What Truly Drives U.S.-Israeli Policy

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The politics of the Middle East has been exploited by the petrol-pushers, affecting people of all religions. The plutocrats knowingly tap into, inflate, and take advantage of the masses’ religious beliefs for their own hidden, greedy purposes. Generally, the “believers” don’t even have a clue of how they’re being used, naïvely thinking that they are fulfilling the will of “Allah” or “Yahweh” while the corporate oligarchs line their pockets.

Israel was given to “us” by God Himself. This statement has been uttered by the followers of all three major Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but lately the conflict lies with the Jews and Muslims. The definition of religion is itself laden with the shunning of logic and reason: the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal god or gods. The Torah, Bible and Quran are all works of fiction with a deliberate disregard for scientific principles. In the twenty-first century, modern science has opened our minds to a vast array of evidence that counters claims in mythological Holy Books. Geopolitical boundaries are traditionally formed by topography, culture or language. The tiny desert region has a long history where the Israelites, Hebrews , Romans and scores of other Empires lay claim to the narrow strip of arid land. In modern-day Israel, it seems odd that a belief in a supernatural deity is the accepted means of designating these arbitrary borders. By doing this, Israel ensures a future of endless conflict, because every religion claims to be “the only true faith.”

As stated previously, I do not subscribe to the idea of an omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent deity. The motives behind the formation of the current nation of Israel are always assumed to be religious freedom and are never questioned here in America. Our ally is always held in high regard because Americans see it as the quintessential religious epicenter, even though we allegedly separate “church and state.” There is a lingering question I have with regards to Israel, many theists would find this the greatest form of disrespect, but I must ask: if a group of people assert that their right to possess a piece of land was bestowed upon them by a fictional deity… isn’t the right itself fictional? The Jews, persecuted for their faith historically, deserve a homeland free from religious persecution, as do ALL human beings. But truly, why there? Why settle in the a land in the midst of so many Muslims who will never peacefully coexist?

Perhaps Israel is not situated in its historically volatile location because of the spiritual significance of the land. The economic value of its location is far more paramount. We should acknowledge that man has always perpetrated the fallacy the almighty dollar is interchangeable with the will of the “Almighty.” Money and petroleum have fueled Israel since its inception. Multinational corporations have supported a warmongering Israeli government (much like our very own US Military Industrial Complex) to monitor and put a check on all the oil-producing nations of the Middle East. The ruse of Jewish or Islamic nationalism is a front for the profit to be made off the natural resources, which are far from infinite.

John Perkins, Author of Economic Hit Men, saw exactly how the international financial industry made obscene fortunes: the population is exploited and saddled with deficits while a very small group profits. The growth of Gross National Product may result even when it profits only one person, such as an individual who owns a utility company, while the majority of the population is burdened with debt. He said, “the United States is a nation laboring to deny the truth about its imperialist role in the world.” He quit his work as a liaison for the IMF, and other global financial institutions in the 1980’s because morally and ethically, he felt it was wrong to play such a key role in creating world empire at the expense of the less advantaged. He understood Israel’s strategic significance as a watchdog over the oil producing nations, no matter how difficult such a position will be for the citizens of both Israel and the neighboring nations. It serves international plutocrats very well to stir up trouble in the region. The war business is very profitable.

Constant conflict with Iran seems to drive Israeli, American and Saudi Arabian policy. Just this week, President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry, through diplomatic means, were able to put a check on the Iranian nuclear program. Much to the dismay of the hard-line Right Israeli and U.S. politicians, President Obama’s team succeeded diplomatically and the administration was only panned for their success. If such a feat was accomplished by the Bush Administration, the media would herald it as the greatest diplomatic success in history. But President Obama is not AIPAC’s guy. He wants to harbor peace in the region, unlike his predecessor. War is the only acceptable option according to the pro-Israel lobby, who favor the more hawkish U.S. Representatives.

Make no mistake, Israel is where it is and who it is not simply for religious reasons, but for its strategic location as an installation base to keep Western eyes on a region rich in the fuel we are dependent upon. The dependency of our country on fossil fuels is another matter entirely, as production of renewables has been discouraged by those who profit from petroleum. Some day, we will run out of oil and all this will change. But for now, we are guaranteed a bloody fight for what powers our lives. We Americans are equally stupid to not see through the façade and just keep filling up at the gas pump. What about our so-called political leaders? Mere puppets who were bought off with campaign donations long ago, and thus whose strings the oligarchs are yanking.

The GOP Vision For America Depends On False Christian Doctrine

Let’s face facts; the GOP’s vision for America is a Theocratic, Corporatist Utopia where income inequality is accepted without question. Republicans can only accomplish their goals with an electorate comprised of malleable sheeple too terrified, too ignorant and too powerless to think for themselves. More importantly, an unlikely group of poor Americans will actually vote against their own self-interests and contrary to their well-being. Their Republican Party has no interest in their well-being.  The values of the plutocrats in charge are universally upheld by the masses, always without challenging the inherent inequality of their system.

What’s the best means to this end? Since the late 1970’s, the Heritage Foundation has worked tirelessly to promote the erroneous idea that America was founded on Christian Principles. By furtively ending the separation of church and state and ushering in a Dominionist/Fundamentalist Government even the Taliban would love, the Religious Right has been hard at work promoting Draconian Old Testament-insanity as the law of the land. 

Paul Weyrich strategized the current platform of the Republican Party largely during the Reagan Administration. The four insidious tactics he recommended are still being used today.

1) Falsehoods are not only acceptable, they are a necessity. The corollary is: The masses will accept any lie if it is spoken with vigor, energy and dedication. (Medicaid expansion will bankrupt the states, trickle down economics works).

2) It is necessary to be cast under the cloak of “goodness” whereas all opponents and their ideas must be cast as “evil.” (Muslims bad, Christians good).

3) Complete destruction of every opponent must be accomplished through unrelenting personal attacks. (The swift boating of John Kerry, endless attacks on Black Americans Eric Holder, Susan Rice and President Obama).

4) The creation of the appearance of overwhelming power and brutality is necessary in order to destroy the will of opponents to launch opposition of any kind. (NRA, military hawkishness).

The fundamentalist wing of the Heritage Foundation shapes the public personalities of today’s Tea Party Republicans. As religiously insane as he is,  Ted Cruz, the Dominionist Tea Party Corporatist Senator from Texas, (with his numerous fundamentalist endorsements), can’t compare to the latest Texas Tea Party hero, Steve Stockman.

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Tea Party Born Again Christian Tx. Representative Steve Stockman

Stockman, best known for inviting Ted Nugent to the State of the Union Address in 2012, has a sick fascination with arming all Americans (even fetuses). The representative from Texas is even primarying the ultra-conservative Senator Jon Cornyn citing how much more right wing he is by comparison. The “Christian” values he claims he espouses are as ludicrous as the Rand Paul claim that denying jobless Americans unemployment compensation is the compassionate Christian thing to do. He is pro-life (which means only pro-fetus), a born again Christian and a fierce advocate of harsh immigration policies. Among the other bills and resolutions Stockman sponsored: a proposals for a constitutional amendment to block the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants from being granted automatic citizenship, a measure to define human life as beginning at conception, and a bill to eliminate background checks, waiting periods and registration requirements for firearms.

To make matters worse, the Koch billionaires vehemently support the ruse that Christian doctrine purports the notion that prosperity, above all, was espoused by Jesus himself. Charles Koch made a sizable contribution to Catholic University’s School of Business to combat the recent declaration by Pope Francis that unfettered capitalism is inherently evil. Religion is used by the wealthy on the Right to ignore what Jesus taught: It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.  

Another popular idea with Conservatives is the total rejection of raising the minimum wage to a level where no public assistance is necessary to supplement the worker.  They believe that there actually should be no minimum wage, no unions and somehow they dupe poor Republicans into agreeing with them.  The whole concept of “Right to Work States” is espoused by the Heritage Foundation, which unfortunately means they are against the best interests of the worker’s well-being.  Technically this philosophy amounts to looking a lot like states giving workers the right to work for less.  If you look at which states are right to work states, you’ll also notice those states are generally controlled by the GOP and consequently have higher rates of poverty and perform the poorest academically.

Right To Work States Are Mainly Red States
Right To Work States Are Mainly Red States

As the most religious Western industrialized nation on earth, I believe the American obsession with eliminating the separation of church and state is a dangerous path for so many reasons.  Religion discourages critical thinking (Creationism over Evolution), while promoting bigotry and misogyny (War on Women).  It is also more bellicose than the secular philosophies.  The Religious Right’s embracing of the concept of the Rapture as official Christian Doctrine shows their intent on bringing about the end of the world just to meet the savior. It’s the absence of mental health which causes the ignorant to elect people to govern who are interested in bringing about the destruction of society.  In fact, we should question the mental health of anyone who would vote GOP that is not in the top 1%.

Bringing Back Eradicated Diseases in the Name of God

The late Christopher Hitchens <a href=”http://www.patheos.com/blogs/unreasonablefaith/2011/12/the-20-best-christopher-
s-quotes/”>condemned religious leaders for the antiquated practice of “faith healing. ” These people are hostile to medicine because it undermines their position of power and naturally they deny the effectiveness of vaccines. The fact anyone would dispute the medically PROVEN practice of administering vaccines in 2013 is preposterous and unfathomable. Yet, the Lone Star State has once again found a way to shirk logical thought and scientific progress thankseeeeff to this North Texas mega church. Kenneth Copeland Ministries in Newark Texas is the culprit of a Measles outbreak in Tarrant County. Officials in neighboring Oklahoma were on high alert for cases of this rarely seen disease since the mid 1970’s. The Christian homeschool movement has been a primary supporter of boycotting essential vaccines

As of today, there have been twenty confirmed cases of a disease which has been largely eradicated in the United States. In order to combat the outbreak, church officials have promised to thoroughly disinfect the church using a professional cleaning company. They have offered a vaccination opportunity, but unfortunately two months after the fact. Sadly, the church has been the most vocal proponent of the discredited theory that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine causes autism, but, between his (Copeland’s) advocacy of faith healing and his promotion of the vaccine-autism link on his online talk show, he’s not exactly urging his flock to get their recommended shots.

Looking into this ministry a bit further, I learned it was anything but a humble house of worship. Kenneth Copeland Ministries (KCM) is an EMPIRE whose wealth is generated by tax-free donations diverted to finance a multitude of for-profit industries.

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The assets, as reported by a CBS News investigation include: An 18,000 square foot lake-front home in Texas worth $6 million, a fleet of planes and a $20 million jet with a private runway strip just to name a few. The industries this Mega-Church controls are stunningly profitable as well. They include mining, oil drilling, real estate, ranching, livestock and an aviation company that includes Copeland Airport.

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The aviation branch allows the family of preachers to spread their mistrust of science and bigotry worldwide. This also enables these vaccination opponents to bring back diseases from foreign lands and spread them among the faithful, who actually believe god can heal with just the right amount of financial contribution to the coffers of these charlatans.

Twenty cases is precisely twenty cases too many in this age of science and progress. When a Republican Senator like Chuck Grassley finds the tax-free machinations of this religiously-based empire unsavory, it should set a precedent for the eventual demise of any religious organization who dares to steal and dupe their members. The sheer number of investigations stemming from the misuse of donations should raise more red flags. The American public seems far too willing to grant tax exempt status to these church-empires without following the money.

The depths of depravity of most, if not all of these mega churches should be exposed more often than the Right Wing can conjure up their brand of IRS scandals. Simply overlooking this willful malevolence could easily create a pandemic in a nation that should leave this Stone Age thinking back where it belongs. Shunning science (vaccines) affects everyone, especially those of us who want no part of their brand of stupid. We have too many modern day problems to revitalize diseases of the past. The least KCM could do is pay their damned taxes and stay the hell away from practicing medicine.

Thanks, but No Thanks, I’m an Atheist

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Very often I am asked by a needy, possibly homeless person for a handout. Disavowing the Conservative notion that these people are just going to buy booze, I generally oblige by giving a few dollars, depending on what I’m carrying and how needy they appear. Perhaps I’m being scammed, but the fact they are out in the generally hot Vegas sun to beg means they need it more than me. The universal response upon receiving the money is “God Bless.” I generally respond, that’s ok and go on my merry way. This past weekend, I decided to mix it up a little.

In a store parking lot, a man approached and said, “ma’am can you spare a bit? I’m a day laborer and work is hard to come by this weekend (as it was Memorial Weekend) and I need to bring something home to my family.” So I asked the man to wait a moment while I unloaded my oversized Costco merchandise from the cart and he proceeded to help me. While he returned the cart to the storage area of the lot, I grabbed a $10 bill and gave it to the man. Perhaps I gave more than usual because he mentioned he also had cats to feed and I am a feline lover. Nonetheless, he was very grateful. On cue, he responded, “God bless.”

Deciding this was a good time for a quick debate, I replied, ‘I don’t believe in god.’ He said, ‘really? You’re an Atheist? You’d better be an Agnostic, ya know, for insurance purposes.’ I replied, ‘if there’s a deity who’s so petty I must undoubtedly believe in his or her existence, I really want no part of that.’ I did mention that my religion is kindness to other humans and I don’t require a belief in the supernatural. Unexpectedly, the man replied simply, ‘Good point.’ We said our good byes and I drove away.

I thought about the encounter and decided he was either a.) diplomatic and not interested in a debate or b.) convinced I had a point and he too was grappling with the idea that God might not be real. Perhaps he is an Atheist and says God bless because it’s de rigueur. The whole episode made me take inventory of what it means to be without “faith.”

Recently, Pope Francis decided Atheists can also be redeemed and enter Heaven, so perhaps, in time, folks like us won’t be stereotyped as “bad people.” Because so much of our society is embedded with the thought that churchiness is directly proportional to goodness, people literally shudder when I mention my absence of theism. Having lived in Oklahoma for a few years, I learned not to disclose this information too publicly. People unfortunately mistake your public religious persona with your sense of morality.

Sigmund Freud had many theories of behavior that I don’t entirely believe are fully accurate. However, his assessment of religion does seem pretty spot on. Primarily:
Religions are human constructions. His other points, summarized:

The monotheistic God is an illusion based upon the infantile emotional need for a powerful, supernatural father-figure and that religion, once necessary to restrain man’s violent nature in the early stages of civilization can, in modern times, be set aside in favor of reason and science. So…anyone wonder why science is being downplayed and attacked — and not taught? And why reason isn’t effective with religious zealots of any faith? Or why people are kept ignorant to be more programmable? Simply put, religion stifles emotional, scientific and social progress. The fact we have such a pronounced anti-science/pro-religion movement in this country demonstrates the antipathy between the two components of our society, proving they cannot symbiotically coexist. Heaven forbid we teach critical thinking to the indoctrinated. What value would religious fantasy have to a society that critically analyzes scientific concepts?

This country continues to suffer at the hands of the über-religious, anti-climate change, anti-science, polluting plutocrats. This belief in God is a handicap that the Plutocracy requires for control of the brainwashed masses. The evidence required for something so extraordinary should be as extraordinary as the claim itself, yet no true tangible proof has been presented and for the deeply religious, no evidence is enough to satisfy their concerns. The idea that morality is co-dependent on religion is as ludicrous as the idea that we’re born with “original sin” as prophesied in a book of preposterous fiction. Saddling children with the guilt of this concept is cruel and downright crazy.

The belief in God is just a mythic reproduction of the universal state of infantile helplessness. Like an idealized father, God is the projection of childish wishes for an omnipotent protector. And, hopefully, we all can see the paranoia of the religious right, their wish for the world to end and for their savior to save and protect them.

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.”
~ Christopher Hitchens

If I may be so audacious and speak for the great Hitchens himself, I would also say, “thanks, but I’m good without god.”

Dr. Ben Carson Denounces The Government That Made Him a Success

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Gay Marriage is a slippery slope to bestiality: Dr. Ben Carson with President Bush

Dr. Ben Carson is the new poster boy for the Right Wing Conservative movement. He is the total package for a party that desperately needs a new face: an African-American neurosurgeon who is an outspoken social and fiscal conservative who denounces the entire apparatus of government. At this year’s National Prayer Breakfast, he condemned the welfare state and the growing acceptance of marriage equality likening it to bestiality and NAMBLA.

It seems he joins the ranks of so many Conservatives who are part of the Slippery Slope brand of thinking. Once you allow gay marriage, what’s next? Marrying children, animals, inanimate objects…..heaven knows what’s next!? Their ultra-fundamentalist biblical way of thinking has perverted so many into adopting this false equivalency of marriage equality leading to pedophilia or bestiality. Watch his interview with Hannity.

 

What makes this man such a paragon of Republican virtue is how he loathes the entire welfare and government assistance that afforded him his current success. Carson has said, by the time I reached ninth grade, mother….received nothing but food stamps. She couldn’t have provided for us and kept up the house without that subsidy.” “As I’ve said, we received food stamps and couldn’t have made it without them.” Carson, in his book, tells how his grades improved tremendously when a government program provided him with free eyeglasses because he could barely see. Now he derides the “welfare state” and has decided “no one is starving in America” and that government dependence kills initiative.

What’s even more bizarre about this guy is his use of the term NAMBLA. In case you’re unaware of why this is so odd, the creators of South Park even devoted an entire episode to the North American Man/Boy Love Association. It is the most ridiculous comparison of two consenting adults marrying to an insane organization devoted to pedophilia. How can a “brilliant neurosurgeon” think so illogically when it comes to social matters? I suppose the answer is rather simple. He’s a Republican.

CPAC 2013 and Selective Mandates Show Republican Ignorance

A few weeks ago, I ran into an old acquaintance from Connecticut, who was in our fair city for a few days. The first thing he told me was how absolutely bizarre Las Vegas seemed as to display numerous gigantic billboards advertising the opportunity to fire an automatic firearm. For someone from the eastern seaboard, this is rather anomalous.

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Billboards like this one are very common in Las Vegas, Nevada

In light of the obvious mass shooting tragedy that has rocked the civilized world, especially New England, any reasonable person visiting the City of Sin would find it callous and objectionable to glorify this type of weaponry. I told him this is rather de rigueur here and it doesn’t even phase most residents. Las Vegas has much the same attitude as many Red State (or purple in Nevada’s case) attitudes where guns are considered a right and a necessity for the über paranoid who have been hypnotized to believe President Obama is on a Marxist bender to disarm the nation. The Obama administration and his Leftist Army is trying to make the government so invasive, he wants to demand everyone must eat broccoli or arugula and join the New Black Panthers while paying for lazy welfare queens to go to Planned Parenthood for weekly abortions.

As utterly irrational as this may sound, it is not much of a stretch for a few towns in the South. Nelson, Georgia, population 1,300 is labeled “a liberal’s worst nightmare” because they have mandated every head of household own and maintain a firearm. Republicans hate big government and despise any invasion into their personal freedoms. But let’s look at their record of trying to mandate their way into our private lives. If they are offended by government simply trying to keep Americans safe from all-too-frequent massacres, one would think they’d be outraged at the government controlling religious freedom, reproductive health and interpersonal adult relations, right? A reasonable, logical person would think so, but we are talking about the GOP.

Indiana, one of the most Republican states in the country, has put forth a bill to mandate praying in the classroom. The recitation of The Lord’s Prayer has been proposed by an Indiana State Senator. “…The governing body of a school corporation or the equivalent authority of a charter school may require the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of each school day. The prayer may be recited by a teacher, a student, or the class of students.” Obviously the precious First Amendment would be completely dismantled by this idea, but as long it doesn’t restrict an American’s right to own weapons that can shoot 152 bullets in 5 minutes, it’s “on the table.”

New kid on the block and Republican heckler, Senator Ted Cruz (Tx), had the audacity to suggest restricting the types of guns one can own is equivalent to outlawing certain types of books. The false equivalency of the lethality of guns versus possession of certain books elucidates the perverted machinations of Cruz’s mind, which clearly is lost. In case you missed his pernicious exchange with the Democratic Senator, Diane Feinstein (CA) yesterday, here it is:

None of these small government advocates have a problem mandating teachers be armed in the classroom as well. They discard studies that show an increase in firearms is directly proportionate to an increase in firearm-related homicides. Several states have proposed laws to arm teachers and one has even passed legislation practically demanding teachers be armed, as is the case now in South Dakota.

On the issue of women’s health and reproductive freedom, the GOP has been incredibly diligent at legislating their way into the bodies of women, who comprise roughly half the population, no big deal. The anti-abortion bills put on the floor for a vote in the House alone exponentially outnumbers the jobs proposals by Republicans. But it’s even worse in the state governments run by Republicans where they’ve virtually wiped out affordable and safe abortion for poor women, especially in Arkansas, Mississippi, South Dakota and Michigan. Lest we forget the redefining of a violent act like rape and the transvaginal ultrasound probe requirement many Republicans have supported as mandatory to any abortion procedure, even when the woman is a victim of a sexual assault. This gross interpretation of freedom cost many Republicans their seats in the 2012 election, but it seems these folks have a very short memory, much like a goldfish I presume.

Today, Ohio Senator Rob Portman proclaimed his support and reformed attitude towards marriage equality. He professed how his support for love and acceptance as depicted in the Bible supersedes the traditional definition of marriage also known as DOMA, which was signed into law in 1996 but is slowly becoming highly unpopular and downright offensive to forward thinking Americans.

Do not despair, CPAC 2013 has a unique way of portraying America as hate-filled and intolerant as some of the fine speakers they showcase every year. Florida Tea-party darling Senator Marco Rubio (R) preached his usual science-denying climate change is unproven and a zygote is more important than the mother who carries it garbage. “The people who are actually closed-minded in American politics are the people who love to preach about the certainty of science with regards to our climate but ignore the absolute fact that science has proven that life begins at conception.”

 

Mandates like trying to keep people from drinking too much sugary soda and insurance companies paying for contraception have the right wing in a frenzy. But if you force an Atheist, Hindu or Muslim to recite a Christian prayer, force a woman to have an unwanted child, prevent two loving adults from marrying or allow a mentally unstable individual the right to purchase assault rifles, you are simply following god’s law and doing the work of Republican Jesus. Mandates are only wrong when they don’t make Wayne LaPierre wealthier. Perhaps this is why these guys are outraged over the shut down of White House tours; because deep down inside, in that last microscopic shred of humanity, the GOP realizes they won’t ever see the inside of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue any time soon. Elections will be theirs to lose if they continue on this path, and I’m sure not going to stop them!

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Is Religion Leading America to the Dark Ages (or have we never left)?

“Religion is the opiate of the masses,” Karl Marx said, and how right he was. Studies have shown as income inequality increases, so does the frequency of prayer. The more religious a society, the more accepting of fictional justifications commonly espoused by a particular faith that allow a population to accept unacceptable socioeconomic disparities. The United States, contrary to its status as the pioneers of science, is disproportionately preoccupied with an imaginary friend than its European or Australian colleagues. We are also living with income disparity levels not seen in America since 1774! There is significant evidence this has been detrimental to our development as a nation, our pursuit of happiness as well as perpetuating the culture of constant war and foreign occupation that has irreversibly scarred the USA. We are far too religious for our own good.

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As prayer becomes more prevalent so does income inequality

I intend to elucidate my hypothesis using three separate spheres of influence of religion on society:
1. Physical and logical brain functions

2. Emotional development and happiness

3. The culture of war fostered by religion and the military.

Physical Impact of Prayer on the Brain
Medical science has shown the hippocampus is the part of the brain involved in memory forming, organizing, and storing. The more one learns about the world, the less mysterious it becomes and one is less likely to accept oversimplified “god did it” type answers. My ability to differentiate between a creationist tale of my world versus the scientific facts of its real age (the biblical 10,000 years over the actual age of 4.6 billion years) may have stifled my scientific potential. I refer to a study of hippocampus atrophy in adults over fifty-eight with a focus on Life Changing Religious Experiences as a variable. With increased religiosity one observes a decrease in the function of the hippocampus. It seems watching the 700 Club can be hazardous to your health.

I am guilty of perpetuating this mythology on my own children, as it is inescapable in our society. My youngest goes to preschool where they learn about Christmas and Santa, which doesn’t bother me one bit. Sadly, I have resorted to using the ‘Santa Claus is watching you’ threat on my toddler to keep him in line, and this is probably not much different than telling a child god or big brother is watching you. It’s as if you are selecting which myths your child should believe and for how long, which is no different than cherry-picking which parts of the bible you feel are veracious. The victims of childhood indoctrination have a hard time knowing which parts of the Bible they should accept as literally true and which are merely allegorical and not to be taken literally. For example, if one rejects the account in Genesis of a six-day creation, and the account of the lives of the descendants of Adam and Eve to Noah and beyond, upon which the claimed young age of earth is based, why does one not also reject the account of original sin, the fall of Man and of the need for forgiveness and redemption upon which the entire Christian faith depends and upon which the entire rationale for Jesus’s sacrifice is supposedly based? What in these stories distinguishes one from the other with sufficient reason to reject one and accept the other? It’s nice to believe in fantasy and to encourage imagination, but living life with the lack of true rationality may just make us less happy. The available rankings of the world’s happiest nations actually strengthens this correlation between a more rational society and a more satisfied populace.

Happiness and Emotional Well-being

If you take a look at the top ten happiest countries you’d notice a disproportionate percentage of the top ten happiest are Scandinavian countries. Also noteworthy is the very same countries which appear on that list are also the least religious. Is there an absolute correlation? No, of course not. But we can learn from the greatest example of historical suffering and stagnation since the Roman Empire, which was known as the Dark Ages. This was an era where superstition reigned supreme and it clearly demonstrated the negative impacts religion can have on a society dominated by its stern enforcement and absolute power over men. The modern day examples of societies becoming more humane, compassionate and progressive are extremely obvious, where the most secular nations enjoy the highest standards of living. I posed the question, ‘do less religious societies have a higher level of morality?’ to author Phil Zuckerman, researcher and professor. He replied:

“Yes, I would argue that most of the least religious nations on earth today are the most moral in terms of having the best health care, elder care, child care, maternity/paternity leave, most humane prisons, no death penalty, lowest murder rates, lowest levels of corruption, lowest levels of police brutality, best care for the physically disabled, most sane environmental policies, women’s rights, gay rights, good educational systems, etc. However, I can’t say with 100% surety that is is because they are strongly secular. Correlation is not causation. But I can say this: many countries have become more humane and moral in the wake of religion weakening. Perfect examples include Japan and Scandinavia.”

When you have a nation who believes that the only way to salvation is for the country to revert back to the teachings of the Old Testament and this must be added to the Constitution, we are indeed in trouble. Too much fear and hate is perpetuated by many of these groups claiming to represent Christ and promoting this kind of nonsense is only detrimental to a society’s progress. Our government’s dominance by the Moral Majority and the Faith Based Initiative have kept our civil rights at levels far less evolved than many other western democracies.

The Culture of Perpetual War Fostered by Religious Fundamentalism

The United States military, the most expensive and largest on earth has an unusually anti-secular attitude. Mikey Weinstein, a graduate of the US Air Force Academy and head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, says “mandated religion has no place within the technologically most lethal creation of the US government.” A survey commissioned by the Air Force Academy in 2010 showed some improvements in the climate of religious tolerance on campus, but also found that many cadets still felt pressured to take part in religious activities. Nearly half of the non-Christian cadets surveyed, for example, said their fellow students have a “low tolerance” for atheists, a 20 percent jump from a similar 2008 survey. This came on the heels of reports that Air Force missileers were receiving Bible-centered ethics training, with the aim of helping them shake off lingering doubts about firing nuclear weapons. The training – which had been in place for almost two decades and was known jokingly among the airmen as “Jesus loves nukes” – was halted in 2011. God and country is a big part of the military culture, as anytime there’s a ceremony of any type, there’s always prayer.

The most fundamentalist chaplains are often selected to lead prayer with military groups. A motivational pastor from the Central Christian Church in Las Vegas, Raymond Giunta, 47 led a prayer breakfast at the Pentagon in early December. Turns out this is the same Pastor Giunta who was found to have taken more than $10,200 in cemetery trust funds intended for graveyard upkeep while he worked as the director of the California Cemetery Board in the mid-1990’s. Fundamentalist “Pentacostal” religion seems to dominate the military, and it went up all the way to General Petraeus.

General David Petraeus, recently disgraced, is a very “spiritual” military leader. He heavily pushed the concept of Spiritual Fitness Tests, Spiritual Fitness Concerts and Spiritual Fitness Centers and spared no expense attracting Christian Fundamentalist performers. Funny how that whole holier than thou thing worked out for him, isn’t it? I find it rather interesting how the military has perverted the message of Christ to mean we should take over any part of the world we desire, especially those parts that believe in a different god than Jesus. Without the fallacy of this religiosity, the military would probably not be able to sell its barbaric message to so many in the Military Industrial Complex, namely the United States Congress who funds it so very generously.

It’s a personal decision to believe what one chooses to believe. However when that belief is forced upon a society in one way or another, it seems it can only create a culture that mirrors the devolution of Medieval Europe, replete with all the inequality, brutality and intolerance that comes with the mandated belief in the unproven. Constitutionally, we’re a society which allows for religion, not a religion that allows for society. In 1988, America was #1 in “where to be born” list. Now it is joint 16th. It would be nice if religion could be considered a factor in our diminished status.