Make Up Your Minds, Myopic Firearm Fetishists!

For years Democrats took unwarranted guff from Conservatives for how they appeared “weak on defense.” Trying to find diplomatic solutions rather than to wage preemptive war was certainly not going to make those in the business of war very successful. When Reagan finagled the release of the hostages to magically coincide with his inauguration in 1981, his neo-con cohorts duped the nation into believing Republicans exclusively could maintain a competent US military. A more insidious motive of paying for their release in a clandestine agreement was the true reason for freeing the hostages, not simply the election of President Reagan, but the serendipitous timing. During much of the 80’s, the arms race was in full swing, and no armament expense was too great. Thus, our military escalated by 43% during the Reagan Administration alone. Increases by subsequent GOP administrations have been even more obscene when compared to every other nation on earth. “Saint Ronnie” has continued to be the messiah of the RNC Convention every four years, and until they implode from abject stupidity, he will be the GOP standard bearer, ad infinitum.

Here’s why: In his two terms as President, Reagan cut the budgets of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (by 40%), the Department of Commerce (by 32%), the Department of Agriculture (by 24%), the Department of Education (by 19%), and the Department of Transportation (by 18%). He never cut the budgets for the Departments of Defense, Justice, or State. The GOP has little use for education, so he was an effective proponent for keeping America ignorant enough to vote against their own better interests. His “government IS the problem” mantra went straight down the toilet with his massive escalation of the SIZE of the federal government. The federal debt was $994 billion when he took office in 1981, and grew to $2.9 trillion when his second term ended in 1989. These obvious inconsistencies between conservative philosophy and actual policies are conveniently omitted from right wing historical accounts. Reality has a well known liberal bias as Fox News viewers are reminded constantly.

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With the recent sequestration cuts proposed, Republican Congressional proponents of excessive and wasteful military spending are once again resorting to their fear mongering tactics. Any instrument of destruction, public or private, should have few restrictions according to these misanthropic miscreants. As a party, they’ve been very consistent in assuring our military is far and away the most extravagantly financed force on the planet, even coercing Democrats to fall for their chicken hawkishness. Liberals and Conservatives agree, we are, without a doubt, the greatest military force on earth and few cuts, if any, have been made to the military budgets. (Bush/Cheney did manage to cut the funding on adequate body armor and helmets, but no defense contractors lost a dime).

The irony here is this: Americans know how technologically advanced our military is, yet continue to demand their own personal arsenals to defend themselves from a tyrannical government as if it’s anything but an exercise in futility. So if we try to ban someone’s modified semi-automatic weapon with a high capacity clip, they actually believe they will no longer be able to overtake a Seal Team Six-like force that may descend on their house, after thorough, surreptitious drone surveillance has been conducted? Really?

Maybe video games aren’t as big a problem as Chuck Norris and Die Hard movies are in creating a delusional fantasy culture. Why not? Obviously, man has believed a talking snake, a talking burning bush and a giant boat filled with every species on earth (even those wood eating termites behaved themselves) could co-exist and perpetuate life, so why not make every mullet-sporting vigilante believe he or she is a superhero in their own right?

For years, Republican rule, wrought with incompetent foreign and domestic policy blunders, were never rife with so many who have a fervent need to “take up arms” against our (pre-Maoist) government. Before President Obama, there was an unspoken trust in our government, undeserved as it certainly proved to be. Nonetheless, these Freemen types were largely silent during the Bush years. Rising to a level of prominence not previously seen are these extremist reactionaries like the now remorsefulJames Yeager and the infamous Alex Jones. Yeager had to recant his wild threats: …”and earlier this week I made a pretty inflammatory video. Hindsight being 20-20 I shouldn’t have said some of the things I said, of course. And I just want to reiterate to everyone that it’s not time to shoot anybody.” Sure you don’t, Yeager. You seem like such a stable, sincere guy.

It’s too late for your attorney-coerced apologies I’m afraid. The cat’s out of the bag and your broadcasted instability is merely a glimpse into the larger problem. The proliferation of massive arsenals, ample ammo stashes and the recent calls for armed insurrection validates the thought processes which dominated the Cold War Arms Race. Plotting to “take out” your own democratically elected government is akin to the very treason the Founding Fathers designed the Second Amendment to PREVENT!

Survivalists, doomsday-preppers and street vigilantes are desperately trying to combat an epically well-armed and funded government military. However, this military and the government who manages it has yet to pose any threat remotely resembling Mao, Stalin, Hitler or Chavez. But they’ll do their damnedest to make you believe this convoluted nonsense is the truth.

Gun Appreciation Day Perpetuates Violence and Paranoid Dystopia

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In order to completely disrespect every family who is currently grieving over the loss of a family member, (a child in particular) to gun violence, the Council on Promoting Gun Violence and Exploiting the Dead (my embellishment) has decided, in their infinite paranoia, to declare Saturday, January 19th “Gun Appreciation Day.” to be ironic, these fine folks chose the very weekend we celebrate the birth of a champion of non-violence, MLK. These people, who clearly pervert the Second Amendment, must make certain if any crazed, violent loon has the inclination, he or she has access to as much ammunition and high-powered weaponry as they so desire.

The number of people in America killed by firearms is extraordinary compared to other nations. If we’re not a bloodthirsty culture, as wars seldom reach our shores, we need to look at everything we can do to safeguard our people. These gun rights rather than human rights advocates clearly have a violent, profit-driven agenda in mind.

General Stanley McChrystal, a member of our conservative armed forces said, “we need to take a look at why we’d even consider allowing these (military-style assault weapons) in our society… I personally don’t think there’s any need for that kind of weaponry on the streets, and particularly around the schools in America,” McChrystal continued. “I believe that we’ve got to take a serious look. I understand everybody’s desire to have whatever they want, but we’ve got to protect our children, we’ve got to protect our police and we’ve got to protect our population. And I think we’ve got to take a very mature look at that.”

Prominent leaders’ assassinations have been the catalyst for legislative action via public outrage in our past. The 1960’s were a volatile time where we lost some of America’s greatest leaders to senseless gun violence. Martin Luther King was fatally shot by sniper’s bullet on April 4, 1968. Death was the result of a horrific gunshot wound (to the chin and neck with a fatal transection of the lower cervical and upper thoracic spinal cord and other structures in the neck), a violent end to a life of noble purpose. Just two months later, RFK was also taken out by an assassin with a gun. The nation’s hopes and dreams for peace died right along with him.

The Johnson Administration passed new gun control measures, reasonable means to minimize tragic shootings, without denying Second Amendment “rights.” Johnson’s bill banned all mail-order and out-of-state sales of handguns, shotguns and rifles; prohibited the sale of guns to minors; and required national registration of all guns and licensing of all gun owners. No reasonable citizen could argue these measures were, and still are, very logical. Unfortunately reason, logic and mental health are sadly lacking from so many who pervert the second amendment to mean they should own as many military-style automatic weapons as they can fit in their closets next to their Confederate memorabilia and Hank Williams Jr. concert shirts.

Johnson’s words were as apropos then as they are today.

“The voices that blocked these safeguards were not the voices of an aroused nation. They were the voices of a powerful gun lobby, a gun lobby, that has prevailed for the moment in an election year. . . . We have been through a great deal of anguish these last few months and these last few years – too much anguish too forget so quickly. So now we must complete the task which this long needed legislation begins.”

Somehow reason prevailed and we were able to pass some common sense safety measures.

During Vietnam War protests, outrageous gun violence was an issue compromised mainly of police brutality. The incident at Kent State, May 4, 1970 focused our gun injustices on our police and authorities’ lack of restraint. The number of massacres at the hands of police, however, pales in comparison to the carnage of all the mass shootings we’ve experienced in the last twenty years. The gun lobbyists claim violent video games, lack of prayer and lack of universal gun ownership are more to blame than the easy acquisition of high-powered firearms which they proliferate at thousands of gun shows .

The NRA has immense political power, and associates themselves with unsavory, paranoid lunatics like Alex Jones and the Chairman of National Gun Appreciation Day, Larry Ward. Their type of manufactured dystopian hysteria creates a culture more concerned with contrived future scenarios than the problem of constant gun massacres. This is evidenced by comparisons of President Obama to Chairman Mao, Stalin and Hitler. Generally, once Hitler is used as a reference, proponents of such absurdity have lost their argument and their minds.

There is utter disbelief expressed by ALL wealthy, industrialized nations looking upon us in horror at this manageable problem. We wanted fewer deaths from drunk driving, and voila, in just thirty years we’ve lowered fatalities by 50% with movements such as M.A.D.D. We raised the legal drinking age and sure enough, death rates fell. Since so many of these crimes are perpetrated by people in their twenties, maybe closely scrutinizing gun ownership by this demographic would be a great way to start.

With the recent unfathomable carnage of Newtown and Aurora, I’m hopeful the level of outrage has reached a tipping point. A recent Newtown visit by Gabby Giffords and husband, Mark Kelly has, once again, exposed the fringe element in the NRA-owned GOP. The Facebook exchange below shows just how convoluted their thinking has become.

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You can’t engage a cross-section of your acquaintances without running into one or two quintessential “Obama is coming for our guns” morons. If we lessen the exposure and power of these paranoid miscreants, we may be able to make assault rifles and the proliferation of arsenals by the deranged as unfashionable as the Jim Crow South. The only way we’ve successfully conquered opposing forces clinging to outdated and inhumane policies is by collectively expressing our desire for change and forcing legislators to LEGISLATE SANITY!

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Tax-Free Terrorism: The NRA and LDS Church

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Orrin Hatch (R-UT): NRA cohort in the Senate

There is a false perception in America that there are more gun owners than there actually are. The number of households owning guns has declined from almost 50% in 1973 to just over 32% in 2010.

This misconception that most Americans are proud gun owners just isn’t true. It has helped bolster a political narrative, emboldened the National Rifle Association and left politicians worried about losing elections if they try to do any of the following with regards to guns: increase regulation, increase taxes, restrict sales, legislate in favor of safety and sensibility or ban any particular type of deadly firearm or accessory. The NRA, whose affiliated organizations include the Institute for Legislative Action, the NRA’s lobbying arm, and the NRA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, which provides “a means to raise millions of dollars to fund gun safety and educational projects of benefit to the general public.” Like this group, religious institutes, namely the LDS Cult, enjoy untold savings from their tax-exempt status. So why not partner up and make it doubly tax-free?

I’ve tried to steer clear of dissecting the Mormon political, social and economic culture since the defeat of Willard Romney, but I can’t seem to shake the connection between matters that are egregiously wrong with our society and that cult. Researching the history of the NRA’s rise to power pointed me in an unexpected direction. The perpetrator of this lobbying travesty is none other than Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Ut). Today, the NRA had the audacity to say Congress is “jumping on every tragedy to ban guns.” Not this Senator, he’s been a champion of “gun rights” rather than championing the rights of innocent people to live life without the threat of dying by the hand of a gun-crazed lunatic.

Tracing the ascension of the NRA’s obscenely powerful lobby leads us right to Hatch. This opportunistic Mormon was responsible for authoring the 1982 Senate subcommittee report, “The Right to Keep and Bear Arms.” His partner in crime, NRA leader Wayne LaPierre, asked him what were his objectives in writing this report. He responded:

There were really two goals, I suppose. First, we wanted a definitive account of the history of the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms. For decades – maybe even longer – people had tried to pretend that the Second Amendment was somehow ambiguous, (they did?) that the intent of the Framers, when it comes to this one amendment, was simply unknowable. Of course, it should be noted that most of the people making this argument tended to believe that the meaning of the entire Constitution changes over time. But, with the Second Amendment, they’d been more than willing to simply read it out of the Constitution entirely. Our second goal with the report was to change the dialogue on gun rights. Instead of arguing how far the government could go to keep people from buying guns, we wanted to get people thinking about doing more to facilitate lawful, reasonable gun ownership. I think we were successful on that count as well, though it took a number of years for the debate to be where it is now…..Even into the 1990s, it was fashionable for Democrats to demonize guns and gun owners on all sides. Guns became a scapegoat – and, by extension, those of us who supported the rights of gun owners were also scapegoats.

 

Leading the charge for the poor, persecuted gun owners is the same man who, earlier in his life, served as a missionary for the LDS Church in the Great Lakes region, and later as a bishop, presiding over a congregation of 600 people.

By simply wanting to stop the sale of weapons American Generals say are inappropriate for civilian use, those who grotesquely pervert the Second Amendment act as if taking their lethal toys means we are decimating a sacred document, which actually says no such thing. Utah, with it’s largely LDS population, seems to have a fondness for arsenal procurement. I’ve previously noted Utah seems to be the epicenter of gun vigilantism, as there is incredible profit in the gun business and Utah has the 2nd most guns per capita in the nation. Obviously, 2nd Amendment misinterpreters share a commonality: they feel their possession of entertaining weaponry (which makes them feel more masculine) supersedes innocent life preservation.

Utah is leading the charge to arm its citizens. A town proposed mandatory gun ownership for every household in a Utah city. They’ve also topped the list of crazy ideas gone mainstream by trying to arm every single teacher. This is how they respond to Sandy Hook! The National Rifle Association countered with “arm the teachers.” Gun clubs claim hundreds of teachers are applying for free weapons training. Two hundred people showed up for a class in West Valley City, Utah, outside Salt Lake City, on December 27, 2012, for example. Not all of the people who took the course were teachers. But some were, including Carolyn Cain, who teaches special education kids in kindergarten to the 6th grade in Utah County, Utah. Utah County is home to the headquarters, ironically, of the Crossroads Gun Show. How fortuitous for their bottom line!

The LDS Church and the NRA are both profit driven groups, which I’ve certainly ascertained during the presidential campaign. Both are predominantly Republican. Both seem to care little for the poor and defenseless of society. Both facilitate murder and pay not one cent to promulgate their violent agenda.

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Wayne LaPierre CEO of the NRA

Preventing Shooting Massacres Down Under: A Lesson For America

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Port Arthur, Tasmania

This article is written by Derek Wood, my friend, who is a resident of Sydney Australia. His plea to our country is based on the following: In 1996, Australia experienced a horrible mass casualty shooting at Port Arthur, Tasmania. Afterwards, Prime Minister John Howard’s government moved quickly to tighten Australia’s gun laws and instituted a mandatory federal buy-back program designed to remove banned guns from private ownership. In the years prior to Port Arthur, Australia experienced several mass casualty shootings. There have been none since.
(An awful coincidence, the killer, currently serving 35 life sentences, is from a suburb of a Hobart called New Town, Tasmania)

It was a sunny Sunday afternoon in Sydney way back on 28th April 1996. I was making my way to the local gym as, in those days, I was a regular gym junkie. Just before I left my home, I heard on the radio that a gunman had been on a killing spree in Tasmania. At that stage only a small number of people had lost their lives. When I got to the gym, the number of deaths had risen to 23. I mentioned this to my gym instructor. His response was that it was the gunman’s form “of self-expression”. The instructor was reading the Celestine Prophecy at the time, which probably explained his comments. I personally preferred the term “madman”.

The gunman was named Martin Bryant and the final death toll was 35. The whole of Australia was in shock. How could anyone kill 35 innocent people? There was an outpouring of disbelief and anger. How could we stop this from happening again?

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A grief-stricken community unites and takes action

Before, I go any further, I need to give some background information. Australia is very similar to the United States. Both are large countries, both were built from migrants, both have large agricultural areas and culturally we are very similar. Naturally, we speak the same language – well sort of! Guns in Australia are typically kept in the large rural areas. Farmers need to be on alert for scavengers of the animal kind, especially foxes. Although in parts of the country snakes and crocodiles can also be a problem.
John Howard had to act, and act fast. He introduced strict gun laws into Parliament. This had bi-partisan support of the opposition Labor Party led by Kim Beasley. The new gun controls had to also be made law via the State and Territory Parliaments. Initially Queensland and Tasmania were against tightened gun control. A number of citizens were outraged at the new laws. This outrage was fueled by the support of the Christian Coalition and the US National Rifle Association! Finally, the new gun controls were made law Australia wide after a lot of intense debate. In addition, the Federal Government implemented a 12 month amnesty/buyback scheme to allow people to hand in any illegal firearm without running the risk of prosecution. Amazingly, 643,000 firearms were handed in at a cost of $350M.

Since that fateful day in 1996, Australia has not had any gun related massacres.Since the laws were established, it is now extremely hard to buy a rifle or indeed any gun. A number of valid reasons and references need to be supplied before a gun can be sold. Naturally, if there is a genuine reason to have a gun, and the person appears mentally stable, then they will be able to purchase one, subject to State and Territory requirements. It is safe to say that John Howard’s tough stance has paid dividends. Since that fateful day in 1996, Australia has not had any gun related massacres.

I mention the above purely to give any reader from the United States an idea of how gun control can be implemented. Naturally, all Australians were shocked at the Sandy Hook school massacre in Newtown. I have two daughters aged 9 and 10 and I certainly felt shock and sadness, especially as it happened so close to Christmas, the time of family gatherings. I feel for the parents who lost their children and the families of all those that were killed in the shooting.

To outsiders, the United States has way too many shootings. For pro-gun lobbyists to claim the second amendment as a right to bear arms in today’s modern society, is a bad joke at best! The question, a very simple one, how many more people have to lose their lives before action is taken? Yes the GOP and NRA are bed partners, and yes there are lunatics high up in both organisations. But do ordinary citizens really require a semi-automatic weapon to protect their property? The answer has to be a resounding ‘No’. (the mental faculty of anyone who wants a military-style assault rifle should be considered dubious, at best)

The US has to tighten up its gun laws immediately. It is the only way to go, and also to restore faith with the public. Not only does Barack Obama need to act decisively, it also requires the GOP and others to support any proposed law changes. The good old days of “gun toting” are over. Let’s logically move on and ensure that our children and innocent bystanders are not used as “shooting practice” by a madman.

Finally, do not underestimate the rest of the world’s opinion towards the US and its lax gun laws. I can virtually guarantee you that the feeling of most people is that the US gun laws are a complete joke. It is now up to the United States to ensure that the joke comes to an end.

Sadly, requiring the GOP to acquiesce to reasonable gun legislation is a pipe dream. Nothing like these irrational Teaparty antics occur anywhere else in the civilized world. I hope this changes in 2014. Get everyone you know to vote them out in the midterms! (VegasJessie)

Follow Derek on Twitter @Main_Man

Please No Loaded Guns At Gun Shows, Only In Our Schools

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The last weekend of 2012 my very own city, Las Vegas, will be the next stop on the national tour of death merchants, the Crossroads Gunshow. As a concerned citizen, I surmised I should know more about an event where one can purchase high capacity clips and other killing accoutrements. I suppose what I learned should really not surprise anyone.

I pulled this ironic tidbit from the Crossroads Gunshow Website frequently asked questions section: Q: Can I carry a loaded gun in the gun show? I have a Concealed Carry Permit.
A: We respectfully request that you do not bring any loaded firearm into the gun show. Safety is our Number One Priority, and a safe environment in the show can only be maintained if there are no loaded guns in the show. There is no need for any commentary on this statement. It is the very definition of Q.E.D.

In previous articles, I’ve discussed how the folks in Utah, namely those of the Latter Day Saints persuasion, are obsessed with arming themselves for the imminent apocalypse. I was not surprised to see “America’s largest producer of gun shows, Crossroads,” has its headquarters located in Kaysville, Utah. The family in charge: the Templetons, are shameless gun show promoters. They were the very folks who, just one week after the Gaby Giffords mass shooting at a Tucson supermarket, hosted a gun show just blocks away from the tragedy.

The Templeton family is not exactly what one might consider a paragon of virtue. In 2002, Crossroads Gunshow VP Jeffrey Templeton called the police after hearing a suspicious noise outside his house. The police found more than just a suspected prowler, as this report states. The indictment lists 57 firearms confiscated at the home by agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Kaysville police on Dec. 11. The discovery was made after someone at the Templetons’ home in Kaysville called police to report something suspicious, possibly a burglar or prowler. But when Kaysville police arrived, they spotted a slew of weapons with illegal drugs nearby, said Kaysville Police Chief Dave Helquist. He said the drugs appeared to be methamphetamine and are being tested. I suppose they are just the type of criminals 2nd Amendment enthusiasts want to arm themselves against.

The 2nd Amendment has been perverted by the Right. They redefine a well-regulated militia as every gun-crazed, paranoid lunatic should have all the weaponry and ammo of a Colombian drug cartel. So, the Second Amendment read: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Contrary to some current right-wing fantasies about the Framers wanting to encourage popular uprisings over grievances, the language of the amendment is clearly aimed at maintaining order within the country. The Founding Fathers wanted to maintain a civilized society where armed insurrections like Shay’s Rebellion could be easily quashed, not the other way around.

Folks blame President Obama for not being “tougher on guns”. President Bush let the assault weapons ban of 1994 expire in 2004, as it was common knowledge the NRA ran the show in the Bush 43 White House. In fact, The National Rifle Association’s second-ranking officer boasted at a closed meeting of NRA members in May of 2000 that if Republican nominee George W. Bush wins in November, “we’ll have . . . a president where we work out of their office.”

President Obama tried in March, 2009 to reinstate the ban, but with sixty-five House Democrats opposing the ban, he and Attorney General Eric Holder could not get this through Congress. Too many are beholden to Wayne Lapierre and his terrorist organization, the National Rifle Association.

LaPierre is a seemingly unstable leader who claims criminals hear voices and demons to encourage their heinous acts. On Meet the Press last week he proclaimed:

“The truth is that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters — people so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can possibly ever comprehend them”

When one truly believes in demonic possession, it’s not wise for this person to hold so much influence over so many insane people, like those who read his NRA publication.

In order to gin up fear and gun sales, he regularly and erroneously claims the Obama Administration is coming for your guns. Here is a recent excerpt from NRA Publications Inc.
Over the past three years, the Obama administration and its anti-gun allies have been engaged in a silent but sophisticated long-term conspiracy to:
1. Neutralize gun owners and NRA voters as a political force in national elections, and thereby:
2. Win re-election to a second term in the White House, where they then will be immune to the will of voters and free to continue consolidating and misusing their ever-increasing power to:
3. Prosecute a full-scale, sustained, all-out campaign to excise the Second Amendment from our Bill of Rights through legislation, litigation, regulation, executive orders, judicial fiat, international treaties—in short, all the levers of power of all three branches of government.
And the key to their success lies in keeping gun owners like you in the dark.

There are roughly 5,000 annual gun shows nationwide and 40% of gun-owners purchase their firearms either at a gun show or through classified ads and private exchanges, with little or no regulation. Perhaps just eliminating gun shows is a fine way to start cutting down on violence via assault weapons. It will certainly not eliminate all mass shootings, but taking the profitability out of human carnage might just be a great way to start.

Your Doomsday Preparations Are Killing Us

She uttered the words, “Lord The Day Is At Hand! We Are In The Last Days! You Are Jehovah God!” You might think this is a fringe cult leader uttering these extreme words of admonishment. Nope, it’s just Teaparty darling Michele Bachmann (R), a now four term Representative from Minnesota’s sixth district, revealing her religious fanaticism as if we all share these beliefs. These words spoken by powerful leaders can have disastrous effects on people by playing to their fear of the unknown. What better way to combine god and guns than preparing people for some prophesied apocalypse.

The idea that we are in the end times or “latter days” seems to be popular among not just fringe groups, but mainstream religions. It is true that, for many decades, the LDS cult followers have been admonished to accumulate, and then use on a rotating basis (to keep it fresh), a minimum one-year supply but ideally a TWO-YEAR supply of food. The whole idea was that some catastrophe was imminent (a nuclear holocaust?), and that each and every LDS household would need that storage to survive. The prevalent attitude was that when the apocalypse came, the non- and jack-mormon neighbors would try to raid the homes of the obedient, righteous LDS to get their 2-year supplies, and thus it was also necessary to have firearms to protect themselves and their families, a.k.a. the chosen good guys against the evil mobs. It was coming! Be prepared! One of the largest unregulated Internet gun sites is Mormon-owned, further contributing to our firearm-obsessed society. We can’t forget the most famous Mormon doomsday preacher, Glenn Beck and his fearmongering, which does little to comfort anyone with paranoid psychoses.

Tragedy-stricken Newtown, CT is a heavily Republican stronghold. The mother of the shooter was a Conservative, “NRA guns & god enthusiast”. Nancy Lanza, murdered by her son Adam was a so called “doomsday prepper/survivalist” worried about the imminent economic implosion that will inevitably accompany President Obama’s second term. Certainly, she did not deserve her fate, but was it wise to instill this paranoia in an already unstable person? How did a so-called responsible gun owner allow her mentally handicapped son to get a hold of her guns and ammo? Perhaps we will never know. But we do know this mindset can have tragic consequences.

This week, a Utah sixth grader came to school with a gun in his backpack citing the recent shooting as the reason for carrying a lethal firearm around defenseless children. Utah happens to be the second most heavily armed state in America, as it is over 70% LDS, which ardently supports the NRA. The potential disaster was averted when authorities intervened and put the boy in custody. Why do so many children and mentally unstable individuals have access to so many guns? Because we are the most heavily armed nation on earth with 90 guns per 100 people. Guns are far more readily available here than they are in other countries, even a volatile nation like Yemen has fewer firearms per capita.

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The number of hate groups continues to rise since 2000, even more so now that President Obama has been re-elected. I am not just referencing extremist groups like the online white nationalist forum Stormfront. I’m talking about the prevalence of joint NRA-ALEC legislation that allows for semi-automatics to legally terrorize our streets. The NRA is closely aligned with the most extreme elements in the Republican Party and has brought a number of the GOP’s most influential operatives into positions of power within the organization. The GOP and NRA are now locked in a symbiotic relationship where Republican legislators advance the NRA’s extreme agenda while the NRA musters its hardcore supporters to serve as attack dogs for a wide range of conservative causes. In recent years, they’ve sought to spread laws that would prevent cities from banning machine guns—”…guns whose rapid repeating rounds have nothing to do with hunting deer or other game and everything to do with maximizing the death toll when fired at human beings,” according to PRWatch.org.

God and guns seem to go together which brings to mind when then Candidate Obama mentioned how some people cling to their religion and their guns. This caused an outrage not seen until Mitt Romney uttered his 47% remark at a private fundraiser. People are very defensive about both matters, as if they are one in the same. Mike Huckabee attributed this recent tragedy not to our insane violent gun culture, but the absence of “god” from our classrooms. Fortunately, there are sane people teaching our children that know much better than the Fox News crowd.

It’s not just in America that firearms and the clergy have symbiotically coexisted. One of the world’s wealthiest institutions, the Catholic Church, is also laden with a history of turning a blind eye to the real cause of violence. Perhaps not as egregious as the Crusades or the Inquisition, recent church history is also pretty shameful. The refusal of Pope Pius XII to excommunicate Hitler and Mussolini during World War II forever marred his pontificate with a historically unpopular position of neutrality. When the Nazis invaded Poland, Pius XII refused to condemn the invasion; reason was because one of the biggest advantages the Vatican enjoyed was the lucrative agreement he had with Hitler. In 1998, the Pope apologized for the church’s tacit cooperation with the Nazis, but the relationship with fascists is still evident today.

The modern opulence and security the Vatican enjoys is in part courtesy of the generosity of Benito Mussolini. Thanks to the signing of the Lateran Treaty between his government and the Vatican the Catholic Church enjoyed a number of safeguards and protection. Interestingly enough, the Vatican itself is the largest shareholder in Beretta Arms Company today, even though publicly it supports a UN ban on private gun ownership.

In this country, people like Mike Huckabee and the faith-based coalition will never assign culpability to the NRA. The GOP is entwined with fringe hate groups (see the Teaparty) and will continue to preach violence from the pulpit and/or Fox News, which is, at times, indistinguishable. Preaching about the second coming of Christ, the End of Days scenarios or a complete economic apocalypse can only make a culture steeped in violence more unstable and paranoid. Doomsday is a notion promulgated by superstition, folklore and religion. Imposing these fears on a society at large is both immoral and dangerous.

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.