Atheism and politics 63

We are partly in agreement and partly in disagreement with leftist atheists. Obviously we share their atheism. Equally obviously we do not share their political opinions. “American Atheists” seemed to us to have a leftist bent (as Richard Dawkins certainly has), but we may be wrong. (Visit their website and see what you think.) In any case, we like their  activism against religion.

This article comes from USA Today, by Cathy Lynn Grossman.

Hey, President Obama and contender Mitt Romney, the American Atheists want your attention. They’re unveiling a new in-your-face-to-the-faithful billboard campaign, timed to the national presidential nominating conventions.

The billboard ads do not seem to be carrying a political message.

Today’s press conference revealed signs that call God “sadistic” and Jesus “useless” as a savior (his image is shown as toast, literally) and conclude that Atheism, by contrast, is “simply reasonable.”

The Gods depicted in the bible are sadistic. The “Old Testament” tyrant punishes five generations of descendants of anyone who offends him. The vague “Father” of the “New Testament” has his “Son” condemn countless millions to burn forever in hellfire on sheer whim.

And why should people need a “savior” of any stripe?

Presumably, Catholics such as Vice President Biden and Romney’s running mate choice Paul Ryan, are covered in this hit on Christians such as Obama, a mainline Protestant.

Obama “a mainline Protestant”? You reckon, Ms Grossman? Why is he so partial to Islam then?

But evidently the American Atheists don’t consider Mormons to be Christians, since they prepared a separate billboard attack on their faith. …

What can it matter whether they are Christians or not? They are as irrational in their belief as any self-styled Christians are. Are there better and worse systems of irrationality?

But GOP delegates won’t see the attack on their faith on their way to nominate Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in Tampa. Spokeswoman Teresa MacBain says no one in Tampa would rent them billboard space. So watch for both texts in Charlotte, N.C., where the Democrats will gather in September.

American Atheists is the group that created and produced the Reason Rally in March on the National Mall – an event president David Silverman billed as a fun gathering starring raging atheists such as Richard Dawkins. …

So atheists who do not believe the unbelievable “rage” about it?  Whereas believers sweetly keep their farfetched opinions to themselves?

The same group flew a banner over New York City on the Fourth of July proclaiming, “Atheism is patriotic.”

Now … the billboards are aimed at mocking the “silliness” of religion. In an email before today’s press conference, [Teresa MacBain] wrote that questioning the religious views of men who want to lead the free world is essential because,

“If a person believes stupid things, then we have every right to question his or her judgment, and that directly impacts how the non-religious voter votes.”

She’s right. The amazing fact is that people can be highly intelligent, well-educated, sensible, and yet believe in the supernatural! It is something we find very hard to understand. But as every candidate for the presidency has to avow some religious belief, we see no point in making too much of his religion unless he does.

More demands – like non-religious people to be appointed to the Cabinet and the Supreme Court – are at their website.

We concur with those demands

Interestingly, for all the increasing public presence of unbelievers – billboards, rallies, conventions, etc. – the attention has not boosted their percentage of the U.S. population significantly in the last decade.

How does Grossman or anyone know that?

Most people who say they have no religious identity also call themselves spiritual but not religious …

Whatever that might mean, it does suggest more people may be atheist than get counted as such …

… and many give the entire topic a big “so what” shrug.

That’s atheism too, by default.

But the billboards planned for Charlotte, N.C., may not be well received. In 2010, when free thinkers posted an edited version of the line from the Pledge of Allegiance without the phrase “under God,” vandals added it with spray paint.

Grossman asks:

Do you think … the billboards will convert anyone away from religion? Is it “simply reasonable” to mock belief?

We reply: yes, they may turn some away from religion. We only hope they will not turn some away from voting for Romney.

And yes, of course it is reasonable to mock religious belief. It’s an urgent and perpetual necessity. Religious belief is absurd yet lethally dangerous to the well-being of humanity.

Multi-layers of religious absurdity 114

This is from the Washington Post:

Nobel-laureate Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and a top official from the Simon Wiesenthal Center said Tuesday that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney should use his stature in the Mormon Church to block its members from posthumously baptizing Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

Their comments followed reports that Mormons had baptized the deceased parents of Wiesenthal, the late Holocaust survivor and Nazi-hunter. Wiesel appeared in a church database used to identify potential subjects of baptisms. …

Posthumous baptisms of non-Mormons are a regular practice in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Members believe the ritual creates the possibility for the deceased to enter their conception of Heaven.

Individual members can submit names, usually of deceased relatives, for proxy baptisms. The church has tried to improve its technology to block the process from including Jewish Holocaust victims. … [as it ] has long been offensive to Jews.

How is all this absurd?

Let us list the ways. They are too numerous to count.

  • The absurdity of worshipping “Jesus Christ”.
  • The stacks of absurdities in Mormonism.
  • The absurdity of baptism.
  • The extra-hilarious absurdity of baptizing the dead.
  • The extra-extra-absurdity of baptizing dead Jews.
  • The absurdity of Jews complaining to the Mormon church about dead Jews being baptized. Do they fear it will turn dead Jews into Mormons?
  • The absurdity of Mormons not getting their “technology” good enough to exclude Jews from their posthumous baptismal rites.
  • The absurdity of expecting Mitt Romney to bring that mysterious technology up to scratch.

And there are probably more that we’ve missed.

Ah, well! Bring on the figurative corpses. It’s all good clean fun at the virtual baptismal font.

Perhaps the Jews could get their revenge by posthumously circumcising dead Mormons.


Send in the clown 188

We know not to expect a confessed atheist to stand as a conservative candidate for the presidency. We simply omit the religious beliefs of candidates from the factors we consider in our assessment of them, unless they themselves make religion an important part of their policies.

In the present line-up there are a pair each of Catholics, Santorum and Gingrich;  Baptists, Cain and Paul; Evangelical Christians, Bachmann and Perry;  and Mormons, Romney and Huntsman. And Gary Johnson is a Lutheran.

To us it makes no difference what name their brand of superstition bears. We politely overlook the lot. If they’re not embarrassed to display a belief in the supernatural, we’ll treat it as we would a disfigurement it would be rude to stare at.

But when believers themselves make a big point of trumpeting their own nonsense and denigrating everyone else’s – that’s entertainment.

Send in the clown. His name is Dr Robert Jeffress, and here first, at his webesite, is what he has to say about … Dr Robert Jeffress:

Dr. Robert Jeffress is the senior pastor of the 10,000-member First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas. Dr. Robert Jeffress’ bold, biblical, and practical approach to ministry …

as opposed to other pastors’ timid, anti-biblical, and impractical approach to theirs? …

has made him one of the country’s most respected evangelical leaders.

Respected, that is, by the 10,000 members of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas.

He goes on to inform us that –

Vision America [an organization that works to get the religious into active politics] honored Dr. Jeffress in 2006 with the Daniel Award for his steadfast commitment and boldness in proclaiming the uncompromising Word of God.

Uncompromising? The Word of God is “uncompromising”? With what? “Uncompromising” suggests firm consistency, so by “the Word of God” he  cannot mean the Christian bible. Great anthology of fiction though it is, it’s a thicket of contradictions.

So what can he mean?

We suspect he means he is uncompromising in his scorn for all religious beliefs except his own particular set, on the certainty of which he will not be swayed a fraction of an inch.

And – yes!  We find next, reported here, that –

 On his show Pathway To Victory, Jeffress said that Satan is behind the Roman Catholic Church. …

Jeffress calls the Catholic church a result of “the Babylonian mystery religion” found in the Book of Revelation, and says the Catholic Church represents “the genius of Satan.” …

This is the Babylonian mystery religion that spread like a cult throughout the entire world. The high priests of that fake religion, that false religion, the high priests of that religion would wear crowns that resemble the heads of fish, that was in order to worship the fish god Dagon, and on those crowns were written the words, ‘Keeper of the Bridge,’ the bridge between Satan and man. That phrase ‘Keeper of the Bridge,’ the Roman equivalent of it is Pontifex Maximus. It was a title that was first carried by the Caesars and then the Emperors and finally by the Bishop of the Rome, Pontifex Maximus, the Keeper of the Bridge.

You can see where we’re going with this. It is that Babylonian mystery religion that infected the early church, one of the churches it infected was the church of Pergamos, which is one of the recipients of the Book of Revelation. And the early church was corrupted by this Babylonian mystery religion, and today the Roman Catholic Church is the result of that corruption.

Much of what you see in the Catholic Church today doesn’t come from God’s Word, it comes from that cult-like, pagan religion. Now you say, ‘pastor how can you say such a thing? That is such an indictment of the Catholic Church. After all the Catholic Church talks about God and the Bible and Jesus and the Blood of Christ and Salvation.’

Isn’t that the genius of Satan? If you want to counterfeit a dollar bill, you don’t do it with purple paper and red ink, you’re not going to fool anybody with that. But if you want to counterfeit money, what you do is make it look closely related to the real thing as possible.

And that’s what Satan does with counterfeit religion. He uses, he steals, he appropriates all of the symbols of true biblical Christianity, and he changes it just enough in order to cause people to miss eternal life.

So he won’t be voting for Santorum or Gingrich.

Next, on Mormonism:

“It is not Christianity, it is not a branch of Christianity,” Jeffress said, “It is a cult.”

So he will not be voting for Romney or Huntsman? Right:

Jeffress went on to explain that many evangelical Christians will not vote for Romney because he is a Mormon and therefore not “indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God.” He even claimed that Romney’s Mormon faith “speaks to the integrity issue” as it explains why he has reversed his position on abortion rights, among other issues. … “He is not a “true, born again follower of Christ.”

Jeffress does, however, enthusiastically support Perry:

Robert Jeffress introduced Rick Perry at the Values Voter Summit with a fiery endorsement.  

Chris Moody, writing at Yahoo! News, comments:

Labeling Mormonism as a cult does not put Jeffress outside of the Southern Baptist mainstream. The denomination officially recognizes Romney’s church as a cult, and has done so for years. …

“The Southern Baptist Convention has officially labeled Mormonism as a cult, so this is not some right-wing extremist view. It’s a view of the largest Protestant denomination in the world,” [Jeffress] said. “I think there are a lot of people who will not publicly say that’s an issue because they don’t want to appear to be bigoted, but for a lot of evangelical Christians, that is a huge issue, even if it’s unspoken.”

So what is the difference between a cult and a religion? We googled that question and found no direct answer but this description of a cult:

1. Thinking in terms of us versus them with total alienation from “them.”

2. The intense, though often subtle, indoctrination techniques used to recruit and hold members.

3. The charismatic cult leader. Cultism usually involves some sort of belief that outside the cult all is evil and threatening; inside the cult is the special path to salvation through the cult leader and his teachings.

Which seems to fit Dr Robert Jeffress’s views, technique, boastfulness, and doctrine.

Here is the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of a cult: 

1. formal religious veneration: worship

2. a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also: its body of adherents.

And what is a religion?

1. the service or worship of God or [sic] the supernatural

2. commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance

And “cult” is given as a synonym of “religion”.

So the answer is: no difference. Mormonism is a cult, Christianity is a cult, Judaism is a cult, Islam is a cult, Hinduism is a cult, Buddhism is a cult …

But please don’t let that stop Dr Robert Jeffress. His fresh-faced vanity, his belief in Satan and eternal life, his chat about the Blood of Christ and Salvation, his contempt for the fish god Dagon …

All divinely ludicrous.