Silsbee Texas: Apologists for Rapists

A girl was raped in the Texas town of Silsbee by a student athlete.  Since the rape, she has been ordered to “lay low”, kicked off the cheerleading squad for refusing to cheer (when ordered by superintendent Richard Bain Jr) for her rapist.  The community turned against her, supporting the rapist (and his accomplice), calling her a slut, and a bitch (one cowardly family even going so far as to put their 2 year old up to the task) and even threatening her life.  The Supreme Court of the US has shown brazen moral bankruptcy in refusing to hear her free speech case (rape victims don’t rate as high on their priority list as corporations seeking to influence elections).  As a result she now owes school district $45,000 in legal fees.  (You can donate directly here, or commission comic art with all proceeds going to help pay the fees here (via)).  Trigger Warning: Full Details Here.

While it is worth calling attention to the heroic actions of the two young men who broke down the door (putting an end to the attack) and even attempted to chase down and confront her attackers (in one case succeeding), on the whole the town of Silsbee and its citizens have shown themselves to be the very worst sort of people.  There is a vile rotting husk of flesh where there ought to be a heart, and their actions epitomize so much of what is deeply wrong with our country.  They need to be taught a lesson in morality.

I’m not sure what form that lesson ought to take, whether a boycott will have any meaning for instance.  Given the campaign of shame and harassment aimed at this young woman, I think it only appropriate to respond – legally – in kind.  Below the fold is contact information.  For the superintendent of schools.  For city hall.  A link to a google search with a list of Churches.  Call the superintendent and let him know what kind of person he is.  Call city hall and let them know their town is no longer the home of “Tiger Pride”, their new public face is “Rapist Pride”.  Call the churches and ask ministers and priests to work their thoughts on rape into their sermons.  Clearly communicate both what you think of the people you call, the community at large, and what it is their moral responsibility to do: Regardless of their court victory, the school district owes the rape survivor and her family an apology – and to absolve them of any responsibility for paying the district’s legal fees.

Continue reading


The Psychological Victims of Fundamentalist Christianity

This is incredibly fucked, but it is a topic of some interest for me, and one I plan on revisiting.  As Amanda notes, this stuff is “fucking frightening”.  Matt Taibi writes in Rolling Stone about his experiences at a three day intensive convert-a-thon.  He starts things off by discussing the contrast between the soon-to-be-converted and the Pastor.  This kind of Predator Christianity singles out the weak and exploits their insecurities to rope them into the flock.  This isn’t St. Augustine struggling with his sense of morality or identity and choosing his faith consciously.  This is psychological assault:

There were almost no breaks or interruptions; it was a physically exhausting schedule of confession, catharsis, bad music and relentless, muscular instruction. The Saturday program began at 7:45 a.m. and did not end until ten at night; we went around the confess-sing-learn cycle five full times in one day.

The organizers got an in by going straight to their victim’s soft spots:

True, I could see some other angles to what was going on as well. Virtually all of the participants of the Encounter identified either one or both of their parents as their “offender,” and much of what Fortenberry was talking about in his instructional sessions was how to replace the godless atmosphere of abuse or neglect that the offenders had provided us with God and the church. He was taking broken people and giving them a road map to a new set of parents, a new family — your basic cultist bait-and-switch formula for cutting old emotional ties and redirecting that psychic energy toward the desired new destination. That connection would become more overt later in the weekend, but early on, this ur-father propaganda was the only thing I could see that separated Encounter Weekend from the typical self-help dreck of the secular world.

From there it swiftly descends into language thick with religion and guilt (emphasis mine):

We were unhappy because of earthly troubles from our childhoods, but those troubles were the work of a generational curse, inflicted upon us by devils and demons — probably for unbelief, bad behavior, disobedience, worship of the wrong gods and so on.

This little bit of semantic gymnastics helped transform all of us at the retreat from being merely fucked up to being accursed carriers of demons. Having ridden an almost entirely secular program to get our biographies out in the open in a group setting, Fortenberry could now switch his focus to the real meat and potatoes of the weekend: Satan and the devils inside us.

Thats the substance, but Pastor Philip drops his cards and lets slip the goals of the unfolding manipulation:

Fortenberry then started in on a rant against science and against scientific explanations for cycles of sin. “Take homosexuals,” he said. “Every single homosexual is a sexual-abuse victim. They are not born. They are created — by pedophiles.”

Here is where things get fucking scary (emphasis mine):

The crowd swallowed that one whole. One thing about this world: Once a preacher says it, it’s true. No one is going to look up anything the preacher says, cross-check his facts, raise an eyebrow at something that might sound a little off. Some weeks later, I would be at a Sunday service in which Pastor John Hagee himself would assert that the Bible predicts that Jesus Christ is going to return to Earth bearing a “rod of iron” to discipline the ACLU. It goes without saying that the ACLU was not mentioned in the passage in Ezekiel he was citing — but the audience ate it up anyway. When they’re away from the cameras, the preachers feel even less obligated to shackle themselves to facts of any kind. That’s because they know that their audience doesn’t give a shit. So long as you’re telling them what they want to hear, there’s no danger; your crowd will angrily dismiss any alternative explanations anyway as demonic subversion.

And there we have our problem.  A sizable proportion of Americans being brainwashed to the point that discussion with them is impossible.

“In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, I cast out the demon of the intellect!” Fortenberry continued. “In the name of Jesus, I cast out the demon of anal fissures!”

Cough, cough!

The minutes raced by. Wayne Williams was now fully prostrate, held up only by a trio of coaches, each of whom took part of his writhing body and propped it up. Another bald man in the front of the chapel was now freaking out in Linda Blair fashion, roaring and making horrific demon noises.

Rum-balakasha-oom!” shouted Fortenberry in tongues, waving a hand in front of Linda Blair Man. “Cooom-balakasha-froom! In the name of Jesus Christ, I cast out the demon of philosophy!”


This kind of movement is more than simply anti-science.  It is anti-intelligence, anti-self-determination.  Can you really own your own choices when the very idea of making a decision without “consulting Jesus” is thrown out?  When intellect and philosophy are seen as evils?

Forget that philosophy has played a central role in every major religious tradition in the world, and Christianity is well represented with a host of excellent philosophers and theologians.  Aside from offering a misrepresentation of the religion it claims to espouse, fundamentalist Christianity gums up the gears of free will, outsourcing intellectual judgment to Christ.  (No wonder some Christians believe morality disappears without God.)

These effects are dangerous and lasting (emphasis mine):

By the end of the weekend I realized how quaint was the mere suggestion that Christians of this type should learn to “be rational” or “set aside your religion” about such things as the Iraq War or other policy matters. Once you’ve made a journey like this — once you’ve gone this far — you are beyond suggestible. It’s not merely the informational indoctrination, the constant belittling of homosexuals and atheists and Muslims and pacifists, etc., that’s the issue. It’s that once you’ve gotten to this place, you’ve left behind the mental process that a person would need to form an independent opinion about such things. You make this journey precisely to experience the ecstasy of beating to the same big gristly heart with a roomful of like-minded folks. Once you reach that place with them, you’re thinking with muscles, not neurons.

By the end of that weekend, Phil Fortenberry could have told us that John Kerry was a demon with clawed feet, and not one person would have so much as blinked. Because none of that politics stuff matters anyway, once you’ve gotten this far. All that matters is being full of the Lord and empty of demons. And since everything that is not of God is demonic, asking these people to be objective about anything else is just absurd. There is no “anything else.” All alternative points of view are nonstarters. There is this “our thing,” a sort of Cosa Nostra of the soul, and then there are the fires of Hell. And that’s all.

This is a major problem.  These people vote.  They run for office.  They win office.  They set policy and write laws while fondly recalling the social sophistication of the dark ages.  And they cannot be argued with.

I highly recommend Cracks in the Wall over at Orcinus (Pt 1, Pt 2, Pt 3), about efforts to break through and help the people trapped behind the wall of Predatory Christianity.  That’s a start.

A Long Nomination Battle is OK

If Barack takes Ohio, and I think he will, Hillary may still try to stay in the race with a Texas win.  And that’s ok.  Here’s why.

We can actually take a page from right-wing blowhard Rush Limbaugh:

“I want Hillary to stay in this…this is too good a soap opera,” Limbaugh told fellow conservative talk-show host Laura Ingraham on Fox News Friday. He reiterated the comments on his Monday show and replayed the exchange with Ingram.

He also said Clinton is more willing than the Republican National Committee and John McCain’s campaign to criticize Barack Obama.

“We need Barack Obama bloodied up politically. It’s obvious that the Republicans are not going to do it, they don’t have the stomach for it,” Limbaugh continued. “As you probably know we’re getting all kinds of memos from the RNC saying we’re not going to be critical. Mark McKinnon of McCain’s campaign said he’ll quit if they get critical over Obama. This is the presidency of the United States we’re talking about. I want our party to win I want the Democrats to lose.”

Its not obvious that the Republicans are going to do it.  They’ve been engaging in a whisper campaign about race and religion since before Obama began looking like a serious front-runner.  But he is right that Clinton will go after Obama.  The problem he can’t see is that Hillary Clinton is not as rhetorically skilled as Obama, and she’s using the right’s cards against him.  Hillary is attacking from their side of the aisle, and her attacks are failing.  She’s relying on iocane powder, and by the time McCain steps up with a mild dosage at the ready, Obama is going to be immune(and devastatingly witty).

Hillary Clinton’s attacks revolve around fear, security, and experience.  Not only are these attacks failing to put her over the top, she is losing.  Her cold pragmatism fails next to Obama’s inviting optimism.  John McCain is going to run a very similiar campaign against the Illinois Senator.  He’s going to claim experience, he’s going to use fear, and he’s going to play the cranky old man to Obama’s youthful optimist.  The longer the primary campaign drags on, the more the Clintons are going to dip in McCain’s bag of tricks.  By the time the general election roles around, Obama will be battle tested and prepared, and McCain will be out of ammo.

Texas Minister: Murder and False Idols

A Minister turned himself in for a murder he committed 14 years ago, and the reactions from the community are striking (CNN, Hat tip to Sally Jane Beaufort):

The youth minister who confessed to a 1994 killing is being widely forgiven by members of his former congregation, who say they admire his courage in finally surrendering to police.

Calvin Wayne Inman, 29, confessed to a slaying he committed nearly 14 years ago, police say.

Calvin Wayne Inman, 29, remains jailed without bail since he was charged Wednesday with capital murder in the stabbing death of a convenience store clerk during a robbery. He was 16 at the time.

On approach, you do have to admire the courage it takes to turn yourself in for a crime you essentially got away with. Especially when the crime carries such significant consequences. But some of his flock want to erase those consequences (emphasis mine):

He’s a hero, really,” said Kelley Graham, 24. “I don’t know how many people would do what he did. The Bible says you just need to confess to God. Calvin took an extra step.”

“The debt he’s paying to our society is teaching our young people to do the right thing,” said Cheryl Ellis, a member of the church’s youth staff. “To lock him away someplace and say he owes it to society is robbing the next generation of a mentor.”

Robin Thac said her 17-year-old son was active in the youth group that Inman led.

I am thrilled my son has a role model to accept responsibility the way Calvin has,” Thac said. “There are way too many men who don’t accept responsibility.”

This is scary stuff.  And a great reason why letting Church run State is a really really bad idea.  How many Christians actually believe in the idea of redemption so strongly they would remove the legal consequences for it?  This reminds me strongly of Amanda’s piece asserting a link between extremist belief and our justice system.

A man who killed another man is not a hero.  He should absolutely not be pardoned.  While any person who turns themselves in ought to see a reasonable leniency and pragmatism applied in their case, to imagine that person utterly skirting responsibility for their crime is really beyond the pale.  This man is not a hero to be worshiped.  He is a murderer who needs help and deserves punishment, and who finally found the courage to ask for it.

Texas: Making Education a Joke

These days we expect the anti-intellectual movement known as creationism to rear its head wearing “Intelligent Design” as a flimsy disguise.  Not in Texas!  Tony’s curricublog:

Would Texas state approval of the creationists’ masters degree program in “Science Education” jeopardize its satisfaction of the NCLB requirement for a “Highly Qualified Teacher” in every classroom, and its reciprocity arrangements for teacher qualification in other states?

In an editorial for the Edmond (OK) Sun, with the headline Knowing difference between science, religion important in schools, Dennis Weigand warns against the danger of Oklahoma being plagued by the kind of anti-science-education efforts seen now and recently in the neighboring states of Kansas and Texas.

This will have serious and lasting impact on Texans, and unfortunately, the rest of us when they move to other states and start doing things like voting or speaking out loud.

what if it’s not just Texas students, but the science teachers in that state who are not well enough educated in the sciences that they can tell the “the difference between science and religion”?

What we have here is an attempt to kill the ability of some students to reason.  Reason, in the view of some religious proponents, must be restricted so as not to approach the pearly gates of faith.  “Keep your Reason off my Bible” might as well become the new slogan for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.  To see specifically what the approved program will be:

to get a good overview of the program without clicking through the pages on their site, you can visit this post on Ed Darrell’s blog.

This is ridiculous.  It is an assault on the quality of education provided by the state, separation of church and state, and the ability of Texas students to live and flourish in a world that runs on science.

I wonder what Mike Huckabee’s or Ron Paul’s take on this would be?  (For more on creationism, evolution, and the candidates: the Carpetbagger Report).