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22

Feb

2009

The Religious Right’s Continuing Wrongs: Part 1
Sunday, 22 February 2009 12:03
by Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.

Now that their “messianic” (emphasis on the “mess-”) president George W. Bush is out of office and President Obama is committed to civil equality for all Americans, the Religious Right is beside itself and furiously flapping its Chicken Little wings.

As expected – and with their usual hysteria – they rail against every statement the President makes and every policy he proposes, especially if it entails civil equality for all Americans. “Equality” and “inclusion”: religious zealots just can’t tolerate those concepts.

When Bishop V. Gene Robinson was asked to participate in the Obama inauguration ceremonies, the Religious Right went hysterical, even to the point of claiming God might destroy Washington:
… Gary Cass of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission is telling parents not to let their children watch what will be the “most perverted [inauguration] in our nation’s history” and warns that God just might destroy the nation's capital because of it:
“The inauguration of Barack Obama as the President of the United States is going to be historic for many reasons, not all of them good. Obama’s inauguration may help move race relations forward in America, but Obama’s inaugural events are a major step backwards for historic Christian values. CADC must issue this WARNING message: Don’t let your children watch!
“National events ought to unify and elevate the nation by celebrating what is virtuous, such as God and patriotism. Obama is making a terrible mistake by polluting his inaugural events with sexual sin. Some one ought to remind him that he wasn’t elected mayor of Sodom.
“Barack Obama’s inauguration will have the dubious distinction of being the most perverted in our nation’s history ... In order to be consistent in using this kind of reasoning, Obama ought to have a stripper lead off the inaugural parade followed by the Hell’s Angel’s Motorcycle Drill Team followed by the Crips Precision Handgun Corp. and the Transvestite Fashion Police. Just because something exists in society does not mean it is good and is to be paraded in front of everyone, especially children.
“On this historic occasion of the Inauguration of the 44th President of the United States, I must unfortunately recommend that you keep the kids away from the TV and pray that God will not rain fire and brimstone down on Washington DC.”
In their frenzied efforts to encourage hate, bigotry and divisive theopolitics, they’re make bigger and bigger fools of themselves, as Gary Cass so well demonstrated. The article “Following John the Baptist on social issues” by Charlie Butts is another example. It appeared on the propaganda organ of Don Wildmon’s American Family Association, OneNewsNow, on 24 January 2009.

Mr. Butts began his “report” with OneNewsNow’s usual misrepresentation and inflammatory rhetoric: “Mexican socialists are threatening the Catholic Church for opposing abortion, homosexual ‘marriage,’ and euthanasia. Mexico’s Social Democratic Party members say they will file suit if the church does not keep quiet.”

For the American Family Association – as well as James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council, and “Lucky Louie” Sheldon’s Traditional Values Coalition – anything other than their brand of theofascism is “socialism.”

“Threatening the Catholic Church”? How? The Religious Right loves to play victim. Ironically, it is the profitable socio-political institution of the Catholic Church that “threatens” civil rights and civil liberties by using its wealth and pulpits for political purposes. For the Vatican, the ends always justify the means as was made clear when the Church teamed-up with the Mormons – a religion they consider a non-Christian “cult” – in order to pass Proposition 8 in California.


Those “Mexican socialists” should have reminded the Catholic Church of Romans 13:1: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God” (NIV). The Mexican government has every right to tell foreign states to keep out of its politics, especially when that “state” uses its concocted – and more often than not ad hoc – religious dogma as a weapon against duly elected civil authorities and civil rights.

How “appropriate” that the largest contributor to revoking the civil rights of some California couples was none other than the political arm of the Roman Catholic Church:

New Figures: Catholics, Evangelical groups outspent Mormons on Prop 8 02.05.2009

(San Francisco, California) Newly released figures from the California secretary of state’s office show that the biggest contributor to the campaign to approve a ban on same-sex marriage in the state was the Knights of Columbus, the political arm of the Roman Catholic Church, which gave $1.275 million.
The conservative evangelical Focus on the Family, which fights LGBT issues across the country, gave $657,000 in money and services.
The amounts vastly surpass the $189,000 in direct cash and compensated staff time from the Mormon church.
The new figures were turned over to the state weeks into an investigation by California’s Fair Political Practices Commission that institutional donors to ProtectMarriage, the umbrella group behind Proposition 8, had not reported the value of workers salaries and other expenses. …

The Catholic Church is, however, being reminded of something in relation to civil law to which all institution must adhere, even if they hide behind the shroud of “religion”:

Arguing that property transfers among various Catholic organizations amounts to a substantial tax-generating array of business transactions, the city of San Francisco has moved to collect $15 million from the church – while some in the church have declare that the tab is “retaliation” for the church’s support of Proposition 8.

Playing victim again. For years the Catholic Church has been using its pulpits for political purposes. It’s about time they’re being held accountable.

And then there’s the ever-fanatical Protestant sector of the Religious Right. Charlie Butts and Jody Brown are two of Don Wildmon’s OneNewsNow’s most vigilant anti-gay “reporters”:

Pro-homosexual bill 'everything but marriage'

Charlie Butts and Jody Brown  - 2/2/2009 7:00:00 AM
While it’s unclear how the voters feel, lawmakers in the state of Washington apparently favor a domestic-partner bill that would grant homosexual men and women essentially the same rights as married heterosexuals. …

How dare they? How un-Christian! How un-American to suggest civil equality for all citizens and their families! How ludicrous that Wildmon’s organization is called the “American Family Association.”

OneNewsNow’s penchant for inflammatory, misleading headlines was again on display in Mr. Butts’ February 15, 2009 article “Traditional marriage not a priority in Wyoming,” the first line of which read: “Wyoming lawmakers have voted down a constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage.”

Same old misguided, misleading, Chicken Little rhetoric – “protect traditional marriage” – the same battle cry used by those who opposed interracial marriage.

The “protect traditional marriage” mantra is nothing more than an illogical, irrational scare tactic, specifically an “Appeal to Fear”:

Description of Appeal to Fear

The Appeal to Fear is a fallacy with the following pattern:
-- Y is presented (a claim that is intended to produce fear).
-- Therefore claim X is true (a claim that is generally, but need not be, related to Y in some manner).
This line of “reasoning” is fallacious because creating fear in people does not constitute evidence for a claim.
It is important to distinguish between a rational reason to believe (RRB) (evidence) and a prudential reason to believe (PRB) (motivation). A RRB is evidence that objectively and logically supports the claim. A PRB is a reason to accept the belief because of some external factor (such as fear, a threat, or a benefit or harm that may stem from the belief) that is relevant to what a person values but is not relevant to the truth or falsity of the claim. For example, it might be prudent to not fail the son of your department chairperson because you fear he will make life tough for you. However, this does not provide evidence for the claim that the son deserves to pass the class.

Stanley Kurtz, another rabid opponent of marriage equality, often points to The Netherland’s declining opposite-sex marriage rates and attributes them directly to the legalization of same-sex marriage. Mr. Kurtz is a well-educated fellow, so it’s perplexing that he doesn’t recognize a blatant logical fallacy – post hoc ergo propter hoc (“after this therefore because of this”) – in his argument, or maybe he’s just hoping other won’t:

Confusing Cause and Effect is a fallacy that has the following general form:

A and B occur together.

Therefore A is the cause of B.

This fallacy requires that there is not, in fact, a common cause that actually causes both A and B.

This fallacy is committed when a person assumes that one event must cause another just because the events occur together. More formally, this fallacy involves drawing the conclusion that A is the cause of B simply because A and B are in regular conjunction (and there is not a common cause that is actually the cause of A and B). The mistake being made is that the causal conclusion is being drawn without adequate justification.

Opposite-sex marriage rates had been dropping before same-sex marriage was legalized in The Netherlands. The reasons are cultural and complex. But beyond that fact, and in relation to the United States, truth is, opposite-sex marriage is not threatened in any way by same-sex marriage, although it may be by its 50 percent divorce rate. The legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts and Connecticut (and briefly in California) had no demonstrable effect on opposite-sex marriages. Men and women continued to marry just as they had before. Nothing changed… other than the promise of civil equality being fulfilled.

Another OneNewsNow contributor is Matt Barber, director of cultural affairs at Liberty Counsel and associate dean at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University School of Law:


Matt Barber - Guest Columnist - 2/4/2009

It makes front page news when conservative elected officials are accused of selling-out to monolithic corporate lobbies like “Big Oil” or “Big Tobacco.”

Yet the media rarely take notice when liberal politicians toe the line for extreme ideological special interests.

Case in point: Within minutes after swearing in, President Obama had the White House website updated to declare his unconditional support for every demand of the politically powerful and very well-funded homosexual lobby (a.k.a., “Big Homo”). By announcing to the world his pro-“gay” agenda, Obama has thrown gasoline on smoldering culture war embers, generating a firestorm of controversy. …

“Big Homo”? How pathetic that an “educated” man would stoop so low as to use such an expression.

“Moral physics”? The very expression is laughable. But it is reminiscent of a line from the 1960 film Inherit the Wind, a dramatization of the Scopes Monkey trial. Spencer Tracy portrayed Henry Drummond, whose real-life counterpart was Clarence Darrow: “It is a peculiar imbecility of our times to judge every action against a latitude of right and a longitude of wrong in exact minutes, degrees and seconds.” Apparently Mr. Barber believes such “imbecility” should continue into the twenty-first century.

Mr. Barber used the expression “pro-‘gay’ agenda.” All factions of the Religious Right love to pervert the English language. They constantly use “pro-abortion” as a designation for those who whish to leave the ultimate personal decision to the persons involved. No one is “pro-abortion.” When’s the last time you heard a woman say, “Hey! I’m gonna go get knocked up so I can have a FUN abortion?”

Similarly, no one is “pro-gay.” They are pro-equality. The Religious Right claims same-sex families (including children) are “anti-family.” If there was every an oxymoron, that’s it. But the Religious Right uses it, constantly.

And then there’s the current political “hero” and homo-hunter of the Religious Right, Oklahoma state representative Sally Kern who once said gays are a bigger threat to America than terrorists:

Sally Kern Says She’s Found the “Gay Agenda”

Homophobic Oklahoma state representative Sally Kern is at it again – this time urging a crowd at the “Clouds Over America” conference of the John Birch Society that the time has come “for a new ‘Great Awakening,’” evidenced by a “gay agenda” she says she uncovered in the book After the Ball.

According to Kern, the book, written by Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen and based on a musical adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan, documents a “public relations campaign to have gays accepted by the general public -- step by step -- with the final goal being not just acceptance of gays by heterosexuals but eventual triumph of homosexuality as a superior lifestyle.”

Kern’s thoughts were documented by the Oklahoma Gazette and Towle Road, compiled from her speech at the event. … [italics added]
The John Birch Society has advocated the repeal of civil rights legislation “which it sees as being Communist in inspiration.” But since the “Communists” McCarthy and the JBS meant are pretty much gone, who better to take their place than… gay Americans. If Rep. Kern really wants to know the “gay agenda,” all she needs to do is read Rep. Barney Frank’s succinct rendering of it:

We want all people in the United States to enjoy the same legal rights as everyone else, unless they have forfeited them by violating the rights of others. We believe this should include some things that are, apparently, very controversial.

They include the right to serve, fight and even die on behalf of our country in the military; the right to earn a living by working hard and being judged wholly on the quality of our work; the right for teenagers to attend high school without being shoved, punched or otherwise attacked; and yes, the right to express not only love for another person, but a willingness to be legally as well as morally responsible for his or her well-being.

We also believe that we-and all Americans-should enjoy full access to health care; that strong environmental protection is fully compatible with economic prosperity.

McCarthyism isn’t dead. It’s alive and well and being nurtured by Sally Kern and the Religious Right that hails her as “an American hero.” But Kern has some competition: Georgia state Rep. Charlice Byrd. She’s not content with denying civil rights. Rep. Byrd wants to eliminate academic freedom, the unfettered pursuit of knowledge, social and cultural understanding by firing “every university professor who teaches such ‘disgusting’ classes as queer theory. (Or anything else to do with sex or gayness, apparently.)” [link added]. You can see and hear Byrd’s message here.

Leaders of the Religious Right – and their pocketed politicians – constantly refer to themselves as “people of faith.” Real “people of faith” – those who drill down through the layers of man-made dogma and understand what “spirituality” really means, feels like and prompts one to do – should be outraged and appauled by what “religious” leaders have done to faith and spirituality.

Religion n, [ME religioun, fr. AF religium, L religion-, religio supernatural constraint, sanction, religious practice, perh. Fr. religare to restrain, tie back] 1a: the state of a religious <a nun in her 20th year of ~> b (1): the service and worship of God or the supernatural, (2): a commitment or devotion to religious faith and observance. 2: a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices. 3 archaic: scrupulous conformity.

Religare to restrain, tie back.” The “archaic” definition is perhaps the most contemporary.

Spirituality is an inherent part of being human. For most it’s a personally liberating and uplifting experience, an encouragement to grow and evolve to more conscious perceptions of realities and our common humanity. But when personal spirituality is organized into a religion, an institution is produced and as with all institutions it produces a hierarchy who then produce dogma that has little – if anything – to do with spirituality and everything to do with maintaining social and political control.
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James Nimmo said:

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A Teaching Moment from the Utah GOP to the Oklahoma GOP?
Imagine if the Oklahoma branch of the GOPer party had stood up off its four legs on to two, acted like intelligent humans and told toxic Oklahoma Rep. Sally Kern to remove herself from the party until she could conduct herself in a civil manner on the House floor or in front of a news camera or microphone. Kern is also famous for deriding the equality of America's GLBT citizens, using much of the same vocabulary as Buttars.

complete at: http://www.americanchronicle.c...view/91928
 
February 23, 2009 | url
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