Fighting Religious Tyranny

Blog Against Theocracy

We need to step up our fight against religious tyranny, for there are surely those fighting as hard as they can on theocracy’s behalf.

The politically dominant expression (and face) of faith in this country is that of conservative Christianity.  And conservative Christians are in battle mode over their perceived right to force their religion on Americans.  Attempts to portray themselves as the victims only makes sense in that they are weakening.    To paraphrase Mike Gronstal’s incredible daughter(via),  they don’t get that they’ve lost.  Maintaining love segregation is a position held by the old and the fearful.  Men and women who clutch onto their bibles tightly in the presence of unbelievers, and who are only comfortable to the extent that they can force their peers to adhere to their own religious laws.

That this flies in the face of the letter and spirit of our constitution means nothing to them.  Theirs is a single-minded pursuit that allows no room for observation of facts or the inclusion of reason.

Fortunately ours is a resistance to religious tyranny that allows no room for pessimism or blindness.  Rather than fight for control, we stand up for freedom.  For all the Christians who wear their faith on their neighbor’s sleeve, there are those who truly embody the noble spirit of love and humility.  And that is why this is a fight that will go to those who value love.

But no fight is sure until the ending bell tolls.  We must engage in the practical optimism of committment and steel ourselves to see this battle through to victory.  And be certain that the anti-love crowd will surely to step up their attacks (mostly by ratcheting up the crazy) in the coming years.  For example, ironically named NationForMarriage (aka NOM NOM NOM) has a video attacking gay marriage by suggesting it is in fact an attack on conservative Christians and their own faith.

Irritating, no?  So how should we respond?

I think there are two immediately clear approaches.  One is satire that cuts close to the bone.  An idea behind NOM’s deliciously innacurate ad is that public schools teaching kids gay marriage is ok is somehow wrong.  We can run a satirical using impact and extension.  The impact ad would go like this:

Teacher: “Everyone, during the last week of parent teacher conferences, we found out Billy’s parents are both men!”

(Flash to a surprised and slightly embarrassed Billy)

“Gay marriage is morally wrong.  His parents are sinners.”

(Billy slinks below his desk)

“Feel free to bully him during recess.”

(Billy gulps and looks at a nearby, larger kid with a mean look on his face).

“Next up, Rachel!  I hear your parents are Jewish, and are therefore going to hell?”

(Cut to the slogan “Church and State: They Belong Together”).

The extension ad would go like this:

Concerned Parent: “Do you want schools teaching your kids about gay marriage?”

Concerned Parent: “Just how many other non Christian ideas might your kids be subjected to?”

Concerned Parent: “Sex before marriage is ok?  The Bible isn’t 100% true?  The world wasn’t created by God?  Not believing in Jesus is ok?”

Concerned Parent: “Where will it end?”

(Cut: “Put the Christ Back in Schoolchrist”)

The other approach to satire is to go for the throat of their interpretation of Christianity itself.  We can start by advocating and adgitating to give liberal and moderate Christians a voice in the national dialogue on faith.  Too often the only people allowed to speak for Christianity in the public square are conservative Christians.  A good next step would be to bring discussion of religion’s rationals and merits into the public square.  This means more discussions not just of whether or not to be religious (and finally including the nonreligious), but internal religious discussions of what it means to be a Christian brought out into mainstream discourse.  When all we have are conservatives controlling what we are allowed to talk about, we’ll get nowhere.  There is so much more to the disccusion of what religion means and what we can get out of it.

As a part of this effort we need to make an effort to give the 15% of Americans who have no religious affiliation a very public political voice.  This means more elected officials, more voices in the media, and inclusion in discussions of faith’s role in public life.  It means aggressively revealing and debating public officials who treat unbelievers as social deviants.  We need to start including the non religious in inter religious efforts to promote understanding.  For example, a local interfaith dialogue between Christians, Muslims and Jews needs to include Humanists!  We need to get those who do not believe in God, or in Scriptures, or just in organized Religion into the light so religious Americans can realize “hey, they aren’t that scary after all”.  We need to make clear that the 15% with no affiliation are not all atheists, but include Americans who believe in God but don’t adhere to holy books (like myself), and Americans who believe in Scripture don’t take kindly to organized religion.  Each of these groups needs to be seen and heard.  We need to give the non religious the voice we are so adamantly denied.

To sum up, we have every reason to feel optimistic, but now is the time to step strongly forward.  We should use sharp humor as our primary weapon, and work to change the rhetorical landscape to include more traditionally excluded voices (liberal and moderate Christians, the non religious, etc).

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(blog against theocracy logo author)


The Second Ammendment: Revolution

The second ammendment clearly protects the right to have an armed militia, and not individual rights as its been successfully perverted over the years (wiki):

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Because let’s face it, its poorly written.  Its essentially conflating “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” with “a well regulated Militia”.  Oops.

But they’ve come to be interpreted as separate, and I’d like to deal with the rational behind the NRA and other gun-toting groups out there.  Why should we have the right to bear arms?

The first reason that pops off the top of my head is Self Defense.  This isn’t that shabby an argument.  Take an etnertaining stroll down the posts at the Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog.  Between scaring off robberies, vigilanteism occasionally resulting in murder, and entirely accidental shootings, it doesn’t make too clear a case in either direction on its own.  But let’s not suppose people guilty before proven innocent, and allow that at least some civilians use guns legitimately as self defense.  That’s not what interests me.

What has me thinking is the idea that our right to bear arms affords us some protection, any protection, against a tyrannical state.

If the United States Government began rounding up “problem reporters“, anarchists, and known peace demonstrators, would you expect:

  1. People would be outraged.
  2. There would be direct action, including massive street protests.
  3. Politicians would take meaningful actions to free the political prisoners and stand up to the government.
  4. There would be armed resistance.

If you answered anything more direct than 1, I think you’d better prepare to be dissapointed.  First of all, its doubtful the arrests would even be covered.  They wouldn’t be directly censored, just ignored.  Most people would never know.  The ones who did, while angry, would they risk arrest themselves to protest?

I think its clear off the bat that however much faith we put in our politicians of choice, 3 is not a realistic possibility.

Which leaves 4, and I ask you.  Even if we throw away the idealism and strategic pragmatism of non-violent resistance, does anyone honestly think there’d be a lick of a chance against a government so much more powerful than its citizens?

This is why when I hear arguments about the second ammendment being necessary to protect against a fascist government I can’t help but laugh.  By the time we’ve gotten that far it will already be too late.

But that begs the important question.  If tomorrow the US went into lockdown, would business change for anyone not directly affected?  Would enough power (people or political) put itself at risk to fight back?  And if not, if this challenge to our liberty is left unmet, what the hell is stopping the government from doing this whenever they want?

And what the hell is wrong with me, when even mentioning armed resistance (despite my opposition to violence as a political means) makes me nervous?

Atheism and Violence

LeftBack92 links approvingly to a faulty video attacking atheists for violence:

Transcribed from the video:

Quick Note:

Not all atheists are like this; just as not all self proclaimed “Christians” are evil or bad as others may want you to think.

It is the godless structures of man that are dangerous.

One might, easily, make the same claim. That religious power structures are dangerous, and often used to insight people to violence. Actually any power structure can be so abused, whether explicitly religious or not religious. Tyrants are tyrants whether they wave the Cross or a Red Flag.

The saddest thing about this video isn’t that the creators clearly do not understand atheism is simply a lack of belief in God, nor is it that they seem to be saying atheists ought to be ignored and “dropped” by religious people. The saddest thing is that they think one must believe in God or else. And as someone who believes firmly in God, this strikes me as quite tragic.

Although it certainly is ironic to see implied justification for violence against atheists in a video supposedly decrying violence.

Tibetan Bravery, Chinese Cruelty and World Cowardice

In the face of severe human rights violations and oppression by China, Tibetan activists are on the march:

Tibetan exiles vowed to defy an Indian government order that they stop their march from the northern Indian city of Dharmsala to Tibet’s border in a protest against China’s rule over their homeland.

About 100 people — mostly students and monks — plan to reach India’s border with Tibet for a confrontation with Chinese authorities just before the Beijing Olympics begin in August, according to Himachal Pradesh, president of the Tibetan Youth Congress and one of the march organizers.

“As long as the issue of Tibet is not resolved, we will resist China occupation,” Pradesh said.

Several hundred monks clashed with Chinese police near the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, on Tuesday, according to Radio Free Asia. It was the second day of protests by monks on the 49th anniversary of a failed uprising that forced the Dalai Lama into exile.

Even as Tibetans continue to resist oppression with non-violence, the Chinese government has stepped up its program of tyranny:

Human rights activists decried the U.S. State Department decision to drop China from its list of the world’s worst human rights violators, saying that China’s crackdown on dissent is getting worse, not better, as it prepares to host the Olympic Games in August.

“We and others have documented a sharp uptick in human rights violations directly related to preparations for the Olympics,” said Phelim Kine, Asia researcher with New York-based Human Rights Watch, who said the State Department’s decision comes at the worst possible time for activists seeking to pressure Beijing to relax restrictions on free speech, release political prisoners and improve human rights protections.

Removing China from this list is not diplomacy.  It is a knife in the eye.  The Tibetan protest is a call the world must rise to meet.  Doing so would send a clear message to those who resist oppression with violence and outright terrorism.

Just in the past week, Chinese police clashed with Tibetan monks demonstrating for independence in Lhasa, capital of the remote mountainous region. Human rights activist Hu Jia, jailed after organizing a petition saying that Chinese wanted “human rights, not the Olympics,” was informed that his trial on charges of subverting state power could begin as early as this month. A prominent human rights lawyer, Teng Biao, was abducted by the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau and then released two days later. And a Web site that organizes expeditions to Mt. Everest posted a notice that China was barring climbers from the mountain’s north face until after May 10, when a runner carrying the Olympic torch is scheduled to reach the summit en route to Beijing. Last April, Chinese expelled five Americans after they unfurled “Free Tibet” banners at the Everest base camp.

“Human Rights, not the Olympics”.  We need to get our priorities straight.

J Edgar Hoover and Giuliani

Via NewsCat, this set off some alarms:

Over the holidays there was a little noticed story published about recently declassified papers showing that in July 1950, only a few days after the beginning of the Korean War, J. Edgar Hoover wanted President Truman to round up and detain 12,000 American citizens.

Who was he targeting?  Does anyone want to be it was suspected communists?  Think of how close we came in recent history to the mass arrest of American citizens on the basis of political beliefs.

Now, couple that with two particular notes about Rudy Giuliani:

If elected Giuliani would extend the already power mad style of the Bush administration to new levels. Glenn Greenwald has the scoop:

Over the weekend, it was revealed by National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru that Rudy Giuliani believes that, as President, he would have the power to imprison American citizens without any sort of review of any kind, and Giuliani stated he hoped to exercise that power only “infrequently”


Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.

Some say history repeats itself.  Combine a Giuliani Presidency with that history and the rising tide in eliminationist rhetoric, and we have an instant recipe for an oppressive tyranny on a massively tragic scale.  This time there would be no President to turn down J Edgar Giuliani’s request.  Giuliani would be the President.  A President who’s view of executive power extends ever further than George W Bush.

Pakistan’s Tragedy: Bhutto’s Assassination

With all the talk of pain, impact, and blame, it is necessary to focus on our own role in Bhutto’s assassination (TIME):

Haqqani, now a professor at Boston University, isn’t sure what the latest bloodshed means for his country. “Will the Pakistani military realize that this is going to tear the fabric of the nation apart, and so really get serious about securing the country and about getting serious in dealing with the extremist jihadis?” he wondered. But he made clear he feels the best chance for such a policy has just evaporated. “She did show courage, and she was the only person who spoke out against terrorism,” he said. “She was let down by those in Washington who think that sucking up to bad governments around the world is their best policy option.”

In putting the “war on terror” above every other foreign policy concern, we’ve overlooked tyranny and despotism.  This is bound to have an impact.  Now it may be that Pakistan’s undemocratic leadership was not to blame for this assassination.  It may have even been the work of terrorists seeking to disrupt the country politically.

But what we must face is that the divided country which faces this tragedy does so in a world our single minded foreign policy helped craft.

“”How can somebody who can shoot her get so close to her with all the so-called security?” said a distraught Husain Haqqani, a former top aide to Bhutto, shortly after news of her death flashed around the world. Haqqani, who served as a spokesman and top aide to Bhutto for more than a decade, blamed Pakistani security, either through neglect or complicity, in her assassination. “This is the security establishment, which has always wanted her out,” he said through tears.

And if it does turn out the Pakistani government played a role, through direct involvement or through purposeful indifference, then we have yet another bloody reason to take a look at our policy of supporting dictators who meet our short term military needs.

Padilla: The Tortured Verdict

Our own government tortured a man until he was declared insane by an expert, overrode her opinion and then barred the jury from even hearing about the torture so they could get a conviction.  This is not justice.  This is tyranny.