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« Okay, We'll Stop Our Vicious Cyberstalking (And Why This Law Isn't Harmless) The RantsSkeptics' Circle #26 »

Will the Real Slim Christians Please Stand Up? (Please stand up, please stand up...)
2006.01.17 (Tue) 22:27

Last week we happened to be tuned in to Air America, listening to the Randi Rhodes Show — no, we haven't changed our opinion of Air America or Randi Rhodes, but we listen in on a regular basis to see what's going on, at least as far as the staunch liberals are concerned. That is not the crux of this Rant.

Randi seemed to be discussing Pat Robertson's recent comments concerning the relationship between the health and the policies of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, as well as Robertson's generally spiteful and misanthropic behavior. Robertson is an asshole, and we wouldn't lose a second's sleep if someone "took him out," as the kids (like Pat) are saying nowadays. Still, that is not the crux of this Rant.

Randi took some calls, and a piously irate individual — who happens to believe in an Invisible Super-Daddy™ living in the sky and that a man who was nailed to a tree two millennia ago had (has?) Keen Magical Fun Powers™ — took it upon himself to denounce fellow Super-Daddy/Magical-Fun Believer Pat Robertson for his abhorrent behavior. So even Christians can recognize when some Christians go way over the fucking line. Yet even that is not the crux of this Rant.

No, the crux of this Rant concerns this piously irate guy's claim of true Christianity, and the innate power to tell a Genuine Christ Fan™ from those who are just, er, claiming true Christianity...like this piously irate guy.

We're paraphrasing here, as combing the Internet for a transcript of Rhodes' show became quite tedious, but this caller essentially said:

I just want to say, I'm Christian, and these people [referring to televangelists and other such hard-core conservatives] aren't real Christians!

With which Randi pretty much agreed, in a very milquetoast show of capitulation: "Yes, definitely, they're not the real Christians."

Us? We're just getting quite fed up with this whole "They're not the real Christians!" claim which is somehow meant to excuse an entire belief system for the words and actions to which it inspires a great number of its adherents. They're not real Christians? Guess what, folks — they are.

They're doing exactly what "real" Christians have always historically done: they crow about their belief system, demand that all others convert, and vehemently (sometimes violently) exclude, demean or persecute any who refuse. Not to mention (if they're at the top of their local hierarchy) fleecing the flock for all they're worth.

Like any religion, "real" Christianity, while making the faithful feel all warm and fuzzy, has always been about making outsiders feel...um, cold and hairless, on every level of scope and import — from burning someone at the stake for witchcraft, to the much less severe but no less annoying amazement and outrage displayed by the good Christian on the elevator when we didn't offer a spontaneous prayer for her sudden and involuntary nasal expectoration. (Excuse us, lady, but fuck you — if you feel you need a special dispensation from God to continue living after a sneeze, go see a fucking priest.)

Think we're getting too personal? How's this for personal:

The chronicle of those who were consumed by fire [in "witch trials"] in the single German city of Würzburg in the single year 1598 penetrates the statistics and lets us confront a little of the human reality:
The steward of the senate, named Goering; old Mrs. Kanzler; the tailor's fat wife; the woman cook of Mr. Mengerdorf; a stranger; a strange woman; Baunach, a senator, the fattest citizen in Würtzburg; the old smith of the court; an old woman; a little girl, nine or ten years old; a younger girl, her little sister; the mother of the two little aforementioned girls; Liebler's daughter; Goebel's child, the most beautiful girl in Würtzburg; a student who knew many languages; two boys from the Minster, each twelve years old; Stepper's little daughter; the woman who kept the bridge gate; an old woman; the little son of the town council bailiff; the wife of Knertz, the butcher; the infant daughter of Dr. Schultz; a blind girl; Schwartz, canon at Hach...

On and on it goes. ... There were 28 public immolations, each with 4 to 6 victims on average, in that small city in a single year.

Is that personal enough for you?

Oh, but these witch hunters weren't the real Christians, right? Unless, of course, you count Pope Innocent VIII, who was instrumental in instigating the massive upsurging of witch trials (he even commissioned Sprenger and Kramer to write the Malleus Maleficarum) and supporting the Spanish Inquisition, among other wonderful deeds. Don't think Catholics count? Heck, everybody was doing it — name a fucking Christian sect that was around back then, and they were most likely humiliating, torturing and murdering innocent people on the basis of completely ludicrous beliefs that happened to be in vogue at the time.

Let's be clear about something — we certainly are not trying to say that all Christians are the same as, say, Pat Robertson. We do not subscribe to that brand of nonsense. There are certainly many good Christians out there, and we could point to more than a handful that we call our friends. However, why should the sane group get to corner the "real Christian" market? Frankly, it's all a matter of perspective, and if we were to ask one of the Ultra-Super-Christy "God Hates Fags" Christians what he thinks of the more moderate, less hateful Christians that we tend to associate with, we're willing to bet that we know what his answer would be: "Hell, they're not real Christians!"

Hey, we're not blind to that fact that nearly all religions have similar hateful or harmful beliefs — but damn, the Christians seem to gobble up more than their fair share, don't they? Yes, they are one of the world's major religions, and they also happen to be the most prevalent religion by far in the United States, but damn. The Crusades, the Inquisition, burning witches, "celibate" priests molesting children, Jerry Falwell, Jim Bakker, Pat Robertson...how many more times do we have to go around this pious merry-go-round before the "real" Christians notice what their fellow riders have been doing through every single revolution?

Ah, but they're not following the real Teachings O' Jesus! Or are they...? Gee, it's awfully tough to tell. The Babble is so full of contradictory admonitions we can barely keep straight whether Super-God the Triple Threat was into slavery or dead set against it.

Hey, if you're really a peaceful, kind, gentle, polite Christian, and you never have a bad word to say about anyone, let alone a fist clenched in anger, we've got little to no problem sharing the world with you. But let's face it — if you want to say that you kind, non-proselytizing, "live and let live" Christians are the "real" Christians and that those violent, hateful asswads who force their brand of bullshit down everyone's throats every chance they get are not...well, you've got over a thousand years of history to rewrite. Better get cracking.

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[  Filed under: % Greatest Hits  % Religion  ]

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Comments (9)

Skeptico, 2006.01.18 (Wed) 01:29 [Link] »

Now THAT was a good rant.

interupt, 2006.01.18 (Wed) 08:26 [Link] »

I agree...impressive rant.

Wow great find on the witch hunt trials, makes me feel ill just thinking about it, but gives me good ammunition about the perversion of the church over the ages.

Then again in Mr Robertson had his way, there would be gates outside suburbs solely for the purposes of stoning wayward children and burning heretics. Have one of those signs on the side of the road as you enter the suburb

Welcome to
[ 4 ] Days without burning a witch.
[ 0 ] Days without stoning a child

Fan-man, 2006.01.18 (Wed) 09:51 [Link] »

If Christianity can't survive in a world where people have free access to competing religious persectives, then it will go extinct much like dinosaurs. And that's exactly what's been happening for the last several years. In the industrialized world, church attendence and membership are at all-time lows, and the opinions of Christian religious leaders are ignored by more and more people every day. This is why, all over the world, Christian churches are rushing frantically to convert impoverished, uneducated, ignorant people who don't have access to global mass media, the Internet, and all those historical, philosophical and religious views that contradict church dogma.

In much the same way, Jewish, Islamic and Marxist Fundamentalists are trying to keep their members from hearing differing opinions, by censoring their access to online and offline media------trying to maintain theological purity through isolation. Ignorance may be bliss, but just as evil in my opinion.

I learned the "golden rule" in 1st grade and it remains the best advice I've ever received. I would threaten to create a new religion based on the golden rule, but creating yet another religion would make me a hypocrite.

The Two Percent Company, 2006.01.21 (Sat) 22:57 [Link] »
I learned the "golden rule" in 1st grade and it remains the best advice I've ever received.

Amen, brother. You know, we always hear about the beneficial moral teachings of religion. Bullshit. All the moral teachings of the various religions that are actually good can be taught with the Golden Rule. The religious mumbo-jumbo just muddies that message with false morality, magical superheroes, and evil demons. We prefer our life lessons without all the bullshit, thanks.

G.Tingey, 2006.01.26 (Thu) 14:51 [Link] »

Warning - long, and only part of a consideably longer essay.

All religions kill, or enslave, or torture.
To verify this, one need only read a very little history, or contemporary newspaper reports.
At this point, an excuse is always presented by the 'believers':
"They are ( or were ) not PROPER Christians / Muslims / Marxists / etc. .... We're different!"
Oh, yeah?
O.S.D. is still part of the Roman Catholic church, isn't it? Is Ian Paisley a Christian minister, or not? Are the Persian and Taliban ayatollahs clerics, or not? Were Stalin, Mao Zhedong and Pol Pot Marxists, or not?
Besides which, if these, and similar cases, are, or were not "proper believers", why do those proper believers never, ever do anything about it, except whinge?

So, we have another Corollary: 5a ] The bigots are the true believers.

There is a dangerous trap here. By fighting and studying the evil dragon of their opponent(s) and/or oppressors, a group, sect, or religion can easily become its' own evil mirror-image. Three current (2005) cases will suffice. I am sure any intelligent reader will be able to supply their own additional exemplars.
[I] Virtually everything Ian Paisley and his followers say about the RC church and its "evil" are true, and correct. But they have failed to see that they have also become a narrow, bigoted, bloodstained and oppressive reflection of the thing they most despise and fear.
[II] The previous Pope (John-Paul II) faithfully opposed the cult of Nazism, (or did he, really?) and the Stalinist version of Marxism. Now, he is a dragon too. Nowhere as evil as Adolf, or Joe, but a narrow, oppressive, censorious dictator, opposed to freedom of thought, reason, or logic, nonetheless. The current Pope (Benedict II), beautifully parodied by the magazine "Private Eye" as "Cardinal Ratpoison", is even worse. His rampant homophobia, his apparent joining of the Hitler-Jugend before it became compulsory, his authoritarianism ... need one go on?
[III] Persia / Iran, where opposition to the rule of the late Shah has produced a classic theocratic state. Of course, as always happens, an even more extreme movement, the Taliban, appeared in Afghanistan. Both these states have automatically enslaved half of their own populations - the female half. These are true "communities of saints", as were Calvin's Geneva, Cromwellian England, or Stalin's Soviet Union. Perhaps the best example of a total theocracy, where even when the personal representative of the people's enslavement dies, they mourn, rather than celebrate, is North Korea.

Some more thoughts on this topic.

If one looks at the actual record and behaviour of Christian "saints", or their equivalents in other belief-systems, one finds that most of them were complete egotistical bastards.
"Saint" Cyril of Alexandria ( Inventor of the doctrine of virgin birth ), Bernard of Clairvaux, Trotsky, and Joshua are all classic exemplars. People like that oddly matched pair, Saladin the Kurd, and Francis of Assisi are the exception, not the rule.
There is a relevant, subsidiary question.
What is a religion, what is a cult, and what, if anything, is the difference?
The only discernible real distinction is in the numbers of their followers, and the physical and political power that any one movement can wield. That apart, there appears to be no difference at all, particularly given the nature of the irrational rubbish purveyed by the major religions. An approximate measure has been humorously (?) suggested by the late J. L. Chalker: "When a cult converts more than 10% of a population, it is to be considered a religion."
Cults can, of course, arise as subsets of established religions or orders.
Current and past examples include:
The "Toronto blessing" and similar fundamentalist lunacies in Protestantism, Opus Dei, Hizb-ut-Tahrir, the Hasisheen, the orders of flagellants or the stylytics, etc. ...

It is very curious, that in most forms of Christianity, the teaching of Thomas Aquinas is official doctrine, but is almost never followed. Namely, that if the recorded "bible" says one thing, and careful experimental test and observation shows something else, why then, the "bible" is wrong.
In spite of this, in various faiths, we have all the usual irrational nonsenses. Concerning evolution, they say it is wrong, geocentric universes, female inferiority, the dictatorship of the proletariat, virgin birth, listening and writing down the words of angels reciting, etc.

Eve, 2006.02.10 (Fri) 21:18 [Link] »

Amen, amen, and amen to all of the above!

Fan-man said:

In the industrialized world, church attendence and membership are at all-time lows, and the opinions of Christian religious leaders are ignored by more and more people every day. This is why, all over the world, Christian churches are rushing frantically to convert impoverished, uneducated, ignorant people who don't have access to global mass media, the Internet, and all those historical, philosophical and religious views that contradict church dogma.

I couldn't agree with you more. What makes the RC's ineffectiveness, irrelevance, and outright hypocrisy even more blatant is what some of the countries in which these pressured people live could be resorting to so as to deal with problems such as over-population without directly challenging the RC.

I recently found out that in the Dominican Republic, which has a secular democratic government that nevertheless still has Catholicism on the books as the "official religion," and actually supports it with federal funds(!), doctors have allegedly been practicing vasectomies and tubal ligations on men and women - without their knowledge and therefore without their consent - as a federally mandated form of population control (the DR has socialized medicine).

I heard the story about the men from an immediate family member of mine (I'm half Dominican and my relatives still live there) who as a state urologist tells me he performed these covert vasectomies. Another of my immediate family members, who is a board member at one of the major state children's hospitals, told me about the women. Needless to say, these men and women are from the impoverished, uneducated, religiously-indoctrinated overwhelming majority of the exploding population, who tend to rank doctors on the same level as priests: infallible and therefore not to be questioned.

I believe my informers were both telling the truth because they're that close and immediate family, but I have no other, supporting evidence at this time so I realize this is strictly anecdotal. It would, however, make sense, as the DR is groaning under many burdens, not the least of which is that exploding population I mentioned above.

Rather than piss off that overwhelming majority of indoctrinated people I also mention above, and openly challenge the RC that still controls these same people, why not resort to covert measures to tackle the problem? Who cares if the civil rights of the operated patients are being systematically violated - they're not educated enough to realize what's being done to them, right? And my newly suspicious mind tells me that if the stories are true, the RC probably knows all about it and looks the other way while still publicly cranking out the old anti-birth control/abortion propaganda - no big surprise there.

Wow, I guess this was a rant, albeit a baby one. Religion sucks; I wanna worship Santa Claus! No, wait, he's a guy; you male chauvinists, trying to dominate me again with your oppressive patriarchal ways! Crap, gonna hafta find another fun deity now - hmmm...

Tom from the Two Percent Company, 2006.02.17 (Fri) 20:25 [Link] »

Wow, Eve mentions having to find another deity, and Fan-man didn't offer his god of choice up for worship? What kind of proselytizer are you, Fan-man? Of course, if Santa offends due to his masculinity, I can only imagine what emotional response Priam triggers.

Eve, 2006.02.17 (Fri) 20:49 [Link] »

I'm guessing from the link you mean Priapus instead of Priam? Nah, he doesn't offend me; wishful thinking rarely does! ;-)

The Tooth Fairy's female, so I could always take her up again when I'm old enough to start losing my teeth once more. Given the bleakness of our retirement future, the money would be quite welcome...

Suddenly I'm reminded of a friend of mine whom I once asked if he believed in salvation (guessing from his already-skeptical bent that he would have a smart reply). To my surprise, he said yes! I've founded a religion, he told me, called Joe-ism (yep, you guessed it, his name was Joe); if you pay me $500.00 in cash on the spot, I'll guarantee you a place in heaven, no questions asked.

With incentives like that, no wonder certain members of our species find religion profitable!

Tom from the Two Percent Company, 2006.02.17 (Fri) 21:00 [Link] »

If only I could be dishonest enough to have a career as a huckster. Man, I'd be rich!

Oh, and Priapus it is. In my sleepy end of the week coma, I confused the URL with the god. I hear that's a common mistake among the believer set.

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