A look at most of the major news headlines about Christianity often paints its followers as ultraconservative people who are against certain minority groups, such as refugees and the LGBT community. However, that’s not always the case, and a potentially powerful movement known as the Christian Left, or progressive Christianity, is also present and making impacts in faith communities and beyond.
What really pushes my buttons are average well educated people who are science stupid. I’m not talking about not knowing Einstein’s Theory of Relativity by heart but basic science like how magnets work. Talk show host Bill O’Reilly has a problem with knowing basic science and there is video to prove it.
On his 01/04/2010 FOX “news” program “The O’Reilly Factor” he said this:
“Tide comes in tide goes out, never a miscommunication. You can’t explain that. You can’t explain why the tide goes in….”
His guest was David Silverman, President of American Atheists. The topic was the new billboard American Atheist sponsored in Huntsville Alabama that had the text “You KNOW they’re all SCAMS” along side the major religious symbols.
In his rush to defend religion, O’Reilly picked the wrong item to “prove” religion is real. Many people try to argue that if you can’t explain something then it must be “God” but people try to pick something that is in fact not easy to explain or currently can’t be explained.
In you might be wondering, ocean tides are influenced by the gravity of the Moon.
This is why we need a rededication to strong rational science education. Mom’s don’t let your kids grow up to be science stupid like Bill O’Reilly.
The Southern Poverty Law Center added our “friends” the Family Research Council to their list of hate groups for their stance and comments concerning gay rights. What took them so long to do it? The comments are just plain ignorant and hateful.
For the Family Research Council, which hosts the annual Values Voter Summit in Washington — an event which this year drew presidential hopefuls like Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee — the designation comes thanks to the group’s standing at the forefront of opposition to gay marriage and open gay and lesbian service in the military.
The main offender in the eyes of the SPLC is Peter Sprigg, the FRC’s senior researcher and vocal opponent of the gay rights movement. In May, Sprigg told me that an end to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would lead to more American servicemen receiving unwelcome same-sex fellatio in their sleep, part of a long line of reasoning from Sprigg suggesting that gay men are more likely to be sex offenders than anyone else.
The SPLC pointed to several other Sprigg comments when deciding to list the FRC as a hate group.
For instance, this:
[I]n March 2008, Sprigg, responding to a question about uniting gay partners during the immigration process, said: “I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them.” He later apologized, but then went on, last February, to tell MSNBC host Chris Matthews, “I think there would be a place for criminal sanctions on homosexual behavior.” “So we should outlaw gay behavior?” Matthews asked. “Yes,” Sprigg replied.
So now I will wait for the “You’re not helping” claims from the soft side of our side. Personally I agree with SPLC just as I want to see more of the crazy right wing groups referred to as terrorist groups.
Groups that advocate the treatment of any other group as other than full members of this country should be labeled as a hate group. Any group that advocates or supports by silence, violence should be on a terrorism list of some kind.
I like Huffington Post for their political coverage. That’s what drew me to them in the beginning. Even as they changed their view point to be harder on the Obama Administration, I still read it every day. However editorial changes over the last few months have pushed me to stop recommending the site and to avoid linking to them in the future.
What changed my mind was when they added a religion section. At first I thought, since it was a liberal blog, it might give a fair shake to religion, instead the first articles I saw were from people bashing so-called “new atheists” and articles supporting creationism. Like the article by David Klinghoffer, from the creation shills the Discovery Institute, blaming Darwin for eugenics and the Nazis.
Then there is the Living section that is full of pseudoscientific crap one sees regularly on Oprah and “The View”. As Joshua Holland wrote:
I’ve long been a critic of HuffPo’s “Living” section, where fake doctors peddle snake oil cures and vaccine conspiracy theorists spread their poisonous misinformation. Those who read the Huffington Post solely for its (usually good) political content often don’t even realize that a couple verticals away is a den of quackery and pseudo science…
But publishing the new agey holistic naturopath crystal-healing Beverly Hills quack-to-the-stars bullshit of Adriana’s good friend’s nutritionist is one (stupid, potentially dangerous) thing. Giving a platform to the anti-science creationist dingbats at The Discovery Institute is a step in a darker direction.
Then today what should I see but in a prominent “above the fold” place a link to a live chat with the “positive thinking” huckster to the stars Tony Robbins. Here is a screen cap:
When it comes to science and medicine I have to insist on the truth and articles based on actual evidence that has been peer reviewed. Sometimes science doesn’t feel good – that isn’t its job. Science is suppose to inform us on the world in which we live.
And as blogger vjack noted:
I admit that I have been slow to act. I was torn because I continue to find excellent political content on HuffPo that I do not always see elsewhere. I have tried to avoid the woo and focus my attention on the good stuff. But now I have reached the point where the quackery simply couldn’t be avoided any longer. It is too pervasive, and it makes me question the credibility of everything else the blog does. PZ is right; it is time to walk away from HuffPo.
I agree the quackery taints what is good about HuffPo and so I can’t quote or link to it any longer.
The ABC News program “Nightline” broadcast a segment on atheist Edwin Kagin Friday night and from the framing and word use it was one of those “look at the scary atheist” stories. I can’t say that I am surprised since most people hate atheists and what they don’t believe.
The story started out on the crap side with the intro from host Cynthia McFadden:
The group we are about to meet are not among them (believers). They not only disbelieve they are waging a WAR against on religion and mockery is often their weapon of choice…
After hearing that violent wording no wonder some minds slammed shut.
The rest of the piece went the same way and as blogger Paul Fidalgo put it:
But I didn’t know how bad it could get. Dan Harris and those responsible for his report on Edwin Kagin, in-your-face atheism and “de-baptism” should be ashamed. The entire piece is a seven-minute finger wagging at those mean atheists. The questions to Kagin pretty much never move beyond variations on “don’t you think you’re being really rude?” Kagin and those with him at the de-baptism ceremony are portrayed as nasty, callous jerks who are out to hurt feelings for the sheer joy of it. Plus, they drag out the subject of Kagin’s fundamentalist son, I suppose to serve as some kind of foil, as if you say, “How come your son is a man of God and you’re such a jerk?” Harris even pulls the “what about Stalin” canard.
I agree with Paul. I wasn’t expecting a hand job like the believers get all the time in the news in similar profiles but at least Nightline could have been less dickish about it.
Of course the cowardly faction of atheists and freethinkers will come out and blame Edwin and the others in the profile for giving atheists a bad name as if atheism should only be about puppy dogs and rainbows. They fail to see the bias in the overall reporting. Television can even make Mother Theresa look bad if they wanted to. (It seems commenter to Paul’s blog are doing what I feared – blame the victim).
ABC decided to focus on Kagin’s de-baptism show and turn it into a negative practice which it really isn’t. Like one of the people interviewed said the difference is believers take it seriously. Edwin also said that if someone is secure in their faith then they shouldn’t be bothered by his mockery. He’s right and the same should go for the tisk-tisk atheists who cave into the whims of believers for the want of being liked.
The other bit in the report that pissed me off was the tag at the end when McFadden ended the segment with:
“the blurry line between free speech and poor taste…”
Uh, no there isn’t a line, blurry or otherwise. Free speech has nothing to do with taste because taste is subjective while free speech isn’t.
Here is the profile if you want to see it:
A commentary in the November 17th issue of the Washington Independent by Jonathan Patrick Herzog talks about the recent lawsuit by Jeremy Hall, a United States Army Specialist and atheist and Military Religious Freedom Foundation. The suit complains about harassment Hall has endured since he tried to organize an atheist meeting at his base in Iraq. The harassment included being threatened by Major Freddy J Welborn, who threatened to bring charges against him claiming he was violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice. I first wrote about this incident back in 2007 in my post Army Major disrupts Atheist meeting in Iraq – threatens court martial
Herzog is working on a book titled “The Hammer and the Cross,” exploring how U.S. leaders used religion as a weapon in the early Cold War.
Just like the “under God” statement being added to the pledge, religious evangelism got hot in the military during the Cold War. Herzog writes:
Added to this dilemma was a spiritual wild card. While Americans today would probably define communism as a political or economic philosophy, decision-makers in the 1940s and 1950s viewed it as a quasi-religion. It had prophets and prophecy, missionaries and martyrs, and a belief in the ultimate perfectibility of mankind through inevitable historical process.
National-security analysts fretted over the almost “messianic” devotion of Soviet citizens. Military leaders worried that physical force alone might be insufficient in the emerging Cold War. “Over and over again, gigantic concentrations of physical power have gone down in defeat before a lesser strength propelled by conviction,” warned one brigadier general in 1949. “The Goliaths have perished at the hands of the Davids.”
As long as the United States remains a religious country, there will be religion in the military. And while the outcome of Hall’s lawsuit is uncertain, it has sparked a worthwhile conversation about faith and the uniform.
Understanding why the military was allowed to craft its own religious imprimatur 60 years ago takes no large stretch of the imagination. During an era when the truly religious could not be communists, the truly irreligious could not be Americans. This axiom rang particularly true for those on the front lines of the Cold War.
Those lamenting Hall’s lawsuit today should consider this slice of military history. From Puritan dreams to evangelical rallies, religion has remained a constant force in our national journey — the military’s in particular.
But the official sanctions afforded it have been anything but constant. Few today realize just how much of the military’s current positions toward religion, far from being longtime American attitudes, are merely vestiges from the Cold War era.
While Herzog feels the military is more secular than during the heat of the Cold War, others like the Military Religious Freedom Foundation have documented bias or harassment of non-believers in the military. A recent big stink happened at the US Air Force Academy back in 2005. But the article is still a good read about the history of religion in the military.