Stretching my fisking skills against a bigot

Over at LGBTQ Nation there’s an article about a recent ‘Twitter challenge‘ between progressives and the Christian Right over the principle of religious liberty.  As a gay atheist social justice warrior, one can imagine which side of that argument I fall on. I didn’t participate in the challenge, mostly bc it happened yesterday and I just learned about it today. Well, that and I’m not on Twitter. I’ve been debating back and forth for a while whether or not I’d sign up for it, but between this blog, Facebook, Pharyngula and the five bajillion news and entertainment sites I visit daily, I’d need another 2 hours in the day for Twitter. Not to mention I can be long-winded in my responses, and that 140-character limit cuts into my long-cultivated verbosity. All was not lost however, as I dipped into the comments. I can just imagine readers saying “You did what?!” Yes, I read some of the comments. There was one in particular that I not only read, but felt the need to respond to bc I was in the mood for a game of ‘Fisk the Bigot’. Here is the comment:

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Religion News 4.14.15

Charges against ‘Catholic Warrior’ dropped because she’s a Christian

Back in December, Susan Hemeryck walked into the state capitol Christmas display area, pre-apologized to two Florida Department of Law Enforcement Capitol Police officers, and then proceeded to vandalize a display erected by the Satanic Temple featuring the angel Lucifer being cast down from the heavens into hell.

But Hemeryck, like most intolerant conservative “Christians,” couldn’t handle the biblically-correct scene so she actively sought to destroy it. However, even though she is caught on camera handling the display, was caught red-handed by law enforcement officers, and freely admitted to the Associated Press that she “yanked that little devil off the fishing line” and “should have just done a better job and finished it off for good,” state prosecutors decided not to pursue the case.

As part of her defense, Hemeryck’s attorney accused the state of “basically putting an attack on Christians,” and prosecutors apparently backed down afterwards. Their lame excuse? Lack of evidence.

“The defendant is simply carrying the display,” prosecutors said in a statement. “No damages are apparent — it is simply disassembled.”

Yeah, tell that to the the Satanic Temple and all of the organizations and people who fought so hard to place the display on state grounds to symbolize true freedom of religion and religious tolerance.

I bet if a Muslim did the same thing, prosecutors would pursue the case. But since it’s a Christian, and they’re all so good and wholesome, she gets let off the hook.

Hmmm, is there a commandment about not vandalizing?

* * * *

Thanks to ‘religious and cultural reasons’, primary school students in London banned from watching solar eclipse

According to The Telegraph, students at North Primary School were only able to observe the rare eclipse from inside the school, watching it on video screens.

Located in area known as “Little India,” the community is considered diverse, but with a large a large Hindi population.

Headteacher Ivor Johnstone said the decision to bring the children inside was based on “religious and cultural” reasons

“The school made this decision when we became aware of religious and cultural concerns associated with observing an eclipse directly,” he explained. “Although we are sorry for any disappointment, pupils were still able to watch the eclipse on screens in classrooms.”

What about the students who aren’t Hindu? Are there any other Hindu rules and strictures they have to follow?

Some Hindu scriptures state that an eclipse makes believers impure, with fundamentalists saying believers must bathe immediately after an eclipse and chant the name of God to overcome the forces of darkness.

Hogwash. Like astrology, the position of the stars and planets doesn’t affect our psyche. And like astrology, there is no evidence to support such nonsense. No flavor of theist should be able to dictate to others what they can and cannot do, nor should they have any influence over anyone other than their followers. Don’t want to see an eclipse? Take your child out of school that day. Hell, I wish it was more than that. I wish theists had to offer evidence for their beliefs–most especially when they directly impact children.

Also, I have to laugh at the idea that it’s not ok to directly observe an eclipse, but viewing it indirectly is a-ok.

* * * *

 Are you ready for the world’s first gay Mormon superhero?

Independent comic book creator Brian Andersen (So Super Duper) is on a mission to make history with Stripling Warriorthe world’s first comic book series featuring a gay Mormon superhero.

The series tells the tale of Sam Shepard, a happily out and newly married gay man whose life is changed forever after he is visited by an angel from heaven on his wedding night and is summoned to be the Hand of God on Earth.

Why was he chosen? How does his sexuality impact his role as a servant of the divine? And how does the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints react when it hears a gay man has been sent on a mission from the heavens? You’ll have to read the story to find out, but until then take a look at the eight-page preview below and then head over to the Stripling Warrior KickStarter page to lend your support to making comic book history.

Religious nonsense makes much more sense in a fictional comic book world than here in the real world.

* * * *

Speaking of religious rubbish, Vatican officials apparently believe that supernatural beings walk among us:

“There are those who try to turn people into vampires and make them drink other people’s blood, or encourage them to have special sexual relations to obtain special powers,” said Professor Giuseppe Ferrari at the meeting in Rome, which heard that the number of such possessions is rising globally. “These groups are attracted by the so-called beautiful young vampires that we’ve seen so much of in recent years.”

Professor Ferrari, who heads an Italian occult watchdog, The Group on Research and Socio-Religious Information, said exorcisms should only be conducted by properly trained priests. Although the Vatican regards genuine demonic possession as rare, with many suspected cases proving to be people with mental illnesses, Pope Francis has urged dioceses to ensure that they follow Catholic law and have at least one trained exorcist each.

Swiss exorcist Father Cesare Truqui told The Independent that this week’s course, attended by exorcists, priests and lay people, was vital in order to raise awareness and hone priests’ skills. “The ministry of performing exorcism is little known among priests. It’s like training to be a journalist without knowing how to do an interview,” he said, noting that dioceses in Italy and beyond were experiencing a surge in reports of symptoms of “possession”.

* * * *

I’ve heard some say that it is harmless to believe in demons or demonic possession. These people are ignorant of the cases where people have suffered or died as a result of being “treated” for their so-called possession. Here is the latest, tragic case:

Police in Texas  are searching for the parents who starved their “demon possessed” toddler to death before fleeing to Mexico following a failed resurrection. Acting on an anonymous tip that a two-year-old had died, and that the death had not been reported.

According to the tipster, a “rising ceremony” was held on March 22 to “attempt to resurrect Victim from the dead.” When that failed, the child was wrapped in a blanket and “taken back to Mexico,” for burial, according to a search warrant.

“We don’t know if this was to try and resurrect the spirit of he child and we don’t know if this was to try and resurrect the child themselves or what exactly that service or ceremony encompasses,” said Lt. Mark Maret.

The child died inside a Balch Springs home that functioned as Congregacional Pueblo De Dios, a church that was formed in 2007. The church is affiliated with Georgia-based Pentecostal denomination, the Hispanic Conference of the Congregational Holiness Church, according to NBC.

According to a woman who knew the boy’s mother, it was believed that the child was possessed by demons — and they attempted to starve the corruption out of the little boy, who was not fed in 25 days.

Video of the “rising ceremony” shows church secretary Aracely Meza babbling incoherently while praying for the toddler’s body, which she anoints with oils. Numerous congregants were present for the ritual, yet the crime was not reported until four days after the child’s death.

Meza breaks down crying when she fails to bring the little boy back to life with magic.

Detectives have thus far been unable to locate the child’s parents or other congregants who fled to Mexico to bury the abused and neglected child. However, Meza has been charged with injury to a child by omission.

A young boy is dead now thanks to his parents’ belief in superstitious nonsense.

As an atheist, I dislike religion for reasons just like this.

Religion News 4.14.15

Bishop whines about not being able to force his beliefs upon others

Time and time again, we see religious officials whining about so-called threats to religious freedom. We often hear their cries of “our religious freedom is under attack” in cases where businesses discriminate against same-sex couples. But we can also hear their whining in cases like the following:

A federal appeals court has reversed lower-court victories by two western Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses and a private Christian college that challenged birth control coverage mandates as part of federal health care reforms.

The 3-0 ruling Wednesday by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel found that the reforms place “no substantial burden” on the religious groups and therefore don’t violate their First Amendment right to religious expression.

All three organizations are mulling whether to appeal to the entire 3rd Circuit Court or the U.S. Supreme Court.

You just know what’s coming next. You don’t need to rub my bald head to try and divine the response from religious officials:

“Such a ruling should cause deep concern for anyone who cares about any First Amendment rights, especially the right to teach and practice a religious faith,” Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik said in a statement. “This decision says that the church is no longer free to practice what we preach.”

As I said in the comment section of the article:

Oh, get over your religious privilege.
You do not have the right to impose your religious beliefs on others, no matter how much you believe otherwise, and your religious beliefs are not under siege. You’re mad that your religious privilege is lessening and more and more people are openly questioning and in many places, challenging, your religious beliefs. That’s what happens when all ideas are on the table and not prevented from being scrutinized.
Deal with it.

Bishop whines about not being able to force his beliefs upon others

LGBT Link Round Up (Trigger Warning) 12.7.14

21-year old trans woman shot to death in LA while banging on stranger’s door for help

Deshawnda Sanchez

The final moments of Deshawnda Bradley’s life were spent frantically banging on the door of a stranger’s Los Angeles home.

Before anyone could help the 21 year old, someone shot the trans woman to death in LA’s Chesterfield Square neighborhood.

No arrests have been made in the early Wednesday (3 December) morning murder which has left the victim’s family large devastated and the LGBTI community outraged.

From the Advocate:

Sanchez’s death is the latest among what the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs has called an “alarming, fatal epidemic of violence against transgender and gender-nonconforming women, specifically transgender women of color, in the United States.” Sanchez’s case is the third murder, in addition to those of Zoraida Reyes and Aniya Parker, of a trans woman of color in Southern California this year, notes the Los Angeles Times. Around the world, reports of trans women being murdered surface every one or two days. The National LGBTQ Task Force notes that Sanchez’s death marks the 12th reported trans woman of color murdered in the U.S. this year.

Community activists and allies are holding a vigil and rally at 6 p.m. Friday in memory of Sanchez, and have organized a Facebook page to share information about the rally. Participants are asked to gather at Chesterfield Square, 1800 W. Slauson Ave., Los Angeles, CA, 90047.

Anyone with information related to Sanchez’s death should call the Los Angeles Police Department’s Criminal Gang Homicide Division at (213) 485-4341.

* * * *

 This next story would make me laugh, if only so I don’t cry.

Putin: ‘Russia is not anti-gay, everyone just thinks we are’ 

President Vladimir Putin has claimed Russia is not homophobic, saying the rest of the world has merely branded the country that way.

Oh, so the stories of violence against LGBT people and the anti-gay legislation were what…? Figments of the collective imagination of humanity?

The Russian leader has claimed other countries, such as the US, is actually far more homophobic.

“You do it too” is the response of a child, not a world leader.  That the United States has a problem with anti-gay bigotry (and boy does it), does not therefore mean your country is a shining example of LGBT acceptance.  At the very least the government is actively anti-LGBT (and certainly some of the citizenry are as well).

He was forced to defend his anti-gay laws, the ‘gay propaganda’ law and the ban on people from countries with same-sex marriage adopting Russian children. Putin was speaking with representatives of the Human Rights Council and the Commissioner for Human Rights in Russia today (5 December).

‘Russia is not intending to breach the rights of gays though the priority of the country is a traditional family,’ he claimed.

Intent.

Is.

Not.

Magic.

Whether you intended to or not (and you’re not fooling me for a fucking minute), the end result of your policies is discrimination and oppression of LGBT people.

‘The problem with the rights of gays in Russia is a label put on Russia by other states.’

The president claimed the United States, which technically still has 14 states that ban gay sex (although they are all invalidated under a 2003 Supreme Court ruling), was far more homophobic as ‘[Russia] has no criminal liability’.

‘We have this label that we persecute people with a different sexual orientation, but we do not do so under criminal law,’ he added.

Putin said the country’s legislation is aimed only at protecting children from being influenced and traumatised by propaganda from the LGBTI community.

‘A society that cannot protect its children has no future.’

Who is he kidding? There is no evidence that exposure to LGBT people in any way harms children, the protestations of bigots notwithstanding. Putin is a bigot trying to dress his bigotry up in “think of the children” rhetoric.  Newsflash, fuckface, LGBT people present no harm to children and you’ve produced no evidence in support of such an assertion.  You’re using your hatred…your bigotry…to oppress a marginalized people.  You’re in so deep that you don’t even realize that gay adults were once children too.  And there are many gay children in Russia too.  How do you fight for their rights while simultaneously discriminating against them?

Fucking shitspigot.

* * * *

Oh, lovely. More anti-LGBT bigotry.

This time from a Pastor in Michigan:

This week a pastor spoke before the Michigan House in opposition to a proposed non-discrimination bill. His bombastic speech discounted LGBT people’s experiences of discrimination and victimization, and their attempts to gain equality.

Saying it “offended,” him, Pastor Stacy Swimp railed against the very notion of an LGBT civil rights movement, suggesting it is an affront to the African American civil rights movement, as if civil rights are only for Black people.

So the struggle to be recognized as human beings deserving of dignity and equality, as well as the full set of human rights that all other humans have is nothing like the struggles of African-Americans in the Civil Rights Movement?  ::Eyeroll::

Pastor Swimp, a long-time anti-gay activist who has claimed same-sex marriage will “destroy the backbone of our society,” on Wednesday preached his message of inequality to lawmakers, suggesting all experiences of inequality must themselves be equal.

These bigots never readjust their beliefs in the face of new evidence.  Marriage Equality exists in more than half the states in the U.S. and some, like Mass. have had it for years.  There’s been NO destruction of society anywhere.  Countries outside the U.S. have marriage equality and they haven’t been destroyed either.

“I ask, has anyone from the LGBT community ever had to stand up or step off of the sidewalk whenever a straight person walked by? Lesbian, homosexual, bisexual, and transgender Americans have never been denied their voting rights, nor have they been denied the right to assemble. No one from the LGBT community has ever had fire hoses turned on them by the police department, they have never had to drink out of an LGBT water fountain. There is no record of LGBT — homosexuals, lesbians being forced to sit at the back of the bus in an LGBT section.”

This “argument” doesn’t even make sense.  LGBT people have to go through the exact same bigotry as Black Americans to count as discrimination?  We’ve been denied housing. We’ve been kicked out of hour homes. We’ve been denied jobs. We’ve been bullied. We’ve been harassed. We’ve been brutally beaten. We’ve been killled.  We’ve experienced multiple forms of bigotry, but because we haven’t had fire hoses turned on us, it doesn’t count?  Thanks for denying the devastating experiences of thousands upon thousands of people.  Nothing says “Jesus” like promoting discrimination and hatred.

* * * *

Perform same-sex weddings, get death threats!

The First Metropolitan Community Church in Wichita, Kansas does what churches are supposed to do. They minister to their community. They have a food bank. They perform weddings.

But because the church specifically supports the LGBT community, Reverend Jackie Carter is now the target of anonymous death threats. Daily.

The Wichita Eagle reports, “Some callers tell her ‘to repent so I don’t have to suffer inhumane death at the hands of Satan.’ Others have threatened specific acts of violence. Before the group wedding ceremony last month, two callers threatened to chop off her head and put it on a stake.”

That group wedding Carter mentions was on November 17. Over a dozen same-sex couples married on the courthouse steps, and Carter was an officiant. But that joyous occasion was also marred by hate. A protestor, who can be seen in the video above, screamed, “God says no,” repeatedly.

Carter described another threatening incident, just this week.

“The phone rang and I went to answer the phone and it was just somebody heavy breathing on it. Then somebody rang the door bell and then somebody started throwing rocks at the windows.”

“Honestly, I’m beginning to get more scared every day that this goes on,” Carter says. “I’ve kind of talked myself into trying to be more calm about it and realizing that there are more people out there that are supporting us than threatening harm to us.”

* * * *

Gay Music Director Fired for Engagement Files Discrimination Claim

Colin Collette, who said he’d been out within the congregation where he worked for nearly two decades, said this summer that he’d been fired from the church after getting engaged to his partner, Will Nifong.

An August meeting about the matter drew a crowd of 700 people, many of whom stood to applaud Collette when he entered the church. The Holy Family pastor said in a church bulletin that Collette couldn’t be retained as an employee because he’d “publicly endorsed a position in conflict with Church teachings.”

On Thursday, Collette spoke at a press conference about the discrimination complaint.

“It is with deep regret that I have had to pursue this course of action. I have chosen to enter into a marriage, as is my right under Illinois law, and perhaps I can open the door to other men and women who the church has chosen to exclude from the community,” Collette said, the Chicago Tribune reports.

He filed the complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Cook County Commission on Human Rights.

According to the Tribune, the success of Collette’s claim may depend on the interpretation of his former job and whether it is considered a religious/ministerial role, in which case an exemption to antidiscrimination laws could be invoked.

I’m sick of the preferential treatment given religion and religious organizations. They can actively discriminate against people, but because they’re a private religious organization, they’re immune to anti-discrimination laws?  Why should they get that privilege? How do the fucking churches–who believe in nonsense like talking snakes, men who turn water into wine, a 6,000 year old Earth, have a host of bigoted beliefs (to be fair, not all churches do), and generally promote a way of understanding the world that is utterly nonsensical (Hi there FAITH–believing in things for which there is no evidence; believing in god is as much nonsense as believing in unicorns)–benefit society in such a way that they should be immune to anti-discrimination laws?

I wish Collette success, but I don’t have much confidence that he’ll win his lawsuit.

LGBT Link Round Up (Trigger Warning) 12.7.14