Sunday, November 29, 2015

Religious Right Tweets About the Planned Parenthood Shooting

On November 27th, a gunman killed three people and injured several others at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Figures from the Religious Right, including prominent anti-abortion activists, have weighed in on the attack. Many condemned the attack and expressed grief for the victims, but a few couldn't resist taking swipes at abortion.

Mass Shooting at Planned Parenthood Clinic in Colorado Springs

On November 27th, a gunman killed three people and injured nine others at the Planned Parenthood office in Colorado Spring, Colorado, according to ABC News. The armed standoff reportedly lasted for five hours, after which the gunman was taken into custody by police.

According to Reuters, police identified the suspect as 57 year-old Robert Lewis Dear, who allegedly said "no more baby parts" after his arrest. Dear's alleged comment may have been a reference to videos released by the Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion group that has accused Planned Parenthood of allegedly selling fetal tissue. However, the Center for Medical Progress condemned the shooting spree as "barbaric" in a November 28th statement, calling Dear a "madman". (Hat tip to Huffington Post.)

Police records acquired by the Daily Beast indicate that Dear had a record of run-ins with law enforcement in South Carolina. For instance, Dear's wife called police after a domestic violence incident in 1997. Dear had also been arrested for a "peeping tom" incident in 2002 (the charges for which were later dismissed) and animal cruelty in 2003 (for which he was found not guilty).

On the evening of November 29th, hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil for the shooting victims in Colorado Springs. An Associated Press video captured the community's grief Garrett Swasey, a University of Colorado police officer who was killed during the mass shooting.

Condemnation of the shooting was swift and strong. The Guardian reports that after a November 28th vigil at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Colorado Springs, Rev. Nori Rost called the gunman a "domestic terrorist" who used a "weapon of war" to murder people.

Vicki Cowart, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains, grieved for the dead and expressed gratitude to law enforcement in a November 27th press release. Cowart stressed that Planned Parenthood would not stop providing services, despite the current "poisonous environment that breeds acts of violence".
"We share the concerns of many Americans that the continued attacks against abortion providers and patients, as well as law enforcement officers, is creating a poisonous environment that breeds acts of violence. But, we will never back away from providing critical health care to millions of people who rely on and trust us every day."
President Obama lamented the "easy accessibility" of guns in a November 28th statement about the attack.
"We don’t yet know what this particular gunman’s so-called motive was for shooting twelve people, or for terrorizing an entire community, when he opened fire with an assault weapon and took hostages at a Planned Parenthood center in Colorado. What we do know is that he killed a cop in the line of duty, along with two of the citizens that police officer was trying to protect.  We know that law enforcement saved lives, as so many of them do every day, all across America.  And we know that more Americans and their families had fear forced upon them.

This is not normal.  We can’t let it become normal.  If we truly care about this -- if we’re going to offer up our thoughts and prayers again, for God knows how many times, with a truly clean conscience -- then we have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wielding them.  Period.  Enough is enough."
Media reports stress that the gunman's motive remains unclear. However, a mass shooting at a Planned Parenthood facility and a suspect who reportedly said "no more baby parts" both suggest that the gunman may have been an anti-abortion extremist. This tragedy reminds us that we must confront anti-abortion extremism in order to prevent future tragedies. No one should die because of right-wing extremism. No woman should live in fear of exercising her reproductive rights. No clinic staffer should have to accept violence as part of their job.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

RH Reality Check: Anti-Choice Leaders’ Response to Colorado Violence Reveals Tension Between Rhetoric and Actions

Progressive Secular Humanist: Christian Conservatives Celebrate Colorado Planned Parenthood Shooting

Los Angeles Times: Colorado embodies nation's divide over gun control

Sunday, November 22, 2015

News Tidbits: Xenophobia Edition

In the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, some right-wing figures have lashed out at law-abiding Muslims and Syrian refugees. (More here and here.) Some right-wing leaders have called for everything from bans on Syrian refugees to mosque closures to monitoring of Muslim residents. Xenophobia and bigotry are very much alive in the U.S., sadly.

Even my home state, Pennsylvania, has not escaped the controversy. When Governor Wolf stated that Pennsylvania would still accept Syrian refugees, some Pennsylvania lawmakers and citizens urged him to reverse his decision.

Below are news stories on the recent eruption of open xenophobia among some Republicans and right-wing figures.

The Tennessean: Tennessee GOP leader: Round up Syrian refugees, remove from state

Washington Post: ‘Rabid’ dogs and closing mosques: Anti-Islam rhetoric grows in GOP

Kansas City Star: Missouri lawmaker calls for legislature to stop ‘Islamization of Missouri’ by Syrian refugees

CNN: Trump would 'certainly implement' national database for U.S. Muslims

Media Matters for America: Fox Business Chyron: "Close All U.S. Mosques?" 

Talking Points Memo: GOP Rep. Bashes 'Xenophobic And Knee-Jerk' Rhetoric On Syrian Refugees

(Hat tip to Slaktivist for some of these links.)

Commentary Tidbits

Rolling Stone: What the Hell Is Going on With Ben Carson?

Seattle Pi: Mark Driscoll, ex-Mars Hill pastor, to speak at conference: ‘The Most Excellent Way to Lead’

The Inquisitr: Family Research Council: Josh Duggar's Former Employer Addresses P0rn Addiction 

Right Wing Watch: Cruz Touts Endorsement Of Radical Anti-Choice Activist Troy Newman

Salon: Stephen Colbert just nailed the GOP’s Christian hypocrisy on Syrian refugees with one Bible verse 

The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser: “Taking Her Myself” A New Trend in Quiverfull Courtship & Betrothal

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Stop Eating Rice with Your Hands, Jim!

Vic Berger has done it again. In this YouTube video, Berger somehow makes Jim Bakker and his dehydrated doomsday food even more creepy. Enjoy scenes of Bakker eating rice with his hands and stirring goopy "cheese" sauce with a shovel. (Oh, and remember to buy separate shovels for digging latrines and serving cheesy rice.)

Friday, November 20, 2015

News Tidbits

USA Today: Josh Duggar sued by p0rn star for sexual assault

Associated Press: Ohio lawmaker push ban on LGBT conversion therapy for minors

The Columbus Dispatch: Advocates back Ohio bill to ban conversion therapy on gay, transgender minors

The Guardian: Ohio pro-life senators suggests food banks as Planned Parenthood substitute

Pink News: Texas: Vile ad attempting to stop LGBT rights laws depicts man raping small girl

The Advocate: Neighbors Rally to Counter 'Sodomite Semen' Pastor's Hate Speech

BBC News: Singapore jails City Harvest megachurch founder and officials

Commentary Tidbits

The Good Men Project: Sounding Off on “Purity” Parents Who Want to Keep LGBT Information Out of Sex Education

The Grio: Kirk Franklin apologizes to gay community for ‘homophobia’ in black church

The Root: Ben Carson, aka the Negro Pat Robertson, Should Own His Homophobia

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Candidates courting the Christian fringe

Existential Ennui: Christianist Doublespeak

The Guardian: Republicans like to invoke the Bible yet ignore what it teaches about refugees

The Advocate: GOP Hates Extremism Except When Endorsing It

New York Times: Stung by Edict on Gays, Mormons Leave Church

Salon: I went to church with Ted Cruz. He is building an army of young Christian voters in Iowa

Daily Beast: The Religious Fundamentalists Are Losing

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Kevin Swanson Condemns Victims of Paris Attacks for "Practicing the Works of the Devil"

The Bataclan Theatre, a concert venue, was one of the locations targeted by Islamic extremists during last Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris. Terrorists killed eighty-nine people at the Bataclan during an Eagles of Death Metal concert that night, according to the Irish Times.

While most decent people around the globe were horrified by the attack, some fundamentalist Christians were more outraged by the band and their song "Kiss the Devil", accusing the band of Satan worship. Religious Right commentator Kevin Swanson, who gained national attention this month for his homophobic rant at the Freedom 2015 conference, is among the latter. Swanson used his radio show to demonized the victims of the Bataclan attack, unfazed by the murders of dozens of innocent people. (Hat tip to Right Wing Watch.)

During the November 19th edition of Generations Radio, Swanson was devoid of pity for the victims of last week's Paris attacks. Rather, he criticized the victims for dancing to "Kiss the Devil", calling the concert a "worship service" to Satan. At the 10:37 mark, he told listeners that the Devil himself drove the terrorists to attack the club, sneering at the concert-goers for celebrating "the works of the Devil as your friends were being shot up in that concert". By blaming the Bataclan attack on Satan, Swanson absolved the terrorists of responsibility for their actions and made intelligent analysis of the attacks impossible.
"It's a warning, certainly a providential irony here. These are the works of the devil, the mass murder itself are the works of the Devil. In other words, there was a demonstration of the Devil and his works happening at the time that they were singing the song ... At the moment they were singing that, the Devil himself, or at least the Devil influencing these murderers, entered in and showed the concert-goers the works of the Devil.

Now at that point, I think we need to ask the concert-goers, at least those who survived, did you love the Devil and did you love the Devil's works as your friends were being shot up in that massacre? I think we ought to ask the question right now, and I'm very serious. I'm deadly serious asking this question. You were dancing to this worship service to the Devil. The Devil came in, the Devil did what the Devil does best, he killed, he massacred, he destroyed. As the Devil did his works ... did you appreciate the works of the Devil as your friends were being shot up in that concert?"
Swanson quoted 1 John 3:8 -- "The one who does what is sinful is of the devil" -- and accused the concert-goers of "practicing the works of the Devil" by dancing to "Kiss the Devil". At the 11:58 mark, he denounced the victims for their sin.
"Those who were sinning, those who were in that concert sinning on the one hand, of course, dancing to the worship service, but also those who were shooting up the concert-goers, these were those who were practicing the works of the Devil."
At the 13:12 mark, Swanson's co-host Steve Vaughn suggested that the Eagles of Death Metal members were spared by Satan so as to continue his work. Vaughn seemed to have forgotten that several employees of the band's record company were killed in the terrorist attack.
"What's interesting too is that none of the band members were harmed. And so the Devil essentially saved his preachers to go out and preach some more."
At the 14:02 mark, Swanson suggested moral equivalency between ISIS and the "demon worshipers" at the concert. Swanson conveniently forgot that the attackers were Islamic extremist murderers and the victims were innocent people.
"It's also interesting that ISIS is at war with the humanist West, and I would say that these ISIS devil worshipers have pitted themselves against humanist devil worshipers. So you see, I'm not on either side here. I'm not taking the side of the devil worshipers performing the concert. I'm not on the side of ISIS, who are slaughtering the demon worshipers in the concert. I'm not on either side. It's interesting [that] the Devil takes both sides, and then shoots each other up. This is exactly what the Devil does best."
Swanson and Vaughn spent the rest of the episode expressing outrage over "Satanic" rock bands from the 1970s and 1980s such as Black Sabbath, Slayer, and Alice Cooper. At a time when decent people are grieving for the Paris victims, Swanson and Vaughn are clutching their pearls over forty year-old rock music.

Swanson and Vaughn's smug self-righteousness disgusted me. Only men with hearts of stone could blame the innocent victims of a terrorist attack for their own deaths. Swanson and Vaughn showed no compassion for the victims, seemingly more enraged by their music tastes than by their deaths. It says volumes that Eagles of Death Metal have shown more compassion and decency in the wake of the Bataclan attack than either of these so-called men of God. 

This is the moral universe that Swanson lives in, a universe in which dancing to "Kiss the Devil" is morally equivalent to terrorism, a universe in which murder victims merit no grief, a world in which evil is blamed on an invisible boogeyman.

You know what, Kevin? I'll take devilish musicians over cold-hearted men like you any day.