Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Week I Wish Wasn’t / the Article I Wish I Didn't Have to Write

Long time readers will know that as a rule I don’t dedicate this blog to news stories per se, religious or secular. I’ll sometimes draw on current events and and use them as a catalyst for my commentaries, but typically I steer clear of playing religious news blog as there are many hundreds of such atheist blogs. I prefer to share my stream of [un?] consciousness and observations on the human condition as driven by religiosity as personal observations and the mood moves me.

Fact is, I don’t want to write this article; I've been putting it off for days. But there is no turning my back on what has been for me one of the most grotesque weeks of American religious idiocy in memory. Camel's have very good memories.

You’d have to have been in a virtual coma not have heard about the inspiring fight waged by sixteen year old Jessica Ahlquist. A Rhode Island high school student who sued to have her school's Judeo-Christian prayer banner removed, she was victorious. The courts found it violated the school prayer prohibition. A reason to celebrate.

In the wake of that decision, Jessica has been threatened with physical harm and death, harassed, bullied and abused in school, in the press, on the radio, and in front of the family’s home by the good Christian folk of Cranston, RI. She has police protection. How dare she work within the legal system to call out a constitutional violation? Apparently lynching, burning, rioting and setting crosses on fire is the preferred Xtian method of letting one’s concerns be heard, not using her right to petition the courts.

Nothing surprising there, it’s the Christian thing to do. Even the florists of that town conspired to refuse deliveries to her from supporters. The Freedom from Religion Foundation is pursuing legal action against them under the Federal Civil Rights Act. The FfRF also awarded her $12,000 in scholarship money, $10,000 of which came from their new “Atheist in a Foxhole Fund” which awards those who put themselves on the line to oppose religious intrusion into government. Learn more contributing to that fund, and about Jessica’s story here:

But here’s the worst part. Peter G. Palumbo (D-Xtian) a RI State representative went on local radio to discredit Jessica calling her “an evil little thing.” Needless to say to the sheeple of Cranston this was perceived as confirmation that making life miserable for Jessica and her family was sanctioned by their elected officials. Their comments on radio station pages and news blogs are hysteria filled hateful rants, religious gibberish, pseudo-patriotic outrage, and absurdly stupid misunderstandings of the law.

Rep. Palumbo has refused to apologize or retract his statement. Google him and you’ll find some half-million hits, mostly from outraged freethinking voices. You’ll also easily find his phone number and email address. I encourage you to use them.

If that was the only disgusting example of Christian inhumanity for the week it would be more than enough. But no, this was a banner week. The Kansas State Speaker of the House, Mike O’Neal (R-Xtian), emailed his endorsement of praying for Obama’s death, invoking Psalm 109. Part of the Psalm reads: ”Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow. Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places.” O’Neal also defends his actions, and refuses to apologize or rescind his email.

How we doing so far, had enough? Wait ... not done yet.

Simultaneous with these events it came to my attention that some years ago Rick Santorum’s wife had a spontaneous abortion due to a massive infection of her uterus. The fetus would have died with or without the antibiotics she was given, and whether or not she had gone into spontaneous labor – which she did. The fetus died a couple of hours later. They brought it home for show and tell with their kids.

Santorum opposes abortion for any reason, even to save the life of the mother. Yet, when confronted with false reports of his wife submitting to induced labor to expel the fetus and save her life, he let this slip: “if that had to be the call, we would have induced labor if we had to,” under the understanding that the fetus was going to die anyway and intervening would save his wife’s life.

Of course Rick Santorum doesn’t in any way perceive that as an abortion. And in the classic use of the word, it isn’t. It would be, shall we say, agreed-upon-medical-intervention-to- provoke-early-termination-of- the-fetus-in-order-to-save-his-wife’s-life. Never mind that the intervention’s end result would be the same as the common method of abortion as far as that fetus would be concerned and if the fetus could think; to the Santorums this would have been a whole different thing. In fact, at a Catholic hospital in Arizona last year a nun administrator permitted doctors to do exactly what Santorum said they would have done under the virtually same circumstances. The nun was excommunicated for saving the life of the mother of three and not letting God and nature run its course. Santorum is a devout Catholic.

I wasn't my usual self this past week. This religiously induced stupidity, hatred, bigotry, distortion, and hypocrisy by good and true loving Christian politicians took its toll on me. I wanted it to just go away. I hasn't, it won’t. It weighs on me.

Tomorrow starts a new week in Idiot America and with it the promise of more uniquely American crazy religious shit. Maybe I need a drink to prepare myself. Maybe I need a vacation in freethinking and sane Scandinavia.

{Invitation to my loyal readership: while I love getting your emails of encouragement, or just to chat, if you have pertinent comments to share on my articles, things other readers would find interesting, or that adds to the story, I encourage you to read my articles on the actual blog site and posting your comments there. Just click on the subject title in the body of the email you receive and it will take you to the blog. I approve all comments before they are visible on-line. Thanks!- Hump}


Chatpilot said...

Hump, this should not come as any surprise to you. We all know that Christianity is one of the most intolerant and hypocritical religions on the face of the Earth. They parrot the scriptures regarding loving your enemies and in the same sentence they condemn those that don't agree with them.

The more extremist or fundamental they are, the more prone to the uses of violence and intimidation they become. In their deluded minds they are simply defending the faith.

As an American it disgusts me to no end how much power we have allowed them over our society. They seek to manipulate governments and seek legislation in support of their imaginary gods laws.

The only way I see us overcoming this is through activism and unity amongst all atheists and freethinkers etc. Not against religion per say but against their encroachment upon our rights to refuse their delusions without incurring detrimental consequences.

Dromedary Hump said...

Thanks, Chat..of course you're correct.

It takes it's toll, however- the emails, the phone calls, the contributions to causes, the letters to editors, the countering of misinformation online. ...I wonder how the people at FfRF, and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, et al tolerate it day in and day out.

They must be saints ;)

Violence B. Gawn said...

It weighs on me, too, man.

Michael Brennan said...

Bart....the excommunicated nun you refer to was actually at St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix Arizona. Sister Margaret McBride, vice president of mission integration at the hospital, was reassigned after she permitted the life saving abortion for a mother of three in November 2009. Late in 2010 the same bishop who kicked out Maggie, Tommy "the boot" Olmsted, in his infinite wisdom removed St. Joe's as a Catholic Hospital for the same reason. Brilliant.
My wife was actually in that hospital a few times in '09 and '10 and I remember the situation.

NewEnglandBob said...

This is mostly a reaction by those who know that their religiosity is a thing that is disappearing in the US and many other parts of the world. They are lashing out with their irrationality, attacking everything they can no longer control.

Unknown said...

I posted a link (from The Friendly Atheist site) about Jessica's victory on my Facebook page with the single observation "A small but important victory for reason and the seperation of church and state~"
A creationist friend (possibly no longer) came back saying how:
"he could not disagree more.
The separation of Church and State was originally intended to protect our religious freedom…not deny it…period! There is absolutely nothing “friendly” about this atheist agenda and I can assure you that the response from religious and freedom loving people will be equally unfriendly when their rights to practice their faith the way they choose is threatened by government or any other entity. I would kindly suggest, perhaps a more “friendly” topic on facebook."
So in just a couple sentences he misinterpreted the First Amendment, 'religious freedom', and impuned my moral judgement in placing this link on FB. Now mind you this is a 35 year FBI veteran who I assume is versed in constitutional law and our justice system. Suffice it to say that I kept my end of the conversation civil and free of ad hominom or other fallacies. I can't say the same for him. The exchange was several back and forths in which he addressed NONE of my concerns or the initial statement. I would post his final rant but you have heard it all before. He made an idiot out of himself. One thing he did was use the movie Expelled as a source of evidence that I was not only wrong but evil. I sent him some links that skewer that movie's veracity and deceptions but I doubt he read them.
I hope Jessica comes out of this unharmed both physically and mentally. At 16, I simply cannot imagine what she is going thru (as well as her family). Damn I loathe organized religion in all it's cultish manifistations.

Unknown said...

Hump...have any florists delivered flowers to sweet Jessica yet? Seems like a national conspiracy!

Eran (Yuri) Kolber said...

While I agree with you sentiments completely, Hump, I must point out that this is not a uniquely American, nor Xtian thing. Try living in Israel, or existing in one of the many Moslem countries, and you will see similar (and even greater) idiocy. Perhaps what makes the American stry sadder, is that in theory there is a separation of Church and State in the US, and Americans like to think of themselves as the home/source of all freedom.

Keep up the good work, and don't get too depressed :-)


Dromedary Hump said...

Michael- you're correct..Arizona hospital not Texas. Thanks

NE Bob- Yes, likely a cause. It doesn't make it easier to combat.

Unknown- their ability to deny / re-write the meaning of the 1st amendment's Establishment Clause, Jefferson's commentary o the Sep. of Church and State, the prohibition on institutionalized prayer in school, and subsequent Supreme Court decisions maintaining the Separation is remarkable in it's rejection of fact. And no matter how often you cite the reality and facts it never takes root. I've had people tell me that freedom of religion doesn't mean freedom for the non-religious. Damn scary.

I do not know if the Cranston, RI florists have revised their policy of bigotry. I do know a CT florist delivered to her saying they'll deliver to anyone, regardless of their beliefs or lack there of.

Eran- understood. America isn't suppose to be like a theocracy. So, you say... we have a higher expectation of secular reasoning and being better than other nations. The American Taliban sees no issue with having this "Great Experiment" lapse into 3rd worldism religio-governance. That's what makes it that much more disappointing.
Thanks.. I have no intention of ever giving up the fight.

LaurieB said...

It's bad enough that we have disappointing
situations like the ones you described but the icing on the cake is when in this election year we can't even turn on the TV without hearing one of the deluded ReThuglican candidates spouting off in their sanctimonious, holier-than-thou way about how they intend to turn the clock back 200 years. I'll be happy when the election is over and they all crawl back into their swamps of ignorance and superstition and leave us alone. I think the entire free thought community is feeling overwhelmed just like you are. Indeed, Scandanavia is looking better every day!

Dromedary Hump said...

Yes... three of four candidates who were "called by God" to run are gone and Santorum will soon be gone as well. That at least is a good sign.

While the crazies get the air time spewing their idiocy and hate, much of it is just noise and will reap them no long term benefit. Fortunately we are winning where it the courts. And with young people like Jessica standing up for a secular government, I think the future will be in good hands. That's what gives me encouragement.

tiNstAg said...

Hump, it makes me sick too. It may also interest you to know that Hermant Mehta, at the Friendly Atheist has a widget you may consider embedding in your blog, as I have, to raise money for Jessica's funding. It has already raised over $32,000 for her in a very short time, which shows how generous the non-secular folks can be despite our so-called lack of moral fiber and divine guidance.
I too hope that she and her family can cope with the evil from her town. I know I would find it extremely difficult in her situation, even as a cynical, middle -aged man. :-(

Dromedary Hump said...

tiN..THANKS!! the widget is on my page! I can think of no better tribute to Jessica than to send her to college on atheist's $$. :)

She's a brave girl.. and must have wonderfully supportive parents.

Momma Moonbat said...

Hump, I understand. Over the past few weeks I have wanted to cut myself off from all forms of media and go hide in a cave. I think it would be more civilized than what American society is currently passing off as civilized. The thing is, folks like us can't hide. We have to be the voice of reason, but we can see the fruits of our labor when people like Jessica grab the torch, hold it high and run with it. There is hope.

Dromedary Hump said...

Momma... in deed, well said.
As long as we keep the pressure on, and keep winning legal challenges we will prevail.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Some years ago, when John Paul II was pope, I remember reading about a nun who petitioned him to allow women to serve as priests. For her courage to do so, she was ex-communicated.

The Catholic Church can look now to a real hero: Newton Leroy Gingrich, a man who, while shagging his mistress of 6 years in the Gingrich's marital bed, called Wife 2.0 and asked for an open marriage; a man who claims child labor laws are stupid, and that poor children should earn money by cleaning toilets in public schools, and who sneered at Juan Williams when he suggested that his statement about African Americans wanting food stamps instead of jobs might be a tad bit racially insensitive.

That guy. The one whom the Family Values Christian Evanagelicals made the winner of the So.Carolina GOP primary--that pompous toad, is a shining star in the Catholic Church, and they eagerly embrace him.

Pardon me now while I go bleach my brain so I can get rid of the slime I had to think about in order to type that.

PS. I don't actually use bleach. I use some nice single malt scotch.

flyz4free said...

Mama Moonbat... Yes Mama, we are actually making a big difference. I can tell from the reactions of my creationist friends and community. My earlier post (under Unknown cuz I goofed) was about a man who was really ranting at me because I posted Jessica's plight and victory. One of the things he said was 'how dare you attack my religion?!' First I did not attack his religion, I just said "The truth is that religious folks cry foul and claim persecution when they are finally called on the carpet for breaking the law in an effort to illegally foist their beliefs on others."
We must continue to point out to them when they are breaking the law, and when they are claiming 'persecution' when there is none. And why addressing each of these things is NOT interfering with their 'religious freedoms' as defined by the Constitution.
We may not change the sheeple's minds on their theology, but we can make them much more aware of where the boundries lie in pushing that theology on others as well as getting those transgressions more succinctly defined in our laws.

Dromedary Hump said...

Shaw / Flyz... you can speak for me any time. couldn't have said it better myself. spot on.

Anonymous said...

Dear Hump, I am an ex-catholic and an ex-christian but still a follower of Jesus. I am not a right wing bible thumping fundafentalist idiot but a free thinker like you. I love science, physics and all related studies. I love Brian Greene and Neil DeGrasse Tyson.I don't believe in the literal truth of the bible but I read it often. I follow the teachings of Jesus and Jesus only. Not some trumped up preacher's interprtation of what he said. Many of my friends and family are atheists and I love them all and love to discuss the subject with them. Is it human nature to be violet and stupid and mistrustful of anything different? I don't know. the Leakeys addressed this issue back in the seventies when they were making all their amazing discoveries in Africa. I do know that I am sick of all this hatred and intolerance and know that we can do better, we have to or we might not survive as a species.In closing let me say that I fully support your right and anybody's right to believe whatever you want. There are still a few of my kind left in the world. Maybe more soon. Check me out at my blog Tekton Temple. Peace Brother.

Dromedary Hump said...

Thanks, Lord William...
I wish your perspective was more widely held. I'm afraid it is not. I'd venture your practice or observations of the teachings attributed to Jesus' as a guiding factor is held by about the same percentage of people who are atheists/ hold no beliefs. Which is to say very small.

I appreciate your input. Always glad to hear from the thinking minority of those who hold belief. It is encouraging.

flyz4free said...

Lord basically hold beliefs similar to Thomas Jefferson who cut out all the supernatural aspects of the bible and kept only the moral teachings. You are in pretty good company there.