Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Saturday, April 11, 2015

theocratic hell?

I frankly don't believe that we will let this country slide back under the control of religion in the pre-Enlightenment sense.  The faith-heads do keep pushing, indeed, but it is up to the rest of us to push back and slap down the nonsense, and we are in sore need of elected representatives who refuse to pander to the nonsense.  

Jeffrey Tayler has another good one in Salon. He points out many of the absurdities of religion in today's world, and notes that we cannot fall asleep and simply assume that "we" will win this battle against the faith-heads.  

Our coming theocratic hell: Look out, the right’s “religious freedom” push is just the beginning

Draw the line from Hobby Lobby to Indiana: Religion has dangerously infected our legal system. It's getting worse.

By now, it’s clear that Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act was crafted to empower piously bigoted entrepreneurs and companies desirous of freelancing with their own “Jim Crow for gays” restrictions, and to let them cite as legal justification for doing so their precious religious sensibilities.  The RFRA, said the original text, sought to give judicial succor to those who found that their “exercise of religion . . . has been substantially burdened,” or was just “likely to be substantially burdened” by performing services for people their faith’s sacred credos enjoin them to abhor (gays, in this case).  The ensuing uproar in the media and business circles compelled Indiana’s state Senate toamend the legislation to prevent its deployment against the LBGT community, but state Democrats are still calling for its repeal.

The danger, however, has by no means passed.  RFRAs already exist in 21 other states (in three of which, bills are pending to fortify them), and three more are considering adopting similar measures.  The RFRA just passed last week in Arkansas may allow faith-based discrimination; we now await a test case.
Yet the real menace to our priceless heritage of secular governance comes from the Supreme Court, which a year ago (in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby) ruled that corporations, on the basis of their religious convictions (yes, the Court decided corporations have those), can exempt themselves from the Affordable Care Act’s relevant articles and refuse to pay for contraceptives in their employee health plans.  (Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in her dissent, warned that this was a “decision of startling breadth,” and she was right.)  If a case involving a new manifestation of such legislation (say, the Arkansan RFRA) ever lands before the nine-member Roberts Court, its five conservative justices will no doubt adjudicate in favor of the faithful – and against rationalists who hold that religion, in no shape or form, should be allowed to infect our legal system.  What is really needed is a federal LGBT shield law, but none exists.
RFRAs don’t define religion or specify to which religion they pertain.  But a lot hinges on how we define religion.  Everyone knows what dictionaries say it is.  We’re also all too familiar with another definition, one by which faith is an entirely spiritual affair, a matter of transcendental, miraculously elastic interpretation never to be held accountable for the witless antics, casual brutality and gross atrocities committed by its practitioners.  (Reza Aslan is the most prominent advocate of this view.)  Both definitions lend an aura of dignity and gravitas to what is essentially sordid gibberish that we should dismiss out of hand, as we now do necromancy, phrenology or alchemy, or simply laugh off.
Yet religion is far too dangerous to our liberties to be laughed off or mischaracterized as harmless.  In its Abrahamic strain, it is a triad of antiquated, largely pernicious ideologies of control and exclusion suffusing various “holy” books that detail a phony cosmogony, a fairy-tale version of humankind’s origins, and a plethora of strictures meant to regulate and restrict our behavior.  This “sacred” canon glorifies the (frequently) vile misdeeds and plodding pontifications of a wide range of characters, among whom occur prophets and patriarchs (some of whom are felonious, even murderous, miscreants) and their hapless victims (mostly women, girls, infants, foreigners, and “unbelievers”).  A fictitious celestial tyrant superintends the almost ceaseless slaughter playing out in the Bronze-Age phantasmagoria of his alleged creation.  He periodically issues injunctions to his wayward subjects, and punishes them cruelly when they fail to obey (or just for the heck of it, as one righteous resident of the Land of Uz discovers).  Though these ideologies purport to embrace humanity as a whole, the phantasmagoria’s action takes place in a dusty, too-hot corner of the Mediterranean, parts of which once had the honor of hosting the Greeks and their Hellenic culture, the Romans with their laws and roads, and of course the haunting civilization of ancient Egypt.
How do today’s subjects of this fictitious tyrant know what his commands are?  The supposedly infallible despot made the mistake of issuing his rule books in ancient tongues that most (including a majority of Hoosiers and Arkansans, we can safely say) cannot read in the original.  This compels his subjects to muddle along with translations, which vary considerably, at times critically and confusingly.  Nevertheless, most of his subjects profess to understand his words with exactitude, and accord them incantatory, magic powers.  In times of distress and duress, they utter their magic words, heads bowed meekly or turned imploringly heavenward, hoping to conjure up the fictitious tyrant’s goodwill, or prompt him to grant special dispensation.
His pronouncements are regarded as binding on all humans.  Hence, if the fictitious tyrant says, for instance, that gay sex is an abomination, it just is, and gays have to be abominated, like it or not.  Nothing personal – it’s just what the magic book says.
more at the link here.

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