As the actor Richard Tillman – brother of former Army Ranger and former NFL player Pat Tillman – appeared as a guest on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday promoting the film "The Tillman Story" about his brother’s death in Afghanistan, host Maher played a clip from Pat Tillman’s funeral in which Richard Tillman mocked the religious references made at the funeral by speakers Maria Shriver and John McCain. Maher went on to praise Richard Tillman as having "a lot of balls" for his words as there was also moderate applause from the audience.
Maher set up the clip: "But, you know, they had Maria Shriver and John McCain... Speaking there, and Maria said, "Pat, you are home. You are safe." And McCain said, "You will see Pat again when a loving God reunites us all with our loved ones."
Then came a clip of Richard Tillman speaking at the funeral while nearly crying: "Thank you for coming. Pat’s a f------ champion and always will be. Just make a mistake, he’d want me to say this. He’s not with God. He’s f------ dead. He’s not religious. So thanks for your thoughts, but he’s f------ dead."
After applause from the audience, Maher responded, "That’s a lot of balls, my friend."
As liberals tumble over each other extending apologies to Muslims for any American that would even whisper idly about burning a Koran, they should start apologizing for the Daily Kos. On Friday night came a plea from the atheist blogger "qinkilla" to burn all the religious texts, to keep people warm:
I am fine with the Koran being burnt, but only if the Bible and the Torah and any other religious document is included in the prodigious torching. If you've watched the Denzel Washington movie "The Book of Eli" you'd probably think that a braille copy of the Bible could save humanity. Well, in this country, we've got one of 'em in just about every hotel and motel room - and things just aren't getting better.
I believe sans religion, we'll all be better off....So here's my plan. We spend the next month gathering up all the religious documents in the world -- after all, it's time to let the invisible man go - and we allocate them to cold places, so they can be burned for a good cause...heat.
CNN on Friday disgustingly advocated for a watered-down, more politically correct version of Christianity.
Highlighted at its website was research from a Princeton theology professor on the state of Christianity among teenagers. The study found that American churches have fallen for PC feel-good morality that's afraid of confrontation - and the result is a generation unable to distinguish Christianity from simple theism.
The author of the study, Kenda Creasy Dean, said the process was "depressing" as she interviewed one Christian after another describing God as a "therapist" who exists to validate their "self-esteem." Worse yet, many of them could not give a coherent explanation of the Gospel, content with a general belief that God wants them to "feel good and do good."
And in MSM newsrooms across the fruited plain, there was much rejoicing. Incessant pressure to water down Christianity has finally paid off.
CNN reporter John Blake wrote a piece on the sad phenomenon with no introspection as to who might be causing it:
“Bible Schmible!” That’s essentially what an article on the Washington Post’s “On Faith” blog by Susan Jacoby (aka. The Spirited Atheist) said about the moral and legal issues surrounding same-sex marriage. Jacoby approvingly quoted Judge Vaughn Walker’s recent opinion overturning California’s Proposition 8’s restriction of marriage to a union of a man and woman.
“Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians,” Walker had written. Jascoby called it a “historic sentence,” but admitted she didn’t have much hope the Supreme Court would uphold Walker’s decision.
“The profound religious conservatism of Robscalitomas (my acronym for Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas) probably means four automatic votes against gay marriage as a right guaranteed by the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” she wrote.
It's not often you see an obituary as snarky and bitter as the one written by British columnist Johann Hari announcing what he called the "slow, whining death of British Christianity" in the UK edition of GQ and online at The Huffington Post.
Citing an unlinked ICM study, which is not available on the organization's website, Hari called on reader to "put your hands together and give thanks, for I come bearing Good News. My country,Britain, is now on the most irreligious country on earth."
Hari called Christianity, "superstition," "weak," "cruel," and based on "intimidation." He predicted that, "As their dusty Churches crumble because nobody wants to go there" and predicted that "the few remaining Christians in Britain will only become more angry and uncomprehending."
While he mentioned Judaism and Islam twice, Hari focused his ridicule on Christianity and the Church of England. He used the survey to call for an end to government support for Anglicanism.
The atheists at the Daily Kos blog just keeping lobbing bombs. On Friday, the blogger with the handle "Something the Dog Said" protested the protests against the Cordoba Center mosque at Ground Zero. After predictably assigning the anti-abortion shooters to the Christian conservative camp, the Kosmonaut actually said the Muslims are "a pale reflection" of radicalism compared to Republicans:
In the end it is just the SOP of the Republican Party. Find and issue and whip up hysteria, without consideration of the long term affects or what might be lost by the tactic. It is just another of the legion of reasons why the modern Republican Party can not be trusted with the government of the United States or any single state for that matter. The radicalization they claim will come from mosques is just a pale reflection of the radicalization that has occurred in the ranks of their Party. If there is a group to fear, it is Radical Republicans, which is basically to say the most of the Republican Party at this point.
The "Spirited Atheist" of The Washington Post, Susan Jacoby, predictably trashed Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston as not only "poster children for the dumbing down of America" and as "most middle-class American parents' worst nightmare," but proof of what happens when religious people show off their contempt for book learning:
Although the children of politicians are generally off-limits, Bristol is an exception for two reasons. First, she has made herself into a public figure not only by sharing her personal life with the world but by her loopy performance as a spokesperson against teen pregnancy. (I wonder how it promotes the message that teen pregnancy is a bad idea when a young woman is financially rewarded and glamorized by the media precisely because she was a pregnant teen lucky enough to be the daughter of a famous mom.)
Second, Bristol was used by her mother as an asset to placate the religious right-wing base of the Republican Party during the 2008 campaign. She was a living demonstration of Sarah Palin's opposition to abortion: Look at my teenage daughter, she made a mistake and did the right thing by having the baby. The only more shameless aspect of Sarah's campaign was her constant exhibition of her Down Syndrome son. Look at me, I didn't have an abortion like those terrible elitist women who make fun of me for not reading books.
For all the daily talk on the Daily Kos that conservatives are dictatorial, their cast of bloggers isn't without grand designs for social control. Take this post: "Time to begin working for the death of religion (a rant)." The diarist "BlueMoon" expressed no attempt to disrupt free speech, but the "end of organized religion" must be attempted:
However, the time has come to begin work to actively disrupt official organized religion of all stripes. Yes, I know there are many good christians. But when I hear of another moral pronouncement coming out of the Roman Catholic church, I am ready to splutter.
The church of pedophiles that brought you Cardnal Law and the current head, Ratzinger dares open its filthy mouth again? To preach about morality?
The Reverend Phelps dares picket servicemen's funerals? And tell us all that "Heath [is] in Hell?" And call Lady Gaga a "proud whore"?
A variety of crazy wackos calling themselves the "Tea party" peddle vicious racism masquerading as christian faith.
Someone get Lee Greenwood on the phone; he's going to want to know about this.
In a front-page Style section report July 5, The Washington Post breathed a sigh of relief that Independence Day gives Americans a break from those God-heavy holidays like Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving.
"He's got the whole world in his hands?" To one atheist, it's more like ‘He's got the whole world under his thumb."
David Smalley, the editor of American Atheist magazine and a self-described "civil rights activist," wrote in a personal blog post June 7 that Christian daycare "a form of child abuse."
"In short, by starting your child off in a Christian environment, you are heading them down a path of forced ignorance," Smalley wrote. "At least let your child begin in a secular world, and if he or she chooses Christianity after an age of accountability, then so be it. But forcing them to learn things as fact that you don't even know to be true is a form of child abuse: inducing psychosis with thoughts of good and evil watching over them, as if they are constantly being graded or evaluated."
Smalley further stereotyped and generalized religion-based childcare by suggesting "it's bad for positive self-esteem, and slows social development later in life."
It shouldn't surprise anyone that Viacom's Comedy Central is developing an animated show practically designed to offend Christians. But the network's handling of recent controversy over depictions of the Muslim prophet Muhammad illustrates a stark double standard in how the entertainment media deal with issues of religion.
Comedy Central announced it is developing the script for an animated show tentatively titled "JC." According to the network's release, the show is about Jesus Christ "wanting to escape his father's enormous shadow to live life in [New York City] as a regular guy." The announcement described God as "all-powerful yet apathetic" and said the show would be a "playful take on religion and society with a sprinkle of dumb."
The show promises to stand in sharp contrast to the network's treatment of another religious figure: Muhammad. In 2006, Comedy Central censored a segment of "South Park" that depicted Muhammad. In April of this year, the network added audio bleeps to the second of a two-part episode to cover any mention of the prophet, as well as an end-of-show speech about freedom of expression and giving in to intimidation. The first episode of the story arc featured Mohammad hidden inside a moving truck and a bear costume.
This censorship came in response to a threat from a radical Islamic website, based in the United States, which warned that "South Park" creators would face violent retribution for "insulting" Muhammad by featuring (although not showing him) on the episode.
Tavis Smiley has apparently been asleep for the last ten years. That, at least, is the only logical explanation for his claim that Christains engage in terrorism far more often than Muslims. He also thinks the Tea Party is a comparably dangerous force to radical Islam.
"There are so many more examples of Christians who do that," Smiley claimed, referring to terrorism, "than you could ever give me examples of Muslims who have done that inside this country where you live and work." He was discussing terrorism with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born writer and former member of the Dutch Parliament.
Ali claims it is her mission to "inform the West about the danger of Islam," but Smiley was more concerned with the danger posed by Tea Party protesters, who "are being recently arrested for making threats against elected officials, for calling people 'nigger' as they walk into Capitol Hill, for spitting on people." None of those claims are true, but then again the segment was replete with falsehoods (Full video and transcript below the fold - h/t Greg Hengler).
On Friday night's Real Time, HBO talk-host Bill Maher berated conservative (and fellow atheist) S.E. Cupp for her new book Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media's Attack on Christianity. “Liberals are not atheists any more than conservatives are. Michael Moore is religious! Chris Matthews is religious! Al Sharpton is religious!” Maher went so far as to insist the liberal media has “never” attacked religion:
MAHER: But this is your premise, that the liberal media is attacking religion.
Daily Kos may be an almost official stop of the Democratic Party -- today's top ad demands you help the Arizona Democrats fight the new immigration law -- but it's certainly not a religious website. In fact, last Friday, the blogger "HumeSkeptic" declared that all religions pale in comparison to earth worship:
In so far as all morality is fundamentally based on preservation, betterment and continuation of life, there is no higher morality than environmentalism.
The Pentagon rescinded the invitation of evangelist Franklin Graham to speak at its May 6 National Day of Prayer event because of complaints about his previous comments about Islam.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation expressed its concern over Graham's involvement with the event in an April 19 letter sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. MRFF's complaint about Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, focused on remarks he made after 9/11 in which he called Islam "wicked" and "evil" and his lack of apology for those words.
Col. Tom Collins, an Army spokesman, told ABC News on April 22, "This Army honors all faiths and tries to inculcate our soldiers and work force with an appreciation of all faiths and his past comments just were not appropriate for this venue."
Watch the latest business video at &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a href=&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;http://video.foxbusiness.com/&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;video.foxbusiness.com&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;It is virtually impossible to separate economics from politics, and politics from a society's culture - but is economics inherently intertwined with religion as well?
Fox Business Network (FBN) anchor Stuart Varney thinks so. On FBN's April 14 broadcast of "Varney & Co." Father Jonathan Morris joined the show's panel and explored the question.
"Do you think that Europe's paganism - it's turn away from Christianity - has anything to do with Europe's economic decline?" Varney bluntly asked the priest. "Can you link this secularism - what I call ‘paganism' in Europe- directly to economic decline?"
"Certainly Europe is much more secular than the United States, and all of a sudden you lose hope," Morrison said. "If you lose hope in what life is all about, you're not going to work very hard. On the other hand, if you have hope that what I'm doing today matters tomorrow - and I'm building a life and I'm building my family and we're going places - and there's something beyond this life? You're going to be hopeful, you're going to make money - you're going to build the culture of life and goodness."
No, hell hasn't frozen over but, yes, the Huffington Post now has a religion blog. The Huffington Post, a Web site devoted to rankling conservatives and pushing a liberal agenda, announced on Feb. 24 that it was launching HuffPost Religion.
Huffington Post's co-founder, Arianna Huffington, claimed it would simply be "a section featuring a wide-ranging discussion about religion [and] spirituality," but the numbers prove that it is more of an attack on traditional Christianity than a discussion.
The site didn't waste any time throwing punches. In its first two weeks, it churned out articles by a liberal nun calling Catholicism sexist; a Rabbi claiming that Judaism will "stagnate and cease to be meaningful" unless it participates in the "green movement;" an avowed atheist comparing those who believe in God to a 7-year-old still believing in the tooth fairy; a science writer warning being religious could lead to "dangerous side-effects" such as "the crusader jihadist mentality;" and a neuroscientist calling those who believe in "obsolete religious ideas" a "lunatic fringe."
HuffPost Religion is the religion blog that hates religion, but the faith it abuses the most is Christianity.
NBC’s "Law & Order" programs are long-established and all over the schedule. But the sex-obsessed vice cops of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" are a breed apart. They exist to be socially provocative, which is to say, to rattle, to disturb. Viewers at home probably weren’t ready for the plot that aired on NBC on March 3. These script writers are so revolting that they become almost comical.
As you read what follows, you decided how closely this mirrors anything resembling the world of reality.
Someone was strangling prostitutes to death and leaving prayer cards behind. The first suspect was a perverted man whose wife proclaimed he had converted to Christianity and overcome his sinful ways. The cops quickly discovered the man dismissed his wife as a "prude" and he was cheating on her with a variety of young girls, because "it’s not a crime to want a little variety" in his sex life, including "toys, role play, and threesomes." Despite his ardor for sexual gunplay as well, this so-called Christian was not the strangler.
If anyone was looking for a self-righteous extreme feminist, they found one in Angie Jackson. This is a woman who was so proud she was aborting her baby that she announced she would "tweet" her chemical-cocktail abortion live, as it happened, on Twitter. The liberal media found this made-for-TV slaughter fascinating, and not at all a controversy worthy of discussing with two sides.
Newsweek’s Sarah Kliff proclaimed: "One hundred thousand people have watched Angie Jackson's abortion. Late last month, Jackson posted a video of herself to YouTube, recorded after she took RU-486, a medication used to end pregnancies." Kliff asked only "why shame remains" about the act of killing one’s baby. Jackson was honored for her courage in "demystifying" and "destigmatizing" the procedure: "We need 10,000 more of her," proclaimed Peg Johnston, chair of something called the Abortion Care Network. This desire for 10,000 more unashamed abortions is what "pro-choice" is all about.
Overall, this was just another classic tale from the "news" magazine that lamented 20 years ago that "Sadly, many home [abortion] remedies could damage a fetus instead of kill it." What about the pro-life side?
For some atheists, a person should not be honored for decades of humanitarian work if she also happens to be a professing Christian.
That's the only conclusion one can draw from the recent uproar of the Freedom From Religion Foundation over the U.S. Postal Service's commemorative stamp featuring 1979 Nobel Prize winner Mother Teresa.
"There's this knee jerk response that everything she did was humanitarian," griped FFRF spokeswoman Annie Laurie Gaylor, according to a Jan. 28 Fox News article. "And I think many people would differ that what she doing was to promote religion, and what she wanted to do was baptize people before they die, and that doesn't have a secular purpose for a stamp." She also asserted that this is part of the Roman Catholic "PR machine" to "make [Mother Teresa] a saint."
Just to clarify: the Church does not consider a commemorative stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service a necessary step to sainthood.
Lefty author Margaret Atwood has created, in the form of a novel, the environmentalist's bible. "The Year of the Flood", as it is titled, is not merely a figurative bible for a dispersed and sporadic collection of greenies, but rather a sacred testament (the author says as much) for a movement that, every day, looks more like a church--complete with sin, salvation, and saints (one of whom is--you guessed it--Al Gore).
In an interview with Atwood, National Public Radio's Steve Inskeep described "The Year of the Flood" as gloriously melding science and religion into a harmonious enviro-theology. Atwood "thinks that in the future we could see a religion that combines religion and science," Inskeep states.
But the more the listener learns about Atwood's novel, the more he or she realizes that the book does not meld science and religion. Rather, it does away with religion and replaces it with radical environmentalism. Here is an excerpt from the NPR interview (h/t CATO's David Boaz):
The headline writers of Washingtonpost.com ought to win an award for the dumbest question of December. In a sentence promoting their discussion board for "The Secularist’s Corner," they wrote: "One in four Americans believe in 'spiritual forces' like ghosts. Is belief in the supernatural unlike the traditional story of Christmas?"
Is the traditional nativity story of Jesus unlike the story of... Casper the Friendly Ghost? Is the writer here an adult?
The headline is also goofy: "Christmas ghosts abound." Susan Jacoby, the unbeliever who hosts "The Secularist’s Corner," didn’t ask this question in her discussion-starter. She did suggest that Americans will believe all kinds of nonsense. Her headline was "You name it, Americans believe it." As an atheist, she doesn’t see any contradiction in embracing Jesus and New Age beliefs. It's implied they’re equally wacky:
Actor Sam Elliott, who played the Texan aeronaut Lee Scoresby in the 2007 movie "The Golden Compass," has blamed the Catholic Church for scaring Hollywood away from creating a sequel.
"The Catholic Church happened to ‘The Golden Compass,' as far as I'm concerned," said Elliott in a Dec. 14 interview with the London Evening Standard.
Elliott claimed that the Church "lambasted" the company that produced "The Golden Compass," New Line Cinema, and "scared New Line off." Elliott was referring to the boycott organized by Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. The London Evening Standard quoted Donahue's reason for opposing the movie.
"The reason I protested was the deceitful attempt to introduce Christian children to the wonders of atheism in a backdoor fashion at Christmas time," said Donahue. "Everyone agrees the film version was not anti-Catholic, but that hardly resolves the issue. The fact is that each volume in the trilogy becomes increasingly anti-Catholic."
As the British columnist Peter Hitchens put it, Pullman's trilogy "depicts priests as evil and murderous, drunk and probably perverted, and the Church as ‘a conspiracy against happiness and kindness.'"
But can the Church truly be blamed (or cheered, depending on your point of view) for the failure of "The Golden Compass" in the box office?
Got an idealized notion of Christmas? A cherished memory, or a favorite carol or story? The simple smell of pine needles in your living room? Do you insist on celebrating the birth of the savior?
If so, you’re at war, like it or not.
The main war on Christmas – we’ll call it the conventional war – has been well-documented, and it goes on, with victories and defeats for both sides. In Loudoun County, Va. on Dec. 1, the Board of Supervisors reversed a ban on religious holiday displays on the courthouse lawn. (The one supervisor who voted “no” said, “I am concerned that this motion would turn the courthouse grounds into a public circus.”) Meanwhile, in Arizona, public school children remain unable to use Christmas themes when decorating ornaments for the Capitol Christmas tree.
There is plenty to report from the conventional front. But there are other fronts. There is the sexualization of the holiday, either in service to commercialism or out of the lefty arts community’s desire to be “transgressive” (read, vile and offensive). And there are the attempts squash the mysteries and magic that accompany even a traditional secular Christmas.
So from “living” lingerie mannequins to Frosty’s “porn collection,” and from the lies you tell about Santa to our president’s “non-religious” observance, here are some dispatches from the war on Christmas, 2009.
CNN correspondent Max Foster’s short report about Richard Dawkins on Tuesday’s Situation Room played more like a commercial which promoted the militant atheist’s new book. Despite Dawkins’s past inflammatory statements about Christianity, Foster only labeled him “an outspoken critic of creationism....[whose] atheist views have put him at the center of controversy” [audio clip available here].
Anchor Suzanne Malveaux’s introduction for the correspondent’s report highlighted the 150th anniversary of the printing of Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species,” and how Dawkins was a “controversial successor [to Darwin] carrying the torch for evolution.” Foster gave a very basic description of Dawkins’s career during his report, only mentioning his controversial stances only in passing. Video straight from the Richard Dawkins Foundation ran on-screen as Foster, an anchor for CNN’s sister network CNN International, gave his voice-over.
"For the record, our third story is neither ridiculing nor disputing [Sarah Palin's] religious beliefs. It is purely an attempt to discern exactly what those beliefs constitute, so that the voters of 2012 know exactly what they`re getting."
Such was amazingly uttered by MSNBC's Keith Olbermann Tuesday night.
Bear in mind that we are almost three years away from Election Day 2012, and most political analysts on both sides of the aisle don't believe former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is going to run for President then.
Regardless, the "Countdown" host actually spent over five minutes examining -- and, contrary to his assertion -- ridiculing her religious beliefs.
In fact, the disparagement began right from the get-go with how Olbermann described the object of his disaffection (video embedded below the fold with full transcript, h/t Story Balloon):
The New York Times's Maureen Dowd spent some time in Catholic school as a youth, but judging from her latest rant/column, she didn't learn too much about actual Catholicism.
Dowd's anti-Catholic screed reveals that of someone who knows almost nothing about the Catholic faith. She also deceives her readers about a number of topics, including a 2004 letter issued by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger before he became Pope Benedict XVI.
Reporting the lead story on CBS’s Sunday Morning, correspondent Martha Teichner touted a new on-line poll conducted by Parade magazine about religion in America: “nearly a quarter of the respondents call themselves spiritual, not religious. And how about this? Half the people polled say they seldom, if ever, attend religious services.”
One supposed religious expert Teichner spoke with about the poll findings was Barnard College professor and Episcopal priest Randall Balmer, who argued: “And so you have all these religious options out there and we Americans are good consumers.” Teichner asked: “So you’re saying that Americans choose their faith or their spirituality in very much the way they shop a mall.” Balmer replied: “I think they do.” In 2006, Balmer wrote Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America.
The Parade magazine cover story about the poll was written by Christine Wicker, author of The Fall of the Evangelical Nation. In addition, Wicker is also a contributing writer for the left-wing blog The Huffington Post. Just days prior to the 2008 presidential election, Wicker authored a post entitled “Evangelical Leaders Using God Like a Hired Gun,” in which she claimed: “They tried branding Obama the anti-Christ. They tried linking him with Islamic terrorists....They’ve used their pulpits to endorse McCain...None of these tactics has brought their errant minions under control. So using God like a hired gun to terrorize the town’s people, the evangelical Christian mullahs are declaring that Obamageddon is at hand.”