Pissed off, and getting more pissed off by the minute

I’ve kept quiet here about the whole Microsoft position regarding HR1515, even though, of course I felt betrayed and angry that my company would take away their support for the bill. That they would give in to religious extremists like that is distressing, and certainly sends a message to their gay and lesbian employees that the crazies can even make a behemoth like MS afraid. When we start appeasing these people like this, we’re in trouble. As I said on an internal discussion list at MS the other day, so MS caves to the religious fanatics on this bill. When they start threatening to boycott unless we stop offering same-sex partner benefits, at what point does MS put its tail between its legs and cave? And when they stat demanding we fire gay employees?

I kept quiet here because I was speaking out at work, and I figured, hey, everyone here knows how I feel. MS is a company I have always been a little ashamed to work for. But never more than today when someone sent out a link to an internal petition encouraging the company to remain neutral, which a few hundred people had already signed today, many of them with just downright insulting and demeaning statements about HR1515.

And of course, I’ve gone off and shot my mouth off in the discussion aliases and pissed a lot of people off. But goddamnit, I dont’ fucking care. If you want to sign a petition encouraging Microsoft not to support equal rights for all its employees, then I want to fucking insult you. Because you fucking desserve it. Because you’re a fucking bigot, and you can spin it any way you want, but you’re a piece of shit bigot and nothing more ,and I want you to be offended and insulted because you suck. You want to tell me to respect other points of view? Shove it. I respect legitimate points of view. I don’t respect racist, sexist, and homophobic points of view, and you can act like homophobia is different, but that just proves what an ignorant fucking creep you are.

There, I’ve vented, and said what would have gotten me fired had I actually responded to any of the messages I received today with what I wanted to say. Thanks!

Black and White in a Gray World

That’s the motto of Antioch Bible Church, the 3,500-member congregation in Redmond whose senior pastor, Ken Hutcherson, talked Microsoft into selling its gay employees (and other gays who had applauded its stand on tolerance) down the river.

It’s a fancy website for a techie suburb. You can donate online, download a sermon in case you missed one, and (ironically) “Search the Bible for a word, e.g. ‘Love.'” Someone could use a little more searching.

Call me crazy, but I think about 20 or 30 of us showing up on Sunday and busting out with a rousing chorus of “Jesus Loves Me” at a quiet moment would be a great idea. At the least, it would show Pastor Hutcherson that if he wants to bring his message of fear and alienation to our workplaces, we can bring our message of love and tolerance to his.

If these people want a “culture war,” I say bring it.

the pope is dead. long live the pope. sigh.

After just a few days of what were, I’m sure, intense deliberations, we have a new pope, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, or Pope Benedict XVI.

Pope’s choose their papal names, generally to show their intention to carry on the work of a previous pontiff or otherwise define the tone of their papacy. the name Benedict in papal lore is meant to signal a pope of peace, but all indications so far contradict that image. In addition to holding fast to JohnPual II’s archconservative views against birth control, and about the role of women in the church, the new pope takes conservative to an even more frustrating level.

Ratzinger was a member of the Hitler Youth, though a self-proclaimed reluctant one, and served in the Nazi military. He has stated that, while the church deplores violence, violence against gays and lesbians is a result of their own nerve in being who they are. He is also on record as saying that Buddhism would “replace Marxism as the Catholic Church’s main enemy this century.”

I’ve described myself as a “recovering Catholic” for years now, one that acknowledges the ridiculous abuses of the church and it’s hypocrasies, but can’t quite let go of everything. Mainly, those strings that still tether me to the church I was raised in are made of my belief in the tenets of Christ’s teachings–that peace, tolerance, compassion, and understanding are the basis of Chirstianity–and that the church, as a creation of human beings was inevitably fallible. What other strings there were have had to do with nostalgia–with the smell of Our Lady of Sorrows at Christmas Eve Mass, of the ties to my Irish, Italian, and Polish forebears.

But those ties have for years been made of very thin strings. The church may have been right in opposing Bush and Co’s rush to war, but they were absolutely wrong in opposing birth control or women’s ordination or the rights of priests to marry. For every positive I could find in church doctrine, there were multiple other disturbing policies. And John Paul II, as conservative as he was, as disagreeable to my modern, liberal, American viewpoint, as he was, was undeniably a man who did reach out to the poor, and who seemed genuinely to care about the fate of the least of Christ’s brethren.

Benedict XVI, on the other hand, emits no such peace. He was a Nazi, has excused violence against gays, and talks about other systems of belief as enemies of his church. With his election as our new pope, I see very little good coming from the church, and much as I was disappointed in the people of my country for choosing such a divisive and cruel leader in November’s election, so am I disappointed in the Catholic establishment for choosing such a man as their “infallible leader.”

As of today, I no longer consider myself a recovering Catholic. I am an ex-Catholic.

Soiled Hands

The acknowledgement of the religious right by the Reagan presidential campaign was an important milestone for Pat Robertson and other evangelical leaders seeking to co-opt political actors to forward their social agenda. The marriage of the Republican party and religious conservatives has proven to be a fruitful one with the rise of Republicans to dominate all branches of government and the ascendance of “Christian values” as a pervasive rhetorical tool in support of discriminatory policies.

Ralph Reed, one of the most recognizable children of this union, may be exposing (yet again) the hypocrisy of this conservative alliance with his candidacy for Georgia’s Lt. Governor and the scrutiny that any campaign invites from its opponents.

Unlike most conservative Christian leaders, Mr. Reed was drawn to Republican politics first and evangelical faith later. He arrived in Washington as a 19-year-old Senate intern in 1981 and became executive director of the College Republican National Committee two years later, under Mr. Abramoff as chairman. From the New York Times

The connection to Abramoff is the crux of the issue here. It seems that Mr. Reed’s political consulting company received over $4 million through Abramoff to help close down Indian casinos in Texas and Louisiana. He, of course, denies knowledge that the money originally came from the Coushatta tribe trying to eliminate competition from neighboring tribes.

The web of connections throughout the Republican Party is pretty extensive and due, in no small part, to the active lobbying by Mr. Reed on behalf of his client, Mr. Abramoff. Conservative stalwarts like Senator Cornyn, then the Texas Attorney General, are directly linked to this scandal.
On his own, Mr. Reed has not shown very good judgment either. During the Bush/Cheney 2000 campaign Reed was a consultant to the campaign while working on behalf of Microsoft to influence presidential candidates with regard to the software company’s antitrust problems.

The point that I am driving to here is this: religious conservatives should take a very hard look at their relationship with the Republican Party and consider getting an annulment.
Continue reading “Soiled Hands”

When’s my Justice Sunday

The continuing attempt to erode the separation of Church and State by the Republicans in Congress and their ideological attack dogs of religious conservatives should have all Americans worried about their civil liberties and the Constitution which guarantees them. The upcoming “Justice Sunday” television diatribe scheduled for April 24th is just the latest and most potent example of how well organized and financially powerful this coalition has become over the last 20 years.

Organizations like the Family Research Council are becoming more confident in their efforts to manipulate elected officials into ignoring the framework of our government and setting aside the rights of all Americans to enshrine the “values” of a distinct minority. How do they do it? Well, for starters they lie…
Continue reading “When’s my Justice Sunday”

Meet the Dominionists

Rollins Stone has a terrifying article on some of the scariest mofos around. You should really read it. With a strong drink in hand.

Meet the Dominionists — biblical literalists who believe God has called them to take over the U.S. government. As the far-right wing of the evangelical movement, Dominionists are pressing an agenda that makes Newt Gingrich’s Contract With America look like the Communist Manifesto. They want to rewrite schoolbooks to reflect a Christian version of American history, pack the nation’s courts with judges who follow Old Testament law, post the Ten Commandments in every courthouse and make it a felony for gay men to have sex and women to have abortions. In Florida, when the courts ordered Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube removed, it was the Dominionists who organized round-the-clock protests and issued a fiery call for Gov. Jeb Bush to defy the law and take Schiavo into state custody. Their ultimate goal is to plant the seeds of a “faith-based” government that will endure far longer than Bush’s presidency — all the way until Jesus comes back.

The article recounts the Dominionists’ annual meeting at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale. Frighteningly enough, I’ve been to that church, with my grandparents, just a few months before I came out. I have been to lots of churches–frankly, a lot of scary churches–in my life, but I don’t remember ever being in one that was so actively frightening. Most frightening was Rev. James D. Kennedy, who has all the venom of a Father Coughlin with none of the charm:

The godfather of the Dominionists is D. James Kennedy, the most influential evangelical you’ve never heard of. A former Arthur Murray dance instructor, he launched his Florida ministry in 1959, when most evangelicals still followed Billy Graham’s gospel of nonpartisan soul-saving. Kennedy built Coral Ridge Ministries into a $37-million-a-year empire, with a TV-and-radio audience of 3 million, by preaching that it was time to save America — not soul by soul but election by election. After helping found the Moral Majority in 1979, Kennedy became a five-star general in the Christian army. Bush sought his blessing before running for president — and continues to consult top Dominionists on matters of federal policy.

“Our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost,” Kennedy says. “As the vice regents of God, we are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our literature and arts, our sports arenas, our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors — in short, over every aspect and institution of human society.”

How bad does the story get?

Activist judges, of course, are precisely what the Dominionists want. Their model is Roy Moore, the former Alabama chief justice who installed a 5,300-pound granite memorial to the Ten Commandments, complete with an open Bible carved in its top, in the state judicial building. At Reclaiming America, Roy’s Rock sits out front, fresh off a tour of twenty-one states, perched on the flag-festooned flatbed of a diesel truck, a potent symbol of the “faith-based” justice the Dominionists are bent on imposing. Activists at the conference pose for photographs beside the rock and have circulated a petition urging President Bush to appoint Moore — who once penned an opinion calling for the state to execute “practicing homosexuals” — to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The other side knows we’ve got strongholds in the executive and legislative branches,” Cass tells the troops. “If we start winning the judiciary, their power base is going to be eroded.”

FYI to my family, this is the kind of shit that makes me want to put our house on the market and not come back from Australia when we visit in May. Any Christian who does not vocally stand up against these people, and against their influence in politics, will have blood on their hands if these people achieve their goals.

Literal blood. Mine, if they get their way.

Faith based science

It seems like an oxymoron, but apparently there is such a thing. And sitting square in the crosshairs of the faith-based scientists, that bastion of evil, those minions of Satan, that’s right, um, IMAX?

It’s not like I’m an IMAX junkie or anything. The last time I went was after we’d all read In to Thin Air and wanted to see the Everest movie. But when heavy handed extremists determine not just what they have access to, but what I have access to… well, I’m just repeating myself. Again. Repeatedly.

IMAX has a statement on the issue here.

Now let us praise famous fascists

A recent post by Digby over at Hullabaloo has made me realize that perhaps the best thing I could do as a blogger is to focus on Focus on the Family and its Christofascist founder James Dobson. As it happens, Dobson is a Nazarene and so I grew up hearing lots about him. People I know well (and know to be terrible frauds and probably felons) work in his organization. I don’t really hate anyone, but as Dobson has risen from mere pontificator to the self-appointed pontiff of the Evangelical extremist right he has come close.

As my father would say, though, don’t get mad– get even. Since Dobson’s face appears in the dictionary next to the phrase “holier-than-thou,” I think it’s high time that people begin to apply serious scrutiny to his beliefs, his organizations, and his actions. Expect more here soon.

But to start, read Digby’s post about Dobson’s description of beating the family dog, a 12-pound dachshund… from his book on Christian child-rearing Dare to Discipline. If a dog-beater’s notes on parenting don’t strike your fancy, read this mid-90s expose by a former Focus on the Family vice-president. It was a scary read back in the ’90s when Dobson was still relatively obscure. Now that his threats to politicians are big news, it’s even scarier.