Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Getting Off the Wrong Side of History?
The Boy Scout of America is considering ending its longstanding national membership restrictions based on sexual orientation.One has to wonder if the Boy Scouts would allow the religious, civic, or educational organizations that oversee and deliver scouting to address the issue of whether or not to allow blacks or Jews into their local troops.
Under the change now being discussed, the different religious and civic groups that sponsor Scout units would be able to decide for themselves how to address the issue — either maintaining an exclusion of gays or opening up their membership.
Monday's announcement of the possible change comes after years of protests over the policy — including petition campaigns that have prompted some corporations to suspend donations to the Boy Scouts.
Deron Smith, a spokesperson for the Boy Scouts of America, said in a statement that the BSA is discussing potentially removing the national organization's restriction, allowing membership and the selection of scout leaders to be determined by local chartered organizations "consistent with each organization's mission, principles, or religious beliefs.
"The policy change under discussion would allow the religious, civic, or educational organizations that oversee and deliver scouting to determine how to address this issue," Smith said.
Who knows ... maybe atheists and agnostics will someday be deemed acceptable to the Scouts!
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Another Fine Mess You've Gotten Us Into, Orly!
Orly Taitz is at it again!
She has pissed off another Federal judge.
You may remember that Orly got herself a $20,000 sanction from Georgia Federal District Court Judge Clay Land for, among other things, filing "complaints and motions without a reasonable basis for believing that they are supported by existing law or a modification or extension of existing law;" for using the courts "as a platform for a political agenda disconnected from any legitimate legal cause of action;" and, worst of all, for "recklessly accus[ing] a judge of violating the Judicial Code of Conduct with no supporting evidence beyond her dissatisfaction with the judge's rulings."
Now she has extended her repertoire to Federal District Court Judge Andrew J. Guilford in California.
Judge Guilford has every reason to be miffed. He is the lucky duck who was assigned to preside over the libel case against Orly brought by the other birther queen ... um ... king ... er ... whatever ... Philip J. Berg. The suit was filed
The judge's mood is, to say the least, bleak. On October 15, 2012, it boiled over at both Orly and Berg:
The Hearing ("Hearing") held in this case on October 15, 2012, increased the Court's concern about the demands this case is making upon the limited resources of this Court. ... This case has wasted huge amounts of time, but very little time has been focused on the substance of the actual dispute at issue. Instead, both sides have expended incredible amounts of time calling each other names and fighting over peripheral issues.If that sounds ominous, it's probably because it is ... at least to the lunatic fringe of the legal profession.
At the hearing, the name calling continued. The oft-repeated charge that one of the plaintiffs is a felon was again raised, apparently implying that felons should not be allowed to bring civil lawsuits in our courts. It was reported that Attorney Taitz is subject to disciplinary proceedings in the Ninth Circuit for alleged misrepresentations concerning Attorney Berg's disciplinary status. It has also been reported that Attorney Berg and Attorney Colen have been or are involved in disciplinary actions, and the latter confessed to "anger management" issues. ...
As the hearing came to an end on a very busy law and motion day with many attorneys in the Court on many other matters, Attorney Taitz said that she wished to speak. In the past, this has resulted in extensive speeches attacking a variety of people and not focusing on the matters at hand or the substance of this dispute. Before allowing Attorney Taitz to take time away from the many other pressing matters before the Court, the Court simply asked that she begin by stating what action she was seeking from the Court. Since Attorney Taitz has sought and obtained a stay of actions against her, the Court believes that she should be limited in seeking actions against others while the stay is in effect. Despite receiving multiple opportunities to simply begin by stating what she was seeking, Attorney Taitz was unable to do so and then acted extremely unprofessionally in this Court of the United States of America by rolling her eyes and exhibiting gestures of contempt.
The Court is now considering what action it should take so that the limited resources of this Court – and taxpayer dollars – might not be further wasted in this case. Possibilities include a published opinion outlining all the misconduct that has occurred, orders prohibiting certain attorneys from further representation in this matter, and dismissals of claims. For now, the Court makes the following orders:
Concerning the pending ethical matters, the parties are ORDERED to inform the Court immediately of any actions taken on pending ethical, disciplinary, or related matters concerning any of the parties now appearing in this case. The Court will likely take further action on such matters only after such notification is provided. ...
But it gets worse for Orly. On January 23, 2013 the judge issued the following order:
On October 22, 2012, the Court ordered the parties to "inform the Court immediately of any actions taken on pending ethical, disciplinary, or related matters." ... On January 14, 2013, the Court was alerted to a possible unreported sanction against Orly Taitz. Taitz said in Court that the sanction was for discovery. The parties have since subjected the Court to a flurry of papers, which the Court dismisses as irrelevant except for the sole issue now of whether Taitz lied to the Court when she said the sanction was for discovery. Some evidence has been presented to the Court that the sanction involved far more than discovery.Now, its not clear (even to Judge Guilford ... his order ends with a note about submissions on the order to show cause to the effect that "[p]articularly helpful would be documentary proof of the nature of and reasons for the subject sanction previously ordered against Taitz") whether the allegation concerns the state court sanctions Orly got for abuse of process in her attempt to subpoena Occidental College's records on President Obama or something else.
The Court therefore now ORDERS Taitz to show cause in writing why she should not be sanctioned for lying to this Court.
What seems to be crystal clear is that Orly is cruising for another bruising.
Saturday, January 26, 2013
Loons in Court
This was in connection with a temporary restraining order the Taz sought from a Federal district court in California to prevent President Obama's inauguration. While Judge Morrison C. England, Jr. treated her motion with some sobriety, his feelings about being Orlified couldn't help but leak out:
At the hearing, Plaintiffs' counsel argued that "common-sense" demands the Court interpret the United States Constitution as requiring the President of the United States to have a valid birth certificate, social security number, and selective service certificate. However, in deciding the merits of a case, the Court cannot simply rely on suspicions and what Plaintiffs claim is "common sense." To be clear, the Court understands that "common sense," has its place in the political process. However, courts must base their decisions on the Constitution, statutes, rules, and regulations passed by the legislative branch and signed into law by the executive branch.Well, if you're going to assume that Taitz has any clue what the Constitution, statutes, rules, and regulations say ...
Monday, January 21, 2013
Of Scoundrels and Flags
However, now he has declared himself. As Dr. Johnson said, "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." It follows that wrapping yourself in the mantle of Dr. Martin Luther King is the last refuge of scoundrels who would deny our Constitutional rights; in this case, the right to be free of government imposition of religious beliefs.
But claiming the legacy of Dr. King is just what the scoundrel David Klinghoffer would do:
The mission of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State sounds very commendable, and worthy of a nod on Martin Luther King Day. After all, the whole cause of civil rights that Dr. King stood for is about protecting the freedom to believe, and to be, as you are, safe from harassment, intimidation, and discrimination. Americans United, or AU, focuses on the religious aspect of civil liberties, protecting religion from the state and vice versa, safeguarding freedom of conscience and conviction.Well, supposedly, Phillips, (an engineer ... Salem Hypothesis anyone?) voiced his "doubts" about the "standard Darwinian story" in a local chapter meeting of AU in October and that lead to his expulsion from AU.
Or anyway, that's the idea in theory.
Meet Cecil R. Phillips, a retired engineer in Louisiana who fell afoul of his local chapter of AU and found himself summarily barred from future meetings, his membership in AU rescinded and membership fee returned. What did he do to merit this treatment?
Well, not quite! As Barbara Forrest demonstrates in detail, Phillips is, in fact, a very vocal advocate for ID in Louisiana with strong ties to the Discovery [sic] Institute.
So, Klinghoffer's characterization of Phillips as a very mild-mannered, soft-spoken and hardly threatening guy, is, at the very least, disingenuous. Worse is Klinghoffer's claim that Phillips' expulsion is "a civil-rights issue as much as it is a scientific one."
AU is a private organization, like the NAACP. AU has taken a strong position that ID is an attempt to inject religion into taxpayer-supported schools in clear violation of the First Amendment. The DI has the right to dispute that position, no matter how naïvely and transparently they go about it, but Phillips has no right to belong to AU while denying a fundamental
Klinghoffer does return to his normal naïveté and transparency when he likens Phillips situation with that of David Coppedge:
Coppedge and his attorney cast the case in terms of religious-viewpoint discrimination. That was because JPL, like Americans United, can't make the proper distinction between intelligent design and religion.No, they cast it those terms precisely because the only way that the science of evolution could be "a civil-rights issue" is if anti-evolution is a religious position deserving protection under the First Amendment. But the Supreme Court has already decided that teaching science is not a an attack on religion by the government and is, therefore, permissible.
In any event, the DI, with Klinghoffer prominently represented, has repeatedly demonstrated that neither it nor its supporters can distinguish ID from religion.
So if, in fact, the AU "expelled" Phillips, it was for the very good reason that he denied, and actively worked against, the positions and goals of the organization he joined under false pretenses.
Photo "borrowed" from Exploring Our Matrix
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Bearding the Lion
"One may find the sexual practices of homosexuals to be unattractive or displeasing and therefore unnatural, but anything that can be done in that line by homosexuals can be done and is done by heterosexuals,” Berry continued. “Do we need a legal remedy for this? Would conservative Christians like a small government bureau to inspect, approve and certify their sexual behavior? Would they like a colorful tattoo verifying government approval on the rumps of lawfully copulating parties? We have the technology, after all, to monitor everybody’s sexual behavior, but so far as I can see so eager an interest in other people’s private intimacy is either prurient or totalitarian or both.”At least as interesting was the venue: a conference for pastors and ministers entitled "Following the Call of the Church in Times Like These," which was the Kentucky Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
“The oddest of the strategies to condemn and isolate homosexuals is to propose that homosexual marriage is opposed to and a threat to heterosexual marriage, as if the marriage market is about to be cornered and monopolized by homosexuals,” Berry said. “If this is not industrial capitalist paranoia, it at least follows the pattern of industrial capitalist competitiveness. We must destroy the competition. If somebody else wants what you’ve got, from money to marriage, you must not hesitate to use the government – small of course – to keep them from getting it.”
Berry said “so-called traditional marriage” is “for sure suffering a statistical failure, but this is not the result of a homosexual plot.”
- Wendell Berry, January 11, 2013
Via Wall of Separation
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Guns & Heaven
What a Surprise!
This time it has lead him to this rather amazing admission:
The whole project of ID and its close relative the scientific critique of Darwinian evolution, while certainly no proof of anybody's idea of God, lend powerful support to theistic belief. The great religious traditions prompt us to expect evidence of creative purpose in nature, and there it is.Real scientists have a term for that: "confirmation bias." One of the basic mechanisms of confirmation bias is that, consciously or unconsciously, when you expect ... or in the case of theists, strongly desire ... to find evidence to fit your pet hypotesis, you quickly seize on evidence that confirms your beliefs and ignore the evidence that does not fit with or even contradicts it.
Science has an antidote for confirmation bias, however. Because scientific results are subject to review by the scientific community as a whole, made up of people with diverse philosophical and scientific viewpoints, confirmation bias tends to be weeded out. To paraphrase (a little) philosopher of science David Hull, 'Scientists rarely refute their own pet theories. But that's all right. Their fellow scientists will be happy to oblige.'
The IDers, however, don't have or, truth be told, want that diversity of opinion. That's why they have their own in-house "journals" where ID advocates "peer review" the "work" of other ID advocates, which is then presented in churches or other religious institutions like Biola University.
The whole "science" of ID is based on the hope that wishing hard enough will make it so.
Monday, January 14, 2013
Not So Hidden God
ID doesn't promote a theological doctrine that claims to explain God's actions in every instance. ID is a scientific theory that claims that sometimes we can scientifically detect design, and sometimes we can't. Just because we can't scientifically detect design in a particular instance doesn't mean that we've claimed, theologically, that God was entirely absent from that event or process. All theists who support ID affirm that God is behind, in some sense, every event. "Natural cause" never means (for theists anyway) "not caused by God." I'm not aware of any ID theorist who is also a theist and who has ever claimed otherwise. (Emphasis added)So, the "Designer" is understood by ID "theorists" who are also theists (the vast majority of those "theorists") to be God. But we're all supposed to pretend that ID is science and not apologetics. Riiiight!
Sunday, January 13, 2013
Some are wondering if those who hold to traditional evangelical beliefs on homosexuality are no longer welcome in the public square.
Hell (you should pardon the expression) yes! ... you're welcome to the "public square"! The ACLU and most, if not all, secularists will vigorously defend your right to say whatever you want to say out loud in public. But that doesn't mean you get a free pass. Other people are just as free to voice their opposition to your views and to choose not to associate with them ... or, for that matter, with you. Along with the ACLU, I'll protect the right of access of the KKK or neo-Nazis to the "public square" but that doesn't mean I have to invite them ... or you ... to my house (much less my Inauguration).
In a recent LifeWay Research study, 37% of American adults agreed that homosexuality is a sin. That number is declining (down from 44% according to a 2011 survey), but it is still a substantial minority. Yet, such views (which were mainstream just a few decades ago) are indeed now a minority position--and viewed as unacceptable by many ...
Aww, poor bubbie! You would label LGBT people as "sinners" and deny them their rights just because that was the "mainstream" view "just a few decades ago" ... but, now that it isn't any longer, it is suddenly you who we are supposed to feel sorry for? What was that about 'sowing the wind'?
So, what does this mean for Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, Orthodox Jews, and so many more who believe that their authoritative religious texts teach something the prevailing culture finds so unacceptable that they are no longer welcome within the mainstream context, even if they are (as Louie Giglio is known for) working to eradicate slavery? To some, they are no longer welcome because of disagreement over a single, yet specific, point of their sincerely held religious beliefs.
Uh ... yup! Slavers and segregationists and anti-miscegenationists all had "sincerely held religious beliefs" in the "righteousness" of what they said and did. It didn't make it right then and it certainly doesn't make them "welcome" in the 21st Century.
Not that we should forget Giglio's good works ... but there is no rule that we have to forget the evil that men do that, unfortunately, lives long after them. If Giglio doesn't want the good interred with his bones then he, and the rest of the Evangelicals, have to understand that it is time to embrace the civil rights of all Americans.
Are people of faith no longer welcome as they continue to hold the beliefs they have held since their foundation? Must they jettison their sacred texts and adopt new views to be accepted as part of society? If they do not, will they be marginalized and demonized even as they serve the poor, care for the orphan, or speak against injustice?
LGBT people have long been unwelcome in Stetzer's version of society; they have been marginalized and demonized, even as they continued to be loving spouses and parents, to serve the poor and the sick, to care for orphans and, most especially, to speak out against the injustice they have long endured.
When you, Ed, can understand that you don't have to approve of other people's "lifestyle," religion, skin color, sexual orientation or whatever sports team they happen to root for in order to grant them the same rights you enjoy, then, maybe, we can talk about whether you are fit for the company of civilized people.
Saturday, January 12, 2013
Have You No Sense of Decency?
The imbroglio over Louie Giglio is the clearest evidence of the new Moral McCarthyism of our sexually "tolerant" age. During the infamous McCarthy hearings, witnesses would be asked, "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?"Of course, the analogy is ridiculous. Giglio is in no danger of being blackballed from his chosen profession or being held in contempt of Congress if he doesn't rat on other pastors who think LGBT people are not "morally acceptable." The Inauguration is a political event and the President has every right to insist that the speakers reflect his personal and political objectives. As the Inaugural Committee stated concerning whoever eventually delivers the benediction, "we will ensure their beliefs reflect this administration's vision of inclusion and acceptance for all Americans." If Mohler thinks that's wrong, I'm sure he'll demonstrate his commitment to inclusiveness by inviting Dan Savage to give the next commencement speech at the SBTS.
In the version now to be employed by the Presidential Inaugural Committee, the question will be: "Are you now or have you ever been one who believes that homosexuality (or bisexuality, or transsexualism, etc.) is anything less than morally acceptable and worthy of celebration?"
But it's not like Mohler is any great admirer of Giglio. Quoting Giglio's withdrawal statement, Mohler says:
Not so fast! A new poll from LifeWay Research, which was founded by the Southern Baptist Convention itself, shows that just over a third of Americans view homosexuality as a sin, down from 44 percent just a year ago."Clearly, speaking on this issue has not been in the range of my priorities in the past fifteen years. Instead, my aim has been to call people to ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ."A fair-minded reading of that statement indicates that Pastor Giglio has strategically avoided any confrontation with the issue of homosexuality for at least fifteen years. The issue "has not been in the range of my priorities," he said. Given the Bible's insistance that sexual morality is inseparable from our "ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ," this must have been a difficult strategy. It is also a strategy that is very attractive to those who want to avoid being castigated as intolerant or homophobic. As this controversy makes abundantly clear, it is a failed strategy. Louie Giglio was cast out of the circle of the acceptable simply because a liberal watchdog group found one sermon he preached almost twenty years ago. If a preacher has ever taken a stand on biblical conviction, he risks being exposed decades after the fact. Anyone who teaches at any time, to any degree, that homosexual behavior is a sin is now to be cast out. ...
That is the quintessential Christian Gospel. That is undiluted biblical truth. Those words are the consensus of the Church for over 2,000 years, and the firm belief held by the vast majority of Christians around the world today.
LifeWay's survey in November found 37 percent said they believe homosexual behavior is a sin, down from 44 percent in September 2011.The "vast majority" of Americans identify as "Christians" and they do not agree that homosexuality is, in fact, a sin as a matter of "undiluted biblical truth." Now, Mohler may equivocate about "True ChristiansTM" the way McCarthy talked about "True AmericansTM," but the poll shows that Mohler's real complaint is that he knows the power of conservative Christians to demonize whoever they despise is slipping away and that, instead, Americans are now turning their collective backs on those who would demonize others.
The percentage of Americans who do not believe homosexuality is a sin remained nearly the same, at 43 percent in September 2011 and 45 percent in November 2012. There was an increase in the percentage of those who said they were unsure of what they believe.
It must be uncomfortable to realize that people are turning against your attempts to turn people against those who have done them no harm.
Update: Jason Rosenhouse has more on the Righteous Right's pearl clutching over their homophobia not being accepted across the board.
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Risen from the Dead ... Again!
The Freedom From Religion Foundation wrote to the school superintendent demanding that the painting be removed as an unconstitutional government endorsement of Christianity.
So far, the school is being defiant:
Superintendent Phil Howard told the crowd at Jackson High School that "we're not violating the law and the picture is legal because it has historical significance. It hasn't hurt anyone." ...Why does that sound familiar? ... Oh, yeah ... Bridgeport (West Virginia) High School. Things didn't turn out too well there. That's especially the case since the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Ohio, has already decided, in Washegesic v. Bloomingdale Public Schools, that the display of that painting in a public school violates the First Amendment.
Howard earlier told Chillicothe radio station WKKJ that it would take a court order to remove the picture and said that the painting is permissible because it was provided by a student club and is displayed among other pictures in a "hall of honor."
"I'm certainly not going to run down there and take the picture down because some group from Madison, Wis., who knows nothing about the culture of our community or why the picture is even there, wants me to take it down," Howard told WKKJ.
As to it being displayed in a "hall of honor," that doesn't wash. As can be seen from this picture of Howard and the painting, Jesus is given a very prominent position compared to the other "honorees."
In any event, in order to dilute the endorsement of Christianity, there would have, at a minimum, to be equally prominent displays of the images of other religious figures, such as Moses, Buddha, Mohammed, etc. I'm willing to bet that there aren't any.
And "culture of our community" is just another way to say "the local majority." But the very purpose of the First Amendment is to prevent the imposition of the beliefs of the majority on minorities.
As to the picture being donated by students, the school might want to consult Jessica ("Evil Little Thing") Ahlquist about how well that flies.
The real secret of the school district's position lies in the ACLU's response to the imbroglio. It too wrote to the school district objecting to the painting but also noted:
[Jennifer Atzberger, senior staff attorney for the ACLU] says the ACLU has not had any direct contact with anyone connected to the school and the letter is the organization's only planned involvement at this time.In other words, the school district is hoping that no one with "standing" will agree to become a plaintiff in any case brought to remove the painting. As has often been documented, the first thing that "good Christians" do when their hegemony is challenged is to try to intimidate those who will not bow to their will.
"For us to take any further action, we would need to have an individual client," said Atzberger.
It's a good thing that nails and crosses are now generally frowned on ... for the time being.
Tuesday, January 08, 2013
Canada Invades Texas
Zedler recently filed a bill "to protect professors and students at public universities from being discriminated against for conducting research on the theory of intelligent design."
Quite apart from the fact that there is no such thing as research on the theory of intelligent design -- IDers sometimes do "research" to try to disprove evolution, which is not the same thing -- his reason for doing so is the execrable Expelled, one of the most dishonest pseudodocumentaries ever to be produced.
Laurence Moran, a professor of biology at the University of Toronto, called the bill a "silly joke" and said firing a biology professor who believes in creationism is not discrimination based on religion, but discrimination based on fact and "stupidity." ...Naturally, Zedler responds by, once again, revealing the real purpose of ID:
Moran said he doesn't expect the bill to pass. He said he can't imagine a professor "being hired in the first place" that believes intelligent design to be the origin of species.
"A professor of biology that maintains the earth was created 6,000 years ago, that the account in the Book of Genesis is correct, and all species were created at the same time should not expect to keep their job," he said. "That's like a geology professor believing the world is flat being protected."
Zedler said comparing intelligent design to the earth being flat is invalid because he hasn't seen any facts that disprove the existence of God or intelligent design.Um ... First Amendment?
"I love it when someone comes to me and they want to debate with a weak argument, I love that," Zedler said.
Zedler must love looking in the mirror.
Friday, January 04, 2013
Ignorance Isn't Always Bliss
An area church rallied outside the Onslow County Courthouse and the Onslow County School Board building this week, on a mission to put prayer back in schools. ...That's what you get for listening to wingnuts instead of educating yourself about your own government.
"Why is God on the outside of our schools having to look in when he's always been inside of it," asked Linwood Whaley, of Baysden's Pentacostal. "We got so many kids in school that want to say prayer, and because one person does not want to, they can't pray. That's wrong. We're being discriminated as Christians, and it's time Christians took a stand."
Students in Onslow County are given one minute for a moment of silence at the beginning of each school day, during which they are not to be interrupted. Students may do with that moment of silence anything they wish, including pray, according to Onslow County School Policy 3330/4050, which was adopted in 2000.
Throughout the state of North Carolina, boards of education are not allowed to deny prayer in public schools by students volunteering to pray, "except when necessary to maintain order and discipline," according to N.C. State Statute 115C-47. Additionally, the statute expressly prohibits any local board of education from encouraging or requiring any students to pray in public schools.
"We understand that teachers cannot promote the prayer, but they cannot stop the prayer either," Whaley said. "(Kids) are under the impression that prayer is not allowed in school."
After learning of the laws in place, Jarman called the rallying a "big misunderstanding about prayer in school."
"We were told the kids couldn't pray," Jarman said.
Tuesday, January 01, 2013
Of Patoots and Horses
An American church is promising gay men they will be cured of their homosexuality if they stroke horses.Okay, that unintentional humor is bad enough ... but it gets worse:
The Cowboy Church of Virginia, led by chief pastor Raymond Bell, believes homosexuality and other 'addictions' can be cured by Equine Assisted Psychotherapy.Cowboy Church ... Equine Assisted Psychotherapy ... and, OMG, "Horse therapy, in the right hands" ...
Horse therapy, in the right hands, can be used to help overcome fears, develop communication skills, and is generally beneficial to mental health.
But Bell says the horses in his church, a cowboy ranch in the south, are part of teaching men to stop being gay and encourage them to be more masculine.
Whatever else Raymond Bell is, he is a walking, talking, gum chewing (but not, of course, all at once) epitome of unconscious hilarity.
Update: As Jon Fleming notes in the comments, the story is being challenged: Equine Assisted Therapy Pastor Denies Gay Therapy Story and I Have Updated My Post on Generalizing Research on One Type of Therapy to Another Type of Therapy – UPDATED