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Sunday, 20 December 2009

They're At It Again

Well I thought I was through posting for the year, but this story by Chris Rodda grabbed my attention. Wheel of Fortune was hosting a Heroes's Week and one of the contestants decided to take the opportunity to announce to the world that he was a "Undersea Nuclear Christian Warrior". My jaw drops in amazement that such a clown is commanding a US Navy nuclear submarine.
Posts on message boards and Twitter confirm that the writer of this email heard correctly. As unbelievable as it sounds, Cmdr. Steve Cincotta, a submarine commander stationed at Navy Mine Anti-Submarine Warfare Command in San Diego, did, in fact, embarrass himself and the entire U.S. Navy by identifying himself on national TV as an "undersea nuclear Christian warrior," and MRFF certainly will be responding swiftly!
I'd hate to be stationed on this pious asshole's ship. But I have a similar tale of Dominionist attempts to hijack this nation's nuclear capability. When I was a young Lieutenant in the US Air Force, stationed at Peterson AFB, I heard stories from some older enlisted members about earlier attempts to take over the nation's nuclear forces.

I heard that in the late 1970's, some SAC officers were attending some extremely fundamentalist churches. On one occasion it was rumored that one of these officers mentioned that he would follow "God's Word" instead of his orders. The person who told me this story had the opinion that "God's Word" was really "Fundy Pastor's Word". Afterward some of these officers were quietly removed from the silos and stationed elsewhere. After all, the control of this nation's nuclear response should not be in the hands of someone who is convinced he personally is at the right hand of God.

It looks like the Dominionists would love to have their hands on the nuclear trigger. This should be ringing some alarm bells in the Pentagon if they have any sense at all anymore. BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

Happy Monkey 2009



Happy Monkey Everyone. This is my last post for 2009. It has been an very hectic and wonderful year. May everyone have a great holiday and a wonderful New Year.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Our Local Meetup Group Makes the Local Paper

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Darwin's On the Origin of the Species, the Antelope Valley Freethinkers had Dr. Matthew Rainbow present an overview of evolution for our members. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend due to an unforeseen family issue. The Antelope Valley Press covered the meeting and wrote an article about our group. I don't normally post an entire article, but the paper usually removes the web version after a week, so I'm posting it before it is removed.

Locals look at Darwin's book 150 years on

This story appeared in the Antelope Valley Press
Monday, November 23, 2009.
By JULIE DRAKE
Valley Press Staff Writer


LANCASTER - This year marks the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth. November also marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin's "On the Origin of the Species." The book introduced the theory that organisms evolve over the course of generations through the process of natural selection.

To celebrate, the Antelope Valley Freethinkers group scheduled a Darwin discussion and luncheon on Sunday for their monthly get-together. Club president David Dionne said they chose to celebrate the anniversary because Darwin's book is one of the most important and influential scientific works in history.

Club member Matthew Rainbow, an AVC biology professor with a Ph.D. in molecular biology and biochemistry, was the featured speaker. Rainbow said that in the history of science, Darwin is even more dangerous than Nicolaus Copernicus and the even more dangerous Sir Isaac Newton. He noted that Copernicus removed man's home - Earth - from the center of the universe.

"Darwin ratcheted it up a little, he did an even more serious thing," Rainbow said. "What did he remove from the center? Man himself."

Rainbow said that Newton, who believed in God, reduced astrophysics to a series of laws, whereby God works through laws.

"What did Darwin do?" Rainbow said. "Darwin basically took the most important question in biology - how did living things get here - and reduced that to laws … Darwin explained how the origin of species themselves can occur through laws."

Rainbow said the origin of life itself is misunderstood. The professor, who described himself as a card-carrying, flag-waving evolutionist who is an agnostic half the time and an atheist the other half, said that even he believes the first cells may have been intelligently designed by what could be called a creator.

"I think that if this creator exists, he or she or whatever it is, obviously wants to remain unknown, if he exists at all," Rainbow said. "The evidence now tends to suggest that they were intelligently designed."

But Rainbow said that everything else in evolution, such as fish into amphibians, amphibians into reptiles and ape-like creatures into humans, is all well explained by evolution. There are three steps to evolution: mutation to DNA of organisms; altered embryological development; and natural selection.

"Darwin knew almost nothing about the first step … much less what DNA was," Rainbow said. However, Darwin figured out the third step, that organisms constantly change. They pass on their traits to offspring and organisms exploded in growth."

Dionne said the Antelope Valley Freethinkers is a diverse group comprising agnostics, atheists, secular humanists and other religious nonbelievers. The club began as an affiliate of the Los Angeles-based Atheists United and became a local, independent nonprofit organization this spring.

There are currently about 60 members.

Dionne said the group's diverse membership includes independent thinkers from all different backgrounds and occupations.

"I really like finding interesting stuff for us to do and to talk about," he said. "To connect and build friendships with people with the same world view I have."

Dionne said the evolution of the club has been organic in the sense that it grows based on what members want. For the Antelope Valley Freethinkers, Dionne defined a freethinker as someone who bases their world view on reason, objective evidence and compassion, and who tends to be skeptical about supernatural things such as the existence of Gods, angels and demons, and the afterlife.

Dionne said that they strive to make their meetings interesting and entertaining. Past events include barbecues, picnics, movie viewing, board games, karaoke, and presentations on science and history. Members also volunteer in the community by participating in events such as the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. They also raised more than $300 for multiple sclerosis.

Antelope Valley native Erik Gunderson, the group's secretary, said he became involved with a similar group when he lived in Knoxville, Tenn., a few years ago. He joined the Antelope Valley Freethinkers when he returned to the Valley about three years ago.

Gunderson said that he enjoys the social aspects of the club in that he looks for a combination of fellowship and something interesting to think about.

"You get out of your brain what you put into your brain," he said. "We have a group where you have interesting, educated, smart people to talk with, sharing their knowledge, sharing their ideas, (it) makes you more interesting, smart and educated yourself."

Johann Olivier, the group's treasurer, said that he enjoys the intellectual stimulation you get as a member of the group.

"People are not constricted by dogmatic ideas of how the world should operate," he said.

For details, e-mail the group at avfreethinkers@yahoo.com.

jdrake@avpress.com

I bolded part of the story above where there port quotes Dr. Rainbow saying "said that even he believes the first cells may have been intelligently designed by what could be called a creator." I hope the reporter is misquoting Dr.Rainbow because I can't see how someone who describes himself as an agnostic atheist believes in intelligent design. Perhaps Dr. Rainbow was describing Darwin's views rather than his own and the reporter misunderstood.

Other than this nit, an excellent article about the Antelope Valley Freethinkers. Way to go Dave, Kelly, Eric, Johann and everyone.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

The Twelve Steps of Christmas

I bought a box of Christmas cards at Target with the following on the front :
The 12 Steps of Christmas
  1. Admit you are powerless over Christmas, and that your life has become unmanageable.
  2. Believe that a power greater than consumer credit can restore you to sanity.
  3. Decide to turn your will and life over to Santa as you understand him.
  4. Make a searching and fearless inventory of your material desires.
  5. Admit to Santa, to yourself, and to another human being the exact nature of your size, color preferences, and taste in furniture.
  6. Allow Santa to remedy all defects of your bank account.
  7. Humbly ask Santa to payoff your mortgage.
  8. Make a list of everything you want, and be willing to read the instruction manuals.
  9. Cite model numbers and retail locations wherever possible, except when doing so would require an internet search.
  10. Continue to take personal inventory, and when you think of something else you need, add it to the list.
  11. Seek through prayer and meditation to improve your conscious contact with Santa as you understand him, praying only for knowledge of his gifts for you and the power to open them quickly.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, carry Santa's message to friends and family every Christmas.
My personal favorite is #3. If I ever find myself looking towards a higher power, it will be Santa. Unlike other gods, Santa actually delivers. I actually find gifts under my tree every year.

Holy Piss, Batman



Pastor Steve seems to be really obsessed by Obama's death, gays, and pissing against a wall. Well, girls can piss standing up too, Pastor Steve. So there.



And PZ Myers really nails this guy's likely motivation.
Somehow, I get the idea that Steven L. Anderson, the flaming anti-gay pastor, has these dreams in which he stands shoulder to shoulder with a long line of men, and they all unzip and flip out their penises and spray a mighty stream forth, together, with pride and joy…and he feels good about these dreams. Glory!
Pastor Steve, you really need to get out of that closet. It's not healthy.

And here's more of Pastor Steve's antics.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Creepy Christmas Tree Ornament



I get sale catalogs in the mail. HarrietCarter.com has this amazingly tacky Christian ornament. The ornament claims that spending the holidays with Jesus is better than with family. This brings up a few questions I have. How do they know that the holidays are better in heaven? How do they even know there is a heaven at all? How do they know Jesus is in heaven? How do they know Granny is in heaven? After all, perhaps she was a crack whore in her younger days. Or even worse, perhaps she mixed linen and cotton while knitting. Maybe she's burning in the fiery pits of hell, being sodomized by demons. Perhaps HarrietCarter.com needs to sell an ornament for that.
Merry Chistmas from Hell ... I love you dearly, Now don't shed a tear, I'm spending my Christmas being sodomized by demons this year.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Had an Enjoyable Veteran's Day



We had an enjoyable Veteran's day to day. Appleby's had free entrees for veterans. Both me and the hubby enjoyed our free lunches. We had to pay for the rugrats however. It was a very enjoyable meal. The restaurant was packed with both veterans and active duty military.

Monday, 9 November 2009

New Boom-De-Yada



And of course the original.



Now, this is the way you frame science.

Friday, 6 November 2009

The Things You Find in A Christian Store



According to Aaron at Consumerist:

So I walked into my local Christian bookstore the other day, just to kill time while at the mall, and I see a rack displaying various Veggitales products. Having once worked in a church nursery, I know of the magical powers contained in those anthropomorphic carrots and cauliflowers. Imagine my surprise when I see this SEEMINGLY innocuous cookie cutter.

Innocent looking at first...but with a simple 90° rotation.....

It's perfect for your kids AND perfect for bachelorette parties. It's all about the frosting. Ya know?
Perhaps the Veggie Tales crew has a secret atheist working for them. HehHehHeh. And that bump, it scares me.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Beck: Liar, Lunatic, or Oh Lordy



Wow! That is all I can say. Well, not really, since I'm posting about the guy. Glenn Beck has really gone off the deep end with his latest rant. He has passed the last stop on the way to Crazytown. I thought I was watching Pat Robertson on the 700 Club for a minute. But for all of his ranting, Beck seems to know very little of the Christianity he professes. In an earlier show, he made some crack about "swords into plowshares" being a "commie plot". It very telling that he is unfamiliar with one of the most famous images from the New Testament.

He cries about how we should follow the ten commandments, lamenting that they have been removed from a park. He then follows this with the standard right-wing fundamentalist claim that no one can pray in school. Children can pray in public school as long as they are not causing a scene or disrupting class. But teachers and other government employees cannot coerce children to pray. He is breaking one of the very commandments he wants others to follow. What about the ninth commandment? The one about not bearing false witness? Oh, I see. Do what I say and not what I do. He can cherry pick his Christian commandments, but others must obey them all.

Glenn Beck follows an all too familiar format, a former drunk, now drunk on Jesus. He talks about an empty void inside everyone that must be filled with his god. He has traded an addiction to alcohol and drugs with an addiction to religion. His void was formerly filled with alcohol and drugs and is now filled with Jesus and an authoritarian church structure. He projects his own feelings of worthlessness and moral weakness on everyone else. Sorry, Mr.Beck, but I have a happy and productive life, filled with family. I don't have an empty void waiting to be filled. I also don't need an authoritarian structure to give my life purpose and morality.

Beck rants on and on about how "the godless" are corrupting American society and are responsible for all its social ills. Replace the "the godless" with "the Jews" and anyone can see exactly where he is going. I won't be surprised if one day he appears wearing a brown shirt on his show.

Update:

I thought of this scene in V for Vendetta when I heard Glen Beck. Friendly Atheist also has it posted as well.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

One Step out of the Textbook



I just don't understand the Texas Board of Education. They want to remove the name of Neil Armstrong as one of the first astronauts on the moon from Texas textbooks. After all of the crazy antics they have pulled trying to remove evolution in the curriculum, one would think that the ridicule that has been directed their way would at least generate some self reflection amongst the board members. But no, the crazier the better.
"What I think is happening here is there's too much politics and not enough kids. There's too much ideology and not enough education," said Kathy Miller of the Texas Freedom Network.

On day one of hearings in Austin, disagreements flare over the importance that should be given to civil rights leaders including Cesar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall.

On the other side some members are looking at adding mentions of people like Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh to the curriculum.

"I want these board members to talk to professors at Texas colleges and universities and ask them, what my daughters need to know when they graduate from high school," said Miller.
Well now we know who the Texas BOE regards as heroes. Neil Armstrong just isn't up to Texas BOE standards. After all, Armstrong wasn't arrested with illegal Viagra in the Dominican Republic, a country known for its child sex tourism. Neil Armstrong only walked on the moon, no big deal.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

The Sad State of Science Reporting

Missionary Mafia



Tomas Ryska from the Czech Republic went to Thailand and Laos to investigate the Akha people. Both local governments and Christian missionaries have preyed upon these people and have taken their children. He was curious about how the Akha children were treated by Christian missionaries. What he discovered shocked him and nearly got him killed by these Missionary child abusers. This documentary was presented to the UN and now some of the missionary organizations are starting to regulate their missionaries.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Constantine's Sword, An Excellent Documentary

Constantine's Sword has now been uploaded to YouTube. This documentary is well documented and very moving. I recommend it highly. I will be ordering this documentary myself. Constantine's Sword documents James Carroll's hard look at his Christian faith. He grew up seeing only the good that religion can bring people. But he needed to see the dark side of evangelism, antisemitism, and the forced conversions of Christianity's past in order to see his religion as it is rather than how he would like it to be.

Here is part one of nine, the other sections are linked and show after each section is played.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Fault Lines - Religion in the Military

Part 1



Part 2



The Army company staff meeting was really creepy. When I was in the Air Force in the 1980s and 1990s nothing like this would happen at a squadron meeting. This looks like a church revival service. The chaplain probably only gave people permission to leave because the camera crew were there. She only gave permission to leave after the incredibly creepy prayer service. Why couldn't the prayer service be optional and before or after the staff meeting?

When I attended squadron staff meetings, there was only very rarely any kind of prayer. The few times I encountered some sort of prayer, it was very short and only acknowledged some sort of vague deity. I would use the time look around to see who else was a godless heathen like myself. We would exchange knowing smirks. It was always the same people. HehHehHeh.

Look closely at the crowd in the video. Very few (brave people there) took up her offer to leave. But look closely at the crowd. Even though there are quite a few people praying, waving their arms around, it is not a majority by any means. Also there are quite a few soldiers looking not too happy about being a captive audience for this chaplain.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

The Chaplains of Hate



The Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches (CFGC) has been in the news lately, and not in a good way. They endorse approximately 270 chaplains in the United States military. Jim Ammerman runs the CFGC out of an office in his house. They seem to exist only to endorse chaplains, they do not serve any specific religious sect or congregation. This violates several of the rules regarding chaplain endorsing agencies. Talk2Action author, Chris Rodda, and MRFF have been investigating this story for the past month. The story finally bubbled up to Newsweek. MRFF weekly briefs also cover some of the articles. The MRFF also has sent a letter with 55 pages of supporting evidence to Secretary Gates and others.

From MRFF's letter:

1. The Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches (CFGC), headed by retired Army Col. E.H. Jim Ammerman, which, according to its website, currently has over 270 chaplains and chaplain candidates in all branches of the military, habitually denigrates all religions and religious denominations except Charismatic and Pentecostal Christianity. This denigration, which includes virulently anti-semitic and Islamophobic statements, as well as the deprecation of Catholicism and mainstream Protestantism, occurs in the CFGC's chaplain newsletters, as well as in the speeches, media appearances, and videos of both Mr. Ammerman and a currently serving CFGC chaplain, Army Maj. James F. Linzey.

2. Both Mr. Ammerman and Maj. Linzey have made numerous statements against the government of the United States and certain government officials and departments, promoted civilian militia movements, and disseminated many conspiracy theories in an attempt to foment disloyalty to the government of the the United States among both civilians and military personnel. This type of activity has previously led to an investigation of Ammerman and CFGC, called for by Air Force Lt. Gen. Normand Lezy in 1997.

DoD Directive Number 1325.6, "Guidelines for Handling Dissident and Protest Activities Among Members of the Armed Forces," cited in Lt. Gen. Lezy's 1997 memorandum, states that "Military personnel must reject participation in organizations that espouse supremacist causes." The Prophecy Club, an organization for which both Mr. Ammerman and Maj. Linzey have made videos, unquestionably espouses a supremacist cause. In addition, various statements made by both Mr. Ammerman and Maj. Linzey in their Prophecy Club videos, as well as in other forums, such as radio appearances and speeches, incontrovertibly violate one or more of the following statutory provisions found in Enclosure E1.2 of DoD Directive Number 1325.6.

3. According to the definition of a "Religious Organization" found in DoD Directive Number 1304.19, "Guidance for the Appointment of Chaplains for the Military Departments," CFGC is not eligible to be authorized as an ecclesiastical endorser. CFGC is not an "entity that is organized and functions primarily to perform religious ministries to a non-military lay constituency." CFGC, which is operated out of a house located in a residential neighborhood of Dallas, Texas zoned for single family homes, did not have a "non-military lay constituency" at the time of its founding, but was founded for the sole purpose of endorsing chaplains, and this continues to be its primary purpose to this day.

4. In a clear and blatant violation of CENTCOM's General Order 1-A, which absolutely prohibits the proselytizing of any religion, faith or practice in Iraq and/or Afghanistan, a network of forty CFGC chaplains has engaged in the organized distribution in Iraq of Arabic language Bibles and other Arabic language fundamentalist Christian evangelizing materials to the Iraqi people. The violation of this explicitly prohibited activity by these forty CFGC chaplains was initiated, encouraged, and aided by Mr. Ammerman.

According to US Army Regulation 165-1 :
4–3. Professional status of chaplains
a. Army chaplains have a dual role as religious leaders and staff officers. Their duties are prescribed by law, DOD policy, Army regulations, religious requirements, and Army mission. In performing their duties, chaplains do not exercise command, but exercise staff supervision and functional direction of religious support personnel and activities (title 10, United States Code, section 3581).
b. The chaplain is a qualified and endorsed clergy person of a DOD recognized religious denomination or faith group.
c. Chaplains are noncombatants and will not bear arms.
d. The proper title for a chaplain is “chaplain” regardless of military rank or professional title. When addressed in writing, the chaplains rank will be indicated in parentheses (see AR 25–50 and AR 600–20).
e. Commanders will detail or assign chaplains only to duties related to their profession. Chaplains may perform unrelated duties in a temporary military emergency. Chaplains may volunteer to participate or cooperate in nonreligious
functions that contribute to the welfare of the command. Commanders will not—
(1) Detail a chaplain as an exchange, athletic, recreation, drug or alcohol, graves registration, welfare, morale, dining
facility, personal affairs, information, education, human relations, equal opportunity, next-of-kin notification, suicide prevention, or survivor assistance officer. However, in the event of the death of a chaplain, chaplain(s) will be appointed to assist Summary Court Officers in review of confidential records and personal effects when next-of-kin is present.
(2) Assign a chaplain as military judge, trial counsel, defense counsel, investigating officer, member of a courtmartial, or member or adviser to investigative boards of officers. Chaplains may be required, however, to conduct inquires into chaplain-related activities or incidents.
(3) Require a chaplain to serve in a capacity in which he or she may later be called upon to reveal privileged or sensitive information incident to such service.
Section 4b states that Army chaplains must come from a DoD recognized faith group. If the Wiccans can't have an official chaplain in the Army, then some group operating from a guy's home office shouldn't be able to endorse chaplains either.

It starting to look like some of the worst offending chaplains have been endorsed by the CFGC. Our old friend Gordon Klingenschmidtt is still endorsed by this agency despite having been drummed out of the Navy with a courts-martial. Since 1993, this agency's chaplains have participated in the following:
  1. Violated numerous service members' constitutional rights.
  2. Made up conspiracy theories.
  3. Called for the violent overthrow of the United States government.
  4. Pushed white supremacy.
  5. Advocated for military members to ignore military rules.
  6. Denigrated other religions and those who are non-religious.
  7. Called for the execution of those they disagree with politically.
These chaplains have a virtual cornucopia of skills. [A virtual cornucopia of skills - Inside joke warning. Yes, I've actually used this phrase as a joke when writing officer ratings back when I was in the Air Force. We would try to see if we could get this phrase in an OER without anyone noticing. HehHehHeh]. CFCG chaplains have violated numerous service members constitutional rights regarding religious freedom. The CFGC seems only to exist as a chaplain endorsing agency according to the MRFF. What religious group to they represent? They seem to advocate a Christian Identity Militia type of religion, where white Christians are the "real Chosen people".

Of course not all of the offending chaplains have come from the CFGC. Capt. Robert Nay was accused of making anti-Semitic remarks against Jewish chaplains in 2001. He was also accused of hanging up Nazi uniforms at a prayer breakfast where chaplain attendance was mandatory. The Army investigated and found Rabbi Goldman's complaints were valid. I did a Google search on Chaplain Nay and found he is a member of the Carlisle Reformed Presbyterian Church. It can also be seen that instead of being courts-martialed, this man was promoted. This is not surprising since the chaplain leadership is almost exclusively extreme right-wing evangelists.

Here is a very long and detailed reading list for this story. These stories have to be read to be believed. The CFCG advocates the same type of conspiracy theories espoused by an insane co-worker I worked with during the mid 1990's.
The chaplains of hate indeed.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Why is This Man Still a Chaplain?

This article by Bruce Wilson has me speechless. It looks like Chaplain Linzey has been a busy boy over the last few years with some very bizarre radio and video interviews. Here are a few excerpts from an interview on April 10, 2005.
22:00
Linzey : I want Americans, I want everybody listening, to go out and buy 5 weapons and 5,000 bullets - for your own protection, for self defense. Because I believe that foreign soldiers will come to our houses, to rape our wives and teenage daughters and kill the men right in front of them - and then the women will bear children of an ethnic stock different from what they are, and that's how you alter the course of any society; you change the ethnic stock. Egypt today is not the same ethnic stock it was during the Moses days."

...

34:50
host : "There's a article here, it says Arizona National Guard... plans more aggressive border action... down here at the end [of the article] he says `when the Minuteman thing is over, if it doesn't work, we're going to come out here and close down the border with machine guns.' Now, that's not the right attitude, is it ?

Linzey : I believe it is. This is a matter of national security, because if we don't, what `s the outcome ? - Our wives and teenage daughters are going to be raped, our men will be shot in their homes by these aliens who are put up by the Chinese soldiers who do this. There are 5-10 thousand Chinese soldiers in Mexico right now, training Mexicans to do this very thing.

36:30 : "I've heard of a plot by communists to get 5 million aliens coming up from Mexico, not that they're all Mexicans, to invade America and to each kill 5 Americans - then you have an instant Holocaust."

Wow. How can anyone believe this shit? Obviously there's no critical thinking going on here. How the hell can 5-10,000 Chinese soldiers be in Mexico without anyone noticing? Training people to rape? WTF? Rape classes for millions of Mexican men? And no one has noticed?

US military forces number about 2 million. It takes trillions of dollars and large facilities to support this number of people. And these people think that Mexico is training 5 million of their male citizens to come over here and rape people. What are these nutcases smoking? Also notice the inherent racism in Maj. Linzey's statements. What is his fascination with foreign men raping female citizens? Why would that destroy the United States? Of course he is implying the rape of white women by dark skinned invaders.

And here is an excerpt from March 12, 2005.
Linzey: I was the command chaplain for the largest mobilization mission in the Continental United States for Operation Iraqi Freedom, the number one chaplain and what we did, you know, maybe some people don't understand our roles as chaplains, but we are missionaries to the military. And I served as an advisor to commanding generals on spiritual and personal needs of soldiers, marines, airman and sailors and advisor on ethics, religion, and morals. I personally shook hands for thousands of soldiers boarding the planes to go over and coming back, and prayed over their units and spoke to them while they were in their formations, spoke to their relatives in the assembly area at Fort Bliss, where Jessica lynch came back and the news media covered her at the same facility where we were.
Read the highlighted part again. Maj. Linzey states "but we are missionaries to the military." He is absolutely wrong. A military chaplain is not a missionary to the military. Military personnel are not his personal mission field. He cannot try to convert military members as a chaplain. His job is to support military people in the beliefs they hold. And what exactly is he trying to convert military members to? Christian Identity? Christian Patriot movement?

I have one question left "Why is this man still a chaplain in the US Army?"

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Interesting Paint Job on a Local Police Car



I was going through some old email and came across this photo. Apparently, a couple of years ago
the local Kern County Sheriff's department received this car from the paint shop. According to the story, the car was driven for a week before the officer noticed the paint job on the side. The painter was retiring and he painted the car on his last day at work. I don't know if this is true or not but the picture is funny.

Update:

According to Cat in the comments, the photo is correct, except for the donuts sticker. A Snopes article has the Kern County Sheriff making a comment about creating gag stickers for the cars. It looks like his people took the idea a little too far.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Militants



Courtesy of Atheist Cartoons. In the third panel, they need to add a bus with an atheist ad on the side driving by. HehHehHeh.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Holy Crusades, Batman

GQ Magazine aired an article a few weeks ago entitled, And He Shall be Judged, about how Donald Rumsfeld manipulated George W. Bush and some of his White House staff by playing on their religious wants and desires about the Iraq War. Religious imagery and quotations were used on the slides for the intelligence briefings given to the president in the early days of the Iraq War.



Why was this done? And why would senior military and intelligence officials go along with this? Couldn't they see what would happen if this should get out? It appears that quite a few of these senior officers and government officials sympathized with the religious sentiments expressed in the slides. That is not surprising considering the Christian Embassy scandal at the Pentagon and the reports of all types of religious meetings and proselytizing happening at the Pentagon. Senior Pentagon officers also seemed to be as credulous as former Pres. Bush when it came to being manipulated by Donald Rumsfeld.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Onward Christian Supremacists

I've long suspected that white supremacy is linked with some of the overt evangelizing of military members by fundamentalist Christian chaplains, so this story by Chris Rodda is no suprise. Mikey Weinstein spoke at CFI-West about two years ago. In the question and answer session, I asked him if MRFF had received any reports of this type of activity. He gave me a rather vague reply, indicating that either he did not know or could not talk about the matter. In continuing to investigate Gordon Klingenschmitt, Chris Rodda ran across his chaplain endorsing agency while he served in the Navy.
The other was to post a very strange disclaimer on his website, in which he called Lynn and Weinstein "bone-heads," and defended his right to call himself "Chaplain," stating that he has a current endorsement as a "Chaplain and Evangelist to America" from the Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches (CFGC). It was this statement that led MRFF to take a closer look at the CFGC, a chaplain endorsing agency headed by retired Army colonel and chaplain Jim Ammerman, and authorized by the Department of Defense to provide the ecclesiastical endorsement required by the military for all military chaplains, with several hundred of its chaplains currently serving in all branches of the military.

Right off the bat, MRFF found the expected stuff -- which alone provides ample reason to demand that the DoD to revoke the chaplain endorsing authority of Jim Ammerman and the CFGC.

CFGC should be disqualified as an endorsing agency because of its repeated denigration of all other religions and Christian denominations that aren't Charismatic or Pentecostal, which is completely contrary to Department of Defense Instruction Number 1304.28.

The CFGC is the endorser for approximately two hundred chaplains. This endorser openly denigrates other Christians, Jews, Muslims, and the non-religious. The CFGC also advocates crazy conspiracy theories and the armed overthrow of the United States government. There is even a current chaplain, Army Major James F. Linzey, who is a member of something called the Prophecy Club. This website seems to be some sort of money making site, consisting mainly of ads for videos and their magazine.

Maj. Linzey has made several videos in the past for the Prophecy Club and Jim Ammerman, his endorser. One video is called "Imminent Military Takeover of the U.S.A." showed by militia groups in the 1990's, and another is a radio interview for a show called The Edge.

Maj. Linzey also went into all the conspiracy theory stuff about the "masonic, Illuminati wackos" who have gotten into government office by deception, and the 9-11 conspiracy theory stuff, but it's his statements inciting the taking up of arms against the government that are most disturbing.

Linzey first talked about his "friend, Jim Gilcrest, who's heading up the Minuteman Project," promoting the group with statements like this:

"I'm trying to avoid saying we need to take up arms and go take care of it ourselves, but it appears that we might be needing to head this way."

He also promoted militias in general because there will be "blood bath" when the "invasion from the south" and battle with foreign U.N. forces and the Chinese in the U.S. commences.

"I suggest that Americans get their arms to be ready to defend themselves and their own homes when they come knocking on your door, demanding your food, demanding your money, and raping your wives. The U.N. troops will be here to start patrolling the cities, the streets, the highways, and we will be under, basically, European rule."

Among his other fear-mongering claims are that there are detention camps already set up by the U.S. government for "patriots" who won't go along with the government's agenda, that these detention camps are equipped with facilities to kill the detainees by gassing the "patriots," and that the government already has a list of the "patriots."

This radio show is also one where Maj. Linzey directly stated that his military chaplain endorser Jim Ammerman knows exactly what he's out there doing.

When the interviewer asked Linzey:

"If what you are saying is true, wouldn't the government -- if the government is any way culpable to some of these events -- wouldn't they want to not have you, say go on a speaking tour or anywhere else, or even be on this show?

Linzey responded:

"Would they not want me to? Well, you know, probably not. Now -- but that doesn't matter. As long as I'm abiding within the law, I can say that I'm speaking as Jim Linzey, not in my official capacity as an officer or military chaplain, then I prefaced it right, and I can proceed. And Col. Jim Ammerman -- he's my endorser -- and he knows exactly what I'm doing, and, so, that's it."

But, of course, Jim Ammerman would approve of what Maj. Linzey is spewing. Ammerman's own "Imminent Military Takeover of the U.S.A." video contains the same kind of seditious incitement, which, no doubt, accounts for its popularity among militia groups.

The Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches should be removed as an endorser for the United Stated military forces. How can an association which advocates sedition and crazy conspiracy theories and associates with the militia groups associated with violence be allowed to place chaplains within the US military? These chaplains obviously support these ideas since they are endorsed by this agency.

I'm not surprised by the link between fundamentalist, usually Pentecostal churches and militia groups. I grew up in Louisiana, in the Deep South, where these links have historically been much more overt. Growing up in a small town, I learned which families were usually members of the Klan and milita groups. Not surprisingly, these families were usually involved in very fundamentalist, Christian churches, usually Baptist and Pentecostal (usually all-white Assemblies of God churches). Nowadays, non-denominational churches have joined the fun. I don't think that his has changed much in the 25 years I have been away.

Update:

Not surprisingly Ammerman is a part of the New Apostolic Reformation.
Colonel "Jim" Ammerman was listed as being an apostle in C. Peter Wagner's International Coalition of Apostles [see ICA prospectus] from the organization's inception in 2001 through to December 2008. The ICA is one of the main entities in Wagner's New Apostolic Reformation, a movement rapidly coalescing out of the Apostolic networks that have arisen in Third Wave Christianity.
This type of Christianity is highly emotional and irrational.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Weary of Such Continued Idiocy

Yesterday, in the LA Times, Charlotte Allen wrote an incredibly stupid piece of tripe entitled Atheists: No God, no reason, just whining. I was going to go through this dreck point by point with a rebuttal. Mike's Weekly Skeptic Rant has already done this, and I'm just too weary of Allen's imbecilic rantings to spend much time on it like Hemant Mehta and PZ Myers have.

Her first and only point that I'm going to address is this:
I can't stand atheists -- but it's not because they don't believe in God. It's because they're crashing bores.
Then why did she even bother writing the article at all? What was the point other than a sorry excuse of pathetic bigotry? Her points did not even make any sense and contradicted each other, as in these examples on a few scant paragraphs apart.
My problem with atheists is their tiresome -- and way old -- insistence that they are being oppressed and their fixation with the fine points of Christianity.
and
The problem with atheists -- and what makes them such excruciating snoozes -- is that few of them are interested in making serious metaphysical or epistemological arguments against God's existence, or in taking on the serious arguments that theologians have made attempting to reconcile, say, God's omniscience with free will or God's goodness with human suffering.
So Ms. Allen which is it? Are atheists too interested in debating the finer points of religion, or not interested in it at all? You can't have it both ways. If this is what passes for writing in the LA Times, I'm thankful that I have not wasted any money on a subscription.

Update:

My favorite takedown from the Young Australian Skeptics:
Charlotte’s opinion is noted, and stupid. Presumably she won’t spend the entire article talking about how boring we are then - after all, that wouldn’t be particularly interesting, would it?

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Don't Nonbelievers Bleed Just as Red?

Cardinal Murphy-O'Conner opens his mouth and the stupid just comes out. We're not "totally human" according to him.



Cardinal Murphy-O'Conner's own words:
"...there is, in fact, in my view, something not totally human if they (atheists) leave out the transcendent. If they leave out an aspect of what I believe everyone is made for, which is a search for transcendent meaning, we call it God, if you're saying that has no place, then I feel that it's a diminishment (sic) of what is being human...I think that if you leave that out then you are not fully human."
And exactly what does he think we are? According to this arrogant windbag, we are less than human because we don't blindly accept a supernatural god without evidence. Transcendence does not only mean a belief in a god. The word has many meanings, one of which means a sense of awe or wonder at the world around us, another is that flash of insight where we feel at one with our surroundings. But because our thoughts and words are different than his, and because we don't submit to his church authority, how dare we expect to be seen as "fully human". Yes, how dare we have the audacity to even exist and have happy productive lives.

But you know what he really wants. And yes, no one expects the Spanish Inquisition.



I wonder what comes next. The Catholics that think just like him join with the NAR fundies and in addition to thinking us less than human, they also confiscate our belongings and kill us? Hmmm, this is starting to sound awfully familiar.

Update:

Checkout Jesus and Mo.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Just theTip of the Iceberg

Chris Rodda over at Talk2Action has yet more information on past proselytizing by soldiers in both Iraq and Afghanistan since the wars in these countries started. She gives example after example pulled from the websites of various Christian ministries to show that these are not isolated incidents. MAAF also has a web page highlighting some of these stories.

This example tells it all:

But, topping the stupidity list, we have a Lt. Col. who was being so stupid that a missionary had to tell him that he was putting his troops and other people in danger. The missionary was from Liberty Baptist Tabernacle, which had already shipped 20,000 Arabic "Soul-Winning Booklets" into Iraq, with more on the way. This Lt. Col., who knew the missionary from the states, went to his hotel and offered to use his troops to protect the people who were converting the Muslims. This is from the insane story of what this genius of an officer did to meet with the missionary, copied from the ministry's website:

"On another note, a dear Christian friend, that I had met some ten years prior, who was a deacon of an independent Baptist church in Missouri was also in Iraq. I was totally unaware of this. He was in the Missouri National Guard and holds the rank of Lieutenant Colonial. Col. Koontze immediately contacted me when he found out I was in country. He was made aware of my being in Baghdad by a pastor friend of his that he had spoken with in the states.

"Through his command intelligence office, he located the hotel I was staying at. When he came to the hotel, I was sitting outside with the other pastors on the hotel's terrace, waiting for Robert Lewis [Global Resource Group-Director], who was going to meet with us that afternoon. Col. Koontze must have had 15-20 soldiers with him; they literally blocked off the entire city block with tanks and humvees to secure the area. He then walked into the lobby asking if anyone could tell him where Pastor Furse was. As he was saying those words, he spotted me and immediately said, "It's good to see you again Bro. Furse." At first, I did not recognize him, until he took his helmet off. We spoke for about 20 minutes at one of the tables on the terrace of the hotel; all the while the tanks and humvees were being lined up and down the main street in front of the hotel. After renewing acquaintances, I had to tell him that it would probably be best if he and his unit left as soon as possible.

"The Iraqi people in the hotel and those on the street were to say the least, very concerned. I did not want to bring that much attention to the hotel; for fear that terrorists would target the area as well [over the previous four or five days, we had heard sporadic AK-47 gunfire going off just blocks away from the hotel]. Col. Koontze agreed fully with me on that assessment and ordered his unit to leave quietly and as quickly as possible."

This Lt.Col is quite possibly the stupidest person in Iraq. He reminds me of the Air Force Colonel in the Christian Embassy video gushing on and on about Jesus with the goofiest, most credulous expression on his face. I, for one, would be embarrassed to have such a doofus as a commanding officer.

These Christian websites brag about the influence they have in the military and discuss how many hundreds of thousands of bibles and tracts they have sent to Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army commanding officers seem to live in their own reality when they claim that only personal copies of religious materials are being sent. These missionary-soldiers seem to be completely oblivious to the harm they are causing to their mission and their fellow soldiers. Or perhaps they don't care. After all, one more convert for Christ, no matter the cost.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Participated in an Interesting Pew Survey

A couple of days ago I received a letter about participating in a Pew Survey. This survey is being conducted by both the Pew Research Center and AAAS. According to the letter:
We are writing to ask for your help in an important research project jointly sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Pew Research Center. We are conducting a national survey of scientists to learn more about the experiences and concerns of scientists today. We are also surveying the general public about their views and attitudes regarding science.

You are among a small number of scientists whose views we are seeking. Survey topics include the motivations and goals of scientists in the United States today, challenges and barriers to the conduct of science, and opinions about scientific issues. Your answers will be kept completely confidential and used only as summaries in which no individual answers can be identified.

The Pew Research Center is an independent, non profit public opinion research organization, and AAAS is a nonprofit membership organization. Results of the survey will be released this summer and will be posted on the websites of both the Pew Research Center and AAAS.
So I decided to login and take the online survey. The survey contained various questions about global warming, evolution, stem cell research, and belief in a higher being. This is a strange combination for a survey, as it seems to pertain to topics discussed regularly on atheist and science sites. Perhaps we are having an effect on the national discourse after all, no matter how much some of the believers try to tell us to sit down and shut up.

Here are some example screen shots of the survey. The resolution was not very good, so if you can't clearly see the question, double click to get a larger image. You can see that the questions don't really have a variety of selections, most of them only allow a couple of selections only.

The two choices are special creation or evolution. At first I wondered about old earth and theistic evolution as choices for those who believe in a god who created life that evolved. But when I reached the other questions, they were about whether or not a god existed. So it looks like they are separating out the combinations of answers about yes views on the origin of the diversity of life.
As you can see, there are only two choices here. I guess the young earth creationists are out of luck here as both choices assume the evolution of life whether or not you believe a god guided it or not.
They leave out the option I would have wanted: All people should be vaccinated unless a medical condition precludes it.
I was a little confused, because the last option, Nothing in particular, can also mean atheist or agnostic. A lot of times I answer the religion selection on forms with None.
This one is fairly straight forward, but what about atheists who attend services to support a spouse or family?
Well, this one they mucked up in my opinion. They make a difference in spirituality and a belief in a god. But what definition of God are they using? Don't a lot of people define a universal spirit or higher power as being God for them?

Well, it was interesting participating in a Pew Survey. They made it easy to login and take the survey. The results are supposed to be tabulated later on this summer.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

"It's About Fucking Time"



Seth McFarlane replies "It's about fucking time." to Bill Maher's question about the popularity of atheism in the past couple of years. And the audience cheers like mad. Maher tries to says that his movie is the reason, but I don't think so. It's the internet that is largely responsible. I remember reading discussions about atheism on the early internet in the late 1980's and early 1990's on alt.atheism and alt.atheism.moderated.

Then Internet Infidels and IIDB (now FRDB) started up in the mid-1990's and I was happy posting and meeting other atheists online. Now it seems atheist blogs are popular and the number seems to be expanding every day. Now, there are more dynamic sites like Atheist Nexus and Atheist Nation. Also people are meeting in real life and using Atheist Meetups. Local groups are becoming more common and I participate in most of these types of social interactions.

Texas School Board in La-La Land


The Texas Board of Education apparently thinks that the age of the universe is something that can be voted on. Barbara Cargill apparently has been teaching science for over 20 years in Texas and is acting like her position on the Texas BOE allows her to decide the age of the universe. She comes across in the video as not accepting the current scientific consensus of the age of the universe and the expanding universe. It seems this science teacher fancies herself more knowledgeable than astronomers, geologists, physicists, etc.

You think that she would have learned a little bit about the scientific method in her 20 years of teaching science. But I guess not. Sorry dear, you're entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts. What is it about the South? My home state of Louisiana seems to have more than its share of fantasy prone individuals like this. They act like all they have to do is wish for something to be true in order for it to be a reality.

And here's the video:



Pam mentions the legislating teaching of Pi as three instead of 3.14159... (Actually, Indiana tried this in the late 1800's). Here's one of my favorite cartoons:

MRFF's May Newsletter

MRFF's May Newsletter is out, the Mayday, Mayday, Mayday Issue. There are plenty of links and further discussion of the two stories in the past week, US soldier-missionaries in Afghanistan and a disgraced former navy chaplain.

NPR Summary on Soldier-Missionaries in Afghanistan

NPR's Democracy Now has an excellent video summary of the Army soldier-missionaries that were filmed by a documentary maker last year.


NOTE - If the embedded video does not load or is too slow, visit the link at Democracy Now to view it.

Update

The maker of the documentary, Brian Hughes, gives an update to the story on his blog. He also gives a link to the latest CENTCOM order 1B.

Monday, 4 May 2009

The Most Dangerous Game?

According to the article in the May 2009 issue of Harper's Magazine entitled Jesus Killed Mohammad by Jeff Sharlet, Lt. Col Gary Hensley is documented as giving sermons telling soldiers to go out and convert the Afghan people indirect opposition to US Central Command (CENTCOM) General Order 1-A. CENTCOM General Order 1-A prohibits proselytizing civilians among other things.
According to the Harper's article:

"Then as if addressing 33 million Muslim Afghans and their belief that Muhammad was a prophet as Jesus before him, he shouts, "There is no one else to come! There is no new religion. Jesus is it!" Amen, says the crowd. "If he ain't it, let's all go home!""
There were rumors about even more explicit pushes for the soldiers to go out and try to convert Muslims. Here is the video shot by Brian Hughes of Lt. Col Hensley.



The violations of CENTCOM General Order 1-A are pretty explicit in the video. (from the article by Jeremy Scahill referenced by MRFF)

"The special forces guys - they hunt men basically. We do the same things as Christians, we hunt people for Jesus. We do, we hunt them down," he says.

"Get the hound of heaven after them, so we get them into the kingdom. That's what we do, that's our business."

I keep picturing the movie The Most Dangerous Game, but in this version, the hunted man is a Muslim and the hunters with their dogs are the chaplain and his cult followers.

[T]he chaplains appear to have found a way around the regulation known as General Order Number One.

"Do we know what it means to proselytise?" Captain Emmit Furner, a military chaplain, says to the gathering.

"It is General Order Number One," an unidentified soldier replies.

But Watt says "you can't proselytise but you can give gifts."

This makes it very clear the chaplain and his followers know they are deliberately disobeying orders. They are simply rationalizing why they are doing so.

Update:

The Army pretends to be unhappy about the situation.
Reuters News says the Bibles were confiscated and destroyed after Qatar-based Al Jazeer television showed soldiers at a Bible class on a base with a stack of Bibles translated into the local Pashto and Dari languages. The U.S. military forbids its members on active duty -- including those based in places like Afghanistan -- from trying to convert people to another religion.

Reuters quotes Maj. Jennifer Willis at the Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul, who said "I can now confirm that the Bibles shown on Al Jazeera's clip were, in fact, collected by the chaplains and later destroyed. They were never distributed."

Somehow, I don't really believe this happened as reported unless the bibles have been hanging around for awhile. The video was shot last year, not recently. And of course the Army is denying that any Bibles were distributed. The following is the Army's story according to Reuters:
A U.S. military spokeswoman, Major Jennifer Willis, said the comments from the sermon were taken out of context and chaplains were told to make clear to soldiers they could not proselytize while serving.

Willis said the bibles had been mailed to a soldier by a church in the United States and were never distributed. Officials said the incident occurred in May 2008.

"That specific case involved a soldier who brought in a donation of translated bibles that were sent to his personal address by his home church. He showed them to the group and the chaplain explained that he cannot distribute them," she said.

A U.S. defense official in Washington described the soldier as a sergeant who was an evangelical Christian. He presented the bibles to a class attended by officers and chaplains.

Chaplains quickly alerted the chain of command, which ordered the bibles confiscated before they could be distributed, said the defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Somehow, I just can't believe the Army's version of events in this story. According to Chris Rodda at Talk2Action, this would certainly not be the first time the Army has covered up proselytizing by soldiers.

Then, there were the Christian reality TV show missionaries who were allowed to be embedded with U.S. troops as journalists while proselytizing Afghans -- well, the military has lost all records of that.

U.S. Military Now in the Christian Reality TV Business -- Putting Muslim Interpreters in Christmas Pageants

U.S. Army Conveniently Loses Records of Embedded Christian-Reality-TV-Show Missionaries

We also have videos, like the one below of a chaplain admitting that Swahili language Bibles are being sent in to Iraq to evangelize the Ugandan workers employed by the U.S. military, newsletters from a plethora of evangelical ministries boasting of the number of Arabic Bibles and other materials they've been able to get into Iraq and Afghanistan with the help of our military, photos of these evangelizing materials, and many other videos, photos, and statements from military personnel verifying that what is shown in the Al Jazeera video cannot be explained away as an isolated, out of context incident.

They can't even leave alone the hired contractors supporting them. And it seems this was only the tip of the iceberg.
Here's another of the many examples from MRFF's stockpile of General Order 1-A violations. The January 2009 newsletter of Worldwide Military Baptist Missions (WMBM) included these images of the English-Arabic proselytizing materials that they've been sending to our troops.

This was the caption:

"In 2008, we shipped over 226,000 gospel tracts, 21,000 Bibles, New Testaments and gospels of John (to include English-Arabic ones!) and 404 'discipleship kits' to service members & churches for use in war zones, on ships and near military bases around the world."

As for the military's claim that the Al Jazeera video was taken out of context, well, Al Jazeera has released the raw footage to prove that it wasn't.

I think these numbers give lie to the Army's story that this is an isolated incident. I don't see these huge numbers of books and religious tracts going to just a few soldiers. I mean we're talking about 21,000 bibles and 226,000 religious tracts being sent to soldiers for distribution. Yeah, just a few "free gifts" for a couple of friends. I'm sure their fellow non-evangelical soldiers appreciate the warm feelings engendered in the locals after receiving their "free gifts". And I'm sure the locals are more than willing to exchange a few "free gifts" of their own.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Honoring Atheists in Foxholes



Courtesy of ChuckyJesus666.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Bizarre Booklet in the Mail

Earlier this week I received a strange little booklet in the mail called On the Edge of Time. It is a small, glossy 120 page booklet filled with incomprehensible biblical gibberish. The booklet is produced by Project: Steps to Christ, Inc. Apparently, their goal is to to send this bizarre little booklet to every household in the United States. According to their website:
PROJECT: Steps to Christ is an evangelism program designed to assist you and/or your church in taking the Three Angels’ Messages to every home in your city or ZIP code through the bulk saturation mailing of our "Mailbox Missionaries," The Path to Peace (Steps to Christ), or On The Edge Of Time (an abridged version of The Great Controversy). These mailings provide an easy, affordable, and effective way for you to sow the gospel seed and find spiritual interests in your community.
The mailing label matches the same one from the mailings I described earlier that I get every so often. Last year our housing association had a potluck and an obnoxious neighbor got up and delivered a very obnoxious Christian sectarian prayer, assuming that everyone was an evangelical Christian like he was. I refused to bow my head and a neighbor lady kept following me around talking about her church. Shortly afterwords, I started receiving proselytizing materials from their church. Materials which quickly find their way to the circular file after I've had a good laugh at the craziness. I wonder what they would say if they knew their religious tracts and booklets were fodder for my amusement and for this blog. Heh Heh Heh.

According to their website, Steps in Christ has mailed more than one million copies of this booklet in California. Why? I would think that the Christian message is not exactly new news at this point in history, especially here in the United States. Another mass mailing for Christ, yeehaw.

Here is an example of the biblical gibberish in this mostly unintelligible book:
But the beast with lamb-like horns was seen "coming out of the earth". Instead of overthrowing other powers to establish itself, the nation thus represented must arise in territory previously unoccupied and grow up gradually and peacefully...
They go on for a whole section about the beast with "lamb-like horns". WTF? The whole book is like this. With writing like this, the only people they will reach are those who speak cult speak. Apparently, the book is about the biblical end-times, if I'm translating correctly from Rapture-speak to English. There is enough conspiracy-mongering in it to do the John Birch Society proud. Another section of the booklet proclaims that anyone who does not believe and act just like them is being manipulated by guess who? Satan, that's who. So, the message I get from all of this is, that since I'm not just like them, I'm some sort of Satanic minion and part of Satan's plan for world domination. Gee thanks, assholes. And they say I'm arrogant.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

The Continuing Tale of Court-Martialed Navy Chaplain

Gordon James Klingenschmitt was a Navy Chaplain who was court-martialed for refusing to follow orders, lying, and generally not acting like a navy officer should. Now he is getting into trouble with a website that gives the illusion that he is still a Navy chaplain. No suprise here, he is now calling for God to kill people he disagrees with.

Last November, I wrote about Cindy Jacobs who is a leader in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement.
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."
The highlighted statement "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." will set the tone for this post.

Today, I read the latest about former navy chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt via Friendly Atheist. Ex-chaplain Klingenschmitt was court-martialed out of the navy for refusing to follow orders to honor religious pluralism in his duties as a navy chaplain. He has a website where he gives the impression that he is still a Navy Chaplain. Here is a little background on why Klingenschmitt was court-martialed.


Naval regulations forbid service members from wearing their uniforms to political or partisan events. This directive is clear and has been in place for a long time. Nevertheless, Klingenschmitt insisted on wearing his uniform to a Religious Right-hosted protest and press conference opposing the military’s inclusive policies on religion. He showed up on the street outside the White House in the company of former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, Religious Right activist Rob Schenck and Texas preacher-politician Rick Scarborough. (Americans United staffers were there, so we know. See picture.)
And here is a scathing interview from Klingensschmitt's former boss, Capt. Norm Holcomb:
Holcomb also clarifies an important point: Klingenschmitt, despite what his defenders say, was not punished for praying in the name of Jesus. He was court-martialed for refusing to follow orders. It’s a simple as that.
“I was the dishonored ex-chaplain’s supervisor for the past 2 years,” Holcomb wrote in his message. “I found him to be totally untruthful, unethical and insubordinate. He was and is contemptuous of all authority. He was not court martialed for praying in Jesus’ name. I sent him out in uniform every week to pray at various ceremonies and functions. He always prayed in uniform and in Jesus’ name. He was never told that he could not pray in Jesus’ name. In fact, the issue of prayer had nothing at all to do with his dismissal from the Navy. He disobeyed the lawful order of a senior officer. I am sure that you understand that Navy Regulations forbid any of us, regardless of rank or position, to appear in uniform in support of any political or partisan event.”
Holcomb goes on to say, “He appeared in direct support of a political event, demonstrating contempt for the order of his Commanding Officer and Naval Regulations that we all swear that we will abide by…. The ex-chaplain is a man without honor and you have accepted his story and in doing so you have had ‘the wool pulled over your eyes.’
He writes, “We have been relatively quiet regarding our ex-chaplain’s untruthfulness and lack of honor because we are embarrassed that one of our own could display such behavior in the name of our Lord. We wanted to spare all concerned the embarrassment associated with his dishonesty. However, it now seems that it would be wrong for those of us who know the truth to remain silent. I served with him and supervised him (as best as it was possible to supervise a person who refused to submit to lawful authority) and I know about his daily dishonesty and ‘spin’ of the truth.”
Well, you can clearly see the lack of character of Gordon Klingenschmitt. Lying for Jesus seems to be a full-time job for him. A military chaplain is first and foremost a military officer, and then a minister. If he only wanted to be a preacher with no intention of honoring the religiously pluralistic environment in the military, then he should have become a minister instead of a chaplain.

Americans United noticed that Klingsenschmitt had a website where he was giving the appearance that he was still a navy chaplain. Mikey Weinstein at MRFF also had noticed the website.
We at Americans United were surprised, therefore, to receive copies of an e-mail Klingenschmitt issued recently promoting his new right-wing political Web site www.prayinjesusname.org. On the site, Klingenschmitt referred to himself as “Chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt,” and included a large picture of himself in a naval uniform. The e-mail and the Web site implored people to oppose President Barack Obama’s nomination of U.S. District Judge David Hamilton to the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
It’s likely anyone unfamiliar with Klingenschmitt’s history who received this e-mail or visited the site would assume he was an active-duty chaplain. In fact, some people who sent the message to AU thought just that.
Out in New Mexico, Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) knew something wasn’t right. Federal law prohibits misuse of military uniforms. It appeared that Klingenschmitt was attempting to depict himself as an active-duty military chaplain to raise money and recruit people for his right-wing group – a violation of federal law.
Here is the letter that Mikey Weinstein and AU sent to the Navy asking them to investigate this matter. Now it looks like Klingenschmitt has added a disclaimer indicating that he his not currently a Navy Chaplain. Hmm, betcha, he also does not mention that he is a court-martialed ex-navy chaplain either.

How does Klingenschmitt respond to these allegations? Why with an impreccatory prayer of course.
“Let us pray. Almighty God, today we pray imprecatory prayers from Psalm 109 against the enemies of religious liberty, including Barry Lynn and Mikey Weinstein, who recently issued a press release attacking me personally. God, do not remain silent, for wicked men surround me and tell lies about me. We bless them, but they curse us. Therefore, find them guilty, not me. Let their days be few, and replace them with Godly people. Plunder their fields, and seize their assets. Cut off their descendants, and remember their sins, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Listening to the mp3 file, I thought it was a strange podcast. It starts like he is still on the ship calling every one to pray. It's like he can't let go of his Navy career. Well, if he wanted to remain in the Navy, then he should have followed the orders of his superior officers. Klingenschmitt wants Barry Lynn and Mikey Weinstein dead. He hides like a coward behind his god's skirts by pretending this is what his god wants. What a nutcase.

This imprecatory prayer is no different from Cindy Jacobs and her call for unbelievers like myself to be killed and our property and assets to be plundered by these Joel's Army fanatics. Well this unbeliever won't stand idly by and let myself and family be slaughtered and my property be confiscated by these assholes.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Great Epsiode of This I Believe on NPR



On Episode 378 of This American Life, Ira Glass has a very moving conversation with Trisha Sebastian. She relates the story of a close friend, Kelly, who died from cancer and how she wanted to believe in God again.
This past Christmas a story swept the internet about a football coach at a Christian high school in Texas who inspired his team’s fans to root for the opposition: a team from the local juvenile correctional facility. Among the thousands of emails that the coach received in response to his actions, one stood out to him. Trisha Sebastian mentioned her loss of faith, and coach Hogan got a message from God that he was meant to bring her back. We eavesdrop on their phone calls. (19 minutes)
Trisha tells how she tried to have a conversation with the coach, but was ultimately he was unable to really relate to her. From the bits of conversation played on the show, it appears Coach Hogan was more interested in scoring debate points than in really talking to Trisha.

Trisha was interested in discussing why her friend died, and wanted someone who could relate this to God and faith. Instead Coach Hogan was more interested in gaining another conversion for Christ.

My favorite part:
Ira Glass: Is there any small part of you that thought he might be able to put the religious part of his message in some way that would finally make some sense to you? Like he would say to you...

Trisha: Yeah, I really did hope that. Deep down and I've said that to so many friends of mine, why? I really wanted to believe again.

Ira Glass: So you really wanted him to bring you back to God?

Trisha: Maybe, possibly, most likely.

Ira Glass: But the way he was doing it wasn't a way that really talked to you.

Trisha: No. No.

Ira Glass: I wonder if the problem with that was the way he was going about it, the arguments he was using. I wonder if there is nothing really that anyone could actually say to make you believe this thing that you say you no longer believe in.

Trisha: I don't know. If someone were to just tell me this is why Kelly died and they were able to relate it back to God, I would probably respond to that better.

Ira Glass: And when you asked him this, what did he say?

Trisha: We never got to that point, ... we never got to that point. I couldn't get him there. I couldn't ask him the questions I really wanted to ask.

Ira Glass: But what if it is as simple as for people that believe in God, God takes people at different times, and that doesn't mean that God doesn't have some plan for you, you know.

Trisha: See, that makes more sense to me than anything he ever said in our conversation.

Ira Glass: That's very sad because I actually don't believe in God.

It's hilarious that an atheist has an example of a comforting religious message, whereas the "committed Christian" did not. Ira mediates the second call with the coach and they bring up the topic of why bad things happen to good people. Coach Hogan immediately goes into how it's "anti-god" to simply ask the question. Wow.
Although Trisha's conversation with the coach, I felt that I was hearing over and over, why it is so hard for religious and non-religious people to communicate sometimes. The premises are just so far from each other. The coach says we live in a fallen world, that explanation is a comfort for him. It's comforting to think that he doesn't have to make sense of everything, injustice and every terrible thing that happens on this earth. It's messy on this earth. Things will be better in heaven. Because God understands the details of cancer and why one person dies and one person lives, he doesn't have to. The coach has a hard time, I think, seeing why this explanation isn't a comfort to Trisha.
Trisha explains that after her friend died, she felt that things happen for no reason, they just do, that the universe is a random place. I felt exactly the same after my daughter died as an infant. It was more comforting to believe that the world was a random place. Things simply happen and sometimes we have no control over them. There is no god or force making things happen for a reason. For it would indeed be an evil god who would punish the innocent to teach a lesson to someone. Good and bad things happen to everyone.