Archive for the Society Category

“Prayer Breakfast” Fallout: The Real Problem

Posted in Society on February 13, 2015 by max

Of course, the President was correct in citing historical crimes committed in the name of Christianity (and the response of the reactionaries was utterly predictable). But I don’t think his critique went nearly far enough. After all, no reasonable person today identifies with the acts of “bad guys” like slave owners, the KKK, or the Inquisition. But I think we are overdue for some scrutiny of the “good guys”. For example, consider the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” — it’s a wonderful, stirring march, but, oh my, the lyrics… They 100% identify the Union cause with the will of God, and anoint the Union army as His specific instrument. It’s almost as if it were a football team. My contention is that this kind of thinking constitutes the root of the evil, yet it is pervasive at all levels of society, from Cub Scouts to prep sports to the military academies to the White House (at least under certain administrations).

Any plausible concept of God would acknowledge that He is interested in individual souls, and therefore would not and could not take “sides”. Under examination, it is clear that the idea that God is on “my” side presupposes that “my” soul is of more concern to Him than the other’s soul — an implicit value judgment. In fact, it constitutes an act of bigotry. And every coach, every preacher and every politician who has ever claimed God’s endorsement for his cause has in effect committed a hate crime, by casting his adversaries as unworthy of God’s consideration.

That may sound like a pretty broad condemnation, but I don’t see a compelling counter-argument that doesn’t involve specific revelations of “God’s will”, which, of course, is the presumption that I am attacking. It is possible that one can only see these things clearly from an atheist perspective.

Let’s stop believing

Posted in Society on February 23, 2011 by max

I saw a billboard on 880 today… “Judgment Day – May 21, 2011”. Uh huh. What is it with these people? Do they enjoy being dead wrong in public?

It made me think, “I wish these guys would get raptured — maybe then we could get back to running this country in the interest of human beings, instead of according to the whimsical notions of a bearded tyrant in the sky, as interpreted by a bunch of  angry misogynist crackpots…”

The annoying thing is, May 21 will come and go without the apocalypse, but these nitwits will just continue swallowing the same nonsense, because you can’t sway Believers with mere evidence. Even evidence of gross misrepresentation by their own alleged leaders.

It’s not about marriage

Posted in Society on December 4, 2010 by max

I’m speaking, of course, about the “gay marriage” issue currently in front of the 9th Circuit. The proponents of California’s Proposition 8 would have us think that the issue is about the “sanctity of marriage”, procreation, and child-rearing. This is nonsense, legally speaking. The state has no interest in defining what is or is not “sacred.” The real issue here is equal rights.

As currently implemented, the state-sanctioned concept of legal marriage (we are not talking about sacraments here) conveys certain special rights; including tax breaks, rights of visitation, inheritance, and child custody. The denial of these rights to couples based solely on their gender is clearly unconstitutional. It’s really as simple as that. All the moaning about “traditional concepts” and “welfare of the children” is a smokescreen, that one, in many cases, suspects of covering up plain old bigotry.

It may be easier to understand the essential point if we remove all the loaded language. Let’s try it this way: If the state is going to sponsor a “special status”, and allow persons to qualify for this status on a voluntary basis, then the state needs to be non-discriminatory in how it grants this status.

On the other side of the coin, my argument implies that if the state eliminated all the special “perks” associated with a marriage license, then there would no longer be a legal basis for challenging the discrimination against same-sex couples. I’m not sure if that is true — there may be another type of argument based on the public recognition aspect — but I am not prepared to discuss that at this time. In any case, I don’t think this circumstance is likely to arise.

I suppose my attitude may be disappointing to those who are focused on the romantic and religious aspects of marriage, same-sex or otherwise; but in my opinion, these have nothing to do with the state. People who feel a need to have the state validate the “sanctity” of their vows are already over the line on the whole church/state separation question. But that’s a rant for another day…