The apologists will now explain to us that these people don't actually exist

The wingnuts are still outraged that there is a Muslim in congress and that a Hindu delivered an opening prayer (which was pretty dang lame, anyway). Now look at this silly little man (R-Idaho) ranting about the death of America:

Last month, the U.S. Senate was opened for the first time ever with a Hindu prayer. Although the event generated little outrage on Capitol Hill, Representative Bill Sali (R-Idaho) is one member of Congress who believes the prayer should have never been allowed.

"We have not only a Hindu prayer being offered in the Senate, we have a Muslim member of the House of Representatives now, Keith Ellison from Minnesota. Those are changes -- and they are not what was envisioned by the Founding Fathers," asserts Sali.

Sali says America was built on Christian principles that were derived from scripture. He also says the only way the United States has been allowed to exist in a world that is so hostile to Christian principles is through "the protective hand of God."

"You know, the Lord can cause the rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike," says the Idaho Republican.

According to Congressman Sali, the only way the U.S. can continue to survive is under that protective hand of God. He states when a Hindu prayer is offered, "that's a different god" and that it "creates problems for the longevity of this country."

We've been having a little discussion in the comments here about the insensibility of satire and parody in this age of Christian lunacy. Take a look at the comments on that article — they are almost all effusive in their praise for Sali and are howling about how America must be ruled by the One True God™. These recent parodies of various Republican presidential candidates are amusing, but there's a reality out there that's far crazier and far scarier.

But these people don't exist, I have often been told. The religious are thoughtful, progressive, inoffensive types.

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They exist in abundance alas. Apologists always like to point to Thomas Aquinas and the like but the vast majority of the religious are far closer to this end of the spectrum. This is why we need 'militant atheists' like PZ and Dawkins.

Article VI of the Constitution:

"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

Are idiots like Sali ignorant of the Constitution, or do they just hate it?

I read about Mr. Sali last night. The dude is ignorant, intollerant and flat out crazy. Email him.

I did.

Are idiots like Sali ignorant of the Constitution, or do they just hate it?

Well, when you've got ~30,000 different interpretations of the same book, you can be assured that there are a substantial number of people adept at discarding what a text actually says for what they'd prefer it means.

Representative Bill Sali makes me puff up with pride at being an atheist. I know that one of the things the right-wing nut jobs always point out about so many of us non-believers is that we're supposedly such inappropriately proud folk, but who can help it? Yes, I am proud that I don't have to try to explain away nuts like Sali who believe the same as me.

Is this Xian god in competition with a Hindu god? I thought the Hindus had thousands of gods, anyway.

Huh, it's no contest! The Hindus win. Maybe not, though. The Xian god is omniscient & omnipotent, so it's no contest again, but this time the Xians win. "You know, the Lord can cause the rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike," says the Idaho Republican. Well, there's been awful flooding in the Indian sub-continent, so there you go. (I apologize for being insensitive towards all those unfortunate people who've suffered in the flooding, but these religious fools make me mad.)

By Richard Harris, FCD (not verified) on 10 Aug 2007 #permalink

From the story's comments:

Jesus said the "world would hate us since we stand up for the truth" Do not worry about being "liked" and being considered tolerant by others. We only have one Judge in the end and it's not the liberals, political correct police nor a bunch of false gods.

That right there is what makes bible-thumpers so obnoxious ... and scary. They don't recognize rules made by man when they conflict with the rules made by their laaawd. I don't always agree with PZ's stance, but in situations like this, you really do need to fight fire with fire. It says right there in that person's quote that they don't care about being nice and being liked. They care about enforcing their warped world view on the rest of us.

well, he's half right:

a hindu prayer should never have been allowed to open congress. not because it's hindu instead of christian. but because it's a prayer.

seriously though, it's like these people we're electing haven't even read the constitution. could they pass a high school civics class? oh, right. education is a product of the liberal agenda. and by "liberal agenda" i mean "satan."

By arachnophilia (not verified) on 10 Aug 2007 #permalink

oh. and people like that obviously do exist. i think the apologetic perspective is more one of a no-true-scotsman fallacy than anything else.

the question should be, "do thoughtful, progressive, inoffensive religious people exist?" i would say yes, but there certainly don't seem to be very many.

By arachnophilia (not verified) on 10 Aug 2007 #permalink

Being a politician, it's hard to tell if Sali is expressing his true thoughts, or playing to the gallery. All politicians have to both live in and project reality distortion fields. It's the only way they survive.

My suspicion is that it's for home consumption. No one outside the Deep Red States could maintain that Hindus and Muslims are degrading America when the US military recognizes some 100 different faiths, including Wicca, Hindu, Buddhism, and Islam.

Sali is running for re-election and may need a boost from the hatemongers back home in his red state of Idaho. He seems to have a long-standing reputation as being to the right of Mussolini. It's been noted that he's resented even by the moderate forces in his own party. In sum, he's a Bushie from a constituency that lives in perpetual fear of bogeymen. His bio says he's an attorney and former Caterpillar machinery salesman. It's hard to tell which profession prepared him more thoroughly for his current calling.

The thin margin by which I stay sane is the three or so miles separating me from Mr. Sali's congressional district. Twenty miles further to the west is Nampa, where they hold an annual God and Country festival. The whole west side of the Treasure Valley is full of suburban wingnuts who have fled more leftist places (California, mostly) for cheap land and fewer brown people (not so much anymore on the latter count, however). They voted in Helen Chenoweth and now Bill Sali. There's pretty much no hope for them.

I love the idea of religious diversity in our government! I think it should be extended to other areas, like our coinage:
"In Allah We Trust"
"In Flying Spaghetti Monster We Trust"
"In Zeus We Trust"
"In Ganesha We Trust"

And our Pledge:
"One Nation, under Allah, indivisible "
"One Nation, under FSM, ..."

Those are changes -- and they are not what was envisioned by the Founding Fathers," asserts Sali.

i'm pretty sure females and blacks voting also falls in to that category.uh oh. i think i'm on to him....!

"the United States has been allowed to exist in a world that is so hostile to Christian principles is through "the protective hand of God."

Is it me or do these people seem to get crazier every time?
Is there no end to their insanity and outright arrogance?
It's like they are trying to outdo the (mostly made-up) characters int their scriptures for sheer lunacy, ignorance and intolerance.
I'd like to call them out for what they are: FASCISTS!!!

In Marcus Brigstocke's words: can we for fuck's sake have our world back?

This has gone far enough now, can we get on with important issues now, like the billions of people starving, the mess we made of our environment, the stupid bickering over pieces of dried out land, worldwide corruption, monipolisation etc. I don't see any piece of dogmatic cultist shit religion doing anything about any of that without maybe those that do because so they can win new brainwashed moneydonating 'souls'.

I need a drink...

That's the AFA's "news" arm, and comments on its stories are moderated. I don't doubt that most of the commenters are effusive, but it's also possible that many posts that don't suit the tone the moderators are after don't make it in.

I need more than one drink. Reading through the comments is enough to make me want to renounce my oath of enlistment.

In reading articles like this and their comments it never ceases to amaze me how people can be so arrogant to believe that their god is the right and all others are doomed.

I've honestly never seen a comments thread as pridefully deluded as that one. That's the worst I've ever seen. I feel incredibly angry right now. How do you change the minds of people who take so much pride in their ignornace?

But these people don't exist, I have often been told. The religious are thoughtful, progressive, inoffensive types.

That's a nice strawman you've got there, but I think it needs a better hat.

If you REALLY believe there is an omniscient, omnipresent being who can read your every thought and judge your every deed and, if He doesn't like what you think or do, sentence you to an eternity of pain, you SHOULD behave like Sali. His statements are the LOGICAL consequence of an ILLOGICAL belief system.

That is why PZ (Dawkins, et al) is right to not just criticize individual religious people's words and actions, but the belief system itself.

No one outside the Deep Red States could maintain that Hindus and Muslims are degrading America

This sort of 'thinking' is not confined to the deep red states by any means. There are quite a lot of people who think that way in Los Angeles county where I work. Even more in Kern county where I live.

How do you change the minds of people who take so much pride in their ignornace?

I say, deprive them of the fruits of others' intelligence. Don't like Arabs? Then create your own system of numerals. Think the world is ~6,000 years old? Then you'd better find your own oil using flood geology or learn to ride horses. Think radiometric dating is a fraud? Then we won't have to worry about you building any 'nuculer' missiles, won't we?

Seriously, isn't there some state you can ship 'em all to where they can revel in their lack of sin and pray to God to provide?

Ed already blogged about this. You lose, PZ. Hand over your lunch money.

By Raging Braytard (not verified) on 10 Aug 2007 #permalink

That the American public doesn't understand their own Constitution is a shame.

But for the people responsible for making the laws in this country to not understand it is absolutely inexcusable.

Brownian,
There was, but we overthrew the taliban.

I'm just so sick and fvcking tired of Christians, the "born again evangelical" kind who believe these United States are their's and their's alone. And, that it's their God given right to set the rules.

How did these nutters get so empowered? And why do we have to give a sh1t about what they think?

These fvcktards are going to be the downfall of this once great nation.

By Steverino (not verified) on 10 Aug 2007 #permalink

"Religions are always open, tolerant, and reasonable if viewed without bias from a secular stance: when people or groups which claim to be "religious" are close-minded, intolerant, and superstitious it's only because they're distorting the True Meaning of their own faith, in order to support some other, personal agenda."

Yeah, right.

There's been a sort of gentleman's agreement among intellectuals in our culture that this is the very best way to approach religion. Bend over backwards to give the most charitable, secular, reasonable interpretation of a faith the status of what the religion really means.

It goes: The problem isn't the religion, it's not the value placed on "having faith" -- it's the bad people who twist theology around. Islam is a religion of peace; Christianity is a religion of love. Faith is hope and good will. Atheists like Dawkins and Myers just pick unrepresentative samples of Faith Gone Wrong in order to criticize it. These "samples" are unrepresentative even if they constitute 90% of the adherents.

No. No more free ride. The problem isn't people who "distort" something which is clearly good. It's the inherent ambiguity in a system which can redefine good around without any worldly checks and balances.

On a related note, check out this description of "Christian Atheism."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/atheism/types/christianatheism.shtml

At last, we find the theological source for all those sneering reviews of The God Delusion:

"Oh, dear me, Richard Dawkins foolishly attacks a literalist straw-man form of theism which virtually nobody holds to: there is a VERY SOPHISTICATED UNDERSTANDING of Christianity out there which suffers from NONE of the flaws which the naive and uninformed Richard Dawkins attempts to 'debunk.'"

I had wondered what it was. Nice to know.

Okay, then what if we give you guys Manitoba as a fundie repository?

I'm sure the protective hand of God will keep 'em warm through the cold Canadian winter. (As for whether God's protective hand will keep them out of a polar bear's gullet, I'm not so sure that it matters too much: polar bears are endangered, fundies are not.)

Seriously, isn't there some state you can ship 'em all to where they can revel in their lack of sin and pray to God to provide?

There is. It is called Idaho. They have already arrived.

Don't forget that Idaho is the home of the Christian Identity wingnuts such as the Aryan Nations neonazis. Sali is a bleeding heart liberal to some of these guys.

If we let Muslims into Congress Allah will learn all our state secrets and use them against us. What if Allah can beat up Yahweh? Then what do we do? Yahweh could even get jealous and turn against us. This is a horrible precedent. I mean I know Allah, Buddah, Kali and all the rest are only false gods, but what if they aren't? People should thank Yahweh for intelligent,reasonable, thoughtful people like Sali. But his name seems kind of foreign to me. I'm so confused.

These people don't actually exist.

And tonyl has got you dead to rights, Professor Myers. It's not that we're told that these people don't exist, but that they are just a fringe minority, not, you know, fucking US Congressmen, or governors of Missouri, or Republican candidates for President, or consulted by this administration about Supreme Court appointments, or...

So you take it all back, or tonyl will taunt you a second time.

I seem to recall that the ancient Israelites were 'under gods protection' being his 'chosen people.' Isaac Asimov once quipped that he wished god would chose some other people to see how much they would like it.'

I tried to post over there, but it kept erroring out, until finally it told me I had posted too many times. It seems their servers might be programmed to deny reality, as well.

As for whether God's protective hand will keep them out of a polar bear's gullet, I'm not so sure that it matters too much

Now, Brownian, that kind of inappropriate and inciting speech is where I *absolutely* have to draw the line.

After all, what did the polar bears ever do to deserve that?

Well, it saddens me to admit that I reside in Sali's district. Rey Fox, my neighbor, is largely right in the local demographic breakdown, which makes me a proud representative of the non-believers -- an extremely small minority. Dangerously small, in fact.
I think Tim really nailed it though -- this is designed for local consumption. Supporters of people like Sali and Bush REALLY DON'T CARE what you or I think. Its a simple thing, but a point easily missed. People like Sali are so utterly convinced (and have the power to reinforce that belief) they are right, there is virtually no way to convince them otherwise.
An interesting anecdote: I walk my dogs in my neighborhood daily, and occasionally talk briefly with a young couple a few blocks away. They have four or five kids. Nice people. About a month ago, I discovered that the woman is Sali's daughter. Two days later, I was struck by the calloused commentary Sali made in our local paper stating that the war in Iraq would be fought by "our children's children." Then I thought about his grandkids playing in my neighborhood. I wonder if I should inform them . . .
For a complete guide to Sali's antics from a local perspective that may surprise non-Idahoans, go here:
http://mountaingoatreport.typepad.com/the_mountaingoat_report/

Godbotherers are the cwaziest people!

Actually, PZ is wrong about this one, starting right from the title: The apologists will now explain to us that these people don't actually exist.

I believe the correct response to "people like Sali are dangerous religious nuts" is "Oh yeah? Well, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and Mao were all atheists."

I'm not even from America, and even I know the US Constitution better than he does. The Constitution of the United States nowhere mentions the words "God", "Jesus" or "Christ". The one mention of "our Lord" comes right at the bottom where it says what date it was signed.

The Declaration of Independence talks about a "Creator" but doesn't specifically say "the Lord God" or "Christ". It also mentions "Nature's God" - which tends to indicate something closer to the Deist or Spinozan concept of the divine.

And then there's the first Amendment. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Hardly sounds like a Christian theocracy to me.

By Electric Dragon (not verified) on 10 Aug 2007 #permalink

Brownian,

No, no, and NO. Hitler was a Catholic who thought he was doing the Lord's work.

As for the rest, you don't have to be religious to be an a**hole, and there are plenty of other mass murderers to choose from in our history.

Electric Dragon, you're exactly right. Unfortunately a large percentage of Americans have trouble understanding that very simple bit of logic.

We've become highly susceptible to simplistic, black-and-white thinking, to accepting statements that sound good on the surface (and getting upset if anyone tries to point out there might be something wrong with those statements), and therefore also to demagoguery. It's a very dangerous trend in our body politic, one which I'm honestly worried may lead to the end of our democracy before long.

Apologists always like to point to Thomas Aquinas and the like
...which in itself is specious, as Aquinas was responsible for the justification of torture of heretics to purify them prior to burning at the stake. IMHO, he was no saint...

Dragon, you bring up a good historical point that has little to do with Mr. Sali per se.

The "Founding Fathers" he quotes almost never mention Jesus or Christ in their writings. They were largely deists and theists, and often rather indifferent ones privately. Some of them went to so far as to list an organization like Masonry for their religion of choice. They were devout in their way, but few were fanatical. Most were Anglican or Presbyterian, both of whom were far less intrusive than offshoots like the Puritans. John Adams was no evangelist, and Ben Franklin even less so. The Father of Our Country was ostensibly an Anglican and attended church on occasion, but he rarely talked about it. Emphasis on Jesus was mainly confined to the Catholics, but primarily on the part of church officials. Most of the Founding Fathers, in fact, had no interest in pushing religion anywhere, on anyone. When they would, on occasion, use terms like "a Christian nation", they didn't mean literally. Reading around the passages, it's obvious they mean something more like "an enlightened nation". Most of them were actually well-educated by the lights of the times, and were keenly interested in reason, logic, and philosophy.

It was actually the Stone-Campbell movement of the American 18th and 19th century that we have to thank for all this "Christian nation" nonsense. It was during that so-called "Second Great Awakening" that American Protestants began to form many splinter groups that had to fight for converts. Just like polarizing American politics, American religion became ever more Balkanized and mean-spirited, losing almost entirely the benign and unintrusive moderation of the Founding Fathers.

Leon, I believe Brownian was playing the part of the religious apologist there. I'm betting all the regular readers of this blog know that Hitler was Christian.

Oh the irony.

When the western half of the Roman Empire began to suffer political collapse in the fifth century, pagan commentators complained this was the result of the abandonment of the tradional gods that had protected Rome for 700 years and more.

What newer religious belief had been officially adopted by Rome in the fourth century that so offended these traditional gods so that they withdrew their protection?

Christianity, of course.

David E.

By David Elliott (not verified) on 10 Aug 2007 #permalink

Brownian,

No, no, and NO. Hitler was a Catholic who thought he was doing the Lord's work.

As for the rest, you don't have to be religious to be an a**hole, and there are plenty of other mass murderers to choose from in our history.

I know all that, Leon. I was just pointing out a favourite retort by many theists.

My favourite response to the assertion that I must not have any morals as an atheist because nothing stops me from murdering and robbing people is still "Hmm, good point. Say, how much cash are you carrying in your wallet?"

For some reason, this conversation caused a flashback to a junior high school civics class. My teacher said, "We've only had one non-Christian president: John F. Kennedy."

Wingnuts are special in their ability to create a condensate of wrong.

We really need to dispell this misguided notion that the Founders had a Christian nation in mind.

My comment in the thread over there (I will be emailing something similar to Rep. Sali):

This country was not founded on Christian principles. Rather, it was founded on the principles of the Enlightenment. Among the most important principles put forth by the Founders was that of religious freedom.

The First Amendment to the constitution states quite clearly that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. . ."

For those who doubt the intent of those words, I suggest you read another work by their author, James Madison, titled "The Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom."

To state that the Founders intended this to be a Christian nation is simply ludricrous.

By povertyrich (not verified) on 10 Aug 2007 #permalink

Personally, I'm going to write a letter to Elaine Pagels. She believes in God, but not in wingnuts.

I want all prayer out of these public events. All of it.

"One nation, under God"? Gone.

"In God we trust"? Outta here.

Congressional prayers? Done.

With our infrastructure crumbling, the war failing, the mortgage market falling apart, health care increasingly out of reach, and consumerism gone nuts, the last thing we need is politicians who appeal to non-existent spirits. I'm pretty sure that many, though certainly not all, of our country's founders, would be sickened by Sali's words.

I decided to leave my own comment for fun (I doubt they'll post it):

WAY TO GO MR. SALI.

I for one do not want a cuntry that is ruled buy people who dont now whom is the one true God. Are Lord and Savior is the one and only Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. For anyone to say otherwise is blasfeming the Bible witch is the only word of God. I for one dont read nothing but the Bible.

Thou shat have no other Gods before you! (Leviticus 18:49)

Mr. Sali know this and he will join are Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in eternal bliss. Why by a cow if you can have the milk for free (Corinthians 22:04)

God Bless You Mr. SALI.

By Turd Ferguson (not verified) on 10 Aug 2007 #permalink

Me? I think leading the congress in an atheist prayer would be an enormous time saver, and it wouldn't leave anyone with anything to complain about.

Guy not only doesn't know his Constitution, he doesn't know his Bible either. Last I checked the recommended means of forestalling God's Rain had nothing to do with hatin' on Muslims or only reciting the appropriate prayers... A li'l context - this is from the end of the Beatitudes (Mark 5):

Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

Respect to people we disagree with? Why, that's un-american!

Though I do have to say, next time they call us the "Democrat Party" I may have to start calling them the Publicans.

"You know, the Lord can cause the rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike," says the Idaho Republican.

Yeah but can the Lord cause the rain to fall on only the just or on only the unjust? That would be something if the Lord can do that. But no, the Lord can only do the same things that the rain can do. :-(

By ÒÓ 386sx ÒÓ (not verified) on 10 Aug 2007 #permalink

I know all that, Leon. I was just pointing out a favourite retort by many theists.

lol...sorry Brownian. Chalk me up for missing my sense of humor today, or for being in a not-gettin'-the-joke frame of mind, or something. I thought that sounded way out of character given the rest of your posts!

Turd Ferguson:

I just got off a conf call with a colleague from south Georgia... so

ah hayd no trawbil ayt awl readin yor note up thayr.

Luckily I was OFF the call, cos I burst out laughing when I read it.

Though I do have to say, next time they call us the "Democrat Party" I may have to start calling them the Publicans.

Just so we're clear, that's pronounced "pYOOOb-licans", right?

I want all prayer out of these public events. All of it.

"One nation, under God"? Gone.

"In God we trust"? Outta here.

Congressional prayers? Done.

...I'm pretty sure that many, though certainly not all, of our country's founders, would be sickened by Sali's words.

Hear, hear, MikeM! It's just nonsensical that any of those things are tolerated, let alone standard practice. What in the world was wrong with "E Pluribus Unum" as our country's motto, anyway?

"...there is a Muslim in congress and that a Hindu delivered an opening prayer"

And two notable Bush appointees: the Muslim ambassador to the United Nations and the Muslim director of the NIH.

What in the world was wrong with "E Pluribus Unum" as our country's motto, anyway?

Sounds a mite pinko if'n you ask me, tha's whut.

Yeah but can the Lord cause the rain to fall on only the just or on only the unjust?

By that I mean like the guy in the comics who walks around with the cloud always raining on him. But no, the Lord can't do that. The Lord has to rain on everybody all at the same time just like the rain does.

Nicely done, Turd Ferguson. It's sad, though, that the level of discourse on that side is such that it'll be hard for people to tell that your posting is deliberate satire.

But I, for one, am fascinated by the sentence referencing the Bible witch! It reminds me of that movie...maybe we could do a sequel: The Bible Witch Project. That might really get the fundamentalists up in arms.

Leon and Tony,

If you're bored and want to have some fun, just join a Christian forum and post messages like that with all sorts of typos and weirdness. You'll laugh your ass off while doing it and then even more when you see the responses. Its fun to see how far you can push it before someone catches on.

By Turd Ferguson (not verified) on 10 Aug 2007 #permalink

What in the world was wrong with "E Pluribus Unum" as our country's motto, anyway?

> Sounds a mite pinko if'n you ask me, tha's whut.

Oh yeah, all that high-falutin' Latin. I guess it just didn't have that red-meat Amurrikun ring to it that we needed during the Cold War.

Of course the good folk like Sali are correct. How can one doubt that a superhuman created man by breating into a pudddle of mud only to then spend thousands of earth-years dilegently tuning the ultimate christian society. Why is it that unbelievers simply fail to understand the mysterious ways in which god works. The earth was formed 4003 BC with fossils, rocks, and mature isotopic decay in place to test the believers. And god protects America.

Live with it!

By Surelock Homes (not verified) on 10 Aug 2007 #permalink

And god protects America

Sez that rite their in Spartacus 34:93

And you always capitulize the word "God"!

By Turd Ferguson (not verified) on 10 Aug 2007 #permalink

Oh, my. I haven't read the comments yet, but what can one say? Things do seem to be coming to a head. Why do men like Sali, who refuse to learn about the history of their own country, insist on trying to rule it?

Yeah, "E Pluribus Unum" ain't no religis refrence (I never thought I'd say this, but thank you, Turd).

PS:

"In Hastur The Unspeakable We Trust"

Ewe our wailcomb.

By Turd Ferguson (not verified) on 10 Aug 2007 #permalink

PPS:

Is Idaho home to anyone by the name of Nehemiah Scudder? Rumor has it there's a Scudder out there somewhere, a rising star just waiting for his time to shine.

Off topic, but I'm having fun on a forum discussion regarding moments of silence. Here is my post:

So I guess that anytime I aint talking then I must be praying.

GIVE ME A BRAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I dont now if I can stand this liberal crazyness anymore. If that woman Hillory gets elected, we our in for some real problems. Not to mention that muslim "person". If he gets elected, are kids will be neeling down and praying to macaca 10 times a day or some other ridicolus thing. Can you imagine beleving in what the muslims beleive in? They think there "god" is a fella by the name of mahammad that speaks some jiberish language that aint even American.

Have I pushed it too far?

By Turd Ferguson (not verified) on 10 Aug 2007 #permalink

"praying to macaca"

priceless! =)

Looks like they're no longer publishing comments...tis a pity, I left a nice quote from Mark Twain.

"So much blood has been shed by the Church because of an omission from the Gospel: "Ye shall be indifferent as to what your neighbor's religion is." Not merely tolerant of it, but indifferent to it. Divinity is claimed for many religions; but no religion is great enough or divine enough to add that new law to its code."
- Mark Twain, a Biography

By Seamus Ruah (not verified) on 10 Aug 2007 #permalink

That might be too far. How're they taking it?

Twains quote is appropriate for preventing intrusion on others. However, I can't be indifferent when a religion, Islam, calls for my persecution and extermination. Sorry folks, I'm not tolerant of the intolerant.

By Brian Macker (not verified) on 10 Aug 2007 #permalink

Yeah, Seamus, they didn't let me post either. Too bad, I had a dose of common sense to add.

Brian, that's a good point but it only applies to extremist Islam. It also applies to extremist Christianity. I agree that we shouldn't tolerate the intolerant, but that doesn't mean fundamentalist Christianity gets a pass.

I agree that we shouldn't tolerate the intolerant

Merciful Christ on a pogo stick, do you ever THINK before you post/talk?

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Aug 2007 #permalink

Not to be completely off-topic... but this is just too good. Look at Bill Richardson's comments regarding his statement of homosexuality being a choice. "I was confused about the question... I think Melissa used the word 'biological'."

Maybe we need a dedicated debate among the candidates concerning scientific literacy, and its role in politics.

That might be too far. How're they taking it?

So far the only comment on my post questioned "macaca", but went on to say that he agreed with me. Wow.

By Turd Ferguson (not verified) on 10 Aug 2007 #permalink

It sounds like hes a few Freds short of a Phelps.

"He also says the only way the United States has been allowed to exist in a world that is so hostile to Christian principles is through "the protective hand of God."

By anonomouse (not verified) on 10 Aug 2007 #permalink

But these people don't exist, I have often been told. The religious are thoughtful, progressive, inoffensive types.

Clearly it's an all-or-nothing proposition. Either every religious person is a frothing-at-the-mouth lunatic or every religious person is a thoughtful, progressive, inoffensive type.

By El Christador (not verified) on 10 Aug 2007 #permalink

The old saying about the sun shining and the rain falling on the righteous and sinner alike means that being religiously faithful doesn't guarantee that the world will be nice to you, and not being faithful doesn't guarantee that bad things will happen to you.

Using the saying to promote the idea that everyone has to follow your religious beliefs or society will be punished as a whole is an perversion of the original meaning.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Aug 2007 #permalink

Reading the comments didn't make me angry, didn't make me disgusted, didn't even make me roll my eyes. It made me sad, honestly. I have been watching and reading internet forums on the relative christianity of the Founders for 15 years now and it never progresses. It never gets better, and it just seems like with all this free speech and open forum ideas, people are getting blinder to the truth of what the founding of this here republic was all about.

It was an ideal of freedom of thought in government, through just consent of the governed; and that freedom includes the non-interference in religious beliefs. The freedom to not be religious is as much a freedom to be cherished as the freedom to choose whether to be baptist, anabaptist, southern baptist or whatever form of baptist. It saddens me that not only do these people close themselves off from any form of critical thinking, but they think that granting that freedom of critical thought and self-determination in the area of religion is a matter of political correctness, or the work of Satan's delusionary powers. Real facts don't matter, and any sort of letter to this congresscritter is not going to open his eyes; not even a tiny slit. His mind's made up and the facts are inconvenient deceptions. Same as for the majority of sad people in that thread.

Anytime I start to think of the progress that has been made in the areas of free thought, I realize that ancient philosophers had figured it out 2500 years ago and there are still people that can't free themselves of magical thinking; people that refuse to let themselves think 'cause it is better for them to have faith that the atheists are either evil or idiots.

To all of you above who really have a hankerin' to educate the deluded, have at it, but did you stop to wonder that it may be a waste of time? They aren't going to listen.

The religious are thoughtful, progressive, inoffensive types.

Maybe I'm not the best person to respond because, though a theist, I have more or less no religion at all. But in this atheist crowd, that's a distinction that's likely to be lost, so I'll step in.

So, how would I defend Sali? Well: I wouldn't dream of defending him. He is quite clearly a batshit-insane weirdo. Or, in other words, a Republican.

But to address your broader point, religious people, so far as I can tell, comprise thoughtful, progressive, inoffensive folk; batshit-insane weirdos; and everything in between. I'd have thought that fairly obvious. (I'm quite serious, BTW. Consider Fred Clark, an American baptist, who is both thoughtful and progressive. He is not inoffensive, but he is offensive primarily to other Christians, especially to other baptists; and fair play to him for that.)

As an aside, Sali says, 'the Lord can cause the rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike'. 'Can cause'? Has this man even bothered to read Ecclesiastes?

Can we come up with a suitable term for people like Sali? Ubermoron? That's probably not severe enough, but I kinda like the sound of it...

How about a Fascist Dildo?

As an aside, Sali says, 'the Lord can cause the rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike'. Has this man even bothered to read Ecclesiastes?

I think he's referring to a verse in Matthew there. He probably hasn't even bothered to read Jesus, let alone Ecclesiastes. I'll bet he thinks the rain thing is all about some kind of a curse or something.

Then on the other hand I'll bet that Congressman Sali never believes a damn word Congressman Sali ever says. :-)

Can we come up with a suitable term for people like Sali?

I ran out of insults for these slimeballs a long time ago.

Fucktard. Slimeball. Scumbucket.

Not good enough. There aren't enough swear words for fuckers like Sali. Truly.

By CalGeorge (not verified) on 10 Aug 2007 #permalink

When I read articles and comments like those... I feel a tremendous sense of doom. How are we ever going to overcome this silliness? Why are they so fixated on turning a Democratic Republic into a Christian Theocracy? What has happened and why? Where are we going and are we going to make it out alive & reasonable?

Reading the posts and comments here has a tendency to cheer me up and renew my hope; however, I'm still not sure if I should laugh about people like Sali & his followers or feel tremendously upset.

When I read articles and comments like those... I feel a tremendous sense of doom

Yep! I never thought the USA would put a rope around its neck and jump. Toynbee pointed out long ago that 19 out of 22 civilizations fell from within. The odds say that the American empire will do the same thing. I was hoping it would hang together for my lifetime.

One of my colleagues (whose family fled Nazi Germany) is married to a South American. They just bought a house in an unnamed SA country and, if things get much worse, they are moving there. If things keep heading downhill, many more will join them as their thresholds for weirdness is exceeded.

As to what to call xians like Sali, Christofascists, death cultist, lie and violence cultist will work. We are working on the edge of how much contempt the English language can express. Really need a new category for uberevilness.

And regarding how extreme one can get before the death cultists catch on. There is no limit. Try this. "The Islamics are out to destroy all Xians. We have to nuke them first or lose the clash of civilizations. There are only 1.4 billion of them to 2.1 billion of us, so we have to win." Wait for the clapping and cheers to subside and take a bow.

The death cult name is appropiate. These people have such miserable lives and warped viewpoints, that their highest ambition is to die, hopefully in The Apocalypse but a world war with Moslems will do.

Unreal. It's the year 2007 and people are upset that their sky-fairy isn't being treated extra-special compared to some other sky-fairy. Personally I'm miffed that no congressman has read a Norse prayer yet. Or a Zoroastrian one. Or sacrificed a fatted calf to Zeus to open Congress, how would that strike folks?

That colony of commenters was truly frightening. Some of them may as well have been screaming about blacks getting to hold all of the same jobs as whites nowadays, something the Founders surely did not intend. Or women being allowed to vote just like men. Yes, it's that bad.

One of those breeding experiments gone badly awry wrote that if a Hindu can open with a Hindu prayer, the work of the Founders was all for nothing. It's this level of incredible ignorance and unabashed bigotry that we should be worried about in America, not hearing too much about the "wrong" religion (they're all wrong).

These people are sick as well as oblivious to U.S. history. I'm really tempted to start stealing and destroying every Gideon Bible I find in a hotel room because doing this might incrementally bring some unknown American citizen that much farther away from the brink of frank drain bamage.

I'm also starting to think that federal monies earmarked for Bible Belt states should be classified as foreign aid.

You asked "Do thoughtful, progressive, inoffensive religious people exist?" Yes, they do, and I am one of many. The majority of my friends who are religious are far more tolerant than you would be led to believe. Just as not all Democratic women are bra-burning feminists, not all religious people are fanatic. Sterotypes abound everywhere. Unfortunately, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and it's those to the far left and far right who make the most noise and therefore are heard most often. And there isn't much room for the rest of the 80% of us who have a faith but are moderate.

Among my friends who attend some sort of religious service, there is not any debate whether the earth was created in 7 days or 4.5 million years. Maybe each of those 7 days encompassed 575,000 years. What does it matter? It's an insignificant issue. There are far more important issues to deal with, such as poverty in the US and in other nations, and getting medical care to those that don't have it, both here and abroad in third world nations. I believe God calls us to minister, not preach; to help, not condemn. St. Francis of Assisi said, "Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words."

For instance, the vast majority of American Catholics practice birth control. And they don't get tripped up when the Pope speaks ex-cathedra, because it's not relevant to their daily lives. They want to raise their kids with good values so they will be productive citizens and loving spouses, parents and friends. They want to see how they can get involved in their community and make a difference.

Who do you think runs the food pantries? At the one I volunteer at, fully 90% of donations come from churches. Very little funding comes from the county government. I'd also like to remind you that the majority of relief organizations (most of whom you probably have never heard of) are funded by various religious denominations. The majority of world relief programs are religious and rely on donations to minister to the sick and poor, both here and overseas. These relief organizations create safe havens for children in Africa who have been orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. They build schools in Nicaragua and pay for tuition and school uniforms and supplies to give children hope of a better future (my church just finished a 12 day mission there to build a school for 100 orphans in an orphanage). There is a group of nuns in Texas who minister to unmarried inner-city pregnant women before, during and after their pregnancies, making sure they have adequate prenatal care, enough food to eat, and a place to live. Among the nuns are some nurse-midwives who deliver the babies in their clinic (and it was a nightmare trying to get thru the bureaucracy to get the clinic established). This clinic is in the inner-city, among drug dealers and gunfire on a daily and nightly basis. But these women, these people who go to countries where there is no plumbing and water is a two-hour walk with a container on your head to a river where you scoop up filthy water and carry it back for another two-hours so that you can give your children fetid water to drink, because otherwise they would have nothing, these religious people believe in what they are doing, that they are doing what God has called them to do. And they become "God in skin" to these underprivileged people. The most powerful testament is someone's behavior, not what they say.

It's not fair to judge all religious people based on the actions and words of a few. And I've seen alot of that here. That is what many on the religious right do - they purport to speak for all of us, when they don't. Can you imagine what some right-wing preacher would have said if he knew that my friends - born-again Christians, had a John Kerry sign in their front yards during the last election?

So I ask, please keep in mind that most Christians (or Jews, or Muslims, or Hindus) are not fanatics. They have found something, a faith that works for them. Yes, the Gospel commands us to let our faith be known. It doesn't say "drag people kicking and screaming to church so they can be saved." The way I live my life is the most positive testimony, and if people are attracted to what I have, then they are free to ask what it is in my life that works for me. And I'll tell them that it's my faith in God. Obviously, I've made no bones here about the fact that I am a Christian. And my relationship with God changed my life. But it's not up to me to make you believe what I might want you to believe. That's a personal choice, and that's the freedom of choice that we have in all areas in our life, including our belief systems.

Thank God we have freedom of choice in this country. Did you know that just two months ago in China, members of an underground church were executed just for being practicing Christians, holding services in their own homes! China doesn't believe in freedom of religion. They have ONE state sanctioned Christian religion that has to adhere to the party line in what is said from the pulpit.

So please, before you go about bashing religious people, make sure you have your facts correct and you aren't just going on your personal feelings and anecdotal stories you might have heard 6th hand and has been completely changed from it's original theme or intent... the way some people have hi-jacked the Bible. Keep an open mind. Explore some moderate, mainstream religious organizations. Go online and see what comes up. As scientists, I'm sure you're familiar with the saying (paraphrased) "Don't have contempt prior to investigation, because it limits your knowledge." Just make sure you have the facts right and you're not going on feelings. As scientists, I'm sure you look for hard evidence. You wouldn't take something sight unseen without examining it for yourself. Apply that same principle to other areas of your life. You just might be surprised!

You know, it's been almost four decades since I drifted away from the Christian fold, but I still recall enough scripture to know that most of the commenters on that site are seriously misinformed as to what their religion's founder supposedly said. The most concentrated form of Jesus' teachings are in the Sermon on the Mount, where he talked about things like loving your enemy, turning the other cheek, and the meek inheriting the Earth. Yet they parade hatred and intolerance before themselves. He rejected literal interpretations of Jewish law -- such as the commandment (yes, one of the ten biggies) against working on the Sabbath -- yet these bozos latch onto any part of the Old Testament which suits them, especially if it buttresses their hatred for anyone who differs from them (while they continue to eat pork chops and lobster, wear blended fabrics, etc, etc).

In other words, their ignorance about the world is capped by their ignorance about the very faith they claim is at the center of their lives and the very book they claim is an inerrant guide to all truth.

Say all you want about how silly and vacuous you think Christian beliefs are; that's only one layer of what is wrong here, which is a "Christian" patina over as vile a brew of authoritarian and xenophobic impulses as is imaginable.

Eileen, just one question. If these fanatics are only a small minority who have hijacked the bible, why aren't the "moderates" vigorously rejecting them and their vile attitudes? Honestly, I hear very little condemnation of this perversion of your faith from your fellow moderates. You use the analogy about the squeaky wheel etc. How about considering this one: a malignant tumor, if not excised, will grow, metastasize and kill its host.

By T. Bruce McNeely (not verified) on 10 Aug 2007 #permalink

'And two notable Bush appointees: the Muslim ambassador to the United Nations [...]'

But Bush has to appoint a Muslim ambassador to the UN, because the UN is a gay communist European Islamic organisation and they only listen to Muslims.

By alexanderc (not verified) on 10 Aug 2007 #permalink

Well, since, if I was noticed at all, I would probably count as one of those "appeasers" referenced here, let me just say:

Yes. Of course lunatics like Sali exist. That's a trivial statement for any one who has a cable hook-up, and is willing to investigate PTL for more than five minutes. Big whoop. Anyone who would make such an absurd counter-claim should dismissed from the conversation out of hand.

That admission comes nowhere near accepting the claim that all Xtians are equally as unreasonable, or equally incapable of the kind of critical thinking required to dismiss, with prejudice, the obviously nonsensical crap Sali is putting out. Absent some sort of substantiation, such claims are indicative of nothing more than the most abject gulf of intellectual dishonesty on the part of the claimant.

Yes, there exists a proportion of xtians who are, frankly, out of their minds. But to claim they represent the majority, or even a sizable minority, is no more honest or correct than the equally valid claim that all atheists embrace Objectivism, or Marxism.

Hell, I know a number of atheists who's breaking point with the god-did-it paradigm arose, not out of reasoned, scientific thinking- but rather because of "recovered memories" of imaginary satanic ritual abuse at the hands of their parents. Does that mean we all support such drivel?

How about atheists who believe in "psychic vampirism?" Or atheists who believe in The Secret and acupuncture? Both exist, in large numbers. Trust me.

The problem arises when you attempt to project the beliefs of the lowest common denominator on the majority. You then arrive at an argument that is not only wrong, but demonstrably stupid.

The simple, logical outcome- if the opinions of cretins like Sali's supporters were, in fact, representative of the majority of Xtians (who, once again, compromise the vast majority of the populous in the US)- is that we would not be complaining about how those opinions conflict with the first amendment. We would, instead, be bitching about the repeal of the first amendment. We would not be arguing that the latest edition of "Of Hamsters and Habbitrails" violates the separation of church and state clause- we would be discussing where that clause went.

And again:

If these fanatics are only a small minority who have hijacked the bible, why aren't the "moderates" vigorously rejecting them and their vile attitudes?

They're there- you just conveniently ignore them. Unless you want to claim that every single judge, jury, defendant and witness in every single church and state separation case, ever, conveniently happens to belong to one of the most numerically insignificant minorities in the US. Or you want to make the outrageous claim that most of the people you meet in day-to-day life believe that AIDS and cancer aren't medical problems in need of further funding and research, but are, instead, the divine judgment of god. Or you want to believe that the fact that evolution is still on the table as far as education goes is due to nothing more than inattention on the part of the godly- all of which are pretty bizarre claims.

But, by all means, embrace the bizarre- if that makes you feel superior. Just don't pretend it reflects reality in any way, shape or form. And please don't pretend that, if 80+% of the population holds the views you want to claim they do, that you have any chance, what so ever, making any difference at all, despite your heroically erstwhile efforts to the contrary.

If you want to imagine that you are doomed to wander through life like some Casandra, always right but never listened to, that's fine. No one said that the Xtians held the monopoly on self-imposed, imaginary-yet-dramatic victimhood. But don't pretend it will ever,ever matter.

Or, you could embrace reality. Up to you.

And, just to be of service:

"But moderates enable the fundamentalists!!! On account of, I said so!!! So there!"

Just trying to help.

I suppose there is some difference between jihadists/Sali voters and "reasonable" xians. It's tough to know where to draw such a line, though.

One nice bright line is the acceptance of faith as a basis for opinion. Where faith is pretty much defined as belief without evidence.

I (and I suspect most here) hold that any adherent of most, if not all, of any of the world's religions has crossed that line and deserve some disrespect for it.

Of course, some are more harmful than others, but even promoting the idea that crossing that line is a good thing is a disservice.

You don't have to be a fanatic to be termed unreasonable. In fact, fanatics have often examined their holy books more closely, and have more rigorously reasoned positions than the moderates that just pronounce it all blandly vague, beyond close inspection. Who knows how long a day was? etc. Leaving them free to "interpret" conveniently.

By Duane Tiemann (not verified) on 11 Aug 2007 #permalink

And to make matters worse, what few congregations and denominations that are still 'moderate' are under assault from within, by sleeper cells whose mission is to slowly and subtly change the message to reactionary fundamentalism.

To reply to uriel, imagine the following: "Oh, they're a little weird, but we both believe in Jesus. They can't be that bad."

"No one outside the Deep Red States could maintain that Hindus and Muslims are degrading America"______An atheist who thinks that Hinduism and Islam are worse than Christianity could maintain that.

Well since the gods suffer 1.2 billion Indians to live and only 302 million 'mericans it would appear that the emperical evidence would point to the conclusion that "many goods good, one god bad."

You know, if he doesn't believe in the first ammendment to the constitution, shouldn't he be attempting to get it repealed? Or at least changed so that it only applied to xtians?

For instance, the vast majority of American Catholics practice birth control. And they don't get tripped up when the Pope speaks ex-cathedra, because it's not relevant to their daily lives.

An interesting choice of example. The Catholic church's stance on contraception is directly responsible for countless AIDS deaths in the third world. By giving credence to the notion that the Pope is anything more than a silly old man in an only marginally less silly hat, this is one case in which moderates most certainly do enable the more extreme elements.

Someone mentioned Nehemiah Scudder ...

Well, come the elction of 2016, someone will take that place .......
Think "Handmaid's Tale", also.

By G. Tingey (not verified) on 11 Aug 2007 #permalink

Sali writes:

Those are changes -- and they are not what was envisioned by the Founding Fathers

Whether true or not, today the Founding Fathers would probably beam with pride and say, "Hey, great! It turned out to be a free, pluralistic society afterall."

Apologists will tell you these clowns do not exist? The hell I will!

Sali exists, and he goes to show that Christianity is no sure thing -- sometimes it does not take. Sali is a nut in any philosophical tradition.

Plus, he is quite unknowledgeable about our Constitution.

Gosh, I never realised being Jewish had so many perquisites! Having missed out on the riches and world-controlling power which should be mine as a member of that religious cohort, I can revel in the wonderful privilege extended to me by the Christians.
I mean, for 2000 years, we Jews have been not refusing to convert, but actively denying Christ and his divinity and Saving Power. Hell, we even warn our children that Christianity is not true.
But the right-wing Christians never mention it! Here we are, committing the most henious theological sin imaginable, and we get a pass from the Christers.
Why do Jews, who are the worst of unbelievers, get a pass from them.
It couldn't be just cause it's not PC to be anti-semetic, is it? Or are the Muslims so bad that we look good by comparison?
How the hell are ya gonna have a "Christian Nation" when there are a couple million, not just unbelievers, but veritable deniers(!) of Christ in positions of influence and affluence?
Any Christians care to explain?

"I seem to recall that the ancient Israelites were 'under gods protection' being his 'chosen people.' Isaac Asimov once quipped that he wished god would chose some other people to see how much they would like it.'
Posted by: mothra | August 10, 2007 03:50 PM"

Tevye asked the same thing in reverse in the play the Fiddler on the Roof. "Couldn't you choose somebody else?"

By Paul Flocken (not verified) on 11 Aug 2007 #permalink

"Can we come up with a suitable term for people like Sali?"

"I ran out of insults for these slimeballs a long time ago."

I think somebody suggested demented fuckwit some short time ago. Now if I could just remember who.

By Paul Flocken (not verified) on 11 Aug 2007 #permalink

I agree that the prayer shouldn't have happened, but I'm just about certain that my reasons are diametrically opposed to those of the congresscritter in question.

-jcr

By John C. Randolph (not verified) on 11 Aug 2007 #permalink

Eileen, Uriel:

Learn to edit, for god's sake.

-jcr

By John C. Randolph (not verified) on 11 Aug 2007 #permalink

Uriel(and Eileen too),
You have such wonderful spiels but neglect to explain why, if the nutters are so few in number; so marginal, and marginalized, why politicians need to pander to them? If your new age, satanic, or vampiric atheists are present in such large numbers why don't they wield any political power? Why are politicians not pandering to them by promising to burn down all the christian churches? We oppose unreasoning faith because unopposed it will metastasize. It always has. It is only self-limiting after the inevitable atrocities have consumed it energies. The Enlightenment had an excellent example in the religious wars of the 17th century. It was not an accident. This time, in this country, we would like to avoid it.

Please, explain Sali's political support if there are so many moderates. Explain why Bush was nominated as the republican candidate for president seven years ago.

By Paul Flocken (not verified) on 11 Aug 2007 #permalink

Eileen said:

So please, before you go about bashing religious people, make sure you have your facts correct and you aren't just going on your personal feelings and anecdotal stories you might have heard 6th hand and has been completely changed from it's original theme or intent... the way some people have hi-jacked the Bible.

While your point is valid, you commit some serious irony in thinking it applies here. No one said anything, at all, about Sali representing all of religion, nor about religion doing only bad things. So it's not clear who you are intending to defend, here.

Kudos for doing something good, and for others for doing the same. No points, however, for thinking it had to be in the name of any deity whatsoever. I'm glad to see the churches you know are putting some effort into some of the world's problems, and I do say that honestly. I suppose I'd feel better about it, however, when the church buildings themselves aren't the nicest, most expensive buildings in any area I've ever visited or lived within. Where I live, there's a church, quite literally, not two miles away from any point you can find. There's but one soup kitchen in the entire county, however.

Stay tuned, more of my point below...

Umbriel said:

Yes, there exists a proportion of xtians who are, frankly, out of their minds. But to claim they represent the majority, or even a sizable minority, is no more honest or correct than the equally valid claim that all atheists embrace Objectivism, or Marxism.

And yet, as you point out, it's not particularly hard to find the wackdoodle chrischins, is it? You want us to believe that it is solely the power of the media, seeking out the fringe elements, that lets us hear about them at all. Yet, there are cable channels devoted to this kind of yammering. Sali is an elected official, as are many others. Entire universities exist where young-earth creationism is taught, exclusively, and mind you, these are not in converted warehouses. Snazzy complexes, you know.

So, if the majority is not fringe element, how are these people getting funded or elected? How come there's so much money to be had? How come so many people running for office, or already in it, are comfortable with extremism? How come they're not afraid of upsetting this moderate majority you speak of?

The simple, logical outcome- if the opinions of cretins like Sali's supporters were, in fact, representative of the majority of Xtians (who, once again, compromise the vast majority of the populous in the US)- is that we would not be complaining about how those opinions conflict with the first amendment. We would, instead, be bitching about the repeal of the first amendment. We would not be arguing that the latest edition of "Of Hamsters and Habbitrails" violates the separation of church and state clause- we would be discussing where that clause went.

No, instead we're watching as stem-cell research gets gutted over some completely misunderstood belief that it's "abortion" (while in-vitro fertilization, which created the cells in the first place, continues without even a shrug). We see countless drives to put creationism into schools. We have loads of people fussing because "under god" might be removed from a meaningless chant, or from the edge of a new coin.

And of course, we have the responses to the article about Sali's comments. Which brings me to a few questions, for both of you:

How many blog posts, or letters, or phone calls, has either of you ever made in response to religious extremism, that equals the time and effort you put into your posts here, now?

How often have you, or anyone you know, spoken out against the very people you deny having anything to do with?

How often have you checked into exactly where your tax-deductile religious contributions go? As tax-exempt organizations, their financial records are yours for the asking. Have you?

Can either of you say, with confidence, that the majority of people that you know would never knowingly give money to anything connected to Falwell, Robertson, or similar lying shits?

Neither of you missed the comments, yet you both missed the point: The apologetic behavior predition from the original post is because it's been seen countless times before. It doesn't matter how badly your own house needs cleaning, you'll pay far more attention to defending yourselves from any accusation whatsoever, whether it actually exists or not, from those heathen atheists, than addressing the problem at the source.

When you get to the point of religious extremists trying to not offend your "moderate majority" lest they lose support and funding, feel free to come back and defend your stance. But they don't look scared to me. They know you're too busy being occupied with those baby-eating atheists.

Booga booga!

Umbriel said:

Damn, sorry, make that "Uriel". Stupid mistake, nothing meant by it.

No one outside the Deep Red States could maintain that Hindus and Muslims are degrading America

This sort of 'thinking' is not confined to the deep red states by any means. There are quite a lot of people who think that way in Los Angeles county where I work. Even more in Kern county where I live.

Posted by: Natasha Yar-Routh | August 10, 2007 03:15 PM

Same here in SW Riverside County, which seems to be an extension of the Orange county bible belt.

By dwarf zebu (not verified) on 11 Aug 2007 #permalink

My only point was that not all people of faith are right-wing fanatics and that generally, they are involved in their daily lives and trying to help others. That's why the majority of us don't spend time trying to shut down right wing idiots. Trust me, we have our share of debates about W and what an idiot he is. Most of us voted for Kerry. Most of us don't like the idea of abortion, but we're not demonstrating to shut down clinics because we, like you, don't want back-alley abortions anymore. Instead of focusing on our differences, why can't you try to focus on our similarities? All you focus on is the small vocal majority you hear. And unfortunately, people who have your viewpoint are the only people that the right-wingers focus on. Like I said, the 80% of people of moderate faith views just get looked over and forgotten. But that's OK, because you all can spend your time fighting and debating each other while we go about our daily lives. And you're right, freedom of religion means freedom to have no religion as well as any religion you want.

For the record, more and more churches, mine included, are meeting in movie theaters and school auditoriums so they can same money by not having a mortgage and place it back into the community. Each week, my church has a list of 2-3 people in the community, who do NOT attend our church (they are referred by social services - horrors! blurred separation of church and state, oh my!) who have specific financial needs. And we are able to meet their needs. They are not required to attend our church, we don't sit and preach to them, we just help them out. As I said in my previous blog, the greatest testimony is the unspoken one.

This is my first challenge to you - can you get a group of people together who are willing to help 2-3 other people each week in the community - NO STRINGS ATTACHED - with financial donations of $500-1000 each? My church only collects approximately $3000 per week, (they are in the red) and they have to pay rent to the movie theater and also rent an office in a crappy area of town to get cheap rent. Our senior minister with 4 children only makes $42,000 per year, not very much in the DC area where the average income of a college educated person is over $70,000. The other pastor makes about $38,000 per year and has a second job. I challenge you to create some kind of group in your community that can help out financially needy families. You wouldn't need to pay rent or a salary like we do, so it should be much easier for you to do something like that.

I will comment, it seems that you all are as vociferous and fanatical in your beliefs as right-wingers are in theirs... perhaps different sides of the same coin????

A very good friend of mine is a biochemist at NIST and is "in the middle". She doesn't know if there is or isn't a god, but she doesn't spend time blogging about it. She has a life to live outside of these debates.

That said, I really don't have any more time to blog about this either. So I bid you well and good luck in whatever research or teaching you might be doing - work that makes a difference in the world.

But before I leave, here is my second challenge... when did you last work at your local soup kitchen? If there is only one in your county, what stops you from starting another? The need is always greater than the availability. Everyone wants to help others at Christmas and Thanksgiving, but there are 363 more days in the year. Homelessness and poverty don't take a holiday. Shut-in AIDS patients served by DC's Central Kitchen (not a religious affiliated organization) who need daily meals don't just stop needing meals for a day or a week or a month. Here is the final challenge: Why don't you get off the blog and out of the office for a day - just one day - and do something for someone who has absolutely nothing? You can't tell me that somewhere, within driving distance, there isn't some sort of charity that wouldn't LOVE help. They're desperate for help during the week, cause everyone has more time on the weekends. It's easy to sit in your labs and offices and rail about how people are stupid to have a belief in something. Why don't you push yourself to get out of there and do something where you can touch a human hand and in doing so, perhaps touch a human heart. That has nothing to do with religion, that has to do with being a good human being.

Good bye and good luck! I know there is nothing more I can say here, because everyone is so absolutely convinced that they are right that they're not willing to consider another point of view. In my book (and dictionary), that's called fanatical.

"Brian, that's a good point but it only applies to extremist Islam."

No, it applies to mainstream Islam in most countries. The problem with Islam isn't just terrorism or a few bad apples.

By Brian Macker (not verified) on 11 Aug 2007 #permalink

Caledonian,

#85

I agree that we shouldn't tolerate the intolerant

Merciful Christ on a pogo stick, do you ever THINK before you post/talk?

Seems like you are the person that hasn't thought about the subject of tolerance. Don't get confused by the words when you read the sentence ".. we shouldn't tolerate the intolerant". Think grasshopper, beyond the apparent meaning to the generally accepted use of the words and the intended meaning and you will realize it is not self refuting.

You don't really think that someone who doesn't tolerate being stoned to death is "intolerant" do you? I don't tolerate religiously sanctioned defamation, libel, and incitement to persecution and murder. That doesn't make me intolerant.

This just skims the surface and doesn't even begin to plumb the depths one can think about this subject, religious tolerance. I've done the thinking so I know.

So think next time before you open your mouth.

By Brian Macker (not verified) on 11 Aug 2007 #permalink

I love how in response to Just Al's questions, we were all given homework. Thanks, Al!

Eileen,
How many children do you have?

By Paul Flocken (not verified) on 11 Aug 2007 #permalink

Though I do have to say, next time they call us the "Democrat Party" I may have to start calling them the Publicans.

Don't insult publicans in that way. There are many fine pubs that have allowed me to survive being in George Bush's America.

Eileen Said: Trust me, we have our share of debates about W and what an idiot he is. Most of us voted for Kerry.

Really? Then who elected Dubya? Because it sure as hell wasn't us Dirty F'in Hippies!

Here is the final challenge: Why don't you get off the blog and out of the office for a day - just one day - and do something for someone who has absolutely nothing?

What makes you think we don't already do that? For a lot of people here, "just one day" would mean cutting way back.

Eileen said:

Instead of focusing on our differences, why can't you try to focus on our similarities?

Funny, that was exactly one of my points.

Your lengthy post was simply a repeat of what you had said before, while totally ignoring or missing what I had said. Let me make it simpler:

No one compared you to extremists.

No one said you're bad.

No one said you're not pulling your weight.

No one. Nada. Not anywhere connected to this post. Feel free to prove me wrong - the posts haven't gone anywhere.

You, however, decided to side with the extremists, then complain that we were insulting you when you were not one of the extremists. Apparently, this served your purpose more than actually agreeing with atheists on any one topic or issue. Even when you demonstrated that you actually did agree. You just couldn't bring yourself to admit it.

Let me put it painfully plainly: Religious extremists are fucked up. Some of us will clearly say so.

If you really need to see everything in just two sides, then I suppose you're stuck with either being a religious extremist, or an atheist, and you have already shown which side you choose to be on (then complain about it).

You could, however, count up to three or higher, and become a third option. Then you can say religious extremists are fucked up, all by yourself, AND even escape the ire of us atheists (or at least, until we address your side for something ;-) ).

You apparently missed where I complimented you on the work you do. It's there - you're welcome. I have to admit you sure didn't help your stance as a rational religious person with your following rant.

As for your churches, more power to you all, and again, I say that in all seriousness. I do not think religion is necessary to do good deeds, in the slightest, but if that's what it takes to motivate most people, I'm cool with it.

I countered with what most of the churches I see are like, and while you may want to point out the exceptions, you really can't deny that a vast majority of churches are exactly how I describe (okay, yes you can, you simply can't do it and be truthful). My point was, I am not going to judge your religion based on the exceptions. I am going to judge it based on the majority (with nods towards individual efforts, mind you).

It is not my job, duty, or goal to ignore the bad aspects in favor of the good. I do not hide away from reality. If you do not like the bad aspects of your religion, it is not my fault, nor my place to correct it for you, nor my prerogative to try and ignore it. Basically, fix it yourselves.

As for my efforts, nope, you're right - no soup kitchen work. I work for a wildlife center. We do exactly what you challenged, except the recipients are not people (many times, they are the victims of people though). My salary is a damn site smaller than your examples. Friday afternoon, when temperatures were pushing 100F here, I was waist deep in a pond that had evaporated into equal depths of water and muck, carpeted with dead fish, rescuing turtles before the pond disappeared altogether. Try walking in mud up to your knees in 100 degree weather sometime and tell me I'm lazy.

The critters that benefit from my charity won't ever thank me, or contribute, or spread the word. But hey, to each his/her own - it works for me.

Someday, try checking out the facts before you make up your mind or jump to conclusions. It might be easier.

Susan said:

I love how in response to Just Al's questions, we were all given homework. Thanks, Al!

Uh oh. Now I'm going to get the shit kicked out of me behind the school...

;-)

The problem with the moderate, progressive, rational theists isn't that they aren't doing enough to police the immoderate, backwards, irrational theists. From what I see, moderate and liberal Christians complain and scream about fundamentalists all the time, same as the atheists do. And moderate, liberal Christians make up a sizeable chunk of Christianity, even in America. They're fine people, doing fine things -- and they do make a strong impact against the excesses of the religious right.

The problem is that their reasons for being "moderate, progressive, and rational" are basically secular, but they've covered them in religious faith as a justification. And within the domain of religious faith, there is no way to rationally demonstrate that moderate, progressive, rational and good Eileen is more of a "real Christian" than Sali.

Imagine that the US was steeped in belief in astrology. Everyone just knew that they ought to follow the advice of the stars to achieve their destiny. So they insist the question is -- what do the stars really say? What do the planets want? How should we let our horoscopes guide us?

"Because I am a Taurus, I run the food pantry. Because Jupiter was in Saturn last month, I helped out victims of torture in Africa. I work for clean water, prenatal nutrition, and good science in our schools precisely because of my belief that the moon in Virgo when I was born mandates that I care for others, respect the earth, and value science as one of humanity's greatest achievements. I have nothing but contempt and sorrow for those clueless astrologers who misinterpret the language of the stars and planets and as a result are intolerant and irrational. The problem is NOT astrology. It's the misinterpretation of astrology."

"So don't condemn the GOOD astrologers along with the bad ones. Learn to tell the difference."

Sure, there's a huge difference -- but it's not because one side is following legitimate astrological advice, and the other side doesn't know how to cast a horoscope. The problem IS astrology -- and would be even if 99% of the people who believed in it used it to decide things like "today is a good day to help others and spread love around the world."

Astrology doesn't work. It isn't real. There are no forces coming from the cosmos making sure that everything is for the best. So whatever anyone gets out of it is a crap shoot, with no scientific checks and balances. It doesn't give good advice -- you're just figuring stuff out for yourself, and projecting it back on the stars and planets. And by accepting that sort of system, promoting it, showing how well it works, that's part of the problem.

"Brian, that's a good point but it only applies to extremist Islam."

No, it applies to mainstream Islam in most countries. The problem with Islam isn't just terrorism or a few bad apples.

I disagree. Moderate Islam isn't anti-Christian or anti-American. We even have a sizeable Muslim population in this country, and they're peaceful, law-abiding folks, for the most part (as much as you can say for any given community).

Of course, there are some passages in the Qu'ran that talk about jihad and so on, but most Muslims don't pay any more attention to that than Christians do to passages in the Bible that say you should kill any unbelievers you come in contact with, even friends and relatives.

Thanks, Brian Macker. You said it much better than I could have.

Leon,

I've read the Qur'an and it's not just a few passages. There are several chapters devoted to solely to Jihad with titles like "The spoils [of War]" and "The ranks [of War]". The few tolerant sounding passages when taken in context really aren't morally impressive. It's as if the double standard were their highest moral rule. These "tolerant" sections read like "Don't slaughter non-Muslims unless they attack first. Except that last rule only applies during the holy months".

You know southern white slaveholders were for the most part peaceful also. That is until any black got uppity. Like that Christian in Pakistan who had the gall to drink from a public drinking cup meant for Muslims only. They can't have dirty non-Muslims polluting Muslim purity with their vile touch. So they beat him to death.

The intolerance in these Muslim countries that is sanctioned by law is already extreme, and it's the so called "moderates" that put those laws in place.

It is my studied opinion that most people who think that Muslims and Christians are pretty much the same haven't researched this enough. The religions have striking differences that are going to make the path to tolerance much harder for Muslims than it was for Christians. Christ wasn't a homicidal maniac unlike Mohammed. The bible is purportedly written by men, whereas the Qur'an is suppose to be penned directly by Allah. Allah unlike God can make a squared-circle, and therefore can make what is obviously wrong behavior right. It's insanity to the next level.

Behavior like this is the current norm in the Muslim world. The door to Islam only swings one way.

By Brian Macker (not verified) on 12 Aug 2007 #permalink

Good bye and good luck! I know there is nothing more I can say here, because everyone is so absolutely convinced that they are right that they're not willing to consider another point of view. In my book (and dictionary), that's called fanatical. Posted by: Eileen

"Everone", you say? Oh dear! Well, we can't abide by any extreme generalizations now, can we?

Eileen,

"They have found something, a faith that works for them."

You make it sound like throughout the world that people are presented with all possible philosophies and then get to choose. That is not what happens. Children are brainwashed into a single faith and are told that other beliefs are not only wrong but will get them in so much trouble with the supreme being that he's going to roast them in hell forever. What is officially taught does matter even if a majority doesn't believe or practice it. You won't believe the kind of ignornant behavior I see on a day to day basis from religious people.

"... the way some people have hi-jacked the Bible."

I have a big problem with this line of reasoning. If the god says in the bible to stone homosexuals then how can you claim that someone has hijacked it when they advocate such behavior. The fact that the bible advocates evil is a big problem for your religion. It's as if a company came out with a contradictory and confused instruction manual. Due to the flaws in the manual, some customers are bound to construct the product in a way that is sure to result in harm to themselves and others. This is obvious. However the manufacturer turns around and claims the fault lies with the consumer. This is asinine. It's especially asinine because the religions claim that their manuals are the last word on how to behave in the world and that all others are false. Now if they were to fess up and admit that their manuals were extremely error prone and that were actually written by a bunch of superstitions goat herders and war mongering tribesman, well then perhaps the nut jobs wouldn't take it so serious and hurt people.

After all when you say something is the "Word of God" some people are going to take it serious and act on it. Sure most people aren't serious about their religion and don't act, but some do. By sanctioning this stuff you contribute to the danger posed to the rest of us by these crazy instruction manuals.

What you need to do in order to remove your culpability in this matter is to rewrite the bible like Thomas Jefferson did. Why not do that and claim that you have identified the parts of the bible that were not inspired by God but the Devil and have excised them. Of course, you could do what I did and reject your faith entirely, or you can take these lesser steps. As of right now however it might just be that you are sanctioning evil without intending to. Anyone who claims the bible is the literal inerrant word of god is doing just that. I'm not familiar with your beliefs and claims so I can't tell if you make this moral error.

By Brian Macker (not verified) on 13 Aug 2007 #permalink

Well, just in case anyone's still paying attention to this thread:

How many blog posts, or letters, or phone calls, has either of you ever made in response to religious extremism, that equals the time and effort you put into your posts here, now?

Lord- lots. Far more than could be considered marginally reasonable. I've been at this a lot longer than is necessary, absent some form of OCD. Add to that the very large number of posts I leveled at moderates, tepid believers, and wishy washy non-committals. Early on, I was one of the biggest asshole atheists I could point to. I've matured. So sorry.

How often have you, or anyone you know, spoken out against the very people you deny having anything to do with?

Again, may times, both on the internet and in real life. And, again, I'm not a xtian, even though I sometimes defend them in various blogs. I know that might be hard to wrap your head around, but it's true.

How often have you checked into exactly where your tax-deductible religious contributions go? As tax-exempt organizations, their financial records are yours for the asking. Have you?

If I do make a contribution to a cause, I generally 1) try my best before hand to find out the track record of the organization involved, 2) make that contribution based not on the religious affiliation (being an atheist), or religious non-affiliation, but on the work being done, and 3) do not take a tax deduction for that contribution. That always seemed a bit dishonest- I've always felt that if you're going to give, give freely and absent any strings. But that's just me.

The vast majority of my donations at present are made to 1) gay/lesbian advocacy groups, 2) Toys for tots and similar children's advocacy groups, and 3) local police and firefighter initiatives. That may be wrongheaded, but they seem like worthwhile goals.

Can either of you say, with confidence, that the majority of people that you know would never knowingly give money to anything connected to Falwell, Robertson, or similar lying shits?

No, I suppose I can't. I also couldn't say for certain that many of the people I know bought into shark cartallige, acupuncture, or UFO-ology due to the patina of "science" those particular frivolities adopt. I'd like to think none, on both sides- but I's probably be wrong.

Neither of you missed the comments, yet you both missed the point: The apologetic behavior predition from the original post is because it's been seen countless times before. It doesn't matter how badly your own house needs cleaning, you'll pay far more attention to defending yourselves from any accusation whatsoever, whether it actually exists or not, from those heathen atheists, than addressing the problem at the source.

Again- Its not my house. Frankly, I think the claims of the xtians are silly. Yet again, I'm an atheist. Would it help if I reiterated it once more? I'm an atheist.

Apparently _you_ missed the point- when chiding the absurd claims of atheists regarding the depressingly obvious strawman arguments they use, I am, in fact, doing exactly what you want- I'm addressing the faults of my own house, as it were, at the source- I'm questioning it's intellectually weak need to demonize all xtians, based on the absurdities of the few.

I find it interesting that _you_ (in the semi-collective) find that so very, very objectionable.

It's downright xtian of ya.

Damn, sorry, make that "Uriel". Stupid mistake, nothing meant by it.

Why, you low down, son of a bitch.........

"You know, the Lord can cause the rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike," says the Idaho Republican.

Yeah but can the Lord cause the rain to fall on only the just or on only the unjust? That would be something if the Lord can do that. But no, the Lord can only do the same things that the rain can do. :-(

By ÒÓ 386sx ÒÓ (not verified) on 10 Aug 2007 #permalink