October 27, 2016

Heavily armed Christian militia instructs members to “hunt down” voter fraud on Nov. 8.

The Oath Keepers, a heavily armed and self-described “Christian militia,” is urging members to patrol the polls on election day.

The armed group has previously been involved in tense, armed standoffs with federal agencies, and  even went to Kentucky to prevent the arrest of Christian martyr Kim Davis after she defied the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality last year.

Now the Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes is urging members to form “incognito intelligence gathering and crime spotting teams” to “document suspected criminal vote fraud.”

Rhodes, president and founder of Oath Keepers, announced “Operation Sabot 2016” on the group’s website, writing:

We call on you to form up incognito intelligence gathering and crime spotting teams. And go out into public on election day, dressed to blend in with the public … with video, still camera, and notepad in hand, to look for and document suspected criminal vote fraud or intimidation activities.

Rhodes told his members that “leftists” were the most likely culprits of any fraud:

We are, indeed, most concerned about expected attempts at voter fraud by leftists, but we will spot, document, and report any apparent attempt at vote fraud or voter intimidation by anyone, of whatever party, as is our duty.

BuzzFeed reports Rhodes sent the “call to action” in an email to members early Wednesday morning, reaching chapters of the militant group.

The controversial and dangerous group claims to protect the Constitution, but the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center describe the Christian militia as an anti-government, right-wing organization composed of members who follow a “sovereign citizen” ideology that questions the legitimacy of the federal government.

The Southern Poverty Law Center reports:

The Oath Keepers are well known for showing up heavily armed in instances of social crisis. Staking out polling stations to thwart voter intimidation is likely to cause more problems than it solves, especially given the group’s own history of frightening locals. Coming at a time of increasing racial tensions, likely armed, mostly white men secretly patrolling voting stations looking for “suspicious” activity is incredibly worrisome.

Bottom line: The fact that this Christian militia plans to support Trump by launching a campaign of voter intimidation targeting “leftists” only reinforces the notion that the Oath Keepers are dangerous vigilantes with no respect for the U.S. Constitution or the rule of law.

(Image via YouTube)
(Image via YouTube)

 

July 14, 2016

Prayers are not the answer. Prayers are the problem.

According to the latest reports, at least 77 are dead, and as many as a 100 have been injured in a terrorist attack disrupting a Bastille Day celebration in Nice, France.

The Washington Post reports a truck rammed into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in the French Riviera city of Nice on Thursday night, killing at least 70 people in an apparent terrorist attack as the driver also opened fire on revelers.

While some pray for the victims of the Bastille Day massacre in Nice, others celebrate the destruction as an answer to their prayers.

The fact is, for the suspected Islamist terrorists, and those extreme Muslims who support the terrorists, the death and destruction in Nice is an answer to their prayers, and serves as a validation of their faith.

Perhaps even more damning, those Jews, Christians and moderate Muslims who are praying for the victims of the terrorist attack in Nice are praying to the same God, the God of Abraham, that the Islamic extremists and their supporters worship.

The uncomfortable truth is that this God that both terrorists and non-terrorist alike beseech with their prayers is useless, or worse.

Either God helped the terrorists kill and maim hundreds of innocents; or, God watched and did nothing while the terrorists killed and maimed hundreds of innocents; or, much more probable, God simply does not exist.

For all intents and purposes, prayers are spiritual masturtbaton: they might make the person doing the praying feel a little better, but prayers do nothing to effect change in the real world.

Prayers are the consequence of irrational beliefs, and it is irrational beliefs that allow people to do irrational things, like kill and maim hundreds of innocents in the name of a God that does not exist.

Prayers are not the answer. More religion is not the answer. Religion is the problem.

If not prayer, if not religion, what are we to do?

Instead of prayer we must stand against religious extremism. To defy the terrorists we must embrace our shared humanity. We must rise above the religious superstitions that divide us. We must be honest with ourselves and our communities.

We must be willing to confront the challenge of Islamic extremism without demonizing individual Muslims, and without making excuses for the horror and terror committed in the name of Islam.

We must challenge the hypocrisy of so-called progressives who will scream about Kim Davis refusing to give a marriage license to a same-sex couple in Kentucky, but remain silent while gays and lesbians are executed in the name of Islam in the Middle East.

Whether it be Muslim extremists hating the freedom and liberalism of the West, or Christian extremists hating homosexuals in Kentucky, there’s a lot of hate that comes with following ancient and discredited dogma.

We must transcend that hate.

Bottom line: Religion divides us. We must reject religious extremism, and embrace our common humanity.

(Large portions of this article were previously published here and here)

(Image via Twitter)
(Image via Twitter)
July 12, 2016

“Scientists have an obligation not to lie about the natural world.” – Lawrence Krauss.

In an essay for The New Yorker titled “All Scientists Should Be Militant Atheists” Lawrence Krauss makes a powerful argument for science and against the urge to protect religious superstition from scrutiny.

The essay, published last September, begins with a discussion concerning conservative culture warrior Kim Davis using her Christian religious beliefs to deny wedding licenses to gays and lesbians in Kentucky. Commenting on the controversy, Krauss notes:

The Kim Davis controversy exists because, as a culture, we have elevated respect for religious sensibilities to an inappropriate level that makes society less free, not more. Religious liberty should mean that no set of religious ideals are treated differently from other ideals.

Krauss dismisses the demand that many make for respecting religious superstitions by noting the obvious:

The problem, obviously, is that what is sacred to one person can be meaningless (or repugnant) to another.

Krauss is correct. What is a sacred commandment or belief for one is another’s moral abomination. One need only be reminded of the sexism and misogyny woven into the fabric of all three of the Abrahamic religions to understand why many would find the supposedly sacred to be morally repugnant. The refusal by Kim Davis to issue marriage licenses to gays and lesbians is another example, and there are of course many more.

Krauss goes on to move from a discussion of Davis to a discussion of science, opining:

In science, of course, the very word “sacred” is profane. No ideas, religious or otherwise, get a free pass. The notion that some idea or concept is beyond question or attack is anathema to the entire scientific undertaking. This commitment to open questioning is deeply tied to the fact that science is an atheistic enterprise.

Krauss observes that science is inherently dangerous to religion because scientific understanding often draws people away from religion:

Because science holds that no idea is sacred, it’s inevitable that it draws people away from religion.

Yet the uncomfortable fact that science often has the effect of exposing religious superstitions as irrational and ultimately untenable beliefs about the world means that the culture of science often panders to the faithful by sugar coating the truth about the natural world:

Even so, to avoid offense, they sometimes misleadingly imply that today’s discoveries exist in easy harmony with preexisting religious doctrines, or remain silent rather than pointing out contradictions between science and religious doctrine.

Krauss rejects the misleading fabrication that science and religious dogma are compatible, at one point declaring:

Scientists have an obligation not to lie about the natural world.

In concluding, Krauss sees a direct link “between the ethics that guide science and those that guide civic life.” Arguing that honesty should take priority over religious dogma, Krauss says “we owe it to ourselves and to our children not to give a free pass” to those “that endorse, encourage, enforce, or otherwise legitimize the suppression of open questioning in order to protect ideas that are considered ‘sacred.’”

Bottom line: Krauss is right, all scientists, and all thinking people, should be atheists.

Lawrence Krauss is a physicist and director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University. He is also the author of The Physics of Star Trek and A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing.

(Image via Twitter)
(Image via Twitter)
April 25, 2016

A notorious conservative Christian lawyer threatens transgender bathroom users with gun violence.

Anita Staver, president of the theocratic law group The Liberty Counsel, issued a thinly veiled death threat to transgender people via Twitter. Staver  says she will carry a gun to Target so she can shoot transgender bathroom users:

(I’m taking a Glock .45 to the ladies room. It identifies as my bodyguard. #BoycottTarget @Target)

Staver’s tweet is dangerous, and has the effect of encouraging and legitimizing violence against transgender individuals.

Staver’s Liberty Counsel is a Christian hate group that represented Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who went to jail because she refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

Anita Staver, Liberty Counsel’s president, is married to Mat Staver, head of the legal team that defended Davis in her effort to deny same-sex couples the right to marry.

Recently conservative Christian activists like the Stavers have worked themselves into a lather over Target stores’ decision to allow transgender customers to use restrooms designated for their expressed gender.

In a statement issued last week Target said transgender people should use whichever restroom or fitting room matches their gender identity, saying inclusivity is a “core belief at Target.”

In response to the humane statement, paranoid Christians launched a #BoycottTarget campaign on social media.

Staver’s tweet threatening transgender bathroom users with gun violence is just another example of the irrational backlash against Target’s humane bathroom policy in particular, and transgender rights in general.

Yet despite protests from paranoid Christian to the contrary, the facts show that it is a myth that transgender people pose a danger in public bathrooms, a myth promoted by conservative Christians who hate what they don’t understand.

In fact, if one is concerned about public bathroom safety, reports indicate that it is Republican politicians, and not transgender people, that are most likely to be engaged in sexual misconduct in a public restroom.

Bottom line: Anita Staver is a dangerous Christian bigot. And her thinly veiled death threat against transgender people using the bathroom at Target is yet another example of the transgender bathroom hysteria sweeping the nation.

(H/T Raw Story, Joe. My. God.)

Anita Staver (Image via Facebook)
Anita Staver (Image via Facebook)
April 17, 2016

Saturday Night Live mocks the myth of Christian persecution with a hilarious parody of the “God’s Not Dead” movie franchise.

In “God is a Boob Man,” one woman (Vanessa Bayer) fights to prove, once and for all, that God is straight. The parody mocks “God’s Not Dead,” and “God’s Not Dead 2.” Both movies are obnoxious and heavy handed attempts to promote the myth of Christian persecution while painting non-believers as villains that must be destroyed.

Uproxx summarizes the parody:

Bayer plays a “small town baker without a care” who has her faith tested by two gay men who want her to make them a wedding cake. She just can’t do it, though, even though gays are the most powerful force in America. They threaten to sue the baker until she says three simple words: “God is gay.” When she refuses, the case goes to court, where Bayer, with some help from a desperate governor, aims to “prove once and for all that God is straight.” From the makers of God on the Run and Angel in Denim: The Kim Davis Story, it’s God Is a Boob Man, coming this fall to a stuffy church basement near you.

At one point the parody moves to an imaginary governor’s office somewhere in the Bible Belt:

Governor’s Aide: We are the poorest state in the country, we are last in education, second in obesity, third in teen pregnancy, we have got to do something.

Governor: Hold that thought. What’s wrong ma’am.

Christian Baker (Bayer): I want to deny basic goods and services to gay people.

Governor: Everybody out. This is the priority now.

It’s funny because it’s true.

Watch the parody below –

https://youtu.be/tDDAa1If-u4
(Image via Screen Grab)
(Image via Screen Grab)
November 14, 2015

Prayers are not the answer. In fact, prayers are the problem.

While some pray for Paris after the attack, the prayers of the terrorists and their supporters were answered with the attack.

The fact is, for the Islamic terrorists, and those extreme Muslims who support the terrorists, the death and destruction in Paris is an answer to their prayers, and serves as a validation of their faith.

Perhaps even more damning, those Christians and moderate Muslims who are praying for the victims of the terrorist attacks are praying to the same God, the God of Abraham, that the terrorists and their supporters worship.

The uncomfortable truth is that this God that both terrorists and non-terrorist alike beseech with their prayers is useless, or worse.

Either God helped the terrorists kill and maim hundreds of innocents; or, God watched and did nothing while the terrorists killed and maimed hundreds of innocents; or, much more probable, God simply does not exist.

Of course, the uncomfortable truth, a truth that many simply cannot accept, is that God does not exist, and prayers are futile gestures of the desperate and the confused.

For all intents and purposes, prayers are spiritual masturtbaton: they might make the person doing the praying feel a little better, but prayers do nothing to effect change in the real world.

Prayers are the consequence of irrational beliefs, and it is irrational beliefs that allow people to do irrational things, like kill and maim hundreds of innocents in the name of a God that does not exist.

Prayers are not the answer. More religion is not the answer. Religion is the problem.

If not prayer, if not religion, what are we to do?

Instead of prayer we must stand against religious extremism. To defy the terrorists we must embrace our shared humanity. We must rise above the religious superstitions that divide us. We must be honest with ourselves and our communities.

We must be willing to confront the challenge of Islamic extremism without demonizing individual Muslims, and without making excuses for the horror and terror committed in the name of Islam.

We must challenge the hypocrisy of so-called progressives who will scream about Kim Davis refusing to give a marriage license to a same-sex couple in Kentucky, but remain silent while gays and lesbians are executed in the name of Islam in the Middle East.

Whether it be Muslim extremists hating the freedom and liberalism of the West, or Christian extremists hating homosexuals in Kentucky, there’s a lot of hate that comes with following ancient and discredited dogma.

We must transcend that hate.

Bottom line: Religion divides us. We must reject religious extremism, and embrace our common humanity.

Joann Sfar, a French cartoonist at Charlie Hebdo, asks us not to pray for Paris:

(Image via Instagram)
(Image via Instagram)

“Friends from the whole world, thank you for ‪#‎PrayforParis‬, but we don’t need more religion! Our faith goes to music! Kisses! Life! Champagne and Joy! ‪#‎ParisisaboutLife‬

Better than prayer: Pianist performs John Lennon’s Imagine after Paris attacks –

https://youtu.be/MNRCTC1ElXQ

 

(Image via Facebook)
(Image via Facebook)
September 23, 2015

In an angry rant Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee suggests President Obama is not a Christian, but only pretending to be a Christian.

Huckabee made his claim while appearing on Newsmax TV’s “The Hard Line” on Tuesday. When asked about Ben Carson’s comments that a Muslim should not be president of the United States, the former Arkansas governor refused to criticize his rival’s blatant anti-Muslim bigotry, but did admit that there is no religious test for public office, which is correct. Huckabee said:

There is no religious test for a person to hold public office in America. I’m less concerned about what faith a person has, I’m more concerned about the authenticity of their faith and how that plays out in their policies.

Huckabee then shifted his focus to President Obama, suggesting that the president is only pretending to be a Christian:

I’m also concerned about a guy that believes he’s a Christian and pretends to be and then says he is, but does things that makes it very difficult for people to practice their Christian faith.

I’m disappointed if a person says, ‘I’m a Christian,’ but you invite the Pope into your home and then you invite a whole bunch of people who are at odds with the Catholic Church policy. I think there’s something very unseemly about that.

Huckabee is angry that Obama administration invited LGBT activists and abortion supporters to a White House reception to honor Pope Francis. In a statement issued Monday Huckabee said:

President Obama’s classless decision to transform Pope Francis’ visit to the White House into a politicized cattle call for gay and pro-abortion activists is an insult to millions of Catholics.

Why is it that Obama goes to extremes to accommodate Muslim terrorists but shows nothing but disdain for Christians? This is a new low for an administration that will go down as the most anti-Christian in American history.

And today Huckabee combined his concern for anti-gay Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis and the Pope’s visit to the White House in a bizarre and misguided attack on Obama via Vine:

Huckabee is an angry conservative Christian extremist, and Obama is a moderate progressive Christian. While it might be nice to imagine that Obama is secretly an atheist, the fact is we must accept people at their word. If someone says they are a Christian, they are a Christian. If someone says they are a Muslim, they are a Muslim. And if someone says they are an atheist, they are an atheist.

Bottom line: President Obama says he is a Christian, therefore, he is a Christian.

Watch the video below from Newsmax, broadcast Sept. 22, 2014 –

(Image via Wikipedia)
(Image via Wikipedia)
September 17, 2015

A North Carolina mayoral candidate with sincerely held religious beliefs is campaigning on a platform of jailing gays and eradicating homosexuality.

Eugene Holmes, who is currently running for mayor of Kings Mountain, says he is inspired by anti-gay Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis.

Holmes, a member of the Church of God and also the Promise Keepers, a Christian extremist organization for men, told the Kings Mountain Herald:

In my administration I would do just like Mrs. Davis did in Kentucky. If you elect me, I’ll uphold the law of the state of North Carolina. I would get the D.A. to swear out a warrant on any man who says he’s gay. Sodomy is a crime, a felony in the state of North Carolina.

Holmes goes on:

What’s wrong with eradicating homosexuals? We should jail them, throw them all in jail!

Holmes is a 77-year-old Korean War veteran who makes a living by selling various wares at area flea markets, and says he doesn’t want the job of mayor, but feels he is being called:

I don’t want to be mayor no more than I want to fly… I don’t know about my chances in this thing… I’m a newcomer — and I don’t give one hoot about politicians.

Also relevant: Holmes reports that he was ordered to receive 60-days of psychiatric treatment at Broughton Hospital, a state operated health care facility, in 2011. Holmes says that during his stay doctors diagnosed him as suffering from “religious hallucinations.”

Holmes plans to participate in a Meet the Candidates forum at the Kings Mountain Woman’s Club this Saturday.

Kings Mountain is a suburb of Charlotte, North Carolina.

(H/T Kings Mountain Herald, Raw Story)

(Image via Pixabay)
(Image via Pixabay)
September 1, 2015

Invoking “God’s authority,” Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis defies a Supreme Court order by refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Tuesday.

Late Monday the Supreme Court rejected an appeal from Davis, who refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of her sincerely held religious beliefs.

Despite the Supreme Court ruling compelling Davis to give out marriage licenses to same-sex couples, she refused to comply once again on Tuesday morning by denying marriage licenses to everyone.

On Tuesday morning, after the first same-sex couple in line asked Davis for a marriage license, a tense confrontation ensued. Davis said she was not issuing marriage licenses, and the same-sex couple asked her under what authority. An agitated Davis replied:

Under God’s authority!

Davis then fled into a back office as the angry crowd confronted her on her bigotry, chanting “Do your job! Do your job!”

Later in the morning Davis issued the following statement:

To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience. It is not a light issue for me. It is a Heaven or Hell decision. I was elected by the people to serve as the County Clerk. I intend to continue to serve the people of Rowan County, but I cannot violate my conscience.

As a result of her actions, Davis has been summoned by a federal judge to explain why she should not be fined or jailed for contempt. U.S. District Judge David Bunning summoned Davis and her entire staff to appear in federal court on Thursday at 11:00 a.m.

Lawyers for couples who were denied marriage licenses are asking Judge Bunning to find Davis in contempt, but punish her with only financial penalties, not jail time.

WATCH: Davis refuses to issue a marriage license “under God’s authority” –

(Image via Twitter)
(Image via Twitter)
August 31, 2015

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from a county clerk in Kentucky who refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of her sincerely held religious beliefs.

Late Monday the court rejected an appeal from Kim Davis, the clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, who continues to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of her religious beliefs.

Davis, who has been married four times, claims she cannot issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of her sincere religious objections. In the appeal her lawyers asked the court to block a lower court order directing her to issue the licenses, saying Davis “holds an undisputed sincerely held religious belief that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, only.”

The case was the court’s first opportunity to consider whether government officials may refuse to comply with the recent Supreme Court decision establishing a nationwide constitutional right to same-sex marriage on religious grounds. USA Today notes:

The ruling, made without comment or any apparent dissents, is an early indication that while some push-back against gay marriage on religious grounds may be upheld, the justices won’t tolerate it from public officials.

JoDee Winterhof, Human Rights Campaign Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs, said:

Ms. Davis’ choices are clear: she must either choose to follow the law or resign her public position. A public official’s personal religious opinion does not give her the privilege to trample over the rights of others.  Freedom of religion is important, and Ms. Davis has the fundamental right to believe what she likes. But as a public servant, she does not have the right to pick and choose which laws she will follow or which services she will provide. We are pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has denied the stay.

In a thoughtful editorial the Lexington Herald-Leader observes:

It’s astounding that in almost three decades on the public payroll, Davis never sorted out the roles of government and religion under the U.S. Constitution that she swore to uphold.

Nothing reveals the absurdity of her position more clearly than her lawyer’s response to the latest ruling against her. Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver continues to insist that elected public officials have a constitutional right to pick and choose which of their government duties they will perform based on their religious beliefs — in other words, that public officials can use religion to discriminate against certain citizens.

Nothing could be more un-American. What he is advocating would destroy the rule of law, a foundation of our republic. And imagine the chaos, given the wide range of religious beliefs.

Churches and clergy are still free to limit marriage according to their religions’ beliefs, but public officials must follow the law and treat all citizens equally.

Bottom line: If religious superstition and bigotry prevents Davis from doing her job and issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, she needs to resign her position and find another line of employment that won’t offend her sincerely held religious beliefs.

Kim Davis (Image via Screen Grab)
Kim Davis (Image via Screen Grab)



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