Tag Archives: jerry falwell

Radical religion’s war on education

18 Nov

Today I was listening to the Reasonable Doubts podcast and they had a really interesting segment on the religious right’s attack on education. Here is my summary of what they had to say:

It is a well known fact that on average the more educated a person is the less likely they are to be conservative or religious. (Yes there are highly educated conservative and religious people, but the data shows that these people are anomalies)

Education and exposure to different cultures/people/worldviews has a corrosive effect on religious faith and conservatism. The radical religious right’s response to this fact is to isolate their children from the world with home schooling, while simultaneously working to undermine public education. My non-American readers might be shocked to find out that here in America parents can homeschool their children with little to no qualifications or curriculum standards; in essence they can teach, or not teach, anything they want regardless of their own education level.

Often in the United States you will hear defenders of homeschooling put forth statistics that suggest homeschooled children excel in all areas, especially scholastic aptitude tests. The fact is, all of these statics are bogus and poorly collected. There is an excellent article in the Peabody Journal of Education by Dr. Eric Isenberg titled “What have we learned about homeschooling?” In the article Isenberg examines the quantitative data on homeschooling, how extensive it is, and how it is collected and then goes point by point showing that essentially it is a black hole.

We do not have good data on homeschooling or its effectiveness. Why? Because the religious right fought hard to make sure the government wasn’t allowed to collect such data. They deliberately want to keep it as unclear as possible. If data was accurately collected it would show the appalling low level of education these homeschoolers are receiving.

The conservative religious right has set up a system where homeschooled children can go from their sheltered home “education” straight to private religious fundamentalist “universities” without ever encountering an idea or person who might challenge their faith. These students then graduate from these “schools” and are often hired as government aids to work for conservative officials. This was recently very prominent when Bush was in power. A lot of his aids were from these private religious institutions. He legal defense team was made up of “Liberty” “University” graduates, a “school” 10 minutes from where I went to college. This system and it’s goals of raising up fundamentalist children sheltered from opposing view points has a name and a website, “Generation Joshua.” (There is an interesting NY Times Best Seller book by Michelle Goldberg on this subject titled “Kingdom Coming.”)

Another way these religious fundamentalist schools affect the public is through tax vouchers for private schools. Through tax vouchers, the public has to subsidize families who choose to send their children to private schools instead of public ones. The political spin is that this is about “school choice,” but if you see past the bullshit it’s really about back-door public funding for religious schools. Almost all private schools in the United States are religious. The guys on Reasonable Doubts even pointed out that the even some of the few officially “secular” charter schools are actually very religious in their curriculum while remaining outwardly worldly.

Public education is a blight for the radical religious right. Pat Robertson, infamous televangelist and founder of Regent “University”, had this to say about tax vouchers: “They say vouchers would spell the end of public schools in America. To which we say, so what?” Jerry Falwell (the same as Robertson and also founded his own “school,” “Liberty” “University”) had this to say on the matter: “I hope to live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, there won’t be any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!” Luckily the fat bastard died before that could happen, but his minions are hard at work trying to advance his “vision.”

These institutions are bastions of conservatism and religion. Here students are taught what to think as opposed to how to think, and their curricula are carefully crafted to be as bias and twisted as possible. “Liberty” “University” even went so far as to ban liberals. The fact is that the radical religious right’s worldview cannot survive in the free market of ideas. When exposed to the sunlight of different cultures, people, points of view, and education in general, it shrivels up and dies. To protect their fragile children from reality, the religious right sets up system whereby students are exposed only to “approved” ideas. I find it hilariously ironic that conservatives like to claim liberals are like Maoists and Stalinists while they’re the ones with thought police institutions with portraits of Jesus on the walls.

Are Christian values really Christian?

5 Aug

What are “Christian values”? Well there are as many different answers as there are different Christians, so your personal views very well may be different from others’. I googled the term and two of the first pages that popped up were the wikipedia page on it, and this “Access-Jesus” page. According to them “Christian Values” are this:

  • Worship of god above all things, including family members and loved ones
  • Fidelity in marriage
  • Faith
  • Rejecting worldly goods
  • Rejecting violence
  • Forgiveness
  • Love
  • Righteousness

So now that we have this grocery list of values, what about them makes them “Christian”? Lets go down the list one by one.

Worship of god above all things: Well, lots of Christians do this, yes, but they by no means have a monopoly on it. Other faiths do the exact same thing, many of them have been around thousands of years before Christianity was ever invented.

Fidelity in marriage: Again, what makes this Christian? Billions of people around the world are married, the majority of them aren’t Christian. Marriage has existed for millenniums before Christianity ever came on the scene. Heck, if you look at divorce rates among religious groups in the US, Christians have the highest, non-theists have the lowest. It would seem that you’re more likely to be faithful to your marriage if you’re not a Christian. (Just look at the news, it’s as if every month a new conservative Christian leader is being flushed out as an adultery or a sodomite)

Faith: Mark Twain once said “Faith is believing in something you know ain’t so.” Since when is faith a value? Taking something “on faith” is an admission that there is no good evidence to believe something, but you’re going to believe it anyways. Faith is the last stand of the indefensible. It make people credulous and gullible, which makes them extremely vulnerable to getting scammed (as they all too often do) which leads us to our next “Christian value”…

Rejecting worldly goods: Still, nothing that makes this specifically Christian. Many religions around the world preach this, far fewer actually practice it. Instead most believers like to flaunt their wealth and piousness by building bigger and grander churches, wearing flashy religious jewelery. There are a lot of very wealthy religious leaders around the world, many who live off the donations of a poverty stricken flock. This has been a problem for religion since it was created. In the middle ages there was a cycle where the church would become too corrupt and oppulent whereby a monastic order bent on poverty would be founded. These new monks would try to live as beggars and try to reform the church until eventually they too became rich from donations and tithes; at which point a new corrective order would be founded. Greed is just in human nature.

Rejecting violence: This is a nice one that again every faith preaches, but few follow.

Forgiveness: This is an interesting one to me because growing up, I honestly thought Christians had invented this. I remember my mom telling me that in Japan they didn’t have the concept of forgiveness until the west introduced Christianity to them. (I know, sounds absurd, but it’s just a blip of a memory I have that influenced me as a child). I felt for the longest time that Jesus was a revolutionary in bringing this concept of forgiveness to the world. Now that I’m older I realize just how silly this is. Forgiveness is not solely a Christian Value, it wasn’t something divinely given to us by a god.

Love: Of all the values, I think this one is the least Christian. Even though this value is universal, Christians like to claim they have the market on love cornered. “God made us knowing we were going to sin and decided to send all sinners to be tortured for eternity, but then changed his mind and made a big gruesome show of killing his son in order to appease himself so he would let a select few escape eternal punishment, and this is because he loves us all so very deeply.”  No, Christians very seldom practice love, and when they do there are always strings attached. It could be helping the homeless only after they agree to sit through a sermon first, or bringing food over to a church member, solely because they’re a church member, or any kind of aid that is contingent on the person accepting some dogma or jumping through hoops of another kind to appease the religious. For the most part, many of them do good works because they feel it will earn them brownie points with god. It’s not that they really love, it’s that they want a reward for their generosity. You want to see how quickly the “Christian value” of love evaporates? Try leaving a church, the whiplash will snap your neck.

Righteousness: Again, other faiths practice the same thing. Feeling you and your actions are some how set-aside, better perhaps, than other people because you feel you have the “truth” is unfortunately not restricted to Christianity. Why is it that so many conservative Christian leaders in politics can commit horrible hypocrisies and get off scot-free while liberals go down in flames? Simple, they are “righteous” and many belong to “the family“. If you are a member of that family, you are seen personally chosen by god to carry out his work, and thus you can do no wrong. Think I’m kidding? Why is governor Mark Standford still the governor of South Carolina after leaving his post without telling anyone to go bang a woman, not his wife, in South America? His friends were the very same people who impeached president Clinton for having oral sex in the White House, yet they were silent when their friend did something much worse. Why? Because he’s righteous and can do no wrong.
That last one, righteousness, or self-righteousness, ties into the scary trend within the past half century of wedding “Christian values” with “Conservative values”. Today the two are pretty much synonymous.  Again, there are as many different definitions of “Conservative Christian Values” as there are conservative Christians but the majority, to me, seems to be as follows:

  • Dedication to dogma : Conservative Christians do one thing really well, and that is stick together. There is a party line that must always be towed, regardless of what happens in reality, there is an agreed upon narrative. Jesus is lord, America was founded by fundamentalist Christians for Christians, and Reagan was a prophet. No ifs, ands, or buts. There is a reason this group is such a strong, vocal, and cohesive voting block: their members swallow the dogma whole and fall in line.
  • The white male rules all. Don’t be fooled by the small handful of conservative public figures that are women or minorities, the white men still have the power in the party. This group has continually dug in there heels when it comes to leveling the playing field for women and minorities. (Here is a really interesting shift. Over the course of the 20th century, the religious completely switched sides on social issues. They once carried banners for women’s suffrage and for civil liberties for blacks, but in the 1970’s something drastically changed and I’m not exactly sure what it was. Perhaps it was the influx of people like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Ronald Reagan. Somehow the people of progressive change for the better became the people who fought to deny women rights to their own bodies, or equal pay in the work place. After fighting to help blacks get equal protection under the law, they threw down their banners when the LGBT community stepped up and asked for their turn. What happened? It’s as if hate became a value.
  • Fear and war. Again, in the last half century, these have increasingly become conservative Christian “values”. Fear of immigrants, fear or minorities, fear of your neighbor, fear of the government, fear of foreigners. Everywhere you look, fear, fear, fear! It’s the reactor that powers the modern conservative movement. 9/11 was a turbo boost to their fear reactor and they used it very effectively. A fearful people are quick to bite their tongues and fall in line with the dogma, which leads to wars. We’re scared of Iraq, we must invade. We’re scared of Iran, we must invade. We’re scared of North Korea, Venezuela, Somalia, China, you name it. As a conservative Christian and they’ll most likely tell you that we should steam roll these countries. Ann Coulter famously said after 9/11  “we should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.”  The peace talks in the middle east are a farce, why? Because peace in the middle east is the last thing conservative Christians want. They want the wars, the killing, the blood. Why? Because according to their “to do list”, in order for Jesus to return and take all his followers to heaven there has to be an apocalyptic religious war. Peace would only delay that. Don’t believe me?
  • Ignorance. (The brother of faith)  This is fast becoming a virtue in the fight against the teaching of science in schools. Religion was invented to explain the unexplainable: where did we come from? Why do my crops fail? What causes rain? What causes fertility in women? Why did my family die in a flood? Where does the sun go at night? Over the course of human history science has slowly discovered the natural explanations for things and vanquished the superstition that once filled the gap in understanding. In the past two-three hundred years, when society and science started to break free of the shackles of religious dogma, we’ve made tremendous advancements in everything. This trend shows no sign of slowing down and there are many in this country that see this advancement in knowledge as a threat to their deeply held beliefs. Thus they dig in their heels and demand that science not be taught in schools, that their iron age beliefs with only their faith for “evidence” should be taught. Meanwhile the rest of the world (and their economies that benefit from new products produced by science) are moving fast ahead of us, which brings us to our next value.
  • Greed. The stories of Jesus being generous to those in need must be liberal lies edited into the bible. I’m sure Jesus asked for proof of health insurance before healing the sick and the blind. Increasingly conservative Christians are turning against the poor. Just this week a $30bn unemployment benefits package was passed by congress, with almost every single republican voting NO. They had been shamelessly delaying the bill since early July, when the benefits ran out and real people ran out of options. At the same time they decry the $30bn addition to the deficit, they are gearing up to staunchly defend making Bush’s tax cuts for the richest Americans permanent. That add another $600bn to the deficit, but no, we can’t help the poor people. I’m sure Jesus was meant something else when talking about a rich man, a camel, and the eye of a needle.

So in conclusion, there are no values that are uniquely “Christian”, values are universal, regardless of your creed or politics.

Atheist resistance

20 Apr

So living in Lynchburg Virginia, home of “9/11 is god’s punishment ” Jerry Falwell and his penitentiary of brainwashing and bullshit, “Liberty” “university”, religious stuff is all over town. Every other car either has a LU sticker, the christian fish magnet, or “Not I, but Christ” sticker. The local stores are also almost entirely owned by the LU octopus. Falwall and his ilk even have their own section in walmart that sells only LU gear, along with religious books.

So as a way to stay sane and get some cheap thrills, I engage in a little Atheist resistance. First up is my car. When you’re stopped at a red light, that’s your 30 second chance to get a message out to the three cars behind you. (Assuming you’re in the middle lane)

I love these things. I change them out every so often, depending on what’s pissing me off that week. Sometimes it’s political, like pro-choice signs (which are a real hit in the area ~_^), but most of the time it’s religious. Currently I’m blasting the catholic church for their 2000 yr + child pedophilia scandal.

I figure the “liberty” kids in Lynchburg are constantly confined to their nice little clean bubble of rich, white, conservative christian fanatics, it’d be nice to jar them out of their comfort zone and make them realize they’re not the only game in town. If I have to sit in traffic and put up with their stupid signs, they can suffer my 1st amendment rights to mine. Yeah, some could argue that it might look a little trashy, but if nobody stands up and says something, they’ll think that everyone is just like them, and thus their beliefs will be all the further reinforced.

Secondly is pamphlets. In Lynchburg there are pamphlets all around. The LU kids stuff them inside beer cases, leave them in shops, in mailboxes, on dining tables, under your windshield wipers, everywhere. I’ve put a few of them up here on my blog, and they all say the same thing: You’re a rotten person that’s going to burn in hell forever unless you buy our product. So I decided to make my own. Here is one that I’m currently circulating:

Outside:

Inside:

I can’t make the picture any bigger, so incase you can’t read it, the outside when you first open it just says something like “Hey, you’re ok the way you are, you’re not a sinner, nor are you damned to some eternal punishment.” Then it goes on about how the pamphlet isn’t trying to get them to join anything, or give any money, unlike other religious pamphlets. The inside just asks 20 simple questions to get people thinking about their faith critically.

I get a real rush putting out these pamphlets. I have to be all ninja like so I don’t get caught. Sometimes I’ll sit down at a table with my stuff, wait a few minutes, and get up, conveniently forgetting to take the pamphlet with me. I love to put these in the religious books sections of book stores, there I can really hit my target audience.

The bumper stickers in the car give me a bit of a thrill, but not so much as sneaking around with pamphlets. I guess I just feel safer with a physical barrier between me and them. Though I have been honked at, shouted at, and flicked off before while sitting at a red light. (How christian, eh?) There have been times when I’ve nervously expected a bullet to come through the glass behind me and kill me, or for my car to be rammed, or for someone to throw something at my windshield. That’s all a thrill too, though it does make me wonder about my opponents when I have to worry about being physically attacked and they don’t. What do you think that says about them?

Do you speak for god?

16 Feb

While conducting research on my senior thesis in history, I came across this speech given by Emperor Wilhelm to his troops in 1914:

“Remember that you are the chosen people! The spirit of the Lord has descended upon me, because I am Emperor of the Germans! I am the instrument of the Most High. I am His sword, His representative….May all the enemies of the German people perish! God demands their destruction, God, who through my mouth, commands you to execute His will!”

Why is it god always speaks through man, and never directly?

One of the milestones on my road to deconversion was when I realized that everything I had been told about religion, god, Jesus, etc, was told to me by another human being.

I thought to myself:  “Now wait a second….human beings are fallible. They make mistakes. They lie. They have agendas, sometimes hidden ones. They care about power. They are not perfect. So why would an all perfect god always use such biased, self interested agents as humans to spread his word? Those people claim to speak for god, and we have only their word. We just have to trust them. These people often lie and take advantage of that blind trust… What if they are not speaking for god? What if they are just claiming to speak for god? Or what if they think they are speaking for god but it is just all in their head? We have no way of knowing…. But why would someone pretend to be talking for god? Simple. Power, money, prestige….”

Look at these two big examples. Pat Robertson and the late Jerry Falwell. Both of them made millions of dollars claiming to speak for god. Both of them set up “schools” where they make even more money telling people they speak for god. Televangelists have been doing this for ages.

But ok, those are big examples. What about your average pastor/priest/imam/rabbi? Well, I would argue that most of them are just spouting the old stuff that someone else once claimed was god’s word. They read from the bible/koran/torah and say “this is god’s word!” They don’t have too much to gain (if their operation is still small) accept the prestige (among believers) of knowing the god’s will. The people who wrote what they’re saying, however, had a lot to gain.

These “holy texts” ordered entire cultures! The people who wrote them, claiming themselves (men) as the holy instruments of god crafted these texts to secure their power. “Women should be subservient” is an excellent example. If you read or watch “Misquoting Jesus” you can see how early Christian scribes altered the bible to secure contemporary power bases throughout the middle ages.

You can have a lot of power over someone who believes that you and you alone know the path to salvation. Just look around at modern and ancient cults! People commit suicide for their cult leaders! The only thing that is different between a cult and organized religion is size. The smaller it is, the more intense control you can exercise over your followers. (It’s easier to brainwash 30 people who you see every day than it is to brainwash 30 million that you speak to once a week, though there are those among the 30 million that will be fanatically devoted to you or the cause)

Imagine for a second there was a mad man on the corner claiming to know the will of the stop sign. Say he was shouting at people that they must live their lives according to a book written by those divinely inspired by the stop sign. Imagine he asked for contributions or a tithe to help fun the work of the holy stop sign. Imagine if he had millions of followers who likewise believed the will of the stop sign was known through a book. Imagine if he made lots of money and lived lavish lifestyles off of the contribution on stop sign believers.Now imagine if those millions of stop sign believers tried to change the laws in your country to favor those who accept the stop sign. They want to affect how you live your life and what freedoms you have based off of what somebody claims is the will of the stop sign, and you have only their word. There is no way to see if they are actually right. You just have to take it on faith.

I bed you’d be pretty pissed off. I bet you’d try and point out that the guy on the corner is mad, and he does not really speak for the stop sign. I bet you’d try to get proof that he spoke for the stop sign, or that the stop sign even had a will in the first place! I bet you’d fight to stop them from telling you how to live your life, what freedoms you had, all because of what they think a stop sign is telling them. Sounds pretty insane right?

That is how Atheists feel about you. (You being if you are in fact a believer in a higher power who also believes that the will of said power can be known, and that it is your duty to tell others how to live and enact laws if need be)

Exam time at “Liberty” “University”

14 Dec

So the other day my girlfriend and I decided to go down to Panera bread to get lunch, and the place was swamped with “Liberty” students studying for exams.

I could not help but laugh. What’s the point? Nobody is going to take your degree seriously unless you’re applying for a ministry position. The “university” is not a university. It’s a religious joke school that brainwashes their students.

Higher education depends on constantly asking questions, challanging the status quo, and exploring new ideas. This is not encouraged at “Liberty” “University”. An LU student once told me when asked why they chose LU “I wanted to be told what to believe”. WOW! Really? Well you went to the right place.

There was once a secular speaker that came to Lynchburg College to give a lecture on religion and Atheism, and after the lecture I noticed an entire group of LU students had gathered around their “teachers” who were trying to un-teach everything the lecturer had talked about.
The kids were given no chance to think about the subject matter on their own.

The school even banned democrats! Now I can understand not agreeing with a political party or ideology, but shouldn’t ideas stand on their own merit without the arbitrary intervention of the administration?

So here were all these preppy conservative christian kids with their apple notebooks pretending to be going to a real university, studying for their exams. The one that blew me away the most was the kids who were studying for biology exams. “Liberty” “University” doesn’t even accept the fact of evolution! How can you have biology without evolution!?!?!? These people think the world is 6,000 years old and that man walked with dinosaurs, and they’re trying to teach biology. I’d like to get my hands on their biology book and see what page Noah’s ark is on.

Here, check this excerpt out from their biology department page:

“The biology faculty at Liberty University are committed to academic excellence and to training students to represent Christ in the fields of medicine, scientific research, and teaching…”

So basically, they already have their conclusions in Christ, so whatever the science tells them they must either ignore, distort, or misrepresent.

“However, our faculty are not only concerned about our student’s academic and professional preparation, but are equally concerned about the personal and spiritual well-being of every student.”

Read as “Don’t worry parents, we’ll make sure not to contaminate your children with actual science”

Give me a break, this “school” is a joke.

“Liberty” “University” continues the tyranny

23 May

I must say, this does not surprise me in the least. “Liberty” “University” has banned democrats from their campus, sighting “moral” reasons. Yeah, I’m pretty sure that all the parts about Jesus teaching love and tolerance in the bible were the parts he didn’t want taken literally…..

Rachel Maddow interviewed the president of the now shut down Liberty University Democrats club:

It really must be some kind of dark joke naming the place “Liberty”. You can have all the liberty you want as long as you agree with our narrow minded bigoted positions.

What I find really interesting is that the school recieved a lot of complaints from the parents of some of the students attending about the mere existence of a democrats club. The parents want to send their adult children to an institution that treats them like they are seven, and they want the students to be shielded from people who have different views. How is this supposed to educate them? How are they supposed to interact in the real worl where not everyone is a religious bigot who thinks the world is 6,000 years old? By shutting down this club the school is saying “you can’t be a christian and a democrat at the same time”.  Really?

1. Jesus owned nothing. 2. Jesus argued for the dissolution of the family and the establishment of communes. 3. Jesus loved all people regardless of ethnicity or class. 4. Jesus revolted against the imperial government, established religion and finance capitalism (usury). 5. Jesus taught that we should act as one body, one blood. 6. Jesus taught that his kingdom (ie nation state) is in the heart and not below the feet. 7. Jesus taught that we should fight for Justice and ‘turn the other cheek’ to petty morality. 8. Jesus was a laborer and a teacher. 9. Jesus practiced healing and forgiveness. 10. Jesus taught that you can’t be an imperialist and a disciple at the same time.