In conservative areas, it’s all the rage to build a monument to the Ten Commandments on government property. This doesn’t violate the separation of church and state, they lie, because it’s funded with private donations, and any other religion would toooootally be welcome to set up their own monument.
And anyway, America is a Christian nation! The Ten Commandments are the foundation of our democracy!
Or are they? Let’s take a look and see just how well the Commandments underly our American legal system.
1: I am the Lord thy God; Thou shalt have no other gods before me
Well, we’re already off to a bad start. The First Amendment explicitly prohibits this from being codified into American law. Not only is this not a foundational idea of our nation, it’s expressly illegal.
2: Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image
3: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain
The First Amendment also prohibits this from becoming law. You can say “God,” “YHWH,” “Jehova,” “Allah,” or “Xenu” all you want.
4: Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy
We actually used to have Blue Laws, which first prohibited all work, and later the sale of alcohol, on Sunday (which is not the Sabbath, by the way; that’s Saturday), but these have fallen out of favor as of late.
5: Honour thy father and thy mother
A nice sentiment, but still not codified into law.
6: Thou shalt not kill
We finally have a winner! We had to go more than halfway through the Ten Commandments before we found one that actually applies to modern-day America, but Thou Shalt Not Kill is a pretty reasonable rule. Of course, this isn’t unique to Judeo-Christian law, but yes, this one counts.
7: Thou shalt not commit adultery
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA), and a bevy of other moral crusaders, who just happen to be serial adulterers, are living proof that this commandment had no place in American government.
8: Thou shalt not steal
Another winner! So far, we are two for ten.
9: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour
And the hits just keep on coming! Perjury is expressly prohibited by law. Three for ten.
10: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s
This is so laughable it almost hurts. Coveting thy neighbor’s stuff is what capitalism is built on. If we followed this commandment, the US economy would collapse.
So there you have it, folks! Proof positive that the
Ten Three Commandments are the cornerstone of American law! All hail Baphomet!
If you haven’t seen the debate between Bill Nye (the Science Guy) and Ken Ham (the Answers in Genesis guy), you can watch it here. There isn’t a whole lot new here, if you’re at all familiar with the subjects of evolution and creationism, but I think it’s worth watching just as a template for an actual, reasonable debate.
Short summary: Bill Nye believes that the scientific method is the best way of gaining knowledge about our world, and thus believes in evolution, while Ken Ham believes that the Bible is the best means of gaining knowledge about our world, and thus believes in creationism.
One of the tactics Ham used to try and discredit evolution is the (made up) distinction between “observational” and “historical” science. Ham contends that it’s fine to draw conclusions about something you can actually observe, like the changes in Darwin’s finches’ beaks, but its impossible to draw accurate conclusions about things you did not personally witness. Ham uses this trick to dismiss literally every piece of evidence in favor of evolution and an old earth, simply by asking “were you there?”
“Were you there?” is Ham’s trump card. He states that because no scientist witnessed the Big Bang, we have no evidence for the Big Bang, and because we didn’t witness descent from a common ancestor, there is no valid evidence for the most fundamental premise in biology. Instead, we should trust the Bible, written by God, who did the creating, and Adam and Eve, who did the … being created, because they are first hand accounts.
I’m going to ignore the idea that something must be directly observed in order to draw a conclusion about it. Enough people watch CSI to know that’s bullshit. Instead, I’m going to ask Ken Ham one simple question: “were you there?”
Because Ham is claiming to know that Adam and Eve witnessed the events in Genesis. But was Ham there to verify Adam and Eve were around? And Ham claims that God inspired the Prophets to write the Bible, but was Ham there to see that moment of inspiration? Can Ham personally verify that God spoke to the Prophets, or that the Prophets correctly transcribed the conversation?
Because if not, everything in Ham’s creation museum is just “historical” science, and by Ham’s own claims needs to be dismissed outright.
Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong. Sin becomes fine… Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men…
It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.
I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field … They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, “I tell you what: These doggone white people” — not a word!”
-Phil Robertson, noted duck seducer
Phil? You’re fired.
So a horrible old bigot said something horrible and bigoted. Shocking, right? Except this time the horrible old bigot was also the star of the most popular TV show in the universe, A&E’s Duck Dynasty. And A&E, in an attempt to salvage the coveted gay-supporting, redneck-watching 18-45 demographic, fired him. Sorry, placed him on “indefinite suspension.”
Conservative media, of course, launched into an epic shit fit. And their arguments are, predictably, as ill-informed as their policies.
A&E is violating Phil Robertson’s First Amendment rights!
No, they aren’t. Because they can’t. The First Amendment says:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Conservative pundits cry foul on two counts: that A&E are taking away Phil’s right to free speech, and his right to exercise his religion.
Here’s the thing: you see that first word there. “Congress?” A&E isn’t congress. They aren’t the federal government. They aren’t a state government. They aren’t even a town board. The constitution protects us from the government, not from … from whatever the fuck A&E shows. I sure as fuck don’t know.
But that brings us to the second argument:
You shouldn’t be fired for your opinions!
I agree. Completely. Your beliefs, and your religious practices, are your own, and shouldn’t affect your employment.
I’m a fairly liberal Democrat. A majority of the people I work with, including some of the people I supervise, are staunch, conservative Republicans. I give zero shits about this, because their belief in a 6,000 year old Earth or the therapeutic value of lax gun laws doesn’t do a goddamn thing to their job performance. Similarly, my contention that Marco Rubio is a semi-sentient cancer stuffed into a too-small business suit has no impact on my ability to deliver on a contract.
But I would have an issue if, during a meeting with our customers, one of them stood on table and started screaming about how the darkies are going to rape all our wimmens. And they would have a problem if I pulled a customer aside and started rubbing my groin while talking about Elizabeth Warren’s Presidential prospects.
And that’s what this is about. A&E didn’t take action on Phil’s beliefs or religion, they took action on his behavior in front of the customer. Sorry, Phil, but you’re a public figure, and when you make shit-headed statements, it reflects poorly on your employer.
Of course, our conservative friends counter with:
You can’t put a redneck on TV and get upset when he says redneck things!
First, these guys are about as rednecked as I am:
I hate to break it to you friends, but Duck Dynasty contains about as much reality as a Time Warner Cable ad.
But that’s okay, because the audience doesn’t really want to watch real rednecks. They want to watch a loveable, mockable caricature of rednecks. Duck Dynasty is a cartoon with surprisingly realistic graphics. It’s a chance for people who spend eight hours a day selling goddamn sweaters to horrible mall trolls to laugh at the crazy guys with the squirrels in their beards, and for stock brokers to pat themselves on the back for not being born in Louisiana.
People watch Duck Dynasty to have a good time, not to be confronted with real, good-old-boy bigotry.
Of course, being offended at someone’s stone-age philosophy is outrageous, because:
You have to tolerate my intolerance!
No, really. Fuck you. And you know what? Fuck tolerance, too.
“Tolerance” implies that you’re giving someone permission. That you have some sort of power. Asking homophobes and racists to tolerate gay people and minorities amounts to saying “You’re right! Those gays sure are disgusting, and wow are those Mexicans lazy! But hey, can you just cut them some slack? Just tolerte them?”
Horse shit. The mere existence of gay people isn’t infringing anybody’s rights. The existence of black people doesn’t make it any less awesome to be white. These privileged, powerful, protect-the-white-man’s-world-at-all-cost assholes don’t have the right to oppress the people they hate, and asking them to tolerate their victims is fucking ridiculous.
Phil Robertson has the right to hate gays, but he doesn’t have the authority to tolerate them.
And finally, the poor, oppressed conservatives crow:
He’s not hurting anybody!
Really? How many states allow gay marriage? How many states protect you from being fired for your sexual identity?
Until the answer is “all of them,” gay people are suffering very real harm, and that’s happening because of people like Phil Robertson. And in places like Uganda, where “aggravated homosexuality” can earn you life in prison, where American evangelicals are pushing for the mother fucking death penalty for homosexuals, it’s even worse.
Phil Robertson, and people like him, are causing real harm to real people. And so is anyone who gives him a pulpit to preach from. A&E did the right thing by saying he doesn’t represent their views.
According to the US constitution, the Federal and State governments cannot establish an official religion. This means they can’t force you to go to Sunday school, and they can’t punish you for going to Mosque, for example. But it also means that the governments can’t show preference to one religion, either. It’s illegal for a town council to have an unending parade of Christians give the invocation while excluding speakers of other faiths.
It’s also illegal for the governments to spend money on religious activities. Like a Ten Commandments monument, for example. But some, erm, enterprising politicians have tried to do an end run around this by allowing private donors to erect religious monuments on public land. “Hey, we’re not discriminating!” they chortle. “It isn’t our fault that this billionaire Christian, who I just happen to play tennis with every week, is the only guy who could afford to set up a giant fucking statue on our completely neutral, open to anybody public lands!”
Enter the Satanic Temple of New York. Muahaha.
The Satanic Temple is raising funds to build a statue commemorating the literary Satan, which will sit right next to the statue commemorating the biblicalTen Commandments. And there’s really nothing the Oklahoma government can do about it, because they really aren’t trying to discriminate, are they? And hell, both displays honor the nation’s so-called Christian heritage, don’t they?
To be clear, most Satanists don’t actually worship the Devil. They’re atheists with a flare for the dramatic, mostly.
Demons, monsters, vampires … I love that stuff. I read about it, I write about it, I watch it on television and in the movies.
But I know that it isn’t real. I know that these are stories we tell each other, to scare and excite and entertain. Once upon a time, sure, people really believed this stuff, but now? We’ve moved on. We no longer live, as Carl Sagan said, in a demon haunted world.
Except for people like this, and their hundreds and thousands of followers. This is a documentary, not a fantasy, about a man who claims to battle the devil, and the people who believe him. Instead of getting real help from a real doctor, they turn to this man and his make-believe powers.
The man interviewed is right: this is a battle between good and evil. But the priests are on the wrong side.
April 5th, 2012 by Thomas
Tagged as: Religion
Comments Off on Vatican exorcist expels "real life" demons
This Week on the Web brings you a chance to win a signed copy of Sire, a sad farewell to Christopher Hitchens, dispatches from the front lines of the eReader wars, the real job creators, a whole bunch of Vampire Diaries news, and more!
This week on the Web brings you the latest (badass) Batman poster, Klaus’ Original siblings, Breaking Dawn (ten times shorter and one hundred times more honest), Voyager hauling ass for interstellar space, Verizon and Amazon being dicks, a raging bigot running for President, and more!
This Week on the Web brings you more of our wedding photos, how PayPal stole Christmas, a bunch of Top Three moments of TVD Season Three (they’re all wrong of course, because internet), the trailer for Joss Whedon’s Cabin in the Woods, a fifteen inch MacBook Air, the Obamacare Bomb, and more!