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Religious Interest Falls in the USA. Voters Do Not Know Romney is a Mormon Not a Christian

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I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I.

Joseph Smith

 

Mitt Romney has to Face Questions about His Religion in the USA Elections

A Pew study released found that many Americans do not know the religious faiths of President Obama or presumptive Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney. A third of Americans do not know that Romney is a Latter Day Saint, a Mormon! The Mormons have conservative views, especially on gender and homosexuality, and are intolerant of members’ questioning official teachings.

The United Church of Christ, President Obama’s church of choice, is more liberal on these issues. Unlike the Mormons, the UCC is not centralized to the extent that the Mormon sect is. It is not uniform across congregations because doctrinal issues in the UCC are left to the congregations, not to a central institute as is the case with the Mormons.

17 percent of Americans say Obama is a Moslem. In 2008, Americans were likely to correctly identify his religion as Christian. Political opposition to Obama as president aimed to remind voters of his pastor, Jeremiah Wright. But Pastor Wright’s supposedly racist remarks actually showed them Obama was Christian.

The separate Pew Research Center “American Values Survey”, which polled more than 3,000 adults nationwide, found that approximately one in five Americans don’t have a religious affiliation at all—the most ever documented. It also found that 32 percent of the latest adult generation have doubted the existence of God—double the number of those who felt the same way just five years ago.

This survey found increased tolerance for difference in every age, religious preference and political group. The new generation is known for wanting to distinguish itself from its peers—to stand out so to speak—by adopting unorthodox ideas.

Criticisms of Mormonism

The doctrine of the Mormon Church separates it from Christianity according to the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant religions, all of which descended from Jesus Christ and his apostles. Mormons had no apostolic succession by which the holy Spirit is passed from priest to priest from the original apostles, could not have been involved in the Nicene Creed, and Mormon cosmology with its plan of salvation including pre-mortal life, baptism of the dead, three degrees of heaven, and exaltation by which humans may become gods and goddesses on a par with Jesus is alien to Christian thought.

Critics have questioned the legitimacy of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of LDS, as a prophet as well as the historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon, and include claims of historical revisionism, homophobia, racism, and sexism and paedophilia. Evangelical Christians argue that Smith was either a fraud or deluded.

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Written by mikemagee

11 October, 2012 at 8:57 pm

Employers Discriminate Against Gays Even More Than Against Socialists

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No discrimination

Employers in the South and Midwest were less likely to offer an interview when an applicant’s resumé indicates that he is openly gay. Gay applicants were 40 percent less likely to be granted an interview than their heterosexual counterparts. The technique used, audit study, has been used to expose hiring prejudice based on race and on sex, but this is the largest of its kind to look at job discrimination against gay men. András Tilcsik of Harvard University, the study’s author, writes:

Gay men encounter significant barriers in the hiring process because, at the initial point of contact, employers more readily disqualify openly gay applicants than equally qualified heterosexual applicants.

Tilcsik sent two fictitious but realistic resumés to more than 1,700 entry level, white collar job openings, managers, business and financial analysts, sales representatives, customer service representatives, and administrative assistants. The two resumés were the same but one for each opening said the applicant had been part of a gay organization in college. Tilcsik explained:

I chose an experience in a gay community organization that could not be easily dismissed as irrelevant to a job application. Thus, instead of being just a member of a gay or lesbian campus organization, the applicant served as the elected treasurer for several semesters, managing the organization’s financial operations.

The second resumé Tilcsik sent listed experience in the “Progressive and Socialist Alliance” in place of the gay organization. Since employers are likely to associate both groups with left-leaning political views, Tilcsik could separate any “gay penalty” from the effects of political discrimination. It would have been better to have had a control group too, with no such adverse identification.

Applicants without the gay signal had an 11.5 percent chance of being called for an interview, but gay applicants had only a 7.2 percent chance, a 40 percent lower chance than the heterosexual applicant.

The gap varied according to the location of the job. The widest gaps were in the South and Midwest—states like Texas, Florida, and Ohio. The West and Northeast—states like California, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and New York, had only small, statistically insignificant gaps. Tilcsik observed:

It’s plausible that, even in those states, there is a large callback gap in some other jobs, industries, or counties. What this shows is that discrimination in white collar employment is higher in the Southern and Midwestern states.

Gay applicants had even lower callback rates when the employer described the ideal candidate for the job as “assertive”, “aggressive”, or “decisive”.

Written by mikemagee

4 October, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Was Jesus Asexual, Heterosexual or Homosexual?

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Jesus’s sexuality is utterly ignored by Christians. Why are Christians—like those represented by the Christian Coalition International Canada Inc—so upset to think that their incarnated God, Jesus, might have been homosexual? Though the gospel image of Jesus is that of a tolerant pacifist, a large proportion of Christians do not recognize this as Jesus, certainly in the way they think and behave themselves. Of course, the gospel image of Jesus is most likely concocted by the early Christians, but literal biblicists are supposed to believe in the bible literally read, and the bible literally read is ambiguous about the sexuality of Jesus. Indeed, the impression given of Jesus is that he had no interest in sex at all, and if that were so then he must have been a god, because no normal man could possibly not be sexually inclined.

Of course, one can eschew sexual activity in practice, but one cannot suppress it completely, mentally. The obvious explanation of Jesus not being sexually active is that he was a member of the order of Essenes, one branch of which did not indulge in sexual activity because it was considered to be symptomatic of humanity and not the angels, who were not sexual creatures, being immortal. The Essenes aspired to be angels, and so gave up sex. Thus they believed they were purer, more perfect and more adjusted to the heavenly life.

Now, it is possible that even this concept of sexual purity did not prevent the Essene monks from indulging in homosexuality. The reason is that they could have justified homosexuality as being non-procreative, and the angels were asexual because they had no need of procreation. Humans needed sex to procreate the human race because immortality had been denied them by God as a consequence of primeval sin, probably seen as sexual activity anyway. Let the punishment fit the crime, was God’s principle in this reasoning. The human race were condemned to being sexual so that they could propagate themselves. A forbidden pleasure, stolen contrary to God’s wishes, had led to sex being a necessity with all the anguish it produced. Homosexuality was not a necessity however. It was not part of the punishment because it was not for procreation.

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Written by mikemagee

20 June, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Banning Homosexuality is “straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel”

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David Bahati, a Ugandan MP, influenced by three American evangelicals seeking favor with God by spreading their bent version of Christianity, introduced a parliamentary bill to deal with the around half a million gay people in Uganda. The bill would ban all forms of homosexuality, jail homosexuals, and hang the most persistent. The Archbishop of Canterbury along with many people from around the world objected, and the bill was suspended. It has reappeared and again disappeared, but plainly the movers of the bill are working hard to get it accepted as a motion, and passed by the Uganda Parliament.

Alan Wilson, an Anglican bishop, writes about this bill in the UK Guardian. In the face of the attempted evangelical take-over of the Anglican Church, bishop Wilson stands squarely as a Christian, on the ground that the Ugandan bill contravenes basic Christian teaching, and those Christians who are supporting and indeed pushing forward the bill, are not one iota Christian.

The bill treats homosexuality as monolithic—it is one wilful Christian error, and, moreover, it is a western import to the formerly distinct sexuality of east Africa, ignoring the martyrdom of 25 young men by Kabaka Mwanga in 1886. Worse, the bill violates basic principles of justice, including the human rights of its victims defined by the UN. Apparently accepting this, some promoters seem ready to reject the UN declaration to clear the way for it, rather than surrender “their queer-bashing law”. The bill will turn Anglican vicars into agents of the state, and forbid them from listening to gay Christians, as the 1998 Lambeth conference committed the whole Anglican communion.

It is not a question of liking homosexuality or otherwise. Bishop Wilson notes that Jesus had friends, like Nicodemus, who were Pharisees. Nevertheless, Jesus frequently criticized Pharisees, though he had similar ideas to those of the Pharisees in significant matters. After all, they were all Jews. Jesus generally did not object to what Pharisses wrote, but did object to their own way of interpreting it in practice, their lifestyle. Regarding them, he taught:

Do what they say, not what they do.

Their basic teaching of the Mosaic law was valid, but they had the idea that they could help prevent pious Jews from inadvertantly breaking the law by building around it “a wall” of lesser specific laws that were easier to comprehend and remember. As Wilson puts it, “Pharisees saw themselves as God’s minders”.

It was counterproductive. The Essenes thought it a theological error to hide the law behind a wall. What God had intended, they thought, was that Jews should understand the law itself, its meaning and importance and obey it as it is, not that God’s law should disappear behind a wall to make it, in some sense easier not to break. It meant their lesser precepts became paramount, yet there were far more of them, and ultimately their intention was far from clear to ordinary Jews. The basic law of God was compromised, Wilson says, because seemingly pettifogging subsidiary laws became regarded as inviolable, and apparently pointless, when their original purpose was not adequately explained.

For example, Jews were supposed to bathe in sufficient water to cover a man, but the Pharisees specified a minimum measured amount that would suffice, hoping to ensure that every Jew could not inadvertantly break the law. But before long pious Jews began to think the precise measure, meant to protect the actual law, which was vaguer, was what was important to God, and so had to take tedious care to measure out the right quantity of water! Jesus, who was most likely an Essene himself, called this “straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel”.

Cherry picking the few Bible texts that could be interpreted as saying anything about homosexuality, the Ugandan bill strips them of their context and imposes them harshly in a way that would be disproportionate for serious crimes.

Straining at a tiny but contentious gnat, it swallows a sociopathic, genocidal camel.

The Ugandan bill is unchristian and uncivilised. It criminalises a few people and threatens their lives. The civilised world must urge that Uganda’s honorable members of Parliament will be decent enough to see it is wicked. If it were to become an act of the Ugandan parliament, it will violate not only the golden rule, “as you would that people should do unto you, do likewise to them” but also Jesus’s summary of the whole law, “love God and love your neighbor”. The secular Christian regards God as a personification of society, He stands for all your neighbors, so loving God implies loving your neighbor, but Christ made it clear in his sermon regarding the Judgement on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 25:31-46) that is what his Father meant by it.

Written by mikemagee

15 May, 2011 at 9:33 pm

Traditional Western Marriage has Seldom been the Human Standard

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People, taught that particular social habits promoted by Christianity are natural, fail to realize that family life has evolved to meet people’s needs in their particular society. John Scanzoni, a University of Florida sociology professor, has found that polygamy, bisexuality, homosexuality, philandering men and working women have been the social norm in many societies in recorded history. Scanzoni is the author of Healthy American Families: A Progressive Alternative to the Religious Right, published by Praeger.

Ever since humans have been around, we’ve been continually altering, tinkering, tweaking, reinventing and changing every aspect of our families.

Throughout history in most parts of the world, people believed that the right and moral thing to do was for one man to have several wives. Most human societies practiced some form of polygamy, which was invented by men primarily for their own economic and social benefit. A man wanted to be assured that his land and livestock would be passed onto his sons after he died, and having multiple wives increased his chances of having male heirs. Insights into polygamous marriage—including male promiscuity—can be had simply by reading the stories of biblical characters like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David.

And the argument that homosexual marriage is wrong because it violates the ancient moral ideal that marriage is the union of one man and one woman is wrong. The Greeks and Romans began to move away from polygamy for practical reasons, but men still had sex before and after marriage with as many women as they wished. Most Greek men were openly bisexual, and many Greek thinkers believed the most profound love occurred between two men, not between a man and woman. Scanzoni pointed to Plato:

Plato, for instance, believed sex with one’s wife was necessary in order to bear children for the sake of family honor, but for sexual ecstasy one turned to one’s male lover.

Along with accepting alternate forms of sexuality, people have long been receptive to the idea of women in the labor force, Scanzoni said. Before the early nineteenth century industrial revolution, women typically worked alongside their husbands on farms, and many also carried on vital occupations such as seamstress and midwife. Scanzoni continued:

There was no sense at all in people’s minds that women should not do productive labor. The woman’s labor was as essential as the man’s for the survival of the household. Women did not grow up thinking a man would support them, unless they belonged to that tiny handful of elite upper class women who were aristocrats or royalty.

And it was in the class of the nouveau riche, the bourgeoisie, who imitated royalty and nobility in their hope of joining the upper class, that women were excluded from the board room, which became a male domain throughout the twentieth century. Bourgeois values spread to the lower classes as they became literate and so women were expected to remain at home or, at best, were permitted to do “women’s work” like nursing and hairdressing. Scanzoni explained:

For the first time in history a new style of marriage was born, in which the husband was provider and the wife was homemaker, and it permeated late nineteenth and twentieth century America, becoming the 1950s style of marriage championed by the Religious Right

Today, however, there has been a shift away from that option as increasing numbers of younger, well educated women view work just as men do, as essential for gaining a sense of autonomy or control over their lives. Recent census data show that in large urban centers, and for the first time ever, child free women in their 20s earn more than young men, he said.

The male as primary breadwinner used to be practical when men earned more than women. But as women start to earn more, or even the same money as men, that male breadwinner role no longer makes any economic sense.

In the current economic crisis, men have been more likely than women to lose their jobs. The downturn has highlighted how essential women’s earnings are to the economic well being of the household, underscoring that just as men don’t have the option not to work, neither do women.

Written by mikemagee

29 November, 2010 at 12:18 am

The Pope an Enemy of Humanity

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Richard Dawkins’s speech delivered in Whitehall at the London rally against the Pope, 18th Sept 2010, was shorter than the full text, mostly because the rally was so huge—an estimated 15,000—that the speeches started late and had to be curtailed. This is the original speech from Dawkins’s own website:

Should Joseph Ratzinger have been welcomed with all the pomp and ceremony due to a Head of State? No. As Geoffrey Robertson has shown in The Case of the Pope, the Holy See’s claim to statehood is founded on a Faustian deal in which Mussolini handed over 1.2 square miles of central Rome in exchange for Church support of his fascist regime. Our government chose the occasion of the pope’s visit to announce their intention to “do God”. As a friend has remarked to me, presumably we should expect the imminent hand over of Hyde Park to the Vatican, to clinch the deal?

Should Ratzinger, then, be welcomed as the head of a church? By all means, if individual Catholics wish to overlook his many transgressions and lay out the red carpet for his designer red shoes, let them do so. But don’t ask the rest of us to pay. Don’t ask the British taxpayer to subsidize the propaganda mission of an institution whose wealth is measured in the tens of billions: wealth for which the phrase “ill-gotten” might have been specifically coined. And spare us the nauseating spectacle of the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and assorted Lord Lieutenants and other dignitaries cringing and fawning sycophantically all over him as though he were somebody we should respect.

Benedict’s predecessor, John Paul II, was respected by some as a saintly man. But nobody could call Benedict XVI saintly and keep a straight face. Whatever this leering old fixer may be, he is not saintly. Is he intellectual? Scholarly? That is often claimed, although it is far from clear what there is in theology to be scholarly about. Surely nothing to respect.

The unfortunate little fact that Joseph Ratzinger joined the Hitler Youth has been the subject of a widely observed moratorium. I’ve respected it myself, hitherto. But after the Pope’s outrageous speech in Edinburgh, blaming atheism for Hitler, one can’t help feeling that the gloves are off. Did you hear what he said?

“Even in our own lifetime, we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews… As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the twentieth century…”

You have to wonder about the PR skills of the advisors who let that paragraph through. Oh but of course, I was forgetting, his senior advisor is that Cardinal who takes one look at the immigration officials at Heathrow and concludes that he must have landed in the Third World. The poor man was no doubt prescribed a bushel of Hail Marys, on top of his swift attack of diplomatic gout—and one can’t help wondering whether the afflicted foot was the one he puts in his mouth.

At first I was annoyed by the Pope’s disgraceful attack on atheists and secularists, but then I saw it as reassuring. It suggests that we have rattled them so much that they have to resort to insulting us, in a desperate attempt to divert attention from the child rape scandal.

It probably is too harsh to expect the 15-year-old Ratzinger to have seen through the Nazis. As a devout Catholic, he would have had dinned into him, along with the Catechism, the obnoxious idea that all Jews are to be held responsible for killing Jesus—the “Christ-killer” libel—not repudiated until the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). The German Roman Catholic psyche of the time was still shot through with the anti-Semitism of centuries.

Adolf Hitler was a Roman Catholic. Or at least he was as much a Roman Catholic as the 5 million so-called Roman Catholics in this country today. For Hitler never renounced his baptismal Catholicism, which was doubtless the criterion for counting the 5 million alleged British Catholics today. You cannot have it both ways. Either you have 5 million British Catholics, in which case you have to have Hitler too. Or Hitler was not a Catholic, in which case you have to give us an honest figure for the number of genuine Catholics in Britain today—the number who really believe Jesus turns himself into a wafer, as the former Professor Ratzinger presumably does.

In any case, Hitler certainly was not an atheist. In 1933 he claimed to have “stamped atheism out”, having banned most of Germany’s atheist organizations, including the German Freethinkers League whose building was then turned into an information bureau for church affairs.

At very least, Hitler believed in a personified “Providence”, presumably akin to the Divine Providence invoked by the Cardinal Archbishop of Munich in 1939, when Hitler escaped assassination and the Cardinal ordered a special Te Deum in Munich Cathedral:

“To thank Divine Providence in the name of the Archdiocese for the Führer’s fortunate escape.”

We may never know whether Hitler identified his “Providence” with the Cardinal’s God. But he certainly knew his overwhelmingly Christian constituency, the millions of good Christian Germans with “Gott mit uns” on their belt buckles, who actually did his dirty work for him. He knew his support base. Hitler most certainly did “do God”. Here’s part of a speech he made in Munich, the heart of Catholic Bavaria, in 1922:

“My feeling as a Christian points me to my Lord and Saviour as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who—God’s truth!—was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was his fight against the Jewish poison. Today, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed his blood upon the Cross.”

That is just one of numerous speeches, and passages in Mein Kampf, where Hitler invoked his Christianity. No wonder he received such warm support from within the Catholic hierarchy of Germany. And Benedict’s predecessor, Pius XII, is not guiltless, as the Catholic writer John Cornwell devastatingly showed, in his book Hitler’s Pope.

It would be unkind to prolong this point, but Ratzinger’s speech in Edinburgh on Thursday was so disgraceful, so hypocritical, so redolent of the sound of stones hurled from within a glass house, I felt that I had to reply.

Even if Hitler had been an atheist—as Stalin more surely was—how dare Ratzinger suggest that atheism has any connection whatsoever with their horrific deeds? Any more than Hitler and Stalin’s non-belief in leprechauns or unicorns. Any more than their sporting of a moustache—along with Franco and Saddam Hussein. There is no logical pathway from atheism to wickedness.

Unless, that is, you are steeped in the vile obscenity at the heart of Catholic theology. I refer—and I am indebted to Paula Kirby for the point—to the doctrine of Original Sin. These people believe—and they teach this to tiny children, at the same time as they teach them the terrifying falsehood of hell—that every baby is “born in sin”. That would be Adam’s sin, by the way, Adam who, as they themselves now admit, never existed. Original sin means that, from the moment we are born, we are wicked, corrupt, damned. Unless we believe in their God. Or unless we fall for the carrot of heaven and the stick of hell. That, ladies and gentleman, is the disgusting theory that leads them to presume that it was godlessness that made Hitler and Stalin the monsters that they were. We are all monsters unless redeemed by Jesus. What a vile, depraved, inhuman theory to base your life on.

Joseph Ratzinger is an enemy of humanity

  1. He is an enemy of children, whose bodies he has allowed to be raped and whose minds he has encouraged to be infected with guilt. It is embarrassingly clear that the church is less concerned with saving child bodies from rapists than with saving priestly souls from hell—and most concerned with saving the long-term reputation of the church itself.
  2. He is an enemy of gay people, bestowing on them the sort of bigotry that his church used to reserve for Jews.
  3. He is an enemy of women—barring them from the priesthood as though a penis were an essential tool for pastoral duties. What other employer is allowed to discriminate on grounds of sex, when filling a job that manifestly doesn’t require physical strength or some other quality that only males might be thought to have?
  4. He is an enemy of truth, promoting barefaced lies about condoms not protecting against AIDS, especially in Africa.
  5. He is an enemy of the poorest people on the planet, condemning them to inflated families that they cannot feed, and so keeping them in the bondage of perpetual poverty. A poverty that sits ill with the obscene riches of the Vatican.
  6. He is an enemy of science, obstructing vital stem-cell research, on grounds not of morality but of pre-scientific superstition.
  7. Less seriously from my point of view, Ratzinger is even an enemy of the Queen’s own church, arrogantly endorsing a predecessor’s dissing of Anglican Orders as “absolutely null and utterly void”, while shamelessly trying to poach Anglican vicars to shore up his own pitifully declining priesthood.
  8. Finally, perhaps of most personal concern to me, he is an enemy of education. Quite apart from the lifelong psychological damage caused by the guilt and fear that have made catholic education infamous throughout the world, he and his church foster the educationally pernicious doctrine that evidence is a less reliable basis for belief than faith, tradition, revelation and authority—his authority.

Homosexual Uncles and the Breakdown of Human Society

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Homosexuality is heritable, but because homosexual men are much less likely to produce offspring than heterosexual men, genes for homosexuality should have disappeared. It must offer a more subtle advantage. It could be “kin selection”. A sister has many of the genes of her brother. If the brother does not have any progeny of his own but spends his time protecting and teaching his sister’s children he can promote the prospects of his own genes. He acts as a “helper in the nest”. By acting altruistically toward nieces and nephews, homosexual men would perpetuate the family genes, including some of their own. To compensate in failing to pass on their own genes, from being childless, such men have to support the survival of two additional nieces or nephews.

Evolutionary psychologists, Paul Vasey and Doug VanderLaan of the University of Lethbridge, Canada, spent several years on the Pacific island of Samoa testing this hypothesis. Samoans do not have any prejudice against homosexual males, but rather they treat them as a third sex called “fa’afafine”—“neither man nor woman”—who are effeminate and exclusively attracted to adult men as sexual partners. The “fa’afafine” are traditionally more willing to babysit, tutor their nieces and nephews, and help out financially, than Samoan men and women, the two reproductive sexs.

The study consisted of questionnaires for all three Samoan sexes measuring their willingness to help their nieces and nephews in various ways and how willing they were to do it for unrelated kids. Compared to Samoan men and women of the recognized sexes, the “fa’afafine” were less keen on unrelated kids. They favoured their own kin even more than the two reproductive sexes, allowing them to allocate their resources more precisely to their neices and nephews, and so enhance their own evolutionary prospects. The findings support the kin selection basis for homosexuality, at least in that society.

Samoan culture is localized, and centered on close extended families, whereas Western patriarchal families tend to be dispersed and homophobic, so that uncles are often no longer close enough geographically to their nieces and nephews to be of any help. Even so, Samoan society is much more typical of the small scale societies humans lived in exclusively for a million years until about ten thousand years or so ago, the environment in which male same sex sexuality must have evolved if it is genetic. The loss of homosexual bachelor uncles is another example of the breakdown of western society. The bachelor uncle is maladapted to the world, because the world has evolved away from small scale communal stability bonded by mutual caring and sharing into unstable, uncaring, jealous urbanized imperia, increasingly unwelcoming to us all.

Written by mikemagee

9 February, 2010 at 10:32 pm