Never meant to cause you any sorrow

Never meant to cause you any sorrow November 20, 2023

• “Can Christian Pastors Call Other Religions ‘Satanic’ — Without Going to Jail?

This article discusses the thorny issues raised by Brazilian hate speech laws intended to protect religious minorities and how they can end up threatening those religious minorities’ liberty to follow their religious dictates by saying despicably hateful things about other religious minorities. That’s somewhat interesting as an abstract legal issue but it’s not at all the most important issue raised by this headline.

Far, far more important is this question: “Can Christian Pastors Call Other Religions ‘Satanic’ Without Therefore Being Assholes And Very Bad Neighbors?”

The answer to that question is, emphatically, No.

So the real question here is whether or not Brazil will allow “Christian pastors” the religious liberty to be out and proud assholes and very bad neighbors. I suppose they should, as a legal matter. It is, after all, useful for the neighbors of those “Christian pastors” to see and hear exactly who it is they’re dealing with.

I also want to protect their freedom to criticize other religions because I value my freedom to criticize theirs. I will try to do that without demonizing them the way they demonize everyone who is not them, particularly since their literal demonization of others is precariously close to an outright incitement to violence — something they should and do not have the “religious liberty” to do.

But I will note again that the “Christian pastors” discussed here are the kind of way-out-there charismatic evangelicals whose “spiritual warfare” fever dreams are functionally polytheistic. They immediately reach for the term “satanic” because they believe in Satan. This “Satan” is their enemy, not the object of their worship, but they clearly regard it/him to be a rival God.

I don’t know much about that website or the author, Massimo Introvigne. He’s an Italian sociologist who studies and advocates for new religious movements, but I’m not sure where Introvigne is coming from or what he’s aiming for. He could be a principled proponent of religious liberty for all. He could be a well-paid PR flack for one or more of the new religious movements whose founders have a lot of money and propensity for using it to create things like this website. He can’t be both of those, though.

• This piece by Adam Laats from back in August has aged pretty well: “Moms for Liberty Is Riding High. It Should Beware What Comes Next.”

This is a thing here in America. Angry white Karens try to take over school boards and to ban books to ensure that nothing is learned in schools beyond what is acceptable to their ignorant, racist selves. They win some initial successes and get lots of financial support from the White Party establishment, then quickly embarrass themselves by freaking out over harmless children’s books and, next thing you know, it’s all bomb threats and the Klan.

Laats isn’t a fortune teller. He’s just a historian. He knew what was coming because it’s happened before — over and over again.

• “Rich People Are Boring.”

“Cartoonist Syd Hoff drew the rich as they are: ridiculous, incompetent, hopelessly out of touch, and boring,” Alex Press writes in this look back at Hoff’s work for The Daily Worker. If the angry white “Moms” groups find out about this, they’ll storm school board meetings demanding that elementary school students no longer be allowed to read Danny and the Dinosaur.

• “Billionaire-Backed Tech Group Says It’s Bought All the Land It Needs for Utopian City

Every time I see a story like this now my first thought is “OK, but what is their policy on bears?” If you haven’t figured out what to do about bears, your utopia probably won’t do so well.

• “Evangelical support for Trump continues to be wildly inconsistent with some basic Christian values. It is also, however, consistent with a combination of fear and exceptionalism — along with a flexible pragmatism — that has been part of the story of American evangelicalism going back to its 17th-century roots.”

The Smithsonian is very, very good at just being like, “Oh, look, here’s just some random story from history that we’re bringing up now for no particular reason at all …

• I’m still trying to figure out whether it’s worse to be the kind of person who would buy a fake service animal vest so you can take your pet inside places where you wouldn’t otherwise be allowed to do so or to be the kind of person who sells fake service animal vests to people like that.

Either way, it’s gross, ungrateful assholery of the same variety as buying/selling fake handicapped parking stickers.

• “Third party presidential campaigns are always based in neoliberal atomism, the idea that the consumer should be able to order a bespoke candidate like a designer three-piece suit. They prioritize individual self-pleasure over collective action and responsibility. But an egomaniac dilettante giving up on running on a party line because even one willing to simply give you the nomination without a competitive primary would require ‘energy, time, and effort’ is a particularly extreme manifestation of the underlying pathology.”

• The title of this post is due to having just heard Dolly Parton’s recording of “Purple Rain.”

"Radio here is playing The Song at this very moment."

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