28 October 2012

The myth of the Christian right

GOP politicians and their followers love to play the Christianity card. They wave their bibles and wag their fingers at anyone whose behavior doesn't pass their sanctimonious moral judgment.

They call themselves Christians, but in Catholic school I was taught that Christians adore and follow Jesus Christ. These holier-than-thou Republicans don't reflect the Jesus that I read about in the New Testament.

To illustrate this point, let's compare the teachings of Jesus with the actions of his so-called followers in the GOP.


Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." (Matthew 5:9)

The "Christian" Republicans, on the other hand, attacked Iraq for no good reason, and now are beating the war drums over Iran. And their corporate overlords in the war profiteering business are making a fortune. (See Halliburton.)


Jesus said, "Let your 'Yes' mean 'Yes', and your 'No' mean 'No'. Anything more is from the evil one." (Matthew 5:37)

But GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney changes his opinions on the issues from 'yes' to 'no' and back again as much as needed to achieve his immediate political goals. And the "Christian" Republicans will vote for him.


Jesus said, "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (Matthew 19:24)

But the GOP has in recent decades become the Greedy Old Party, working to cut social services for the underprivileged in order to give unneeded tax breaks to the very wealthy.


Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the [temple] treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything -- all she had to live on." (Mark 12:43)

And so the "Christian" Republicans will call her a welfare queen.


Jesus said, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." (Matthew 5:5)

But GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney talks about his car elevator and professes his disdain for the 47 percent while on the campaign trail. And the "Christian" Republicans will vote for him.


Jesus said, "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me... Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me." (Matthew 25:40-45)

See above re: tax breaks for the rich at the expense of the needy.


Jesus said, "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s." (Matthew 22:21)

But GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney hides his wealth in overseas tax havens to avoid rendering unto Uncle Sam. And the "Christian" Republicans will vote for him.


Jesus said, "Watch out that you are not deceived." (Luke 21:8)

So how can we tell when GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is telling the truth, since his official positions change so frequently? Still, the "Christian" Republicans will vote for him.


Jesus said, "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (Matthew 6:5-6)

But the "Christian" Republicans have to drag their "religion" not only into the public square but into our political process as well, despite the First Amendment's separation of church and state.


Jesus said, "Judge not, that you be not judged." (Matthew 7:1)

But that doesn't stop GOP mouthpiece Rush Limbaugh from judging everyone he disagrees with. (See Sandra Fluke.)


And so on.

But, sadly, many voters who most need to recognize this hypocrisy are either too complacent, too apathetic, or too willfully ignorant to see it.

I just hope enough eyes - and minds - can open before Election Day to save us.

26 October 2012

UN official says death penalty is torture; US doesn't care

On October 23, Juan Mendez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, presented to the General Assembly's human rights committee a report on the death penalty, and called on states to "seriously reconsider whether the death penalty amounted to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, or even torture." The UN has for years been calling for a moratorium on the death penalty worldwide.

In addition to his concerns that some forms of execution - such as stoning and gas asphyxiation - have been "explicitly deemed to violate the prohibition of torture," Mendez noted that "[s]olitary confinement ... in combination with the knowledge of death and uncertainty of when an execution would take place, contributed to the risk of irreparable mental and physical harm." And, of course, there is evidence suggesting that even lethal injection is not as pain-free as some would like to believe.

In response, the U.S. delegate defended the death penalty by saying that "the report noted that the death penalty could only be carried out pursuant to the judgement of competent courts and applied only to the most serious crimes. The United States had a number of exhaustive protections to ensure that the death penalty was undertaken with the best safeguards and only after multiple layers of judicial review."

But try telling that to the family of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in Texas in 2004 for an alleged arson murder only to have a later forensic review conclude that "a finding of arson could not be sustained." In other words, the fatal fire for which Willingham was executed was probably an accident. So much for safeguards.

But whether the condemned is actually innocent or not is beside the point that Mendez was making. So are the "exhaustive protections" claimed by the U.S. delegate. Unfortunately, to some it doesn't matter.

18 October 2012

DOMA ruled unconstitutional again, as Boehner wastes tax dollars

Today, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. Under DOMA, same-sex marriages are not recognized at the federal level or (to a more limited extent) an interstate level.

The Obama administration and the Justice Department had announced early last year that they would stop defending DOMA in the court system, having determined that it is discriminatory, and therefore unconstitutional. And so DOMA should have stopped there.

However, since then, House Speaker John Boehner and his crew have taken the matter into their own hands, and have invested nearly $1.5 million so far in defending DOMA. And they will likely keep on spending our tax dollars to advance their bigoted agenda all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, as long as they continue to have the power to do so.

And then they turn around and accuse President Obama of frivolous spending.

Friday, October 19 - Wear purple to fight bullying!

Tomorrow is Spirit Day 2012. This will be the third annual Spirit Day, named for the purple stripe of the rainblow flag representing "spirit".

Spirit Day was established as an opportunity for people to speak out against the plague of bullying aimed at LGBT youth.

On Spirit Day, please wear purple to show your support. I certainly will. (The photo is from the first Spirit Day in 2010.)

Do more:

>> Find more Spirit Day actions at www.glaad.org/spiritday.

10 October 2012

Gender stereotypes in the bookstore aisles

I recently visited a used bookstore in a Philadelphia suburb. I was looking for a couple of out-of-print books -- one on politics and one on science.

In walking through the aisles and scanning the shelf labels, I couldn't find sections for politics or science.

So I asked the woman behind the desk where I would find books on those two subjects. "Men's Interests," she replied, and pointed to that row. Sure enough, there were the books I was looking for. Under "Men's Interests". I wondered if the desk lady assumed I was shopping for a book for my husband, brother, or son, rather than for myself. But I said nothing.

Then, just for grins, I found the "Women's Interests" section. There, as I had expected, were all the cookbooks, along with books on fashion, parenting, and crafts.

Better tell Emeril Lagasse that cooking is a "women's interest".

Better tell Calvin Klein that fashion is a "women's interest".

Better tell that macho Todd Palin, who watches the younger kids while Sarah continues her media stunts even after all these years, that parenting is a "women's interest".

And don't let your Boy Scouts work on crafts, because that's obviously girl stuff. Proof is at the bookstore.

As for me, I guess I'm supposed to stop worrying my little blonde head over manly things like politics and science, and instead maybe learn to crochet.

Don't hold your breath.

08 October 2012

I still won't celebrate Columbus Day

Today is the Columbus Day holiday in the U.S., which celebrates Christopher Columbus's alleged discovery of the Americas.

Despite the parades around me, I will not be celebrating, for my usual reasons. Below are those reasons, as I've been sharing each year on this second Monday of October:

What we learned about Columbus in school was not the whole truth. In some cases, it wasn't the truth at all.

First of all, Columbus did not originate the theory that the earth is round. Such had been known since ancient times.

Columbus also did not discover America. Leif Ericson and his Norsemen had built a settlement in what is now the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland and Labrador some 500 years before Columbus wandered into the West Indies.

And, once Columbus got here, he enslaved the Native Americans and forced them to convert to Christianity, while helping himself to the new world's gold and other precious resources.

In other words, it seems that he paved the way for the better-known genocide and subjugation of Native Americans that took place on the North American mainland in later centuries.

Is this the kind of thing we should really be celebrating?

Not me.

02 October 2012

PA voter ID law on hold until after November

The good news: Sorry, Mike Turzai. Today, Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson put Pennsylvania's voter ID law on hold, so it will not be enforced for the November elections. Voters this November may be asked for ID, but will not be stopped from voting if they cannot produce it. Simpson indicated that he was not convinced that there was enough time for all voters who need one to obtain an ID in time for November's elections. This ruling follows hearings in which several would-be voters described extreme difficulties in obtaining the required ID.

The bad news: The voter ID law isn't dead, it's just in an induced coma. Simpson scheduled a hearing for December 13 to further review the case.

Stay tuned for updates, with fingers crossed for democracy, not suppression.