Tag Archives: christian

Trying to find a job while being an atheist

8 Jun

Looking for a job is always stressful. It is even more stressful when you’re the most maligned and mistrusted minority in the country, looking for work in the most hostile part of the country. Being an atheist and looking for work in the South can be a tricky predicament.

I found that out first hand over the past two days.

I’ve been looking for work since March when the company I worked for went under. I was really excited to get a call back from a company three days ago, asking if I would come in right that moment for an interview. I grabbed my stuff and drove 45 mins to the next town over. During the course of the interview the boss said I didn’t have all the experience he was looking for, but that he was in really bad need of somebody and wanted to see how fast I could pick things up. He mentioned a salary figure which I agreed to, then asked me to come in at 7am the next morning to shadow him. Throughout the interview he was giving me things to write down and to study.

I went home, extremely excited about the prospect of finally working again, and for somebody from whom I felt I could learn a lot. Then I started to explore the company’s website more in-depth as I had only a few moments quick glance before I was out the door rushing to the interview. He explicitly states on their website that it is a Christian company.

“Meh, whatever, I don’t care what they believe as long as I’m working and getting paid” I told myself. I got up at 5:30 the next morning and went to meetup with my prospective employer. We spent the morning going to a meeting and then it was off to make service calls.

The question came while we were in the car.

“This has no bearing on you getting hired, but what do you think about Obama?”

“Um…I don’t know…”

“Well do you like him or not like him?”

“Um…I’m not really a big fan?”

“For what reasons?” (I wanted to reply “Well, because he’s a center-right corporate whore parading as a progressive” But I didn’t for obvious reasons)

“For a variety of reasons, but I rather not say.”

“Ok, good, I don’t like him either. His taxes are going to crush my business.” (I wanted to point out that the president doesn’t control taxes, that congress does, and congress is republican controlled, but I doubt those facts would have either made me look good or mattered to him.)

“Can I ask you some questions about religion?” (The knot in my throat grows tighter)

“Only if you don’t mind if I don’t answer.” (“Damn I’m must sound like some secret-agent wannabe wacko” I thought.)

“Again, this is just out of personal curiosity, it doesn’t have any effect on you getting hired. What religion are you?”

“I rather not say.” *nervous laugh*

He then launches into a bit explaining how he and his wife are Christian, and that he came to realize God’s plan for his life when he almost died, was airlifted to the hospital and lived, how that got him to change his business around, etc etc…

We get to a service call and I get a reprieve. I’m extremely uncomfortable but I need this job. I need the experience and I need the skill set it will give me. So I bite my lip.

Two weeks ago my uncle almost died when he fell off a rough while working and was airlifted to a hospital. I was curious what happened to him, so I explained what happened to my uncle and asked him what happened to him. He explains how he had some rare condition and how the emergency crew in the helicopter didn’t think he was going to live, but he got to the hospital in time and Christ spared his life.

I didn’t say anything, but the whole time I was thinking: “Oh, Christ saved your life? Not the doctors with years of training? Not the paramedics and the helicopter, developed by science, that enabled you to be quickly rushed to a hospital, staffed with the fruits of scientific labor that kept you alive and saved your life. No, it was none of that, but the iron age God of the desert came down, skipping the 16,000 children that die of starvation everyday to save your butt and show you the way while you were conveniently in a first world country’s hospital attended by a swarm of doctors. Oh I see. Of course!”

But I obviously had to hold my peace.

Later I ended up driving him in the company car to a service call an hour away. He mentioned how he met his wife on eHarmony. I had tried eHarmony before in the past. I spent 45 minutes filling out their survey only to be rejected. eHarmony is a Christian oriented dating site. Atheists don’t do well on there.

Without thinking much, I mentioned how I tried eHarmony but that they rejected me.

“Why did they reject you?”

“Oh, erm…They reject you if you don’t match up with their ‘values’ system.”

“Why’s that?”

(In my head: “Shit shit shit….whatever. Fuck it. I don’t care.” Did I mention that sometimes I have a self destructive streak?)

And so I explained that I was, in fact, an atheist, that I do stuff with my local atheist community (even though I’ve been kinda off the radar for the past bit), that I used to be an evangelical as an early teenager, that religion is a interest of mine, that I’m pretty well read in it, and that I’ve been working on app development for atheist counter-apologetics apps.

The cat’s out of the bag now…

He was just kinda like “Oh…..ok…” Later he asked me “So what made you become an atheist?” I’m sure he was expecting that some disaster had befallen me and that I now hated God, or that I just wanted to lead a sinful lifestyle.

The problem with this question, besides all the problems with the situation, is that it is a trap. Most likely inadvertently, but a trap nonetheless. Let me rephrase the question and you’ll see exactly what I mean:

“So what made you abandon and discredit everything I hold dear, everything that is intimately intertwined with how I see myself and my world?”

There is absolutely no possible way I can answer that question without being offensive. There just isn’t. It’s a loaded question.

“Um…it was more of a journey for me over time.” (I wanted to say “Well, because I grew up, I read books, I experienced things outside of the narrow world view the church taught.”)

He mentioned how he never really knew any atheists, that he had come in contact with a few, and that they were all really big jerks. I mentioned that there are all types in every group, and that I’m very non-confrontational (in person) and live and let live. Oddly, he didn’t really understand what “live and let live” meant so I had to explain it to him. We really didn’t talk much the rest of the trip. He was busy working and making phone calls from the passenger seat. Throughout the day, before atheism came up, he was making me write down all the things he wanted me to study. “On Friday I’m going to have you do X, on Monday I’m going to have you do Y.” He didn’t really give me too much more to study after religion came up.

At 5pm I finally started the long drive home. I had been up for twelve hours and rushing around town with him for ten. I was exhausted. When I got home, I spent the rest of the night studying my ass off. He said I could take Thursday off to study, because it was more important that I pick up the concepts fast for when he tests me on Friday than for me to shadow him for another day.

I took a short break to get a few hours of sleep in the wee hours of Thursday morning, then was back up and studying some more. At the end of the day on Wednesday he said he might have me come in again later Thursday to do some stuff, but that he would call and let me know.

I sent him an e-mail around noon on Thursday telling him how far I’d gotten studying. (I really did learn a shit ton really fast). About an hour later I got a response:

“…My wife and I, as well as the other people in the office are discussing it, but we are thinking we need to find someone that already has extensive experience. You are doing a great job on all of this studying as far as I see it, but I am thinking a history of experience would serve us better at the moment. I am getting busier and busier by the second and I thinking it would be best for us to find someone who can hit the ground running, who would require no shadowing…

If you don’t mind, if there are any reminders on your note pad that I needed, I would really appreciate you sending them to me. I am in with a few other companies as far as passing along resumes, and I will certainly pass yours along. You have great potential!
Thank you in advance for understanding.”
Rejection.
I’m fucked. I didn’t get the job I desperately needed in order to give me the skill set, background, and money to accomplish my goals. I was, am, depressed. What about the ten hours I spent running around with him? I had other things I would have liked to do that day too. I probably won’t see a penny for my time.
I really do think he rejected me because I didn’t have the experience he was looking for, but part of me wonders. Even if he says that it has no effect on my getting the job, it does have an effect subconsciously in how he perceives me.
Before atheism came up, he did mention that his wife was coming on board with the company and that they would have to have dinner with me so she could meet me before they hired me. She apparently has a good sense about people, or so he told me. I wonder if his wife put her foot down at the idea of hiring an atheist. I can just imagine her asking how they’d be able to trust such a deviant, someone without morals. How could someone like that represent the family company?
Yet I have no proof of this, so it’s pure fantasy and speculation.
I would like to hope I was rejected just because of my skill set, and not that I was discriminated against based on my religious stance.
I’ll honestly never know for sure. Such are the perils of trying to find a job as an atheist in an often fundamentalist Christian south.

I punish myself by watching “Left Behind: World at war”

18 Nov

Ok, so I was surfing netflix and I saw this movie. I guess I’m a masochist because now I’m watching it. Here is my thought process as the movie is progressing:

The movie starts out with some Christians trying to smuggle out bibles and they’re attacked by government forces who kill some of them

Apparently there is a one world government resembling the UN, but now the rapture has happened. Oh, and the president of the United States is a black man…could that be coincidence?

Oh look, an angry Christian militia attacked the black president and blew up the convoy.

Holy fuck Kirk Cameron is in this marrying some girl in a secret underground christian double marriage ceremony.

Oh, now Kirk must rush to Washington DC because the vice president was assassinated. They pray before they leave and mention how if they mention they are Christians they go to re-education camps, if you spread the word, you’re sentenced as terrorists and don’t always make it to court alive, and even if you do the system is stacked against you.

Apparently the one world government president has a slight Russian accent and wants to kill the Christians with biological weapons.

Oh goodie, Kirk was kidnapped and thrown in a van.  And his bible is considered hate literature. Oh, and apparently the president of the United States conducts interrogations by himself…with a gun.

Oh! And Kirk uses Webster’s dictionary!

The one world leader (and anti-christ)  is putting together a powerful group of scientists! DUN DUN DUN!

Wow, the president of the United States just snuck out of the White House by hiding in the back of this lady’s SUV so they could go explore a power plant together…

Oh, now Kirk’s buddy is being tempted by a seductress atheist woman who’s threatening to report him to the one world government if he doesn’t have sex with her right there on the plane, even though the good Christian was just married.

Kirk Cameron uses a Mac. I hate Macs.

Now Kirk must find a vaccine through THE POWER OF PRAYER!!!! Oh, and God answers prayers via cellphones.

The new world order is using bibles to transmit the deadly virus.

Awesome, the president has a pistol made of porcelain! wtf….

Apparently Satan has Jedi powers… He just force threw the president out a window after the porcelain gun failed.

Now Kirk is in his apartment alone, screaming at god like the Apocalypse is his fault.

Again, god working through cell phones….I wonder if he has rollover minutes.

The president sits in the bombed out oval office making youtube videos and Kirk Cameron shows up in the doorway to save his soul and tell him about Jesus.

Now they’re uttering the magical incantation.

Now the president of the United States is a suicide bomber trying to blow up Satan’s headquarters.

Oh, now god has given the suicide bomber the cloak of invisibility so he could slip past the guards and blow himself up…

Oops, president went kaboom via a cruise missile FROM SPACE!

–the end–

 

 

Radical religion’s war on education

18 Nov

Today I was listening to the Reasonable Doubts podcast and they had a really interesting segment on the religious right’s attack on education. Here is my summary of what they had to say:

It is a well known fact that on average the more educated a person is the less likely they are to be conservative or religious. (Yes there are highly educated conservative and religious people, but the data shows that these people are anomalies)

Education and exposure to different cultures/people/worldviews has a corrosive effect on religious faith and conservatism. The radical religious right’s response to this fact is to isolate their children from the world with home schooling, while simultaneously working to undermine public education. My non-American readers might be shocked to find out that here in America parents can homeschool their children with little to no qualifications or curriculum standards; in essence they can teach, or not teach, anything they want regardless of their own education level.

Often in the United States you will hear defenders of homeschooling put forth statistics that suggest homeschooled children excel in all areas, especially scholastic aptitude tests. The fact is, all of these statics are bogus and poorly collected. There is an excellent article in the Peabody Journal of Education by Dr. Eric Isenberg titled “What have we learned about homeschooling?” In the article Isenberg examines the quantitative data on homeschooling, how extensive it is, and how it is collected and then goes point by point showing that essentially it is a black hole.

We do not have good data on homeschooling or its effectiveness. Why? Because the religious right fought hard to make sure the government wasn’t allowed to collect such data. They deliberately want to keep it as unclear as possible. If data was accurately collected it would show the appalling low level of education these homeschoolers are receiving.

The conservative religious right has set up a system where homeschooled children can go from their sheltered home “education” straight to private religious fundamentalist “universities” without ever encountering an idea or person who might challenge their faith. These students then graduate from these “schools” and are often hired as government aids to work for conservative officials. This was recently very prominent when Bush was in power. A lot of his aids were from these private religious institutions. He legal defense team was made up of “Liberty” “University” graduates, a “school” 10 minutes from where I went to college. This system and it’s goals of raising up fundamentalist children sheltered from opposing view points has a name and a website, “Generation Joshua.” (There is an interesting NY Times Best Seller book by Michelle Goldberg on this subject titled “Kingdom Coming.”)

Another way these religious fundamentalist schools affect the public is through tax vouchers for private schools. Through tax vouchers, the public has to subsidize families who choose to send their children to private schools instead of public ones. The political spin is that this is about “school choice,” but if you see past the bullshit it’s really about back-door public funding for religious schools. Almost all private schools in the United States are religious. The guys on Reasonable Doubts even pointed out that the even some of the few officially “secular” charter schools are actually very religious in their curriculum while remaining outwardly worldly.

Public education is a blight for the radical religious right. Pat Robertson, infamous televangelist and founder of Regent “University”, had this to say about tax vouchers: “They say vouchers would spell the end of public schools in America. To which we say, so what?” Jerry Falwell (the same as Robertson and also founded his own “school,” “Liberty” “University”) had this to say on the matter: “I hope to live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, there won’t be any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!” Luckily the fat bastard died before that could happen, but his minions are hard at work trying to advance his “vision.”

These institutions are bastions of conservatism and religion. Here students are taught what to think as opposed to how to think, and their curricula are carefully crafted to be as bias and twisted as possible. “Liberty” “University” even went so far as to ban liberals. The fact is that the radical religious right’s worldview cannot survive in the free market of ideas. When exposed to the sunlight of different cultures, people, points of view, and education in general, it shrivels up and dies. To protect their fragile children from reality, the religious right sets up system whereby students are exposed only to “approved” ideas. I find it hilariously ironic that conservatives like to claim liberals are like Maoists and Stalinists while they’re the ones with thought police institutions with portraits of Jesus on the walls.

Feminized Christianity?

18 Oct

So unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve heard about the Obion County fire department in Tennessee that responded to a 9/11 call just to park their trucks on the street and watch as a family’s house burn to the ground, taking everything they owned and killing three of their pets, all because the family didn’t pay a $75 fee. Well the loving, moral, and “pro-family” people at the American Family Association came out to express how not only did the fire fighters do the right thing by doing nothing, but that doing nothing was the Christian thing to do!

You see, according to the American Family Association, the problem with any Christian who would recoil in horror at the fire department’s inaction is they, and their version of Christianity, has been “feminized.” AFA writes:

“In this case, critics of the fire department are confused both about right and wrong and about Christianity. And it is because they have fallen prey to a weakened, feminized version of Christianity that is only about softer virtues such as compassion and not in any part about the muscular Christian virtues of individual responsibility and accountability.”

Individual responsibility and accountability? How does that fit with Jesus coming to bail you out for your sins? But that’s not the point I wanted to focus on. Despite the entire post by the AFA being offensive and insulting, I think their view on gender is particularly insulting to both men and women. It’s clear they think femininity is deficient. While they call it the “virtue of compassion” , it’s framed in a way to mean “vice of compassion.” But what can you honestly expect from an organization that actively works to re-enslave women? Secondly, their position is offensive to men in that it dictates that to be a man is to be a compassionless brute. That’s right. Real men don’t give a shit about any other human being except themselves and Jesus. To help others is a sign of feminine weakness! This is all obviously bullshit, but I’m wondering: when did characteristics like empathy, compassion, and concern for others become sexualized? Why is it that those traits are either masculine of feminine? Secondly, who the hell arbitrarily decided to categorize them hierarchically so that the famine was bad and the masculine good?

The government shouldn’t recognize marriage

7 Aug

Earlier this week I was elated to hear that a republican appointed federal judge over turned proposition 8 because it violated equal protection under the 14th Amendment. The entire argument against allowing homosexuals to marry can be boiled down to: “It is my personal religious view that homosexual marriage is wrong, and thus I am going to impose my religious views on you!” (Yeah, you could word it differently and dress it up to make it look like another argument, but deep deep down, at the heart of it is this religious intolerance) Trying to take this bigoted view and impose it on other people through law not only violates not only the 14th amendment, but the 1st as well.

Come to think of it, the government recognizing any religious marriage is a violation of the first amendment. Instead, the government should only recognize the civil unions formed by people who obtain the license and certificate from the local court house. (Which everyone, regardless of religion must do) If the government did this, then anyone could be joined in a civil union. A marriage and ceremony would be secondary. The legal privileges of a civil union would be open to anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, as the 14th amendment guarantees.

I’ve seen conservatives frothing at the mouth over this issue. They somehow have gotten it into their head that if the government allows same sex couples to form a civil union, then the conservatives will be forced to preform marriage ceremonies for them. They draw this image of a government officer holding a gun to the head of a minister, forcing him to marry two homosexuals in the minister’s church. This is so utterly and completely absurd! Nobody is going to force any religious figure to preform a ceremony they do not wish to preform. No government agents will storm into a church, hold a gun to a pastor’s head, and make him wed two gays. Ideas like this are another side effect of binge drinking the kuh-kuh-koolaid. The absolutely ridiculous nature of this belief aside, from a purely legal standpoint, the government could not do this for a plethora of reasons, two stand out immediately: A) The church is private property. B) This would violate the 1st Amendment. (Yes, kiddies, the separation of church and state protects churches from the state, so think about that before you try to tear down that wall)

The government cannot tell religions how to act. That would be “inhibiting the free exercise” of religion. The concept most conservatives don’t seem capable of understanding is that imposing their beliefs on people who are not members of their organization through the public legal system is NOT an instance of free exercise. Therefore the government if fully able (and is required by that very same amendment) to block any attempt by the religious to do so. You can be a bigot inside your church all you want. You can be a bigot in your home. You can even be a bigot and shout in the street so everyone else knows you’re a bigot. You CAN’T be a bigot and try to impose your views through law. Sorry, go home.

Instead, when homosexuals want to get married on top of having a civil union, they can do so with any person willing to preform that ceremony. That’s the keyword there, willing. You better believe there are people willing to do so. Homosexuals getting married is GREAT for business. More weddings means more demand for services, more demand means more jobs, more jobs mean a stronger economy and thus a stronger nation.

Conservatives will still be able to marry in churches that refuse to preform the ceremony for homosexuals. I think there is another big disconnect for conservatives on this issue: stopping homosexuals from getting married doesn’t stop them from loving each other. The will still be there, they will still love, and they will still do everything everyone else does when in a relationship., and their ain’t a damn thing you can do about it. The only thing trying to bar them from their 14th amendment rights does is cause suffering.

“Your partner of 40+ years, the person you love with all your heart, is dying in the hospital? I’m sorry, you’re not allowed to see him, but the family that disowned him 40+ years ago and haven’t spoken to him since can go right on up…oh wait, they’re not here…guess he’ll have to die alone…”

Or

“You want to adopt Sarah from her abusive and alcoholic home? That’s wonderful, this poor girl’s had a really hard life. I see you are mentally fit, responsible, have no criminal record, and are able to provide her with a stable home, food on the table, a roof over her head, and school supplies to learn, that’s great! Oh wait…before Sarah can start her new life, are you a homosexual? Yes!?!? I’m sorry then, Sarah’s going to have to go back to living with her abusive father that broke her arm. You homosexuals are bad people and your home is no environment in which to raise a child!”

It’s stuff like this that really makes discriminating against people disgusting. The ironic thing is, many of the people who would willfully cause this type of suffering (which is very real and happens every day) do so in the name of their god of “love”. That just makes me want to vomit.

Are Christian values really Christian?

5 Aug

What are “Christian values”? Well there are as many different answers as there are different Christians, so your personal views very well may be different from others’. I googled the term and two of the first pages that popped up were the wikipedia page on it, and this “Access-Jesus” page. According to them “Christian Values” are this:

  • Worship of god above all things, including family members and loved ones
  • Fidelity in marriage
  • Faith
  • Rejecting worldly goods
  • Rejecting violence
  • Forgiveness
  • Love
  • Righteousness

So now that we have this grocery list of values, what about them makes them “Christian”? Lets go down the list one by one.

Worship of god above all things: Well, lots of Christians do this, yes, but they by no means have a monopoly on it. Other faiths do the exact same thing, many of them have been around thousands of years before Christianity was ever invented.

Fidelity in marriage: Again, what makes this Christian? Billions of people around the world are married, the majority of them aren’t Christian. Marriage has existed for millenniums before Christianity ever came on the scene. Heck, if you look at divorce rates among religious groups in the US, Christians have the highest, non-theists have the lowest. It would seem that you’re more likely to be faithful to your marriage if you’re not a Christian. (Just look at the news, it’s as if every month a new conservative Christian leader is being flushed out as an adultery or a sodomite)

Faith: Mark Twain once said “Faith is believing in something you know ain’t so.” Since when is faith a value? Taking something “on faith” is an admission that there is no good evidence to believe something, but you’re going to believe it anyways. Faith is the last stand of the indefensible. It make people credulous and gullible, which makes them extremely vulnerable to getting scammed (as they all too often do) which leads us to our next “Christian value”…

Rejecting worldly goods: Still, nothing that makes this specifically Christian. Many religions around the world preach this, far fewer actually practice it. Instead most believers like to flaunt their wealth and piousness by building bigger and grander churches, wearing flashy religious jewelery. There are a lot of very wealthy religious leaders around the world, many who live off the donations of a poverty stricken flock. This has been a problem for religion since it was created. In the middle ages there was a cycle where the church would become too corrupt and oppulent whereby a monastic order bent on poverty would be founded. These new monks would try to live as beggars and try to reform the church until eventually they too became rich from donations and tithes; at which point a new corrective order would be founded. Greed is just in human nature.

Rejecting violence: This is a nice one that again every faith preaches, but few follow.

Forgiveness: This is an interesting one to me because growing up, I honestly thought Christians had invented this. I remember my mom telling me that in Japan they didn’t have the concept of forgiveness until the west introduced Christianity to them. (I know, sounds absurd, but it’s just a blip of a memory I have that influenced me as a child). I felt for the longest time that Jesus was a revolutionary in bringing this concept of forgiveness to the world. Now that I’m older I realize just how silly this is. Forgiveness is not solely a Christian Value, it wasn’t something divinely given to us by a god.

Love: Of all the values, I think this one is the least Christian. Even though this value is universal, Christians like to claim they have the market on love cornered. “God made us knowing we were going to sin and decided to send all sinners to be tortured for eternity, but then changed his mind and made a big gruesome show of killing his son in order to appease himself so he would let a select few escape eternal punishment, and this is because he loves us all so very deeply.”  No, Christians very seldom practice love, and when they do there are always strings attached. It could be helping the homeless only after they agree to sit through a sermon first, or bringing food over to a church member, solely because they’re a church member, or any kind of aid that is contingent on the person accepting some dogma or jumping through hoops of another kind to appease the religious. For the most part, many of them do good works because they feel it will earn them brownie points with god. It’s not that they really love, it’s that they want a reward for their generosity. You want to see how quickly the “Christian value” of love evaporates? Try leaving a church, the whiplash will snap your neck.

Righteousness: Again, other faiths practice the same thing. Feeling you and your actions are some how set-aside, better perhaps, than other people because you feel you have the “truth” is unfortunately not restricted to Christianity. Why is it that so many conservative Christian leaders in politics can commit horrible hypocrisies and get off scot-free while liberals go down in flames? Simple, they are “righteous” and many belong to “the family“. If you are a member of that family, you are seen personally chosen by god to carry out his work, and thus you can do no wrong. Think I’m kidding? Why is governor Mark Standford still the governor of South Carolina after leaving his post without telling anyone to go bang a woman, not his wife, in South America? His friends were the very same people who impeached president Clinton for having oral sex in the White House, yet they were silent when their friend did something much worse. Why? Because he’s righteous and can do no wrong.
That last one, righteousness, or self-righteousness, ties into the scary trend within the past half century of wedding “Christian values” with “Conservative values”. Today the two are pretty much synonymous.  Again, there are as many different definitions of “Conservative Christian Values” as there are conservative Christians but the majority, to me, seems to be as follows:

  • Dedication to dogma : Conservative Christians do one thing really well, and that is stick together. There is a party line that must always be towed, regardless of what happens in reality, there is an agreed upon narrative. Jesus is lord, America was founded by fundamentalist Christians for Christians, and Reagan was a prophet. No ifs, ands, or buts. There is a reason this group is such a strong, vocal, and cohesive voting block: their members swallow the dogma whole and fall in line.
  • The white male rules all. Don’t be fooled by the small handful of conservative public figures that are women or minorities, the white men still have the power in the party. This group has continually dug in there heels when it comes to leveling the playing field for women and minorities. (Here is a really interesting shift. Over the course of the 20th century, the religious completely switched sides on social issues. They once carried banners for women’s suffrage and for civil liberties for blacks, but in the 1970’s something drastically changed and I’m not exactly sure what it was. Perhaps it was the influx of people like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Ronald Reagan. Somehow the people of progressive change for the better became the people who fought to deny women rights to their own bodies, or equal pay in the work place. After fighting to help blacks get equal protection under the law, they threw down their banners when the LGBT community stepped up and asked for their turn. What happened? It’s as if hate became a value.
  • Fear and war. Again, in the last half century, these have increasingly become conservative Christian “values”. Fear of immigrants, fear or minorities, fear of your neighbor, fear of the government, fear of foreigners. Everywhere you look, fear, fear, fear! It’s the reactor that powers the modern conservative movement. 9/11 was a turbo boost to their fear reactor and they used it very effectively. A fearful people are quick to bite their tongues and fall in line with the dogma, which leads to wars. We’re scared of Iraq, we must invade. We’re scared of Iran, we must invade. We’re scared of North Korea, Venezuela, Somalia, China, you name it. As a conservative Christian and they’ll most likely tell you that we should steam roll these countries. Ann Coulter famously said after 9/11  “we should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.”  The peace talks in the middle east are a farce, why? Because peace in the middle east is the last thing conservative Christians want. They want the wars, the killing, the blood. Why? Because according to their “to do list”, in order for Jesus to return and take all his followers to heaven there has to be an apocalyptic religious war. Peace would only delay that. Don’t believe me?
  • Ignorance. (The brother of faith)  This is fast becoming a virtue in the fight against the teaching of science in schools. Religion was invented to explain the unexplainable: where did we come from? Why do my crops fail? What causes rain? What causes fertility in women? Why did my family die in a flood? Where does the sun go at night? Over the course of human history science has slowly discovered the natural explanations for things and vanquished the superstition that once filled the gap in understanding. In the past two-three hundred years, when society and science started to break free of the shackles of religious dogma, we’ve made tremendous advancements in everything. This trend shows no sign of slowing down and there are many in this country that see this advancement in knowledge as a threat to their deeply held beliefs. Thus they dig in their heels and demand that science not be taught in schools, that their iron age beliefs with only their faith for “evidence” should be taught. Meanwhile the rest of the world (and their economies that benefit from new products produced by science) are moving fast ahead of us, which brings us to our next value.
  • Greed. The stories of Jesus being generous to those in need must be liberal lies edited into the bible. I’m sure Jesus asked for proof of health insurance before healing the sick and the blind. Increasingly conservative Christians are turning against the poor. Just this week a $30bn unemployment benefits package was passed by congress, with almost every single republican voting NO. They had been shamelessly delaying the bill since early July, when the benefits ran out and real people ran out of options. At the same time they decry the $30bn addition to the deficit, they are gearing up to staunchly defend making Bush’s tax cuts for the richest Americans permanent. That add another $600bn to the deficit, but no, we can’t help the poor people. I’m sure Jesus was meant something else when talking about a rich man, a camel, and the eye of a needle.

So in conclusion, there are no values that are uniquely “Christian”, values are universal, regardless of your creed or politics.

Bring the country back to God!

5 Jul

Well, 4th of July has come and passed and now the orgy of nationalism is finally subsiding. During the build up to this climax I saw a number of signs and videos proclaiming how the christian god was integral to America. This got me thinking. It seems like everywhere you turn nowadays, there is a politician or somebody screaming that we need to “bring the country back to god!!!1″. They feel that if we only acknowledged their god enough by editing him into the constitution, plastering him all over government buildings, printing him on government memos, putting him on the currency, and altering the pledge to include him, the country would prosper, Al Qaeda would surrender, and all crime would end. Yes, if only we would prostrate our selves enough before their god, everything would be right in the world.

There are many things just patently ridiculous with this claim, but it brings to mind the image of superstitious witchdoctors spreading the blood of a chicken around a campfire to ward off evil spirits. What these people are demanding is basically the same thing. They want to put up a physical sign of their devotion in order to ward off bad things and gain favor with their god. It’s like a band of ancient goat herders erecting a statue to Zeus in order to gain his favor and protection. The “logic” goes: the more religious you make your country, the more it will prosper.

Well, lets check that with reality shall we? In a previous post I compared two maps, one showing religiosity, another showing quality of life. Contrary to the “logic” of “more god=better”, some of the worst places to live are the most religious. (This even carries over to the US, the one outlier on the global scale. The most religious states are the worst states in terms of health/education/poverty) Take Saudi Arabia and Iran for example. They’re theocracies. There is zero wall between church and state and the religion is the government. They put god first in everything and their countries are hell on earth. Human rights violations off the charts.

Oh, but GP! Those are Islamic nations! They’re worshiping the wrong god! You see, if they only worshiped Jesus then everything would be fine. <facepalm> A) it’s the same god, just different religion B) theocracy is theocracy, it doesn’t matter what god or religion it espouses, it will always be prone to violence, bigotry, oppression, and tyranny.  There have been christian theocracies in the past and they too made life as miserable as possible for their citizens. The Vatican, a christain theocracy, stood in the way of human advancement for centuries. It was only during the renaissance and enlightenment that the church began to loose it’s power. Only then did things start getting better. Here in America, a handful of puritans fled England, unhappy with the theocracy there, only to land here and set up their own theocracy! What happened? They started persecuting each other. Meanwhile England exploded into a civil war. Present day Uganda is moving fast towards becoming a christian theocracy. American evangelicals, unhappy that the bill of rights and the constitution prevent them from establishing “god’s kingdom’ in America, have gone to that poor African country to stir up hate and superstition. Being gay is now a crime punishable by death in Uganda, in keeping with god’s “perfect” word in the bible. Lets see, how much do you want to bet that Uganda will soon be a utopia of christian love, where everyone will happily live in god’s kingdom?

The worst part of this “bring the country back to god” bullshit is that the country was never “of god”, so you can’t really “bring it back”. The religious right has been working tirelessly for years to propagate this American creation myth that the US was founded by Jesus as a Christian nation. Reality and the facts don’t matter (they’re fundamentalists after all, they never have) so the fact that god is nowhere in the constitution and that the majority of the founding fathers were not christian, doesn’t bother them. Just deny everything and insist on your own version of history until people finally cave in. Our founding fathers had seen the dangers of theocracies. They left Europe to get away from the mixing of religion and government, and now people try to claim that to be American is to be Christian. No thank you. If people actually payed attention to what happens when you try to “bring a country to god” they’d run in the other direction as fast as they can.

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