Category Archives: religion

Straight & Narrow Minded

Blount County, Tennessee, punted on its “please, God, go smite someone else” resolution: after crowds showed up to protest the item, the commission did the cowardly thing by not approving the meeting’s agenda and adjourning. That’s a principled action!

This is the part I love:

The resolution, sponsored by County Commissioner Karen Miller, has gained national attention. The resolution focuses on recognizing and protecting ‘natural marriage,’ or marriage between a man and woman.

‘I had no idea this was going to take place. I was totally in the dark. It’s a total surprise,’ said Miller.

Nobody could have anticipated. Nobody could have seen this coming. Nobody could have foreseen that a resolution that is…

…petitioning for God’s mercy and asks God ‘not to destroy our county as he did Sodom and Gomorrah’ …

… would turn tiny Blount County, Tennessee into a national laughingstock. Truly it’s a mystery to Commissioner Miller that this has generated any attention at all, forcing the commission to pull the plug on the entire meeting and scurry into their holes. Hoocodanode?

This is what I love about fundiegelicals. Putting aside for a moment the whole church/state thing, and the fact that not every person is a believer, and not every believer is a Christian, I think one of the most annoying things about the fundiegelical wing of Christianity is that they always think they’re the only Christians in the room.

They always think they speak for everyone else. In a religion with literally hundreds of different denominations and splinter groups, why do they always assume that their version of Christianity is the “agreed-upon” version?

Or maybe they aren’t assuming that, maybe they’re just asserting it. “Our version is the right version and everyone else has to live by our rules!” I mean, how rude is that? To just barge into the faith and tell dozens of other denominations that they’re wrong, we’re right, and shut up.

Look, there are plenty of Christian denominations out there which don’t buy into any of that anti-gay bullshit. And I’m not even talking about “fringe” wings of Christianity like the New Thought churches (Unity, Christian Science, Religious Science) or even those pesky Unitarian Universalists. Mainstream denominations (Presbyterian Church-USA, United Church of Christ, Anglican, Lutheran, Christian Church-DoC) not to mention splinters within the more conservative denominations (there is, believe it or not, a Baptist church down the street from me with an openly lesbian pastor).

So, you know, the fundiegelicals don’t speak for everybody, yet here they come marching in, acting as if they own the joint. No, you don’t own the joint. Shut up. Go away. Practice your faith your way and let others practice their faith their way, and let those who don’t subscribe to any faith also be allowed to live as they please. You’re not the boss of PCUSA or Disciples of Christ or anybody else. So rude. So ignorant.

And that goes for those people wanting to post the 10 Commandments everywhere, blithely unaware that there isn’t just one version. Or teaching Creationism in school: which Biblical version of the Creation are you wanting to teach? There are three in the Old and New Testaments. What arrogance to assume that your version is the one everyone else will agree with!

Get thee behind me, you useless idiots.


Filed under Christianity, gay equality, GLBT, religion, religious right, Tennessee

WTF Ron Ramsey

Tennesee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey just posted this on his Facebook page. It’s positively chilling:


Holy holy war, Batman! What the hell is wrong with this man? “It’s time to prepare”? “Our enemies are armed. We must do likewise”? Are you fucking insane? How’s that been working for us, buddy? Everyone is already armed to the teeth! Amazingly, we’ve had more mass shootings! More, not fewer! What’s that they say about insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?

This is some irresponsible BS. Shame. On. You. SHAME. ON. YOU.


Oregon is one of 7 states allowing CCW holders to carry on campus. And apparently there were at least two CCW holders on campus when the shooting happened. They opted not to intervene, out of fear they’d become targets themselves. This was, by the way, absolutely the right call: most of the time, the “good guy with a gun” ends up either getting in the way of law enforcement, getting shot, or hurting an innocent bystander. I just point it out by way of illustrating to Ron Ramsey and the rest of the gun loons that arming all the “good guys” clearly isn’t working. We’ve been doing that for over a decade now and all we have to show for it is more gun violence, more shootings, and a rise in the murder rate.

Watch the interview:


Filed under Guns, religion, Tennessee

Kim Davis Again? Ugh


But wait, there’s more:

Vatican says private ‘audience’ in D.C. was with gay ex-student, not Kim Davis

week after Pope Francis met Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk jailed for her refusal to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples, the Vatican on Friday suggested that she exploited the meeting to promote her views, denied that the pope fully supports her and cast doubt on her account of the encounter.

The Vatican later noted that Francis did have a private “audience” in Washington with a former student of the pope, Yayo Grassi, an openly gay Argentine who along with his longtime partner and some friends met with Francis.

Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said in a statement that Grassi, “who had already met other times in the past with the pope, asked to present several friends to the pope during the pope’s stay in Washington, D.C.”

A video posted online shows Grassi embracing the pope and introducing him to his partner, as well as an Argentine woman and some Asian friends.

The statements together seemed intended to distance the pope from Davis.

I think that should put a stop to this Kim Davis bullshit. Back into obscurity with you, idiots.


I told ya so:

In a formal statement, the Vatican said Friday that Pope Francis’s meeting with Kentucky clerk Kim Davis “should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects.”

The statement, issued by the Rev. Federico Lombardi, Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, said it was not a “real audience,” suggesting that she was among a group that gathered to greet him and send him off.

I said it was a PR ploy by Liberty Counsel, a pathetic attempt to find some influential cultural figure to endorse their position. And even that was a fail. And the entire U.S. media got pwned. Again.

Well, at least it wasn’t WMDs this time.


Since we have to keep talking about Kim Davis because she will not go away, people! let me explain to my liberal friends why I’m not concerned at all that she met with Pope Francis last week.

When I first heard this story I immediately thought it was a hoax. Then I thought it was just sad. To see Davis and Liberty Counsel shamelessly milk this event for all it’s worth reminded me of when the National Review released its lists of the top 25 conservative movies and songs. The poor dears! So desperate for some kind of cultural relevance! Pope Francis is a transformative cultural figure, and his U.S. visit was historic. It inspired people of all faiths from coast to coast. Of course this group would try to latch on to that, just like a flea tries to jump on a big dog. Gotta grab a little of this reflected admiration (and media attention), after all!

It’s a pathetic thing to watch. Liberty Counsel’s adolescent “see, I told you so!” moment falls apart when you remember that Pope Francis said nothing about gay marriage while visiting the U.S. But he did talk a lot about climate change, Christians’ responsibility to care for the earth, ending the death penalty, welcoming immigrants, and empowering the poor. So yeah, I’ll believe Liberty Counsel and U.S. fundiegelicals give a crap about Pope Francis when they take up those issues.


I mean, seriously. Remember when conservatives were all like “shut up, Pope Francis!” And now they’re all like, “we love Pope Francis!” Puh-leeze.This whole bit of political theater has evolved in a completely predictable manner. And it will be forgotten tomorrow as we move on to the next shiny-sparkly thing.

Meanwhile, the culture marches on toward inclusiveness while conservatives find themselves ever more marginalized.


Filed under GLBT, religion, religious right

Never Forget

Not The Onion:


Apparently there is no event in American history that won’t be cheapened by conservative intolerance, rampant consumerism and cheap beer. I really hope some Muslims take Florida Gun Supply up on this offer. I would love to see a family of Muslims show up and say “Yes, I’m a Muslim, and I would like to save $25 on this AR-15. So would my brother Hussein and my other brother Mohammad.” Hilarity would no doubt ensue.

Happy 9/11. I remember this as the last time any Republican president dared push for a “Star Wars” missile defense program. Remember, if you will, that right before 9/11 W had unilaterally withdrawn the United States from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, all by hisownself, without the blessing of Congress. Remind me again how Obama can’t sign a peace treaty with Iran without Congress’ blessing but W could remove us from one?

Fellow Republican idiots like Sen. John Kyl of Arizona cheered W’s action. From the memory hole:

Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) also termed the move historic, but for a different reason, enthusiastically declaring June 13 that the United States “is no longer handcuffed to a policy that intentionally leaves its own people defenseless to missile attack.” Senators Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and James Inhofe (R-OK) also released statements supporting Bush’s act.

That’s all I remember from the news that summer: Republicans pushing for a bazillion dollar space missile shield, as if it was still the 1970s and our biggest threat was Russian nukes. That, and the news media distracting us with shiny-sparkly “shark attack!” news. That was the summer of 2001.

Democratic Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island was the only Senator of either party to speak about the ABM Treaty on the Senate floor. Ominously:

Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) said the U.S. pullout was unwarranted because missile defense technologies that would have violated the treaty “are mere concepts that are years away.” He also said that terrorists are more likely to use means other than long-range ballistic missiles, such as planes and ships, to attack the United States.

Give that man a fucking medal. On 9/11 terrorists armed only with boxcutters attacked the U.S., thereby rendering the missile defense shield idea irrelevant and useless.

But the defense industry more than made up for that loss with our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The military buildup that followed 9/11 is still largely in place. We have more bases in more places than ever. And now we get to milk 9/11 to sell guns, Islamophobia, and beer, too.



Filed under Guns, religion

Brilliant War On Terror Idea!

Here’s some stupidity straight out of — where else? — Florida:

A Florida gun maker is marketing an AR-15 carbine that he says will be “Islamic-free” because of the Bible verse he etches on each rifle. It’s aptly named “the Crusader.”

Each Crusader coming out of Spike’s Tactical in Apopka, Florida, is laser-etched on the right side of the rifle’s lower receiver with Psalm 144:1: “Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.”

On the left side, a cross and shield are etched.

Ben “Mookie” Thomas, spokesman for Spike’s Tactical, told Tampa Bay CBS-TV affiliate WTSP 10 News what led to the development of the Crusader:

“Right now, and as it has been for quite some time, one of the biggest threats in the world is and remains Islamic terrorism,” Thomas, who is a former Navy SEAL and former Blackwater security contractor, told the station. “We wanted to make sure we built a weapon that would never be able to be used by Muslim terrorists to kill innocent people or advance their radical agenda.”

This idiot might do better to inscribe his guns with an incantation I mean Bible verse keeping them away from toddlers, wife abusers, and garden-variety criminals.



Filed under Christianity, Guns, Islam, religion, religious right

Conservatism Will Never Run Out Of Martyrs

I’m really tired of talking about/hearing about Kim Davis. This useful idiot has raised a lot of money for the religious right’s sad attempt to copy the ACLU, Liberty Counsel. And a lot of my liberal friends have taken to Facebook to point out how theologically incorrect Liberty Counsel and Kim Davis are, that nowhere does the Bible state that marriage is between one man and one woman (in fact, during the marriage equality debate several Biblical scholars pointed out that “Biblical marriage” is anything but what religious conservatives want it to be), and that Davis is a hypocrite herself. Yada yada, blah blah.

None of that matters, people. All of that is just silly yammering. Once again, liberals are arguing a point of logic and fact, while conservatives are arguing hurt fee fees about losing another battle in the culture wars. Look: the fight over gay marriage and the subsequent martyrdom of Kim Davis has zero to do with the Bible. It’s not about religion or theology. Like all culture war issues, it’s about conservatives’ lack of cultural relevance. It’s about how they’ve lost the culture wars and the poor dears just can’t deal with it.

Boo fucking hoo.

What we on the left really should do, every time a Kim Davis or Josh Duggar or Cliven Bundy pops up on the radar, is ignore them. Show them how irrelevant they truly are by not giving a shit about their martyrdom because they are irrelevant losing losers who lost.

Oh, I know it will never happen, right wing martyrs are like oxygen to social media. But not everything on Facebook or Twitter matters. In fact, most of it is as lasting as a fart on the breeze. So while Kim Davis may be a trending topic now, I guarantee you that by this time next year we’ll have forgotten all about her. Does anyone remember Crystal and Kevin O’Connor? Raise your hand if you had to Google the name.

Conservatism will never run out of martyrs because conservatives are perpetually oppressed. That’s what happens when you’ve lost cultural relevance: everything is always against you because you’re on the wrong side of everything. You lost and that sucks, but the right-wing machine thrives on martyrs, so we will continue to hear their tales of woe. They will continue to appear on Fox News and hatriot radio, they will raise money for groups like Liberty Counsel and the Alliance Defense Fund, and they will continue to proclaim their martyrdom because the woe-is-me attention is the only sense of relevance they’ll ever have.

Bless their hearts. I just wish we didn’t have to pay attention.


Filed under Christian Right, Christianity, gay equality, GLBT, religion, religious right

Was Discovery Communications Complicit In Covering Up A Crime? Inquiring Minds ….

I first wrote about the Quiverfull movement waaay back in 2009. I called it a cult, and it is a cult, a creepy pedophilia cult (if you aren’t familiar with this group or its beliefs, Gawker has a handy dandy rundown under the headline “Quiverfull of Shit.”)

I’m not the least bit surprised to learn that Josh Duggar has admitted to sexually molesting children as they slept — some of them his own sisters. I’m not the least bit surprised to learn that one of the leaders of this movement, Bill Gothard, has himself been accused of sex-based offenses.

What I do find interesting is that it’s become increasingly clear that The Learning Channel/Discovery Communications knew of Josh Duggar’s sex offenses years before the first show of the reality series aired, while the Duggars were starring in specials on sister network Discovery Health. And, despite knowing this information, they still signed the family to star in their own reality show, falsely promoted the family as some kind of wholesome Christian novelty, misrepresented the family to the public, and profited from it. They lied to their advertisers and they lied to their viewers. How is this not fraud?

According to the police report published by InTouch, the investigation was sparked when someone tipped off an Oprah Winfrey staffer in 2006, in advance of a taping by the family on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Here’s how it all went down:

The Duggars told police that at the time Josh was accused of, and admitting to, these sexual acts, “a family friend aware of what had happened had written down in a letter what he knew of [redacted, Josh’s] actions…That letter had been placed in a book and had subsequently been forgotten about. Just recently [in 2006] the book had been loaned to someone else with the letter in it and another person discovered the letter.

The Duggars refused to tell police who wrote the letter and who found it.

When the family was scheduled to appear on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show in 2006, an email was sent to the show warning them about the alleged molestation. The email was written by a 61-year-old female who is not identified.

Harpo Studios faxed the letter to the Department of Human Services hotline. The report was then opened for investigation, leading to the investigation by Springdale police.

When police asked Jim Bob to bring Josh in for an interview in 2006, he attempted to hire a lawyer and refused to produce his son for questioning. At least two lawyers refused to take his case. “Det. Hignite received a voice mail from Mr. Duggar stating that [redacted] had hired an attorney and would not be coming in for an interview.”

Oprah Winfrey has been very open about her own history of being a survivor of child sexual abuse. So good for her and her staffers for starting this whole ball rolling. And shame on everyone who subsequently covered it up: the Arkansas state trooper who let Josh Duggar off the hook and two years later was himself jailed for child pornography, and most especially Discovery Communications. Because it defies belief that TLC and Discovery didn’t know about this — indeed, after the Oprah cancellation, the internet was on fire with rumors about Josh Duggar’s sexual offenses. At the very least, Discovery Health would have wanted to know about the abrupt and last-minute Oprah cancellation.

This needs to be investigated. The FCC needs to look into this. If a basic-cable network is covering up crimes against children and then promoting a pedophilia cult into the popular culture, they are not acting in the public interest. This is far worse than Bono saying an award is “fucking awesome” or Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction. These are real crimes, and it appears the network not only knew about it, but ignored it so they could promote this creepy, far-from-wholesome family for their own financial gain.



Filed under cults, culture wars, media, religion

When A Religion Dies

The two religious groups with the largest influence over our domestic policy continue to die:

The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing, according to an extensive new survey by the Pew Research Center. Moreover, these changes are taking place across the religious landscape, affecting all regions of the country and many demographic groups. While the drop in Christian affiliation is particularly pronounced among young adults, it is occurring among Americans of all ages. The same trends are seen among whites, blacks and Latinos; among both college graduates and adults with only a high school education; and among women as well as men.


The drop in the Christian share of the population has been driven mainly by declines among mainline Protestants and Catholics. Each of those large religious traditions has shrunk by approximately three percentage points since 2007. The evangelical Protestant share of the U.S. population also has dipped, but at a slower rate, falling by about one percentage point since 2007.

Not coincidentally, these are the two groups who have been screaming the loudest over domestic issues like education, marriage equality, abortion, and women’s access to birth control. These are the people who sued over the Obamacare birth control mandate. These are the people trying to exert even more influence over our state legislatures and federal government.

Of course they are dying. This flurry of activity in the public arena is a symptom of a dying religion. They are trying to regain their influence over American public life through legislative activity, because they are losing the battle on the cultural front.

This is what happens when a religion dies. And this chart should send shudders through the Republican Party, so closely intertwined with the Christian/evangelical faith that the two are practically indistinguishable. Unaffiliated, up 6.7% in the past seven years. That’s atheists, agnostics and “nothing in particulars.” Non-Christians, up 1.2% in the past seven years. That’s Muslims, Hindus and “other.” Christians, down 7.8% in the past seven years.

These are the trends, and I don’t seem them reversing any time soon.


Filed under religion, religious right

Religious Freedom

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is threatening to pull its 2017 convention out of Indianapolis if Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs a bill allowing companies to discriminate against GLBT people under the guise of “religious freedom.” In a letter to the governor the denomination writes:

“Our perspective is that hate and bigotry wrapped in religious freedom is still hate and bigotry,” Todd Adams, the associate general minister and vice president of the Indianapolis-based denomination, told The Indianapolis Star.

Adams said the Disciples of Christ would instead seek a host city that is “hospitable and welcome to all of our attendees.”

I’d love to invite them to Nashville. After all, we’re the city whose Metro Council passed an anti-discrimination bill. Unfortunately, IIRC, it was later over-ridden by the bigots in our state legislature, so we don’t exactly have much moral authority on this issue. But can I just tell you how refreshing it is to see a church denomination take a bold stand on issues of equality?


“As a Christian church,” it read, “we are particularly sensitive to the values of the One we follow – one who sat at (the) table with people from all walks of life, and loved them all. Our church is diverse in point of view, but we share a value for an open Lord’s Table.”

The letter was signed by denomination’s General Minister and President Sharon E. Watkins, Division of Overseas Ministries Julia Brown Karimu and Disciples Home Missions President Ronald J. Degges.

The Disciples of Christ has held its annual convention in Indianapolis three times since 1989. Adams expected up to 8,000 people to attend in 2017. The estimated economic impact would be about $5.9 million, according to VisitIndy.

Well, so much for Indianapolis. Two other major conventions have also alerted the governor that they will skip Indianapolis if the bill becomes law, one a music festival and the other the city’s largest annual convention, a group called Gen Con.

Look, there’s just no money in being a bigoted asshole. Just cut it out.

Let me also say, if your religion requires you to be a bigoted asshole, then I have no use for your religion. Can you just imagine? Whatever happened to “Love one another as I have loved you”? Of course, it’s not about the Bible. It’s about belonging to a club that needs to breed hatred and fear of “the other” to justify its lack of cultural impact. You people are supposed to go out and be salt and light in the world, that’s your Great Commission, and yet all you can do is fight for the right of a bakery to not make a gay couple’s wedding cake.



Filed under GLBT, religion, religious right

Faith-Healing And Snake Oil In Nashville

Nashville’s largest healthcare provider, St. Thomas Health, has been running this super-creepy “faith-healing” ad campaign for the past year or so now. I can’t even tell you how offensive and obnoxious I find it. It exploits is based on a quote from the Gospel of Luke, “nothing shall be impossible with God,” and while they leave out the “with God” part, the images that accompany the campaign are so overtly religious, it’s obvious what they’re selling here: faith-healing, snake-oil, and promises of miracles for those who believe.

Imagine seeing this image plastered all over town, on billboards, buses and full-page newspaper ads:Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 5.36.07 PM_0

How does this not trivialize religion?


The TV ads are even worse. Seeing a team of doctors and nurses holding hands in prayer over an operating table does not make me want to go to this hospital. It makes me want to run in the opposite direction, as far and as fast as possible. It does not inspire confidence in the surgical team. It makes me think of this charlatan:


On top of which, there are quite a few things that are impossible at St. Thomas Hospital. An abortion, for one thing.

I’ve been really uncomfortable with this ad campaign for a long, long time, and while I haven’t posted about it, others have (notably the Huffington Post, here, and this medical blog, here.) Interestingly, some of the campaign’s biggest detractors are religious people. From the latter link:

As I drive home from work (at an unashamedly for-profit hospital) everyday, I pass one of Nashville’s omnipresent “Nothing shall be impossible” billboards. While I am a Bible believing Christian with complete faith in God’s miraculous healing powers, the sight of the ad campaign makes me uneasy. I’m not one to be particularly politically correct or easily offended but the ad campaign gives off the illusion that if you become a patient at St. Thomas, God’s healing power is on your side.

To me, the scriptural slogan seems to imply an unintended opposite effect- it minimizes the power of God. My God cannot be contained within one hospital’s walls. He does not work in ways that we can direct with publicity stunts, let alone ways we can ever hope to understand. He may choose to heal you as a patient at St. Thomas…but he may not. That’s for him to decide, not for hospital admins looking for a raise to direct.

It’s just so tacky to exploit peoples’ religious feelings to sell something. It’s gross, and it’s disrespectful. And let’s take a look at exactly what kind of miracle we’re selling here, shall we?

Few of the people I spoke to had any idea about the actual context of Luke 1:37. It comes when Mary questions the angel Gabriel about how she will become pregnant since she is a virgin. Gabriel points to her cousin Elizabeth, who is pregnant after many years of having been barren, and announces, “nothing will be impossible with God” (NRSV). Indeed, Mary does become pregnant. The implication of draping this verse across a hospital entrance is that any kind of healing is possible: a barren woman becomes pregnant, and then even a virgin becomes pregnant.

St. Thomas Health does not offer fertility treatments.

So much fail.


Filed under advertising, Nashville, religion