Monday, March 23, 2015

The Self Delusion is Palpable

I went to a rally to protest the Biblical Prayer Meeting in Dothan Yesterday. I was struck by the differences in the two groups. The most stark difference was the affability of the Pro-Gay persons. Smiles and laughs, Kind words and songs, Colorful clothing and signs.  As for the Religious, mostly sneers and slights, frowns and gruffness, dispassionate distance.

We offered food and drink to all at the Civic Center, we helped the pro-biblical marriage folk when the event organizers changed the venue at the last minute and moved to to Ridgecrest Baptist. We offered them directions, and made way for them under the awning to avoid the downpours.  After the time for their event  came and we had directed all of our people and their people to the new venue, we moved to begin the protest again.

It was amazing to see the contrast of helpful pro-gay persons to the locked doors, the armed officers and the leather clad bikers waiting to greet us at the Church. There were no less than 7 officers between Houston County and Dothan City.  And I got to witness them harrass a man for Driving While Black.. he did absolutely nothing but look at our signs while driving by, and was pulled over for it.   Not one person from the church offered to allow us onto the property to gain shelter from the storm, under their multiple awnings, or their multiple buildings. Not one took the words of their Jesus to heart and offered us shelter, sustenance, or fellowship. "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in".

Now to the delusion of these people, the absolute cognitive dissonance when they say "We are not Anti-Gay Marriage, We are Pro-Biblical Marriage".  These words were spoken to the news by the men running the pro-biblical marriage event. They are obviously not familiar with the Biblical definitions of marriage.  Rape victims being forced to marry, death to women seeking divorce, trading animals for brides, concubines, polygamy by the founders of their religion, and various other absurdities they would never allow.

"We are not Anti-Gay Marriage, We are Pro-Biblical Marriage".  to me this statement is the same as saying: I am not anti-inclusion, I am pro exclusion.   I am not anti-interracial marriage, I am pro-whites only / blacks only marriage. I am not Anti-Abolitionist, I am pro-Slavery.  I am not Anti-Witch, I am Pro-fire.  I am not Anti-Muslim, I am Pro-Crusade. I am not Anti-Women's Suffrage, I am Pro-Male Dominance.  I am not Anti-Abortion, I am Pro-Clinic Bombing.  I am not Anti-Atheist, I am Pro-Religion.  The couching of hatred in shitty little terms that have no meaning is becoming an incredibly overwhelming tactic of the religious.

War on Christmas...War on Marriage... Religious Liberty... Personhood... Biblical Marriage... all Bull shit words to replace "MY CHRISTIAN PRIVILEGE"

Just remember, Christians... When you came out of your church and told us we were all going to burn in hell... when you prayed at us instead of speaking to us... when you preached at us instead of listening to us... when you determined to judge us before even seeing us, you were instrumental in showing how decidedly un-Christian you all are. When you called in the bikers for muscle, and the cops for their guns you showed that we won. You were so afraid of any conversation you hid behind your multi-million dollar church walls, and forgot the simple messages of your savior. Do unto others. Love thy neighbors.  Judge not.

We offered you food, and drink and shelter and you were strangers... How sad that we were those who would heed the words of your Lord, while you voice hatred, division and bigotry... How sad.

Local News Coverage

All pictures Courtesy of LGBT Alabama Event and Wedding Photography

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Holy Trinity of The Religious Right

The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost? No, that is not even close.  Modern Conservative Christian in America are beholden to 3 major ideas: Legislation, money and perceived persecution.  Churches flaunt their politics, push their ideal laws, participate in influencing elections heavily all under the guise of being a spiritual, charity based, tax exempt organization.

 When these influential men and women use their positions, their institutions and their tax free resources in ways not spelled out in their status as charitable organizations, we must remove their access to the status.  They are more than allowed to voice their opinions and use their power to influence elections and laws.. but not as tax exempt entities.

Throughout the Nation we have State legislatures pushing "religious liberty" laws. These laws create a privileged class of citizen that are exempt from laws that are applied to all other groups in the Nation.  These laws allow for discrimination as a feature of the First amendment rights of the righteous.  We have special exemptions in the ACA to allow for the deeply held beliefs of pieces of paper; Corporations, Organizations, Churches are not people. The Catholic Church, last week, was denied their request to not have to pay restitution to their child rape victims.... because the money HAD to be spent on maintaining cemeteries because of their "deeply held religious beliefs".  The fund did not exist before the settlement was reached, it was made as a way to hide funds for the victims.  This is one of many examples of why "religious liberty" cannot be allowed to become a part of our law.

ALEC, the Koch Corporation, the API, the Moral foundation for Law all exert insane amounts of influence in my home State of Alabama.  ALEC is funded by the Koch Brother. Johnson Center for Political Economy was founded at Troy University after the school received 3.6 million dollars from the Koch Foundation. It is now a mouth piece for the API, also funded by the Koch's. API recently was granted special status before the Alabama Supreme Court in a case created to allow the court to declare themselves above Federal Law. ALEC pushed the charter school bill through the Legislature last year.

They do these things because the overwhelming support of the local citizens. Our under-educated, misinformed, extremely religious citizenry. Where Fox News is your disinformation source of choice. Where Churches tell you whom to vote for, when to call your local legislator to support or oppose each law.  Where instances of demands for equality are twisted into martyr stories of standing for Jesus.  Where the reduction of their privilege is seen as an attack on their religion. Where asking for equal treatment is a reduction in their freedoms.

This isn't happening just in Alabama. There is a reason that all these identical laws are showing up in State Houses across the country. This is a concerted effort, through grassroots church organizing, misinformation from the news makers at Faux News,  Breitbart, the Blaze, and monetary resources from institutions like the Koch Foundation, bogus studies from the API, and the Johnson Center, and the simple gullibility of so many Americans. They are raised to trust the church and the churches have become something far removed from their causes.

Churches now push for reductions in healthcare, reductions in food security, reductions in education spending, reductions in housing subsidies, reductions in equality through discriminatory laws, voter suppression laws, immigration actions... through their vocal support of far right wing politicians. They have so deformed the original message of Christianity that it has lost all its meaning. "Love thy neighbor", "Do unto others", "turn the other cheek", all lost to the dogma of control. They use their power as the holders to the keys of heaven to dictate whom their congregations must vote for. This is coming from the person tasked with the security of your eternal place in heaven... that is an enormous amount of power to wield. Not to mention the Wealth preachers who suck their congregations funds like a wolf devouring the marrow.

Churches need to go back to their actual tasks of charity, spiritual education and ceremony.  They have no place in the machinations of public policy, and they definitely have no place in the kingmaker business.  We need an educated electorate, informed on the issues and free from the influence of hate peddlers that take advantage of the less knowledgeable.

No matter your political affiliation, your religion, your gender, race, creed, sexual affirmation, or any other position; We all must work toward equality.  It benefits us all. The majority cannot be allowed to change the rules for themselves, that is the path to fascism. Nor can the amount of wealth you attain allow you to become overwhelmingly influential in our policies through purchasing access, defining issues, restructuring voting districts, writing laws, or subjugating workers.  When "deeply held belief" becomes a legal reason for any one thing, it become the legal reason for any thing.  When the government is tasked with determining the truth of magical claims, it will fail every-time.  There is no means to test how deeply, truly, actually you hold any belief. But it is very clear that it can be used to justify ANY action, look at the case of child rape above... and these laws aren't in force yet.

We have to push back. We have to speak out against these laws. We must demand equality, and if these laws pass we must overwhelm the courts with our claims of deeply held beliefs.  Silly things, absurd things, offensive things. But never violent things, those will come on their own, sadly.  One of the most indisputable things that religions bring is violence and the absolute certainty that it was right and just and, indeed, commanded.  Take all the stories you hear of children's fatalities due to denial of basic medical care.  Think of the justifications used by the Klan for their violence and hatred. That is the most terrifying part of these laws, when does religious liberty over rule someone else's right to live? How long before that is a reality?

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Religious Liberty : Bigots for Christ

Our constitution is set up to clearly define and layout our rights. It is also used to determine when one right infringes upon another right. It is set up in such a way that your rights are protected up to the instant they do any real injury to another citizen. The 14th amendment makes it very clear that the government must apply laws equally to all, and grant protection to all groups.

The newest trend of Conservative Christians is to cry persecution when they lose their privileged status. When people don't bow down to their beliefs, accommodate their fairy tales, or acquiesce to their demands.  They are taking it farther now, with legislation in multiple States designed to legally enshrine their religious views as more important than any right for anyone else.

Oklahoma has started pushing through a bill that will grant clergy the official governmental duty of ISSUING marriage licenses.  This is so far beyond the pale that I doubt it will stand the first test of any court. This is a direct violation of the establishment clause by endorsing religion directly as a governmental entity.  Utah has passed sweeping anti-discrimination for LGBT people, BUT it exempts religious organizations.  Sort like freeing all the slaves, except the ones you want to keep. Alabama is currently pushing 2 bills through their house HB56 and HB1. HB56 allows governmental employees to discriminate based on their religious views. It allows judges and preachers to refuse to issue marriage licenses to anyone they do not want to issue them to. Non - religious, different religions, wrong races, homosexuals.. it is basically a law that allows anyone in authority to wear their bigotry on their sleeve with no fear of reprisals. It is in direct conflict with the last judgement ruling Alabama's marriage inequality laws unconstitutional. HB 1 is a truly disgusting piece of legislation that attempts to insert religion directly into schools. It allows for students to be disruptive with their religion in class without reprisal. It allows students to use religion as answers to questions without fear of failure. It allows proselytizing to other students.

There are many more bills like this because churches are no longer civic charities meant to help people, educate them and support their spiritual lives, they are now political organizations. They tell congregations who to vote for. They tell legislatures what bills to pass. They have moved beyond the role they were given tax exempt status for and should have their statuses revoke. Ridgecrest, in Dothan Alabama, even sent out a mailer with exactly who you were supposed to vote for. This is a concerted effort to destroy the foundational principle of Separation of Church and State.

When you write laws specifically granting one group special privileges over any other group, you are violating the 14th amendment of the Constitution. When your actions do actual harm, you are in violation of the equal protection clause. If someone cannot get a job, cannot do business, cannot get married simply because of the bigotry of another, the problem is not the person being discriminated against... it is the bigot that is using the weight of their imaginary God to demand that special power.

We must not allow this to happen. Bigotry, cannot be codified into our laws. We must stand up for those among us too powerless, too few, too frightened, too demonized to stand up for themselves.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Bigoted Courts, Bigoted Judges, Bigoted Injustice

Today, March 3rd, 2015. The Supreme Court of Alabama decides to double down on bigotry and secession. In a 144 page "special ruling" they quote case law from before the civil war to define marriage. The quote Textile law to determine that they are above Federal Rulings. They wear their bigotry on their sleeves and throw ethics right the fuck out the window. No signatures on their writ. Just a sucking sound as the Alabama Policy Institute uses its Koch Brother money to fuel their bigotry and idiocy.

This is a sad day for Alabama, and it is an end to the illusion of equality. These old white assholes are full of hatred. They are full of Jesus. And they are full of shit. !00 to 1 this 144 page "ruling" was handed to them by Roy Moore himself, and it more than likely is the exact same arguments they have used for every single fucking anti-equality case HIS Foundation for Moral Law has been involved in the last decade.

AGAIN, I call on the people of Alabama to stand the fuck up and get rid of these tired, old, hateful bigots. If your Jesus is so important to you, what do you think HE would chose? Deceitful tricks to cause real injury to loving couples? OR Would your perfect savior have forgiven them AND TOLD THEM TO GO IN PEACE AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER?

I am not one of you, and I do not need to be to know the answer to that simple question. Roy Moore and his little band of bigots forget THOSE messages in the holy book. Only focusing on the hateful, the exclusionary, the old covenant. He is the KKK reborn. He is the opposition to the woman's suffrage movement reborn. He is the white, rich master reborn.

Roy Moore and this "court" are the epitome of all the things Alabama has done wrong for over 200 years. It is time for the people of Alabama to tell them NO MORE, MOORE.

Read their ruling here.

Read my attempts to remove Moore
Kicking and Screaming
Victory for Love and Equality
Judicial Impunity
The Plan
Mr Atheist goes to Washington

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sunday Rant

I sit here listening to Judith by A Perfect Circle and think about the current state of the world.  ISIS beheading people over their beliefs.  WBC threatening to picket Leonard Nymoy's funeral. The American Family Association declaring Free-thought groups to be hate groups, another demand for privilege.  Various States pushing person-hood idiocy. Alabama assigning public defenders to fetuses in order to run the clock out on children trying to get abortions.  Mormon's trying to include their discrimination into anti-discrimination law.  Various States trying to codify the bigotry of the majority as some special right.

So much vile, ignorant, regressive idiocy. So much wrapped up in the dated thought processes of men dead for thousands of years.  Homophobia based on the personal preference of the writers and editors of Bibles. Idiotic literalists finding meaning in words that do not mean what they claim. Claiming modern discoveries were foretold in your vague religious texts.  Your dogmas of exclusion and vitriol. Your creed of subservience to ideals that have outlived their usefulness.

Your religions stake a claim to our morality. Your religions say that only from a pure source can good spring. Have you read your books? What objective good comes from cancer? What objective good comes from genocide? What objective good comes from rape, slavery, infanticide?  Do not unto others... is older than the Old Testament, and was written down before your wandering tribes ever wrote their first myth.  So please stop pointing to it as your source of morality.  And stop presenting ideas that your entire religion changed when a prophet or messiah arrived.  Jesus didn't do away with the Old Testament, if he did your religion would no longer point to it for its worst ideas and its teachings.  Mohammed fucked a 9 year old... I believe that about ends the discussion on absolute morality.

Your religions are not sources of good. They are sources of false hope, false promises, false morality. You are only moral because there is a punishment or reward. That is not morality, that is selfishness or self preservation.  Your religion also places you outside of your own lives. How would you live if there were no magic, wonderful place to go to? Would you do everything you could to make this the magic, wonderful place? So much time and resources wasted on this idea of eternal reward... it has cost humanity so much. All these ideas that stop progress... to simply accommodate your ideas of what is moral.  All these special privileges you demand over everyone else. The idea that criticizing your religion is the same as criticizing you... Yet I get shunned completely for simply denying the validity of your religion's demands.

Equality is the only just system. And that means you lose your privilege. You don't get to discriminate because of your beliefs. You don't get special treatment because of your religion. You don't get to dictate what children learn, or whom they live with. You don't get to decide who loves who.  You get to worship as you see fit. But you do not get to use that as a bludgeon to make people live as you see fit.  Freedom for your religion is also freedom from your religion. Please keep it in your pants, assholes.