Why Should I Respect the Bigoted Beliefs of Evangelicals and Other Assorted Fundamentalist Religious Fanatics?

I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex an area as glutted with churches as it is with endless shopping malls.

I’m generally of the opinion that we have about 50% too many of both and would be far better off with more public schools and parks, even green fields with cattle, sheep, goats, alpacas and llamas grazing would be better.

I have to confess.  I don’t get religion.

The same way I don’t get crystal/aroma therapy along with a bunch of New Age quackery.

Religion has always struck me as sort of like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny for adults.  Not just the three big time desert religions but Buddhism and all the rest.

Salvation and or eternal punishment have always seemed to be akin to parental threats of punishment when daddy gets home.

Who do you fucking think you are kidding with that one?

I think therefore I do not blindly believe, especially when believing requires me to deny physical evidence to the contrary.

I was told I needed to read the Bible as it was the word of God ™.  I read it and it seemed a mishmash of ancient mythology. Gods, demons, floods and a creation myth clearly at odds with the scientific one.  Science had evidence.  The desert religion had a myth no more believable than the ones of the ancient Greeks or for that matter Shinto.

One does not need a Ph.D. in Marxist analysis of the class structure to note that one of the main purposes of religion is to keep the masses subservient and submissive to those in power.

Nor does one have to be a radical feminist to notice how all religions seem to have as part of their core ideology the inferiority of women, how they all seem to be geared to support male supremacy.

By the time I was fourteen I had some pretty serious doubts about the whole God™ and the church/religion thing.

I saw it as something unreal, like how ghost stories are used to scare kids who are too dumb and too naive to know any better.

Then I discovered to my amazement how many adult people actually believed all sorts of bizarre stuff.

Like vaccines causing autism. Or Feng Shui. Crystal Therapy, aroma therapy, hugging gurus touting mysteries of the east.

Television preachers pushing heavy metal imagery straight out of Dante or the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch.

Fantastic tales filled with apocalyptic visions of dystopian futures that would occur because of some magic invisible guy in the sky.  Some magic invisible guy who was all powerful yet permitted Hitler.  A cosmic joker like the Norse god Loki who tricked people with talking serpents, fruit from the tree of knowledge and burning bushes.

The more I heard the more absurd it all sounded and eventually I came to believe that only ignorant people could really believe this crap.

I also came to believe those who peddled this crap were cynical manipulators who were using religion as both a con game and a power trip.

Lately I have come to view religion as a source of hatred of women and LGBT people.  I see gay friendly churches as being con artists milking LGBT people the same way the Rick Warrens of the world milk the homophobic bigots.

In high school, many years ago Upton Sinclair’s book The Jungle used to be on recommended reading lists, but other books by him, including Profits of Religion were never mentioned much less given a place on lists of books we should read.

To make a long story short I stopped believing in God™ when I was fifteen or sixteen.

Being skeptical kept me out of the clutches of a lot of mind fuckers over the years including gurus, Scientology, EST, the Wicca and others too numerous to mention.

Fifty years later I am still amazed at how many people fall for the cons put forth in the name of some magic invisible guy in the sky.

More and more I see the truly evil side of religion.  The woman hating, the hatred of people who are born different be they gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans*.

I see religion used to stir hatred and the apologists making excuses for terrorism committed in the name of God™.  Of course no “real_____” would ever engage in genocide. (Hitler and the European genocide of Native Peoples in the Americas come to mind)  Islam is the “religion of peace” except when suicide bombers commit terrorist acts of murder in the name of Allah.  Buddhism is the religion of peace too except when they clash with Muslims.

Perhaps the world would be better off without all this God™ crap and more stress on ethical behavior rooted in secular humanism.

Science offers more in the way of verifiable theories regarding the evolution of humanity and our place in the universe than all the religions put together do.

Through out our history ethical advances towards a more human society have been the product of men and women who have put forth ideas aimed at ending injustice and promoting humanist values.

Glenn Greenwald Speaks Out

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Exposing the Dark Forces Behind the Snowden Smears

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/exposing-dark-forces-behind-snowden-smears

Who is planting anti-Snowden attacks with Buzzfeed, and why is the website playing along?

By Max Blumenthal
June 28, 2013

Since journalist Glenn Greenwald revealed the existence of the National Security Agency’s PRISM domestic surveillance program, he and his source, the whistleblower Edward Snowden, have come in for a series of ugly attacks. On June 26, the day that the New York Daily News published a straightforward smear piece on Greenwald, the website Buzzfeed rolled out a remarkably similar article, a lengthy profile that focused on Greenwald’s personal life and supposed eccentricities.

Both outlets attempted to make hay out of Greenwald’s involvement over a decade ago on the business end of a porn distribution company, an arcane detail that had little, if any, bearing on the domestic spying scandal he sparked. The coordinated nature of the smears prompted Reuters media columnist Jack Shafer to ask if an opposition research firm was behind them. “I wonder who commissioned the file,” he mused on Twitter.

A day before the Greenwald attacks appeared, Buzzfeed published an anonymously sourced story about the government of Ecuador, which had reportedly offered asylum to Snowden (Ecuador has just revoked a temporary travel document issued to Snowden). Written by Rosie Gray and Adrian Carasquillo, the article relied on documents marked as “secret” that were passed to Buzzfeed by sources described as “activists who wished to call attention to the [Ecuadorian] government’s spying practices in the context of its new international role” as the possible future sanctuary of Snowden.

Gray and Carasquillo reported that Ecuador’s intelligence service had attempted to procure surveillance technology from two Israeli firms. Without firm proof that the system was ever put into use, the authors claimed the documents “suggest a commitment to domestic surveillance that rivals the practices by the United States’ National Security Agency.” ( Buzzfeed has never published a critical report on the $3 billion in aid the US provides to Israel each year, which is used to buy equipment explicitly designed for repressing, spying on and killing occupied Palestinians).

Buzzfeed’s Ecuador expose supported a theme increasingly advanced by Snowden’s critics — that the hero of civil libertarians and government transparency activists was, in fact, a self-interested hypocrite content to seek sanctuary from undemocratic regimes. Curiously, those who seized on the story had no problem with Buzzfeed’s reporters relying on leaked government documents marked as classified. For some Snowden detractors, the issue was apparently not his leaking, but which government his leaks embarrassed.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/exposing-dark-forces-behind-snowden-smears

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Where Would We Be Without Social Security?

From OtherWords:  http://otherwords.org/where-would-we-be-without-social-security/

June 26, 2013

Permission under Creative Commons

Nearly every single American is intimately connected with the earned benefits of Social Security and Medicare — as either a contributor, a recipient, or both.

In fact, a recent national poll indicated nearly 90 percent of us favor taking strong measures to preserve the long-term stability of both programs. So a recent report released by the trustees of Social Security and Medicare may have caused you to take notice and provoked you to think about — or tell — your stories. Here are a few I’d like to share:

Melissa M. of Stinson Beach, California, talked about her father-in-law, 60 years old, working for low wages six or seven days each week for 40 years as a manager of a nearby cattle ranch. “The one thing that keeps him going is the letter he gets from the Social Security Administration,” she said. It “tells him how much he has earned in Social Security.”

Allen J. of Portland, Oregon, remarked that he was “a liver transplant survivor because of Medicare.” Martin L. of Cortland, New York, said he was born with a heart defect that required open-heart surgery to replace it. Without Medicare, Martin writes, he “would have no life and no future.”

Alton S. of Lakeland, Florida, was planting a citrus tree when he felt a pain in his lower abdomen. That night, an emergency room doctor told him he had a ruptured diverticulum. Alton remembers overhearing someone say, “We better get this guy to surgery or he’s dead meat.” A combination of his private insurance and Medicare paid for a series of successful surgeries. Looking back, Alton believes Medicare is one of the most “humane and caring arms of our government.”

With a 33-year career as a nurse, Janet P. of Cotati, California, noted that she worked to keep her “clients stable enough to stay out of the hospital.” Every time Medicare or Social Security policy changes, her clients’ lives are affected. Even as she hustles for others, Janet is aware that she needs to think about her own future.

“My savings was in my house, but I lost that,” she said. “I’m older now…getting back that nest egg gets harder and harder, and I’m not confident that either Social Security or Medicare will be there for me when I’m not able to work full-time.”

These are Melissa, Allen, Martin, Alton, and Janet’s stories. Like millions of their neighbors, Social Security and Medicare keep them going, offering them a humane and caring future.

Congress must take sound action to ensure that the promise of both these programs remains fully funded for coming generations. If our elected officials do nothing, after 2026, the government will be able to pay approximately 87 percent of projected Medicare costs and, after 2033, roughly 75 percent of anticipated Social Security benefits.

The trustees offer us a sobering reminder, not a crazed alarm as some fear. Luckily there are many smart actions Congress can take in response, starting with raising the payroll tax cap and fully implementing the Affordable Care Act. These actions are within our reach and would have a dramatic and positive impact on the well-being of both programs.

Our elected officials need to hear from all of us today. It’s our budget and our future. Let’s weigh in.

Jo Comerford is the executive director of the National Priorities Project. You can find these stories and more by visiting the NPP’s Faces of the Federal Budget website. NationalPriorities.org/us/
Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org)

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Pushback Against Privatization Across the Country

From PR Watch:  http://www.prwatch.org/news/2013/06/12153/pushback-against-privatization-across-country

The decades-long effort to privatize public services and assets is hitting some bumps, with state and local governments reconsidering whether for-profit companies should be allowed to indiscriminately profit off of taxpayer dollars with limited accountability.

In New Jersey, legislation to ensure that public services won’t be privatized unless it will result in actual savings for taxpayers has passed both chambers of the legislature. In Texas, a bipartisan coalition is fighting against a private prison in Montgomery County, and Kentucky is rejecting private prisons altogether. And in Fresno, California, voters rejected a proposal backed by the city’s popular mayor to privatize trash collection services.

“The fact is, when taxpayers see what they lose by handing over control of their roads, prisons and other services, they don’t want anything to do with outsourcing,” says Donald Cohen, chair of In The Public Interest, a resource center on privatization. “We hope that what we’re seeing in places like New Jersey, Texas, Kentucky and Fresno is part of a trend to restore control of services to American taxpayers.”

New Jersey Could Curb Privatization Abuses

The New Jersey bill, if signed by Governor Chris Christie, might be the first of its kind in the nation. The legislation would prohibit privatization contracts that achieve “cost savings” by cutting services or raising rates, and also require that the company provide its workers comparable wages and benefits. This would thwart efforts by corporate interests to provide the veneer of cost savings by replacing middle-class public employees with low-wage workers.

The bill would also require for-profit corporations to actually stand by their promises: their performance would be subject to audit, which could lead to penalties or the loss of a contract if they fail to produce the promised cost savings.

Not surprisingly, the bill is opposed by groups like the Chamber of Commerce, who will likely urge Christie to veto it. And Gov. Christie is no stranger to privatization: at the same time the bill was moving through the legislature, Gov. Christie entered a contract to privatize the state’s lottery system. Whether he will sign this latest bill to guarantee accountability for privatizers remains to be seen.

Continue reading at:  http://www.prwatch.org/news/2013/06/12153/pushback-against-privatization-across-country

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California temperatures could reach 130F as heat wave hits western US

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/29/california-temperatures-western-us-heatwave

Two hundred people were treated for heat problems at a concert in Las Vegas as temperatures soar in California and Nevada

Associated Press in Death Valley
guardian.co.uk, Saturday 29 June 2013

Dan Kail was vacationing in Las Vegas when he heard that the temperature at Death Valley could approach 130F (54C) this weekend. He didn’t hesitate to make a trip to the desert location that is typically the hottest place on the planet.

“Coming to Death Valley in the summertime has always been on the top of my bucket list,” the 67-year-old Pittsburgh man said. “When I found out it might set a record I rented a car and drove straight over. If it goes above 130F I will have something to brag about.”

The forecast called for Death Valley to reach 128F Saturday as part of a heat wave that has caused large parts of the western US to suffer. Death Valley’s record high of 134F, set a century ago, stands as the highest temperature ever recorded on earth.

“The wind out here is like being in front of a blast furnace,” Kail said.

As temperatures soared in Las Vegas on Friday, 200 people were treated for heat problems at an outdoor concert, Clark County spokesman Erik Pappa said.

Thirty of them were hospitalized for heat-related injuries at Vans Warped Tour at Silverton Casino as temps reached 115F.

Most of the others “were essentially provided shade and water and a place to sit down,” Pappa said.

It was expected to get even hotter in Las Vegas over the weekend.

Phoenix reached 116F on Friday — 2F short of the expected high — in part because a light layer of smoke from wildfires in neighboring New Mexico shielded the blazing sun, the National Weather Service said. Phoenix was forecast to hit nearly 120. The record in Phoenix is 122.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/29/california-temperatures-western-us-heatwave

See Also:

Huffington Post: Phoenix, Las Vegas Bake In Scorching Heat