Hey everybody, get out there and vote.

Scary Interview With Naomi Wolf



Really makes you think. But until Naomi identifies those she thinks have staged a coup and provides proof, then this goes into tinfoil hat territory. So far,this is just a standard conspiracy theory.

Also, here is some supporting video for the comments by California Rep. Brad Shermer.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

McCain & Palin Godwin Themselves

With their earlier support of and by racists, the low tactics the McCain/Palin ticket is stooping to does not have me surprised. At two events yesterday, both McCain and Palin did not dissuade their supporters from making racist and threatening speech. First, I'll start with Sarah Palin. According to the Washington Post's Dana Milbank:

You betcha. And the person dishing out the roughest stuff at the moment is Sarah Palin.

"I was reading my copy of the New York Times the other day," she said.

"Booooo!" replied the crowd.

"I knew you guys would react that way, okay," she continued. "So I was reading the New York Times and I was really interested to read about Barack's friends from Chicago."

It was time to revive the allegation, made over the weekend, that Obama "pals around" with terrorists, in this case Bill Ayers, late of the Weather Underground. Many independent observers say Palin's allegations are a stretch; Obama served on a Chicago charitable board with Ayers, now an education professor, and has condemned his past activities.

"Now it turns out, one of his earliest supporters is a man named Bill Ayers," Palin said.

"Boooo!" said the crowd.

"And, according to the New York Times, he was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, 'launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol,'" she continued.

"Boooo!" the crowd repeated.

"Kill him!" proposed one man in the audience.

Also she continued on after this, without even trying to tell here audience that she did not want to go there.
Just like she did when speakers at her church said that terrorist attacks against Israelis were "God's judgment" for Jews having the audacity not to embrace Christianity. Just like she did when a visiting witch doctor at her church lamented the fact that, as he claimed, Jews control the banking industry and that's why Wall Street is so corrupt. Not a word from Sarah Palin when her supporters talk of killing Barack Obama. Not a word from Sarah Palin when her own church talks of the propriety of launching terrorist attacks against Jews in Israel.
Here is some more video of Sarah Palin's successionist buddies:



And some more AIP buddies of Sarah Palin:

"I've admired Sarah from the first time I met her at the 2006 (AIP) convention," which Palin also addressed, says Clark. "She impressed me so much. She's Alaskan to the bone; she's a damn good gal.

"As I was listening to her, I thought she sounds like what we've been saying for years. I thought to myself, 'My God, she sounds just like Joe Vogler.'"

And John McCain also had his moment as well:
McCain was speaking today in New Mexico, doing his usual personal attack on Barack Obama, as the stock market plummeted (you can see the ticker next to McCain on the screen, an apt reminder of what McCain and his fellow Republicans represent), and McCain asked the crowd "who is Barack Obama?" Immediately you hear a supporter yell "terrorist." McCain pauses, the audience laughs, and McCain continues on, not acknowledging, not chastising, not correcting. Oh, but McCain does say in the next sentence that he's upset about all the "angry barrage of insults." Is McCain losing his mind, or just a liar?
And here's the video.



And of course John McCain is not without his own racist links as well.
Well, no. Obama was—he was asked about this in a debate in a primaries with Hillary Clinton sitting there; George Stephanopoulos of ABC asked him about it. He answered it. He pointed out that the despicable acts this guy committed were committed when, apparently, Barack Obama was eight years old. And, and I think Governor Palin here is making a strategic mistake. This guilt by association path is going to be trouble ultimately for the McCain campaign. You know, you can go back—I’ve written a book about McCain. I had a dozen researchers go through him. I didn’t even put this in the book. But John McCain sat on the board of a very right-wing organization. It was the U.S. Council for World Freedom. It was chaired by a guy named John Singlaub, who wound up involved in the Iran-Contra scandal. It was an ultraconservative right-wing group. The Anti-Defamation League, in 1981, when McCain was on the board, said this about this organization. It was affiliated with the World Anti-Communist League, the parent organization, which ADL said, “has increasingly become a gathering place, a forum, a point of contact for extremists, racists and Anti-Semites.” Now, that’s not John McCain. I don’t think he is that. But, but, you know, the problem is that a lot of people know John McCain’s record better than Governor Palin, and he does not want to play guilt by association or this thing could blow up in his face.
The republican candidates are getting uglier and uglier.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Joel's Army: A Power Hungry Theology



Until I read this article by Casey Sanchez for The Southern Poverty Law Center, I did not really understand what was meant by the term "Joel's Army". A user over at Talk2Action and DailyKos by the name of dogemperor has been sounding the alarm over this movement for several years. She was brought up in an Assemblies of God Church which subscribed to this theologyand walked away from it a few years ago.

Dogemporer also has an excellent overview of Joel's Army theology. This movement is also called "The New Apostolic Reformation" (NAR). There are a lot of links in the article, I recommend it highly. You can get lost in all of the links and craziness of these people. The only problem I have had with reading all of this material, is that dogemperor relies on AoG terminology which sometimes confuses me. Dogemperor says that the AoG churches officially deny they are supporting Joel's Army activities, but a lot of AoG churches have been steeplejacked by Joel's Army supporters.

But until I read the article by Sanchez, I was confused by the fact that most of the Pentecostal people I knew were the "lets not worry and just wait for the Rapture" sort of people. But it seems that within the AoG churches and assorted non-denominational churches, there are people who are not content for God to choose the time for the Rapture; they think it is up to them. I can see how a movement like this can start up. The rise of Prosperity Gospel and the idea that God can give them what they want here on earth can turn into the nightmare of Joel's Army, if what one wants is political power.
Tattooed across his sternum are military dog tags that read "Joel's Army." They're evidence of Bentley's generalship in a rapidly growing apocalyptic movement that's gone largely unnoticed by watchdogs of the theocratic right. According to Bentley and a handful of other "hyper-charismatic" preachers advancing the same agenda, Joel's Army is prophesied to become an Armageddon-ready military force of young people with a divine mandate to physically impose Christian "dominion" on non-believers.
...
Joel's Army followers, many of them teenagers and young adults who believe they're members of the final generation to come of age before the end of the world, are breaking away in droves from mainline Pentecostal churches. Numbering in the tens of thousands, they base their beliefs on an esoteric reading of the second chapter of the Old Testament Book of Joel, in which an avenging swarm of locusts attacks Israel. In their view, the locusts are a metaphor for Joel's Army.
It looks like the younger people in some of these churches want their Armageddon now and they want to bring it about themselves.

Those sounding the alarm about Joel's Army are not secular foes of the Christian Right, few of whom are even aware of the movement or how widespread it's become in the past decade. Instead, Joel's Army critics are mostly conservative Christians, either neo-Pentecostals who left the movement in disgust or evangelical Christians who fear that Joel's Army preachers are stealing their flocks, even sending spies to infiltrate their own congregations and sway their young people to heresy. And they say the movement is becoming frightening.

"The pitch and intensity of the military rhetoric of this branch of the global Dominionist movement has substantially increased since the beginning of 2008," writes The Discernment Research Group, a Christian watchdog group that tracks what they call heresies or cults within Christianity. "One can only wonder how long before this transforms into real warfare with actual warriors."

This is really scary if conservative Christians themselves are frightened by this movement and recognize it as a political movement obsessed with gaining political power.
Joel's Army believers are hard-core Christian dominionists, meaning they believe that America, along with the rest of the world, should be governed by conservative Christians and a conservative Christian interpretation of biblical law. There is no room in their doctrine for democracy or pluralism.

Dominionism's original branch is Christian Reconstructionism, a grim, Calvinist call to theocracy that, as Reconstructionist writer Gary North describes, wants to "get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God."

Notorious for endorsing the public execution by stoning of homosexuals and adulterers, the Christian Reconstructionist movement is far better known in secular America than Joel's Army. That's largely because Reconstructionists have made several serious forays into mainstream politics and received a fair amount of negative publicity as a result. Joel's Army followers eschew the political system, believing the path to world domination lies in taking over churches, not election to public office.

Another key difference between the two branches of dominionism, which maintain a testy, arms-length relationship with one another, is Christian Reconstructionism's buttoned-down image and heavy emphasis on Bible study, which contrasts sharply with Joel's Army anti-intellectual distrust of biblical scholars and its unruly style.

That's really great, the irrationality and anti intellectualism of the Joel's Army seems to make them into a howling mob. Actually, read the following description of one of the services:
The audience members behave as if they are at a psychedelic counterculture festival. One couple jumps up and down twirling red and silver metallic flags. Dyed-haired teenagers pulled in by the revival's presence on Facebook and MySpace wander around looking dazed. Women lay facedown on the floor, convulsing and howling. Fathers wail in tongues as their confused children look on. Strangers lay hands on those who fail to produce tongues or gyrate wildly enough, pressuring them to "let it out."
Holy shit indeed.
Michael Barkun, a leading scholar of radical religion, notes that in 1958, Branham began teaching "Serpent Seed" doctrine, the belief that Satan had sex with Eve, resulting in Cain and his descendants. "Through Cain came all the smart, educated people down to the antediluvian flood — the intellectuals, bible colleges," Branham wrote in the kind of anti-mainstream religion, anti-intellectual spirit that pervades the Joel's Army movement to this day. "They know all their creeds but know nothing about God."
It seems that their reach is far indeed and quite subtle. In fact, a large non-denominational church near where I live has an interesting selection of sermons on-line. In two sermons entitled, Picture of a Typical Unbeliever, July 27 and August 3 2008, the preacher is linking the biblical Cain and his descendants with non-Christians and atheists as the main theme of the sermons. I don't know if he realizes that the "Serpent Seed" theology is also promulgated by racist Christian Identity churches, except their descendants of Cain are non-white instead of non-Christian. Different groups but the same demonizing.

Here is another article about the Joel's Army people over at Talk2Action. There is also a link to one of the preachers that advocate this theology. He talks about taking over the government.
Sarah Palin's churches are being portrayed by many religion writers as typical of traditional Assemblies of God congregations. This includes claims that she may share the endtimes belief that the godly will be snatched from the earth in the Rapture and therefore avoid the reign of the Antichrist in the Tribulation and the Apocalypse. This conclusion completely ignores the fact that Palin's churches are deeply involved in the activities and beliefs of a nondenominational movement that is sweeping the globe. The followers of this movement are not waiting around for the Rapture!
Here is a quick overview of the theology:
While Pentecostal churches have always celebrated a restoration of the church, this has been tempered with Rapture theology. As churches embrace this Apostolic revolution they are moving away from the traditions of Assemblies of God and other denominations and are adopting a view of the end time that includes the triumph and perfection of the church as opposed to escaping in the Rapture from an evil world descending into the apocalypse. They see the imminent end times as a time of great glory for the restored true Apostolic church greater than the one of New Testament times, and a time when the foot soldiers of this church will be imparted with supernatural powers. This outpouring of powers will allow them to crush evil with a "rod of iron" and deliver a purified church to Jesus when he returns. Their schedule is even more pressing than many in other Dominionist groups because their hybrid mixture of end time beliefs maintains the urgency of an imminent return of Jesus. The writer whose title I borrowed for this article states, "This growing army of delivered, discipled and deployed Christians are now prepared to become active participants in the cosmic battle for every area of God's terra-firma."
It almost sounds like a kooky mixture of Mormonism and Scientology. Just substitute demons with thetans and you have the basics of Scientology. And a group called Morningstar Ministries produces a lot of their training materials. Hmmm. Interesting name, Morningstar. Isn't Morningstar another name of the Roman god Lucius Fero, aka Lucifer. Perhaps this should be pointed out to the more superstitious Christians. After all, don't they believe the Antichrist will come as a false prophet?

I'll end this article with a quote from the comments to this article.
Note that most "pew sitters" have LITTLE CLUE what they are involved with. (I sure didn't!!!!) However, since Palin grew up in this movement, had hands laid on her by some big figures, etc., I would guess that she knows full well that her "destiny" is to "reach" the world so that her (soon to be immortalized?) children can literally "rule" it, as Laffoon would say. While Palin hasn't been discipled by him specifically, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that she HAS been discipled under the wings of the larger NAR movement.
Update:

Dogemporer has an update over at DailyKos and Talk2Action about Sarah Palin's dominionist links and promises more. Scary.

And the ultimate goal, in Joel's Army circles?

To quote Pinky and the Brain, "Try to take over the world".

And we discuss this in much more detail in tomorrow's post...as the implications are disturbing indeed.

It looks like Sarah Palin's churches don't especially like either Catholics or Jews.

And some music by Bad Religion to set the mood.

New Rules for Sarah Palin and Her Witch Doctor

Friday, 3 October 2008

Jewish Soldier Beaten after Complaining of Discrimination

This story posted today over at Military.com. A soldier was beaten unconscious after he complained about religious discrimination at Ft. Benning in Savannah, GA. According to the AP, Pvt. Michael Handman was beaten unconscious fter he complained of harassment by other soldiers and a sergeant.

Pvt. Michael Handman of Atlanta says another soldier punched him in the head and knocked him unconscious in an unprovoked attack Sept. 24. He was treated for a concussion.

Handman wrote to his parents before the attack that he was being discriminated against. He said one sergeant used an anti-Semitic slur and another ordered him to remove his yarmukle (YAH'-muh-kah) in a dining hall.

This is what happens when religious discrimination is allowed in the military services. If soldiers see that they can pick on and harass others, then some will do so. I see this environment as a lack of command authority by whoever is running the base and the basic training program. Letting soldiers pick on and beat another soldier is disgraceful. Those who attacked this private should be immediately dishonorably discharged. How can you run a military organization if service members are attacking each other? What is wrong with the leadership? It says in the article that a soldier is being questioned regarding the beating. Hopefully some action will be taken.

I've covered hate groups in the military before. Here are a few links:

New York Times - Hate Groups Infiltrating the Military
Southern Poverty Law Center - A Few Bad Men
NBC News - White-Power Groups Recruiting From Military
Air University - Terrorist and Insurgent Organizations - Domestic Groups

Purity Control

In my last post, I highlighted a couple of especially obnoxious actions by evangelical fundamentalist Christians that are illustrated in MRFF's latest lawsuit. In addition to calling non-Christians second class people, materials about chastity and sexual promiscuity were given to women. These materials are not geared towards men. Here is what I said in my last post:
As if this was bad enough, there is worse, especially for female military members. Look at some of the items used as training material in the Army's Strong Bonds program:
"Every Woman, Every Day," (365 Christian readings and sermons about "sexual purity")

"Every Woman's Battle," (a book of Christian sermons, and Bible verses to "Discover God's plan for sexual and emotional fulfillment.")

"Every Woman's Battle Promise Book," (a "daily devotional" of Bible verses to support the reader in a quest for "sexual integrity")

"The Thrill of the Chaste," by Dawn Eden. The author is described on the back cover as "Jewish-born" and throughout the book as a "former agnostic Jew." The book describes in detail how she led a highly promiscuous and drug abusing lifestyle until she had a "born again experience" and "realized for the first time ... that [Jesus] as truly God's son." The book is filled (almost every page) with Bible verses and with the author proselytizing Christianity. Chaplain Johnson recommended the book multiple times during the training.
Apparently, Dawn Eden did not lead a "highly promiscuous and drug abusing lifestyle", she corrects this impression in her blog. But I'm familiar with the common evangelical claim of a very extreme lifestlye until they find Jesus. This book was probably confused with another, similar book or story. Chris Rhoda in the comments to Dawn's post, I'm In the Army Now, responds that MRFF will be correcting this part of the lawsuit.

I'm curious about this fixation that fundamentalist Christians have about women and sex and decided to do a few Google searches. I've already read about "Purity Balls" and such for teenage Christian girls where they pledge their sexuality to be guarded or "covered" by their fathers. Others have commented on the bad choice of the word "covered", which is another way of saying "mounted" for horses and cattle. But I was really shocked at now there are materials geared towards children, telling them that their sexuality is bad and somehow shameful if they are not virgins when they get married.

Here is a website for Christians overly obsessed with controlling other people's sex lives. Why the conflation of "purity" with chastity, unless they think sex is nasty and unclean? And will their obsession for "purity" change from the sexual to all aspects of their lives? Will they start regarding all those they regard as "impure" as some sort of second-class people?

Parents for purity is a website dedicated to increasing awareness of the dangers of the impurity in our surrounding culture. Our main directive is seeking to teach the benefits of living a pure life that is alert and striving towards God's will for purity in our daily walk with Him.

Parents for Purity is founded out of gratitude to God for revealing His power and authourity over every aspect of our lives.


So I decided to take a look at the Army's Strong Bonds program. Take a look at their symbol, telling isn't it. The symbol of the eagle but, hidden within it is the Christian dove. Just like every time overt Christian proselyzation is discovered, these "fearless" warriors for Christ scatter and hide again. If they are convinced they are following the law, why hide? Why do they hide the religious nature of the program until one signs up for it? I don't see any of the materials available for reading to find out what the program is all about. On the Strong Bond's website there is very little information and a requirement to sign up before any information is given. Why?

Here is a description of the Strong Bonds program from their website:

As members of the world’s premier fighting force, Army Soldiers sacrifice for our country every day, and so do their loved ones. Military life places extreme hardship on relationships, especially in wartime, so the Army – backed by Congress - has committed unprecedented resources to help Soldiers build stronger relationships through the Strong Bonds Program.

Strong Bonds has specialized programs for single Soldiers, couples and families. Those Soldiers being deployed or redeployed can also learn special coping tactics.

Strong Bonds empowers Soldiers and their loved ones with relationship-building skills, and connects them to community health and support resources. It is a holistic, preventative program committed to the restoration and preservation of Army families, even those near crisis. The program is initiated and led by the Army Chaplains. More than 90% of those who have attended the program rate it positively.

With Strong Bonds, participants not only bond with their loved ones. They bond with other Army families, chaplains and the Army community as a whole. In turn, our Soldiers realize that they’re not in this alone. They have an entire Army of support, both on duty and off.

There would be no problem with a program led by chaplains, except for the fact that the chaplain corps is now 40% fundamentalist evangelical Christian. These fundamentalist chaplains seem to have of a lot of problems dealing with those who are from differing branches of Christianity or are non-Christian. They seem to be unable to relate to those of differing beliefs without try to shove their own brand of religion at people. These particular chaplains for the most part are not as highly educated as other chaplains from other religions and branches of Christianity. Many non-denominational and Pentecostal Churches have very little educational requirements for a pastor. And a lot of these forms of Christianity do not have any female leadership. Perhaps this explains the sexual focus of women's materials. They see women as objects to be controlled, not as strong, capable, human beings.

Monday, 29 September 2008

MRFF Files Another Lawsuit

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation has filed another lawsuit against the Department of Defense and Secretary Gates alleging that the DoD has violated Spc. Dustin Chalker's constitutional rights not to be coerced into religious services. Here are a few excerpts from the lawsuit:
The legal issue raised herein is whether the plaintiff, a member of the United States Army, may be required to attend military functions and/or formations that include sectarian Christian prayers.
...
Plaintiff Chalker has sought relief from mandatory attendance at the subject functions/formations through his chain of command and the equal opportunity process. Neither have yielded satisfactory results.
No soldier should be forced to attend religious ceremonies and have to pretend to worship in order to make promotions. If the Army wants to have services, then those should be optional and held before or after the non-religious ceremony. Why does the Army have to combine the two? There is no non-religious reason for them to do so.

I've covered most of these church/state violations in this blog before, but there are so many egregious violations listed in the lawsuit. Here are some of the worst examples of the overt Christian proselytization that Spc Chalker has run into as detailed in the complaint:
Mandatory Attendance at U.S.A.F. Base Commander's Sectarian Call. During March, 2008, a program approved by Lt. Gen. Rod Bishop was presented at a commander's call at RAF Lakenheath, England. This commander's call was a mandatory function for an estimated 1,000 service members. The Powerpoint version presentation was emailed to an estimated 4,000-5,000 service members.
The "Spiritual Fitness" part of the presentation, given by Air Force Chaplain Capt. Christian Biscotti, was titled "A New Approach to Suicide Prevention: Developing Purpose-Driven Airmen." This presentation is just one example of the recent
shift (since 2005) to basing suicide prevention programs on Christian teachings, the most often used being Rick Warren's "The Purpose Driven Life".
In some cases, including the Lakenheath presentation, creationism is also incorporated. One chart in the Lakenheath presentation, for example, presents "3 Levels of Purpose". For Category I, the "Purpose" is "God Given", the "Idealogy" is "Religious," the "Motivation" is "The Love of God," and the example of a person who had this ideology is George Washington. The Category II "Purpose" is "Man Given," with "Philanthropy" as the ideology, "The Love of Man" as the motivation, with Karl Marx as the example. Category III is "Self Given" for purpose, "Humanism" for ideology, "The Love of Self" for motivation, and Charles Darwin as the example. The slide ends with Category I is the most beneficial, because if you love God (in a majority of world religions) , you'll love man and yourself."
Yeah, lets just assume all of the thousand members in attendance are evangelical Christians. I'm sure that about 25% of the audience are not even Christian at all. So much for respecting America's religious plurality that is reflected in military life. Lt.Gen Bishop certainly does not show respect for the men and women who serve under him. He explicitly states that the non-religious service members are not as good as the evangelical Christian ones.

I wonder what would happen if he replaces the religious references with race references, explicitly saying that one race is better than another? I think that he would quickly be replaced and would have to retire in shame. Why is one form of bigotry permitted and the other is not? No form of bigotry should be allowed expression in any official presentation. Perhaps having a last name of Bishop is getting to the general's head. He is confusing his position as a military leader with a religious leader. Christian supremacy is as bad a position as white supremacy.
Another slide titled "Contrasting Theories of Hope, Ultimate Theories Explaining Our Existence," has two columns, the first titled "Chance," and the second "Design," comparing Charles Darwin, creationism, and religion are also part of a chart comparing the former Soviet Union to the United States, concluding that "Naturalism/Evolution/Atheism" leads to people being "in bondage" and having "no hope," while theism leads to "People of Freedom" and "People of hope/destiny." After several more slides like these, the presentation continues with a slide titled "Christian's Message," and a slide with an image of a man looking upwards with his hands outstretched and the caption "Please open up both of your hands to receive this powerful tool."
Unbelievable, after denigrating about 20% of the audience (remember that the military has a larger atheist/agnostic population that in civilian life), he ends with overt proselytization. How would you feel to sit in that audience and be told that you are some sort of second class person? Then he ends his talk with the message that Christians are better people. What a load of utter bullshit. And evangelists wonder why the ratio of freethinkers is higher in the military. Have they ever given a thought to how they come across to non-Christians and other Christians?

As if this was bad enough, there is worse, especially for female military members. Look at some of the items used as training material in the Army's Strong Bonds program:
"Every Woman, Every Day," (365 Christian readings and sermons about "sexual purity")

"Every Woman's Battle," (a book of Christian sermons, and Bible verses to "Discover God's plan for sexual and emotional fulfillment.")

"Every Woman's Battle Promise Book," (a "daily devotional" of Bible verses to support the reader in a quest for "sexual integrity")

"The Thrill of the Chaste," by Dawn Eden. The author is described on the back cover as "Jewish-born" and throughout the book as a "former agnostic Jew." The book describes in detail how she led a highly promiscuous and drug abusing lifestyle until she had a "born again experience" and "realized for the first time ... that [Jesus] as truly God's son." The book is filled (almost every page) with Bible verses and with the author proselytizing Christianity. Chaplain Johnson recommended the book multiple times during the training.
Holy Shit! I don't see any listings for men to keep chaste. Why the double standard? It looks like they want to push this fundamentalist Christian garbage of submissive, virginal female soldiers. What a load of sexist bullshit. Why the fixation on sex? And why is being a virgin defined as "purity"? And what do they mean by "virginity"? Does the "pure Christian woman" have to have an intact hymen? Does having a busted cherry make a woman a second-class female, a slut, or a whore? I guess this explains the increase in anal sex among girls who take the"purity pledge."

They seem to hate sex. Perhaps since they aren't getting any, they don't want the rest of us to have sex as well. They also seem to imply that non-Christian women are drug abusing sluts. Any why are the materials that are for women focused only about sex? Aren't women capable of being more than virgins, baby-making machines or whores?

It seems that these repressed prigs are continuing the obsession with other's private sex lives by controlling women in the service. As a female veteran Air Force officer, I'm highly offended by such actions. As an atheist, I'm also highly offended by the overt statements that I'm some sort of second-class human. And this is only a small sampling from the lawsuit.

There is so much in this lawsuit, and this is only the start. So far, MRFF has only put together 2 lawsuits. They have almost 10,000 complaints about religious discrimination in the services. Even if only a fraction of "tormentees" are willing to step forward, I foresee lawsuits for many years, until the DoD is willing to make drastic changes in how they approach the issue of religion in the services. What MRFF needs to do next is start filing lawsuits from other Christians who also have been treated like shit by these literalist fundamentalist Christians. Way to go MRFF!

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Selling Theocracy with a Smile

Sam Harris has a new editorial in this week's edition of Newsweek. He says almost exactly what I've been thinking about the nomination of Sarah Palin as the Republican VP.
If anyone could make Christian theocracy smell like apple pie, Sarah Palin could.
Exactly, and this is why the media won't dig further into her background. Here is a VP who has a political past about as unamerican as can be. She has flirted with secessionism, book banning and trying to silence subordinates in her administrations. She comes across as an everyday hockey mom. Gosh darn it, she couldn't be all that bad now could she?

On the surface, she seems all very wholesome and good, and perhaps she means well. Perhaps she is one of the Christians who are good people, but who let themselves be used by manipulative religious leaders. On the other hand, looking at how she has climbed the political ladder, perhaps it's the other way around. Perhaps she is the one manipulating the religious leaders of her congregations for political gain.

I grew up in the deep South and I'm very familiar with this type of woman. They treat their friends very well, but never get on their bad side. They will do anything it takes to get what they desire, and heaven help those who get in their way. The sugar on the outside conceals a very ruthless core. I can't know her mind, and can only speculate on her motives by her actions.

Update:

TheZoo has a very good summary of Sarah Palin's scary church connections. It's a long read with a lot of video documentation. I recommend this to anyone who is curious about Palin's background.
By the time you finish this entire post, you will be horrified and terrified that Sarah Palin could ever possibly ascend to the role of Vice President of the U.S. (and very possibly President of the U.S.).
'Nuff said.

Sarah Palin's Witch Finder General?



If Sarah Palin is elected as VP, I wonder if she would appoint Rev. Muthee as her Witch Finder General.

Update:

Here is the actual video of of Rev. Muthee's blessing on Sarah Palin (about 5 minutes into the video). He actually blesses her to keep her safe from "the scary witches". The people in this church seem completely unable to determine what is real and what is make believe. The video resided on the Wasilla Assembly of God Church's website until John McCain picked Palin as his running mate. Then it disappeared until now.



Oh, and here's an eyewitness report to the Rev. Muthee's latest appearance at the Wasilla AoG. Max Blumenthal writes for The Nation and promises more videos. Oh, goody. This is great. I suppose it was natural for the reality-challenged VP nominee to propose banning books like Harry Potter. They seem to be unable to grasp the concept of "fiction".
But they hardly needed encouragement. On the first night of services, Muthee implored his audience to wage "spiritual warfare" against "the enemy." As I filmed, a nervous church staffer approached from behind and told me to put my camera away. I acceded to his demand, but as Muthee urged the church to crush "the python spirit" of the unbeliever enemies by stomping on their necks, I pulled out a smaller camera and filmed from a more discreet position. Now, church members were in deep prayer, speaking in tongues and raising their hands. Muthee exclaimed, "We come against the spirit of witchcraft! We come against the python spirits!" Then, a local pastor took the mic from Muthee and added, "We stomp on the heads of the enemy!"
Some scary shit here. And people were worried about Rev. Wright? Rev. Muthee makes Rev. Wright look like Mr. Rogers.