Archive for the ‘religion’ Category


I’m in a good mood because 57 abstracts were submitted by the deadline yesterday to a conference I’m convening in May. So let’s do a quickie for a WND post that comes via the AP: “Man Burned by Fajitas While Praying Can’t Sue Eatery.”

Here are the gigantic two paragraphs that WND posted:

(Associated Press) A New Jersey appellate court says a man cannot seek damages for burns he suffered while bowing his head in prayer over a sizzling steak fajita skillet at a restaurant.

The ruling made public Wednesday upheld a lower court ruling that dismissed his lawsuit. The man claimed a waitress didn’t warn him the dish was hot, but the lower court found the food posed an “open and obvious” danger.

Yeah … so, 10% of me thought that maybe the knee-jerk WND commenter reaction would be complaining that some sort of Christian privilege was being trampled on, in some way. 90% of me thought that even WND commenters would think that the attempted lawsuit was ridiculous. Which they did.

At the moment, there are 15 comments. Top-rated is by “bob” who wrote: “He must be one dumb gringo. Every time I have ever ordered Fajitas they come out on a hot sizzling iron frying pan and I don’t need to be told not to stick my face in it.”

Or there’s third-place, “knowitall27” who wrote: “It is dishonest loons like this that ruin it for everyone else.”

But there’s also “Soundbyte,” who I’m hoping wrote this with sarcasm: “I am getting very tired of the anti Christian foods being served in restaurants. When will it stop………………when will it stop.”


I was going through my RSS feed and found this gem by WND’s Joe Kovacs: “Inquisition: College Girl Gets 3rd Degree for Being Jew.”

The story is that, allegedly, “the student government at UCLA interrogated a young student about the fact she is Jewish, and nearly scrapped her acceptance to its group because of her religious heritage.”

In other words, they weren’t going to let a person do something because they weren’t the correct religion.

Except, that’s exactly what WND wants for every religion except Christianity, and perhaps Judaism. Muslim? Hindu? Wiccan? Atheist? WND writers would ardently advocate for you not to be able to hold any public office or, in some cases, even vote. This is in part rooted in – or at least “supported by” – a constant stream of articles that America is a “Christian Nation.”

Hypocrites much?


I have a headache and the airplane I’m in as I’m writing this has hit some turbulence, so forgive me for a short post. There are three links for this one. First, there’s the WND post, which is “Student Reprimanded for Saying ‘God Bless America.'”

There actually is no story. Nada. No description in the RSS feed, no three-paragraph snippet. Just a link to “Read the full story” which takes you to Fox “news” and an article by Todd Starnes: “Student Reprimanded for Saying ‘God Bless America.'” The Fox story has nearly 10,000 comments when I loaded it in the airport.

“Similarly,” the WND story has 53 comments when I last loaded it. The top-rated comment is by “daleetaylor” who wrote: “I wonder if we realize how close we are to a national collapse. The leaders of this nation are doing whatever they want and they could care less what the American people want. That is the sad truth. They LIE, LIE, LIE and LIE about their lying. We as a nation must pray to the only true God and repent or we will perish. That is the truth. God forgive us.”

Without even reading the story or anything else, my knee-jerk reaction is pretty much what “kim” said in response: “The american people don’t want god in the classroom. They decided 230 years ago and reaffirm that every election since. Maybe you should move to a theocracy.” “kim” was attacked, as expected.

But, the whole reason that I found this story and even clicked on it was because Hemant posted about it on his The Friendly Atheist blog: “Todd Starnes Flips Out After Student Told Not to Say “God Bless America” During Morning Announcements.”

Here’s the real story:

  1. Students at this school (Yulee High School in Florida) are allowed to read the morning announcements. Over the loudspeaker. To a captive audience. At that point, they legally become an agent of the school. More on that later.
  2. Students were adding “God Bless America” to the end of the announcements.
  3. Two students who are atheists, fearing reprisal, told their parents and the parents complained to the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center.
  4. The legal center wrote a letter to the school explaining the problem.
  5. The principal wrote back within hours saying that “the theistic assertion was not part of the scripted announcements but was added by a student without the school’s approval.” And, “The principal reassured the legal center, “It is our desire and intention to respect the belief and constitutional freedoms of all our students at Yulee High School.””

Enter Todd Starnes. Who “asked Jeremy Dys, an attorney with Liberty Institute to weigh in on this nonsense and he said the atheists don’t have a prayer:”

“Whether a student is being patriotic or engaging in religious speech, there is no law in this country forbidding a student from telling his or her classmates, ‘God bless America’ and it is illegal for a school to censor a student for doing so,” he said.

Dys also wonders why atheists are so hell-bent on trying to censor the patriotic speech of a red-blooded American high school student.

“Regardless of this attempt by secularists to white wash over this demonstration of patriotism by a teenager, America’s students do not give up their right to free speech and the expression of their religious beliefs when they go to school,” he said.

Here’s the issue: Students don’t give up their First Amendment rights to free speech when at school. They can tell fellow students anything they want about their religious beliefs or wear clothing that does – provided they do not create a hostile environment or interfere with learning – during school hours and on school property.

The issue goes to my first enumerated step in the story: They are giving this to a captive audience over the public address system as agents of the school. The school – and its agents – cannot advocate a religious belief. Therefore, the students saying “God Bless America” over the loudspeakers to a captive audience as part of the morning announcements is illegal.

Another part of the comments are people screaming about the “atheist students” and how they feared reprisal, and how they should have just come forward on their own. Um, this is high school. Do you really want to be even more of a pariah if, say, you’re the person already with few friends, and it’s the school’s prize quarterback who’s the one saying this in the announcements? Really?

And, I can personally relate: In my elementary school (grades 3-5), we were allowed, two at a time, for fifth graders, to go to the office in the morning and read the Pledge of Allegiance over the loudspeakers. Like good little minions, everyone in their homerooms would stand and recite it along with us.

I was fairly atheistic from a young age. I would say the pledge (I stopped in high school, for which I got bullied even by friends for not saying it when everyone else would during assemblies), but I would remain silent during the “under God” part. I was going to skip over it when I read it to the school. But even I, who already at that age didn’t have too many friends to lose anyway, chickened out and just read it as I was “supposed to.” Though because I didn’t chicken out until literally the word before it, I tripped up anyway and instead of a proud statement of church-state separation, I just was laughed at because I stumbled over several words in front of the entire school. The girl who did it with me (since it was boy-girl pairs) just shook her head, and the secretaries administrative staff looked at me with pity.

Sometimes school sucks. Trying to make a political, religious, or a-religious statement – even if you’re in the right – can make you a social pariah right at that age where you’re trying to figure out who you are, what your values are, and just fit in.


I was waiting for this one since I read it on the Raw Story site earlier today: “Oregon Officials Rip Fox Contributor Todd Starnes for ‘False’ Reporting on Anti-Gay Bakery.”

The story on WND is found in Michael Brown’s “It’s High Time to Push Back Against Gay Activism.” Oh, and it specifically contradicts the actual potential fine reported yesterday by WND in “Bakery to Pay Same-Sex Couple Up to $150,000.”

The real story is this:

A state agency in Oregon called out the Fox News contributor’s erroneous reporting on a discrimination complaint filed by a same-sex couple who were denied service by a bakery.

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries found Monday that Sweet Cakes by Melissa violated the state’s anti-discrimination law because it is not a registered religious institution.

The Portland bakery’s owners might be ordered to pay fines up to $75,000 to the women – but Starnes got some facts exactly wrong in his Fox News report, “Christian bakers face government wrath for refusing to make cake for gay wedding.”

Starnes incorrectly reported that bakery owners Aaron and Melissa Klein could face $200,000 in fines and damages – which an official with the BOLI flatly denied in a statement to Media Matters.

“Todd Starnes is writing that the bakery owners face fines of up to $200,000 in damages. That’s false,” said Charlie Burr, the agency’s communications director. “In fact, it’s the Kleins who have asked for $200,000 in damages from our agency for our enforcement of the Equality Act.”

An administrative judge rejected the couple’s request to dismiss the case and award them damages, court costs, and attorneys fees.

In other words, Starnes reported that the bakers were getting fined $200k, when in fact that was what THEY were trying to sue for. They may be fined up to $75k for each person they discriminated against, for their discrimination was ruled to be illegal because they violated the non-discrimination rules in their city/state.

Michael Brown, however, missed the memo:

On Tuesday, it was announced that “An Oregon administrative law judge ruled on Jan. 29 that the owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa did, in fact, discriminate in 2013 when they declined to provide a wedding cake for a lesbian couple because it would have violated their Christian beliefs against same-sex marriage.”

The bakers could potentially be fined $200,000 for holding to their Christian convictions. $200,000!

I don’t think anything more needs to be said about this.

But, comments, well … it’s a bit early to judge what may happen, but as I write this, there are 7 comments. The top-rated is by “MichaelVWilson” and he wrote this diatribe:

Push back. How nice. What a bland, unimaginative, inoffensive phrase.

As an ex-Marine I’m a little more direct in my approach. 50 men, 25 with rifles to act as guards; 25 with sledge hammers as the wrecking crew. Go to a homosexual bar or bathhouse, destroy it with the sledge hammers, find a second homosexual business, rinse and repeat until none are left.

Christians are in a war against evil. Let’s act like it!

Can someone please, please tell me how this is any different from what many über-conservative, right-wing Christians in American argue against in terms of Islamic jihad? This man is literally calling for Armed Christian Soldiers to destroy property owned by people they disagree with for religious reasons, or operated along an ideology they disagree with for religious reasons. The only difference I see in this particular comment is that he does not seem to be advocating violence to people, only their property. Though the rifles and sledgehammers make me wonder what would happen if someone tried to block them.

The only kind voice currently has zero up-votes, by “RichardMcCarthy”: “Yes, indeed! Jesus did say “Push back!” Or, maybe, He forgot to say that? I’m pretty sure He did say “Love one another” – including your enemies and fellow sinners as He loved us (not so that they know they’re going to Hell).”


… But for somewhat different reasons. Let’s quickly recap this case, posted just under a week ago: “Jury Awards $150,000 in ‘Mark of the Beast’ Case.”

To quote:

For the managers of West Virginia’s Consol Energy/Consolidation Coal Company, it was just a technological innovation to improve tracking of employees’ time and attendance, but for Beverly R. Butcher Jr. it was the Bible’s “Mark of the Beast.”

A jury sided this month with the general laborer, awarding him $150,000 in compensatory damages, reported the Clarksburg Exponent Telegram.

Butcher, an evangelical Christian, asserted he had been told he was required to submit to biometric hand scanning, even though he informed his employer in writing it was contrary to “his genuinely held religious beliefs about the relationship between hand-scanning technology and the Mark of the Beast and Antichrist discussed in the Bible.”

[…] Recognition Systems Inc., the vendor providing the hand scanner, challenged Butcher’s interpretation of the Bible, noting Revelation 13:16 refers to a mark placed on the right hand and forehead. Those concerned about receiving the Mark of the Beast could use the scanner “with their left hand and palm facing up” without worry. At any rate, the vendor said, its “scanner product does not, in fact, assign the Mark of the Beast.”

With the two parties at an impasse, Butcher said he was forced to retire before he had planned to.

The judge has yet to determine any additional award for lost salary, pension or court costs. Attorneys for Consol Energy said the company will appeal.

I think this award is stupid for two main reasons. First, the religious component and the idea of a “right to work.” (That said, I will admit that I think the company could easily have avoided this lawsuit by just letting him continue to do his time on paper and get approval of his timesheet by his employer. I do think that falls under religious accommodation, even though I think this is a stupid interpretation.)

Second, because this doesn’t even follow his religion. That fourth paragraph that I quoted is exactly what I mean, that the Bible states it is a literal mark on the right hand and the forehead. This is a scanner – it does not make a mark at all – and it can be used with the left hand and has nothing to do with the forehead. I have no idea why the jury sided with him in this case.

And that’s the reason that I agree with WNDers. While some of the 134 comments are just random spurts of Bible and Bible-related stuff (such as currently top-rated comment by “SATCitizen” who wrote “REFUSE THE MARK OF THE BEAST. . .AT ALL COSTS!”), it’s the somewhat lower-rated (though still somewhat high) comments that I agree with.

For example, there’s “czynik” who wrote this: “How can ones own biometrics like eye color or fingerprints be considered a “mark” – you were born with them and will die with them – they are yours and no one elses. Not someone else’s “mark” upon your body or mind – just your own body parts. All they are doing is using your own unique personal marks to identify you. Not marking you/him with some other mark like a brand or cut or tattoo or implanted chip or device.”

Yeah, they are reading your own body, not doing anything to it.

But then there’s “SenatorKang” (Simpsons reference) who wrote: “KJV says the mark is IN your right hand (the hand most people favor), so the hand you work with. Working for the Antichrist, in other words. In your forehead? That’s your brain. It’s your loyalty, your worship, your thoughts. Jesus comes at the 7th seal, not the 6th. Do the math. One will come in His place, first. If you work for that one, if you worship that one, then you have taken the mark. The mark will not be forced on anyone, or the Bible would have stated that. Look into what it says, not what men say. Read it.”

While I may not like stuff based on literal readings of the Bible, I would think that something that is this important would need to be taken as literally and specifically as possible. Lot’s wife looking back at a burning village and turning into a pillar of salt … okay, maybe that can be treated as a metaphor or something like that. But if you’re worried about your eternal soul and you think that this book gives you recipes on how to save it, I’d think that you’d take one of the more specific passages fairly literally.

But, I guess that’s just me.


Lots of travel in the next two weeks, so expect me to try to catch up on some posts while 35,000-40,000 ft in the air.

First up, we have an update on Gordon Klingenschmitt. I tried to capture the idea behind the man in the title of this post. He is a religious bigot of the extreme kind, having been fired from the Navy chaplaincy program due to his statements and actions against homosexuals and non-Christians. Well, that and this: “It was in 2006 when WND reported Klingenschmitt was dismissed from the Navy when he insisted his religious-freedom rights allowed him to pray “in Jesus name,” which conflicted with Navy policy requiring chaplains not to reference Jesus in their prayers.”

He runs a weekly radio program that spouts his beliefs including statements about how gays are demon-possessed (but don’t worry, he is able to cast those demons out and cure lesbians).

And, he was voted into the Colorado statehouse as a Representative in our last election. During his candidacy, he wouldn’t even agree to meet with concerned prospective constituents unless they paid for body guards because he was afraid of attack. So much for representatives being accessible.

Okay, so that takes care of Michael Carl’s WND story from November 8, 2014: “Navy Chaplain Who Fought for Prayer Elected in Colorado.”

That aside, the story a month later came from Bob Unruh: “Lesbian Judge Takes on Jesus in Court.” Ummm …. huh? That headline is just stupid and gives you no idea what’s going on. In fact, I only found it after reading Right Wing Watch’s story: “WND: Klingenschmitt Lost Because the Judge Was a Lesbian!” Okay, now at least I know what the real point of the story is.

But here’s how Bob (who gets most of the anti-gay stories on WND) decided to spin it. Starting from the beginning:

An openly lesbian federal judge whose appointment was opposed by dozens of U.S. senators has ruled against a Christian former Navy chaplain who alleged his superiors engineered his dismissal from the service because he was not “ecumenical.”

The decision by Elaine Kaplan of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims rejected the allegations of former chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt, who recently was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives.

He had routinely prayed “in Jesus name” as part of his work as a chaplain.

The next five paragraphs are about how the Judge was opposed “by 35 GOP senators” and more about her being a lesbian. Oh, and almost inconsequentially, the next paragraph states, “Klingenschmitt told WND he likely will appeal the decision.”

This story has 1028 comments, with the highly rated ones being as you would expect for fear of The Gays. And I do mean fear, which I don’t normally use when I disagree with other people. But, when you have “El_Sluggo” writing, “Let’s face it. The entire LGBT movement is a demonic ideology based purely on the rejection of and a hatred for God.” Well, I’d say that’s fear of the demonic and fear of rejecting this particular person’s particular interpretation of the Christian God.


Well, perhaps not “dazed,” but certainly very split in their opinion. This was one of those stories, just a few hours old as I’m posting it, that I clicked on just to see how people would react: “Supremes Rule for Bearded Muslim Inmate.” The rule was in place in Arkansas and 9 other states based on the idea of easy inmate recognition amongst guards and ability of inmates to hide contraband in their beards.

On the one hand, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled 9 to 0 that a prison in Arkansas (and among all Arkansas state prisons) that prohibited inmates from growing facial hair could not prohibit that. The Muslim inmate, Gregory Holt, wanted to grow it as part of his religious observance.

But on the other hand … he’s a Muslim!! And that’s enough for WND commenters to just hate it. Well, that and he’s a prisoner (“TruBluAmerican” wrote: “You’re in prison you pig, you have no rights beyond 3 squares and a roof over your head, which is MORE than a lot of law abiding people have!”)

And so, on the one hand, you have “kingdad” who wrote:

Be Glad that they chose to uphold Religious Liberty as their are more and bigger Religious liberty cases coming down the pike. Important cases compared to this minor case of insignificance. All the other states have rules that permit State Prison inmates to grow beards esp. if it is a part of their Religious beliefs. Other religions have beards that are also mandatory, some Jews, the Sikhs for example.

But you have a reply by “Elena” who wrote: “You think the SCOTUS will come to the rescue of the former Atlanta Fire Chief? Keep dreaming. Only non-Christians are protected.” (This is in reference to an Atlanta fire chief who was fired by the mayor because of his virulently anti-gay statements.) A view echoed by “SATCitizen” who wrote: “OK Supreme Court. . .now you better remember this ruling when it comes to CHRISTIANS’ beliefs and the violation of.”

Or, you have “freedom defender” who wrote: “The rules on beards is rediculous to say the least. But once again, these liberal judges side with the muslim. This country has gone to hell in a hand basket, to use an old term.”

It’s interesting, sometimes, to see how cognitive dissonance plays out with this sort of thing.