Thursday, September 22, 2011

Did God hear the prayers for Troy Davis - or just against Troy Davis?

Last night Troy Davis was executed in Georgia for the 1989 murder of a police officer. I don’t have to recap all the facts and circumstances in detail; the fact that seven of the nine eyewitnesses have recanted, another man has confessed, and three of the original jurors said knowing what they know now, they’d have voted to acquit – it’s all been widely reported.

I don’t know if he was guilty or not. I do know there was enough information to warrant reducing the sentence from death by lethal injection to life imprisonment. But this is all water down the River Styx now.

Friends and family of Davis met regularly to pray with and for him. Supporters, ministers, the Pope all prayed the truth would out, that Davis would get justice, that mercy would be shown, that his life would be spared. As the hour of his execution approached crowds prayed for some miracle...a divine intervention. It didn’t happen.

Now, the faithful will tell us that their prayers were answered, but God said “No.” That God had a bigger plan for Davis. That he took him for a reason we can’t understand. I expect that they will eventually get around to saying God sacrificed this man on the lethal injection table just like god sacrificed his son on the cross, in order to save the world from future injustices by wrongful execution. It’s all rather predictable.

But somewhere, lurking in the shadows of religious zealotry, there are people who are praising the Lard for Davis’ death. They are thanking God for answering their imprecatory prayers that this “nigra” killer of a white police officer pays the ultimate price. They are likely the same folks who applauded Perry’s execution record. Good Christians who seek God’s vengeance on the weakest, the most downtrodden, the least among us.

Somewhere, most certainly in The South, these Jesus lovers are lifting a long neck beer to Jaay-zus in thanks that their prayers have been heard and God said “Yes!”

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Seven questions for Rick Perry

When the GOP presidential wannabes brought religion into the race they opened the door to questions relative to religious perspectives in their professional and personal lives. The most overt offender is Rick Perry, with Bachmann not far behind. But since Bachmann has as much chance of winning the nomination as she has of growing a penis, or Sarah Palin has of developing a fully formed brainstem, it is Perry who needs to belly up to the bar and answer some questions.

Unfortunately the media is largely uncomfortable posing the fundamentalist nutter challenges. On the rare occasions where religion questions are raised the candidates quickly take the offensive and claim media bias, or adamantly protest that their religious comments were taken out of context. This tends to make the media less than aggressive lest they be perceived as partisan or worse...atheist.

Therefore I composed a list of questions which were submitted to Rick Perry through his site Here are the questions I think the American freethinking public, and all liberty loving voters, are entitled to have answered by Gov. Perry.

  1. As a pet owning , Pre-Tribulation Rapture believing Christian, have you made arrangements for the care of your pets in the event the Rapture occurs in their lifetime? If not, why do you condemn your pets to a slow and hideously agonizing death by thirst or starvation?

  2. Since you have openly declared man made global warming a fraud at worst, or a scientific error at best, and reject the opinions of 98% of climatologists who state it is real; if 98 cardiologists said your child needed immediate heart surgery and would die if he didn’t have it, and 2 said there was no problem, would you similarly ignore the advise of the 98% of those people of science?

  3. Back in April you appealed to your Texan constituents to join you in prayer to God to end the drought. After six months the drought has still not been broken, and seems God saw fit to permit the worst wild fires in the state’s history. How do you reconcile that with a loving God, a God who hears the prayers and desperation of his creations, and the efficacy of prayer? And on a related note: since you claim that “political office is a pulpit”, and God put you in it and gave you the original “calling” to run for president; wouldn’t it be reasonable to believe that God’s fiery reply to your prayer for rain is an indicator he changed his mind? Will you obey him and remove yourself from race for the nomination?

  4. In May this year you were quoted as saying “It’s time to just hand it over to God and say ‘God, you’re going to have to fix this.’ ” as a way to resolve the country’s most pressing problems. Have you officially handed it over to God to resolve our economic and social problems? If not, why not? If so, why do we need you to be president, why can’t God just be president and have a democrat as a vice president? And a follow up to that question: If God is now responsible for fixing things in this country, how long must we give him to resolve the problems? Will it be in God’s 1st or 2nd term? If things get worse under God’s administration would you lead a movement to have him impeached? Or would you just ignore the failure, like the pray for rain fiasco, and come up with a new religious platitude about God ?

  5. If elected to the presidency, do you plan to sponsor and lead national Christian only-Jesus praising-prayer meetings, like you did in Texas - joining forces with Christian Dominionist radical clergy of whom at least one sees the Statue of Liberty as a symbol of Satan? Or will you also be promoting Hindu, Muslim, Wiccan, and other religious prayer meetings that exclude Christians? If so, for what purpose, since your last prayer rally didn’t have any practical value or measurably beneficial affect? Or will this just be your version of the Nuremberg rallies?

  6. As a dedicated lover of Jesus the “Prince of Peace,” how do you reconcile your being the greatest executive executioner in our nation’s history? Since you have no qualms talking on behalf of Jesus and since Jesus was himself a victim of capital punishment, what would Jesus say about it and the apparent glee your Christian supporters have exhibited over your execution record?

  7. Relative to the US being a “Christian Nation” as you have implied and as many of your supporters have asserted, how do you reconcile that perspective with the words and will of some of our most respected Founders?:

    “Believing that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their Legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.” - Thomas Jefferson, letter to Danbury Baptists, 1802

“Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the common Law.” -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814

“I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendency of one sect over another.” - Thomas Jefferson, 1799

“The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.” - Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823

“The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. ... . It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.” -- John Adams, "A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America" (1787-88),

“I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved -- the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!”-- John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson

“What is it the New Testament teaches us? To believe that the Almighty committed debauchery with a woman engaged to be married; and the belief of this debauchery is called faith.”-- Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, 1794

I received the automated “thanks for your email” reply. I don’t expect anything more. After all, a genuine response would require intelligence, introspection, and intellectual honesty... qualities that Perry won’t even pray for.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

And now for a message from our sponsors- Reason and Sanity

My politics are no secret; I’m a fiscal semi-conservative and a social liberal. I simply refer to myself as a Moderate when pressed for a political label. But whether you are a conservative, moderate or liberal - by virtue of your being a reader of my blog you clearly have a dedication to reality and sanity. You respect reason and science. You support a secular government. You despise politicians who promote religiosity, try to sneak it into government and our schools, or use it to ingratiate themselves to the voting religionist public. If my assessment of my readership is accurate this article should enrage you.

During this past week's GOP debate two things stood out that sent shivers up my spine, made my skin crawl, and for an instant made me ashamed to be an American. One was uttered by the GOP front runner, the other was an outburst of enthusiasm by the venue’s audience. I’m not the first to write on this issue, but I want to offer my perspective and record it for posterity or at least so I’ll remember it for as long as I still have a memory.

Rick Perry attempted to justify his rejection of the scientific evidence for man made global warming by implying that scientists can be and have been wrong before. In his bumbling attempt to find support for his denial of scientific reality he made this absurd statement: “Galileo got outvoted for a spell." WTF??!

It took a few seconds for that to register with me since it made zero sense. Galileo got outvoted? By whom, and over what? Galileo supported the solar centric versus the Church endorsed Earth centric model of the universe. What peer review group of scientists “outvoted” him? Was he ultimately proven wrong? WTF was Perry saying?

What Perry was saying was pure and blatant idiocy. Or, if you are more generous, he is a pathetic whore playing to the dumbest of the religious zombies that he depends on for support. So dumb that likely many of them still believe in an Earth-centric model of our solar system. But no matter what spin anyone puts on it this was the statement of a living breathing jerk.

Galileo wasn’t outvoted /overruled as a result of his theory being subjected to peer review and found lacking by qualified astronomer scientists of his day. Galileo was silenced, a victim of the Church’s Inquisition! The Church forbade Galileo to promote the heresy of truth; threatened him; and put him under house arrest until he recanted the truth of his statement. How does the exercise of unlimited power by the Church to suppress reality and truth because it disagreed with their fable and lies, in anyway equate to being “outvoted” and more importantly how does it relate to the global warming issue? It doesn't, except ironically Perry would likely be delighted to play Grand Inquisitor to the 98% of the climate scientists whose science he rejects.

I’m hoping Perry was too stupid to realize what he said made no sense. To do otherwise would be to accept an even scarier alternative: that Perry was tipping his hat to his fundamentalist evangelical base by implying that the power of religious belief super cedes scientific evidence. What is that superstitious belief? That God would never permit man to destroy his Creation; that only God holds the power to destroy the planet and will do so in accordance with His timetable - thus the science of man-made global warming is a fraud, a long held fundamentalist position.

I hope it was his stupidity. I want it to be his stupidity. The implications of it being the latter alternative are so horrific, so insidious, so foreboding in terms of what a religiously guided government would be that it boggles the mind, or should, of any freethinking American and respecter of reason. But I dare not dismiss the possibility. It is entirely plausible given Perry’s history of combining religious fanaticism, feigned or real, with governance.

Then came the most telling and horrific event of the evening. The moderator brought up the hundreds of executions that Texas has carried out under Perry’s administration, more executions than under any other governor, in any state in the nation’s history. At the mention of this fact some significant portion of the republican/tea party/ Christian audience erupted into applause. APPLAUSE!

At first I thought I missed something. Maybe there was a delayed response to a prior comment from a candidate. But alas, this was not the case. These people were applauding the over 230 executions carried out under Perry’s term of office. They were gleeful, proud, and exuberant over the size and scope of unbridled state sponsored killing. They were being Christian.

My mind immediately formed the image of filthy, stinking, jeering crowds of peasant Christians reveling at the writhing bodies of heretics as they are burned at the stake during the Inquisition; or gleeful at the screams of incinerated “witches” during the 17th century. Of Muslim extremists stoning women to death, or loping off heads as crowds laughed and goaded and cursed the condemned.

I looked at Perry during this unholy display. He did not look distraught, or disapproving, or in any way phased by his supporters’ outburst - emotions /reactions that a better man, even a death penalty supporter, might have elicited simply as a respecter of human life. No, nothing. Religionists love executions, they always have; and the more religious/ Christian they are the more they love them. So, what’s to be ashamed of? Where’s the contradiction?

I support capital punishment for certain cases. I’m not proud of it; I just see it as a necessary response to certain crimes under certain circumstances. But for a fleeting moment I felt dirty and ashamed. Americans don’t revel in execution rates, at least not in the America I thought I knew. They do in Rick Perry’s America.

I don’t want this to become a Rick Perry America. If you do, if you don’t share my disgust and revulsion at what he represents and what it would mean to the “Wall of Separation,” civility and our liberties; if you'd cast your vote for him for pocket book reasons, then the unsubscribe button is only a few inches from your finger tips. Do it now.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Religionists spit on the Founders' vision!

Few things irritate me more than revisionist history. Whether intentional to support an agenda with pseudo-fact, or out of ignorance of true history, I wish it were a crime to promote and quote untruths about the documented past. If I had my way perpetrators would be punished by being forced to actually read an accredited / genuine history book, while having a Fleet enema administered hourly until they are able to recite real history untainted by religiously inspired right-wing bullshit..

I won’t bore you with the details. Let it be simply said that I have once again had my sensibilities assaulted by another of those religionist’s “Our Christian Founders’ vision for America...” inventions of historical “fact” by proffering why our Founders wanted In God We Trust as our nation’s motto. I will tell you that I went apoplectic. Had the offending tea bagging right wing religious buffoon been in my presence I would have administered the enema cranially and the history book anally.

In 1782 the US Congress adopted a motto which represented the vision of the Founders as they sought to unite a multifaceted confederation into a united entity. Irrespective of the colonies’ social, cultural, political, philosophical, religious, or economic differences the great objective was to bring them together to form a strong union, a single nation. That motto, part of the Great Seal of the United States, was E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One).

The motto also reflected what would become America’s heterogenic make up. Unique among nations, America became a nation of immigrants who came seeking the freedom and opportunity that eluded them in their respective homelands. And out of those “many” peoples rose “one” nation, the great melting pot, where irrespective of ones heritage, each was every bit as much as an American as his neighbor. This is what America came to represent to the world. For one-hundred and seventy-five years the motto came to exemplify this unique experiment in equality - “oneness from many.”

Then 1956, and Senator Joe McCarthy’s congressional inquisition. Designed to ferret out the “creeping Red threat”, the insidious take over of our nation by the godless commies who were in our midst working to destroy us and suck dry our vital bodily fluids (a Dr. Strangelove reference there), black lists, people losing their jobs, threats of reprisal for failure to name names, people living in fear of being called a Communist sympathizer. Perhaps one of the darkest eras in our nation’s history - hysteria ruled.

From this madness arose a streak of genius: change our nation’s motto from E Pluribus Unum to “In God we Trust,” in order to stop those commie bastards from ..uh...from something. So by act of congress In God we Trust supplanted E Pluribus Unum on our paper currency, and became the official motto of the United States. And a damn good thing too since even though McCarthy was eventually dethroned and dismissed as a demagogue who exemplified the excesses of single minded non-think, Communism never took root and the nation was saved from Joe Stalin’s tyranny- thanks, no doubt, to the new motto.

So now our historic roots of coming from many factions and joining as one; our mantle of acceptance of the many who seek to become as one with their adopted nation; our uniqueness as a melting pot is no longer exemplified by E Pluribus Unum. Instead, we have a motto that emulates theocratic mindless reverence for an imaginary being.

Instead of pride in our nation’s formation and celebrating a society that embraces our many heritages, our motto echos the empty minds of the lowest common denominator. What the heck does the motto even mean? Does it imply that as Americans we all believe in a singular supernatural entity that is entrusted to manage the nation’s affairs? If so, what need is there for elected officials, for a Defense Department, for a Department of anything?

In the least it makes the assumption that all citizens are alike in belief, dismissing the fact there are non-believers and believers in multiple pagan gods. It places no value on reason or reality, nor does it honor the “Great Experiment” , the first example of democracy and freedom upon which all other democratic nations will base their own. It flies in the face of the Founding Father’s use of the deistic term “Creator” and their specific avoidance of the word “God” with all its Judeo-Xtian connotations and baggage.

It puts our motto right up there with The Confederate States of America’s motto, Under God, Our Vindicator; and third world nation’s mottos like Iraq’s God is the Greatest; Nicaragua’s, In God we Trust (Yep, that’s right); and Saudi Arabia’s, There is no God other than God and Muhammad is His Prophet. Yes, our motto puts us in wonderful company of similarly deluded nations.

Perhaps the motto change and the addition of “under God” in the pledge (also a by product of the McCarthy era - sixty years after the pledge was written), were the early warning signs of our nation’s abandonment of reason, and slide into third worldism. Maybe it was fate’s way of saying: “Someday this great country will come to admire ignorance, praise superstition, deny and demonize science, and seek the leadership and guidance of those who pray to a boogie man for rain and for people’s sexuality to be changed.”

I’m guessing Adams, Jefferson, Paine, et al, never saw this coming. For their sake, I’m glad they didn’t live to see it.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Reflections on The South.

Disclaimer: With this article I risk offending some of my readers, indeed some of my closest internet friends. That is the furthest thing from my intent. I love my Southern freethinking friends and relatives. I have all the respect for their ability to tolerate the South’s least attractive traits and retain their freethinking sanity.

The condemnation of their home state / region is not directed at them nor meant to insult them or anyone who has risen above the ignorance and backwardness that The South has come to exemplify, endorse and propagate. That said....

I’ve pussy footed around it in a number of my blog rants and in my books, but I’m putting it out on the table openly, plainly and unabashedly: I despise The South. There, I said it. [Pause, wait for audience to finish gasping in horror]

The fact is that I’ve pretty much always harbored a dislike for The South, or at least for as long as I could read or interpret TV news broadcasts. Racism; anti-Semitism; anti-homosexual activism; a general lack of respect for advanced education; the highest rates of all the social ills known to our nation; a peculiar penchant for executions; a glorification of violence; a distinct taste for re-writing history; and the breeding ground for the most Religiously afflicted people in the nation, if not the entire civilized world... all of it festers and thrives among the twelve to sixteen states (depending on whose counting) known as The South.

My opinion of The South was not a sudden revelation. It was formed over the years starting in childhood when I read Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Then Mark Twain. Then
“Inherit the Wind.”

It began to solidify when I saw the “Whites Only” seating, restaurant and rest room designations when I traveled with a tour group in my early teens. Then watching the epithet spewing/ spittle lathered grimacing faces of enraged Southern whites on TV news broadcasts during integration of Southern schools in the 60’s. Then there were the lynchings, shooting and night time terror perpetrated on the civil rights workers, the Freedom Riders. My experiences with red neck drill instructors in Fort Jackson and Fort Polk during my army service didn’t improve my perception, and the assassination of MLK pretty much slammed the door on any respect or empathy for Southern anything. I even harbor an intense disgust for Kentucky Fried Chicken that foul grease congealed crap that passes for fowl.

In this month’s issue of Church & State, the magazine published by Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, 75%+ of the domestic stories are related to battles against Southern states’ religious intrusions into government, schools, and our lives. Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Delaware top the list... multiple times. This is the norm.

The birthplace of the KKK and other uniquely Southern hate groups; the cry of “the South will rise again” and associated reverence for a defunct flag/symbol which glorifies a culture that embraced slavery and fought our history’s most horrific war to retain it; the reticence of state and local governments to abide by the Constitution and decision of the Supreme Court vis-à-vis separating government and religion; the rejection of reason and reality by an overwhelming majority of the citizenry who prefer to embrace the religious delusion heaped on them by backwards preachers and preachers of questionable sanity and even more dubious ethics i.e. the Falwells, Robertsons, Swaggerts, Bakkers, Grahams, John Benefiel (look him up- it’ll creep you out); the stomping grounds of a populace with a greater knowledge of their local high school football players’ stats than who the secretary of state is, or the name of a single supreme court justice, or what the Establishment Clause of the 1st amendment means. All of this is just the icing on the cake of utter contempt I hold for “Dixie.”

Some will protest and say:
“But Hump, this is stereotyping. Certainly you realize these things aren’t confined to The South. Just look at Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, or the Fundamentalist Mormons of Utah and the South West. Craziness, bigotry and blatant stupidity can be found everywhere.” and they’d be right. But stereotypes very often have a basis in reality, and the reality I point to is undeniable. And while racism, homophobia, Christian fundamentalist idiocy, right wing violence endorsing wackiness, gross stupidity, et al, can be and is found everywhere in the US, the highest concentration, the epicenter, the Mecca, the hub, the core, the focal point resides in the region south of the Mason Dixon Line.

Proof? I’ve often sited the Pew Survey on Religiosity from 2008, as well as the statistics available by state on unemployment rates, poverty, infant mortality, education levels, illiteracy, violent crime rates, alcoholism, teen pregnancy and even estimated aggregate IQ. Invariably, The South rates highest among the negative attributes, and lowest among the positive ones. Not surprisingly, the degree of their societal ills is largely in direct correlation to their respective levels of religiosity. It confirms everything I perceived to be true anecdotally.

  • Want to see Xtian Snake Handlers, or the largest number of faith healers? Go South young man.

  • Wonder which region represents 30% of the nation’s states but has more than half of the creationist museums and theme parks in the nation; and which state gave a $46 million tax break to the builders of a religious theme park?

  • Curious as to which region of the nation most often starts their legislative sessions with specifically Christian oriented prayers invoking Jesus’ name?

  • Wonder which states' governors have appealed to their constituents to pray for rain or for economic recovery in the past six months?

  • Wonder what region can claim nine of the top ten execution states?

  • Wonder in which state an incoming governor during his inauguration said that unless his constituents were Christians they were not his brothers or sisters?

  • Curious as to what state claims the only sitting governor who actually participated in an exorcism of his fiancée?

Wonder no more. The South gets all the credit.

I am convinced that if The South left the Union and joined Mexico, the aggregate IQ of the remaining United States would increase by 20 points, and the average IQ of Mexico would drop similarly. This presupposes that the Southern freethinker minority immigrates north.

There are fine and intelligent people who reside in The South. My Southern readers and Facebook friends are proof of that. I think of them as islands of intelligence and reason in a raging sea of ignorant delusional dullards.

Of course, The South isn’t all bad. On the positive side there is the heat, drought, and gawd awful humidity; the long neck beer swilling-giant belt buckle wearing-Confederate flag adorned pickup truck driving red necks; the profusion of Waffle Houses; George Bush Jr. and Senior; and that kid who dangles his feet off the bridge while playing the banjo in “Deliverance.”

Yes, much like snowballs in Hell, even The South has its redeeming qualities.