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Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Bigotry:  intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself.  (Webster Dictionary)

I have written before that we all “suffer” from some levels of bigotry.  There seems to be something inside us that makes us decide what we want to believe and what we don’t.  That leads to a certain level of intolerance in all of us.  I don’t know why this is so, but it seems to be everywhere.  Simply having a “favorite color” could be considered as a form of bigotry.

The problem we face as we walk through life, is how we handle our own bigotry.  Do we recognize that we are bigoted, and fight our instinct to dismiss others, or do we simply give in to that bigotry and dismiss everyone who thinks differently.

I have found that most people in America actually try to fight their bigotry.  Maybe not successfully every time, but they do try.  That is one thing that has made our liberties possible.  We recognize our bigotry yet we try to make sure that our rights are equal among everyone.

In the past few decades, there has been a “movement” to allow bigotry to become institutionalized.  That is a major problem.  When we use political influence to foster bigotry as a “right” that is protected under some other imagined “right” everyone loses.

The primary battleground today is “religious liberty” which by definition is allowing everyone to believe in whatever religion they desire.  It is not putting labels on people simply because of their religious beliefs.  If the argument for “religious liberty” remained in this field, I would have no problem, and I do, support that concept.

Unfortunately, “religious liberty” has become a code phrase for acceptable bigotry.  That is not what “religious liberty” is all about.  It has gotten so bad, that people like Fox News has declared there is a “War on Christianity.”  That is absolutely absurd, but it rings true to many on the right.

The reason it rings to true to many on the right is because they want to be able to discriminate against others because of their “religious beliefs” which the right considers false.  Thus they wish to institutionalize bigotry so they don’t have to join the rest of society and be tolerant towards someone different.

Marco Rubio recently remarked “we are at the water’s edge of the argument that mainstream Christian teaching is hate speech.”   Of course, Fox News is playing this up as “pure truth.”  The vast majority of Americans laugh at such a stupid remark.  I have heard no one arguing that “mainstream Christian teaching is hate speech.”

Yes, I have heard, and even argued myself, that super-conservative Christian cults do practice hate speech.  But, that is a far cry from “mainstream Christian teaching.”  What has prompted all of this?  The simple fact that same-sex couples want to get married.

That is what is behind this recent tirade about “religious liberty.”  It is the idea that a business which is “open to the public” should be allowed to refuse service to gay couples.  It is the same idea that allowed a business which was “open to the public” to refuse service to blacks before the Civil Rights Act.

That is what the ultra-conservative Christians really want.  They want to be able to decide that you are sufficiently different in your beliefs that they don’t have to serve you.  That may sound innocuous, but why should a consumer have to find out who will and who will not serve them?

There are those who argue that if you open a business, you have the right to decide who you will serve.  You have the right to “refuse” service to anyone you choose.  It is your business after all.  But, that is simply wrong.  Once you open the doors to the “public” you are legally bound to serve “the public.”  Besides, refusing service to anyone for any reason is very anti-Christian.

Once bigotry became politicized and put under the umbrella of “religious liberty” it became very dangerous to the very fabric of our way of life.  When politicians started distorting the very teachings they claim to believe in, bigotry reared its ugly head in the public discourse.

Think about this for one minute.  The biggest argument against same-sex marriage is that it attacks “traditional marriage.”  Even if that were remotely true, which “traditional marriage” are they talking about?  Today the argument is that marriage is between one man and one women.

In our past, marriage was between one man and several women.  It was an institution where one man could have more than one wife and concubines.  If you want to defend “traditional marriage,” shouldn’t we be protecting the latter?  Isn’t the concept of marriage being between one man and one woman an attack on the “original traditional marriage?”

It is this simple fact of life that shreds the conservative argument against same-sex marriage.  Simply moving to a monogamous marriage system attacked the “traditional marriage” of the past.  Guess what, both still exist today, and will continue to exist if same-sex marriage is finally legalized.

Bigotry is the intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself.  And, I will say this openly, you have a right to be a bigot.  However, when bigotry is masqueraded as “religious liberty” in order to force your bigotry on everyone else, it is not only wrong, it is immoral!

Christians are not the only people who wish to force their bigotry on the general population.  All religions are just as guilty.  Anyone can find one phrase or word in any of the so-called religious texts to proclaim they are correct.  That doesn’t make it so.  But it is the reason there is so much hate between believers.  Religion, or at least interpretations of religion foster this hate.

The real fear of the ultra-conservative Christians in this country isn’t that they believe their religion is under attack.  It is the fact that most Americans are turning away from their religion.  Recent polls indicate that the country is becoming more-and-more secular.  Americans are simply not buying into the antiquated beliefs of our ancient past.

I would like to think that is because we are beginning to understand that religion is personal.  That we are beginning to understand that tolerance is much better for a peaceful existence than hate.  But, I believe it has more to do with turning away from the rigorous “blind faith” that religions need to exist.

Whatever the reason, becoming more secular is probably a good thing.  Especially when that secularism understands each of us has some form of bigotry, some form of beliefs, but we strive to be more tolerant of those who have different opinions.  To me, that is what secularism is all about.  If we can achieve this one simple thing, maybe hate, at least in our public laws, will disappear.  Now, that would be something to look forward to.

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I have had many reactions to my writing about inclusion.  I have been told that only Muslims are terrorists and that we can’t come up with any proof that Christians are terrorists.  Well, they are out there, but no one wants you to know about them.  Especially Fox News.

There is a small town outside of Hancock, NY known as Islamberg.  It is gathering of American Muslims, mostly black who left other areas of New York because of prejudice against them.  What they did not expect was to be the target of an horrendous attack by so-called “Christians.”

Robert Doggart, 63 is a man who lives in Tennessee.  As a matter of fact, he ran a failed campaign for Congress on far right-wing ideology.  I guess he decided that a town called Islamberg was a threat to his way of life.  He was captured on a wiretapped phone planning to go with his friends to Islamberg to burn down the mosque, school and cafeteria.  He also said they planned to shoot anyone from the community who planned to stop them.

“Our small group will soon be faced with the fight of our lives. We will offer those lives as collateral to prove our commitment to our God,” Doggart said in a Facebook post, according to court documents. “We shall be Warriors who will inflict horrible numbers of casualties upon the enemies of our Nation and World Peace.”

Doggart was arrested April 10 by the FBI on charges that he solicited others to violate civil rights, attempted to damage religious property because of the religious character of the property and made threats through interstate communication.  He pleaded guilty to the charge of  interstate communication of threats.  A judge is still to accept the plea agreement and pronounce a sentence.

Do you notice anything funny here?  He was charged with soliciting other to violate civil rights, attempt to damage religious property and made threats through interstate communication.  Where are the charges for soliciting others to commit an act of terrorism?

Another funny thing here.  This story was never given a press release.  That is why you probably have never heard about it.  None of the major news outlets have had a single word about this case on the evening news.  Fox News who is convinced that terrorism will signal the death of us all, has said not one word about it either.

Why hasn’t Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly screamed at the top to their lungs about this terrorist plot to kill Americans?  Where is their outrage that the government isn’t charging these people with terrorism?  You won’t hear them say a single word because these “terrorists” are white Christians.

Of course others at Fox have called Islamberg a “terrorist training camp.”  No one who lives anywhere near the place believes that stupidity.  The town is actually peaceful.  But, anything called Islamberg MUST be a terrorist training camp.

“It’s kind of perplexing to us,” local Police Chief Craig Dumont said on New York’s AM 970. “All this recent media attention in regard to potential terrorist training camps and things that are going on there. We don’t see it. We just don’t find any of that to be valid at this time. … There are no active threats that we are aware of at this time.”

Do you really believe that if a Muslim did this kind of action the media wouldn’t be screaming about it being a terrorist act?  Of course it would, and Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity would be screaming the loudest.  Here is a case of a white so-called Christian planning to take a militia group with a cache of arms to a small town to commit a terrorist act, and no one seems to know about it.  Fascinating!

“Doggart is an example of the results of unchecked and rampant Islamophobia which has spread lies for years about our peaceful community,” the organization’s public relations director, Mathew Gardner, said in a statement. “This man plotted to mercilessly kill us, kill our children, and blow up our mosque and our school. We have sound reason to believe he has already visited our other locations around the U.S. What other murderous plans do he and his private militia have and where are his accomplices?”

“All would agree, if a Muslim did this, the perpetrator would be immediately identified as a terrorist then prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The examples are numerous,” Gardner said. “Therefore, we call on all branches of justice to see to it that this man is prosecuted for planning a heinous hate crime and terrorist act.”

That is still the unanswered question.  Where are his accomplices?  Why haven’t they been charged yet with any crimes.  To date, only Doggart has been charged.  He wasn’t planning on going alone.

This case brings up another point.  Why is it that no press statement or release was given over this incident?  Why has it been kept so secret by the Judicial System.  I am happy the FBI was able to head off this terrorist attack, but why did they keep it all so quiet?

Yes, Christian Terrorists are alive and well in the U.S.  The problem is we can’t see them because when they are busted, law enforcement won’t tell us what happened.  They won’t let it out that another Christian terrorist has been caught planning to kill American Citizens simply because they are Muslim.

Tell me again how the only terrorists are followers of Islam.

 

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It has happened bit by bit.  We have seen little breaks in the seams of our fabric.  As time has gone by, we have more and more of our liberties taken away from us.  We have seen NSA spying on our phone conversations and gathering huge amounts of data on everyone.  We have seen anti-abortion activists place huge burdens on the process that in many states it is almost impossible to even get to a doctor that performs abortions.

We have seen the anti-LGBT movement start calling discrimination a “religious liberty” so they can discriminate against LGBT marriages simply because they “don’t believe in it.”  We have seen public education under attack and have seen their budgets slashed to the bare bones.  This even includes higher education budgets at our state universities.

We have seen attacks on pay equality.  Women are expected to do the same job as a man and get paid less for their labors.  We have seen attacks on contraception measures designed so women can choose when to have a family.

We have seen attacks on the poor.  Welfare cuts, SNAP cuts, WIC cuts, even cuts to the agencies that are supposed to protect us from bad foods and drugs.  There has been a constant attack on the less wealthy, blacks, Latinos, gays, and women for over 30 years.

At the same time, we have seen the top 1% wage earners get richer all the while claiming they are the ones under attack.  They claim they pay too much in taxes when in fact, their percentage of income going to taxes are lower than the people who work for them.

Some say this is a “conservative movement” that has gained traction.  They claim that people would not vote for politicians who are forcing these issues on the American people if they did not agree with them.  I say it is something far different, and far more insidious than that.  It is a marriage between Conservative Christians and what is quickly becoming the American Aristocracy!

It is no coincidence that the Conservative Christian movement gained strength at the same time the American Aristocracy began to become more of a reality.  In fact, it is the American Aristocrats that are actually funding the Conservative Christian movement.  That funding does not come because the Aristocrats actually believe in all of that guff.  It is because they want to use Conservative Christians to gain power, and nothing more than that.

When our country was founded over 200 years ago, the world was made up of kingdoms.  Our own “mother country” was a kingdom.  These kingdoms were left over relics of the “dark ages” when it was determined that “God ordained” certain people to be kings and lords.

The simple act of being born into a certain family proved that God had ordained you to become the king.  That fact proved that God had ordained you to be a lord with life and death powers over your serfs.  Religion backed this notion.  They told their followers that it was their duty to follow their ruler because he was “ordained by God.”

Our founding fathers believed this to be nonsense.  They believed that who was governing was up to the people who were being governed.  They turned away from the “God ordained” leaders and set up a government meant to be run by the very people who are to be governed.

The “separation of church and state” in our First Amendment was to insure there would be no “God ordained” leader in America.  They went even further to ensure that no Aristocracy was able to rise in America.  In England, the “old families” owned most of the country’s property and money, and still do.  They made up their own rules.  The founding fathers decided that was not good for the country.

As a result, they established the “estate tax” in America.  By placing a high tax on inherited wealth, they planned to make sure that Aristocrats could not wield so much power.  In their opinion, being born to a rich family did not make you “ordained by God” to be rich for the rest of your life.  You had to earn your own way.

And it all worked for over 200 years.  Yes, there were a lot of hiccups along the way.  But by and large, the non-aristocratic government they established worked.  Then came along Ronald Reagan in 1980.  Ronald Reagan did not see why it was so bad to let an aristocracy rise in America.

He wrapped his message in what was to be known as “trickle-down economics.”  He said that if the really rich were given huge tax breaks, they would invest in business.  He said that if the estate tax was cut, or better yet, eliminated, these rich brats would invest in business.  Of course it never happened that way.

At the same time, the Conservative Christian movement began to gain traction.  Their preachers went to the pulpit every Sunday claiming that we should all be thankful to the very wealthy because they made our miserable lives possible with jobs.  They preached that these wealthy people should not have to pay any estate taxes because God had blessed them by putting them in their family at birth.

They also preached that not blindly following these “leaders” of industry, we would be guilty of disobeying God.  Since these people were all blessed by God with their wealth, we must follow their lead or face eternal doom after we die.  It all sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

During the “Dark Ages” these lords and kings didn’t give a damn about the poor.  They did nothing to ensure their lives got better.  Instead, they relied on keeping them uneducated and poor.  That was the best way to keep control.  And, since these “lords” were ordained by God, it was not a sin to kill off their serfs if they didn’t obey the lords.

Today we see similar comparisons to those times.  We are told that the wealthy control our lives.  They are the ones who should determine “fair wages” because they are th ones with the money.  Since they were “blessed by God” we don’t have any right to fight them.

Furthermore, if you don’t make a living wage, you are on your own.  Well, that is what they want things to be like.  That is why they are continuously slashing budget items associated with the “social safety net.”  If you are poor, it is because God wants you poor.”  So, just shut up and do as you are told.

Conservative Christians and the Aristocracy are behind the cutting of education funding.  They are terrified of an educated population.  Just like the “Dark Ages” if the people are kept uneducated, they won’t be able to think for themselves and realize that this is all nonsense.

The Conservative Christians preachers are telling you all of this because it the Aristocracy that is funding their churches and allowing them to live in luxury.  But you shouldn’t worry.  According to their philosophy if you suffer in this life you are sure to have it better in the next.  That does a lot to help feed your children now.

That is what this is really all about.  People like the Koch Brothers and the Walton Family are only interested in power over the minions of the world.  They are not alone either.  You can find these vultures around almost every corner.  You can especially find them behind most conservative politicians and all of the Conservative Christian politicians.

Democracy is hard.  People actually have to pay attention to what is happening around them in order to make an informed decision on who to vote for or against.  Having more than a fourth grade education helps too.

The Conservative Christians and the new Aristocracy have teamed up to deny you your freedoms.  They have wrapped themselves up in religion to scare the shit out of believers.  They don’t want educated people.  They don’t want unions.  They don’t want equal rights.  They want an aristocracy in America because they believe themselves to be that aristocracy.

The elections next year will have a direct impact on which direction we go.  Will we return to our democracy or will we allow the American Aristocracy to rise even farther.   If they win we will see Christianity as the “official” religion of the nation.  More freedoms will be stripped, and we will become no better than the serfs of the Dark Ages.  That is not what our founding fathers envisioned for America.

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There are two laws in Missouri that really go against each other.  The first is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  The second is Missouri’s 72 hour waiting period and “informed consent” law about abortion.  This problem is coming to a head.

A woman who belongs to the Satanic Temple wants an abortion.  She went to Planned Parenthood and filed an exemption form stating that the 72 hour waiting period places an undue burden on her religious beliefs.  Planned Parenthood rejected the exemption form based on Missouri’s 72 hour waiting period and “informed consent” law.  The woman, called Mary Doe in court documents, and the Satanists have filed suit over the denial.

In Missouri, and several other states, the waiting period has no medical or scientific basis.  It is merely a forced waiting period so the woman can digest the “informed consent” material they are forced to endure.  This material has no medical or scientific background or need either.  Most of the material is intended to make a woman feel guilty about her choice, thus forcing her to change her mind.

The Satanic Temple says that is a violation of the RFRA.  Spokesman Lucien Greaves says that “in our tenets, we hold that one should make decisions based on the best scientific evidence available and that a woman’s body – anyone’s body – are subject to ones own will.”  He claims that the state mandated material is not scientifically based, is nothing more than state-propaganda designed to sway an individual’s decision, and therefore is against their religion.

That puts the 72 hour waiting period and “informed consent” law in conflict with the RFRA.  The really weird part of this story is that the Hobby Lobby case at the Supreme Court opened the door for this conflict to happen.  In the Hobby Lobby case, Hobby Lobby argued that certain contraceptives were abortifacients.  They are not abortifacients, yet Hobby Lobby argued that they believe they were and therefore should not be forced to provide them in their health coverage.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby.  In essence, the court ruled that even if the science does not support your claim, as long as you hold “deeply religious beliefs” about your argument, you are right.  Which brings us to the “informed consent” law in Missouri.

The Satanic Temple is saying that they believe that the material being forced upon women is not scientifically based and inaccurate.  Under the Hobby Lobby ruling, they only need argue they have a “deeply held religious belief” that the material is bogus and therefore, they are correct.

There have been other challenges to the waiting period laws that have failed.  However, this is the first one using the RFRA as a reason the waiting period laws are invalid.  I know that not many people are going to support the Satanic Temple.  However, it is a religion, whether or not you agree with them, and therefore should be protected under the RFRA as well.

The other sad part of the story is that the Satanic Temple cannot get a pro-bono lawyer to take up their case.  So, they are forced to look for donations to continue this case.  I am extremely surprised that the ACLU doesn’t take up the case.  So, I ask the ACLU to please explain why you aren’t taking up this case.

The ruling in this case has a lot of ramifications.  None of them, in my opinion, are positive for the Conservative Christian right who are behind these anti-abortion laws.  If the courts rule in favor of the Satanic Temple, what does that mean for everyone else?  Would these waiting period laws be stricken?  Probably not.  More likely, the state legislature would change the waiting period laws to remove any religious exemptions from them.

Taking that step would indicate that they really don’t believe in the RFRA they so dramatically scream about when it suits their desires.  It would also prove that they are only interested in forcing their beliefs on everyone else, religious freedom be damned.

If the court rules against the Satanic Temple, there would be a legitimate argument that the court is “defining what is religion and what isn’t.”  That would also be bad for everyone.  If the court rules that the Satanic Temple isn’t a real religion, which religion will be next?

Yes, this case is one that is worth watching. The arguments put forth by the state to defend their waiting period law will allow the world to see just how insincere they are about religious freedom.  It will open up the can of worms that prove their arguments about religious liberty is one-sided and hypocritical.

To be frank, I hope this turns out to be a real dilemma for the Christian right.  It will only accelerate the movement away from religion recent polls are indicating is happening.  Then, maybe, we can have legitimate discussions about our issues and not have religious bellicose drowning out potential solutions.

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As the Republican Candidates, both announced and unannounced, continue their trips around the country, one theme seems to be emerging more and more.  That theme is “Religious Freedom.”  They talk about religious freedom as though we have moved away from the Constitution’s Separation of Church and State and more into a “ban all religions” movement.

This is really getting out of control, as far as I am concerned.  My first question to these candidates and their followers is which “religious freedom” is being attacked?  There have been no laws passed, or even introduced, that restricts your right to go to church or believe in whatever religion you wish.

The second question is which “religion” is most under attack?  I suppose the answer to that question depends upon which religion you may belong to.  The standard answer from Republicans is that Christianity is under attack.  If you are Muslim, I suppose you believe that Islam is under attack.

So, let’s concentrate on the apparent attack on Christianity since that is the one most talked about during this “campaign” season the most.  Of course that brings me to the third question.  Which religion in Christianity is under attack?  I can’t even count how many sects there are in Christianity.  The number seems to grow almost daily.  So, which sect is under attack?  It can’t be all of them, because they don’t all believe the same things.

The argument about this “attack” on religious freedom isn’t really a religious argument.  It is political, and nothing else.  In his speech at Liberty University the other day, Jeb Bush accused liberals of setting up an “us-versus-them” dynamic, between people who are “enlightened” and those who don’t want to “genuflect to secular dogmas.”

He went on to say:

“[This] confusion is all part of a false narrative that casts religious Americans as intolerant scolds, running around trying to impose their views on everyone,” Bush said. “The stories vary, year after year, but the storyline is getting familiar: The progressive political agenda is ready for its next great leap forward, and religious people or churches are getting in the way. Our friends on the left like to view themselves as the agents of change and reform, and you and I are supposed to just get with the program.”

Well, he is right about one thing.  It is part of a “false narrative,” but that false narrative is being bandied about by his side of the argument.  There is no war on religion in this country.  There are way too many people who hold deeply religious beliefs of all kinds to allow that type of war from ever happening.

No, the “false narrative” is that liberals want to do away with religion.  I am a liberal, I am not a religious person, but I certainly do not want to end religion in this country.  That is what the first amendment is all about.  People may believe in religion or not believe in religion.  No one has the right to say otherwise.

The problem comes about when a small group of one religious belief tries to impose their dogma on everyone else.  That is not supposed to happen in this country either.  There are two very prominent topics that are at the root of these problems.  Abortion and same-sex marriage.

The Conservative Christians absolutely hate both of these issues.  They are totally against abortion regardless of how a woman gets pregnant.  And they totally abhor the idea of same-sex marriage.  But, in trying so vehemently to ban abortion and same-sex marriage, they are actually the ones attacking “religious freedom,” not those in favor of them.

Let’s face facts.  Far more “Christian” women seek an abortion than non-Christian women.  It then must be understood that the idea of abortion is not contrary to their “religious belief” about when life begins.  Not allowing these women to undergo the procedure is attacking their “religious beliefs.”  In fact, not allowing these women to undergo the procedure is attacking their “religious freedom.”

In the case of same-sex marriage, there is another internal battle between “Christians” over whether or not it should be allowed.  Heck, there is one church not far from where I live that openly says it will actually perform “religious” marriages for same-sex couples.  Once again, many people who seek to be married in a same-sex marriage are active Christians.  Denying them the right to marry is an attack on their “religious freedoms.”

The same arguments can be made about contraception.  Some Christian religious beliefs deny the right to birth control.  Other Christian beliefs say birth control is perfectly fine.  By denying women coverage in their “private” health care plans is attacking their “religious freedom.”  The right will tell you that the contraception mandate is making you pay for their birth control.  That is a blatant lie!  The mandate covers private health insurance whether you purchase it alone or through your employer.

The funny thing about this argument is that health insurance companies, including those being offered by companies with “deeply held religious beliefs” cover things like Viagra!  I would think that if you are really a “deeply religious person” the use of Viagra would be against God’s wishes too.  Isn’t that artificially enhancing a man’s ability to have, watch it here, SEX?  Wouldn’t a “deeply religious person” believe that erectile dysfunction is “God’s will” and therefore shouldn’t be messed with?  Wouldn’t that call for a ban on such medication from being covered by health insurance companies, too?

No, I am sorry, but the only war on “religious freedom” is really being waged by the Conservative Christian Cult.  When they talk about “religious freedom” being under attack, what they are really saying is what’s under attack, in their view, is their right to discriminate against everyone else.  What they are saying is that only THEIR religious freedoms matter, and the rest of the world needs to comply to their way of thinking.

Though I do not belong to, nor have any plans to join, any of the “religions” of the world, I promise you that if the Supreme Court were to say that same-sex marriages MUST be performed in churches, I will write a scathing article against that ruling.  That would be crossing the line between church and state.  Just as not allowing civil same-sex marriages is crossing the same line.

The so-called “War On Religious Freedom” really depends on your definition of “religious freedom.”  I firmly believe that if a church wishes to refuse to marry two people of the same sex on religious grounds, they have that right.  I believe that if a church wishes to argue against abortion, they have that right.

On the other hand, if two people wish to enter into marriage, regardless of their sex, they also have that right.  If a woman wishes to have an abortion, she has that right.  Who are the Conservative Christians to say that is not part of those people’s “religious beliefs”, and therefore, part of their “religious freedom?”

You beliefs in religion is personal.  If you truly believe in a religion, there is nothing wrong with it being a way to live your life.  But, it does not give you the right to ban “religious freedoms” from others who follow a different religion.  But that denial of “religious freedoms” to those others is exactly what the Conservative Christians want.

That’s the problem with “freedom.”  It goes both ways.  Making it a one-way street is not only wrong, but it is un-American!

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Sunday there was another shooting in Texas.  That is nothing new in and of itself, Texas is full of shootings.  Hell, when I lived there, Houston led the nation in armed bank robberies.  What makes this shooting newsworthy, at least in the national media and especially in the conservative media, is that this shooting took place in front of a convention center hosting an anti-Muslim cartoon contest.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative was hosting a competition for drawing the Prophet Muhammad.  Now, I seriously doubt that anyone in this “competition” was attempting to show any respect for the prophet.  More than likely they were mocking the prophet in their “freedom of speech” tantrum.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative is classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group.  Their leader is an avowed anti-Muslim.  The contest called “Draw Muhammad” is not the first such “draw” contest this group has hosted.

“This terrible incident reflects the need for such conferences,” Geller said. “It’s illustrative of the violent assault on the freedom of speech.” Later, she added, “There is a problem in Islam, as illustrated last night, that anyone who addresses it gets attacked.”

So far, Texas officials have refused to name the suspects.  CNN and ABC identified one of them as Elton Simpson. The shooters’ motive wasn’t immediately clear.  Of course, ISIS claims it planned this attack.  I find that hard to swallow, yet you never know.

The AFDI isn’t new to spewing hate in other ways either.   They drew ire for anti-Islam ads featuring Hitler on San Francisco buses and a burning World Trade Center in New York City subways.  But of course, Geller told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota in a heated discussion that she is not against Islam.

“I’m not concerned with Muslims, especially peaceful Muslims,” Geller said. “I’m anti-Jihad, and anybody who says I’m anti-Muslim is implying that all Muslims support Jihad.”  She even went so far as to call herself a modern-day Rosa Parks.

However, Camerota pointed out that Geller’s selection of Dutch politician Geert Wilders as the event’s keynote speaker suggests otherwise, and read portions of his speech: “Our Judeo-Christian culture is far superior to the Islamic one,” Wilders said. “Islam does not allow free speech, because free speech shows how evil and wrong Islam is. And Islam does not allow humor, because humor shows how foolish and ridiculous it is.”

The unfortunate side of this is that Geller is correct in her belief that she has the right to spew out her hate.  That is covered under the First Amendment.  However, she should not spew out hate against those who disagree with her, because that is also covered under the First Amendment.

I don’t know how this is going to end up.  If it comes out that the shooters were indeed angry about the contest and went there to shoot the place up, conservative media will have a field day.  On the other hand, if it turns out that was not the case, conservative medial will probably say it is all an Obama cover-up.

Whenever these things happen, we are always reminded that terrorism is the sole conduct of Muslims.  We all know that is not the truth, but never let the truth get in the way of a good story.  There is ample proof that Christians are just as guilty of terrorism as anyone else.

Christians call it “free speech” but shouting insults and threats against women who are heading into an abortion clinic is terrorism.  Following workers of abortion clinics home and shouting at them in front of their house is terrorism.  Blowing up abortion clinics is terrorism.  Shooting abortion doctors is terrorism.  These are not fantasies, they have and are still happening.

Look, I know that shouting threats is not the same as shooting someone.  But, if you are the target of those threats, you will understand what terrorism is.  If you were the target of someone you don’t know following you down the street, you will understand what terrorism is.  Shooting a doctor inside his church is terrorism.  Why doesn’t Geller and her organization hold at Draw The Doctor Assassin” contest?

Yes, Geller and her organization have the right to spew forth their hate.  Just like the other hate groups like the Aryan Nation, The KKK, The American Nazi Party and others.  But, we also have the right to shout down their hate lingo.  We have the right to confront their hate by calling them what they are, terrorists.

Please don’t come back at me with any of the usual moral claptrap about Muslims.  Geller, her group, and all of these other “Christian” groups are nothing more than terrorists.  They need to be called out as such.

More than that, they are cowards.  They get others to do their bidding by filling them with hate speech.  Yes, Free Speech is protected under our Constitution.  However, most sane people understand that Free Speech does come with some responsibilities.  Then again, no one ever accused of Geller and these hate groups of being “sane.”

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We have heard the paranoia time-and-again.  Especially from North Korea.  Every time the U.S. and South Korea plan a training exercise, North Korea claims that it is really a cover for an invasion of the north.  We hear all sorts of bellicose rants from their “leader” about how the North will defend itself against these aggressive moves.

Unfortunately, we are now hearing the same paranoia from our own right-wing wackos.  That is right, we are hearing that a military exercise designed to train our special forces, as well as other parts of our military, that is being conducted in seven states this summer is really a conspiracy to enforce “martial law.”

This summer, the military is planning a training exercise in seven states.  In five of those states, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado special forces troops will be training.  In a statement, the U.S. military said:

Members of U.S. Army Special Operations Command will train with other U.S Armed Forces units July 15 through Sept. 15 in a multi-state exercise called Jade Helm 15.

USASOC periodically conducts training exercises such as these to practice core special warfare tasks, which help protect the nation against foreign enemies. It is imperative that Special Operations Soldiers receive the best training, equipment and resources possible.

While multi-state training exercises such as these are not unique to the military, the size and scope of Jade Helm sets this one apart. To stay ahead of the environmental challenges faced overseas, Jade Helm will take place across seven states. However, Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF) will only train in five states: Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. The diverse terrain in these states replicates areas Special Operations Soldiers regularly find themselves operating in overseas.

The training exercise will be conducted on private and public land with the permission of the private landowners, and from state and local authorities. In essence, all exercise activity will be taking place on pre-coordinated public and private lands.

The public can expect nothing much different from their day-to-day activities since much of exercise will be conducted in remote areas. The most noticeable effect the exercise may have on the local communities is an increase in vehicle and military air traffic and its associated noise.

Military training exercises are nothing new.  They have been going on since there was a military.  It is the only way to make sure our troops are properly trained in performing their duty.  But, over at Infowars, Alex Jones, infamous for his conspiracy theories doesn’t believe the military.  His Infowars has started a crazed attack on the exercise.

For example, The Drudge Report aggregated a number of stories about the exercises, directing readers to Infowars—including a March 24 story that said the trainings in Utah and Texas led observers “to fears that traditionally conservative areas may be a simulated target for future domestic operations.”  Yeowee!

What their fears really boil down to is that the administration is secretly preparing for an “invasion” of Texas!  Don’t believe me?  Take this from a frightened Texas citizen’s reaction:

The idea that training among small towns in the USA is supposed to provide “realism” for operating in Afghanistan or Iraq is utterly absurd. For one thing, small towns in America don’t have teams of local rebels setting up roadside IEDs to destroy humvees and their occupants. Special Forces operatives are more likely to encounter people hurrying their way to Starbucks than trying to run any sort of armed resistance actions. No, military training on the streets of America isn’t “realistic” training for fighting wars overseas. It’s only “realistic” for military action that takes place on the streets of America itself.

Or how about this gentleman from “The Common Sense Show” who has become convinced that this is far more insidious even than a practice for the day the U.S. military launches martial law throughout Texas:

In recent days, I have learned that the reason that we are seeing Jade Helm activity in so many areas and we are also witnessing the prepositioning of massive military equipment, is because Jade Helm forces will isolate certain geographic areas, thus trapping a segment of the population and keep them from fleeing to other areas. The second part of Phase III of the Jade Helm operation will be the insertion of Special Forces death squads among the civilian population which will target key dissident leaders.

Really?  The military is going to insert Special Forces “death squads” to target key dissident leaders?  Just who might these “dissident leaders” be?  God-fearing Patriots, that’s who.  Groups like the Tea Party of course!  This gentleman from “The Common Sense Show” went on to say:

“Patriot groups across the country are preparing to launch a ‘Counter Jade Helm’ operation to keep tabs on a controversial U.S. military exercise that some fear is part of preparations to train troops for civil unrest and martial law”. Among those protesting the Jade Helm 15 drills are former Special Operations forces as well as many veterans groups. Along these lines, I am beginning to receive invitations to speak about Jade Helm to various groups including the Oath Keepers.

In case you don’t know who the Oath Keepers are, they are former and current members of the military who take an oath to disobey orders which violate the constitution. Who decides what the constitution says in these matters is apparently left up to Alex Jones.

Then there is this:

“It’s the same thing that happened in Nazi Germany: You get the people used to the troops on the street, the appearance of uniformed troops and the militarization of the police,” Bastrop resident Bob Wells told the Statesman after the meeting. “They’re gathering intelligence. That’s what they’re doing. And they’re moving logistics in place for martial law. That’s my feeling. Now, I could be wrong. I hope I am wrong. I hope I’m a ‘conspiracy theorist.’”

The really scary part of all of this nonsense, is that the Governor of the State of Texas, Gregg Abbott, has bought into this stupidity.  Or, maybe he has always believed these conspiracy theories all along.  Anyway, yesterday, the AP reported:

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday asked the State Guard to monitor a U.S. military training exercise dubbed “Jade Helm 15″ amid Internet-fueled suspicions that the war simulation is really a hostile military takeover…

“It is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed,” Abbott wrote. “By monitoring the Operation on a continual basis, the State Guard will facilitate communications between my office and the commanders of the Operation to ensure that adequate measures are in place to protect Texans.”

So we now have a governor of one of our own states who is spurting out the same paranoia that North Korea spouts every time there is a training exercise in South Korea.  I guess paranoia is not the sole domain of North Korea.

In order to put this in proper perspective, Glenn Smith, the director of the Progress Texas PAC said:

“Abbott’s pandering to paranoid, secessionist fools would be comical if it wasn’t so costly and frightening.  Abbott has the state military confronting the U.S. military because some nut cases fear, what, armed U.S. takeover of Texas? Seriously? What next? Will Abbott call out the troops to protect us from alien abduction, abominable snowmen and Bigfoot, or should I say an invasion of Bigfeet?”

There you have it.  The U.S. military is conducting a training exercise that is really a  covert operation that is intended to “invade” Texas and impose Martial Law on its citizens.  Forget the fact that there are 15 military bases and hundreds of thousands of military personnel already stationed in Texas.

Remember one thing about Texas.  They are not about to give up on their paranoia anytime soon.  Just the other day, a Congressman from Texas announced that the riots in Baltimore were really being caused by “same-sex” marriage.  I am certain that Alex Jones and Abbott will be able to link this “invasion” of Texas to same-sex marriage too.

This is what happens when a major political party let’s their fringe take control.  Paranoia becomes mainstream!

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