Plus to the religious right, freedom of religion means the freedom to impose their religious views upon others.
There are certainly a lot of ignorant Americans. A recent poll found that 43 percent believe God helps Tim Tebow win football games.
I wonder how they explain the games in which Tebow doesn’t win. Did Tebow (or his fans) do something wrong to cause God to make him lose, or does God lack the power to control everything in a football game?
Even more importantly, if they believe that God is interested in football to the point of intervening, why doesn’t God intervene in more important areas which might reduce human suffering. Do they really believe that intervening to determine who wins a football game is more important to God than intervening to prevent the Holocaust?
Right wingers, who love to act as if they are victims, have been whining about an imaginary War on Christmas for years. Fox has also been claiming there is a War on Halloween:
On Monday’s Fox and Friends , Gretchen Carlson and Brian Kilmeade reported on the “all out assault on Halloween.” “Schools across the country are doing everything from banning costumes to even removing the holiday because it may offend immigrants,” Kilmeade exclaimed. Carlson lamented the fact that schools were “cracking down” on Halloween. “I’m sad, I have two little kids and I’m wondering if they’re not going to ever see the American traditions that all of us had.”
It turns out that Fox is right that there is a War on Halloween but it is not being waged by liberals who wish to avoid offending immigrants. The War on Halloween is being waged by religious fundamentalists who wish to replace Halloween with JesusWeen. From their web site:
JesusWeen is a non profit organization also known as JesusWin. We are focused on helping people live better lives through the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. JesusWeen is a God-given vision which was born as an answer to the cry of many every October 31st. The dictionary meaning of Ween is to expect, believe or think. We therefore see October 31st as a day to expect a gift of salvation and re-think receiving Jesus.
Every year, the world and its Every year, the world and its system have a day set aside (October 31st) to celebrate ungodly images and evil characters while Christians all over the world participate, hide or just stay quiet on Halloween day. Being a day that is widely acceptable to solicit and knock on doors, God inspired us to encourage Christians to use this day as an opportunity to spread the gospel. The days of hiding are over and we choose to take a stand for Jesus. “Evil prevails when good people do nothing”. JesusWeen is expected to become the most effective Christian outreach day ever and that is why we also call it” World Evangelism Day”.
Buzzfeed has more links regarding JesusWeen.
Mitt Romney is having unexpected difficulty raising money:
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is facing a new challenge: He’s having trouble raising money from some Jewish donors who mistakenly believe one of his opponents, Michele Bachmann, is Jewish.
Some Jewish donors are telling fund-raisers for Romney, a Mormon, that while they like him, they’d rather open their wallets for the “Jewish candidate,” who they don’t realize is actually a Lutheran, The Post has learned.
After Harold Camping was wrong about the apocalypse occurring in 1994 he attributed his mistake to a mathematical error. This time he is sticking by his prediction by making some changes in the details.
Camping’s predictions can be divided into three phases for the end of the world. First, he predicted that the Rapture would occur on May 21. He has revised this to mean that a spiritual Rapture actually did occur rather than anyone physically rising up. He believes that God did “bring judgment on the world.” Next, Camping had repeated more common Christian prophesies of a period of great suffering for those left behind for five months. This was revised to speculate that a merciful God had decided to spare us this period of suffering. Perhaps having to watch the endless announcements by Republicans as to whether or not they are running for president is sufficient suffering for us.
The final part of the prediction is that the earth will come to an end at the conclusion of this five month period on October 21. Camping is sticking to this saying, “It wont be spiritual on October 21st. The world is going to be destroyed all together, but it will be very quick.”
Only a small minority of Evangelical Christians accept Camping’s prediction with regards to the exact date, however far more share the same basic beliefs while saying the date of the Rapture cannot be predicted. A Pew Research Center found that, “By the year 2050, 41% of Americans believe that Jesus Christ definitely (23%) or probably (18%) will have returned to earth.” Evangelical Christians are most likely to hold this belief: “Fully 58% of white evangelical Christians say Christ will return to earth in this period, by far the highest percentage in any religious group.” This belief is also most commonly held in the south, and those with less eduction are more likely to believe that Jesus will be returning by 2050.
Coverage of the uneventful Rapture dominated social media yesterday. Here is a recap of my posts, primarily from Facebook and Twitter. Coverage did begin on the blog with this post. Further coverage was on Facebook and Twitter, beginning with a comment on a true event occurring Friday evening, and some opinions on the whole subject:
I was listening to the BBC News and suddenly the signal was lost. If it was already 6:00 pm in London I might be a little nervous.
The worst thing about the world coming to an end tomorrow at 6:00 pm is that the Rapture will be occurring just before Doctor Who airs.
Rushing to get through more episodes of Downton Abbey before the Rapture at 6. It really sucks when the world is going to end and you don’t get to see the full season.
As it became 6 p.m. around the world, coverage intensified:
It is 6 pm at Aukland. Any sign of the Rapture?
All my Australian Facebook friends are still here. They must be godless heathens.
Just got response to question from Verizon. If the world does end today I am still responsible for the remaining months on my phone contract.
6 pm in London & my Facebook friends are still there; must be sinners like my Australian friends. Also means Doctor Who will still be on.
Next year we will find out if the ancient Mayan calendar is more credible than the fundamentalist view of the Christian Bible.
We now have video of people rising up during the Rapture.
What was Steven Moffatt thinking, airing the first of a two-part Doctor Who story on the day the world was scheduled to come to an end?
It is almost 6:00 local time. Personally I find the threat of assimilation by the Borg, destruction of the earth by a Vogon construction fleet building an intergalactic highway, or Skynet becoming self-aware and wiping out humanity to all be more plausible scenarios than Biblical prophesy.
6 pm and the Apocalypse is rather uneventful. Regrettably the religious fundamentalists remain here to continue messing up the earth.
“Knock, knock.” “Who’s there?” “Nobody.” (post-rapture humor)
Meanwhile, while we had a lot of fun with this yesterday, Harold Camping, who predicted the date of the Rapture, has not had anything to say. I do not fear for his future. After he was wrong in 1994 he just picked a new date. He can do that again, and those who believed him before will probably believe him again.
Just last month we managed to avoid Judgment Day as predicted for April 21, 2011 in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Now we are informed that the Rapture will be occurring at 6:00 pm in our local time zone. This means that the first signs of Judgment Day, an earthquake to throw the dead out of their graves, will be starting around the international date line late this evening or early tomorrow depending upon your time zone.
In case of the Rapture, expect delays in blog posts. We will resume normal posting as soon as possible, depending upon the state of the earth. I anticipate that with all the religious fundamentalists gone to heaven I will also have less material for the blog. We might then also predict a wave election in 2012 to sweep out the Republicans who have been pandering to the religious right, assuming the earth survives long enough to hold new elections. Of course there’s also that Anti-Christ stuff to consider.
While waiting the Rapture, you can find a weather report to assist with deciding what to wear on Judgment Day here. There are many events scheduled, such as a plan to freak out fundamentalists by leaving shoes lying around (with dry ice to give the illusion of a body having been taken).
Reportedly Harold Camping, who made the prediction of the end of the world occurring tomorrow (as well as a previous prediction in 1994), does have a pamphlet ready for distribution in case he is wrong. We will therefore update plans for Judgment Day if such updated information is made available. We also have the end of the world according to the Mayan calendar to look forward to next year.
Worf makes as a lot of sense here.
Stephen Hawking’s new book is bound to create a lot of controversy. The history of science versus religion has been a progression of science providing explanations for phenomenon previously attributed to gods. For example, early primitive men attributed the eruption of volcanoes to a god with science later providing an explanation. Modern primitive-thinking men (e.g. the religious right) attribute the development of complex organisms to a god despite this having been explained by science. Now Hawking argues that even the creation of the universe does not require a god:
God did not create the universe, world-famous physicist Stephen Hawking argues in a new book that aims to banish a divine creator from physics.
Hawking says in his book “The Grand Design” that, given the existence of gravity, “the universe can and will create itself from nothing,” according to an excerpt published Thursday in The Times of London.
“Spontaneous creation is the reason why there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist,” he writes in the excerpt.
“It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper [fuse] and set the universe going,” he writes.
While the book has already sparked plenty of debate, it is a safe prediction that it will change few, if any, minds. The manner in which gods are described usually makes it impossible to either prove or disprove their existence. Some people will simply reject the science, and others will make arguments that t does not matter. It is plausible (even if unnecessary) to believe in a god even if a mechanism can be developed to show how the universe could have been started without divine intervention.
While science cannot disprove the existence of a god, it is notable that there are some who do see the ability of science to explain a phenomenon previously attributed to a god as a threat to their religion. The most obvious example are those who continue to deny evolution despite the overwhelming evidence which has been established. Similarly I am certain that many will see Hawking’s book as a threat.
“Every Bible passage has multiple interpretations. Life is too short to argue over interpretations. Live & let live.” –Ian Lawton (via Twitter)
Yesterday I objected to both the mischaracterization of the proposed Islamic Community Center at Park 51 near the site of the 9/11 attack as a “Ground Zero Mosque” along with objecting to how politicians of both parties are handling the controversy. “Ground Zero Mosque” is both intentionally misleading and intentionally inflammatory on the part of conservatives who hope to fuel Islamophobia. Today the Associated Press came to a similar conclusion issuing a staff advisory to avoid this terminology. Their recommendations correct the location but unfortunately leave it optional as to whether to call this a mosque or more accurately a community center which contains a mosque.
AP’s statement also notes President Obama’s position. Actually Obama could have done much better, such as in this proposed statement from Ed Brayton:
The proposed opening of an Islamic center a few blocks from where the World Trade Center once stood has sparked a good deal of controversy in some circles. The families of those who died in the terrorist attack on 9/11 are divided on the question, with some of them opposing the project and some supporting it. In either case, their emotional reactions are understandable and all too human.
But this is a nation of laws that respect well-defined freedoms and the freedom of religion and the right to own property are at the top of the list of liberties that the constitution seeks to protect. And we do not condition those rights on the feelings of other people, nor do we take them away because others may be bothered by how one exercises those rights.
And no matter how understandable the emotions it provokes on either side may be, the organization that owns the building are in full compliance with the legal zoning regulations and there is no possible legal basis for denying them the right to open the Islamic center that they wish to open. Any attempt to deny them that right would, quite correctly, be overturned by the federal courts.
That does not make the owners of the building immune from criticism. For those who are offended by the project, the same First Amendment that protects their right to open the center also protects your right to speak out against it. And the courts and my administration will guard your right to protest the project as strongly as we will guard their right to complete it.
But if you seek to deny the right to open the Islamic center, either through futile legal filings or through direct action of some kind, you will not only be damaging the rule of law, you will be damaging this nation’s ability to fight a comprehensive war on terrorism inspired by the radical views of some Muslims around the world.
That war is absolutely dependent upon the cooperation and bravery of moderate, pro-American Muslims both at home and abroad. At great risk to their own lives, thousands and thousands of such people work every day with the FBI, the CIA, the NSA and with our nation’s armed forces both here and in Iraq, Afghistan, Pakistan, Yemen and other nations where Al Qaeda operates.
By pushing the idea that all Muslims are a threat to the United States, you demean and dehumanize the courageous efforts of those people who are fighting on our side and play directly into the hands of the most radical and dangerous elements within the Islamic world.
Osama Bin Laden sells his followers on the idea that the United States is at war not merely with him and his violent cohorts but with the entire Muslim world, that America is a Christian empire seeking to wipe out Islam. That is a powerful recruiting tool for Al Qaeda all around the world and the more this nation behaves in ways that support that position the more powerful it becomes and the more moderate and otherwise peaceful Muslims will be pushed into the terrorist fold.
That is why it is more important than ever that we remain a nation that treats all religions equally and fairly and that we apply the law to individuals and organizations of every religion with scrupulous fairness. Anything less than that is a confirmation to the Muslim world that Bin Laden is right. Anything less than that undermines our ability to win the hearts and minds of Muslims around the world and undermines our ability to win the battle against the extremists among them.
We must not stoop to their level. We must not demonize Arabs or Muslims in the same manner that the Muslim extremists demonize Americans, Jews and Christians. We must not deny American Muslims the right to practice their religion freely and equally in this country in the same manner that many Muslim nations deny Christians, Jews and others the right to practice their religion in those nations. Doing so is not only contrary to our own laws and values, it also damages our national security.
That is why my administration is supporting the full application of the Bill of Rights to all sides in this controversy, both the right to build the center and the right of others to speak out against it.
For the most part in is excellent, although if we are to nitpick I do agree with a commenter who wrote:
I like it. There’s not a single point that I disagree with. My sole problem with this framing is that it leaves me with the impression that the primary reason to uphold the Bill of Rights is that it helps in the “War on Terror.”
Now, I don’t think that helping in the fight against al Qaeda is a bad thing, but, personally, I think it’s even more important that both freedom of religion and freedom of speech be upheld just because it’s the right thing to do.
The planned Islamic Community Center planned near ground zero has resulted in a lot of nonsense. Most of it has come from the right, who mischaracterized it as a Ground Zero Mosque, with the right wingers showing no respect for either freedom of religion or property rights. Some of the nonsense also came from the Democrats. I really don’t know what Nancy Pelosi is talking about here, as she speaks of looking into “who is funding the attacks against the construction of the center.” Her clarification does not make much more sense. (Of course this is not the first time I’ve questioned if Nancy Pelosi was making sense).
What is obviously going on here (along with Harry Reid trying to sound like a conservative on this in the midst of a tough election campaign) is that the Democrats still have absolutely no idea how to counter the the hateful and ignorant rhetoric from the far right. Instead they look at the polls and find that a majority of Americans support the conservative position in this and fear saying anything meaningful.
If Islamic terrorists who had flown planes into the World Trade Building had wanted to build a mosque near ground zero I would understand the opposition. Of course those who desire to build the Community Center had no more connection to 9/11 than Saddam Hussein did.
As long as the Democrats fail to provide leadership and manage to speak out intelligibly on such issues a majority of people will listen to the right wing position. Democrats need to counter Republican rhetoric and misinformation with intelligent and factual responses. They won’t win by chickening out and hoping that Rachel Maddow or liberal bloggers will manage to bring some sense to the debates.
Update: Not Howard Dean too.
We’ve become accustomed to Republicans using scare tactics such as claims that Democrats will take away your guns. Sometimes, such as in a GOP mailer in West Virginia in 2004 attacking John Kerry, they have claimed Democrats will take away your bibles. Now we have a new twist. Ed Martin, a Republican Congressional candidate in Missouri warns that Obama and his Democratic opponent Russ Carnahan will take away your freedom to find god and get your salvation. Here is a portion of an interview:
MARTIN: One thing I like to say is: America is great, not because of our genetics. We’re great because we created a place and space where people can be free. And they can choose Christ, they can choose to be faithful. They can worship, and they find their way to the Lord. And — or some of them don’t. We sure want them all to, but some of them don’t.
And part of that freedom — when you take a government and you impose, and take away all your choices. One of the choices you take away is to find the Lord. And find your savior.
And that’s one of the things that’s most destructive about the growth of government. It’s this taking away that freedom. The freedom — the ultimate freedom, to find your salvation, to get your salvation. And to find Christ, for me and you.
And I think that’s one of the things that we have to be very, very aware of that the Obama Administration and Congressman Carnahan are doing to us.
In the past Martin has accused Carnahan’s sister, Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, of being “the devil.”
Russ Carnahan has responded:
It is shameful that Ed Martin would use faith to divide rather than unite. This is a baseless attack on my faith and my family.
My own Christian faith has guided me throughout my life. My wife and I have raised our family with the strong values faith has taught me including service to the community, standing up for civil rights and working to protect religious freedom for all faiths.
Ed Martin’s campaign of personal destruction and fear mongering reveals much more about his true character than anything else. This attack demonstrates his willingness to say or do anything to score political points. Ed Martin has crossed the line and this new low is exactly the kind of campaigning that turns voters off from the importance of public service.