Thursday, December 20, 2012

Transcend Christmas: Get The Guns Off The Streets, The Paranoia Out Of Our Minds, And Put "Happy Holidays" In Our Hearts!

A re-post of one of last year's articles might have been as appropriate for this Christmas article, but too many Americans need to have things current, up-to-date ... and in-your-face. Last year there was a series called Transcending Christmas and the first part ,Transcending Christmas: Will The Christian Right Kill The Christmas Spirit? The Christmas Truce of 1914 Shows Why. pointed out that during the Christmas Truce of 1914, men actually laid down their guns, walked across enemy lines and allowed peace to reign for one day during the most devastating war man had ever seen.

When those men laid down their guns, however, what they were actually setting aside was their fear, their paranoia that they would be killed by their fellow man.

The Real Reason Behind The Sandy Hook Slaughter?

One of the easiest emotions to pass on to a son or daughter is ... fear: fear of everything and everyone. Sometimes overprotective parents can relay fear, and overprotective parents who are themselves fearful may be double doses of paranoia. Newtown's Nancy Lanza was fearful of her former husband, of Adam's school and even of Adam himself. And while she may have had an "interest" in guns, the presence of an assault rifle indicates the possibility of a survivalist mentality. She even tutored Adam in use of the assault rifle, triggering a paranoia that would eventually be out of control. The possibility that Adam would use the gun for lethal purposes was, in Nancy's mind, a risk she had to take to protect herself from the outside world's intent on doing her and her son harm.

     "Nancy Lanza, the mother of the Sandy Hook shooter, was in the process of having her son committed to a psychiatric facility when he went on the mass shooting spree,a lifelong family acquaintance told Fox News.
A senior law enforcement official also confirmed that 20-year-old Lanza's anger over his mother's plan is being investigated as a possible motive for the Newtown shooting."
Fear. Fear and anger. The two can be mutually inclusive. 

Paranoia Begetting Paranoia

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

 ... Earlier this week, WorldNetDaily columnist and regular Fox News guest Erik Rush tweeted a video arguing that President Obama orchestrated the Sandy Hook and Aurora, Colorado shootings in order to cover-up a massive government scandal, forcibly disarm Americans, put people in concentration camps and start a civil war.

Driving The Second Amendment ... Into The Ground

Fear of England and fear of any totalitarian government like England's were certainly at the heart of the Constitution's Second Amendment. The common use of firearms (for hunting as well as protection) inculcated responsibility, however, with firearms that were nowhere near as deadly (or dependable) as a today's semi-automatic rifle. The vision of one man mowing down dozens of people within minutes could not have entered into the minds of the Founding Fathers. To be sure, frontiersmen had occasional run-ins with Indians, but the Founding Fathers were not concerned with them and any form of domestic terrorism was not in their nomenclature.

To put it simply: Patriot Movement and survivalist zealots armed with AK-47s and assault rifles were not what the Founding Fathers envisioned and they would have been ashamed that their own fears could reach such levels.

Wars and Enemies Everywhere

From foreign wars to the supposed "War on Christmas", the American psyche has been imbued with an "us vs them" mentality. Military terminology even invades our religious makeup (Cindy "Japan-is-shaped-like-a-dragon" Jacobs' organization is named Generals International - a point which seems to have no relevance whatsoever other than to instill a military air). The ability to stop paranoia seems, at times, futile: like the above insipid conspiracy theory, paranoia seems inevitable after a tragedy such as Sandy Hook. Calls for more guns and for greater school security with more guns (e.g. concealed weapons by teachers and administrators) are on the rise. Instances of children carrying guns to school are commonplace. Instead of being tamped down, paranoia is on the rise. 

One of the reasons for the rise in paranoia is the false notion that Christians are being persecuted in this country. In a country where the smallest hamlets have three church spires, the idea of persecution seems ludicrous, but for decades, "social conservatives" (the Christian Right's preferred label) have fostered an "us vs them" ideology that has not been seen since the days of the Roman Empire. For example, what is the "War On Christmas," except an attempt to take back the Christmas Spirit and brand it exclusively for Christians. 

What the Christian Right has never realized is that the Christmas Spirit itself transcended the holiday of Christmas long ago and any attempt to contain it, to make it exclusively Christian is futile. Instead of bemoaning the fate of Christmas, we should all be alarmed at the lack of Christmas Spirit brought on by our national paranoia. After all, the Christmas Spirit of "Peace On Earth Good Will Towards Men" depends upon something conspicuously pushed aside by our all-consuming paranoia: belief in your fellow man.

Was The Response To Sandy Hook The Final Chapter For The Christmas Spirit?

No. But dwelling on the lack of Spirit does little to propel the Spirit forward and grow, as it should, exponentially. What encourages and nurtures the Spirit is a combination of endless and all-inclusive hope, belief in your fellow man, determination and compassion. Endless. All-inclusive. The Spirit should be meted out to everyone and everything on earth ...forever.

There should be no Final Chapter.

So it is with the Spirit of Christmas that I bid everyone:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

When You Care Enough To Think The Very Worst

Remember Rapture Kitty?

On May 2, 2011, The Rapture was supposed to occur.

It didn't. And there were some very disappointed people. Anticipating one's worst fear can lead to actual depression when that fear isn't realized.

The disappointment doesn't necessarily come from embarrassment - looking stupid or crazy is something apocalypticists deal with long before the impending doom. Rather, it comes because they are looking forward to the Apocalypse with JOY: the promised Messiah will come, they will go to heaven and their enemies will go to hell. Yes, joy ... and revenge. They will also shackle off this mortal coil which has been so awful to them. All their worldly woes will disappear.

Famous moments in Non-Armageddon

Perhaps the most notable recent occurrence of apocalypticism (yes, there is such a word, although not, apparently in today's spell check) was the Harold Camping "Rapture" non-event of May 21, 2011. Camping - a host on Family Radio - and not an ordained minister - had previously predicted September 6, 1994 as the return of Christ, then when that did not occur, he revised his calculations and held steadfastly to the date of May 21, 2011. When the Rapture didn't occur, he changed the date to Oct 21st. After that date failed to bring forth the Four Horsemen, he had a stroke. The latest about Mr Camping is that he regrets the "sin" of being so arrogant as to predict what God will decide and is still reading his Bible for more knowledge and repentance (he's off the air).

Then there was David Koresh and the Branch Davidians. Overshadowed by the deadly confrontation in Waco, the history of the Branch Davidians goes back to 1930 when they were ostracized by their parent sect, the Seventh Day Adventists (who also believe in the imminent coming of the Apocalypse).

The Great Disappointment

But the most devastating (and widely believed) - date of the apocalypse -October 22, 1844, was promoted by Baptist lay preacher, William Miller. Miller's prediction, like Camping's, was based on Biblical prophecy and was widely accepted by tens of thousands of Americans at the time - and across denominational lines! By 1843, over one million copies of Millerite papers and periodicals were in print and people were absolutely convinced of Christ's Second Coming. When the day passed without incident, the entire nation called it The Great Disappointment. So eager were people for the Second Coming that overnight, 16 "advent papers" offered different dates. Factional battles sprung up. People changed denominations. The Great Disappointment had, in fact, changed a substantial part of the landscape of America's organized religion.

Why No Concern?

While the previous predictions of the apocalypse were accompanied by dire warnings (Camping's group spent $100 million on advertising), the coming Mayan apocalyptic date spawned only a tepid movie. Stand-up comedians aren't even giving it much air time, although Letterman and Leno had a few words:

     "The Mayans have predicted the world is supposed to end on December 21. If the world doesn't end on December 21, you can bet the next day the malls will be overrun with Mayans trying to buy last-minute gifts." –Jay Leno   
 "December 21, the end of the world, is a Friday. So it means dress is casual." –David Letterman
The answer to the indifference is perhaps that this particular apocalypse is based on the Mayan calendar which ushers in a New Age of Enlightenment. Two words: "Mayan" and" Enlightenment" are particularly anathema to some Christians, in particular the Christian Right fringe of apocalypticists who have their own ideas of The Apocalypse. 

Indeed, the names of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse have changed over the years (from Famine , War, Pestilence and Death) to any applicable ideology.

Therefore, in a sense, it is heresy (or apostasy) to believe in the Mayan apocalypse.

So for reason of indifference (sublime or otherwise), December 22nd will be greeted with dismay by very, very few people and with a hearty "ho hum" by many.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

This Must Be The Home of “RAMBO JESUS”: Home School "Arsenal Sermon" On Newtown Hits New Low … For Christian Right Paranoia!

Just when we thought that the Newtown school shooting had finally brought out the worst in gun control rants and sermons, a pastor in Tennessee filled the heads of his congregation with thoughts that schools were government "mind-control centers" that taught "junk about evolution" and "how to be a homo.". The most egregious of the ideas, however, was that "home schools" were the safest because they did not have to have a police officer or metal detector and that " there's plenty of guns at my home school. Amen."

This Must Be The Home Of Rambo Jesus

In the annals of Newtown rants, Bryan Fischer turned up first and foremost by saying that "prayerless" schools were the cause of the massacre and that God did not protect the children because He was a "gentleman" who did not go where He was not wanted." It was a milder approach to the situation than the previous picture of Fischer's "Rambo Jesus" - the less than meek and mild firebrand who comes "with a sword", exhibiting a righteous cruelty.

Fischer's displacement of "meek and mild" with guns and ammo is not new, but with the backing of the NRA, far right elements of the Christian Right have made forays into the gun control war and have been more vocal in their support of paranoid sects like the Patriot movement.

Although the Rambo Jesus' Twitter account has been inactive for a year (and for what it's worth, a lampoon*), it is still evidence of a sub culture that believes more in the "come with a sword" words from Holy Scripture than "do good to those who defile you."

The Deepest Thoughts Of Religious Right Paranoia
Last Sunday, Pastor Morris (of Old Paths Baptist Church, Sparta, Tennessee) tried to evince the principles of his church:

Unfortunately, the sermon was also unprincipled, uneducated and reeking of paranoia. His church's David Barton-esque take on the Second Amendment was lost in a sea of mind-controlling government and school education disconnects. Here are some points:

  • Equal Rights: "It is a sham...As long as you're a prisoner, a murder, you can get equal rights"
  • Adam Lance: "They need to string him up in public and set his body on fire."
  • Gun control: Shootings only happened where guns are banned. (Ignoring the fact that the guns used in shootings are available where guns AREN'T banned). He also stated that there was "Never a mass gun shooting at a gun show"
  • School security: "They talk about increasing security, but he shot through the security doors!"

He then posited five questions for the country:

  • Why do you still send your kid to the governmental schools?
  • Do you think that these shootings will continue?
  • Does scoeity omehow share the blame?
  • Who has the REAl authority over America's children?
  • What is driving these mass shootings?
Morris' universal answer to these questions: Deception! - from the schools and the government: " 1963 the government and the schools kicked God out...and now they want Him back. ...It's too late"! He also stated that while practice and expression of religion was absolutely eradicated from schools, the schools are hell-bent on teaching humanism, that teaches your children that they are gods... teaches kids "to be homos" and that evolution teaches that you're an animal.

Bottom Line: "Pull 'Em Out!"

In Morris' plea to wrench children from the clutches of an evil, secular society controlled by the government, he uttered one one truism which, unfortunately, applied primarily to his own sermon: "lack of judgment brings on rage." Morris' rage of righteous arrogance rooted in ignorance and obscenely inept religious fervor transcended baffoonery and plunged into the depths of paranoia.

A dangerous paranoia the likes of which created Adam Lance.

*"It's important to love - if you don't, pray you don't meet @rambojesus.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Pope Tweets Death

Rebecca Kadaga, the most virulent supporter of Uganda's Kill The Gays Bill was blessed by the pope. Ironically, it was at the same time that the Pope opened his first official twitter account. 

Post image for Pope Benedict Blesses Top Lawmaker Pushing Uganda’s Kill The Gays Bill

I guess I'll have to write more about this, huh?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It's The Epi-mark, Stupid! Science Proposes The Origins Of Homosexuality ... And The Christian Right Goes Into Convulsions!!

And It Happened In - of all places - Tennessee!!

     "KNOXVILLE – Epigenetics – how gene expression is regulated by temporary switches, called epi-marks – appears to be a critical and overlooked factor contributing to the long-standing puzzle of why homosexuality occurs.

According to the study, published online today in The Quarterly Review of Biology, sex-specific epi-marks, which normally do not pass between generations and are thus "erased," can lead to homosexuality when they escape erasure and are transmitted from father to daughter or mother to son."
According to the study, published online today in The Quarterly Review of Biology, sex-specific epi-marks, which normally do not pass between generations and are thus "erased," can lead to homosexuality when they escape erasure and are transmitted from father to daughter or mother to son."

He may not know it, but Professor Sergey Gavrilets of the University of Tennessee is now officially demon spawn. His study suggests a theory that regulation of certain genes (e.g. testosterone) can determine homosexuality. Such a theory (in Tennessee, no less) will cause mass hysteria among members of the state's Christian Right upper eschelons and produce reactions the likes of which have not been seen since Galileo was imprisoned for his theory of the earth revolving around the sun.

While some hate groups (Council of Conservative Citizens) are quick to posit that the study says there is no such thing as a "gay gene" (it actually does not) and still imply that "environment" has much to do with sexual orientation (the study, however, actually talks about biological environment), other groups are simply taking the tack that the study is "just a theory" (like evolution) or that Gavrilets is just a scientifically political pawn dependent upon government grants.

Reactions so far:

  • ....this article is you see what this does? If homosexuality is genetic, then those who oppose same sex marriage are cavemen and the Bible is a fable.....
  • By the way, homosexuality may be "common" in nature; so are ritual killing, cannibalism, torture and indiscriminate sexual behavior. Should we emulate those too?
  • A worthless waste of money, a worthless study, more worthless "science" signifying nothing.
  • Stunning coincidence that this "scientific breakthrough" is reported the same week that the SCOTUS decides to take p same-sex marriage, don't you think?
  • Studies like this will be the death of all credibility for "science." This is pure politics and social engineering. Nothing scientific about it.
Possibly the worst result of acceptance of the study: "get yourself 'FIXED'!" It may embrace science only to the point of being a possible repairman. In any event, the CR may reason that NOT going through newfangled medical or "scientific" cures is a"choice" and therefore still against God's will. Acceptance and happiness at what you are will not enter into the picture.

"A Choice" Is Out The Window

The strategy of the Christian Right may come in the form of total denial of the new study: as comments have it, the study smacks of "pure politics", especially coming before the Supreme Court decisions. But denial can only last so long, especially if the scientific community weighs in favorably to Gavrilets' study.*

The study's greatest blow to the Christian Right is that it's meme of "homosexuality is a choice" has little bearing in the culture war debate: any biological link** precludes/trumps "choice". How the Christian Right will continue to blare out its meme despite the study remains to be seen and will certainly be entertaining.

Re-defining "Abnormal"

If the Christian Right loses the current "born this way vs choice" battle, rest assured that it will re-focus on "abnormal" and how prayer, reparative therapy or abstinence will stem the "abnormal" proclivities and, in a sense, need to redefine the term, for in the past, "abnormal" has equaled ... "perversion." 

Abnormal. Epi-mark. Epigenetics. Born This Way. Choice. Gay Marriage. Supreme Court. Christian Right.

2013's gonna be very interesting, don't you think?

*To be sure, the Right will call in their own "experts" and "scientists", but under close scrutiny of their credentials and beliefs their statements may not hold water. It is up to responsible professional journalists to point that out.

** Several years ago, a study found that testosterone levels may have been "re-routed" in up to 25% of gay men.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The New White Supremacist Is The Same Old Ann Coulter(geist)

In her ever-hungry bid for publicity, Ann Coulter (aka Coultergeist) has recently hit a new low (for conservatives, but not for her) in portraying Hispanics as the shiftless and lazy group that helped keep Obama in the Oval Office: 


      "...[Charles Murray] recently pointed out that -- contrary to stereotype -- Hispanics are less likely to be married, less likely to go to church, more supportive of gay marriage and less likely to call themselves "conservative" than other Americans. 
Rather than being more hardworking than Americans, Hispanics actually work about the same as others, or, in the case of Hispanic women, less.
More than half of all babies born to Hispanic women today are illegitimate. As Heather MacDonald has shown, the birthrate of Hispanic women is twice that of the rest of the population, and their unwed birthrate is one and a half times that of blacks."
In citing Charles Murray, author of The Bell Curve and fellow of The American Enterprise Institute, Coultergeist tips her heavy hand as a white supremacist: the Bell Curve insinuates that minorities (especially African-Americans) are inherently inferior in intelligence. And while Coultergeist has always preened herself in the mirror of conservative (therefore, white) supremacy, her adulation of Murray as well as Joe McCarthy has catapulted her into David Duke's upper eschelons.

The rest of the article tries to cite research such as Murray's as definitive and emblematic of the way America is turning black in its shiftless heart and brown in its skin.

Ann Coultergeist's disdain for anyone or anything slightly liberal has always been up front (the cover of her book, How To Talk To A Democrat ...If You Must shows her in tight leather dominatrix-style attire) and her rhetoric has always indicated that she and only she is the true savior of conservatives everywhere: she has been THE pin-up girl for the likes of Phyllis Schalfley and (retiring) Jim DeMint. She has taken moderate Republicans to task for being too "liberal" and even excoriated right wingers like Todd Akin for damaging the image of conservatives.

Footloose With The Facts

What would Coultergeist do with real facts? The very first thing critics of the article pointed out was that her "facts" were so ridiculously skewed and baseless that they couldn't weather the lightest scrutiny: Hispanics DO go to church more (albeit it the Catholic Church - a difference to Christian Right polemicists such as Coulter), and have a divorce rate far lower than any "religious" other group (e.g. Southern Baptists). Her statement about illegitimacy is tainted by her assumption that ALL illegitimate children become criminals.

In addition: the Hispanic share of total births declined from 24.2% to 23.6% during the last decade.

The reaction to Coultergeist's recent polemic has been predictable:

"... hateful, inflammatory piece of garbage passing as journalism."

"Republicans looking to reach out to Latinos may want to avoid the advice of Ann Coulter."

Indeed, Republicans may want to distance themselves from Coultergeist altogether, seeing that she has even disparaged Republicans for NOT caving in to Obama's tax hikes on the rich.
Demonic Or Just Delusional?

The (now) caricature Ann Coultergeist has created for herself has been of a harridan gone delusional: e.g., at one point after becoming GOProud's mascot (er, honorary co-chair) she declared that gays really loved her. And the fact that her latest screeds about Hispanics will be dismissed by the very political party trying to increase its numbers with them seems to be lost on her. To some (albeit very few), Ann Coultergeist is like a Carrie Snodgrass, deluded into thinking that she really is the queen of the conservative's prom. But in reality, Coultergeist's white supremacism makes her more insidious to the Republican Party and more destructive to conservatives.

Hmmm ... where's that bucket of pig's blood when we need it?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Twelve Ranters Of Christmas, Or The War On Christmas That Isn't

On The Twelfth Rant Of Christmas My Pastor Sent to me ...

Twelve Bill O'Reillys

Eleven Bryan Fischers

Ten Sean Hannitys

Nine Tony Perkins

Eight Harry Jacksons

Seven Rick Santorums

Six Cindy Jacobs


Four Pat Robertsons

Three Chuck Norrises

Two Rick Perrys

And ...a ...Limbaugh ...with.... Oxy... con... tiiiin
       "These secularists have no clue what it is. They are threatened by it. They can't leave well-enough alone, because it is other people's faith in God that scares them to death. I, for one -- and I hope you're one, too -- refuse to let these people succeed year after year, wearing away the joy and the wonder and the true meaning of this time of year and this marvelous holiday."
 - Rush Limbaugh
The annual "War on Christmas" is ...fizzling. Not because of vicious attacks from the "Secular Left", but from apathy within its own troops. To be sure, the "naughty" list (retailers who say "Happy Holidays") is still put out by the American Family Association, but some of it most stalwart supporters are, well, a bit tired: 

Bill O'Reilly: 

       "Every year I have to deal with assaults against Christmas That does not make me happy. I don’t want to do this. But I, personally? I’m fed up. The people who want to diminish the Christmas federal holiday are insulting me. And they’re insulting you, if you’re a Christian and believe in traditional America."

And the fatigue has given way to more skewed reason, more outlandish attempts to paint everyone, from Obama to poster-child retailer Chic-Fil-A as entities who want to destroy all that is Christmas. For example, Buster Wilson of the American Family Association insists that America's courts are condemning Christmas:

       "I don’t understand, ‘you’re not the majority anymore, this is not a Christian nation and you’ve guys have got to quit trying to cram everything down people’s throats,’ nobody’s trying to cram—look, it is the folks who don’t want us celebrating Christmas that are cramming that view down our throats and using the courts to do it."
The extreme sentiment is now that somehow Christmas is looked upon by non-"Christians" as ...evil:

Mike Huckabee:
        ".... I do believe that there are people who would be very happy if we never, ever said the word Christmas again."
Pat Robertson has become more placid in stating that atheists simply want to "steal" Christmas because they aren't happy and they don't want anyone else to be happy. (see below).

The Devil Is In The Desperation

Unable to separate "Happy Holidays" from its mass appeal, the people at FOX News and the whole of the Christian Right (or so it seems), has created a kind of pathetic hysteria (Gretchen Carlson of FOX asked a guest "Are we crazy for thinking there's a war on Christmas?") - a hysteria which people which the American public is finding to be, well, silly (see below). Even a "Muslim Obama will do away with Christmas" has fallen on deaf ears, and people are scoffing at Chick-fil-A's lack of "Christmas" in its advertising as any kind of apostasy. 

The Real Kabosh

Possibly the ultimate squelch to FOX's War On Christmas spirit was placed by Father Jonathan Morris on, of all places, FOX News:

       "If our Christmas is going to be all about getting upset at people trying to take away Christmas, isn’t that silly too?"

Of course it is, but naming any kind of Christian Right stance "silly" may be silly as well: the CR takes itself all too seriously and Father Morris's days as a commentator on FOX may be numbered.    Never take away The Christian Right's right to be persecuted. 

And Christmas is the perfect time to focus on persecution.

It's a wonder that the Right's media and talking heads haven't mentioned the latest attack in the War on Christmas: the Dalai Lama's proposal of a "Religionless Religion"

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Pray-Away-The-Gay And Ex-Gay Voodoo Get SHOKed By Rep. Jackie Spier ... And Sued by The SPLC

Is this the end of the Self-Loathing Industry?

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit today accusing a New Jersey organization of consumer fraud for offering conversion therapy services – a dangerous and discredited practice that claims to convert people from gay to straight.
I knew a man who, when he told his parents he was gay, his mother said "we'd rather be burying you today than hear this." For them he had already undergone shock treatments and intense psychological therapy. For them he had gotten married and had fathered five children. Yet he still could not deny who he was. 

He was honest with himself ... and lucky: he weathered the depression that comes with failure to change something innate.

The Self-Loathing Industry

Whether it's listed as legitimate "reparative therapy" or (more to-the-point) "pray away the gay" counseling, an attempt to "cure" a person's sexual orientation is part of an industry that is very real, very forceful, ... and very harmful. Like forcefully banging one's head repeatedly against a stone wall, it eventually results in damage that can be life-threatening. It can be fatal: attempts at suicide are common among people who undergo such therapy.

And yet there is irony in the damage: therapists often point to suicidal attempts as a "symptom" of being gay: the Family Research Council often cites depression as a part of homosexuality and that gays are "naturally" prone to depression because they know they are not right (with God). The Self-Loathing Industry promoted by "family values" groups can be self-sustaining, feeding upon the very depression it creates.

The kingpin of the Self-Loathing Industry is undoubtedly one Joseph Nicolosi, founder of NARTH (National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality), while the wikipedia entry for Dr. Nicolosi has been considerably cleaned up in the last year, the SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center) has had some choice words for Nicolosi - "endlessly confrontational" - and roundly disputes NARTH's other "experts" and "researchers":

"In 1995, for example, NARTH featured Scott Lively, co-author of The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party, at its annual conference. Lively’s book argues that the Nazi Party recruited gay men because of their inherent savagery and that gay men largely orchestrated the Holocaust — a claim roundly rejected by all reputable historians. NARTH has also promoted the work of Paul Cameron, who remains director of the Family Research Institute despite being ejected from the American Psychological Association and the American Sociological Association (ASA). The ASA declared, “Dr. Cameron has consistently misinterpreted and misrepresented sociological research on sexuality, homosexuality, and lesbianism.”Nicolosi's patent blaming of homosexuality on parents ("Fathers, if you don't hug your sons, some other man will") has caused the APA to chastise him repeatedly and he has had some time keeping his APA membership as well as memberships in other professional organizations. Like Paul Cameron, his approach is often referred to as 'junk science.'"
And like junk food, junk science can be harmful - even violent: some "therapies" involve confrontational beating of objects representing both parents. Beating your mother, it seems, has therapeutic value. 

Preventing More Damage

While the Self-Loathing Industry has been around a long time (remember all those "self-help" books?*), it did not reach its zenith until the Christian Right settled on it as a means to "eradicate" homosexuality while claiming that its concern was for the homosexual. Organizations like NARTH and Exodus sprang up, clinics like Marcus Bachmann's suggested that there was a "cure" through prayer and "cured" couples were advertised in all media. The web of fraudulent claims, however, began to unravel when "ex-gay" poster boy John Paulk was discovered in a gay bar. Then Exodus admitted that homosexuality is not a "choice" and that there was no "cure." Compounded with reports of increased client depression, suicides and warnings from the APA, the stance of the Self-Loathing Industry became rocky.

Now lawmakers are stepping in to prevent kids from going into dangerous therapy, egged on by their unaccepting, desperate parents: California recently passed a law that no one under 18 may be subjected to reparative therapy. And now:

"In response to tragic examples of the harmful psychological abuse inflicted on young people through dangerous sexual orientation conversion practices, also known as reparative therapy to convert or “repair” an individual’s sexual orientation, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) will introduce the Stop Harming Our Kids (SHOK) resolution on Wednesday, November 28. At a 10:00 a.m. press conference, she will discuss the resolution and her efforts to investigate whether taxpayer funds have been used to reimburse therapists for this discredited and ineffective practice through the federal Medicaid or TRICARE healthcare programs."
Along with the ground-breaking lawsuit brought on by the SPLC (above), it appears as if the Self-Loathing Industry may be on its last legs. But appearances in cases of social acceptance can be deceiving: the Christian Right is putting its full weight against such legislation and cries from the pulpit will be heard for a long time.

The Battle For The Self Loathing Industry may have just begun. 

* The most classic response to self-help mania came from Calvin & Hobbes:

Calvin: "I'm writing a self-help book! There's a huge market for this stuff. First, you convince people there's something wrong with them. That's easy because advertising has already conditioned people to feel insecure about their height, their weight, looks, social status, sex appeal and so on.
Next, you convince them that the problem is not their fault. Finally, you convince them that with your expert advice they can conquer their problem.
Hobbes: Ingenious. What problem will you help people solve?
Calvin: Their addiction to self-help books! My book is called "Shut Up And Stop Whining: How To Do Something With Your Life Besides Think About Yourself." The trouble is...if my program works, I won't be able to write a sequel.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ex-Gay Therapy Gets Hit In The Pocketbook

I've long said that the way to fight hate groups is to bankrupt them and this news may be the forerunner to events leading tom the demise of ex-gay therapy:

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit today accusing a New Jersey organization of consumer fraud for offering conversion therapy services – a dangerous and discredited practice that claims to convert people from gay to straight.
It also names the total jerk Joseph Nicolosi and his "therapy" techniques.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Last Great Moral Hypocrisy Scandal Of The Year? Family Values Attorney Charged With Sexual Abuse And Production Of Child Pornography!

Checklist for moral hypocrisy:

  • Child Exploitation
  • Child Pornography
  • Drug Possession
  • Illegal Gun Possession
...And Promoting It Child Pornography On Craigslist

But on facebook, she listed the Bible as her favorite book, so all should be forgiven, OK?

"A New Hampshire attorney associated with an anti-gay group of "Christian" lawyers, is facing federal charges that she took a teenage girl to Canada and convinced her to engage in sexual activity and to let it be filmed."
Defending "Family Values" gets tougher with every hypocritical scandal: Lisa Biron, a prominent attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly the Alliance Defense Fund) was recently arrested by the FBI and charged with seven counts of child exploitation, transporting a child for illegal sexual conduct, possession of child pornography and production of child pornography. Witnesses have testified that she has also been in possession of ecstasy, marijuana and cocaine.

Guess the ADF is a bit embarrassed, huh?

Ah, but the Lisa Biron case gets even more embarrassing: she was previously charged with possession of child pornography and while waiting for trial, a gun was discovered in her apartment, prompting the judge to deny bail. She also allegedly sent a threatening text message to one of the witnesses.

Super embarrassed.
By a super sinner...
by a super hypocrite ...
and a super idiot: she advertised the child pornography on Craigslist. 

Whether or not she will be defended by the Alliance Defending Freedom remains to be seen, since she is pleading not guilty, but so far it seems as if the ADF wants to forget about her as quickly as possible: her profile and association with Alliance Defending Freedom has been expunged from its website.

Unfortunately, the ADF couldn't expunge everything about Lisa Biron: In Concord, she worked with the ADF in defending a Pentecostal church in its tax fight against the city , and in Manchester, NH, she served on the board of directors at Mount Zion Christian Schools.

On facebook, Biron also cited her favorite book: The Bible.

Hypocrisy At It Best

Not since the outing of Pastor Ted Haggard with a male prostitute (along with alleged possession of crystal meth) has the Christian Right suffered such a set-back in terms of demonstrating "family values." Although the year was laden with scandals and rotten rhetoric* this last jewel in the crown of hypocrisy shines brighter than most. And yet the Christian Right (let alone the Alliance Defending Freedom) has yet to respond sufficiently. The incident, like many others, is being swept under the proverbial moral rug. It may be up to the media to keep it in the public eye - a media that the Christian Right will be quick to blame as "left wind" in its dogged determination to reveal the truth: extreme hypocrisy exists within the realms of the Almighty Right.


The hypocrisy, of course, lies in the stance that the ADF (Founded by James Dobson and Focus on the Family) has taken in the culture wars: " keep the door open for the spread of the Gospel by transforming the legal system and advocating for religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family." In other words: the high moral road. As the Alliance Defense Fund, it was instrumental in litigating through the morass of appeals for California's Proposition 8 (unfortunately, doing a rather poor job on almost all counts). It was supposedly stocked with the best of Pat Robertson's Regent University School of Law. And it recently proffered advice to clerks in the sates of Maine, Maryland and Washington how to avoid issuing marriage licences to same-sex couples so as not to "violate their consciences."

After this latest situation, however, the ADF has a lot of 'splainin' to do.

It won't, of course.

* - After while introducing Primary Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum, Pastor Dennis Terry tells all of the "naysaying" liberals to "get out!" of the country.
 - Pastor Sean Harris told his congregation to "crack that wrist" of any four-year-old who showed homosexual tendencies.
 - Pastor Charles Worley tells his congregation the country should put homosexuals behind an "electrified fence" to die off.
- Bryan Fischer warned CNN viewers that gays were the founders of the Nazi Party.

Will There Be Salvation For The Executive Director Grinch Who Stole $2M Worth Of Toys ... From The Salvation Army?

Probably not, but subsequent donations vindicate toy makers' greed.
Thefts of Salvation Army kettles during the Christmas season have been rampant for years, but this inside job surely takes the cake for sheer Grinchieness:

"TORONTO – The former executive director of a Salvation Army facility has been charged in the alleged massive theft of thousands of toys and donations from the charity's Toronto warehouse.Staff Insp. Tony Riviere said Monday David Rennie, 51, is charged with theft, possession of stolen goods and breach of trust and will appear in court on Jan. 4.The Salvation Army announced the theft last week, saying up to 100,000 items worth about $2 million were allegedly stolen from the facility in Toronto's North End over nearly two years."

'Tis the season to give..and receive, or so David Rennie thought ... for almost two years. After a devastating disaster and fire hit the Salvation Army warehouse in Toronto, Rennie was hired as executive director to help clean up. Instead, he cleaned out: diverting over 100,000 toys, bikes, strollers and foodstuffs to another warehouse he rented. Over 146 pallets were discovered. Some bikes donated by the mayor of Toronto were discovered among the donations. He wasn't alone in this massive theft, and police are looking for further suspects. He turned himself in to police four days after he was fired and the theft made public.

Poor guy, he was probably just trying to get that ONE Christmas toy his kids were hollering for.

The city of Toronto has been in shock for the last 5 days, with people wondering how many children could have had much needed toys or strollers ...or food. It's the most Grinch-like theft to hit North America in decades. But while the city reeled, two toy makers sprang into action, donating more than $350,000 worth of toys:

"Within days of the theft being made public, several companies offered large donations to the Salvation Army’s annual Christmas toy drive. Spinmaster Toys donated $100,000, while Hasbro Canada pledged $250,000 in toys to CTV’s Toy Mountain, which collects toys that are then passed on to the Salvation Army."
Is There No Soul Left In Christmas?

The massive theft brought out about the risky side of donating to some charities: they may be based on a benevolent Christian God, but they are still subject to human greed, and the officials have to steel themselves for the possibility of theft at all levels. Yes, it is a sad commentary, but the fact is that hypocrisy (saying you are "Christian" while not practicing the tenets of Christianity) has ruled for a very long time in today's religious enclaves and failure to recognize that fact makes all faith-based charities vulnerable. In Catholic circles, priests and bishops have been caught with their hands in the collection box; in televangelist media, fraud is rampant*; scam artists abound in the form of prosperity gospel preachers. 

And for those who want the money, Christmas is just another fruitful holiday.

Keeping It Local

For the donor, the best way to donate, may be to donate as locally as possible. Of course, operations like the Salvation Army have local chapters such as the one for Toronto, but the more local a charity is, the better it can be tracked as to how much of your dollars are actually going directly to the people who need them most. Diligence is the key.

We can't always depend upon big corporations to step in during a crisis. 

*Remember that Pat Robertson almost landed in jail for fraud: asking people to donate for relief operations to Zaire while having Operation Blessing planes ferry his mining equipment.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

If Ugandans Get Their Christmas Wish Of "Death To Gays", How Many American Evangelicals Will Also Make Merry?

Which One Is Santa Claus - The Christian Right Or Born-Again Ugandans?
"Speaker, we cannot sit back while such (a) destructive phenomenon is taking place in our nation," the activists said in a petition. "We therefore, as responsible citizens, feel duty-bound to bring this matter to your attention as the leader of Parliament ... so that lawmakers can do something to quickly address the deteriorating situation in our nation."

The "destructive phenomenon" is, of course, homosexuality. At least according to the Ugandan Parliament. And it hopes to eradicate it before Christmas as a "Christmas present" to Christian Ugandans. After all, the Christian anti-gay clerics asked for one. Speaker Rebecca Kadaga told The Associated Press that Ugandans "are demanding it." "Everyone" wants the "Kill the gays" bill to pass.

But who, exactly, is "everyone"?


The imprint of American Christian Evangelicals on Uganda is so bold that all you have to do is look to the surface of the country - embodied in Madame Museveni. Her husband may be the titular born-again Christian head as President, but Janet Museveni is the country's spiritual and societal soul. She is also a born-again Christian, but more importantly, she is the conduit through which the American Christian Right passed its homophobia on to an uneducated country. She was certainly instrumental in having Pastor Rick Warren declare Uganda to be a "Purpose Driven Country" (whatever that is). It is doubtful that people like Scott Lively would have ever gotten to first base with the country's leaders without her influence.

"From 5 to 8 March 2009, a workshop took place in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, that featured three American evangelical Christians: Scott Lively, an author who has written several books opposing homosexuality; Caleb Lee Brundidge, a self-professed former gay man who conducts sessions to heal homosexuality; and Don Schmierer, a board member of Exodus International, an organisation devoted to promoting "freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ".[14] The theme of the conference, according to The New York Times, was the "gay agenda": "how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how 'the gay movement is an evil institution' whose goal is 'to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity' ".
The hand of the Family Research Council's chief "researcher" Paul Cameron was clearly seen in the rhetoric:
"Homosexuals are at least 12 times more likely to molest children than heterosexuals; homosexual teachers are at least 7 times more likely to molest a pupil; homosexual teachers are estimated to have committed at least 25 percent of pupil molestation; 40 percent of molestation assaults were made by those who engage in homosexuality."
It is alleged that American "prophet" Lou Engle also encouraged the criminalization of homosexuality and the death penalty (although he has denied the latter, he has never denied that he would prefer homosexuals to be placed in prison.)

Provisions of the bill:

Death penalty:

- to repeat offenders of homosexuals acts
- to people who engage in homosexual acts with a minor
- to people who are suspected of "aggravated homosexuality" and have HIV
Prison sentence:

- to those suspected of homosexual activity
- to those who do not report homosexual activity within 24 hours
- to those suspected of "promoting" homosexuality
- to anyone who aids and/or abets a homosexual (e.g. renting to to a homosexual)

In addition:

- all people suspected of homosexual activity and arrested must undergo HIV testing.
- former residents suspected of homosexuality may be extradited and sentenced.

It perhaps the provision of "promoting" and "reporting" that have caused an era of savage chaos in Uganda even before the legislation takes hold: people "report" their enemies and anyone suspected of being a social liberal could be judged a "promoter". Neighbors have been going door-to-door to weed out "abominations". Activist David Kato was bludgeoned to death. Anglican Bishop Senyonjo was punished for accepting gays.* 

A Great Christmas Gift That Keeps On Giving!

In the almost surreal world of African Christianity, replete with armies and witch-hunters, it should be no surprise that Uganda has held steadfast against international pressure to shelve the bill. Museveni himself said that he would withdraw from treaties and the United Nation's Declaration of Human Rights if necessary. So it seems that the "gift" of the "Kill the gays" bill might give the nation of Uganda something else: admonition and isolation from the international community. 

It will certainly give a gift to people like Tony Perkins: something to crow about.

*Expelled from Uganda and stripped of his pension by the Church.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Q.: What Would The Holy Republic of Christianland Look Like? A: A Lot Like Texas.

And it would certainly save the rest of us from the "We're-So-Persecuted" bunch.

Over 50,000 people have signed petitions to secede from the Union. Good. Great! FANTASTIC! Just think of what the United States wouldn't be burdened with any longer: Hell Houses. And no more Patriot Movement, no gay teen suicides, no more misogyny, no more Islamophobia. Neither would there be any SPLC or ACLU, since they wouldn't be necessary. And no more Newt Gingrichs, Karl Roves, Mike Huckabees, Bryan Fischers, Tony Perkinses, Michele Bachmanns, Ann Coultergeists, Michele Malkins or Franklin Grahams. 

And no more Glen Becks.

Instead, there would be absolute "from" freedoms: from religion, from proselytizing, from intolerance, from righteous arrogance, from bigotry, from misogyny, and from all the social phobias. And "to" freedoms: to marry and  to say "Happy Holidays". Why, America could get to work at being a truly wonderful nation dedicated to love and peace.

Hey, we can dream, can't we?

The recent spate of petitions and buzz about secession can be clearly seen in this interactive geopolitical map. And it's not surprising as to where most of it is concentrated: Texas The state that has always had elephantiasis of the ego is the state that has toyed with the idea of secession for over a hundred years. It is the epitome of Barack Obama's "guns and Bibles" set, a place where Gary Cass ("You can't be a Christian and don't own a gun.") would feel more than safe and comfortable. It is a place that cheers it's record of executions. It is a place where megachurches and Fundamentalist theology rule, largely through a governor who calls together strictly Christian prayer rallies. 

Ten days ago, opining on the differences of the electorate (Obama being demonspawn, of course), Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association suggested that a wall be built between socially conservative (Christian Right) America and the rest of country. He also suggested that people would be digging tunnels under the wall trying to get to "our" side, being, of course, more prosperous - and righteous. 


What Would Christianland Look Like?

If Texas and its far Right minions seceded from the United States of America, it would, of course, be the dream of David Barton: it would be a "Christian ONLY Nation." The term "Christian" would have difficulty in definition and there would be in-fighting among people like Catholic bishops, John (Rome is the whore of Babylon") Hagee, and Cindy Jacobs (who goes around smashing statues of Catholic saints). Pat Robertson, who said that he didn't have to be nice to Methodists and Episcopalians ("spirit of the Anti-Christ") might have difficulty living amid non-charismatics, but once the unsavory elements of "True Christianity" have been rooted out, the country might have these demographics and pertinent data:

Ethnicity: 90% White, 8% African-American, 2% Hispanic (well, it does live right next to Mexico)
Christian Denomination: 60% Southern Baptist, 10% Assemblies of God, 10% Pentecostal, 5% Roman Catholic, 15% Non-denominational Bible-Thumper.
Population: 15 million plus the entire Dugger family.
State Bird: Raptor-hawk
State Motto: "In R.J. Rushdooney* We Trust"
Primary exports: oil, guns, Bibles, televangelists and righteous arrogance
Primary Media: Glen Beck, FOX News (w/Mike Hucakbee), World Net Daily, Washington Times (for international/foreign news), Christian Broadcasting Network, Trinity Broadcasting Network.
Chief Institutions of Higher Learning: Regent University, Liberty University, Bob Jones University, Glen Beck University


President:  Rick Perry     Vice President:   Mike Huckabee
Cabinet Members:
Secretary of State: George W. Bush
Secretary Of Defense: Erik Prince (of Blackwater infamy)
Secretary of Education and Home Schooling: David Barton
Secretary of Homeland Security: Chuck Norris
Secretary of Family Values: Tony Perkins
Secretary of Commerce: Mitt Romney (with special dispensation to his Mormonism by Dallas Pastor Robert Jeffress)
Secretary of Religious Affairs: co-Secretaries Cindy Japan-is-shaped-like-a-dragon Jacobs, and San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordeleone
Secretary of Propaganda: Bryan Fischer
Secretary of the Interior: Michele Bachmann
Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff: Pat Robertson

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court: Antonin Scalia
Undersecretaries would include: Joel Osteen, Ken Copeland, Rod Parsley, John Hagee, T.D. Jakes, Scott Lively. 

Imagining what a meeting of government's top officers would look like damages the brain, but you have to admit it would make a great sitcom.** 

Seriously. Seriously?

While we can poke fun at the machinations of the Christofascist Right, the matter of secession points out that they have made enough inroads in the country's Great Division to command some fear -  if not respect. In a country that needs unification now more than ever, the big CR is not about to compromise and is best left alone - and far away - to lick its wounds from the election. Separation and isolation can be good things: the CR could be contained and politely asked ... leave the rest of humanity alone.

Just a thought.

*Founder of the Reconstructionist movement and agent provocateur of American theocracy.
** A reality show would too surreal.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Worst Ad EVER!

Does the NRA have anything to do with this?
You Bet!!!

Obama Won, FOX Lost: Will Murdoch's Minions Survive?

More than a week after the election, the inept machination of FOX News are still coming to light, and one media watchdog is now petitioning the FCC to revoke FOX's license: siting a 6-month old study by Farleigh Dickinson University, is requesting the FCC take action against Rupert Murdoch's evil empire:
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION: Rupert Murdoch has failed every “character” test available, and the programs under his broadcasting licenses have both been implicated in scandal and have been proven to make audiences less informed, not more. We urge you to revoke Murdoch’s broadcasting licenses immediately, and to take a stand against his corrupt media empire.
The petition has 45,000 signatures so far (100,000 needed for the FCC to consider it).

I doubt that anything will come of this, but it's interesting to note that someone is taking the time to do something about FOX's "Faux" news.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thumpy Thursday: Betty Bowers And Heavenly Real Estate

It's Thumpy Thursday - that day when things are just thumping along and you're waiting 'til Friday. To ehlp us along is the inimitable Betty Bowers. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dan Savage Is Right About Tony Perkins, But Just How Many Gay Bodies Are Evangelicals Sitting On?

Right Wing Evangelical Christianity has a lot to answer for.

Accountability is not one of religion's strong suits: witness the reaction of the Family Research Council to Dan Savage's charge:

On Mike Huckabee's program:

Mike Huckabee: “I found Dan Savage to be unnecessarily rude, vile, and angry. Just angry. He was not a happy person and he just takes out his venom on other people, but he’s gone to a level I’ve never seen.”
Perkins responded, “As my teenagers would say, he has some issues. He is a man with some real deep-seated issues … and Dan Savage is nowhere near, he’s a hundred and eighty degrees from the positions that we have taken. It’s wrong and I will tell you this, we are pursuing everything possible to deal with him because he is out of control.”
Note that Perkins did not answer to the responsibility the FRC has in teen suicides.

Refusal of culpability always leads to further investigation, and even though the Christian Right counters such investigation with cries of "PERSECUTION!", investigation is indeed necessary: a grain of truth can be supplanted in everyone's mind and counter-actions must be taken.

Walking Backward: A Much Wider Sphere Of Hate And Destruction

Going back to the origins of demonizing gays and lesbians is, to some, like going back to the Stone Age in America's Evangelical vs LGBT culture war, but it must be done to give scope to the current battle. Perkins' demonizing is following a tradition laid down by Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and Jesse Helms. So to get a clearer perspective it may be necessary to walk backwards - to a time even before the Age of AIDS.

In November of 2010, The Family Research Council was named a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The reason: disseminating false information about gays and lesbians in order to create animosity towards a specific group. Tony Perkins, of course, hit the ceiling, but he had good company: the evangelical American Family Association was also named a hate group. One strong reason for this: the rhetoric of the AFA's Director Of Issues Analysis (whatever that means), Bryan Fischer*. Fischer's celebrity stems from the fact that he has denigrated not only gays, but Muslims, feminists and African-Americans. 

In 1992, the Family Research Council came out with a video, the Gay Agenda in which was cited the discredited research of Paul Cameron. This video was widely distributed among evangelical church groups and conservative organizations. In that same year, minister-turned politician Mike Huckabee came out with the statement: "I feel [homosexuality] is an aberrant, unnatural, and sinful lifestyle, and we now know it can pose a dangerous public health risk." He also suggested that AIDS patients should be "isolated from the general population."**

From 1982 onward, the most favorite culture war battle cry was 'AIDS is a gay plague." The demonizing that resulted from groups like the Southern Baptist Convention is still far-reaching:

From OPEdNews (Demonizing America - Part 2: "Kill Them All! God Will Take Care Of His Kind!"):
Probably the most obvious (and the most vicious) holdout as far as demonizing PWAs is concerned is the powerful Southern Baptist Convention. Almost thirty years after the start of the epidemic, the SBC still cannot point to the sponsorship of any faith-based agency dealing with AIDS this country. ...Today, they still follow Jesse Helms dictum that helping AIDS victims in Africa was fine because they were "all heterosexuals" while all AIDS victims in America were perverted sodomites.
(Of note: Tony Perkins is Southern Baptist and carries on its traditions extremely well.  In 1991, Mr. Perkins was cited during a political campaign for failing to report that he had knowingly purchased the mailing list of former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke.)

In 1980, the Traditional Values Coalition was formed by Rev. Lou Sheldon as a bulwark against what it deemed a "deviant lifestyle."*** And although discrimination against homosexuals had long been in place by the evangelical community, the formation of the Coalition marked the first organized attempt to demonize a group. 

Body Count

The number of fatalities resulting from the demonizing of people like Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council is impossible to calculate: to count the number of pulpits, televangelists, hate groups and hell houses that have caused people to be kicked out of their homes while they were sick and dying, that have caused adult and teen suicides, that have caused people to be bashed and killed, is incalculable. It is unknowable, because the nature of demonizing is too insidious to calculate.

And this is what Tony Perkins and his ilk count on: without direct cause and effect, the Family Research Council will continue to going skipping merrily down Unaccountable Lane.

* Wikipedia: "In August, 2012, AFA Director of Issue Analysis Bryan Fischer compared the children of gay parents to slaves, tweeting that "we need an Underground Railroad to deliver innocent children from same-sex households".
 ** This was several years after the CDC determined that AIDS was not transmitted through casual contact.
***Both Lou Sheldon and the Traditional Values Coalition were later embroiled in the Jack Abramoff scandal.