Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Church Sign Generator

Tuesday, June 13th, 2006

I’ve been seeing these things for a couple of years, and I should have figured out by now that they were artificial. Sent to me this morning by Ric Findlay:
churchsign_gans.jpg
And Ric also told me where he got it: The Church Sign Generator, of course!!

Stop using Jesus as a political battering ram

Sunday, April 9th, 2006

Garry Wills in today’s New York Times:

THERE is no such thing as a “Christian politics.” If it is a politics, it cannot be Christian. Jesus told Pilate: “My reign is not of this present order. If my reign were of this present order, my supporters would have fought against my being turned over to the Jews. But my reign is not here” (John 18:36). Jesus brought no political message or program.

This is a truth that needs emphasis at a time when some Democrats, fearing that the Republicans have advanced over them by the use of religion, want to respond with a claim that Jesus is really on their side. He is not. He avoided those who would trap him into taking sides for or against the Roman occupation of Judea. He paid his taxes to the occupying power but said only, “Let Caesar have what belongs to him, and God have what belongs to him” (Matthew 22:21). He was the original proponent of a separation of church and state.

Those who want the state to engage in public worship, or even to have prayer in schools, are defying his injunction: “When you pray, be not like the pretenders, who prefer to pray in the synagogues and in the public square, in the sight of others. In truth I tell you, that is all the profit they will have. But you, when you pray, go into your inner chamber and, locking the door, pray there in hiding to your Father, and your Father who sees you in hiding will reward you” (Matthew 6:5-6). He shocked people by his repeated violation of the external holiness code of his time, emphasizing that his religion was an internal matter of the heart.

Making fun of creationists

Tuesday, April 4th, 2006

Dan Piraro makes fun of creationist cartoonist Johnny Hart (“B.C.”) in his Bizarro panel of April 3.

Hey, remember what Jesus said…

Wednesday, February 1st, 2006

A story by Stephanie Simon in the Los Angeles Times, about a group of Christians who remember that Jesus had something to say about people taking care of one another:

…a small but growing movement of evangelical Christians who no longer want to be defined by gay marriage and abortion. Plumbing the Bible for God’s priorities, they are talking instead about global warming and affordable housing, about fewer tax cuts for the rich and more food stamps for the poor.

“The typical image of evangelicals is that they’re concerned with the sanctity of life, the traditional family and that’s it – they buy the whole Republican agenda when they vote,” said Ron Sider, president of Evangelicals for Social Action, a think tank based in Wynnewood, Pa.


Citing Jesus’ concern for the most vulnerable, evangelicals last month led a protest against a proposed federal budget that would cut deeply into food stamps, subsidized health insurance and student aid.

The Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the National Assn. of Evangelicals, has spoken out for clean-air and clean-water policies, arguing that God ordered man to be a good steward of creation. He hears pastors everywhere picking up the theme.

A couple of weeks ago, after I performed my song “Who Will Save Us from the Saved?” (listen to it) in an Atlanta night club, I was approached by a man who introduced himself as “Reverend Scales.” I braced myself for a talking-to, but he was more interested in shaking my hand and thanking me for sharing his concerns about the way Jesus’ name is being abused today.
Later, I got this email from Rev. Scales:

Some Christians, it would seem, tend to want to “shoot” their wounded than to make the effort required to help and nuture them through tough times. These are troubling times and one can’t help but wonder what exactly Jesus would think of His church.

In the song, I say this to those “Christians”:

He was all about compassion
If he knew you, he would cry

I am happy to read that there are many evangelicals who agree with me.
P.S. This just in, courtesy of Mark van Allen. It’s an amusing little film about monkeys.

A new front in the war on Christmas

Sunday, December 25th, 2005

I love this story by Joe Garofali in the Christmas Eve edition of the SF Chronicle:
Gift rift: Evangelicals split over plan to ban presents

Conservative religious leaders are so pleased with their campaign against the “war on Christmas” that they’re going to rev it up next year.

Look for more lawyers ready to pounce on Christmas disses, they say, more teachers ready to tattle on silencings of “Silent Night” and more boycotts of stores for yanking the “Christmas” out of the season.

The whole thing is nothing but a Weapon of Mass Distraction hatched by the paid liars at Fox News to keep the mindless base enraged while the kleptocrats continue their mission of stealing America from its citizens.
Now the dreaded American Family Association wants to get a good deal more literal about this religious holiday:

The American Family Association is suggesting that adults buy nothing from stores for each other next year. Sliding an Xbox 360 to a child would be OK, said association president Tim Wildmon, but adults should funnel their consumer cash to a charity that helps the poor — preferably one friendly to “Christian values” such as the Salvation Army.

Good luck with that, Tim. You are going to run smack into the true religion of mainstream America: materialism.
I’m really glad to see these guys put their money where their moralistic mouths are (although I’d be interested in seeing how much Tim Wildmon and dad Donald give to the poor from their own personal fortunes), but what I’m really glad to see is another rift in the unholy alliance of corporatists and religionists that has taken my beloved country do far down the ugly, toxic and inhuman path we’ve been on for most of my lifetime.
Update 12/26/05: “War on Christmas” quarterback (and, it must be noted, profiteering author) John Gibson engages in an epistolary debate on beliefnet with Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. An excerpt from one of Lynn’s letters:

America contains 2,000 different faiths and 20 million freethinkers, a rich biodiversity of theological and philosophical viewpoints. Unfortunately, a relatively small band of members of the Christian faith seem insistent on being officially, and always, on the top of the hill. We might call them “Christian Holiday Triumphalists.” They are not about to ever let another faith even come close to getting the acknowledgment their faith receives. If it is December, this is the time to celebrate “Christmas,” not anything else. They know that they are in the majority, and whoever dares to mess with them will feel their wrath.

Onward, Christian Soldiers

Wednesday, December 21st, 2005

Yesterday was a good day for the forces of rationalism.
The judge in the Dover PA intelligent design trial issued a brilliant, thorough, and scathing decision in favor of the plaintiffs (and against the fabulists). Read the whole thing here (PDF).
A few excerpts and comments, gathered from a variety of blogs and news stories:
CNN quotes the decision:

We have concluded that it is not [science], and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents….

To be sure, Darwin’s theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions….

georgia10 comments on dailykos:

Having read my share of dry judicial opinions over the years, I can tell you that Judge Jones III’s verbal smackdown of “intelligent design” is a welcomed breath of fresh air. His opinion spans 139 pages of pure, razor- sharp analysis. It’s beautiful. It’s scathing….

Here are some facts you don’t hear about from the ID supporters:

1. The board members wanted a 50-50 ratio between the teaching of creationism and evolution in biology classes (p. 95)

2. The President also wanted to inject religion into social studies classes, and supplied the school with a book about the myth of the separation of church and state. (p. 96)

3. Another board member said “This country wasn’t founded on Muslim beliefs or evolution. This country was founded on Christianity and our students should be taught as such.” (p. 102)

4. At a meeting, a board member’s wife gave a speech, saying that “evolution teaches nothing but lies,” quoted from Genesis, asked “how can we allow anything else to be taught in our schools,” recited gospel verses telling people to become born again Christians, and stated that evolution violated the teachings of the Bible. (p. 103)

5. Other statements by board members included “Nowhere in the Constitution does it call for a separation of church and state,” and “liberals in black robes” are “taking away the rights of Christians, ” and “2,000 years ago someone died on a cross. Can’t someone take a stand for him?”

All this evidence was presented, and yet the defense still claimed that “intelligent design” was secular and they wanted it taught for secular purposes. They perjured themselves time and time again on the stand in an attempt to inject their religious beliefs into the public school system. Judge Jones, in the most riveting part of the opinion, calls them on their bullshit.

Kevin Drum pulls these two excerpts from the decision:

….The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy. It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.

….Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board’s decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.

In other news, President Bush enlists in The War on Christmas! Courtesy of The Poor Man:

PRESIDENT BUSH. Last night [… blah blah blah everybody who thinks I shouldn’t wipe my ass with Constitution wants to gay marry Osama on a pile of aborted fetuses blah blah -ed. …]

And so I’m just going to keep doing my job, David. You can keep focusing on all these focus groups and polls and all that business. My job is to lead, to keep telling the American people what I believe, work to bring people together to achieve a common objective, stand on principle — and that’s the way I’m going to lead. I did so in 2005 and I’m going to do so in 2006.

Thank you all for coming. Happy holidays to you. Appreciate it.

I love the first comment on that entry: “The War on Christmas has become a quagmire.”

If God existed, he/she should strike this fucker dead already

Thursday, November 10th, 2005

Robertson tells Dover, PA citizens, after the election: ‘Don’t turn to God if you need help’
“If there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city. And don’t wonder why He hasn’t helped you when problems begin…” – Pat Robertson
On today’s 700 Club, Rev. Pat Robertson took the opportunity to strongly rebuke voters in Dover, PA who removed from office school board members who supported teaching faith-based ‘intelligent design’ and instead elected Democrats who opposed bringing up the possibility of a Creator in the school system’s science curriculum.
Rev. Robertson warned the people of Dover that God might forsake the town because of the vote.
“I’d like to say to the good citizens of Dover. If there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city. And don’t wonder why He hasn’t helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I’m not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that’s the case, don’t ask for His help because he might not be there.”

“A God with whom I am not familiar”

Saturday, September 10th, 2005

A column by Tim Wise in the LA Weekly, forwarded to me by Bob Sarles:
A God With Whom I Am Not Familiar

This is an open letter to the man sitting behind me at La Paz today, in Nashville, at lunchtime, in the Brooks Brothers shirt:
You don’t know me. But I know you.
I watched you as you held hands with your tablemates at the restaurant where we both ate this afternoon. I listened as you prayed, and thanked God for the food you were about to eat, and for your own safety, several hundred miles away from the unfolding catastrophe in New Orleans.
You blessed your chimichanga in the name of Jesus Christ, and then proceeded to spend the better part of your meal — and mine, since I was too near your table to avoid hearing every word — moralistically scolding the people of that devastated city, heaping scorn on them for not heeding the warnings to leave before disaster struck.

further…

Did you ever stop to think just what a rancid asshole such a God would have to be, such that he would take care of the likes of you, while letting babies die in their mothers’ arms, and letting old people die in wheelchairs, at the foot of Canal Street? But no, it isn’t God who’s the asshole here, Skip (or Brad, or Braxton, or whatever your name is).
God doesn’t feed you, and it isn’t God that kept me from turning around and beating your lily-white privileged ass today either. God has nothing to do with it. God doesn’t care who wins the Super Bowl. God doesn’t help anyone win an Academy Award. God didn’t get you your last raise, or your SUV. And if God is even half as tired as I am of having to listen to self-righteous bastards like you blame the victims of this nightmare for their fate, then you had best eat slowly from this point forward.

and…

Can you imagine what would happen if the pampered, overfed corporate class, which complains about taxes taking a third of their bloated incomes, had to sit in the hot sun for four, going on five, days? Without a margarita or hotel swimming pool to comfort them, I mean?
Oh, and please, I know. I’m stereotyping you. Imagine that. I’ve assumed, based only on your words, what kind of person you are, even though I suppose I could be wrong. How does that feel, Biff? Hurt your feelings? So sorry. But, hey, at least my stereotypes of you aren’t deadly. They won’t affect your life one bit, unlike the ones you carry around with you and display within earshot of people like me, supposing that no one could possibly disagree.

…and…

Well, Chuck, it’s a free country, and so you certainly have the right, I suppose, to continue lecturing the poor, in between checking your Blackberry and dropping the kids off at soccer practice. If you want to believe that the poor of New Orleans are immoral and greedy, and unworthy of support at a time like this ‘ or somehow more in need of your scolding than whatever donation you might make to a relief fund ‘ so be it. But let’s leave God out of it, shall we? All of it.
Your God is one with whom I am not familiar, and I’d prefer to keep it that way.

Pat Robertson’s “hurricane hustle”

Friday, September 9th, 2005

The title of this post comes from the Huffington Post — Max Blumenthal pointing to his column in the 9/19 issue of The Nation, a story headlined Pat Robertson’s Katrina Cash:

Robertson has used the tax-exempt, nonprofit Operation Blessing as a front for his shadowy financial schemes, while exerting his influence within the GOP to cover his tracks. In 1994 he made an emotional plea on The 700 Club for cash donations to Operation Blessing to support airlifts of refugees from the Rwandan civil war to Zaire (now Congo). Reporter Bill Sizemore of The Virginian Pilot later discovered that Operation Blessing’s planes were transporting diamond-mining equipment for the African Development Corporation, a Robertson-owned venture initiated with the cooperation of Zaire’s then-dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.
After a lengthy investigation, Virginia’s Office of Consumer Affairs determined that Robertson “willfully induced contributions from the public through the use of misleading statements and other implications.” Yet when the office called for legal action against Robertson in 1999, Virginia Attorney General Mark Earley, a Republican, intervened with his own report, agreeing that Robertson had made deceptive appeals but overruling the recommendation for his prosecution.

Operation Blessing is on the Bush administration’s list of Hurricane Katrina charities. Imagine my surprise.

A real christian

Thursday, September 8th, 2005

I met a real Christian yesterday. Her name is Oral Lee Brown.
oralleebrown03small.jpg
This is a woman who “adopted” a classroom full of first-graders in 1987 and aided them all the way through the Oakland schools and into college.
I was in her office to record her end of an interview with a Boston radio producer. While I was setting up, she was talking to someone on the phone about the effort by the Oakland Association of Realtors to find vacant homes and apartments for Katrina victims. “I don’t want to see any more people in shelters,” she told me. Her group is talking landlords into making vacant housing available at no charge to these people who are coming here from the disaster zone; they have other volunteers who will take the new arrivals shopping for food and clothing when they get here and make sure the have their needs met for as long as it takes. They’re going to try to find jobs for as many as they can, too.
As the interview progressed and I sat there monitoring on headphones, I was moved nearly to tears by Mrs. Brown’s story. She grew up in rural Mississippi, one of nine children; her father was a sharecropper who had some land of his own by the time she was born. She endured violence and raw hatred from the racists of that time and place, and she got out as soon as she could.
A chance encounter with a hungry child on the streets of East Oakland drew Mrs. Brown to a neighborhood school. She was unable to find the child she was looking for, but she wound up making a deal with the entire first-grade class that she would support them in every way she could and pay their way to college.
This page tells much of the story.
She tithes ten percent to the church, because she credits God with her own good fortune in life. She gives a lot of her money, as well as her time and social capital, to the kids – not just that first class, but several more groups of students. A new class will enter the program this month.
As I packed up my stuff, I told Mrs. Brown how moved I was by her story, and I told her how upset I’ve been by “Christians” like Pat Robertson. She agreed with me that he hardly seems to have understood the teachings of Jesus.
This is what Christianity is supposed to be about. It was a great charge to the spiritual batteries.

Pat Robertson advocates assassination of Hugo Chavez

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005

Initially gleaned from Media Matters for America:

ROBERTSON: There was a popular coup that overthrew him [Chavez]. And what did the United States State Department do about it? Virtually nothing. And as a result, within about 48 hours that coup was broken; Chavez was back in power, but we had a chance to move in. He has destroyed the Venezuelan economy, and he’s going to make that a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over
the continent.

You know, I don’t know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he
thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to
go ahead and do it. It’s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. And I
don’t think any oil shipments will stop. But this man is a terrific
danger and the United … This is in our sphere of influence, so we
can’t let this happen. We have the Monroe Doctrine, we have other
doctrines that we have announced. And without question, this is a
dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil, that
could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him out, and I
think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don’t need
another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm
dictator. It’s a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives
do the job and then get it over with.

As a friend on the WELL said, this story has legs (as well it should). Bloomberg reports as follows:

Evangelist Robertson Says U.S. Should Kill Chavez (Update1)
Aug. 23 (Bloomberg) — Television evangelist Pat Robertson told
viewers of “The 700 Club” program that the U.S. should kill
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to stop the Latin American country becoming a “launching pad” for extremism.
[snip]
“We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come
to exercise that ability,” Robertson said yesterday on the program,
an audiotape of which was posted on the Web site of the Christian
Broadcasting Network, founded by the cleric and based in Virginia
Beach, Virginia. “This is a dangerous enemy to our south controlling
a huge pool of oil.”

BBC News: TV host urges US to kill Chavez
Voice of America: US Christian Broadcaster Calls for Chavez
Assassination

Isn’t it time America stopped listening to these bloodthirsty creeps? Isn’t it about time decent Christians started policing what is being said and done in the name of their Lord?

“Jesus is watching you”

Monday, August 22nd, 2005


jesus100_2966, originally uploaded by Look..

My friend Stu took this photo in Farmington NM in February.

I see a lot of nasty “religious” messages in my travels. Today, driving across Pennsylvania on I-76, I saw a billboard whose exact wording I don’t recall, but it included the phrase “God is to be feared!”

Who the fuck wants to live like that?

Who benefits from this belittling of the human spirit?

Who Will Save Us from the Saved?

Monday, August 22nd, 2005

This new song has been very well-received on tour, and it’s already gotten a little bit of airplay. It is on my new CD, Solo Electric; you can hear the track here (mp3).
WHO WILL SAVE US FROM THE SAVED?
Words and music by David Gans
Such a lovely planet
Wonder how it came to be
Was it chaos or creation?
Was it God or entropy?
Now the spirit may be sleeping
But it dwells in every heart
I put my faith in nature
Of which we are a part
There are many here among us
Who believe this world is theirs
When it’s beaten and depleted
They will rise into the air
And the ones who don’t believe them
Face a dark, eternal grave
No one knows, but they are certain
Who will save us from the saved?
I put my faith in nature
What I hear and smell and see
Til I meet that higher power
I’ll do what makes sense to me
And if what I would call a good life
Is what you must call depraved
Give me freedom from religion
Who will save us from the saved?
I honor your traditions
And insist you honor mine
In a world with any justice
Blasphemy is not a crime
You believe what you believe in
I respect your wish to pray
But if you try to make me join you
I’ll resist you all the way
I’m not saying I know better
I’m just saying we don’t know
Til the day we get an answer
I go where my heart says go
It’s a narrow-minded Jesus
I see reflected in your eye
He was all about compassion
If he knew you, he would cry
I put my faith in nature
What I hear and smell and see
Til I meet that higher power
I’ll do what makes sense to me
And if what I would call a good life
Is what you must call depraved
Give me freedom from religion
Who will save us from the saved?
©2005 Whispering Hallelujah (BMI). All rights reserved.