Israel Invades Gaza, Hamas Uses Palestinians As Martyrs

 

Israel's Iron Dome Protects Citizens While Hamas Exploits Human Shields For Weapons
Israel’s Iron Dome Protects Citizens While Hamas Exploits Human Shields For Weapons

At midnight on May 14, 1948, the Provisional Government of Israel proclaimed a new State of Israel and President Truman and the U.S. officially recognized the provisional Jewish government.  Since that time, there has been interminable war, with displaced Palestinians existing with the plight of the “coloreds” of pre-1994 Apartheid South Africa.  The Gaza Strip is a region the size of Detroit with a population of roughly 1.6 million. There’s constant suffering at the hands of the Islamic Hamas government who promote the ideology that martyrs are good for their movement.   Israelis easily dominate the economically and militarily inferior Palestinian people and there really is very little hope for happiness for the people of Gaza anytime in the near or distant future.  

World opinion tends to sympathize with the people of Gaza, and aside from hawkish conservatives in both Israel and the U.S., most feel the Netanyahu Government is in the wrong.  In a world where developed countries are gradually abandoning religious dogma, logic would conclude religion is a very arbitrary means of determining sovereignty.  American Conservatives who believe the Jews are God’s Chosen People defend Israel’s right to mistreat Palestinians. Misery for Gaza is compounded by a government that is more than happy to use them as human shields for their own rockets and not vice versa.  On HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher, the host said

“I feel terrible for a Palestinian child who dies,” Maher said, “but if it’s your father, your brother, your uncle who’s firing those rockets into Israel, who’s fault is it really? Do you really expect the Israelis not to retaliate?” 

The panel agreed: “Israel builds an “Iron Dome” to defend its citizens from missiles, Hamas uses its citizens to defend its missiles.”  But the Israelis have always prevailed in every conflict since its birth mainly because of their values.  Unlike the Jihadist-mentality of Palestine’s Hamas, Israel does everything to protect, educate and care for their citizens.  Maher even said out of necessity, Israel has become very good at defending itself, largely because of the Jewish expertise in science. “Jews have, I think, 155 Nobel Prizes, Muslims have two. That seems like kind of a big advantage for team Hebrew.” Religion creates the problem on two fronts:  both sides use it to lay claim to the land.  The most notable difference: Hamas uses religion to martyr its people while the other side uses religion and science to protect its people.

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Activist Justices Favor Religion Over Scientific Progress

It's getting impossible to separate church and state
It’s getting impossible to separate church and state

The 2012 campaign featured the first Mormon candidate to ever run for Commander in Chief. Willard Romney, who by way of his standing in the Mormon faith, is obedient to the LDS religion’s hierarchy. He believes that such leaders

are divinely inspired, that they speak for god on earth.

Imagine if the LDS doctrine governed the Supreme Court. It seems sincerely held religious beliefs can indeed open a can of worms too great to even fathom. Not only do many religions have a very insidious view of women, children and slavery, but there is a great deal of racism as well. Since the Mormon faith privately believes that black skin is a curse from god for being a

“fence-sitter” in a war between Jesus and Lucifer in a pre-mortal existence, and that god has cursed Native Americans with a red skin for their ancestors’ wickedness, sin, and idolatry. Is it even possible to assume that the person’s views and votes on civil rights issues will be free of racial prejudice?

How different is the objection to certain types of contraception by the newly declared person (called a corporation) to the wide range of beliefs held by an infinite number of religions, which are man-made constructs? Funny, but in the 2012 campaign, from the Republican nominee, I never heard “…unless I’m President of the USA, that is, in which case said office renders my temple oath null and void.” Where do we draw the line? Scalia’s Sharia proclamation of the disavowal of anything the religious owners of corporations or even colleges, deem blasphemous can truly create a theocracy never envisioned by our Founding Fathers.

Yet the Supreme Court just made a proclamation that honors any sincerely held religious beliefs by the owners of a corporation, and thus the corporation itself can entertain any credence they deem sincere. The sincerity of the belief leads us down a very slippery slope into categorizing any belief as valid by any measure of religiosity. At first we thought only a few contraceptives were open to debate with the Hobby Lobby case. However, with Wheaton College, all forms of contraception are barred, at least temporarily, from coverage.

Under this arrangement, the groups are required to fill out a form, EBSA Form 700, to register their religious objections. This enables their insurers or third-party administrators to take on the responsibility of paying for the birth control. The organizations do not have to pay for the coverage, and the cost is borne by the government or in other ways.

Yet Wheaton merely states that filling out the EBSA Form 700 is in direct violation with their religious beliefs, so the Court is forced, possibly temporarily, to allow them to do as they wish based on this arbitrary assertion of beliefs. Imagine

if a person privately deems homosexuality a sin, a choice, a perversion, condemned by god, can I trust that individual to labor to establish equal rights for gays and lesbians, including marriage?

Why does contraception, a matter where women are left with the burden to prevent pregnancy in most cases, have to be the ultimate of the theocratic pronouncements of the SCOTUS? Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg said the Court was venturing into a minefield and she sure as hell wasn’t joking. If anyone thinks this SCOTUS will stop anywhere short of overturning Roe v Wade, think again.

 

Hobby Lobby Couldn’t Survive Without Abortion

Hobby Lobby Supports China's Forced Abortion Through Trade
Hobby Lobby Supports China’s Forced Abortion Through Trade

If a store brags of their discount merchandise brought to you with this primary goal in mind:

Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles,

…it makes you wonder which Biblical principles they are referencing.  You would think they would produce their goods in a state or country with the strictest adherence to “Biblical Principles.” This is far from the case. Most of their merchandise is imported from China: where female infanticide and forced abortion is the highest in the world. China truly is the most egregious abuser of this form of population control.

It’s true,  millions of companies import goods from China and other nations who impose slave labor on their inhabitants.  But this is Hobby Lobby, a company founded on Old Testament values. Values like those found in the Book of Numbers, 5: 11-13, where “God” gives instructions on how to make an unfaithful wife have an abortion.

Never before has a corporation, a perpetual entity, been given the human construct of religion.  Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in her amazing dissent added this:

“The absence of such precedent is just what one would expect, for the exercise of religion is characteristic of natural persons, not artificial legal entities.”

China, a Communist nation, has little regard for any “religious values,” and this doesn’t seem to concern the folks at certain privately held corporations, which are far more numerous than you can imagine.

Never did the founding fathers intend for a religious book, written by Bronze Age desert-dwellers to determine corporate policy which affects the most marginalized workers in this free country.     Ironically, their 401K retirement fund includes companies that produce ‘unacceptable’ forms of contraception.    Once it was part of the dreaded liberal plot (invented by conservatives) with the ACA, it all of a sudden became contentious.  Yet the issue of abortion truly can’t be that important if they tacitly support China’s government.

What could be the worst part of this decision is the devotion to these “Biblical principals,” which are open to interpretation. Christopher Hitchens said it best:

The Bible may, indeed does, contain a warrant for trafficking in humans, for ethnic cleansing, for slavery, for bride-price, and for indiscriminate massacre, but we are not bound by any of it because it was put together by crude, uncultured human mammals.

Religion: Still Imposing Gender Inequality

The fastest growing religions in the world: Islam and Mormonism, have opinions of women that are contrary to progressive thought in the modern world.   It is a fact, nations with the least religious populations enjoy the highest levels of equality and happiness.  There is no question, religious men still cling to the idea of female inferiority and recent events solidify this claim.

In Benghazi, Libya, Salwa Bughagis was fatally shot just hours after casting a vote.  Bughagis was a women’s rights activist, murdered by an Islamist militant group who are largely fundamentalist misogynists.  This is a week after four women from the city of Mosel, Iraq committed suicide because they were dishonored because they were raped.   Rape, by no fault of their own, casts a stigma on the victim that haunts her privately while labeling her “unclean” in the eyes of Muslim society.  Victim shaming is the worst form of mistreatment towards women.

Kate Kelly Excommunicated For Trying To Overcome Gender Inequality In LDS Church
Kate Kelly Excommunicated For Trying To Overcome Gender Inequality In LDS Church

Kate Kelly, co-founder of a group called Ordain Women was excommunicated from the Mormon Church after starting a movement to allow women to hold the priesthood in the church.  I asked Ex-Mormon and second cousin to Mitt Romney, Park Romney, what he thought of the bizarre scenario where a women who wants to be a bigger part of the faith is excommunicated for doing so.  He said,

In a word, the whole affair strikes me as absurd.  Here we have a woman, who by insisting that the Mormon leadership is in error for excluding women from the priesthood takes the implied position that the Mormon priesthood is not, in fact, the exclusive authority to represent God on earth in such matters and questions… and therefore an invalid and fraudulent claim of Divine agency.  Now, having taken such a position, she believes the world would be a better place if woman were more direct participants in this fraud.

Naturally, Park Romney, once a holder of the Melchizedek Priesthood, through research and careful examination of evidence, believes the entire faith to be fraudulent.  His opinion derives from his immense cache of information that has come from voracious reading and studying.  Park cannot understand why Ms. Kelly would want a part of a religion that holds her in such low regard.   Women are not allowed to hold priesthood, much like the Catholic Church, and will be one of a man’s many celestial wives in the eternal afterlife.

Women who try to address matters of gender inequality are often the most persecuted in religious circles.  Men will continue to exert their dominance aided by outdated social mores that go hand and hand with religion.

 

 

 

 

If Your God Is Better Than Their God, Is Peace Even Possible?

sunni v shiaI’d say at least 99.9% of the people I encounter daily have absolutely zero concept of the difference between Sunnis and Shi’ites; and that’s being generous. Iraq once was a nation that was fairly secular and not terribly fundamentalist in any way. The United States brilliantly marches in carrying freedom fries and liberty bells and voilà! The two warring sects of Islam are now at each other’s throats. When fundamentalists feel their religion is being mocked or modified in any way, like the Benghazi mastermind admitted after recently being captured by US Special Ops, they react with extreme fervor. Let’s go back to 2003 when 2008 GOP Presidential Candidate Senator John McCain offered this brilliant prediction of future  sectarian violence in Iraq:

“There is not a history of clashes that are violent between Sunnis and Shi’as so I think they can probably get along”.

Never have a group of people gotten things so wrong on EVERY issue and yet their opinion is sought for “news” programs.  It’s astonishing.  They invaded a country with no consideration for consequences, cost, loss of human life or a basic understanding of the complex history of the region.  Let me try to elucidate the difference between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims.

The Sunni branch believes that the first four caliphs–Mohammed’s successors–rightfully took his place as the leaders of Muslims. They recognize the heirs of the four caliphs as legitimate religious leaders. These heirs ruled continuously in the Arab world until the break-up of the Ottoman Empire following the end of the First World War.

…Shiites, in contrast, believe that only the heirs of the fourth caliph, Ali, are the legitimate successors of Mohammed. In 931 the Twelfth Imam disappeared. This was a seminal event in the history of Shiite Muslims. …Shiite Muslims, who are concentrated in Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon, [believe they] had suffered the loss of divinely guided political leadership” at the time of the Imam’s disappearance. Not “until the ascendancy of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1978” did they believe that they had once again begun to live under the authority of a legitimate religious figure. Another difference between Sunnis and Shiites has to do with the Mahdi, “the rightly-guided one” whose role is to bring a just global caliphate into being.  The major difference is that for Shi`is he has already been here, and will return from hiding; for Sunnis he has yet to emerge into history: a comeback v. a coming out, if you will.”

Shia-Sunni-map-percentages

They simply disagree with each other like the  Scientologists disagree with Jehovah’s Witnesses, like Mormons disagree with Catholics etc. etc. etc. The difference is the American presence in the region made the two sects more extreme in their fundamentalist differences and created the violence that plagues the region.   Religions, none proven by science, are beliefs.   As the great Christopher Hitchens asserted:

We keep on being told that religion, whatever its imperfections, at least instills morality. On every side, there is conclusive evidence that the contrary is the case and that faith causes people to be more mean, more selfish, and perhaps above all, more stupid.

Perhaps, some day man will understand much of the world’s injustices, abuses and atrocities are carried out because one group believes their god is better than the other group’s deity.  Most importantly, one must understand religious differences do exist and potential volatility is inevitable if these differences are not understood.

SCOTUS Is Fighting To Make America A Christian Theocracy

20140507-033852.jpg
Hard to tell the difference between Christian Fundamentalism and Radical Islam.

Thomas Jefferson said, Religious institutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths, or of no faith, undermine all our civil rights. In 1983, (Marsh v Chambers) the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the practice of beginning a legislative session with a prayer delivered by a publicly funded chaplain. This set an unfortunate precedent for the current SCOTUS deemed most conservative in years and they ruled, once again, in favor of sectarian prayer (in a government setting) in this week’s Town of Greece v Galloway decision. When an Alabama judge recently asserted the First Amendment only applies to Christianity, the metamorphosis of our government from a non-secular democracy into a theocracy is now a reality.

Five of the nine Supreme Court Justices were appointed by Reagan or one of the Bushes, and there is definitely a major shift to the right on most of their decisions. Scalia and Alito are essentially evangelical Catholics. Kennedy, Thomas and Roberts are not as vocal about their belief in the supernatural but are still very sympathetic to the whims of the religious right. It’s frightening to think the Republican Party is SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT certain of their belief in “the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.” It’s chilling that a group of people so committed to faith over science also wield such enormous power.

When the Supreme Court essentially appointed George W. Bush, it installed the first true Seven Mountains Dominionist in the White House. In 2003, while trying to form a “Coalition of the Willing” (to help shoulder the burden of Iraqi occupation), Bush told then French Premier Jacques Chirac,

Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”

Chirac, blown away by the mind-numbingly superficial and fantastical beliefs of the U.S. President, wanted no part of a Biblical war.

The Corporatist Supreme Court
The Corporatist Supreme Court

When the five conservative justices ruled in favor of unlimited anonymous donations (Citizens United and McCutcheon), the activist agenda of these corporatist justices erased any question of whom these men truly serve: The Koch Brothers and their Heritage Foundation underlings. Heritage asserts the Christian faith is under attack, and they’ve furtively ensconced their religion into local governments, Red State by Red State.

In her dissent of the recent Town of Greece v Galloway, Justice Elana Kagan said, “…No one can fairly read the prayers from Greece’s Town meetings as anything other than explicitly Chris­tian—constantly and exclusively so. From the time Greece established its prayer practice in 1999 until litigation loomed nine years later, all of its monthly chaplains were Christian clergy.”  If private citizens of a town are not Christian, they have no choice but to participate in prayers or face undue scrutiny from their fellow citizens.

It is clear, Christian fundamentalists will fight longer and harder, with better organization and fervor than any other group.  With limitless money, they are going after legal abortion, access to contraceptives and gay marriage.  They insist upon the teaching of Creationism as science, and think it should get equal footing in our children’s schools. They are fighting on all fronts to make America resemble the “Great Satan,” Iran.  Only difference, this theocracy may soon be ruled by the Draconian Old Testament.

Not One Law Republicans Passed Has Helped America In Over Forty Years

The GOP is against any positive progress for America
The GOP is against any positive progress for America

December 2, 1970 was the last time a Republican created something that benefits the greater good of society. Seriously, it’s been over forty years since any Republican has successfully enacted legislation that is based on scientific data, also known as reality. Richard M. Nixon created the EPA in 1970 which marks the last time the party behaved responsibly by utilizing data from climate scientists and attempting to clean up our environment.  Their actions ever since have been an attempt to pollute indiscriminately.

Everything the GOP stands for is rooted in religiously-based discrimination of some sort.  Whether they are quashing the rights of women, the poor and minorities or relinquishing the rights to drink clean water and breathe healthy air, the GOP is always on the wrong side of history. They claim trickle down economics is the magical way the job-creator fairies instinctively share their wealth. Profit-gorging corporations care only about their coveted bottom line: earnings for the shareholders. They are not concerned with the middle class, as companies like Walmart have created the working poor as the new normal. The laws they’ve passed are unimaginably awful.

On April 1, 2014 the Supreme Court handed corporations unlimited political power by cementing the idea that more money equals more speech. The five conservative Justices in the Supreme Court have ruled twice in favor of selling our democracy to the highest bidder. Money equals speech, (and)  some people have more speech than others. It codifies oligarchy. It creates a free speech caste system. The highest bidder is also, unfortunately, the most rooted in theological doctrine supplanting a secular constitutional government.  Chief Justice Roberts actually said: Ingratiation and access … are not corruption,” he wrote, quoting Citizens United.  Bribery, in other words, has no impact on a legislator’s actions.  Because no one has ever succumbed to bribery, right, Scalia? 

Biblical Creationism is favored over scientific evolution. Mandatory prayer and religious mottos like In God We Trust are proudly displayed in secular institutions like public schools.   Mississippi’s Governor Bryant, enlightened by Old Testament-driven hate, is making it legal to discriminate against homosexuals openly! Other Red States are desperately trying to sanction laws very similar to those in Russia, who proudly boast of their anti-gay propaganda.  There is actually a Minnesota candidate who has gotten into politics to ensure his daughter doesn’t have to learn about that alarmingly factual scientific theory of evolution, which has no place in the Biblical book of fantasy (which is the basis of all Republican legislation).   If you look at the campaign the Republicans have launched against the scientific community’s consensus on the dire nature of man-made climate change, you’ll see a concerted effort to shun reality and promulgate illogical fantasy like that in the Bible.

Without even touching on the denial of racism and sexism, one can see very clearly how rooted in fantasy and lies the Republican platform has become.  It is fashionable to disregard evidence, fact and data to promote the agendas of large corporations who care nothing for the citizens of this country.  With 5/9 of the Supreme Court on board to sanction deception to the American people, we are truly in a situation where everyone MUST pay attention or our country will go the way of theocracies like Afghanistan.  Income inequality will only worsen as our situation on this planet becomes more perilous with increasing weather disasters. Politics is local, and electing Democrats who are not religious shamans would be a great step in the right direction in this 2014 election year.