Archive for April, 2014

On March 7, World Net Daily became one of many conservative outlets to lament that a New Mexico couple, who had stated they would not photograph a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony because it violated their religious beliefs, had lost their appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States. SCOTUS wouldn’t take their appeal after they had lost at every level in the court system. So, Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin, and their lawyer Jordan Lorence of the Alliance Defending Freedom, are SOL. WND’s Greg Corombos wrote the article, “Supremes ‘Serious’ About ‘Gay’ Suits vs. Christians.”

As usual, missing the point. The point is that states have public accommodation laws. If you open your business to the public, you must abide by them. The states include in those laws non-discrimination rules, such as against gender, nationality, or religion. Over half the states also include sexual orientation, including New Mexico. So, since this was clearly a refusal of service based on sexual orientation, they were violating the law by refusing service.

Whether or not those laws are Constitutional in light of the First Amendment I think remains to be seen / tested, though this rejection by SCOTUS would seem to indicate they think the laws are okay. And, as usual, I must ask the question if we’d even be talking about this if Elaine Photography had refused an interracial couple.

The reason I’m writing about this on the blog is that it has garnered 1421 comments. And, for the first time ever that I’ve seen, WND’s comment moderators actually wrote in someone’s comment.

The comment is by “moms4patriots,” and she wrote:

I saw one suggestion on another thread that I thought was brilliant. It may have some hidden flaws that I haven’t thought through yet, but at frist glance I don’t see any. These religious buisness owners could say to the same sex couple, “Look, the courts have ruled that I must serve you even if it violates my conscience, so I will do the job (whatever it happens to be) for you. However, because it does violate my conscience, I will not be able to keep any of the money that you pay me. Therefore I have decided to donate the profits from this job to the Family Research Council to fight for traditional marriage at the national level. If you still want me to photograph your wedding knowing this, then I will do the job for you, to the best of my ability.”

It got 52 up-votes. The moderators appended this to her comment: “Exceptionally rare Moderator’s note: We all agree this is brilliant! One thought: Make sure you tell the unhappy “couple” that you’ll be making the donation in their name.”

So, this is where I depart from perhaps my more liberal compatriots. Do I think people should be able to discriminate? No. You get into the slippery slope of letting them discriminate for “non-essential” services (wedding photography?) but not for “essential” services (hospital care?) but then needing to legally define whether every single service out there is essential or non-essential. It is much easier to just blankly say that public accommodations of any type can’t discriminate.

That said, I kinda like “moms4patriots”‘s suggestion. The reason is that I don’t understand why, if you know someone is only giving you a service like this (such as wedding photography, or baking a cake) because they legally must, and there are dozens of other businesses out there that provide the exact same service that don’t hate you because they think their invisible sky fairy says they should, why go to them? Go somewhere else.

I recognize that’s not always a possibility, especially in smaller towns and rural areas. But, for many of us, it is. Let bigots be bigots. Leave bad ratings for them on websites like Yelp, and tell your friends and rant about it on Facebook. But if the baker down the street does just as good a job and is flying a rainbow flag, why insist on the baker with the Jesus fish making your anniversary cake?

On April 9, WND published “Girl, 13, Suspended for Opposing Common Core.” Okay … well, the story, lifted from Times Herald-Record actually states, “A 13-year-old student at Orange-Ulster BOCES believes she was suspended from school this week as a result of telling other students they didn’t have to take the Common Core English test Tuesday.” (emphasis mine)

This doesn’t sound like she was “Opposing Common Core.” This sounds like she was telling everyone that they (and she) didn’t have to take a test that was required by the school. To me, that sounds like insubordination, and – gasp! – she “was suspended for two days for insubordination.”

I don’t see why this is a story, but apparently it is.

I’ve been watching the Bryan College saga unfold over the last two months. “CreationDebate Roils Christian University was put up by WND on March 9, and it points out that the college was named for William Jennings Bryan, the lawyer who defended the state in the “Scopes Monkey Trial” in 1925. He defended the Biblical account of, well, everything, and Bryan College was founded 84 years ago as an evangelical nondenominational institution.

As is typical of most universities/colleges except for those under the strictest of guidelines, rules, regulations, and oversight, it turned relatively liberal. While it was founded and still upholds a Christian Biblical world view, it turns out that – gasp! – many of the faculty and students held a more theistic evolution stance, where God is real, but so is science, and God is more the “ghost in the machine” who guides everything.

That didn’t sit none too well with some of the Administrators, who during that first week of March decided that the current Statement of Faith was not enough. The current statement says: “[We believe] that the origin of man was by fiat of God in the act of creation as related in the Book of Genesis; that he was created in the image of God; that he sinned and thereby incurred physical and spiritual death; […]”

But on February 28, 2014, school officials told faculty members they had to sign a clarification to that statement which eliminates theistic involution: “We believe that all humanity is descended from Adam and Eve. They are historical persons created by God in a special formative act, and not from previously existing life forms.”

Some point out that Answers in Genesis’ CEO may have had something to do with this, since he used Bryan college as an example of a Christian institution of, well, “learning” was compromising on “God’s word in Genesis.”

That wouldn’t be surprising, given the tenor of the over 200 WND comments, such as by “NatanElias” who wrote: “”The reality is that evolution is not a theory teetering on the edge of collapse.”
FALSE — it is being supported only by the desire of athiests, and it is a denial of Christ to side with them over the Scriptures.”

This is why I put “learning” in “quotes.”

But the bru-ha-ha (is that how you spell it?) is that the faculty and students are revolting. Not in that they don’t shower, but that they are saying, effectively, “Pres. Livesay, this is bulls–t.” As in, the entire faculty voted 30-2 for no-confidence in him and a petition drive gathered over 300 student signatures.

But, they don’t seem to be backing down. As WND copied via the AP on April 5, “Christian College to Lose Faculty Over Creationism Flap?” The 50 comments to this one seemed kinda boring and more philosophical or debating young-Earth creationism vs. not, so they didn’t seem worth copying over.

But, I don’t think this story is over. At least if Ken Ham has anything to say about it. He wrote on his AiG website that even that “clarification” statement isn’t enough, he’s demanding they go to young-Earth creationism. As Hemant noted on his blog (The Friendly Atheist, the above link), Mr. Ham used perhaps one of the most obvious examples of circular reasoning to make his argument: He quoted from the Bible, and then he wrote, “the above verses are enough for us to know with 100 percent certainty that Eve was created from Adam (and not through some previously existing animal), and that Adam was made from dust.” In other words, the Bible is true ’cause it says it is.

I guess we’ll see what happens.

I of course mean the title in my own opinion, based on my interpretation of some of her writings, and have no intent to be libelous.

With t hat disclaimer, Ms. Geller’s column on April 6, 2014, was entitled “U.S. Muslims Angry Over School’s Easter Flyer.”

Rather than go through Ms. Geller’s version first, this is a story I saw two days earlier on The Friendly Atheist‘s blog: “Muslim Parents Rightfully Upset When Church’s Flyers Are Distributed at Dearborn Elementary Schools.” To be clear:

A flyer headlined “Eggstravaganza!” was given to students this week at three elementary schools in the Dearborn Public Schools district, which has a substantial number of Muslim students. The flyer described an April 12 event at Cherry Hill Presbyterian Church in Dearborn featuring an egg hunt, relay race, and egg toss. It asked students to RSVP “to secure your free spot” and included images of eggs and a bunny.

… The pastor of Cherry Hill Presbyterian Church defended the flyer, saying it was approved for distribution by Dearborn Public Schools and is not promoting a religious event.

“It’s designed to be an opportunity to invite the community to come for a day of activity,” said Pastor Neeta Nichols of Cherry Hill. “There is not a religious component to this event.”

As they note, the last sentence would be true … “minus the church celebrating Easter” part. Hemet over there also notes that it’s a nice change to see another religion complaining about this as opposed to atheists, who are usually the ones to complain about this sort of stuff. To be clear: Separation of church and state means that this sort of flyer – asking students to participate in a Christian event at a church – is clearly unconstitutional. It doesn’t matter who’s complaining about it.

But, since it’s Muslims who are complaining, that means we get a column by Pamela Geller about it.

The Free Press quoted a Muslim parent, Majed Moughni, who said that the flyer “really bothered my two kids.” Moughni’s two children are aged seven and nine. He added: “My son was like, ‘Dad, I really don’t feel comfortable getting these flyers, telling me to go to church. I thought churches are not supposed to mix with schools.’”

What 7-year-old or 9-year-old talks like that? They don’t. But this is the device that supremacists use – using children (sort of a riff on Hamas using children as human shields). They pulled this same PR stunt a couple of weeks back in their latest demand to get halal food in New York City cafeterias. (Get the details here.) This is the same ideology that encourages these same parents to hand their children over to jihad suicide bombings to slaughter the non-believers “wherever you find them.”

Hmmm … so a parent teaching a child about the separation of church and state is just like teaching them to be suicide bombers?

Ms. Geller also wrote, “The Easter egg hunt was just supposed to be a secular afternoon of fun and frolic for young children like Moughni’s seven- and nine-year-old.” I’ll repeat what Hemet said: Sure, minus that whole “Easter” and “church” thing.

She also wrote, “There is ever more Muslim victimhood posturing and more dawah (Islamic proselytizing) in our public schools. We never see this done with Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, etc., but we see it with this ideology.” Really? Seriously? We never see Christian victimhood and posturing in our schools? Ms. Geller, I am here to call you a liar. Either you are the most willfully ignorant person who follows religion, or you are a willful liar. There, I said it. Practically every week there is a new story – true or faked – about Christian victimhood in public schools and calls for resignations as a result. I suggest you look up practically anything written by Todd Starnes to start with.

And for a nice ending full of indignation: “If Muslims such as these parents who are enraged at an Easter egg hunt cannot tolerate other religions, why not stay in a supremacist Shariah country where creed apartheid is the law of the land?”

As for my ending: No, you are wrong. This is not about intolerance and outrage over religious supremacy. This is about a school not advocating – or even giving the appearance of advocating, advancing, or favoring one religion over another.

In an unattributed article published on April 3, 2014, WND stated, “Support ‘Gays in Ranks or Quit, Chiefs Told.” It has the sub-title, “Coast Guard commandant describes Obama’s pressure on repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.'” For readers who don’t remember, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was a President Clinton -era law that stated that people in the military could not ask a soldier’s sexual orientation, but if their orientation was discovered to not be heterosexual, they could be discharged. While the number peaked in the later Clinton and early Bush years, a total of 13,650 soldiers were discharged under DADT.

On a related note, recall that enshrined in the US Constitution, the President of the United States is the Commander-in-Chief (CiC), meaning that he or she has full powers over the military (though Congress balances that through its power to declare war and its power to control funding). This means that if the President sets a policy, if the President orders something with respect to the military, you have to follow it. Or get out.

That was kinda left out of this WND article, that people in the military don’t really have the option of saying “no” to the CiC. Instead, it tries to imply that President Obama set rules and he – surprisingly – expected them to be carried out, otherwise – gasp! – you should resign:

“We were called into the Oval Office and President Obama looked all five service chiefs in the eye and said, ‘This is what I want to do,’” Papp said.

Papp, who will retire in May, said he could not divulge everything Obama said in the 2010 meeting because it was in private communications within the Oval Office.

“But if we didn’t agree with it – if any of us didn’t agree with it – we all had the opportunity to resign our commissions and go do other things,” he said.

The issue was Obama’s abandonment of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that allowed homosexuals to serve in the military as long as they kept their proclivities to themselves. Now the military promotes open homosexuality in the ranks.

Hmm. Heaven forbid not following what the CiC says and expecting to remain in the military. And as an added bonus, we get WND “reminding” us that the military now actually “promotes open homosexuality.” Yup, upon joining, you’re given a rainbow flag, a triangle pin, and your first homework assignment is to kiss a member of the same gender. Right?

Or maybe that’s a bit of hyperbole?

As in “Christian in Name Only” (begatten from the “Republican in Name Only”).

I ask because of an April 3, 2014 story that WND lifted from Washington Examiner, “Poll: Hillary Winning 36% of Evangelicals.”

And some of the subsequent 39 comments, such as from top-rated “kurtis:” “This doesn’t surprise me about Clinton getting 36% of the Christian vote. 50% of all self- proclaim Christians aren’t even register to vote and of the 50% that are registered, 50% of them don’t vote. Secondly, this 36% who claimed to be Christians, I would have to challenge whether they actually live their Christian faith. Not to judge, but if you are supporting/voting for candidates that support abortion you are not living your faith.”

Or third-highest “Bill731:” “These are not ” evangelicals ” in the traditional, historic sense of the word. All of the apostates will no doubt vote for Hillary.”

Are we back to the No True Scotsman Fallacy? Where if you don’t fit my definition of the term and ALL that it entails, you can’t be a member of they group regardless of whether you consider yourself to be a member? Me-thinks that’s the implication. And, because many don’t fit WND’ers’ narrow and über-conservative views, I think that we see this fallacy used quite a bit.

I use the term “Christian Nation” here tongue-in-cheek because the US is not a Christian nation, it was not founded as such, and if conservative Christians want to live in a theocracy, they should move to Iran.

Anywho, the title of this blog post comes from a comment on WND’s March 29, 2014 article-copy from the Christian Science Monitor: “Is California Overdue for a Big Quake?”

Within the 8 comments, “DukeUSA” wrote this: “As long as God is ignored in this country, we can expect to see the number of disasters go up. Mudslides, earthquakes, plane crashes, tornadoes, hurricanes, crime, crime against children, crime against animals, –it is happening now just going to worse. Leviticus 26 tells what will happen unless this nation returns to the principles upon which it were founded – God’s principles.”

Okay, so the hypothesis is that the Christian god is being ignored in the US, therefore disasters will continue to increase. It stands to reason that, unless the US is super-duper special, if the Christian god is ignored in other countries, disasters will also continue to increase. Given that there are many countries in the world that are less religious than the US, or more religious but for the “wrong” religion (such as Islam, Hindu, or Buddhist), one should expect to see lots of natural disasters in those countries. And increasing.

But, natural-disasters-wise, I don’t think that’s the case. For example, while Iran is very Islamic, and it has seen economic and sanctions from those “of our world,” it has very few – if any – natural disasters. One could say much the same with many Islamic countries. Or, say, Buddhist countries, or Hindu countries.

So while these few very loud people may shake their tiny fists and claim deliverance and redemption (and punishment) by their invisible sky god, I don’t think it will affect Earth all that much. If at all.

Whoops … didn’t write enough and got busy again. Sigh. Sorry folks.

Okay, up this time is a very soft-news story, one that most of you probably already knew: Conservative Christians really did not like the Darren Aronofsky rendition of the Biblical story of Noah. Really didn’t like it. Besides Answers in Genesis complaining about it, or Creation Ministries International, World Net Daily’s folks (such as Aaron Klein, their senior staff reporter and Jerusalem bureau chief) chimed in with, “‘Noah’ Movie Depicts Evolution, Black Magic” (because Christians believe in black vs. white magic), and they published an article full of Ray Comfort quotes under, “‘Blatant Mischaracterization of a Man of God.'” Because remember, these stories are all for realz. And you wouldn’t want a movie about your great-great-great-great-…-great-grandpa to be wrong.

The problem with the movie, of course, is that it’s not historically Biblically accurate. Methuselah is a sorcerer, Noah sees destruction in his dreams instead of from the voices in his head, and magical seeds that erupt into water that becomes a forest.

Ray Comfort, of bananas-are-designed-and-totally-not-like-a-penis fame, said among other things: “There’s something more sinister about the production of this movie. It’s more than just a grown man with a childish imagination playing with an expensive toy. It is the blatant mischaracterization of a man of God in an attempt to undermine the authority of the Word of God. If Hollywood’s ‘Noah’ is a financial success, I suspect that a sequel will be a blasphemous mischaracterization of Jesus and His work on the cross.”

Yup. Because, far be it for Hollywood to latch onto a genre that sells.

The first story definitely generated a lot of discussion, with 1035 comments; the piece about Comfort had a more modest 134 comments. Quick were the calls for boycotts. Because righteous Christian boycotts are, well, righteous, but boycotts against Christians are evil. “truthseeker53” had the insight, “The entertainment industry serves lucifer [sic].”

“TKevinTkevin”‘s comment also got a lot of support and others echoed it: “don’t support this version of events…read the Bible yourself and spread real Truth”

And, of course, a “Guest” bemoaning the accomodationalists who think that any publicity (for God or the Bible) is good publicity: “What I find the most disappointing are those who claim to be Christians defending this movie as a witnessing tool.”

Then, of course, WND had to bring in a “real” expert in fairy tales – Larry Stone: “‘Noah’ Expert Tells Real Story of Biblical Flood.”

For anyone who reads much news – and if you read this blog, I kinda assume you do because this blog is really scraping the bottom of the barrel – you probably remember that, in late March, the Christian charity “World Vision” – US branch – decided that it would lift the ban on hiring homosexual staffers, especially married ones. And after massive outrage from conservatives (you know, those loving, turn the other cheek, etc. Christians), they quickly reversed their decision.

Here’s what I think about that:

World Vision Fiasco

World Vision Fiasco

Oh, and for what it’s worth, I think that Art Moore’s WND article was the main one on this, though there were others, but it’s this one that got over 1200 comments: “Famous Christian Charity in Stunning About-Face.”

On March 25, 2014, Walter Williams devoted his WND column to “The Left’s Bizarre Arguments.” He began with this reductio ad absurdum fallacy:

Some statements and arguments are so asinine, you’d have to be an academic or a leftist to take them seriously.

Take the accusation that Republicans and conservatives are conducting a war on women. Does that mean they’re waging war on their daughters, wives, mothers and other female members of their families? If so, do they abide by the Geneva Conventions’ bans on torture, or do they engage in enhanced interrogation and intimidation methods, such as waterboarding, with female family members? You might say that leftists don’t mean actual war. Then why do they say it?

Hmm. Ever heard of the persecution complex of the War on Christianity in America, It’s not an actual war, with guns ‘n’ stuff where we abide by the Geneva Convention, so why do you call it a War on Christianity? (In fact, just a few days later, on March 27, Joseph Farah published his own column entitled, “The Answer to Obama’s War on Christianity.” Hmmmmmmm…)

But more to the point, he claims that conservatives are not waging a war – a metaphorical war – on women. That’s interesting. Just yesterday I read this over at The Friendly Atheist blog, “Fundamentalist Christian Pastor on Women’s Roles: ‘No, My Wife Does Not Have Equal Rights.’”

I would like a conservative (or anyone) to tell me who denying women equal rights is not a “war” against women. No, it’s not fought in the trenches, but rather in the torture chambers of the church, home, or elsewhere that women are told they can’t do something that men can do because, well, they don’t have a penis. What would you call that, if not a war on women?