Hip-Gnosis: June 2008: Archives
The following three videos are the second segment in a series designed to provide the basics behind the theory of evolution. The first segment can be found here.
I introduced this segment to provide readers with a factual understanding of the arguments that comprise the theory of evolution and serve to dispel the numerous assertions made by creationists. All too often, those supporting intelligent design (the newly packaged creationism) attempt to provide oversimplified examples designed to undermine evolution. While this video series is clearly more complex than the creationist's contrivances, it has the benefit of being fact based.
Tagged as: Bible, Creationism, Evolution, Faith, Intelligent Design, Religion, Science, Theory Of Evolution
Daniel DiRito | June 30, 2008 | 10:42 AM |
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While I frequently criticize religion and those who have used it as a vehicle for their own self-interest, every now and then I've come across some people of faith who are actually willing to take an honest look at people and then set out to make a difference. The following documentary, Missionary Positions, is about two such Christian ministers who started xxxchurch.com to assist Christians who are addicted to pornography. I wrote about their ministry in the past in a piece titled, Icebergs And Identities: What Lies Beneath?
Before proceeding I want to offer one caveat. I respect these guys for addressing an issue that is prevalent in society...as well as in many of those who are affiliated with religion. On the other hand, I'm not sure that the approach they employ will produce the intended outcome since I don't necessarily think that immersing oneself in religion actually puts a halt to this or any other addiction. I say as much because we're all aware of the many ministers who have succumbed to any number of carnal obsessions and fallen from grace.
In fact, part of the problem, as I've outline in the posting mentioned above, is that religion frequently seeks to cast sex as sin, ignoring the fact that it is an integral part of our human identity. In my opinion, the goal shouldn't be to extinguish pornography; it ought to be to encourage and educate our children that sex is a healthy component of human behavior and, when channeled properly, it should and will enhance our relationships.
Until we abandon the sex as sin construct, everything that is negatively associated with sex and porn will continue to propagate. I relate the pornography problem to the notion of, "you can pay me now or pay me later". When we cease stifling sex education in our schools and begin to encourage our children to incorporate their sexuality into a healthy identity, we will begin to disarm the power of pornography.
By the way, while pornography is the subject of this documentary, it is, for the most part, tastefully presented. The video is just over 71 minutes in length.
Tagged as: Craig Gross, Mike Foster, Pornography, Religion, Sex, Sex Education, Sexuality
Daniel DiRito | June 28, 2008 | 2:26 PM |
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Did you know that Tim Gill is a homosexual activist who operates under the radar as a stealth politico intent on changing the political landscape and adding the scalps of God fearing Christians to his belt? This latest video offering from Focus on the Family's Turn Signal has to be one of their most transparent attempts to pander to their followers by portraying gay activism as a sinister effort to undermine conservative family values.
As I watched this video, I couldn't help but think back to my days in commercial real estate. OK, I'm sure you're wondering how in the hell is this related to the FOF video? Stay with me. After spending fourteen years in the business, I honed my skills at spotting tenants who were manipulative and on the precipice of having financial problems. One of the tell-tale signals was a sudden surge in complaints about their space...the AC wasn't working right, the janitorial staff was doing a lousy job, the tenant next door was too loud, and on and on.
Generally speaking, the strategy was to go on the offensive and portray oneself as a victim in anticipation of lacking the wherewithal to pay the rent or fulfill the remaining term of one's lease. When I first started in the business, these tenants had me standing on my head trying to please them, but over time I realized that more often than not, their complaints had nothing to do with me or the service our company was providing. It was simply the strategy of a cash strapped tenant to create mitigating circumstances for the moment when they were unable to pay rent...and their ultimate goal usually included being let out of their lease.
That brings me back to Focus on the Family and this video segment. First, Focus on the Family is far from bankrupt; having total receipts in excess of 140 million dollars each of the last three years. However, when one looks more closely, the arm of the organization that funds political activities, Focus Action, has seen a steady decline in revenues over the last three years.
In 2005, total receipts were just over 25 million with 6.84 million coming from direct public support...in 2006, total receipts were 15.16 million with 6.75 million coming from direct public support...and in 2007 total receipts were 9.8 million with 5.16 coming from direct public support.
Again, this is still a healthy amount of money and I'm not inferring that Focus Action is financially unsound. The point I'm making is that this video reminds me of the strategic smokescreens I witnessed in commercial real estate. In other words, the message to the followers (benefactors) is that the big bad gay bogeyman, who has a boat load of cash, is surreptitiously bankrolling the defeat of countless Christian conservatives, and unless the folks at FOF ante up, it's only going to get worse.
The powers that be at Focus know that the best way to milk the cash cow is to yank the collective chain of the misinformed minions...and nothing works better than questioning the veracity of the enemy while portraying oneself as the righteous victim. Look at the language they utilize in describing Gill and his efforts...flying under the radar...stacking the deck...he targeted 70 conservative candidates...here's how it works...his wealthy homosexual activist friends...control his image...what this man is up to. Clearly the goal is to make the viewer aware of Gill wealth...but even more importantly to make the viewer believe that he is deceptive and manipulative.
The truth of the matter is that Gill is a well-known figure on the political front and as an activist for the LGBT community. His activities are routinely reported in Colorado and in the national media and his organization is visible and accessible. Unlike James Dobson, Gill doesn't seek the spotlight. The truth of the matter is that reflects more on Dobson's motivations and modus operandi than upon Gill's. I suspect that's an irritation to Dobson's ego and all the more reason to vilify Gill.
The point I'm making is that men like Dobson are always aware of their waning influence and wherewithal...and that leads them to strike out like a cat backed into a corner. I could be wrong, but given Dobson's recent attacks on Barack Obama, his certain awareness that many in the religious community may vote Democratic in November, and the growing shift in the causes of interest to many up and coming religious leaders (causes of little interest to establishment evangelicals like poverty and climate change), I suspect he feels his kingdom is being threatened.
Then again, I would think a man of Dobson's faith would be focused on the blessings of the afterlife he so frequently espouses. In the end, it isn't that difficult to identify and understand the relevant contrasts and distinctive differences between Tim Gill and James Dobson. It's sure funny how actions speak louder than words, isn't is?
Tagged as: Activism, Climate Change, Focus Action, Focus on the Family, Gill Action, Gill Foundation, James Dobson, LGBT, Religion, Same-Sex Marriage, Tim Gill
Daniel DiRito | June 28, 2008 | 10:14 AM |
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Apparently the best medicine for wing nuts who put their putters where they don't belong is to sponsor a constitutional amendment to protect marriage...since it's clear they didn't value the ones they were in.
Page One Q reports that Larry Craig, the wide stance toilet stall tap dancer, and David Vitter, the Christian commissar of clandestine call girl get-togethers, have joined together with other stalwart senators (not in a bathroom stall, mind you) to introduce the measure.
From Page One Q:
Two United States Senators implicated in extramarital sexual activity have named themselves as co-sponsors of S. J. RES. 43, dubbed the Marriage Protection Amendment. If ratified, the bill would amend the United States Constitution to state that marriage "shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman."
Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID), who was arrested June 11, 2007 on charges of lewd conduct in a Minneapolis airport terminal, is co-sponsoring the amendment along with Sen. David Vitter (R-LA).
I'm baffled by the logic these two senators are employing in putting their sullied signatures on an amendment designed to protect marriage from the homos. I just don't get how defining marriage to be between one man and one woman is going to help when these two and so many others already have major problems keeping count.
You see, for years, many of the marriages...between one man and one woman...have ended because one of the parties messed with the math...and the secretary, and the hooker, and the intern, and the guy in the next bathroom stall...if you know what I mean.
As I've tried to get my head around the benefits of Craig and Vitter sponsoring this amendment, I could only come up with one plausible explanation. They know that all you have to do to win the favor of the rabidly anti-gay constituents they represent is to keep feeding them the red meat they thrive upon. In other words, to hell with hypocrisy...the gays are coming...and we can't have that.
Rather than spend any more time attempting to understand the minds of these men or the constituents who support them, I think the following graphic will suffice.
Tagged as: Adultery, David Vitter, Humor, Hypocrisy, Larry Craig, Marriage, Marriage Amendment, Same-Sex Marriage, U.S. Constitution
Daniel DiRito | June 27, 2008 | 10:41 PM |
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Take a look at the following video and tell me you can't imagine that extreme religious groups in America could ever trigger the same sectarian strife that currently plagues the Middle East. I don't think the thought is that far fetched...and I'm convinced that the evidence supports the contention that ideological intransigence has led some religious leaders in the United States to the precipice of promoting acts of anarchy.
The gist of this video and many of the sermons that are being delivered in churches around the country is that the Bible is the only valid law. Further, the inference is that it is acceptable to ignore the laws of the nation when they conflict with God's law. What remains to be seen is the level of resistance that these religious zealots are willing to promote.
To understand how this movement evolved, one need look no further than the last seven years of the Bush presidency. By example, George Bush has given license to those who would elect to undermine or ignore established law in favor of divine guidance. Not only did Bush argue that his actions in office were the result of consultation with a higher being, he has frequently entertained and endorsed the notion that the court system is flawed and continues to engage in inappropriate "judicial activism."
Yes, he has grudgingly accepted the rulings of the courts...but not without willingly pressing the limits and challenging the conventional wisdom. These actions have established a growing sense of righteous infallibility amongst the faithful and their inclination for divinely driven defiance is palpable. My concern is how far the people his actions have enabled are willing to go should upcoming elections and rulings meet with their disapproval.
I realize what I'm positing may seem far fetched, but if one listens to the rumblings that are percolating in the evangelical community...inclusive of this video and James Dobson's current assault on Barack Obama...one begins to see a pattern of rejecting the authority of the government...especially if it continues to move in directions that do not uphold doctrine.
The reality of the matter is that evangelicals are still a formidable constituency that has shown a propensity to act in unison. Should that monolithic mentality be applied to the initiation of acts of anarchy, we could well witness the type of unrest that typified the Vietnam War era.
The fact that the last seven years have provided evangelicals a taste of the kind of kingdom they've long envisioned only exacerbates the potential for civil disobedience...and far worse. Toss in their beliefs about the end of days and the rapture and a worst case scenario isn't that much of a stretch. In fact, I suspect there are those who would view acts of anarchy as part and parcel of a preordained plan spelled out in the Bible.
While most Americans are preoccupied with the events taking place in the Middle East and the broader concept of the "war on terror", there is a growing body of evidence that suggests we need look no further than the confines of our own country to understand the dangers of ideological intransigence.
Let me be clear, I'm not predicting that anarchy is inevitable. On the other hand, I am signaling a warning that we're approaching a tumultuous transitional period. Unless we're mindful of the dangers of this smoldering mind set, we're at risk of being burned by the flames of fanaticism.
Tagged as: Anarchy, Bible, End Of Days, Evangelical, Extremism, Fundamentalism, George Bush, Judicial Activism, Judicial Authority, LGBT, Literalism, Rapture, Religion, Same-Sex Marriage, Taliban, Theocracy
Daniel DiRito | June 26, 2008 | 6:40 PM |
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An Ohio science teacher seems to think that his Christian beliefs grant him the authority to support creationism while undermining the theory of evolution, to disregard the scientific evidence of the age of the earth and the universe, and to brand his students with the image of a cross (see video below). After years of complaints about the teacher's inappropriate insertion of his religious ideology, the cross burning incident has finally led the school board to terminate him.
From The Columbus Dispatch:
MOUNT VERNON, Ohio -- Supporters of John Freshwater stood in a parking lot yesterday asking God to inspire the school board to make the right decision.
Three hours later, the board announced that it intends to fire Freshwater, an eighth-grade science teacher.
Freshwater preached his Christian beliefs about how the world began, discredited evolution and didn't teach the required science curriculum, the board says. He was told to stop teaching creationism and intelligent design, but he continued to do so, an investigation found.
Complaints about Freshwater's teachings were made by teachers and people in the community for at least 11 years, a school administrator told consultants. Freshwater has taught eighth-grade science in the district for 21 years.
In April, the school board hired HR On Call Inc. to investigate Freshwater, four months after the parents of a child in his class said he had burned a cross into the child's arm, causing swelling and blistering.
From The Columbus Dispatch:
Freshwater told investigators the marks were X's, not crosses. But all of the students interviewed in the investigation reported being branded with crosses. The investigation report includes a photo of one student's arm with a long vertical line and a short horizontal line running through it.
A teacher who worked in Freshwater's classroom last year also reported to investigators that Freshwater told his class that homosexuality is a sin.
Freshwater's friend Dave Daubenmire defended him.
"With the exception of the cross-burning episode. ... I believe John Freshwater is teaching the values of the parents in the Mount Vernon school district," he said.
"Do you think there are other teachers in the public classroom that are trying to drive their opinions in the classroom?" Daubenmire asked. "I don't care who you are. You cannot separate your value system from your teaching."
Look, Mr. Freshwater is entitled to his own beliefs. Unfortunately, like so many other Christians, he feels compelled to impose those beliefs on others. Even worse, he appears determined to allow his Biblical beliefs to overshadow his role as a teacher of established and credible science. If Freshwater wants to teach theology, then he shouldn't be doing so in a science class.
I took note of the remarks of his friend, Dave Daubenmire, in defending Freshwater's actions as consistent with the values of parents in the school district. Unfortunately, a science education has nothing to do with teaching religious doctrine...regardless of how many parents share Freshwater's beliefs. Frankly, the actions of Freshwater and his supporters demonstrates the confrontational strategy being embraced by more and more Christians. Sadly, their beliefs are so rigid and intransigent that nothing short of teaching directly from the Bible is satisfactory.
Take a look at how the Christian media reports the story.
But a spokesman for Freshwater, Dave Daubenmire, downplayed the parents' accusations and called the investigation one-sided, with "old trumped-up charges brought back to the table."
Daubenmire insisted to WND that the "cross branding" was nothing of the sort. He characterized it as a science experiment Freshwater had been doing for 21 years in which he made X marks, not crosses, on the students' skin with a Tesa Coil to demonstrate electrical current.
Daubenmire pointed out experts have affirmed the experiment causes no injury to students.
Daubenmire argued that the accusations about teaching intelligent design or creationism date back to 2003, when Freshwater was challenging students to "clinically analyze evolution."
Just after the accusing family hired an attorney, school officials told Freshwater he had to remove all religious items from his classroom, including a personal Bible he had on his desk.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court, says, "Mr. Freshwater advised his students that although he is forced to teach from the textbooks, the teachings are wrong or not proven according to the Bible."
As WND reported, Freshwater took down the Christian items but refused to remove his Bible, which he has kept on his desk for 18 years.
Daubenmire, of Pass The Salt Ministries and Minutemen United, explained to WND at the time that Freshwater had not used the Bible in his interaction with students. But he said the teacher also believed he should not forfeit his constitutional rights just because of his occupation.
So were supposed to view Mr. Daubenmire as an impartial witness...regardless of his religious affiliations? Additionally, aren't we being asked to see Mr. Freshwater as a victim...a man who has had his constitutional rights abridged? Never mind that the separation of church and state prohibits the activities he insists on incorporating in his role as an educator.
The truth of the matter is that a number of Christians are convinced they are engaged in a war which means they are required to challenge and confront any and all aspects of culture and society that are in conflict with their beliefs. I'm convinced that this faction is constantly looking for opportunities to overturn existing laws and impose legislation that is consistent with their interpretations of the Bible.
Take a look at Mr. Daubenmire's profile.
Radically born-again in 1987, I was honored that the Lord had called me to the fight. Although a pew-sitting, selfish Christian, I learned quickly that if we were to turn back the hand of the oppressor, sitting in the pew and praying for God's grace would not be enough. As I had shared with our teams over the years, it was time to take what we had learned to the field. No battle, no victory.
After twenty-five years in the system, the Lord had other plans for me. I walked away from coaching football, my teaching career and cozy retirement benefits and gave my life to "coaching the church". Lord knows the church needs it. We started Pass the Salt Ministries and will travel wherever we find a listening ear and a open pulpit.
Using a local radio show I began to cry-out for Christian men who were willing to stand and fight. Out of this cry came Minutemen United a band of like-minded Christian brothers and sisters who are not afraid to take our faith to the streets. Over the past five years we have:
Successfully battled entry level pornography in Meijers Department stores.
Fought for the 10 Commandment displays in Ohio.
Journeyed to Alabama and defended Judge Roy Moore and the Rock.
Helped get Ohio's Marriage amendment on the ballot.
Spent a week in Fla. Defending Terri Schiavo.
Kept a steady presence at our local abortion clinic.
Passed out "Living Water" bottles at Columbus' Gay Pride parade.
From Pass The Salt:
PASS THE SALT was formed to encourage the Body of Christ to step into the cultural war. "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood..." PASS THE SALT is convinced that God has given the Body a window of opportunity to take our culture back.
PASS THE SALT is committed to bringing together the body of Christ across denominational, racial, and economical borders to demonstrate to America the power of Biblical unity. Our vision is to unite, organize, and mobilize the Army of God to be SALT and Light as stated in MATTHEW 5:12.
Now really, are we to conclude that the relationship between Daubenmire and Freshwater has nothing to do with their desire to push a particular agenda? I suspect that this situation is a calculated assault designed to garner the attention of other religious minded individuals that are sympathetic to the notion that Christians are being victimized.
I'm of the opinion that this effort is far more organized than one might expect. I'll offer two examples to support that possibility. First, there is a concerted effort underway to have churches violate the requirements of their tax exempt status this coming election by making specific candidate endorsements. The purpose of this effort is to establish the grounds under which they can assert that their first amendment rights are being violated. The goal is to remove the prohibitions contained in the notion of separation of church and state.
Second, I've taken note of the rhetoric being offered by James Dobson and his minions at Focus on the Family in response to a speech given by Barack Obama in 2006. Specifically, Tom Minnery makes a concerted effort to argue that America is a "Christian nation"...a phrase that is being aggressively pushed by many of those associated with the religious right. Minnery goes on to argue that religious doctrine is an effective tool with which to direct society and that it is the inherent principle underlying the establishment of this country. The goal of this argument is to further blur the lines between church and state until we reach the point where religion is accepted as the a priori foundation for our system of governance.
Here's some quotations from the discussion between Dobson and Minnery on the radio broadcast that suggest as much.
From Lavender Newswire:
Minnery: "I mean, read what George Washington said about that: "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports." That's our first president."
Minnery: "Our second president, John Adams, said: "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
For 18 minutes, Dobson excoriated Obama for his political stands -- especially Obama's belief that a politician must take into account a variety of views on moral issues.
"Now that is a fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution," Dobson said. "This is why we have elections. To support what we believe to be wise and moral. We don't have to go to the lowest common denominator of morality, which is what he is suggesting."
Again, I contend that the goal is to reach the point at which the accepted constitutional interpretation is that religious ideology can and should be directly applied to all aspects of government. In the end, the goal is to suggest that any limitation on religious expression as it relates to government is a violation of freedom of speech and expression. The calculation assumes that since a large majority of Americans are Christians, they would be amenable to enacting religiously inspired legislation by majority rule.
The only remaining obstacle would be the court system...and one would have to live in a bubble to have missed the deliberate effort to portray the judiciary in a bad light. If these ideologues can convince the public that the judiciary must be bound by majority rule...and that any ruling inconsistent with that construct can and should be invalidated as an act of judicial activism...they will have succeeded in establishing a virtual theocracy. In such an environment, minority rights (Dobson cleverly describes them as the lowest common denominator) would be disregarded whenever they failed to meet the acceptable religious standards of the majority.
In the end, they seek to effect the rejection of a secular society that affords the same rights to all people regardless of religious beliefs...or the lack thereof. While they currently avoid calling for the government to apply Biblically defined punitive actions against those who violate their brand of religious ideology (homosexuality is wrong but they allow it so long as it is never viewed as acceptable moral behavior or granted any legislative legitimization), there is little reason to believe that they wouldn't seek to roll back the rights already granted as well as impose prohibitions (reinstating sodomy laws).
I personally believe that if these zealots were to ever attain the power they seek, they would soon begin to impose punitive measures...arguing that a Christian nation cannot succeed if it fails to uphold and enforce the accepted ideology. Further, they would feel justified in carrying out such actions and dissent would be stifled as little more than a blatant display of blasphemy.
In the end, those who look at the Taliban and Sharia Law as the embodiment of theocratic tyranny would be well served to consider the similarities found in all those who promote an intransigent ideology. Truth be told, there is a fine line between the concept of "live and let live" and its incorrigible opposite, "live this way or die".
Tagged as: Barack Obama, Bible, Carbon Dating, Christian, Church & State, Courts, Creationism, Dave Daubenmire, Evangelical, Evolution, Focus On The Family, Intelligent Design, James Dobson, John Freshwater, Judiciary, LGBT, Morality, Mount Vernon Middle School, Pass The Salt, Religion, Same-Sex Marriage, Theocracy, Tom Minnery, U.S. Constitution, Values
Daniel DiRito | June 26, 2008 | 10:47 AM |
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For those of us that may be under the misconception that the religious wing nuts are capable of demonstrating some measure of restraint in their assault on the LGBT community, it's time to think again. Truth be told, I suspect many of these people feel they are entitled to meet out whatever punishment their "Holy Bible" would allow.
Last week, I published a posting that included the new gay friendly Heinz Deli Mayo ad being launched in the UK. Well, the American Family Association (AFA) launched a phone and email assault on Heinz and got the company to pull the ad after it ran for only a week. Apparently the AFA thinks they have a vested interest in the families in the UK and what they watch on television. Here's some excerpts from the AFA action alert:
I thought you might be interested in seeing the Heinz ad featuring a homosexual family and two homosexuals kissing.
The ad features a "homosexual family," referring to one of the men as "Mom."
We suggest you forward this to all your family and friends letting them know of the push for homosexual marriage by Heinz. This ad is currently running in England, but no doubt can be expected in the U.S. soon. It is the kind of ad which we can expect to see in California as they prepare to vote on homosexual marriage. Homosexual marriage is illegal in England.
Send an email letter to Heinz.
Make a phone call to Heinz. Their corporate headquarters' phone number is 412-456-5700 and their toll-free number is 800-255-5750.
Oh yes, this is undoubtedly an evil homosexual family...one that includes a New York Deli worker (BTW, he was called "mum", not mom...but AFA members might not get what that means) and his British husband and child...and if that isn't bad enough...they're headed to California to get married...and their poor child will be put through the humiliation of being the ring bearer...and then they'll serve sandwiches slathered with that sinful looking Heinz Deli Mayo at their reception...and then they'll move back to the UK and force same-sex marriage on unsuspecting Brits!
OK, at what point do we call these people what they are...raving lunatics who are obsessed with making all things gay the object of their every waking moment. Honestly, I can't help but think that men like Donald Wildmon, the founder and chairman of AFA are closet queers. What amazes me is his apparent belief that gays have any interest in him or his twisted followers.
Trust me Donny boy, I don't know a single gay person that would give you the time of day...let alone seek to convert you and yours. At the same time, I have no doubt that you know where all the gay bookstores are located, where you can find a gay prostitute, and where you can live out your gay fantasies online. After all, we know you're leading the effort to ban porn at the Marriott. No doubt you took it upon yourself to order up several flicks to have proof of the smut they're selling...just like watching that nasty show Swingtown, eh? If you need help locating anything else sinful, I can hook you up with a boat load of fallen preachers who have the inside track on every seedy situation you can imagine.
Anyway, those who are interested in contacting Heinz and offering another perspective on the Deli Mayo ad, here's some options in addition to the phone numbers noted above:
firstname.lastname@example.org with copy to email@example.com, Ted.Smyth@us.hjheinz.com, Nigel.Dickie@uk.hjheinz.com and Consumer.Contact@uk.hjheinz.com
or sign the petition here:
Tagged as: American Family Association, Donald Wildmon, Gay, Gay Kiss, Heinz, Heinz Deli Mayo, Homosexuality, LGBT, Religion, Religious Right
Daniel DiRito | June 25, 2008 | 10:28 AM |
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Anyone seeking to understand the essential fundamentals underlying the 2008 election would be well served to review the following videos. The first five comprise a speech given by Senator Barack Obama in 2006 to the liberal Christian group, Call To Renewal.
The final video is the first of three videos being released by Focus On The Family in response to the Obama speech. Today, in addition to the videos, James Dobson, the head of FOF, used his radio address to accuse Obama of distorting the Bible. I will update this posting to include the final two videos once they have been posted on the FOF site.
Generally speaking, Obama offers a reasoned explanation of the problems we face when religious ideology becomes the source of intransigent sectarian strife. Obama's speech is simply a thoughtful recognition of the shortcomings that can accompany the promotion of any one particular religious ideology...especially when done at the detriment of the beliefs held by other segments of society...be they religious or not.
Senator Obama's remarks accurately demonstrate an awareness of the pitfalls that resulted from George Bush's inclination to broadly impose his narrow evangelical beliefs...and his effort to rally like minded members of the electorate to assist him in that endeavor. At the same time, Senator Obama's remarks are clearly not an attempt to alter the beliefs of any particular party.
His observations simply explain the impracticality of imposing a narrowly defined religious agenda...as well as illustrate our government's constitutional imperative to abstain from siding with any particular religious ideology. Hence Obama concludes that the role of government is to also refrain from rejecting any particular religious beliefs and therefore inadvertently or intentionally preventing some individuals from practicing their chosen beliefs.
Perhaps this push back from Focus on the Family and other religious organizations is a realization that voters may be ready to restore a level of separation of church and state that hasn't been observed since the GOP leadership sought a political alliance premised upon a promise to enact a narrow set of religious principles. What voters may be concluding is exactly what Senator Obama, in 2006, warned might happen should sectarian strife dictate, dominate, or destroy the basic construct of representative government.
Simply put, I believe that Dobson and his ilk don't like the fact that voters may view Senator Obama as a champion for that basic concept...a concept that is again mindful of the need for the preservation of religious freedom but also the promise of freedom from religious persecution.
In other words, government grants members of the electorate the leeway to live according to their chosen beliefs while voters accept that the role of our elected officials must also include championing minority beliefs in accordance with their constitutional directives. That level of impartiality is simply not consistent with the goals of groups like Focus on the Family and politicians who fail to embrace their specific agenda become the object of this type of ill-conceived ire.
In the end, I believe that a majority of voters are anxious to restore the equitable government neutrality that made this country so appealing and so inviting. Doing so is the only way to insure that all of us will continue to have the freedom to hold the beliefs we cherish.
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Equality, Focus On The Family, Freedom, Government, James Dobson, Religion
Daniel DiRito | June 24, 2008 | 8:35 PM |
| Comments (1)
These two videos are a compilation of contradictions that can be found in the Bible. The interesting thing about these videos is that they were compiled by Muslims who want to undermine the Bible while promoting the Qur'an as the true word of God (Allah).
I find this interesting because it typifies the competitive nature of religions. In truth, all religions are intent on being absolute and claiming to have access to the true word of God. That frequently leads them to attack the doctrine of other religions.
The benefit of this constant antagonism is that it often provides the evidence to support the contentions of non-believers. In truth, documents like the Bible are simply a written account of the beliefs of men at different points in time...influenced by the then existing cultural norms.
The assertion that these documents can be taken literally only serves to intensify the efforts to identify more contradictions. In the end, it seems far more logical to conclude that most religious beliefs result from man-made motivations.
Tagged as: Allah, Bible, God, Islam, Jesus, Literalism, Muhammad, Quran, Religion
Daniel DiRito | June 21, 2008 | 10:03 AM |
| Comments (1)
The folks at Focus on the Family are out with another video in opposition to same-sex marriage. It's consistent with the new strategy being adopted by religious groups to portray themselves as victims.
The gist of their message is that the passage of gay rights will create prohibitions on free speech and their right to practice their religious beliefs. Never mind that the practice of their religious beliefs often includes working to deny rights to gays. After all, if they say they are the real victims, they must be, right?
This new video is also a play on words that appears to be designed to assail Truth Wins Out (TWO), an organization established to combat the rhetoric of those who are promoting the notion that being gay can be reversed. This propaganda is delivered by a number of groups including Love Won Out, an outreach group established by Focus on the Family, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX), and Exodus.
In the video, Focus on the Family's Stuart Shepard is seen wearing a sign stating "The Truth Always Wins Out". As the video progresses, a number of individuals (with angry faces intended to mimic militant homosexuals?) affix other signs on top of it...demonstrating the assertion that gays are attempting to silence the voice of people of faith.
Anyway, I decided to have some fun with a couple of screen shots from the video and a saying from my Italian heritage, "When a fish rots, it starts from the head". There are a number of versions of the saying, but they all deliver the same message - when an organization, family, club, or any other affiliated group of people lose their way, it starts with the leader.
As you'll see from the graphic, I'm suggesting that there's something "fishy" about Focus on the Family and its leader James Dobson...if you know what I mean. Oh, and lest there be any doubt, TRUTH WINS OUT.
Tagged as: California, Evangelical, Exodus, Focus On The Family, Gay, James Dobson, LGBT, PFOX, Religion, Same-Sex Marriage, Stuart Shepard, TruthWinsOut.org
Daniel DiRito | June 18, 2008 | 8:54 PM |
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If you listen to Pastor John Hagee, modern women are little more than sinful secular caricatures of all he would deem wrong with the fictional women portrayed on Sex & The City. In fact, he sets out to portray independent women (feminists) as little more than hedonistic sluts who engage in the excesses of self-satisfaction. Yes, according to Hagee, nothing about modernity...as it applies to women...is sufficient or redeeming in the eyes of the obtuse pastor.
Now I'm going to go out on a limb and attempt to identify the hypocrisy that emanates from men like Hagee...especially when they set out to proclaim one political candidate superior to another...while never comparing and contrasting the reality of the lives of the candidates with the rhetoric they espouse.
First, an important caveat. I don't actually think the personal lives of candidates and their families are all that relevant to their ability to execute the duties of the positions they seek. However, when one side of the political spectrum decides to make morality and values the prevailing determinant for their followers, the other side must respond to the pointed attacks launched to impeach the character of their candidates...or their family members.
Here's the point. Many within the GOP want to portray Michelle Obama as a "modern woman". They did the same with Hillary Clinton for years. While these current assailants refrain from defining Michelle Obama by the specific attributes mentioned by Hagee in the video below, they associate her with the notion of modernity...and therefore they endeavor to infer that her values are aligned with the specious caricature described by Hagee. Hence, the sympathetic voter is never asked to take the time to complete a thoughtful examination of Michelle Obama's values and her redeeming attributes. In fact, those voters who are predisposed to accepting Hagee's world view are asked to do little more than connect Michelle Obama with modernity...and therefore the derisive definition provided.
At the same time, they hold up their own candidates and their families as examples of all that is decent and moral...predicated upon the one-dimensional assumption that their candidate will cast votes that support the agenda of the religious right and men like Hagee. Here's the problem...they do so while ignoring any of the questionable values that their candidate, and/or the family of their candidate, may have demonstrated over the course of their lives.
In other words, the morality of their candidate is only measured on the basis of the votes that candidate will promise to cast. This means that men like Hagee (and the followers they lead) are fully content to disregard the personal history and morality of their chosen candidate (while highlighting that of the opposition) if the result is political gain.
I find this strategy to be an abrogation of reality that is not only unacceptable...it is also an act of incorrigible deception. Even worse, it is an insult to the morality that is worn like a badge by men of John Hagee's ilk. You may be thinking that this is the point at which I plan to pivot to assail the values and morality of John and Cindy McCain. It isn't and I won't. It isn't necessary since anyone who wants to pursue such comparisons, without prejudice, can find the relevant documentation in the public record.
You see, choosing our next president shouldn't be limited to a measurement of the values of Barack Obama or John McCain...or their wives. Unfortunately, there are those, like Hagee, who would seek to misconstrue the values of others for political gain and power...under the guise of religious righteousness. Truth be told, Michelle Obama's modernity should not be an indictment of her values any more than Cindy McCain's unfortunate battle with drug addiction should overwhelm the good deeds she's performed.
Those who hide behind the rhetoric of religion to pursue power are a threat to the values we hold because their manipulations are designed to misconstrue morality. In doing so, good people frequently become unsuspecting casualties. As we approach the November election, the task of all Americans is to sift through the smoke.
When men like John Hagee tell us that modernity offends motherhood, our obligation, as people who espouse a commitment to the family, is to look to those mothers who have embraced modernity (women like Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton) and conduct an honest examination...absent the hyperbole of those who seek to promote patriarchy at the expense of progress.
In the end, humanity will only achieve it's potential when it refuses to stifle the vast potential that resides in all of us...regardless of gender or any other label that is attached as a means of limitation. If Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama represent modernity, then John Hagee and those who entertain his ideology of oppression are the unacceptable antithesis. I'm hopeful that 2008 will be the year that voters choose to turn this cathartic corner.
Tagged as: Cindy McCain, Feminism, God, Hillary Clinton, John Hagee, Michelle Obama, Misogyny, Modernity, Religion, Secularism, Sexism, Values, Women, Women's Rights
Daniel DiRito | June 18, 2008 | 12:57 PM |
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Stephen Colbert speaks with Kenneth Miller on the subject of evolution and the efforts of creationists to adapt their strategies to have intelligent design taught in science classes as a plausible alternative. As Miller notes, while creationists lack any scientific evidence to support their theories (or their dislike of evolution), they are adept at crafting rhetoric, relabeling, and devising campaigns to sway public opinion.
All too often, the creationists have the scientific community on the defensive...from a public relations perspective. They're able to do this because a large portion of the American public is looking for reasons to reject evolution and embrace intelligent design. Hence, any gap in the extensive data supporting evolution is emphasized by the creationists and a sympathetic public frequently adopts the talking points and propagates them.
Were the creationists required to substantiate their beliefs beyond a citation from the Bible, they would fail miserably. In fact, the bulk of the science they have put forth has been debunked and dismantled by the scientific community. Unfortunately, the Bible is often sufficient evidence for a large portion of the voting public, which places the onus on evolutionists to fill each and every gap in the fossil record as well as defend against each new argument launched by the creationists.
In truth, those supporting a Biblical interpretation of the origin of the universe must contend with countless contradictions. I want to look at one of these inconsistencies. Many Biblical literalists believe the earth is approximately 6,000 years old. They also believe that man and dinosaurs walked the earth together since they believe that God created each living creature in it's current form at the moment of creation.
That brings me to the story of Noah's Arc. While no certain or verifiable date has been placed upon the great flood and the building of the arc, the prevailing opinions suggest it would have occurred over 4,000 years ago. Since creationists reject than humans underwent any evolutionary progression, one can assume that dinosaurs walked the earth when Noah built his arc. In fact, the Creationist Museum contends that dinosaurs were present on the arc.
OK, I don't know about anyone else, but I think the notion that dinosaurs were present on the arc is beyond any standard of rationality...and I say as much only after allowing for the existence of Noah's Arc for the sake of making this argument. There isn't a single scintilla of evidence supporting the presence of dinosaurs at the alleged time of Noah's Arc...and yet it is a fundamental belief of many of the creationists who are arguing that intelligent design should be part of a science curriculum.
Rather than recite the volumes of scientific evidence that demonstrate the absurdity of this creationist belief, I've included a tongue-in-cheek graphic that can be found below the Ken Miller video clip. I think the graphic successfully serves to dramatize the events I imagine would have taken place on Noah's Arc had it actually housed dinosaurs. Then again, I'm sure a card carrying creationist would be happy to prove me wrong by citing and interpreting a few verses from the quintessential scientific journal...the Bible.
Tagged as: Bible, Carbon Dating, Creationism, Dinosaurs, Fossil Record, Humor, Intelligent Design, Kenneth Miller, Noah's Arc, Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report
Daniel DiRito | June 18, 2008 | 10:43 AM |
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You had to know The Daily Show would cover the start of same-sex marriage in California. Jon Stewart starts off by noting that California still exists...and then he wonders why God is taking it out on the Midwest. Of course that's a reference to the many times religious blow hards have suggested that natural disasters were God's punishment for the actions of gays.
Stewart also has a little fun at the expense of those who feel that marriage can only be between a man and a woman...pointing out how important his mothers ovaries and his fathers testicles were to his own wholesome upbringing.
I especially like the segment where Stewart "worries" about those children who are raised by two mothers. Before you think badly of Stewart, keep in mind that he's simply voicing his concerns for any child with two Jewish mothers (Oy vey, the guilt!).
Tagged as: California, Gay, Humor, Jon Stewart, LGBT, Same-Sex Marriage, Supreme Court, The Daily Show
Daniel DiRito | June 18, 2008 | 9:09 AM |
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The 2:30 Report was a former segment on the Australian television program, The Chaser's Report On Everything. In the following video clip, they look at religious programs on late night television.
What I like about this clip is the fact that they shine a bright light on the absurdity found on many of these programs as well as the persistence to separate the viewer from large sums of his or her hard earned cash.
In fact, one of televangelists featured is so shameless that he promises the viewer a "harvest" if they will just donate some "seed" money...and then he asks that a curse be upon him if he's using his ministry for personal gain.
However, my favorite part of this video comes near the end. After showing clips of well-known television preacher Benny Hinn, in the process of healing those who are in attendance at his service, the hosts of the show are shown performing their own version of healing. Let's just say their approach is as likely to cause injury as it is to effect a cure.
Tagged as: Charity, Evangelists, Healing, Humor, Religion, Televangelists, Television
Daniel DiRito | June 17, 2008 | 6:33 PM |
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It looks like the folks at Focus On The Family have decided to be an active participant in the GOP effort to cast Barack Obama as an unacceptable presidential candidate. The following video is the second salvo of their participation in partisan political campaigning. The first assault can be found here.
The focus of this episode of Turn Signal is on the Defense of Marriage Act, which is the federal proviso that protects the states and the federal government from having to recognize same-sex marriages. This dovetails into the issue of same-sex marriage and the religious right's opposition to any codified recognition of gay rights.
All too often the rhetoric of the religious right is centered on marriage and the protection of the family, but experience shows us that they oppose any legislation that grants recognition or rights to gays...even though they like to assert that they have no ill-will towards gays.
An example may be helpful. When they oppose employment non-discrimination legislation (ENDA), they contend that business owners shouldn't be forced to hire individuals who live lives that are in conflict with their religious beliefs. In other words, they think they should be allowed to discriminate.
Take a look at some of the other propaganda I found on the same site.
As same-sex couples line up to get "married" in California today, religious groups across the nation are preparing for more of their rights to be trampled.
"What most trusting Americans fail to grasp is the correlation between the advancement of the homosexual agenda and the gradual erosion of our religious liberty," said Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst for Focus on the Family Action.
"California's judicially imposed social experiment in marriage has hastened the demise of religious freedom across the U.S."
Bottom line...they want to assert that their rights are being violated when they aren't allowed to violate the rights of others. I'm sure you'll understand it when I tell you that I won't be shedding any tears for those who claim it's unjust to put an end to the injustice they seek to impose.
Tagged as: Barack Obama, California, DOMA, ENDA, Focus On The Family, GOP, James Dobson, LGBT, Religion, Same-Sex Marriage, Tax Exempt, Turn Signal
Daniel DiRito | June 17, 2008 | 2:11 PM |
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I just love Christian websites. They provide so much inspiration...for tongue-in-cheek sarcasm. I think I hit the mother lode today. The following questionnaire is intended as a tool for parents to insure that their children haven't become pagans or...
Tagged as: Bible, Christianity, Demons, Devil, Faith, God, Heaven, Homosexuality, Humor, Islam, Jesus, LGBT, Muslim, Paganism, Reincarnation, Religion, Sarcasm, Satan
Daniel DiRito | June 17, 2008 | 11:27 AM |
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John McCain would like independents, moderates, Reagan Democrats, and Hillary Clinton supporters to think of him as a maverick who doesn't march in lockstep with George Bush and his right wing ideology. The problem is that John McCain is...
Tagged as: Abortion, California, Catholics, George Bush, Health Care, Insurance Premiums, John McCain, LGBT, Massachusetts, Pro-Life, Right To Choose, Roe v. Wade, Same-Sex Marriage, Supreme Court, U.S. Constitution, Women's Rights
Daniel DiRito | June 16, 2008 | 2:24 PM |
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Many within the GOP are touting Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal as a possible running mate for John McCain...calling him a rising superstar in the party. Unfortunately, this rising star is also in favor of teaching creationism (intelligent design) alongside...
Tagged as: Bobby Jindal, Creationism, Evolution, Exorcism, GOP, Intelligent Design, John McCain, Louisiana, Religion, Science, Scientific Method
Daniel DiRito | June 16, 2008 | 8:41 AM |
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In the following video, the folks at Focus On The Family are touting the passage of a bill, The Louisiana Science Education Act, in the Louisiana state legislature that will "allow" science teachers to "promote critical thinking about scientific...
Tagged as: Bible, Creationism, Darwin, Education, Evolution, Focus On The Family, God, Intelligent Design, Religion, Science
Daniel DiRito | June 14, 2008 | 8:37 AM |
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Nothing remotely gay is immune from the attacks of the rabid right. With each and every event that has a connection to homosexuality, the wing nuts launch into their tirade that the "militant homosexual agenda" is alive and well...and...
Tagged as: Annie Proulx, Brokeback Mountain, Charles Wuorinen, Concerned Women For America, CWFA, Gay, Gerard Mortier, LGBT, Madam Butterfly, Matt Barber, New York, Opera, Pagliacci, Religion, Religious Right
Daniel DiRito | June 12, 2008 | 1:03 PM |
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Many Americans like to look at Europe as an example of the moral decay we can expect if we continue to alter our values and ignore our long standing Christian principles. Implicit in this belief, amongst many on the...
Tagged as: Bible, Europe, Evangelical, France, God, History, Honor Killing, Innocence, Islam, Judeo-Christian, Koran, Misogyny, Morality, Muslim, Purity, Religion, Secularism, Sexuality, Tolerance, Values, Virginity
Daniel DiRito | June 11, 2008 | 11:11 AM |
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The inclination to view natural disasters and disease as signs of God's wrath remains a frightening demonstration of the dangers of religious dogma. Time and again, a vocal group of religious leaders attribute these tragedies to the morality of...
Tagged as: Africa, AIDS, Family Research Council, Gay, HIV, LGBT, Morality, Religion, Sexual Orientation, Sexuality, Sexually Transmitted Disease, STD, World Health Organization
Daniel DiRito | June 10, 2008 | 2:56 PM |
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All too often the Bible is used to selectively support the preferred ideology of various religious groups. Unfortunately, this "pick and choose" approach undermines the validity of the religion it is used to bolster and it also helps to...
Tagged as: Bible, Death, Faith, Fear, God, Ideology, Leviticus, Mortality, Religion, Slavery, Ten Commandments
Daniel DiRito | June 10, 2008 | 12:52 PM |
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In the following video clip, former 700 Club co-host Ben Kinchlow tells Pat Robertson that African Americans who vote for a party that supports "evil deeds" are partaking in those deeds and God will judge them accordingly. Robertson concludes...
Tagged as: 700 Club, Abortion, Affirmative Action, Ben Kinchlow, Black Yellowdogs, Climate Change, Democratic Party, Evangelicals, Global Warming, God, GOP, Pat Robertson, Religion, Republican Party, Same-Sex Marriage, Taxation, Universal Health Care
Daniel DiRito | June 9, 2008 | 8:48 PM |
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The following video is the trailer for Bill Maher's new documentary, Religulous. Anyone who has watched Maher over the years will know that he isn't a religious person and he has a penchant for poking fun at those who...
Tagged as: Bill Maher, Comedy, Faith, God, Humor, Religion, Religulous
Daniel DiRito | June 8, 2008 | 10:36 AM |
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The religious loons never cease to amaze me. Following Froday's premiere of the new CBS show, Swingtown, the American Family Association is leading the charge to get the program banned from local CBS affiliates on the grounds that it...
Tagged as: AFA, American Family Association, Bible, CBS, Drugs, Faith, God, Marriott, Morality, Religion, Sex, Sexuality, Swingtown, Values
Daniel DiRito | June 7, 2008 | 11:50 AM |
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When you really study the mindset of religious conservatives, one of their primary motivation is making sure they hold onto their money and that means they rarely ever connect taxation with the notion that the government serves as a...
Tagged as: Barack Obama, Conservative, Focus On The Family, James Dobson, Liberal, Religion, Tax Exempt, Theocracy, Welfare
Daniel DiRito | June 5, 2008 | 10:30 AM |
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Have you ever asked yourself what America and the world would look like if the abstinence-only advocating...intelligent design demanding...religious right had the power to enact the legislation they preferred? I don't know about you, but the thought of this...
Tagged as: Abstinence-Only, Bible, CDC, Cervical Cancer, Condoms, Contraception, Creationism, Darwin, Discovery Institute, Education, Evolution, Faith, Fossil Record, God, HPV, Intelligent Design, Religion, Science, Scientific Method, Sex, Sex Education, Sexuality, STD's, Teen Pregnancy
Daniel DiRito | June 4, 2008 | 3:21 PM |
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Good news on the gay marriage front from a newly released survey and from the California Supreme Court. A new USA Today Gallup Poll suggests that a large majority of Americans believe that the choice to marry someone of...
Tagged as: Bigotry, California, Faith, Gallup, Gay, Gay Marriage, LGBT, Rapture, Religion, Religious Right, Same-Sex Marriage, Supreme Court, USA Today
Daniel DiRito | June 4, 2008 | 1:05 PM |
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Call me a conspiracy theorist today. Why? Well the skeptic in me is having a hard time believing that it makes sense to hold a meeting of Love Won Out (the Focus On The Family organization that claims to...
Tagged as: Ex-Gay, Focus On The Family, Gay, James Dobson, LGBT, Love Won Out, Peter LaBarbera, Reparative Therapy
Daniel DiRito | June 3, 2008 | 3:50 PM |
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The following video clips comprise a recent Steve Paikin program on Canadian television during which a panel discusses faith and the many beliefs people hold regarding the benefits of having faith. On the contrary, the panel looks at whether...
Tagged as: Death, Faith, God, Mortality, Religion, Science, Steve Paikin, Terror Management Theory
Daniel DiRito | June 3, 2008 | 12:30 PM |
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