The Blaze Warns of New Threat to Christian Televangelists From Atheist Roku Channel

Over at Glenn Beck’s The Blaze (so you know it’s sane and rational), Billy Hallowell warns, “Do Christian Televangelists Have Something to Fear? Atheists Reveal New Effort to Impact Culture”.

By this he means that American Atheists have announced that they’ll be launching an atheist TV channel for the Roku set-top video-streaming box. So yeah. I have a Roku, I’m happy with it, and I expect it’ll be something like The Young Turks or one of the more popular cable-access-ey YouTube channels.

But the headline asks whether Christian televangelists have anything to fear. From what? From one Internet streaming channel on one device, somehow sneaking past your kids’ defenses and indoctrinating them into godless atheimism and satanic debauchery or anything? Well, I suppose that’s something to worry about. I mean, it’s not as if there are any religous channels on Roku already, is it?

Unless you count

Those are just the religious channels that were added in May and June 2014 (Sources:1 2 3 4 5 6)

Yes, how can Christians possibly compete with one atheist channel? They’re obviously doomed. Doooooooomed.

Lowering the Bar for Christian “Persecution” Yet Again

(Yes, I know I’m late to the party. I’ve been battling floods and a cold. Give me a break.)

The American Family Association-owned One News Now has a sad. A very deep sad, because their religious freedom is under attack, yet again!

See, Mississippi recently passed the Religous Freedom Restoration Act, which basically says that if you have religious objections to the existence of gay people, then you don’t have to serve them in your establishment open to the public. In other words, you can’t put up a sign that says “We don’t serve your kind here” but you can have one that says “Jesus doesn’t want us to serve your kind here.”

Mississippi sticker
But some businesses in Mississippi have evidently decided that they love Mammon more than Jesus, because they’ve started putting up stickers that say, “We don’t discriminate. If you’re buying, we’re selling.” Can you think of a more anti-American sentiment than that? No, you can’t. Shut up; I’m telling you, you can’t.

This is not the sort of thing that the AFA is going to take lying down:

Buddy Smith, executive vice president of Tupelo-based American Family Association, offers his take on the sticker campaign.

“It’s not really a buying campaign, but it’s a bully campaign,” he says, “and it’s being carried out by radical homosexual activists who intend to trample the freedom of Christians to live according to the dictates of scripture.

“They don’t want to hear that homosexuality is sinful behavior – and they wish to silence Christians and the church who dare to believe this truth.”

Yes, a sticker that doesn’t tell anyone what to believe, or what to say and what not to say, is an attempt at silencing Christians. That’s how insidious they are!

I’m still working on figuring out what “freedom of Christians to live according to the dictates of scripture” refers to. Possibly the freedom to stone gay people to death; the freedom to live in a town where no one dares to admit that they’re gay. Something like that, probably.

Imagine, if you will, the anguish that these people are living: of knowing that somewhere out there, there are people who don’t believe exactly as they do! Shall we shed a tear of sympathy for their suffering?

No, let’s not.

Dead Pope Prankster

Part 1

Achievement unlocked: Attain sainthood
There’s a story being repeated uncritically all over the Net, about a woman who had a brain aneurysm, but didn’t die of it because a dead pope magically healed her.

Oh, and this allows the dead pope to level up. From HuffPo:

Mora, her doctors and the Catholic Church say her aneurysm disappeared that day in a miracle that cleared the way for the late pope to be declared a saint on April 27 in a ceremony at the Vatican where Mora will be a guest of honor.

Now, one might reasonably ask, how do we know that this was really magic? Floribeth Mora presents this compelling line of evidence:

Acknowledging that many people would be highly sceptical of her recovery, and of the whole concept of miracles, she said that “people can think what they want – what I know is that I’m healthy.”

“There are always people who don’t believe me, who say I’m crazy, but what counts for me today is that this ‘crazy woman’ is cured.”

So we know that she was cured because she said so. With evidence like that, who needs to see X-rays or MRIs or lab results? Besides The Telegraph writes:

Even her neurosurgeon seems to be convinced. “If I cannot explain it from a medical standpoint, something non-medical happened,” said Alejandro Vargas Roman. “I can believe it was a miracle.”

But here’s what Reuters wrote last year, when the Catholic Church approved Mora’s cure as the second in the two-miracle-minimum needed for John Paul II’s promotion:

The neurosurgeon who admitted and diagnosed Mora, however, denies he gave her a month to live. Alejandro Vargas says he forecast only a 2 percent chance Mora could bleed into her brain again within a year of her diagnosis, possibly killing her.

“She was sent home with medication that would reduce her blood pressure and was advised to improve her diet so as not to raise her cholesterol levels and thus decrease the chance of her having a second bleeding episode. She was sedated because the headaches were too sharp,” he told Reuters. “We didn’t send her home to be sedated and wait until she died in her sleep.”

That’s all well and good—how many people can you name who survived a disease with a 2% mortality rate?—but how do we know that Dead Pope was involved? Religion News Service:

She claimed her prayers were answered when John Paul II appeared to her in a vision on the day he was beatified — the first step on the road to sainthood — after he was credited with his first miracle.

“When I woke up in the morning, I looked at the magazine cover which showed Pope Wojtyla with his arms outstretched.

“I felt a deep sense of healing. I heard his voice say to me, ‘Get up and don’t be afraid,’” she said, recalling one of John Paul’s signature lines.

I don’t know what else you doubting Thomases want. If you can’t trust someone who’s just been stressed out by a hospital stay, is on new meds, and has a thing in her brain, whom can you trust? There’s no way she could possibly be mistaken!

But she was cured, right? And both Mora and her doctor said that they don’t know how she was healed, so therefore they know how she was healed (it was Dead Pope Magic) (Dead Pope Magic is the name of my next webcomic). That’s just logic.

Okay, so she was dying (but not really dying) of an aneurysm, and now it’s gone. And she can’t think of a better explanation than the one that she really really likes (Dead Pope magiced her back to health), so obviously that explanation must be the correct one. And she won’t provide any solid evidence because, well, doubters gonna doubt.

I’m sold!


Part 2

But apparently there’s some kind of Law of Conservation of Pope Magic, because on the same day that the Catholic church was celebrating Dead Pope John Paul II healing that one woman… Well, I’ll let Italian news agency ANSA tell it:

(ANSA) – Brescia, April 24 – A young man in northern Italy was crushed to death Thursday by a falling crucifix that was built to honor pope John Paul II’s 1998 visit to Brescia. The 21-year-old’s death comes just three days before John Paul will be canonized in Rome.

Does this count as JP2′s third miracle?

Worldliness Makes Baby Jesus Cry

So the other day I was listening to Mark Driscoll’s series on James the brother of Jesus, and heard:

When he’s [James] talking about “the world” here and worldly conflict, let me give you a simple definition of what it means to be worldly: worldly means that things are put together in a way that Satan likes.

That’s all that it means. It means that things are put together, organized, brought together in a way that causes Satan to be glad and causes Jesus to grieve.

It’s when anything is put together and Satan’s, like, “That’s the way that I wanted it” and Jesus is, like, “That’s not the way that I wanted it.”

And all this time I thought the expression “X makes baby Jesus cry” was just a cheap shot at unsophisticated bible-thumpers, not something that anyone would actually say; and certainly not a prominent preacher with probably a few decorative degrees and a megachurch and such. But apparently I was wrong.

(Oh, and Pastor Mark, in case you stumble upon this: unless you’re a thirteen-year-old girl, using “to be like” as a synonym for “to say” makes baby Jesus cry.)

Why Can’t I Vote for God?

Le Chat, by Philippe Geluck
In case your French isn’t good enough to read the strip above:

“If God were democratically elected by all the faithful; if his income were taxed, and if he had to retire at age 65, I might become a believer.”

That touches on something I find odd about the Abrahamic religions: their holy texts seem to see monarchy as the highest—indeed, only—form of government. I suppose there’s a dalliance with communism in the book of Acts, but that society isn’t expected to last long. Where does the Bible, to pick the example I’m most familiar with, advocate democracy?

As King Arthur might have told Dennis, the constitutional peasant, “You don’t vote for god!” But why not?

The idea of a human doing God’s job seems ridiculous, not simply because of the limitations of flesh and blood—presumably the duties of the office involve telepathically telling peope where their keys are, or magically removing someone’s tumor, or causing an earthquake to kill a bunch of unbelievers. But presumably the office comes with the wherewithal to do these things—but also because God is usually presented as being so much better than us in every way: wiser, kinder, omniscient-er, and so on, that there can be no comparison.

Okay, so why not have an election? If God’s all he’s cracked up to be, he shouldn’t have any trouble winning an election.

Now, maybe people would vote for someone else, what with the heart of man being corrupt and his every thought being evil, the sorts of things that got caused Noah’s flood, that sort of thing. But what’s the worst that can happen? Assuming there’s an election every ten years or so, how much damage could a human do to the universe in that amount of time? Especially if the Catholics are right and there’s a celestial bureaucracy in charge of making sure things run smoothly.

It’d be the Bush years on a cosmic scale: we’d fuck up, it’d pass, we’d elect someone better (God, presumably), and we’d try our best to forget all about that other guy.

But if he’d rather remain a dictator who never shows himself, I suppose that’s his business. But I can’t help wondering what he’s hiding.

Plus, of course, that whole “supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony mere raw strength” thing.

Apologetics of the Day: God Hides to Show He Exists

So I ran out of good podcast episodes, and was listening to The Mar. 18, 2014 episode of Bryan Fischer’s Focal Point (or, as George Orwell might have put it, the Two Hours’ Hate).

He started by railing against Bill Maher. For those who missed it, Fischer, along with the rest of right-wing America, got upset at Bill Maher for pointing out that the God of the Bible, the one who drowned every single person on earth, is a psychotic mass-murderer with anger issues. Apparently you’re not supposed to call attention to that.

On his show, Fischer pointed out the logical flaw in Maher’s reasoning by saying that he deserved to be killed, and since God didn’t actually murder him right then and there, that proves that God is merciful and kind.

God allows Maher to continue living after saying these things, Fischer explained, is in order to give Maher an opportunity to repent and ask forgiveness.

“Bill Maher might have thought he was being hip and kind of trendy and kind of cool and all of that,” Fischer said, “but he is going to be judged for those careless words. God hopes it doesn’t come to that. God could, by all rights, take him right now and Bill Maher would have to face judgment by the end of the day. Why doesn’t He do that? Because He is patient with Bill Maher. He doesn’t want to have to do that. He wants to give Bill Maher the time to come to his senses and to come to a place of repentance

Yesterday, Fischer continued in this vein (starting around 2:31 in the podcast; dunno about the video):

[t]he reason that God doesn’t judge us the moment we commit a sin is because he is patient. He is kind, he doesn’t want to judge. He is slow to judge, but abounding — slow to anger, but abounding in loving kindness and mercy. And he is patient with all men because he wants all men to come to the knowledge of the truth. He doesn’t want any to perish. That’s his heart.

And so that’s what I explained about Bill Maher: why does God let Bill Maher get away with those kind of profane, blasphemous rants? Well, it’s because he loves him, and he’s extending patience to him and he is hoping that by giving Bill Maher enough time, he will come to the place of repentance. […] Just simply speaking Biblical truth about God’s heart toward those who are clearly his opponents, hostile to him, why he lets them get away with so much? Because he’s patient, does not want any to perish, wants all men, including Bill Maher, to come to the knowledge of the truth.

One thing I noticed is how Fischer tells us what God wants. Apparently the rule is that when God does something bad, like kill everyone in the world in a flood or fail to stop the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, you’re not allowed to say that God is a murderer, or indifferent, or like that; the “mysterious ways” rule applies. But when God does something good, like cure someone’s cancer or fail to reduce a talk show host to a pile of ashes, go ahead and talk to your heart’s content about what’s in God’s mind.

But mainly, I noticed that according to Fischer, the real reason God didn’t murder Bill Maher is because he wants Maher to “come to the knowledge of the truth”, i.e., that God exists. And so God didn’t do anything. Because what better way to show someone that you exist than by remaining hidden and not doing anything, just like a thing that doesn’t exist? That’s just logic theology.

Flammarion_Woodcut_1888_Color_2

“Cosmos” Misrepresents Why Man Was Set on Fire, Claims Inquisition Apologist


Flammarion_Woodcut_1888_Color_2

Every Who down in Whoville liked Cosmos a lot…
But the BillDo, who lived just north of who-cares, did NOT!

The tireless defender of all things Catholic (unless it’s things like 99% of Catholics practicing birth control, or being okay with not stoning teh gays) has spoken out against Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s and Seth McFarlane’s reboot of that show where Carl Sagan showed my generation just how beautiful our universe is.

The first episode, aired a couple of days ago, includes a segment about how Giordano Bruno was thrown in prison and finally burned at the stake by the Catholic church for imagining that the universe was infinite, with many suns and planets.

Mr. Dorkemada complains about the portrayal of the Inquisition as some sort of repressive thought-control tool wielded by an authoritarian Catholic church, and fails to stress its important work of petting puppy dogs and helping old ladies across the street. Oh, and it wasn’t really part of the Catholic church, either (emphasis added):

The ignorance is appalling. “The Catholic Church as an institution had almost nothing to do with [the Inquisition],” writes Dayton historian Thomas Madden. “One of the most enduring myths of the Inquisition,” he says, “is that it was a tool of oppression imposed on unwilling Europeans by a power-hungry Church. Nothing could be more wrong.” Because the Inquisition brought order and justice where there was none, it actually “saved uncounted thousands of innocent (and even not-so-innocent) people who would otherwise have been roasted by secular lords or mob rule.” (His emphasis.)

Bill is quoting from, but as usual can’t be bothered to link to, this article, which takes pains to distinguish the Spanish Inquisition, which he says had practically nothing to do with the Catholic church, from the Roman Inquisition, which presumably was more closely tied to Rome. Which is all fine and dandy, or would be, except that it was the Roman Inquisition that tried and executed Bruno. Take it away, Wikipedia:

Luigi Firpo lists these charges made against Bruno by the Roman Inquisition:[22]

  • holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith and speaking against it and its ministers;
  • holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith about the Trinity, divinity of Christ, and Incarnation;
  • holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith pertaining to Jesus as Christ;
  • holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith regarding the virginity of Mary, mother of Jesus;
  • holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith about both Transubstantiation and Mass;
  • claiming the existence of a plurality of worlds and their eternity;
  • believing in metempsychosis and in the transmigration of the human soul into brutes;
  • dealing in magics and divination.

So, mostly for holding opinions, then. But really naughty ones, apparently. So what did the nothing-to-do-with-the-Catholic-church Inquisition do?:

On January 20, 1600, Pope Clement VIII declared Bruno a heretic and the Inquisition issued a sentence of death.

Oh.

Set us straight, BillDo:

As for Bruno, he was a renegade monk who dabbled in astronomy; he was not a scientist. There is much dispute about what really happened to him. As sociologist Rodney Strong puts it, he got into trouble not for his “scientific” views, but because of his “heretical theology involving the existence of an infinite number of worlds—a work based entirely on imagination and speculation.”

In short, the science-fan show maligned the Catholic church by saying it set a man on fire for imagining the wrong things, whereas the truth is that it set a man on fire for imagining the wrong things. And they all lived happily ever after, except the ones who died in a fire.

Thank you, Catholic Crusader!

That Arizona Bill Isn’t Primarily About Homophobia

A lot of ink has been spilt lately about Arizona Senate Bill 1062 being a homophobic bill. Take, for instance, this leading paragraph from Glenn Beck’s The Blaze (emphasis added):

A debate over a proposed Arizona law that would exempt individuals and legal entities from having to cater to gay customers exploded Tuesday night on CNN when an opponent of the measure accused former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli of being a “homophobe.”

But the thing is, the word “homosexual” (or any synonym or related term) does not appear in the text of the bill. The bill adds a few words to the definition of “Exercise of religion”, and expands “Person” to include people, clubs, and companies (think Chic-Fil-A or Hobby Lobby); not just churches and congregations. I’m no lawyers, but it looks to me as though the bits that come after that make it harder to pass laws that someone might claim infringe on their religious rights, and easier to sue the government.

Now, I have no doubt that this bill, if it passes, will be used to make gays’ lives miserable. But I also don’t see that at its primary thrust.

Rather, this is a bill that enshrines religious privilege. It’s a bill that says “I’m used to being on top. I’m used to being able to use “it’s my religion” as an excuse for anything I do, and I don’t like it when people challenge that.” It’s a reaction to people starting to treat religion with the respect it deserves, rather than the unearned levels of respect it has enjoyed in the past.

Maybe this was primarily intended as a gay-bashing bill. Maybe the authors realized that in 2014, you can’t just introduce a bill saying “It’s okay to hate on them queers”, and felt the need to disguse that message in some more palatable rationale. But it’s still significant that the more-palatable rationale is religion. “We’re just standing up for freedom of religion. Who would say anything against that?” Well, people who are harmed by your religion, for one. People who sympathize with people harmed by your religion, for another.

Watch Anderson Cooper’s interview with Arizona senator Al Melvin:

As Cooper’s examples illustrate, this bill would allow Arizonans to be dicks to other people in all sorts of ways, not just homophobic ones. And Melvin’s justification is that hey, it’s religion, so it needs to be coddled.

Update: The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty has expressed some objections to a similar bill in Georgia. I have no idea what the group is or what they stand for, but I like the way they put it:

While religious liberty is one of our most precious rights, it is not an automatic trump card.

Water Is Wet. Dog Bites Man. Answers in Genesis Maligns Atheists.

Terry Mortenson has a blah blah blog post, ironically posted under “Thoughts“, and favorably linked to by loser-to-science Ken Ham, that opens thusly:

Over the years the American Atheists have been having some serious problems with social behavior at their national convention. So they have developed a code of conduct for the 2014 conference. It is interesting to observe the things they tolerate (e.g., many kinds of sexual immorality) and the things they will not tolerate (e.g., lack of social etiquette). It should also be noted that Christian conventions do not need to post such a code of conduct because the attendees have been redeemed by the grace of God and gladly submit to His code of conduct in the Bible.

But in an atheist worldview, these atheists have no basis for this code. In their view there is no God and therefore no moral absolutes.

This is straight from atheist bingo, right next to the one about atheists eating babies. The idea that you need an invisible father figure to tell you whom not to stick your baby-making bits into has been around since before this selfsame invisible father figure created the world 6,000 years ago. But these days, it’s usually considered ever so slightly gauche to so blatant about it.

Can we put the immoral atheist, along with the lazy Mexican and the hook-nosed Jew, in some box marked “Bogus stereotypes: do not use”, and padlock the box and then encase it in cement and dump it in the ocean?

Apparently not.

Anyway, Mortenson continues:

In a related news item, the University of Virginia hosted a conference on February 10, 2014, involving top leaders of six secular colleges and universities to discuss the topic of sexual misconduct among college students. This is a vexing problem. Research shows that 20% of college women at secular schools have been sexually assaulted, but only 12% of the victims report the incident. But given the depravity of man and that these schools are dominated by evolutionary thinking that destroys any basis for moral absolutes, this behavior is not surprising.

My first thought was that while it’s appalling that 20% of women at these schools have been assaulted, and shameful that 88% of such assaults go unreported, Mortenson gives us no reason to think that Christian schools are any better. After all, if there’s one thing we’ve learned from the ongoing Catholic pedophilia scandal is that if you got raped, it’s probably your fault for looking attractive and slutty and stuff, and that God hates people who rock the boat.

So if 20% of women at secular schools have been assaulted, what’s the figure for Christian schools, where demon evolution isn’t taught?

Let’s bear in mind also that in the past week or so, we’ve had the story of Bob Jones University shutting down an investigation about sexual assaults on campus, which certainly looks as though the investigators were about to uncover something that would make the school look very bad.

There was also the story of Patrick Henry College (“God’s Harvard”) blowing off allegations of sexual abuse.

And just for good measure, we’ve had the news of Archbishop Roger Mahony withholding information from police in an investigation into sexual abuse.

Mortenson can rail about evilution allowing child rape, but it doesn’t seem as though God’s law is much better.

If I have to choose between the tribe that says it’s not okay to rape women and also allows two men to have consensual anal sex in the privacy of their hotel room; or the tribe that pretends that rape doesn’t exist, and if it does exist, it’s the victim’s fault; then I know which one I’m going with.

The Monetary War on Smut Marches On

CBS affiliate WTVR reports on an important development in the Utah front on the War on Smut:

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (KUTV) – An Orem, Utah mom is not happy with a mall window display she calls “pornography.” The PacSun store in Orem refused to take the offending shirts off display. So she bought every last t-shirt to force the store into making a change.

Judy Cox spent $567 on t-shirts she will admittedly never wear and hopes no one will.

See, the way it works in America, land of capitalism, is that if you buy up all copies of a mass-produced product, like a T-shirt, that makes that product go away forever. That’s just Economics 101, right?

I don't know that this was one of the offending shirts. But it could be.

I don’t know that this was one of the offending shirts. But it could be.

Now, some of you might have noticed a teensy flaw in her plan: that there’s a slight chance that the store might just buy more of these ungodly, vapor-inducing T-shirts, and then where will Judy Cox be? (On the fainting couch, I’m guessing.) Of course, there’s no way she could have foreseen such a development.

The manager said you could buy them, but the store would just replace them. Since the store had 19 shirts, at $27.98 a piece, the purchase wasn’t cheap. Nearly $600 later Cox left, but it was not the end. If the store gets a new shipment this mom says she’ll go back and buy them out again.

Okay, so maybe she’s not that clueless:

Cox said she planned to return all the shirts once the city manager ruled on whether the graphic shirts can be legally displayed. She said she notified the store and PacSun corporate offices of her intentions to essentially hold the shirts hostage.

Maybe PacSun can refuse to refund her, on the grounds that the shirts can no longer be sold to someone with a religious-nut allergy.

All the etcetera that's fit to read.