Hip-Gnosis: February 2008: Archives
The BBC documentary, Baby Bible Bashers, may be one of the most disturbing examples of children being abused by the misguided religious beliefs and manipulative ambitions of their parents. The documentary chronicles three child "evangelists" who are being touted by their parents as virtual crusaders for God. Two reside in the United States and one lives in her native country of Brazil.
The story of Samuel Boutwell, a seven year old boy from Mississippi, was the most troubling of the three. He reportedly gave his first sermon at the age of three and he frequently protests outside an abortion clinic. His father, a self-confessed sinner who has been "born again", travels with his son to preach to people on the streets of major metropolitan areas including Washington DC and New York City.
It seems that the common denominator of the parents of many of these children centers on their own troubled lives. As with so many born agains, they operate under the belief that goodness can only be found in fear of God and the punishment he will meet out to those who sin against him. Unfortunately, God serves as the only means by which they believe they can keep their "sinful" inclinations in check. From there, they project those fears and insecurities onto their innocent children...supposedly turning them into the model citizens they were unable to become.
These children are being set up for tremendous disappointment. It is obvious they have begun to internalize their parents grandiose visions and they are well on their way to actually accepting that they have been chosen to speak on behalf of God.
Sadly, each of them is being taught their trade by the adults in their lives...trained like circus animals to perform to the crowds for the benefit of their handlers...and there can be no doubt that these adults seek to profit from their efforts.
If you aren't able to watch the entire documentary, I highly recommend taking the time to view part five. In that segment (from about 2:30 to 4:50 into the video) you will see Samuel Boutwell break down under the pressure being applied by his father. It's heart wrenching to witness...and I can't imagine the damage being done to this poor child. Watch his actions as he begins to cry. It's obvious that he tries to suppress his emotions. When he starts to glance around, it struck me that he was worried his tears might elicit a scolding from his father on the need to be strong. So much for Christian values.
Tagged as: Ana Carolina Dias, Born Again, Child Abuse, Christianity, Evangelism, Fanaticism, Fundamentalism, Religion, Religious Right, Samuel Boutwell, Terry Durham
Daniel DiRito | February 19, 2008 | 4:03 PM |
| Comments (52)
This video is an amazing demonstration of how far people of faith will go in their efforts to substantiate their beliefs. The fact that Sean Hannity narrates the piece is just icing on the cake.
In this video, a man recounts falling asleep and finding himself in hell for 23 minutes. Never mind that he is simply describing his dream. Apparently we are supposed to believe that the images in this man's dreams are a real representation of hell and proof that there is a God and a heaven and hell. Yea...I know I'm convinced.
I guess this is a good example of Fox's "we report, you decide" mantra. Suffice it to say that I've made my decision...these people are loons.
By the way, I had a dream last night that I went to hell and Fox News was the only available television station...and the programs of Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly were played on a continuous loop 24/7. Now that's one hellacious nightmare I wouldn't want to live.
Tagged as: Bill O'Reilly, Faith, Fanaticism, Fox News, Heaven, Hell, Humor, Religion, Sean Hannity
Daniel DiRito | February 18, 2008 | 1:58 PM |
| Comments (6)
Recent news events highlight some of the issues that routinely concern gays. It's not the first time and it won't be the last time that we see a confluence of events. However, as one reviews the content of these stories, one begins to see the connections and the consequences that result from the ongoing onslaught to demonize and deny gays the rights afforded to their straight counterparts.
The first item is the shooting of a gay 15-year-old boy in Oxnard California by his 14-year-old classmate.
Prosecutors filed a charge of murder with a hate-crime enhancement Thursday against a 14-year-old boy in the school shooting of a classmate who has been declared brain dead.
Prosecutors said they would try Brandon David McInerney as an adult. They changed the charge from attempted murder after learning that the victim, 15-year-old Lawrence King, will not survive.
Several classmates have said King would wear feminine attire, making him an unpopular figure with other boys at his campus.
King sometimes came to school wearing makeup and high heels, said eighth-grader Nicholas Cortez, 14.
Another eighth-grader, Michael Sweeney, said King's appearance was "freaking the guys out," the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.
"He would come to school in high-heeled boots, makeup, jewelry and painted nails - the whole thing," Sweeney told the Times.
King was shot in the head Tuesday during a class at E.O. Green Junior High in Oxnard, police said. More than 20 other students were in the room at the time.
As I've read about this incident, the thing that struck me is the focus placed upon the "freaked out" reactions of the victim's male classmates. The notion that the mannerisms and dress of a gay student can be viewed as responsible for the irrational responses of the other students exemplifies the degree to which gay teens are victimized by the homophobic indoctrination happening in the homes of millions of families. Instead of having these reactions rebuffed, the attention...and the blame...is shifted to the source. Even worse, the source is dehumanized such that they are soon seen as an expendable representation of the ideological conflict.
It's one thing to not understand the behaviors of others...or to reject them...but it's entirely inappropriate to decide that one has the right to inflict hatred and scorn upon them simply because they are different. Our capitalist culture of conformity only exacerbates the problem. It's the peer pressure to have the right kind of SUV, the nice house in the suburbs, the right brands of clothing, the cell phone and the iPod...all the trappings that have come to be associated with meeting the norms of acceptability.
Further, there is little doubt that this particular brand of hatred (and many others) is taught to children by their parents. There seems to be a belief that simply being near a fellow student who is gay is an implicit threat that warrants and justifies a negative response. As such, the degree to which differentness creates dissonance...and the grounds for violence...has become a palpable pathology.
Not only is that wrong; it is a demonstration of the degree to which children are being encouraged to conclude that the world revolves around their thoughts, beliefs, and feelings. With this particular incident, I suspect the enabling attitude results from the actions of men like James Dobson and Pat Robertson. These religious zealots have sought to assert that the vilification of gays is biblically justified and supersedes the rule of law.
Let me be clear...these men and their organizations don't directly encourage murder or violence...but they frequently allude to events as God's wrath upon gays. At the same time, the mantra that activist judges are forcing Americans to accept the unacceptable further fosters a disregard of our judicial system and enhances a vigilante mindset. When this is done on a regular basis, they signal tacit approval to those who act inappropriately and lack the maturity and the ability to exhibit proper restraint.
Children in Christian schools and homes that embrace men like Dobson and Robertson are constantly bombarded with the assertion that gays are destroying the family and the values they identify with. They hear their parents supporting amendments to ban same-sex marriage, opposing the granting of basic rights to gay couples through civil unions, railing against the "militant homosexual agenda", opposing diversity training in schools, opposing any education that attempts to inform children about homosexuality without condemning it.
I'm of the opinion that enrolling children directly in these battles is harmful to their psyches and is likely a form of brainwashing. Hence, these children are led to believe that a war exists...a war that pits them and their families against a widespread assault from gays. Is it any wonder that some of these children take the next step and engage in the activities they associate with war?
Toss in the fact that some politicians have sought to characterize terrorism as another assault on our way of life and the religious beliefs we hold and one begins to see the possible pressures confronting some of these children. The holy wars they hear about each day suddenly become a subtle directive to act...to become a soldier and vanquish the enemies they come to believe threaten them, their families, and their way of life.
Let's look at another item in the news.
From The Mercury News:
SAN FRANCISCO - As California's highest court prepares to take up a case seeking to legalize same-sex marriage, two groups that failed to get gay marriage bans on the state ballot two years ago are trying again, one with backing from a prominent Christian conservative organization.
The groups, ProtectMarriage.com and VoteYesMarriage.com, have filed ballot language with the California Secretary of State that would, if approved by voters, amend the California Constitution to limit marriage to one man and one woman regardless of how the Supreme Court rules.
"The very fact that this is in front of the Supreme Court, I think, will highlight the need for voters to take the issue away from the courts period," said Andrew Pugno, a lawyer for ProtectMarriage.com.
By enshrining the two laws that already prevent gays from marrying in the state Constitution, both amendments would overrule the justices if they decide the current statutes are an unconstitutional violation of the civil rights of same-sex couples. The court is expected to issue it's ruling by early June.
The VoteYesMarriage initiative would go a step further, however, by prohibiting the state from granting gays the spousal rights and tax benefits of marriage, as it already has by allowing gays to register as domestic partners. If it passed, those rights would be eliminated.
Clearly, the rhetoric of these groups never seems to match their actions. Despite constantly stating they are simply upholding the religious sanctity of marriage and aren't interested in denying basic rights, they inevitably attach the denial of basic rights to their amendments. Time and again, these measures seek to erase any rights currently afforded to gays as they ultimately view any validation as a loss in their war to eradicate societal acceptance of homosexuality. While they carefully cloak their words when speaking in public (they hate the sin, but love the sinner), I suspect the tone is far more derogatory in the home setting.
If one listens to the constant references to the rapture and the end of days, one becomes aware of the simmering animosities that exist as well as the unspoken calls to engage the forces they deem will be responsible for facilitating them. Again, this constant vilification is apt to trigger actions that dehumanize and demonize others. The fact that young people frequently act out these prejudices simply affirms the pervasive and persuasive nature of the propaganda.
In the end, the rhetoric of intolerance has many victims. While it is impossible to condone the actions of the 14-year-old boy who killed his classmate, it is possible to see that he may also be a victim of a culture that promotes the initiation of bigotry and hatred in innocent children at an early age. Fortunately, many individuals have the capacity to adjust their perceptions once they have had the opportunity to encounter the people they have been taught to assail. Sadly, as is too often the case, the damage done can be so severe that violence is the inevitable outcome.
The fact that the parents of these children are not held accountable is a stain on humanity. We're left to hope it will someday be removed. In the meantime, the bad news will persist.
Tagged as: Bigotry, Brian McInerney, California, E.O. Green Junior High, Gay, Gay Bashing, Homophobia, James Dobson, Lawrence King, LGBT, Oxnard, Parenting, Pat Robertson, Prejudice, Same-Sex Marriage, Transgender, Transsexual
Daniel DiRito | February 15, 2008 | 10:14 AM |
| Comments (0)
Creationists spend an inordinate amount of time crafting simplistic arguments aimed at undermining the theory of evolution. If one wants to see some of their best work, one need only navigate over to GodTube. It's a YouTube knock off...because they also love to copy and co-opt every popular phenomenon in their never ending quest for cultural relevance.
The following videos are some of the more intriguing attempts to disprove the theory of evolution. Never mind that they fail to address the actual science. You see, skirting the actual evidence has always been a preferred strategy with religious institutions.
They prefer their followers know just enough to find their way to church on Sunday. Once there, these master manipulators endeavor to instill just the right amount of fear to keep the money flowing. A little reminder of the fires of hell goes a long way towards dislodging those twenty dollar bills.
The videos are short except for the fourth one. I'm partial to the second and fifth video. If you like firecrackers and peanut butter, you'll probably agree with me.
Tagged as: Big Bang, Church & State, Creationism, Darwin, Evangelicals, Evolution, Fossil evidence, Religion, Science
Daniel DiRito | February 14, 2008 | 10:03 AM |
| Comments (3)
If you didn't see Mitt Romney's announcement that he is suspending his campaign, you missed the coup de grace of Mittens' prolific pandering. It seems that on the heels of contributing 35 million dollars to his campaign, repositioning himself on virtually every issue, and attempting to wipe away his record as the governor of Massachusetts, Mittens chose to feed all the red meat he could muster to the rapacious CPAC crowd.
I must say that Mittens "Not-Knute-Rocked-Me" right out of my knickers when he offered his illogical linkage of all that ails America with none other than gay marriage. Not only does Mittens connect gay marriage with moral decay, he infers that it is the final piece in the long progression from a responsible citizenry to a society filled with lazy welfare gamers who do little more than watch pornography while engaging in wanton sexual escapades that bear illegitimate children...and they do all of this without ever having to pay taxes.
All he needed to complete his cockeyed soliloquy...and what has to be viewed as the epitome of a compassionate Christian clusterfuck...was to assert that same-sex marriage is also responsible for the acceleration of illegal Mexican immigration. Poor Mittens...always one conservative criteria short of a trifecta.
Here's Mittens in his own words:
ROMNEY: In the 1960s, there were welfare programs that created a culture of poverty in our country. Now, some people think we won that battle when we reformed welfare. But the liberals haven't given up.
At every turn, they tried to substitute government largess for individual responsibility. They fight to strip work requirements from welfare, to put more people on Medicaid, and remove more and more people from having to pay any income tax whatsoever.
Dependency is death to initiative, risk-taking and opportunity. Dependency is culture killing. It's a drug. We've got to fight it like the poison it is.
ROMNEY: The attack on faith and religion is no less relentless. And tolerance for pornography, even celebration of it, and sexual promiscuity, combined with the twisted incentives of government welfare, have led to today's grim realities: 68 percent of African- American kids born out of wedlock, 45 percent of Hispanic kids, 25 percent of white kids.
How much harder it is for these kids to succeed in school and in life. A nation built on the principles of the founding fathers cannot long stand when its children are raised without fathers in the home.
ROMNEY: The development of a child is enhanced by having a mother and a father. Such a family is the ideal for the future of the child and for the strength of the nation.
I wonder how it is that unelected judges, like some in my state of Massachusetts, are so unaware of this reality, so oblivious to the millennia of recorded history.
It's time for the people of America to fortify marriage through a constitutional amendment, so that liberal judges cannot continue to attack it.
Fortunately, Jon Stewart has done a yeoman's job in deconstructing Mittens' moribund manifesto. Stewart focuses on Mittens assertion that he's withdrawing from the race in order to keep America safe from the terrorist onslaught that would result from a Democratic president's rush to admit and accept defeat> Mittens just can't allow himself to empower and encourage the terrorists...he loves America too much...not to mention that he loves his money and hasn't a chance in hell of winning the nomination.
In the end, I think Mittens should have run as an independent candidate...perhaps a Reconstructionist Republican? After all, who can name another politician with the ability to reconstruct his positions at the drop of a hat? Let's just hope that Mittens doesn't try to reconstitute himself into one of his remaining eight political identities. I'm of the opinion that it's best to let sleeping dogs...err...Mittens...lie. He does it so well!
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Conservatism, CPAC, Humor, Immigration, Jon Stewart, LGBT, Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, Religious Right, Same-Sex Marriage, Terrorism, The Daily Show
Daniel DiRito | February 8, 2008 | 1:25 PM |
| Comments (0)
In an effort to reassert their relevance, Catholic Bishops in Spain are rallying their shrinking congregations to oppose the country's sitting government and it's leader, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. The Bishops hope to influence the March 9th election and remove the secular government that brought the legalization of gay marriage and more expedient divorce proceedings.
In Spain, the Catholic Church has a long history of participating in the blurring of the lines between church and state. For much of the Franco era, the church and the state had a mutually beneficial relationship that restored the Church to privileged status and provided it with state funding. Despite having apologized to the Spanish people for their duplicity with the dictatorship, it appears the Church has once again decided to inject itself into the Spanish political process.
While the Spanish clergy has released moral-guidance notes in most elections since Spain became a democracy in 1978, it has never before so pointedly targeted a candidate.
In December, the first church-organized protest in 30 years drew 1 million supporters in Madrid; Pope Benedict XVI spoke via video link. The capital's archbishop accused the premier of taking a "step backward for human rights.''
"I can't accept that they say laws made in this legislature are undermining democracy or are a reversal for human rights,'' Zapatero, who will have lunch with the Vatican's emissary in Madrid next week, said today in a radio interview. The church's attitude "has to change.''
Zapatero's Socialists led Rajoy's People's Party by 44.6 percent to 38.2 percent in a Jan. 21-31 poll by the newspaper Publico, and it isn't a given that Rajoy will benefit from the church's efforts against the government. While 78 percent of Spain's 45 million people identify themselves as Catholics, regular church attendance fell to as low as 27 percent last year from 36 percent a decade ago, according to polling by the Center for Sociological Research.
The church "isn't doing the PP any favors,'' said Francisco Llera, professor of political science at the University of the Basque Country in Leioa, northern Spain. "It may undermine the party's support among moderate, liberal and non-religious voters.''
In my opinion, the Catholic Church suffers from the ailment that so often afflicts those who crave authority and lack the ability to employ persuasion ...when they sense their power may be diminishing, they become even more dogmatic and authoritarian. While that approach may have worked in an ill-informed and under educated world, it seems fully lacking in this day and age. Unfortunately, like with so many other hierarchical institutions, their ability to adapt to change is negligible.
When that reality is coupled with the Church's checkered past...that being their long history of erring on the side of those powerful zealots who assured their existence at the expense of their adherence to their espoused values...one shouldn't be surprised by their declining influence and the growing perception that they remain a boisterous, though increasingly irrelevant monolith. Their expanding malevolence in the midst of a changing world simply hastens their demise.
Tagged as: Catholic Church, Divorce, Francisco Franco, Gay Marriage, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapateo, People's Party, Pope Benedict, Secularism, Spain
Daniel DiRito | February 8, 2008 | 11:09 AM |
| Comments (1)
At long last, the infamous Dr. Dobson has elected to endorse a candidate for the 2008 presidential contest. Having eliminated most of the GOP's candidates in prior proclamations, "private citizen Dobson" has announced his support for Mike Huckabee.
I am endorsing Gov. Mike Huckabee for President of the United States today. My decision comes in the wake of my statement on Super Tuesday that I could not vote for Sen. John McCain, even if he goes on to win the Republican nomination. His record on the institution of the family and other conservative issues makes his candidacy a matter of conscience and concern for me.
That left two pro-family candidates whom I could support, but I was reluctant to choose between them. However, the decision by Gov. Mitt Romney to put his campaign "on hold" changes the political landscape. The remaining candidate for whom I could vote is Gov. Huckabee. His unwavering positions on the social issues, notably the institution of marriage, the importance of faith and the sanctity of human life, resonate deeply with me and with many others. That is why I will support Gov. Huckabee through the remaining primaries, and will vote for him in the general election if he should get the nomination. Obviously, the governor faces an uphill struggle, given the delegates already committed to Sen. McCain. Nevertheless, I believe he is our best remaining choice for President of the United States.
(NOTE: Dr. Dobson made these statements as a private citizen. This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as a reflection of the opinions of Focus on the Family or Focus on the Family Action.)
Well there you have it...the good Doctor is merely expressing his personal opinion and the fact that the endorsement is the "top story" on the Focus on the Family action center shouldn't be interpreted as an admonition for his followers to get out and support the former Arkansas governor.
Yea, right! After all, we wouldn't want this and other "religious" organizations to lose their tax exempt status as a result of politicking. In other words, making sure they get and keep their followers money trumps their willingness to openly urge their flock to vote for a chosen candidate.
Apparently being forthright and honest is a virtue...and a function of skirting the law...so long as one first stays focused on the need to keep every conniving contribution that comes into the church's coffers. Priorities people, priorities.
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Evangelicals, Focus on the Family, James Dobson, John McCain, LGBT, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Religious Right, Same-Sex Marriage
Daniel DiRito | February 8, 2008 | 9:14 AM |
| Comments (0)
If you've never heard of Phill Kline, consider yourself lucky. At the same time, if you oppose those who have made a career of vilifying abortion providers for political gain, Phill Kline may be enemy number one. When one hears the expression, "What's the matter with Kansas?", the former Attorney General's fingerprints are apt to be found. Fortunately, Kansas voters rejected Kline's reelection bid. Sadly, the defeat did little to deter Kline's obsession with criminalizing the actions of abortion providers and intimidating those who have had the procedure or might consider it in the future.
Today, the Kansas Supreme Court has dealt a blow to the latest efforts of Kline and his zealous supporters to review the medical records of some 2,000 women who visited the clinic of Dr. George Tiller, a prominent medical provider who has become the focus of the anti-abortion crusade.
The Kansas Supreme Court on Tuesday temporarily blocked a grand jury from obtaining patient records from a physician who is one of the nation's few late-term abortion providers.
The grand jury is investigating whether Dr. George Tiller has broken Kansas laws restricting abortion, as many abortion opponents allege. The grand jury subpoenaed the medical files of about 2,000 women, including some who decided against having abortions.
Abortion opponents forced Sedgwick County to convene the grand jury by submitting petitions, the second such citizen investigation since 2006 of Tiller, who has long been at the center of the nation's abortion battle. His clinic was bombed in 1985, and eight years later a woman shot him in both arms.
Tiller's attorneys asked the Supreme Court to quash the grand jury's subpoenas, and the court agreed to block their enforcement until it considers the issue.
Chief Justice Kay McFarland said Tiller's challenge raised "significant issues" about patients' privacy and a grand jury's power to subpoena records.
The grand jury is seeking records of all women who visited Tiller's clinic between July 2003 and last month and were at least 22 weeks pregnant at the time. The grand jury also subpoenaed information about current and former employees and referring physicians.
The edited patient records would not have the women's names, but they would have patient identification numbers. Tiller's attorneys claimed in court last week that in an earlier investigation, former Attorney General Phill Kline was able to track down patients' names using the identifying numbers on patients' files.
The tactic has been employed by Kline and his supporters for a number of years and many of his detractors see it as an effort to terrorize women who might seek out an abortion.
Kline's effort to portray himself as a law and order prosecutor are little more than a sleight of hand designed to oppose abortion. His willingness to victimize women who have made the difficult decision to terminate a pregnancy demonstrates his disregard for the privacy of these individuals as well as the lengths he will go to advance his political aspirations.
Additionally, Kline and his ilk hope to highlight the flexibility granted to physicians in making exceptions to late term abortion restrictions. The courts have required that many of the laws limiting late term abortions be designed to allow physicians to protect the health and welfare of the pregnant woman...a provision abortion opponents would prefer be omitted from such laws.
One can only hope that the Supreme Court will limit these virtual witch hunts and maintain the privacy and dignity of the women in question. All too often, those vehemently opposed to abortion fail to consider the difficult circumstances confronting these women.
The fact that these same activists frequently object to comprehensive sex education and unrestricted access to birth control simply compounds the issue. I find it ironic that many within the GOP accuse the Democratic Party of favoring a nanny state. Truth be told, countless Republicans not only favor a nanny state; they would like to mete out their own brand of punishment to those who fail to comply with the imposition of their narrowly defined beliefs.
Tagged as: Abortion, Contraception, Dr. George Tiller, Kansas, Kansas Supreme Court, Late Term Abortions, Phill Kline, Planned Parenthood, Premarital Sex, Pro-Choice, Pro-Life, Roe v. Wade, Sedgwick County, Sex Education, Teen Pregnancy
Daniel DiRito | February 5, 2008 | 2:14 PM |
| Comments (0)