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AdLib On July - 20 - 2012

The horrible tragedy of the shooting in Colorado is barely twelve hours old and yet a disgusting excuse for a human being exploits them for his own agenda. Rep. Louis Gohmert of Texas rushed to stand on top of the dead and wounded in Colorado and proclaim that the true victims in all of this are himself and the religious extremists of the Right Wing:

“You know what really gets me, as a Christian, is to see the ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs, and then some senseless crazy act of terror like this takes place.”

“Some of us happen to believe that when our founders talked about guarding our virtue and freedom, that that was important. Whether it’s John Adams saying our Constitution was made only for moral and religious people … Ben Franklin, only a virtuous people are capable of freedom, as nations become corrupt and vicious they have more need of masters … We have been at war with the very pillars, the very foundation of this country.

“People say … where was God in all of this? We’ve threatened high school graduation participations, if they use God’s name, they’re going to be jailed … I mean that kind of stuff. Where was God? What have we done with God? We don’t want him around. I kind of like his protective hand being present.”

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/07/20/congressman-gohmert-says-colorado-shooting-linked-to-attacks-on-christianity

Not one iota of compassion for those whose lives were so terribly taken, not one crumb of empathy for the wounded or the families of those who were attacked. The deaths of innocent people are only deserving of being exploited to further their own extremist agenda. Welcome to the Dominionist Christianity of the Religious Right. It is a travesty of Christianity and the message of peace, love and compassion that was central to the teachings of Jesus.

This cult version of Christianity instead obsesses about dominance, hatred and the triviality of the lives of any who aren’t directly supporting or promoting their goals. It is a form of Christianity that packages up all of the traits of their alleged adversary, The Devil, and coats them with a sweet veneer of victimhood, self-righteousness and superiority that makes it easy for them to swallow all that nastiness and keep it inside of them in the name of “faith”.

Consider the image of God that Gohmert portrays. Either God is Tinkerbell, who needs our constant applause to have the power to save us from all natural and man-made disasters or he is a petty, selfish teenager who lets people die as a way of getting even with their society for saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”.

So the Dominionist Christian God is in essence, an insecure, vindictive asshole. In their case, they have apparently created God in their own image.

According to Gohmert’s way of thinking, God intentionally allowed innocent people to be killed because He was pissed off that he isn’t being praised enough at high school graduations. That’ll teach us! And the flip side of what Gohmert is saying is that if we praised his twisted version of God at graduations and let cities put Nativity scenes on government property at Christmas, God will become a superhero who will swoop down and protect everyone from everything bad. Aside from these religious zealots, what human being above the age of three would believe such a ridiculous scenario?

If insanity was a religion, the Dominionists would be out of business…or be taken over in a merger.

It’s not hard to recognize how this religion of hate seems so intertwined with the GOP, they share a hunger for power at any cost. The Dominionist Christians, the Republicans and their standard bearer Romney display “Christian values” that are instead most of The Seven Deadly Sins. In The Book of Proverbs, King Solomon describes the Seven Deadly Sins as:

  1. A proud look.
  2. A lying tongue.
  3. Hands that shed innocent blood.
  4. A heart that devises wicked plots.
  5. Feet that are swift to run into mischief.
  6. A deceitful witness that uttereth lies.
  7. Him that soweth discord among brethren.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_deadly_sins

How can any reasonable person not see all of these traits in the GOP, Romney and the Religious Right, as part of the core of who they are and what they do?

A poignant question would be, do any of them truly believe in God? Aren’t they perhaps more atheistic than Christian? If one truly believed in God and The Bible, would one commit so many terrible acts knowing that they could keep them from going to Heaven? Or…wouldn’t doing such immoral things reflect that one has no concern of ever having to pay a price for them in an afterlife?

It is impressive that those on the far right have been able to act so immorally while simultaneously being able to hide behind a facade of Christianity. This dichotomy seems so obvious that one would think there would be a greater outpouring from true Christians against the exploitation of their religion by those who demean it through their actions and representations, all in the pursuit of those very Jesus-like traits, grabbing as much wealth and power as possible.

A great example of this is how a group of Catholic nuns have come under attack by The Catholic Church for focusing on the poor and the welfare of human beings instead of attacking American society on abortion and gay rights…because this is what Jesus would have wanted.

Religion and politics have always been entwined to one degree or another. Theocracies were the original governments (and what Gohmert and his ilk are determined to bring back). Democracy has existed along the way but is always in the cross hairs of the power hungry, including the wealthy and the rabid religious fanatics…which is one key reason why they make such a solid coalition in the GOP.

I think atheists and religious people would both appreciate a revival of basic principles in our society, the same ones that are the basis for most religions. Love, compassion, helping those who are in need, treating each other as we would like to be treated, those with more sharing with those who have less and respect for all human life.

When a tragedy like this horrible shooting in Colorado occurs, we should be able to come together as one people, one society and offer our hearts to our neighbors and their families who have been so terribly harmed. Faith should be a path towards being a better person and bringing about a more compassionate and just society. Those who use “their” God and religion to inspire division and hatred, in their single-minded pursuit of power are undeserving of being validated as people who have any connection to spirituality. These are all traits of greed and there is nothing divine about that destructive trait.

For these types, the old Gordon Gekko phrase just needs a little tweak, “Greed is God.”

For the rest of us, those with religious beliefs and atheists alike, such obscene human beings as Louis Gohmert and others like him who use religion only as leverage to pursue their own selfish goals, should bring us together to publicly condemn them as the frauds and hypocrites they are and affirm that we can and need to share values that represent what is best in us as human beings.

Written by AdLib

My motto is, "It is better to have blogged and lost hours of your day, than never to have blogged at all."

177 Responses so far.

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  1. Olderandwiser55 says:

    Well said Adlib. I’m here in Colorado and a couple things come to mind…Columbine, after which so many prayer vigils/crosses etc. didn’t change anything…and the (largely evangelical) Colorado Springs fire (why didn’t god stop that?)

  2. jjgravitas says:

    I predict there will come a day when the three major religions of today (you know who you are) will be thought of as archaic and ridiculous as the ancient Greek and Roman gods (no offence to Greece or Rome). If you strip all the bull*** out of the Bible, the Word of Jesus Christ -- the only part of it that has any real value -- could easily fit into a ten page pamphlet. Freedom of religion? I say we need freedom FROM religion.


    • AdLib says:

      The real problem is that the extremists out there hijack religion in order to use it to accumulate power and wealth and those who adhere to the core compassionate and spiritual teachings are misrepresented by them because the extremists get all the publicity and become the face of religion.

      However, at the same time that the RW Dominionists are trying to use religion to oppress and dominate, you have American nuns defying the Catholic leadership and working to help the poor and needy.

      Religion itself isn’t really the problem, any more than democracy is the problem with our government. There are religious people that occupy a wide spectrum of belief and are generous and loving people. There are politicians who are genuinely concerned about the people in this nation and our future.

      Many are familiar with Right Wing religious zealots but there are also many Progressives who are religious. Fighting for civil rights, assistance for the poor, etc. (Martin Luther King was a reverend, Gandhi was a devoutly spiritual man).

      The problem is that any social structure can be corrupted by those proclaiming to be the true believers but with selfish agendas. Even if certain structures were removed, others would take their place and be just as susceptible to being hijacked for destructive purposes.

      The despicable use religion as well as politics to inspire hatred and fear to manipulate the many. This has been going on since human society began and will continue to.

      So it is unfortunately an eternal struggle for those of conscience, whether in a religion or not, to work together to fight against those who would try to exploit people for their own destructive, self-serving agendas.

      There will always be nasty types among us who hide behind religion or patriotism to try and convince us to hate those we see as different because as long as we in the majority are fighting amongst ourselves, we can’t use our superior numbers to come together and overwhelm them.

      Allowing them to successfully demonize religion or democracy would be giving them a big win and that’s one thing we can never give them.

  3. AdLib says:

    And the RW Twits keep coming:

    On Friday, American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer attempted to link the end of public school organized prayer to the Aurora, Colorado movie theater massacre, arguing that state-sponsored religious education would have prevented the shooting (even though James Holmes belonged to a San Diego church for 10 years).

    Similarly, AFA News Director Fred Jackson connected the media and progressive, gay-affirming churches to the massacre. Today on Focal Point, Fischer specifically blamed liberals and opposition to posting the Ten Commandments in public schools for the shooting, lamenting, “we’ve tried it the liberals’ way for sixty years now and what do we got? We have massacres in Aurora.”

    http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/fischer-weve-tried-it-liberals-way-massacre-aurora

    They’re so right, who ever heard of people killing each other over religion?

    • Do these idiots actually know the reason prayer in public schools was prohibited? I also don’t recall any gay people committing mass murder.
      State sponsored religious education? Wouldn’t that be a violation of church and state division?

      They can’t get it through their thick skulls that America is not a Christian nation. No matter how many times they claim that it is.

      • SallyT says:

        KT, I have to use a couple of quotes again from Ingersoll. (and he was a Republican)

        Our civilization is not Christian. It does not come from the skies. It is not a result of “inspiration.” It is the child of invention, of discovery, of applied knowledge — that is to say, of science. When man becomes great and grand enough to admit that all have equal rights; when thought is untrammeled; when worship shall consist in doing useful things; when religion means the discharge of obligations to our fellow-men, then, and not until then, will the world be civilized.
        — Robert Green Ingersoll, “Reply To The Indianapolis Clergy” The Iconoclast, Indianapolis, Indiana (1882)

        The book, called the Bible, is filled with passages equally horrible, unjust and atrocious. This is the book to be read in schools in order to make our children loving, kind and gentle! This is the book they wish to be recognized in our Constitution as the source of all authority and justice!
        — Robert G Ingersoll,

  4. Khirad says:

    I know I shouldn’t give attention to Pat Robertson or Cenk Uygur alike, but…

    Pat Robertson To Christian: Leave Your Muslim Girlfriend


    • AlphaBitch says:

      And in retaliation to the stupidity of these yokels, I have decided to re-engage with exchange students and am currently considering representing a young woman (MUSLIM! COVERED!!!) from Lebanon.

      The only way I know to strike back is to get off my ample butt and do something positive. If I can find a HF for this young girl, if I can get her in a school, if she is as wonderful and powerful as I suspect, she will change the hearts and minds of dozens she will encounter. And, to quote Charlie Sheen (who sounds more intelligent than Mr. Robertson), that is “winning”.

      • kesmarn says:

        YAY, Frennie! A variation on the old saying: “Living well is the best revenge.”

        “Doing good — empowering a woman, in this case — is the best revenge.”

  5. AdLib says:

    The Faux Christian Parade of Human Garbage continues:

    An Evangelical leader by the name of Jerry Newcombe says only Christian victims of the Colorado shooting that took place in Aurora Friday are going to heaven.

    Jerry Newcombe is a spokesman for Truth In Action. He claimed that the Colorado shooting happened because America has lost its fear of hell.

    “If a Christian dies early, if a Christian dies young, it seems tragic, but really it is not tragic because they are going to a wonderful place.. on the other hand, if a person doesn’t know Jesus Christ.. if they knowingly rejected Jesus Christ, then, basically, they are going to a terrible place.”

    http://www.examiner.com/article/colorado-shooting-only-christian-victims-going-to-heaven-says-religious-leader

    What Would Jesus Do in the aftermath of a horrible destruction of innocent life? According to these nutjobs, the “Christian” thing to do is sneer at the victims who aren’t Christians and brag that they’re going to hell.

    Apparently, their “holy” philosophy is that, just because an innocent person has been killed, doesn’t mean you can’t still stab them in the back. And promote your own religious superiority at the same time.

    Yep, who wouldn’t want to join a church that has leaders like this?

    • Is it any wonder that Christians are scorned and derided when people like this make insensitive, hateful and vain comments like this? I realize that all Christians are not like this turd, but people love to generalize. These people love to say they are being persecuted for their faith. I think persecution is too strong a word, early Christians in Rome were persecuted. These idiots are just derided, as they should be.

      I think genuine Christians, those who seriously try to live according to Christ’s teachings should denounce these sickos and publicly state that these people are perverting the Christian message and using religion to promote hatred and division.

      People say peaceful Muslims should do more to denounce Islamic extremists, and I agree. Christians should do the same to denounce the fanatics within Christianity. These dickheads represent the opposite of what Christ taught and should be called out for it.

    • kesmarn says:

      Quite a long time ago, AdLib, I heard a fictional story of what judgment day might be like.

      In this version, the Almighty was waving in prostitutes, drunks, pagans — you name it — welcoming them to his heavenly kingdom. When a delegation of The Righteous approached him to complain that they had always led blameless lives and that this riff-raff should not be allowed into heaven to rub elbows with saints like them, he responded: “Okay. All of you! Down there!”

      What was the admonition: “Judge not, that you be not judged”? Or was it: “Forgive us as we forgive others”?

  6. foodchain says:

    Well the GOP have 1-7 locked down; Gomert is so skewed in his thinking or really completely evil. The GOd talk is a diversion. Children, when confronted with something of their doing always divert and if that doesn’t work, they blame someone else and if that doesn’t work, they yell.

    Grover Norquist runs a good part of the GOP and the NRA may we run the other part of it. We do not have a govn’t representing it’s electorate. That is what all this is about. God is a shiny mirror, at least that’s what Suzanne said

    • AdLib says:

      The GOP is very cult-like, with few but very powerful and charismatic authority figures whose words all the faithful adopt and follow like the word of God. There is no independent thinking, no critical thinking, only absolute conformity or else one becomes “ex-communicated”, shunned and attacked as a heathen.

      If Rush Limbaugh told the faithful to drink poisoned Kool Aid, many would blindly do so.

      If any leader told people on the Left to do so, they’d say, “Are you crazy?!”

      In building a constructive and viable society, people on the Left have the right stuff.

      In a war though, as has been underway in our politics and society for a long time, having a robot army that will follow orders without questioning and march perfectly in step is daunting…but not unbeatable.

  7. foodchain says:

    Ad, I hope not to do a disservice to you and to everyone contributing. I will read the comments--I’ve peeked already-- but I have been roiling with this as have we all. My few comments are:

    Where are my inalienable rights? Those of LIFE, LIBERTY, AND PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS?

    How does the 2nd amendment trump my rights?

    2nd: I’m really tired of teddy bears; I’ve seen them with Timothy McVeigh, Colombine, VA Tech, Ft Hood, more, more and now this. GET ANGRY. Dammit, teddy bears make us victims too. We should grieve but to show no more than this means we are victims, powerless to fight the killers. How did that happen to this great country? We can just be shot down and say Oh, OK, think I’ll be sad for a few days. How did we arrive at this state of powerlessness?

    So many great comments that I want to get to but they would shift me (into a fuller position) but we each want/need to say something in response to this horror--this absurd abuse of power by the NRA. I can search a sink on google and immediately get sink ads and yet no one could put together that this kid was buying mass amounts of weaponry and protective gear. Create that software to track these purchases.

    My son went to one of these midnight movie openings a few years back. Every parent should be screaming at every legislator in the country. Teddy bears are a small answer for the loss of life: we should be fighting for our children and we should never be afraid to take on anyone when it comes to saving them. Period

    Then for a closing is John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High” back when CO was cool


    • AdLib says:

      Foodchain, this is the type of government that plutocracy brings. The RW and corporate powers don’t believe in any of the core Constitutional values. They are solely dedicated to greed for money and power. The rights of the majority are a hindrance to them and they work tirelessly to strip them from the people.

      Some of those most impacted by this, the poor and poorly educated, unfortunately become easy to manipulate to support their very enemies who have harmed their lives, by whipping up their hatreds and prejudices and re-directing them against those they can represent as “the other who are your true enemies”.

      So, no, our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness doesn’t matter to the gun lobby/NRA or the Dominionists or for that matter, the GOP.

      Which is why we have to eternally fight against their having more power and work as hard as we can to diminish their existing power.

  8. AdLib spot on as usual.

    I’ll never get the cognitive dissonance between today’s GOP and Christian values. Jesus was a straight up peace and love hippie who time and time again said greed is not good in his teachings. Yet the Republican Jesus says greed is good, in fact now they are teaching that money is a blessing.

    For example do you really think Jesus would take the earned income tax credit away from low income working families and give it to the rich? or be against everyone getting access to affordable healthcare?

    Ironically it’s just not the doctrines of Jesus the GOP perverts. They even twist around what their true patron saint Adam Smith was all about. Adam Smith believed in high wages for a prosperous society and that businesses have as much a fiduciary responsibility to society as they have a responsibility to their stake holders. I’m sure he’s spinning like a top in his grave watch the GOP call what we have today capitalism. It’s nothing but a a collection of oligarchies in every captive market segment. Adam Smith thought you regulated your way to a free market by restricting plutocracy.

    If you are a Republican today you simply have no core values. Even things like being fiscally conservative is a big lie for the GOP. Watch as they try to EXPAND an already bloated military budget and increase tax cuts for the rich. Their whole ideology is not so much failed as bastardized.

    Andrew Sullivan points out true conservatism and it includes many aspects the GOP has abandoned and actually the Dems of today stand for like pay go, increased revenue to balance the budget, no expansive wars, defense cuts and even personal responsibility in a universal healthcare system. The GOP on the other hand is radical, expansive militarily, does not pay for two wars and drug benefits, etc. This is not close to being conservative.

    • AdLib says:

      KQ -- Thanks pal!

      Isn’t the truth about the Dominionists and Republicans that they all simply play the image game to advance their greedy agendas to grab power from the majority? They claim to be this and that, Christian and Conservative, but it’s just a charade they’re performing. They have to know that they’re not really reflecting the teachings of Jesus and true conservatism.

      They just try to perpetuate that image so they have something “noble” to cloak their destructive words and actions in.

      How can people claiming to be Christian never quote him or his philosophies? How can people claiming to be conservative pursue radical agendas?

      Because they’re just hiding behind those images to deflect attacks. That’s all.

      If all of these loonies had a magic lamp and could make the world into what they would want it to be, it would be a perfect nightmare and they know it. They want the few to dominate the many, they are tyrants-in-waiting and such cowards, they will hide behind Christianity so they aren’t held to account.

      As I’ve said, they are the true disbelievers.

      • One of the conservative who contributed in making the original ‘contract with America’ said it best about the modern GOP and I paraphrase because I can’t find the original link. ‘The GOP is more a party of orthodoxy than a party of ideas.’.

        That’s why he said he was voting for Obama instead of McCain in 2008.

        I think religion is just one plank that the GOP once relied upon that is corroded. Their whole reason for existence now is a perpetual hate machine that just wants to keep power.

        I may get their appeal more than most here only because I can see how their message sells well to the middle aged white guy who’s afraid that their control over this country is slipping away. This will not be a country controlled by just one demographic group in 50-100 years. It just won’t because of demographic changes and these people, like the Rush Limbaughs of the world are just scared to death that they will lose control.

    • choicelady says:

      KQ -- one of the most bizarre spill overs from this version of Christianity propagated by Gohmert et al. is the degree to which the anti-religious Left buys into it. I have had way too many Left secular progressives tell me what I HAVE to believe if I purport to be a Christian. How nuts is that?

      The denial by Harris and other atheists that anyone can engage with faith concerns and still be rational, accept science, and be complex about theology and ethics rather than rule bound is partly political. Admitting there are majorities among Abrahamic faiths who are intelligent, rational, and spiritual all at once simply annoys the hell out of fundamentalist atheists. (And yes -- that is NOT a mistake -- there are evangelical atheists, too.)

      This absolutism from the Left has contributed its share to the bifurcation of ideas, to binary thinking, to segregation of people who, under most other circumstances would be able to have lively and impassioned conversations and use them to grow. Everwhere we are forced to take hard core stands on issues instead of using thoughtful judgment.

      Those who are central to the operation of my organization refuse to be put in a box. That is infuriating for all sides, but it is important to continue to affirm the complexities of issues rather than accept Louie’s or Sam’s reductionism. Life is not black and white. It is always complicated. “Situational ethics” is the hallmark of compassion and the capacity to evaluate each person’s condition fairly. Was Jean Valjean not vastly different from Bernie Madoff?

      We here at the Planet and on several other blogs are working very hard to regain nuance, retain compassion for even those with whom we disagree, affirm intellectual complexity, and promulgate human kindness. These are attributes and qualities desperately needed. It’s a struggle well worth having everywhere we go.

      • kesmarn says:

        I’ve totally lost track of how many times I’ve said this to you, c’lady, but that is just one heckuva fabulous comment. Every word of it.

      • AdLib says:

        I find those who claim to be atheists yet campaign against those of faith to pigeon hole them as fools as hypocrites.

        Atheists are subject to a great deal of disrespect for what they believe, theirs is the only belief system in America that disqualifies someone to be elected as a leader in this country.

        And yet some atheists mirror the same kind of intolerance and stereotyping they object to.

        When anyone on the Left or Right dedicates themselves primarily to stereotyping their opponents and fitting them in a detestable box, they stain themselves with small mindedness and destroy any claim of insight or enlightenment.

        Stereotypes are the tools of limited minds and can be found up and down the political spectrum without exception.

        • Oh, I totally agree. Evangelical atheism does exist. Not in a unit like orthodox religions are. I realize there are many sects in the differing religions, but they usually have some things common in their doctrine.

          I can understand atheists debating with theologians, like Christopher Hitchens did and Dawkins does. But to insist that a person adhere to one’s beliefs is just as bad as the fundies. I have to say, there is no belief “system,” with atheism. It’s usually pretty singular in concept. Atheism is pretty simple. The prefix “A” simply means “without.” Correctly defined, atheism means “without theism.” Like just about anything though, atheism can be over complicated and taken beyond it’s literal meaning.

          Nobody should ever try to force their beliefs down other people’s throats. When I receive condemnation from some religious fanatic, I will defend my atheism, and usually that defense involves bringing up aspects of religion or the belief in supreme beings that I find unreasonable or just total nonsense. I never go out of my way to try to “convert,” someone to atheism.

          • choicelady says:

            KT -- no one in progressive faith circles would insist on your believing in God. We have no idea what God means anymore. I have members for whom God is a deep and abiding friend. That moves me. Who’s to say it’s wrong? I have members who think God is an abstract power of good -- the collective wisdom and consciousness of us all -- and who’s to say that’s wrong? I have members who are totally atheist (so why are they part of a progressive Protestant organization -- ’cause we are waaaay cool in advocating justice, that’s why) because the larger than life forces are, for them, entirely about human consciousness and choices. And you know what -- NONE of that is wrong. All of it is correct. And no one will be able to know for sure. That is why it’s belief and not science. And there is nothing freaking wrong with seeing truth as a journey for all of us always. The hope is that we can share it with one another.

            Fundies anywhere are possessed of the SAME drive to dominate, to have power over others, and I suspect FEAR that they might be wrong. All of the forces that insist they have the ONE way and everyone must submit do so, I suspect, out of worry that their belief is too fragile to be sustained in a complex, diverse society.

            I agree that being an atheist may disqualify one for public office, but not in every sphere. Several Congress people who admitted it are in fact elected and re-elected by constituents who probably sigh in relief for they are the same. Pete Stark is one -- and he’s doing fine, thanks. But there was a spew of hate mail from a few constitutents when he revealed he was a-theistic. I didn’t know we were electing a theological leader…

            But Pete could not “play in Peoria” for sure. Pick your targets would be my advice. The world is changing, but in some regions it’s pretty much glued in place.

            The future of faith may be ultimately that there is no theism, but it does not spell the end of query, the end of quest, the end of transcendence, or the end of good. It simply changes the way we go about it.

            And I really hope always there will be room for the kid who wrote to God, “Dear God. Will you be in church Sunday? I hope so. I will show you my new shoes.”

            There is something about that simple trust that makes me want to cry for the absolute beauty of the connectedness it reveals. I’d like us not to lose that, especially if we can grow to have it directed toward one another rather than an abstraction.

            Simple trust is very much in short supply.

            • I agree with much of what you said, but I wasn’t attacking a progressive view of god and religion. I agree wholeheartedly that there are many good reason for people having some sort of faith. You are correct when you say nobody KNOWS what god is. I was referring to those who insist they KNOW. People who think that their god is the only true god. A belief, I might add, that has led to countless killings and massive destruction through the ages.
              To me, god is simply a word used to describe the indescribable. As I have said many times here, technically I am an atheist, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have my own views on creation, morality, the universe and spirituality. These are things that fundies insist are impossible for an atheist to conceive or possess. I find this offensive and insulting. I am not talking about people like you or those in your organization, obviously.
              As you must know, I am a Taoist. In Taoism it is said that all things were created by Tao, and Tao is the source of all things. You could easily substitute the word Tao, with the word god. I prefer the Tao for many reasons, and the main reason for that preference is my disbelief in supreme BEINGS.
              I don’t like all the dos and dont’s, to be commanded, to be threatened with eternal damnation…etc. All those anthropomorphic qualities that people ascribe to god.
              If I remember right, you and your fellows no longer believe in preaching about hell. But again, I am not talking about you or your peers.

  9. bito says:

    Worth Watching!

    Video Essay: Living Under the Gun

    In a web-exclusive video essay, Bill Moyers says Friday’s deadly shooting in Colorado is yet another tragic indication that our society — and too many of our politicians — covet guns more than common sense or life itself. The National Rifle Association in particular, Bill says, “has turned the Second Amendment of the Constitution into a cruel and deadly hoax.”

    http://billmoyers.com/segment/bill-moyers-essay-living-under-the-gun/

    This in part is what I was feebly attempting to say yesterday, that the whole Second Amendment/Gun Rights/NRA is but a multimillion dollar scam put into place to retain reelection, greed and power for a few.

    • AdLib says:

      Thanks for posting this, Bito. Bill Moyers is such a national treasure, one of the last of a breed of fearless and morally driven journalists.

      The key point he made is not unfamiliar. The 2nd Amendment is all about “a well regulated militia” and the rampant availability of guns is not what the 2nd Amendment is about.

      “Well regulated” should be the call of those in the public who want less gun violence and senseless killings. For the NRA though, it’s just the cost of doing business.

      It is really sick.

      • bito says:

        Remember AdLib in the Heller decision SCOTUS decided that that comma was just there, it didn’t mean a thing.

        • AdLib says:

          The real issue is what kind of arms does the 2nd Amendment permit? Hand guns, assault rifles, bazookas, chemical weapons, grenade launchers, tactical nuclear missiles?

          If we can establish that there are limits to the 2nd Amendment just as there are to the 1st Amendment then we should be able to make laws that set these boundaries.

          Why does a citizen have a right to a military assault weapon and not just a hand gun or rifle?

          How is it violating the 2nd Amendment to say people are allowed the right to bear arms to protect themselves, just not arms that could inflict death on mass amounts of people?

    • kesmarn says:

      Bill Moyers is beautifully eloquent as always and makes perfect sense. And I love the way he fearlessly goes after the NRA.

      Still, I’m haunted by the fact that there are more guns per person in Canada, b’ito, and somehow they don’t have this persistently high level of gun violence.

      There’s something in our culture that breeds these mass murderers, and I’m not entirely sure what it is. I’m not saying gun control is wrong. Not at all.

      But we have to get to the root of what produces this particular type of madness as well, don’t you think?

      • kesmarn says:

        I’m so grateful for the collective thought that went into all these answers. What a gift the Planet is! Each person’s contribution is so valuable and gives me (well, all of us) so much more to think about. This is better than the best salon in history.

        I’ve been thinking about this problem over the last couple of days and I remembered a book I’d encountered a long time ago: Richard Slotkin’s “Regeneration Through Violence.” In it he explores the idea of “the frontier” and it’s effect on the national psyche.

        He feels that Americans in earlier times viewed the founders as men who “tore a nation from an opulent and implacable wilderness.” And he explored the myth of the hunter as “one of self renewal or self-creation through acts of violence.”

        I did a bit of research on Slotkin and discovered that “Regeneration” was really the first of a trilogy on the notion of the American frontier. One of the other two volumes is called “Gunfighter Nation.” I haven’t read it, but I’d be interested in seeing how he examines popular culture like the wild west myth, dime novels, and Hollywood images/themes and their effect on peoples’ views on violence.

        I’m not saying — and I don’t think he’s saying — that the prevalent culture creates killers, but maybe it can give us some insight into how violence can morph from being a horror to being acceptable to being a chosen option for some people.

        C’lady, your comments on the awful legacy of slavery really resonate. I think that history of oppression did allow people to rationalize violence as somehow “necessary” to “keep order” and — weirdly — still felt compatible with being able to think of oneself as being a “decent person.” It developed a sort of sanctioned schizophrenia that seems capable of opening the floodgates to all sorts of inhuman actions and attitudes.

        And, b’ito, that was a terrific article on the cognitive breakdown that seems to happen with these killers. The bottom line seems to be that sometimes a real connection with even one other human being can be enough to head off disaster.

        Maybe we should all do a little more connecting whenever there’s a random opportunity… It might make more of a difference than any of us realizes.

        • choicelady says:

          Kes -- you’d probably like “Rebirth of a Nation”, an excellent discussion of the many ways in which “upheaval and renewal” were the essential parts of spiritual and material regeneration in Protestantism. (Well -- it used to be. We’re getting over it. We left a pretty ugly trail behind.) It’s by historican Jackson Lears, and it’s pretty readable.

        • foodchain says:

          I agree Kes, we need a way to be in community together, not divided, block by block

      • Hey kes! An essential question, for sure. I think there are a number of reasons for our infatuation for guns. I think there is still a great deal of romanticism behind this infatuation.

        There is the revolutionary war, were, without guns we would never have been able to free ourselves from British rule. A whole lot of romanticizing over that. Then we had the civil war, again, a whole lot of romanticizing over that war. Then the less popular, intermediate wars and then WWI and WWII, then Korea and Vietnam, then Irag and Afghanistan. America is a very war like nation and by extension, so are many of it’s citizens. We seem to be at war, constantly, in one part of the world or another.

        Then there is the romanticizing the Wild West and it’s gunslingers and heroes. The war against Native Americans, or the Indian Wars and Manifest Destiny. The legends of the 7th Cavalry and all that. Gun development was a natural by product of all these wars. Always new innovations in gun technology.

        Then, there is gang violence, more home invasions…etc.

        And finally, there is this pervasive spiritual sickness that has afflicted our nation. I have no doubt I missed several other reasons for our gun culture, but those I have listed are huge reasons this paranoid, romantic and criminal culture.

        • bito says:

          KT. all good thoughts, my problem is that in Europe both before and after the revolutionary war they practically were charter members of the war of the week club.
          Perhaps at some point after WWII they had complete change on the taking of lives because it was so up close and personal. The killings happened in their town and cities, something the US has not seen since the civil war.

          • I think that’s a very good point Bito. Almost all of Europe was totally devastated at the end of WWII. I think that ended any romanticizing of war and killing.

            I don’t believe there is any country on Earth that has been involved in as many armed conflicts as the US. And as you say, those conflicts, save for the revolutionary war and the civil war, were always on the soil of other lands.

            The Indian Wars should be mentioned, but even those battles were not fought in the majority of the US.

            I also believe, and I don’t mean to keep harping on this subject, that we really do have a serious spiritual problem in the US. I don’t mean religious problems (which do exist), but just a common spirit, a joining together to make this a better country. There are so many divisions in this country that it is just absurd. Racial divisions, political divisions, economic divisions, religious divisions and cultural divisions. These divisions are not new to America, but I think they are proportionately much larger than ever before.

            • foodchain says:

              I think the dommon denominator for division in the US is the blow back from the Civil War. It is the states’ rights argument against the federal government. It is the welfare argument is some blind sighted way. It is the rural vs the metro. It is still the same fight.

              As measure for this I would ask us all to look at the revenge so many countries still hold against each other over thousands of years. Why would we presume to be different? The South was occupied, they were devastated--needlessly-- and they were “helped” by the enemy.

              A great line is: no one ever forgets where the hatchet is buried and I think that’s true.

      • bito says:

        k’es, great question and it has been bugging me since I read it. C’Lady (below) certainty has some good thoughts.

        I will be the first to admit my anti-NRA reaction does seem like a knee-jerk and it doesn’t get to your basic question at all. I am just so damn tired that every 18.25 days we have a rerun of another mass murder, Mylar balloons, flowers, candles and stuffed teddy bears and the picture in my own mind of Gabby and the young child that was murdered within moments from my house. Wash. Rinse Repeat. Meanwhile the NRA and the gun industry collect their blood money, spread their campaign money spread fear and blackmail congress. (and collect their untraceable money)
        You’re right, there is more to it.
        Could it be America’s “rugged individualism” our we can make it on our own personality that we don’t share with others or even notice others problems? We’re just too busy and “they can work it out on their own,” I don’t want to pry” attitude even with people we see and work with every day?
        Are we an isolationist people? We don’t notice the warning signs, “it’s none of our business”?

        I did read an interesting article on individuals but how can it be used for society as a whole?
        Colorado “Batman” Shootings Eerily Similar to Others Involving a Lack of Cognitive Control
        http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2012/07/20/colorado-batman-shootings-eerily-similar-to-others-involving-a-lack-of-cognitive-control/

        The cognitive control capacities of the subject get somewhat redirected—we don’t quite understand how—toward goals and activities that are violent in a very specific way. Not the violent outburst of somebody who has “lost it” in a bar, punching people right and left. The violence is channeled in a very specific plan, with a very specific target—generally fed by the media through some sort of rhetoric, political or otherwise—with very specific tools, in the Giffords case, a 9-millimeter Glock.

        Does it come down to education, we both have to learn the warning signs and take the time to help others, compassion?

        Great question and topic, k’es. looks like a post that you can handle in your future. Sad to say, there will be an occasion to write it in 18.25 days.

        • choicelady says:

          bito -- I SO agree, as I agree with you and foodchain -- no more candlelight vigils, no more teddy bears and mylar balloons!

          Somehow, somewhere we need to intervene BEFORE things happen.

          If you wish to creep yourself out, take a look at the photo of Jared Loughner after he shot all the people in Tucson, and compare it to the photo of Holmes. And then remember today is the one-year anniversary of Breivik’s horror. And then ask -- are these all REALLY unrelated?

          The common denominator of extremism in Loughner’s motivation was picked up by Southern Poverty Law Center -- and instantly dismissed. Breivik’s self-proclaimed white Christian supremacism was hushed right up. Will we be allowed to know about Holmes’ sources of information?

          I have no answers. Every move to intercept someone prior to acting violently opens the possibility of harassment and supression of others who are truly innocent.But it’s past time we find a legal and constitutional way to at least slow them down. No more teddy bears. No more mylar balloons. No more candlelight gatherings. Enough.

          • One thing we need is much more access to quality, professional mental health professionals. What this country spends, or should I say, does not spend on mental health is deplorable. There are not huge profits to be made by treating those with serious mental illness. I’m not talking about people who have personal Freudian type therapists because they have a lousy love life or aren’t happ with the car they drive, but serious mental illness such as major depression, PTSD, schizophrenia, bipolar illness….etc. This would not solve all of our societal and cultural problems, but it would be a huge step in the right direction.

            • bito says:

              The problem with the types of mental illnesses you mention, KT, are they are all a type of psychosis that both noticeable and usually treatable. The people that are responsible for mass killings are usually psychopathic and their symptoms are less noticeable, almost subtle to the average person who isn’t close to them.

      • choicelady says:

        kes -- historians and sociologists and probably geologists and soothsayers have been asking why there is such a radical disconnect between the US and Canada culturally, politically, and socially.

        The two key differences -- the presence of a large and powerful minority culture of the French making the nation bi-lingual and therefore less likely to be SO xenophobic. More to the point there is no legacy of slavery that still divides, creates huge guilt, and around which fantasies have had to grow. There also was not a “Great Awakening” driving both the religious conservatism of the 18th and 19th centuries and the slavery justifications that grew from too much of that movement.

        IMHO -- I think slavery and all it bred and all that impelled it is the key issue in America that keeps us from reaching our full potential as an inclusive democracy. Canada shares a common history of abuse toward First Nations people, but because they don’t have to live the lie of the Confederacy, they have been able to apologize and begin making amends. We have nothing but defensiveness and self justification toward First Nations people and toward slaves. That baggage is huge for the US. Canada has no such chain around its collective history and heart.

        • bito says:

          C’Lady, you may like to read this, it does have some similarities to what you are saying. Interesting.

          The Psychogeography of Gun Violence

          http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/01/the-psychogeography-of-gun-violence/69353/

          After considering possible explanations having to do with poverty, slavery, and even the region’s hotter climate, he found a different answer in a cultural vestige of pastoralism: a deep “culture of honor” in which residents place an extraordinary value on personal reputation, family, and property. Threats to these things provoke aggressive reactions, leading to higher rates of murder and domestic violence

          • choicelady says:

            Fascinating! I will read more and see if the culture of honor rising from pastoralism is linked to they mythic Southern ethos. I’d be interested in how it’s also tied as a reaction to rapacious capitalism and whether it’s specific in origins to the 19th century and it’s massive upheavals against the common man.

            Thanks for the link -- this is all new to me!

          • AlphaBitch says:

            And just to weigh in, after finishing the trip and having my computer crash:

            For Pashtuns, the concept of Pashtun-wali is paramount. The three most important things in their society: hospitality, honor and revenge. The last two tag team, which makes for a heck of a bloody society. Live your life honorably and leave the rest alone is my motto. But I would agree that the “culture of honor” is deadly and vicious. Certainly nothing that is truly honorable. Pride is what it is, not honor. And that’s one of those deadly sins…..

            • choicelady says:

              Wow -- the idea that Pashtun-wali is not distant from the Hatfields and McCoys is pretty eye opening!

              Yup -- that pride thing. Gets you every time. And think how it spills over to gang violence and being “dissed”. This is hardly old fashioned then!

              Whooo. Heavy issues here!

  10. choicelady says:

    Christians are not persecuted in America. Dominionists are limited in how much they can persecute the rest of us, so, of course, they see that as persecution. It’s like the criminal who is stopped from committing crimes -- and says his rights are violated. Uh huh.

    Louie -- if God is more magnificent and amazing than anything we can imagine, why do you set him up as a figure who more or less resembles the drunk with a gun living next door in the nearby trailer? If God is all powerful, all knowing, all present, and all wonderful, why does He need YOU to shoot off your mouth?

    Louie, Louie, Louie -- no one is stopping God. No one is stopping YOU. You are not a victim. Grow up.

    • AdLib says:

      CL -- If the true agenda of these RW Dominionists was the freedom to practice their religion, they wouldn’t be howling because they already have it. Who stops them from attending their church and practicing their religion?

      That clearly is not what they’re seeking as we know, they seek political domination and believe it is their destiny. They are the enemies of democracy and should never be seen as anything less.

      As for their trivialization of God into a helpless little goldfish flopping on the ground unless worship of Him is forced into every crevice of society, it’s insulting. Or portraying God as an egotistical jerk who kills innocent people because He isn’t prayed to in schools.

      I would really like to see a long conversation between Gohmert and say, Bill Moyers or someone clever and sensible, getting him to describe the Dominionist utopia he would like to convert America into. I think that video would be very meaningful in turning people who support his type now, back towards the light of humanity.

      • choicelady says:

        Oh -- that’d last about two minutes. Just long enough for Gohmert to flap his lips when at a loss for words, shout “commie” at Moyers, and stalk out.

        • bito says:

          I would pay to see it! It may be somewhat humiliating for Bill Moyers and Looie probably wouldn’t be able to understand what Bill is saying, but I would pay!

          • choicelady says:

            I would as well, bito! But I think Moyers would NOT be embarrassed except FOR Gohmert. Moyers is a Methodist minister, and compassion is his middle name. I’d love to see that, too. We don’t get a lot of human kindness in public these days.

  11. MurphTheSurf3 says:

    Gohmert-“Some of us happen to believe that when our founders talked about guarding our virtue and freedom, that that was important,” he said. “Whether it’s John Adams saying our Constitution was made only for moral and religious people … Ben Franklin, only a virtuous people are capable of freedom, as nations become corrupt and vicious they have more need of masters. We have been at war with the very pillars, the very foundation of this country.”
    =========================
    Never miss a chance to drive home your own favorite agenda items. I happen to agree with the idea that a life grounded in a sense of faithfulness, community, commitment to each other, and motivated by love is a better life.

    I am a Christian Humanist but I have been positively influenced by Buddhism as well. Gohmert’s narrow view of American faith having to be equated with the Judaeo-Christian tradition is not one I accept. For Gohmert and his fellow travelers, it’s always going to be about their own self righteousness and desire to limit the choices of others.

    • I’m not Christian because I don’t believe in most of the biographical stories of Jesus but I believe in Jesus’ philosophies a hell of allot more than your average GOP bible beater.

      I wholehearted believe in things like tolerance, charity, not worshiping money, doing good works, being a good example etc…

      I also know Jesus was just one person who espouses these altruistic values. Most cultures have a ‘profit’ for lack of a better term that espoused teachings very similar to Jesus’.

      Adam’s was 100% wrong if he did not mean and/or in that statement. You don’t need to be religious to be a moral person. In fact the intolerance of some religions is counter to being a good person IMO.

      • bito says:

        ‘Looie’ saying that John Adams said something makes me highly suspicious that Mr. Adams said any such thing, same goes for ole’ Ben.
        He didn’t quote either one of them, he interpreted and paraphrased something.

        (edit: oops, looks like KT already made this point below. http://planetpov.com/2012/07/20/the-right-wings-psychotic-version-of-god/comment-page-1/#comment-187064

      • MurphTheSurf3 says:

        I agree with much of this.

        A word about Jesus. That he existed I have no doubt. That his message was counter-cultural, emphasized a series of values including mercy, compassion, tolerance, openness, acceptance, care for others, our duty to the poor/the persecuted/the ignorant/the imprisoned, and peace. The Beatitudes and Greatest Commandments capture the heart of his message…apparently one he was willing to die for.

        His followers “mystified” and eventually “churched” the message losing its edge.

        While there have been many great prophetic figures, the Jesus Message remains the most integrated and consistent of them as witnessed in the first 300 years of the Christian Community which called itself “The Way”…as in how to live life.

        That is what sticks for me.

        • foodchain says:

          It also remain, as other prophts from the time, the most misu derstood, the most abused and the most manipulatednfor power. It is this essence that creates relion as a problem throughout. the ages

        • Oh I should have specified. I did believe Jesus existed as a person. I just don’t believe in the biographical creed that he was the son of God and that he resurrected. I don’t even believe he was born in December. That is just an old myth that ancients used to time the Winter Solstice like his ressurrection was used as the time to describe when crops should be planted.

          In fact many religions before and after Jesus used this biographical info like the Egyptians and Druids which is based on the movements of the Sol. For example Horus the Egyptian had a biography very close to Jesus including the time of birth, having 12 disciples, being resurrected, Horus was aka the light etc… I think the church just attributed these old myths to Jesus’ life. Even the idea of Ages (the period the earth wobbles around it’s axis is approximately 26,000 years broken up into 12 Ages) is built into the story of Jesus because when Jesus was born we went from the Age of the Bull into the Age of Pisces (now we entered the Age of Aquarius).

          So basically the timing of biological Jesus has a hell-of-allot more to do with astrological movements than a person’s biography. But I think it shows how the ancients were more brilliant than modern man ever thought about the stars.

          • choicelady says:

            I think contemporary theologians agree that he existed and that what made him profound in our history was a wholly new message that gave massive distance from the rules of the past and opened the door for equality toward spirituality for all in the future.

            That, as in AB and my fave book, “Lamb” he might have been influenced by other religions makes this all the more interesting to me. I don’t need miraculous births, resurrection, etc., to be directed by the wholeness of his teachings and the message of what he challenged us to do and be. I think most Protestants would agree -- the stories are just stories, but the teachings which arise within those stories are amazing and complex and profound.

            • choicelady says:

              KT -- yes, the Western world. That’s the premise in “Lamb” that Jesus traveled to several lands and incorporated the insights and spirituality he found there into his own understanding. “Lamb” is a bawdy and very funny but powerful book that was based on work done by some quite reviled scholars who followed the tracks of “Issa” (Muslims later name Jesus “Isa”) who went to India, Tibet, etc.

              It’s Western culture and faith that may have been impacted by Jesus’ learning if all this is true. Why it would be heretical is beyond me, but this is THE cultural war being fought now by those who could not tolerate the notion that Jesus might have been influenced by Buddha, the Tao, and other ideas. How sad -- it actually energizes the entire idea of faith if this proves to be true. I suppose if your faith rests on the notion of a “one and only God’s chosen” then admitting Jesus was insightful enough to value other faiths would put a damper on your absolutism indeed.

            • I don’t agree that Jesus’s teachings and living examples were new. Maybe to the western world. Is that what you meant by “our history?”

        • Lao Tsu, the likely author of the Tao Te Ching wrote that wonderful collection of ideograms 500 years before the birth of Christ. The Tao is very spiritual and there are many Christian concepts that mirror what was written in the Tao Te Ching. Loosely translated, Tao Te Ching means “the way.”

          I don’t really doubt that there was a man called Jesus who did travel around preaching and teaching, I just don’t think he was the literal son of god.

          There are 18 years missing from the life of Christ. Some speculate that during those missing years, he was in the far east and India, learning and contemplating. That’s pretty easy for me to believe, well, easier than the virgin birth and the supernatural qualities attributed to Christ.

          • choicelady says:

            There are records of a man named Issa (Muslims name him Isa) in China, Tibet, etc. The man who pursued those records was -- as you can imagine -- scorned and dismissed, but…

            To me this makes Jesus MORE important, not less so. What he taught is, if it derives from Tao, from Buddhism, from other ideas, is singular in its outcome, and it is designed for a Western audience and our cultural heritage. But for the narrow of belief and mind, such things are threats and scary, and so even if they are true, we have to kill the ideas and the messengers who bring them.

            Sigh.

            • AlphaBitch says:

              Oh, CL- you are so right. I fell in love with Jesus and his teachings MORE after reading Lamb, which gave me insight to where and how he came up with these theories. I am fascinated that some seminaries are using this magnificent book. When I ordered it from Amazon, it never came; so I called to report. The guy who helped got SO excited -- he said it was his dad’s favorite book in the world, and that he himself had purchased 10 copies as gifts. It’s a movement.

              Now read Shane Claiborne’s the Irresistible Revolution. I promise, you will get it. I’ll send you one, and the Blov’s tome on Paul, if you want to get me your address via AdLib/Kalima. They have my email. -- AB

            • Bito, who knows, could be. He did like his wine and hung out with fast women! 😉

            • Oh, without a doubt. I agree completely. I didn’t mean that Jesus was less important than those that taught before him, I was just implying that he was not the first one. There were many before him.

          • Like I alluded to above I think the prophet Jesus did indeed exist and taught those teachings.

            • AlphaBitch says:

              To Bito: They were The Missing Years, as John Prine wrote!! (and for which we named our sailboat).

              John will be here in my hometown on September 24th. I’m going. Jesus! The Missing Years!

            • We are in agreement then. It would be very interesting to learn what Jesus did and where he was in that 18 year gap in his personal history.

            • bito says:

              Those were his drinking and partying years

        • choicelady says:

          It’s all Paul’s fault that the message got “churchified” and distorted.

          KQ and Murph -- the anthropological and historical evidence shows Jesus -- a human being -- did exist and, different from the prophets of his time -- had this new message of inclusion, of prophetic vision on compassion toward all, and of making “rules” vastly less important than care for those needing both charity and justice.

          Today’s Dominionists are not Christians because they have gone so far as to say the Beatitudes and other revolutionary teachings are “suspended” or “abolished” now that “End Times” are upon us. They follow Old Testament rules that Jesus said were NOT the point -- that you can follow them (e.g. circumcision) but if you adhere to Old Testament rules but continue to ignore the drive toward compassion and inclusion, you have utterly betrayed the message.

          Well Paul -- who never knew Jesus -- did a lot of that -- he was obsessed with the place of sex in human lives, with the role of women, with the real message. His was a drive to make Christ the new King -- a drive it was pretty clear Jesus himself never wanted. And so the fossilization of religion began with Paul. It took hundreds of years to accomplish, but insitutionalization did triumph.

          It’s been a massive fight to get free of that rule-bound, purse-lipped form of religiosity to find the way to the light which is always a quest, never a destiny. That’s where the contemporary fight lies -- imposing the old rules vs. pursuing the message and enlightenment.

          • AlphaBitch says:

            YEA Choice! The Blov once wrote a 33 page essay for our Sunday School class (VERY liberal Methodists) about “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”, contrasting what Jesus taught and what Paul spewed. So very different! But you already know that. KQ should read Lamb, no?

            • choicelady says:

              Indeed, AB -- KQ, KT, anyone who wants both great insight into this 18-year gap (there are real scholars pursuing the issue) and how Jesus fits into the world’s great spiritual inquiries really ought to read “Lamb” by Christopher Moore. It IS being used in a handful of seminaries and is based on real, if not at all widely accepted, scholarship.

              Hats off to the Blov for all his work! Would love to read it someday!

    • Murph, thhis guy also plays fast and loose with the truth. I think he took John Adams statement out of context or he left a good bit out.
      The founders themselves were very adamant about freedom of religion. They saw first hand, in Europe, what harm theocracies could bring about. They knew the dangerous consequences that could arise in a theocracy.

      This part really gets me: “Ben Franklin, only a virtuous people are capable of freedom, as nations become corrupt and vicious they have more need of masters.” Gohmert wants people to believe that virtue is the same a religion. Not true at all. He himself is living proof of this. I doubt that Franklin mistook virtue for religion, or vice versa. As far as “masters go, isn’t, god their supposed master? Is he implying that one must be good because some higher being will punish that person, severely? Genuine goodness, spirituality, does not require threats and punishments in order to exist. People who are genuinely spiritual need no arm twisting and condemnation to be virtuous. True virtue is self evident.

      • MurphTheSurf3 says:

        Your reading of the Founding Generation is accurate. It is more true to say that the Founders and Framers were most interested in freedom from the oppression of an institutionalized, state religion. The colonists had experienced this with the Anglicans in most of the colonies and with the Puritans in the upper colonies. Religion as an oppressive force was very much understood by them. They were also concerned about the power that corporate, that is, centralized, religious bodies were capable of wielding.

        As to Franklin….the man was as sectarian as they get and along with Jefferson one of those who most certainly a deist. For him virtue is the equivalent of the Roman Word, virtus, meaning to have the courage of one’s convictions and to do ones best to uphold them.

    • AdLib says:

      The most spiritual people around us and throughout history, lead by example, not by fiat, threats or fear mongering. The very method that one uses to communicate their alleged spirituality says so much about how genuine it is.

      What Judeo-Christian tenets is Gohmert exemplifying through this stunt? Zero compassion or empathy for our fellow human beings who have been so tragically hurt? Opportunism in using a tragedy for political gain? Intolerance for the lives and religions (or no religion) that fellow human beings choose for themselves?

      Is there anything about this disgusting human being’s actions that reflect Judeo-Christian values? I don’t see it, just the hatred and uncaring selfishness that’s a trademark of the anti-spiritual.

      What does Gohmert believe in anyway? Apparently just in the domination of his religion, not in any of its teachings. He is a travesty and should be shunned.

      • choicelady says:

        He’s NOT a Christian. He’s an Old Testamentarian who loves the “rules” because he can pick out the ones that thump on YOU and ignore the ones he hates (such as sharing his wealth with the poor and making sure they do not remain poor). Jesus’ teachings don’t matter -- the End Timers say they have been suspended, so we don’t need the beatitudes, etc. anymore.

        It’s warped and dishonest, and it is based on assumptions of God’s loving the rich and famous that simply have been made up to justify the most pernicious of policies benefitting the rich.

        To the unnamed person who claims this is inappropriate “politicizing” of the Colorado tragedy -- no. Gohmert is the one doing that, and I find it disgusting, offensive to real Christians, and politically motivated narcissism at its worst. Gohmert and his ilk offer nothing to those harmed in the shooting, and they know from nothing about real Christian compassion. Our reaction is outrage based on his appropriating this tragedy to promote his own faux martyrdom. The religions right did it in 1999 with Columbine -- they claimed the shootings were a reaction to “permissive abortion murder” rather than part of the spectrum of justified harm inflicted by the self-righteous against those whom they hate.

        The justification of the murder of pro choice and other people, of giving a pass to Eric Rudolph, James Kopp, John Salvi, Paul Hill, and Michael Griffin, gives carte blanche to zealots telling them that it’s OK to kill anyone you don’t like. It’s the Right Wing that does the murder in America, and it’s crazy people who use that as a template for their own actions.

        • AdLib says:

          CL, Gohmert is definitely not a Christian, he’s advertising that to anyone who can read between the lines.

          Is Christianity a religion of hatred, resentment, greed and zero compassion for the suffering of others? Is it about an agenda of domination?

          Instead, when we think about those in the GOP or on the RW who seek to block our way to unity and progress…could they be…Satan?

          The original Hebrew term, satan, is a noun from a verb meaning primarily to, “obstruct, oppose,” as it is found in Numbers 22:22, 1 Samuel 29:4, Psalms 109:6.[4] Ha-Satan is traditionally translated as “the accuser,” or “the adversary.”

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satan

      • MurphTheSurf3 says:

        What does Jesus say to do in the face of one’s enemies: love them, forgive them, turn the other cheek to be struck again, put down the sword.

        Gohmert’s take is typical of those who say Christian but act pagan.

        • AdLib says:

          Though de facto, Gohmert is being unChristian in not following the teachings of Jesus, those that support him are not opposing Democrats as severely as Christianity.

    • choicelady says:

      Louie and his ilk forget that the reason the Constitution specifies that government will neither make nor unduly support any one religion is that Louie’s forebears, early Roger Williams Baptists, were prohibited from supporting their own views. Later, they were “tolerated” but still had to pay money to the government of the town to support the Congregational Church. Right before the revolution got going in earnest, King George decided to send all the colonies Anglican ministers to set up shop and mandate what you could believe and where you could worship. Not a move designed to let Louie’s rather convoluted version of Roger Williams’ “divine light” flourish.

      See, Louie -- this was all for you. Much as I loathe what y’all have turned your religion into, I’m happy my forebears -- Congregational Imperialists -- were not permitted to crush your forebears. I think American Exceptionalism is all about the right to be just as stupid and blind about anything you believe as you absolutely want to be. Maybe it was a mistake to give sanctuary to idiocy, but wow -- if you can’t be free to worship outer space mechanical monsters, then this isn’t America! If you want to believe the highest good is being yanked out of your body and wrenched up to heaven, then -- god bless ya, Louie -you go right on ahead and believe that.

      But don’t you EVER tell me I have to believe that absurd rot as well.

      Because that’s the other side of American Exceptionalism, Louie. You have no more authority over my faith than I do over yours. So STFU, Louie. Nobody is taking anything from you. Just be damned sure you don’t try to take it from us.

      • Well said CL. I really don’t think we are exceptional in the first place. Most democratic countries have freedom of religion. People like Gohmert keep saying we, the US, are exceptional. Maybe at one time we were, but no longer. I really have trouble wondering, in what way, is America exceptional?

        • choicelady says:

          KT -- that came more out of the 19th century than is remotely reasonable today. We might have been exceptional at our openness to immigrants (though people forget the hostility to so many groups) to religious diversity and to, at times, cultural inclusion. When we’re not banning people and imposing restrictive covenants on our property, we’re pretty darned inclusive. Waxes and wanes a LOT however.

          Hardly any developed nation I can think of requires fealty to a national church any longer. I would say there is blowback against Muslims etc. in FRance through the banning of hijabs etc., but Muslims no longer are required (as the French mandated in Algeria) to give up their entire way of life.

          So that myth when you hear it is now a code: American Exceptionalism stands for Dominionist adherence. YOU and I are NOT part of that -- only the “Christians” are. Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, follower of the Tao or anyone else -- we are not considered fulfillment of the AE experience. So what started as a statement of realistic pride in our Constitution now is code for “better be born again or look out”.

          Bah!

      • MurphTheSurf3 says:

        Let me add to your most excellent exhortation just this:

        The Anglican ministers were part of a state religion, an institutionalized, established church which was headed by the monarch.

        As such the Anglican Church represented the church and state, both temporal and religious power and is that which those like Gohmert want to reestablish. They want to undo the American Revolution. This is consistent with the right which claims to be the Part of Small Government but wants to build the military even more, wants control over reproductive choices, wants to pass judgment on life style. In each and every case, priorities that run counter to the spirit of American Independence. Hypocrites, yes. Ignorant hypocrites, even worse.

        • choicelady says:

          Murph -- they do want a theocracy, but they for sure don’t want it to be even conservative Anglican. They want it to be Dominionist End Times Born Again Literalists in charge of church AND state.

          If you don’t read anything else, read the chapter on revisionist history by the Dominionists in Jeff Sharlet’s “The Family”. The chapter is “Through the Glass Darkly”, and it’s horrifying. It was also a stand alone article in Harper’s in (I think this is right) either Dec. 2005 or 2006. It’s the scariest thing EVER, and it scared the crap out of me that I knew every single person named in that meeting on religious rewrites of US history and had tangled with them over various issues. That means this movement rests in very few but very powerful hands.

          They must be stopped!

      • AdLib says:

        Gohmert strikes me as the nutball nerd who was rejected and unpopular in high school and took refuge in his extremist views that made him feel superior to those who rejected him.

        I know people in TX and unfortunately, I know some who could be Gohmerts themselves. The mindless adherence to an ideology adopted in their childhood, distorted by their ignorance and insecurity. Such people have brains like freight trains, they just plow through everything to deliver their message which is superior to anyone else’s.

        These types are often unchallenged cowards, safe in their bubbles of other extremists but if they ever crossed the line and grabbed power away from the majority, I think they would be totally unprepared for the aggression that would come right for them.

        These are little but dangerous people. Sociopaths leveraging the horrible acts of more dangerous sociopaths to accomplish their goals.

        I do think that Gohmert has damaged the Fundie/Dominionist movement through this inhuman and heartless response to the terrible tragedy in CO.

        • choicelady says:

          I noticed last night on either MSNBC or CNN that Santorum’s former communications director had a fascinating style -- when asked about reasonable policies on guns and ammo, she never once answered the question she’d been asked. She just prattled on about what SHE wanted to discuss, and kept that thread no matter what the host said.

          I think that is “staying on message” to a fare thee well. It is the death of discourse, but she certainly got her points across -- she never once was sidetracked. So her ‘freight train’ mentality was fully in evidence. It’s quite a trick. Too bad it means there is not and never will be any way to have a real discussion about, well, anything.

          • goleafsgo says:

            Hi, choicelady!
            What a fascinating conversation. I am certainly not as familiar, nor as educated in this area as you folk, but I am immensely enjoying reading your opinions on important issues, and am impressed with your respect for others opinions. And, thanks to all for the suggested readings that I hope to get to one day.

            I get so frustrated with that “freight train mentality” when listening to interviews or discussions…most often on MSNBC daytime. Morning Joe, after a bit of it I just turned it off, has Romney’s economic advisor, Dan Senor on most days of late. He is allowed to ramble on, and on and on. I really like and respect Eugene Robinson, however he is not as assertive as I would like him to be. And that is the way Morning Joe likes it! Sometimes I fantasize that I would send all those Democrats like Eugene to the Teapublican seminars on dealing with the media and thus acquire that “freight train” mentality. But alas, that wouldn’t solve anything. Eugene could never be that obnoxious!

            The media hosts are the only way to slow this train…to not allow it to become a campaign speech. Of course, that will never happen because the Right will never darken their door again. Poor Rachel!

            As to Louie and his disgusting commentary in this instance, and in fact in most instances, I must hope that one day he will receive his comeuppance…that he and those of his ilk, will have to answer for their evil strictures.

            • choicelady says:

              Hi goleafsgo-

              I would often agree that the Dem representatives on air are not as aggressive as the RW pundits, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. As you note -- Eugene Robinson obnoxious? Doesn’t compute! I think the majority of Americans are sick of the “politics of rage”. The quieter voices, ones that can also make us laugh a little at our own foibles, are catching on more and more.

              We will see if anger “sells’. I have great hope that honesty and truthfulness (not “truthiness’!) will ultimately save the day. Being foreceful about the facts and the meaning behind them is NOT the same as being obnoxious. Standing firmly upon accuracy will, I hope, make voters pay attention to the candidates who really will work for THEM and not just play on voters emotions only to screw them over once in office.

              We shall see if Lincoln was right about who is easily fooled.

    • AdLib says:

      Presbyterians are pretty cool in general so I wouldn’t attribute much to the religious aspect of this. Like many other psychos, he was probably decent at appearing to function properly in society and around others at school and in church while hiding the nastiness roiling in his head.

      • choicelady says:

        It would depend entirely on whether he was Presbyterian USA (the thoughtful, progressive church for the most part) or Evangelical Presbyterian that is a slavering opponent of anything remotely modern.

        Interestingly BOTH churches tend toward the very conservative in San Diego and other parts of CA. I have long, ugly stories about the denomination’s corrupt behavior on GLBT issues here in Sacramento, but I also know that it’s a fight, and a few months ago, the Right lost, big time, when the national denomination moved to ordain open LGBT ministers, the very first of whom was my former boss.

        But if this kid was involved with the Evangelical or uber right Presbyterians, it may have had an impact on him. Or this entire issue may be utterly irrelevant. We need to see.

        • AdLib says:

          CL -- As always, your expertise and insights are greatly appreciated. I had thought the moderates had prevailed after the LGBT situation, didn’t know the RWs still had such a foothold.

          Even if he was attending a RW church, I don’t think he needed to be pushed by anyone to do the terrible thing he did. His mom clearly knew he was already deranged and capable of such a horrific thing.

          • choicelady says:

            I think religion probably has little to do with this. It was NOT the case with Laughner though that has been soft pedaled save from folks I know who checked him out but never got the info into the mainstream. The Norwegian (I’ve fogotten his name) who massacred so many people last year was indeed a Dominionist, but the faux Christians got that shut up. This guy seems so completely out of sync with everything we know as “warning bells” -- yes, he was a loner, but unlike most who snap, he was NOT a failure, was not bullied so far as anyone can tell, and apparently was not lovelorn. Whatever was in his head, it is not at all obvious what his motivation was.

      • bito says:

        This was aimed at Louie, AdLib, I should have made myself clear on that. According to the article he was a good church going person, so where does that fit into Louie’s “not enough God” argument?

        • choicelady says:

          If he was Presbyterian, that would be enough to make him a rampant devil worshipper in Gohmert’s eyes, bito.

          We mainline Protestant types are considered the Devils tools. We are not “Christians” but merely protestants. Christians are those who worship the Old Testament, obey rules (that create hell for others but never those affecting themselves), and seek tax relief for the rich because clearly God prefers the rich -- the Apostles were “businessmen”, doncha see? Oh yeah -- you gotta be born again (the first time is never enough) and keep Jesus in your hip pocket so you will go straight to heaven no matter what the hell you do after you’re reborn.

          This kid couldn’t begin to fulfill Gohmert’s standards.

        • AdLib says:

          Gotcha! So…hmm…according to Gohmert’s insane logic…that would make God a co-conspirator?

  12. bito says:

    We received an interesting tweet on your piece AdLib.
    (I’ll leave out the name of the sender)

    @PlanetPOV I just excoriated ThinkProgress for the same thing. No politics on the #theatershooting. Stop.

    No mention whether he excoriated Louie.

    (In his profile he describes himself as a “Republican, Patriot..”, I’ve often wonder about what that “patriot” actually means.)

  13. kesmarn says:

    AdLib, this is one of the most eloquent and perceptive pieces you’ve ever written. One paragraph in particular really stood out for me:

    This cult version of Christianity instead obsesses about dominance, hatred and the triviality of the lives of any who aren’t directly supporting or promoting their goals. It is a form of Christianity that packages up all of the traits of their alleged adversary, The Devil, and coats them with a sweet veneer of victimhood, self-righteousness and superiority that makes it easy for them to swallow all that nastiness and keep it inside of them in the name of “faith”.

    Perfectly said.

    I wonder if Gohmert and his ilk ever stop to consider another source for all the free-floating angst, anger and misery out there. (Besides not being able to mention Jesus at public high school graduations.) How about taking a look at Hate Radio and Hate TV? You know, Mr. Gohmert, your pal Limbaugh and his many national and local clones? And FUX “News”? Think they might have something to do with ratcheting up the paranoia and hysteria level? With fear and hate-mongering for profit? With the grab-your-gun-and-build-your-bunker-because-the-brown-people-are-coming-to-take-your-stuff mentality?

    I guess I can answer my own question. I’m sure the answer is no.

    :-(

    • Ditto excellent summary of the way the right uses religion as a cudgel to control weak minded Americans. This is a big way they indoctrinate middle America to vote against their personal interests. I’m drastically less eloquent than AdLib I call it pushing bullshyte values for political purposes.

    • AdLib says:

      Kes, thank you so much!

      It would seem to be a case of disconnecting cognitive dissonance. The RW has their prolific hate mongering apparatus and operatives running at full tilt yet when hatred and violence comes from anyone other than them, they blame the non-hateful ones for creating an environment where hate and violence can flourish.

      This is the same kind of Orwellian BS we hear all the time from Rove and the RW.

      It is impossible to reason with such people, they must be confronted as the enemies of a constructive society which is exactly what they are. As power hungry ideologues, their goal of dominating the majority is directly opposed to a working democracy and a prospering majority. They are flat out, at war against democracy and freedom of the individual…the better our democracy functions, the weaker they become.

      There is no power for a tyrant in a democracy, they need a tyranny to be empowered.

      Knowing this, we should always be prepared to push back against the Gohmert types whenever they pop up to try and manipulate the people to their own ends.


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