I'd like to know is, if Richard Mourdock's, Todd Akin's or Paul Ryan's
wife or daughter were to be raped and become pregnant, would they be
happy to let these female relatives and loved ones go through 9 months
of gestation and raise the babies in their homes as if nothing happened?
And what of the father's, I mean rapist's, rights? Visitation, partial
custody? Can you imagine? Maybe they think that would make a great
sitcom (I'm sure Fox would jump on that.)
Do these guys even
have a half a brain to think this through? Oh, and of course there would
be no government benefits, although in this equation the financial
strain is a tiny fraction of the anguish.
And even more: Only
one third of fertilized eggs even implant in the womb, and there is
further attrition from there, so taking steps to ensure a theoretically
possibly fertilized egg doesn't implant is hardly "abortion".
Just say no to these clowns and their millennia old religious views
which should not be involved in any way in making laws in the 21st
The presidential election this year is shaping up on several fronts. The economy is up and down, and where it lands in November will be a big factor in determining a lot of swing votes.
However, the issue of how religion factors into the election has been downplayed considerably so far.
This is partly due to journalists not wanting to be seen to be attacking "religion", and also perhaps not wanting to mix religion wih politics (as if!) or not feeling entirely comfortable attacking Romney more directly on his Mormon beliefs and the wacky excesses of the Mormon church in general.
Whatever the reason, Romney has a religion gap, particularly in the South with evangelicals, most of whom will vote for Anyone But Obama, but feel queasy about voting for a Mormon. Romney's speech at Liberty University was a hint at his approach - talk about all those conservative social values we have in common while leaving out the part where he thinks their religion lives in apostasy.
And while we had Rick Santorum to kick around, there was the Mormon-Catholic gap - how would conservative Catholics feel about voting for a Mormon?
So here we are - three major "conservative" religious groups, sort of banding together to get Anyone But Obama into the White House - Mormons (overwhelmingly in favor of Romney), Evangelicals (overwhelmingly in favor of ABO), conservative Catholics (also favoring ABO).
But this is a coalition forged in the depths of wretched compromise, and if you delve into the beliefs of each group, you see how tenuous this is, and why it is that it's best for them not to ask too many questions.
First, Mormons. What do they (and by "they" I mean the public position of the church) think of oher religions, including Evangelical Christianity and Catholicism?
Joseph Smith decalred that Chrisitanity had been apostate since the death of the last Apostle in 70 AD, so that basicall says that they regard all branches of Christianity today as apostate. No ifs ands or buts. That probably goes double for the Catholics because they've presided over the last two millennia pretty badly. Smith did have a sort of kind word or two to say about Calvin and Luther, so maybe the Evangelicals get a tiny break, but not much.
Now publicly, the Mormon hierarchy tends to downplay this as much as possible - they try to pull off the "Aw shucks, we're just trying to get along...", but make no mistake, they official church position is that they despise everything that every other church and religion stands for.
What about Catholics?
Well, conservative Catholics are more likely beholden to the Pope for their beliefs, so their view of other religions and branches of Christianity is a poorly disguised contempt. Oh, there's a faint diplomatic veneer of tolerance, but make no doubt about it, if there was a sheep and goats moment, everyone not on the good ship Vatican is going goat-side.
And Evangelicals, what about them?
This may be a surprise, but Evangelicals are perhaps the most tolerant of the three groups. The surprise comes because the public pronouncements of Evangelical leaders are actually much more in line with their beliefs - they tend to say what they mean and believe, which is, in many ways, admirable. You may not like it, but you usually don't have to guess what they're getting at. In Eveangelical land, there is deep rooted suspicion of Mormons. They see Mormonism as a cult (which in many ways it is).
They are less suspicious of Catholics, because they've been around longer and are, in many senses, the root church of Evangelicals, whether they like it or not. However, huge differences exist in practice between the two groups. Meditation, icons, dress-up robes, incense, the Apocrypha are all items of which Evangelicals are very suspicious.
So to summarize:
Mormons -> Catholics = apostate
Mormons -> Evangelicals = slightly less apostate
Catholics -> Mormons = not a real religion
Catholics -> Evangelicals = not true Christianity, tolerated but just
Evangelics -> Mormons = cult
Evangelicals -> Catholics = lost the plot, out of touch, borderline apostate
So there you are - an alliance that would make Machiavelli proud. And the only candidate they can agree on is Anyone But Obama...
As I have noted previously, there is much to be bemused at in Mormonry. Tons of stuff. More than you can shake a stick at. Several sticks, even.
The baptizing of the long-dead is just one of them, but it is a very strange one. Obsession with genealogy, OK. But when the primary purpose is to go back and baptize millions of the long-dead it kind of crosses the line into batshit crazy. It's creepy and it's disrespectful of the dead and their families. Wait, disrespectful doesn't even begin to describe how awful this is. The Mormons have been told in no uncertain terms to knock it off in the past, but they continue right on doing it.
Mormons baptise parents of Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal
The Mormon Church has apologised for posthumously baptising the parents of Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal.
Asher and Rosa Rapp Wiesenthal were baptised in proxy ceremonies by church members in the US states of Arizona and Utah in January, records show.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spokesman Michael Purdy said the Church' s leaders "sincerely regret" the actions of "an individual member".
Now, don't take that sincerely regretting too seriously. It's not like this is an isolated mistake.
An agreement in 1995 was supposed to ban the practice of baptising by proxy Holocaust victims, after it was discovered the names of hundreds of thousands of those who died had been entered into Mormon records.
Hundreds of thousands. That's a lot of people. And the Mormons' official position has usually been that the deceased have "the right to choose" whether to accept Jesus Christ as their savior. Except that that means something a whole different to them than it does to actual Christians. And something a whole lot more offensive to Jews.
Evidence that Wiesenthal's parents had been baptised was found by Helen Radkey, a researcher and former Mormon, AP reported.
She regularly checks the Church' s database, and also recently found the names of Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and several family members on the Mormon list.
"None of the three names were submitted for baptism and they would not have been under the Church' s guidelines and procedures," said Mr Purdy, the Mormon Church spokesman said.
Rabbi Cooper said any further discussion of the problem was useless.
"The only way such insensitive practices would finally stop is if church leaders finally decided to change their practices and policies on posthumous baptisms, a move which this latest outrage proves that they are unwilling to do," he said.
They are so bad that people have to devote their lives to checking up on them. We can go back to January, just before the Florida primary. Here's a Huffington Post headline:
Mormon Church's Prior Baptism Of Dead Jews Could Raise Concerns For Florida Voters
Hmm, it apparently didn't worry them too much, but it might have if the following (from his 2007 run at the presidency) had been more widely disseminated:
When Newsweek magazine asked Romney if he personally had performed posthumous baptisms on anyone, author Jonathan Darman wrote, "he looked slightly startled and answered, 'I have in my life, but I haven't recently.'
"I think there is still some separation, I think there are a lot of misconceptions about Mormons," says another, "but I think people are more and more starting to notice us and starting to realise that we are normal people".
Um, no you're not. Baptizing millions of dead people into your "faith" posthumously, including hundreds of thousands of Jews, makes you decidedly not normal.
It seems to me there's a pretty fine, barely distinguishable line between this weird posthumous baptizing and voodoo. And I'm pretty sure there's no way the US is nominating a voodoo priest for the presidency.
With Mitt Romney looking to grab the Republican nomination for president there has been much written about his Mormon faith and how it impacts his electability. The vast majority of what has been written has been about understanding Mormons, and exploring how much non-Mormons are biased against Mormons.
A recent Pew Research article says that 46% of Mormons believe there is a lot of discrimination against them, and 68% believe that the American people do not see Mormons as part of mainstream American society. There's an awful lot of "yes we are really Christians!" and hurt tones in all of this, too. But really, what has been conspicuous by its absence in all this debate has been the fact that the Mormon church thinks your church (any kind of Chirsitan church) sucks. They just don't come right out and tell you that.
Setting aside the fact that their beliefs about the nature of God and the church are actually at odds with any mainstream Christian interpretation, the magic underwear, the secrecy and the baptising of dead non-Mormons into the Mormon church, I think the main problem with seeing the Mormon church as any part of "true" Christianity lies in what they believe about actual Christian churches.
a) It all went to hell in a handbasket in 70 AD when the last apostle was killed. This, in their words, is the beginning of the Great Apostasy.
b) Luther and Calvin kind of paved the way for a sort of religious tolerance (that's almost funny when you consider Calvin...) that opened the door for Joseph Smith to save the day. From that same page:
Joseph had to decide which of the many Christian denominations to join. After careful study, Joseph Smith still felt confused as to which Christian church he should join. He later wrote, “So great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was . . . to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong. . . . In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?” (Joseph Smith—History 1:8, 10).
I certainly sympathize with Joseph. Even today the plethora of denominations is confusing. What the Mormon website omits is the conclusion of that Joseph Smith dilemma (from the very same book):
I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong, and the personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in His sight: that those professors were all corrupt . . ." (Joseph Smith, "History of the Church, Vol. 1, page 5-6.)
So Joseph's answer to too much choice was to create yet one more choice. One full of fictitious ancient civilizations that colonized America then disappeared without trace, among other quaint notions.
c) Meanwhile, that Great Apostasy? It's still around, and your church is still in that handbasket.
So while the Mormon church decries any effort to paint them as non-Christian, not only are they not Christian, they despise the very basis of the faith of the mainstream Christian church.
So how much does this or should this affect the electability of Mitt Romney?
One of the things I have always been ambivalent about since arriving in North America is college sports. I like sports, but here college sports can get just crazy. Here, they're bigger than Jesus - certainly at least on a par with most major religions. And now we have a situation at a college that mirrors that of the worst of Catholic priest excesses.
The bulk of reporting has focused on victim 2, the 2002 case, but the stories of the 8 victims paint a picture that's pretty damning. Between football staff, campus detectives, janotprs, teachers, school principals and parents, there's really no wiggle room out of this for the child rapist. The only real question is how many times these stories have been swept under the rug before finally coming to light.
Dave Wischnowsky at CBS Chicago has an excellent article that questions the circumstances surrounding Sandusky's retirement in 1999 at age 55, in perfect health, when he was one of the most successful assistant coaches in the game. He was the heir apparent o an aging Paterno, but was informed by Paterno in no uncertain terms that he would not be succeeding him as head coach of Penn State. Sandusky was heavily pursued by many other programs for a head coaching job, but oddly chose to retire with full access privileges at Penn State.
There's certainly a question going begging there on what exactly happened then and who knew what, given that Sandusky was on the brink of having charges filed against him in 1998 (Victim 6) that were inexplicably dropped when Centre County Distrcit Attorney Ray Gricar deciced there would be no criminal charges. Again, oddly enough, Gricar disappeared in 2005 and was eventually pronounced dead in July this year.
Gricar vanished April 15, 2005, after taking a day off work as the Centre County district attorney. His red Mini Cooper was found abandoned in a Lewisburg parking lot, and his county laptop and hard drive were found in the nearby Susquehanna River, too badly damaged to be read. Gricar was 59, and just about eight months away from retirement.
I'm sure there are many enemies a DA can make in a career and many reasons a DA might find to disappear or be disappeared, but it's particularly convenient that it happened here.
It's really just inconceivable (maybe I don;t know what that word means) that Paterno knew nothing of Sandusky's proclivities. The truth will out eventually.
And then there's Mark Madden, Pittsburgh sports radio host, who has been peddling rumors that the Sandusky situation is merely the tip of pedophile ring iceberg. That would turn the scandal of the decade into the scandal of the century.
The bottom line is that this kind of exploitation of vulnerable children can happen anywhere there is a religious fervor and a cultish atmosphere that predators can exploit to their advantage. The church isn't the only place that can create that kind of atmosphere.
Interesting reactions around the world. Predictable hand-wringing from the "there's no such thing as bad people, just bad actions" liberal crowd, who somehow think if we'd only been more understanding that all of this could have ended in a few verses of Kumbaya around the camp fire. On the other hand, the beer-swilling frat boy approach to celebration is equally predictable and just slightly more deplorable, albeit less dangerous to global stability.
The fact is there are sociopaths in the world who will do bad things. Very bad things. And they don't give a rip what people think of them. They surround themselves with almost equally fanatical sycophants and just do whatever they want. It's not really political or religious - they are just the convenient excuses they use that the rest of the world understands.
Irredeemable? Probably. And that small chance they aren't isn't worth giving them any leeway whatsoever.
What about the future of al Qaeda? One common argument is that cutting off the head will only spawn more retaliation and some other schmoe will take over. In this case, though, bin Laden was clearly head and shoulders in cunning and ruthlessness above the vast majority of his terrorist peers of the last fifty years or so. He will be hard to replace, although rumor has it Robert Mugabe may be looking for a new job soon. I wonder how that interview would go...
Finally, for the not so faint of heart, the Team America theme song (warning, explicit language...)
Anglican Bishop Christopher Senyonjo of Uganda spoke at the UN on Friday in a panel on HIV/AIDS. Excellent points that will hopefully make a dent in the global debate - particularly in Africa.
First, we must move aggressively to decriminalize homosexuality.
The criminalization of homosexuality remains the most significant barrier that needs to be dismantled to reduce the spread of AIDS. We need to make our laws and agreements more binding. We need to ask if our laws or beliefs help or prevent the spread of HIV and hinder or support families caring for loved ones. Over 80 countries still criminalize homosexuality and see it as a crime against God and nature. Denying people their humanity puts us all at risk because AIDS spreads fast in the darkness of ignorance.
Second, we must ask everyone to take on the responsibility to respect human rights.
Our lawmakers must create a safe space for conversations where we can share one another’s truths. Every person in this assembly should think about how their personal or institutional beliefs deny or support human rights.
Third, we leaders in the faith community must teach one another to listen and to live with differences.
We must work hard to not to impose our religious values on the whole society. It begins as simply as couple counseling before marriage and, on a larger scale, to respect human rights and avoid scapegoating a vulnerable minority.
In conclusion, let us take the words of Bishop Desmond Tutu to heart: “The wave of hate must stop. Politicians who profit from exploiting this hate, from fanning it, must not be tempted by this easy way to profit from fear and misunderstanding. And my fellow clerics, of all faiths, must stand up for the principles of universal dignity and fellowship. Exclusion is never the way forward on our shared paths to freedom and justice.”
Who can take a sunrise, sprinkle it with dew Cover it with choc'late and a miracle or two The Gandhi Man, oh the Gandhi Man can The Gandhi Man can 'cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good
Yet "Great Soul" also obligingly gives readers more than enough information to discern that he was a sexual weirdo, a political incompetent and a fanatical faddist—one who was often downright cruel to those around him. Gandhi was therefore the archetypal 20th-century progressive intellectual, professing his love for mankind as a concept while actually despising people as individuals.
Sounds about right, although far from the sanitized, revered icon he has become, which understandably brings down the wrath of those who would protect the myth.
He was also crazy and impractical (non-violence only really works on those with a sense of fair play, for example):
Starting a letter to Adolf Hitler with the words "My friend," Gandhi egotistically asked: "Will you listen to the appeal of one who has deliberately shunned the method of war not without considerable success?"
As Dr. Phil might say, "How's that working out for ya?"
He advised the Jews of Palestine to "rely on the goodwill of the Arabs" and wait for a Jewish state "till Arab opinion is ripe for it."
Yeah, we're still waiting to see which comes first - that or hell freezing over.
Even more delusional thinking:
Gandhi claimed that there was "an exact parallel" between the British Empire and the Third Reich, yet while the British imprisoned him in luxury in the Aga Khan's palace for 21 months until the Japanese tide had receded in 1944, Hitler stated that he would simply have had Gandhi and his supporters shot. (Gandhi and Mussolini got on well when they met in December 1931, with the Great Soul praising the Duce's "service to the poor, his opposition to super-urbanization, his efforts to bring about a coordination between Capital and Labour, his passionate love for his people.")
Ah, Mussolini, how we miss you - the trains running on time, the megalomania...
There's much more weirdness in Gandhi's life, but we all know the real story of his sexual passion from Seinfeld (Episode 4.18: The Old Man):
Mrs. O: That's when I began my affair with Mohandas.
Mrs. O: Mohandas.
Mrs. O: Oh, the *passion*. The *forbidden pleasure*--
Elaine: You had an affair with Gandhi?
Mrs. O: He used to dip his bald head in oil and rub it all over my body. Here, look... [shows Elaine a picture of the two together]