Thursday, July 3, 2014


Here’s how to understand the Creation Museum:
Imagine, if you will, a load of horseshit. And we’re not talking just your average load of horseshit; no, we’re talking colossal load of horsehit. An epic load of horseshit. The kind of load of horseshit that has accreted over decades and has developed its own sort of ecosystem, from the flyblown chunks at the perimeter, down into the heated and decomposing center, generating explosive levels of methane as bacteria feast merrily on vintage, liquified crap. This is a Herculean load of horseshit, friends, the likes of which has not been seen since the days of Augeas.
And you look at it and you say, “Wow, what a load of horseshit.”
But then there’s this guy. And this guy loves this load of horseshit. Why? Well, really, who knows? What possesses someone to love a load of horseshit? It’s beyond your understanding and possibly you don’t actually want to know, even if you could know; maybe it’s one of those “on that path lies madness” things. But love it he does, and he’s not the only one; the admiration for this particular load of horseshit exists, unaccountably, far and wide. There are advocates for this load of horseshit.
And so this guy who loves this load of horseshit decides that he’s going to do something; he’s going to give it a home. And not just any home, because as this is no ordinary load of horseshit, so must its home be no ordinary repository for horseshit. And so the fellow builds a temple for his load of horseshit. The finest architects scope this temple’s dimensions; the most excellent builders hoist columns around the load of horseshit and cap them with a cunning and elegant dome; and every surface of the temple is clad in fine-grained Italian marble by the most competent masons in a three-state radius. The load of horseshit is surrounded by comfortable seats, the better for people to gaze upon it; docents are hired to expertly describe its history and features; multimedia events are designed to explain its superior nature, relative not only to other loads of horseshit which may compete in loadosity or horseshittery, but to other, completely unrelated things which may or may not be loads of anything, much less loads of horseshit.
The guy who built the temple, satisfied that it truly represents his beloved load of horseshit in the best possible light, then opens the temple to the public, to attract not only the already-established horseshit enthusiasts, but possibly to entice new people to come and gaze on the horseshit, and to, well, who knows, admire its moundyness, or the way it piles just so, to nod in appreciation of the rationalizations for its excellence or to clap in delight and take pictures when an escaping swell of methane causes the load of horseshit to sigh a moist and pungent sigh.
When all of this is done, the fellow turns to you and asks you what you think of it all now, now that this gorgeous edifice has been raised in glory and the masses cluster in celebration.
And you say, “Well, that’s all very nice. But it’s still just an enormous load of horseshit.”
And this is, in sum, the Creation Museum. $27 million has purchased the very best monument to an enormous load of horseshit that you could possibly ever hope to see. I enjoyed my visit, admired the craft with which the whole thing was put together, and was never once convinced that what I was seeing celebrated was anything more or less than horseshit. Popular horseshit? Undoubtedly. Horseshit hallowed by tradition and consecrated by time? Just so. Horseshit of the finest possible quality? I would not argue the point. And yet, even so: Horseshit. Complete horseshit. Utter horseshit. Total horseshit. Horseshit, horseshit, horseshit, horseshit. I pity the people who swallow it whole.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Hilarious NSFW Video Calls Attention To The Very Real Problem Of Creepy Christian ‘Purity Balls’ (VIDEO)

You might have heard about a terrifying twist to the Christian teen abstinence movement — Purity Balls. They’ve been around for awhile; ABC has coverage detailing federal funding for religious abstinence programs dating from the Bush administration, and Purity Balls were partially the subject.
Recently, they started to gain more attention, as a book has recently come out about the disturbing ritual. In short, in an effort to prevent their daughters from sleeping with anyone before marriage, the fathers are taking it upon themselves to safeguard the virginity of young girls — and it includes a creepy marriage portion, where the girls put their promise in writing, wear white dresses, and even exchange rings. 
And if that weren’t enough, many of the photos (you’ll see plenty of examples in the video below) have an overtly incestuous tone. Here’s a tip, conservative Christians: women aren’t property. You don’t own them, their bodies, or their sexuality. That includes that of your daughters. I won’t go on about the tons of reasons this movement is bad — obviously it doesn’t work as intended, in any case, and not ever dating or kissing a person before you marry them is a facepalmingly bad idea — but I will leave it to the very hilarious and very NSFW video (language considerations) below by YouTuber CultOfDusty to show exactly how creepy and unacceptable these events are.
Here’s the video:

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

‘Persecuted’ Christians Demanding ‘Offensive’ Books Banned Across America

 I can’t imagine why, in a million years, this should surprise me. After all. the poor, persecuted religious right is all about enforcing their morality and anything they deem “unworthy” is clearly anti-Christian:
Mountain View High school had originally included “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie as part of their required reading list, but some parents protested and successfully got it removed (it’s currently being reviewed by the school board.) The parents claimed it was too sexual for their 10th graders and that the book had an anti-Christian message.
For reference, here is the line that parents found scandalous:
‘If God hadn’t wanted us to masturbate, then God wouldn’t have given us thumbs.’
The horror! But it almost got worse after an intrepid student decided to hand out copies of thepornographic obscene perfectly ordinary book in a nearby park. Some obnoxious concerned parents, presumably the same uptight assholes people that had the book banned in the first place, called the police. Unfortunately for the Inquisition offended Christians, passing out books is not illegal in this country. Something I’m sure they would like to remedy as soon as possible.
But the real take away from this story is the increase in book banning across the country:
In November, the Kids’ Right to Read Project investigated three times the average number of incidents, adding to an overall rise in cases for the entire year, according to KRRP coordinator Acacia O’Connor. To date, KRRP has confronted 49 incidents in 29 states this year, a 53% increase in activity from 2012. During the second half of 2013, the project battled 31 new incidents, compared to only 14 in the same period last year.
“It has been a sprint since the beginning of the school year,” O’Connor said. “We would settle one issue and wake up the next morning to find out another book was on the chopping block.”
This is all part and parcel of the religious right’s phony persecution complex. Haven’t you heard? Not allowing Christians to do whatever they want is total oppression! O’Connor suspects that the increased activity is a concerted effort. We’ll know this is true when we start seeing the campaign ads decrying “liberal efforts” to force smut onto our vulnerable teens who would never EVER see obscene material anywhere if it wasn’t for the horrors of public school.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Creepy Conservative Christian Ritual – Girls Pledging Their Virginity To Their Fathers

Your father is your boyfriend? Ewwwwww. A new conservative religious ritual, the Purity Ball, is currently observed in 48 out of the 50 states. During this disturbing event, fathers present their daughters with a gold ring to symbolize the girls’ purity and pledge to remain virgins. The group’s interpretation of sexual abstinence holds that girls cannot go on dates, kiss boys or even hold hands until their wedding day. During the ball, girls carry crosses into the wedding-like ceremony where their fathers present them with “purity rings”. One of those fathers named Ron tells his daughter during the ceremony:
‘This is just a reminder that keeping yourself pure is important. So you keep this on your finger and from this point you are married to the Lord, and your father is your boyfriend.”
The girls are locked in a tower of virginity. Their fathers, as protectors of that virginity, hold the only key. Then at the occasion of marriage, fathers pass that key to the newlywed husbands. David Magnusson, Swedish photographer, has authored a book, “Purity.” He writes:
“A Purity Ball is a formal event where girls or young women and their fathers participate in a ceremony. The daughters dress up in ball gowns and the evening usually consists of dinner, a keynote speech, ballroom dancing, and a vow by fathers and daughters. The girls make a pledge to ‘remain pure and live pure lives before God,’ to stay sexually abstinent until marriage. Their fathers sign a commitment undertaking to protect their daughter’s purity.”  The father or mentor pledges “…to shield and protect his daughter; to live a pure life himself as a man, husband and father; and to be a man of integrity and responsibility, acting as a role model for his family.”
Here are some of the images:

It is evident that any move to share physical intimacy is this conservative group’s equivalent of infidelity. As a result, this religious group places girls in the position of feeling dirty and tainted. The ABC show, Nightline Prime, investigated Purity Balls.  The full investigative documentary is available here. In her 2010 book “The Purity Myth,” the feminist writer Jessica Valenti, founder of the blog, writes:
“The message is clear and direct: It’s up to men to control young women’s sexuality.”
David Magnusson’s book, Purity, is published by Bokforlaget Max Ström and available for pre-order on Amazon

Thursday, May 1, 2014

If a Student Says Homosexuality Is a Sin in School, Is It Bullying?

What right should students have to talk about God in homework, assemblies, club meetings, and graduation speeches? This is the question at stake in a new law in Tennessee and other states across the country. Governor Bill Haslam signed the Religious Viewpoints Anti-Discrimination Act, which affirms that religious students should have the same free-speech rights as secular ones. At first, this might seem uncontroversial; religious expression has always been protected by the First Amendment. So why did two Republican state legislators feel the need to write the bill?

"Christian conservative groups have for many years been frustrated by what they see as a hostile environment for religion in public schools," said Charles Haynes, the Director of the Religious Freedom Education Project at the Newseum. "They are convinced—with some justification—that there's a lot more that public schools can be doing to protect religious expression."

In Tennessee, legislators pointed to one case in particular as the motivation for creating the bill. In October, a teacher told a Memphis fifth grader that she couldn't write about God in an essay about "her idol." In defiance, ten-year-old Erin Shead wrote two essays—both about the Almighty, although only one was about Michael Jackson—and her mom sought legal help. The elementary schooler was later allowed to turn in her God essay (and earned a score of 100%, as local news organizations dutifully reported at the time).

Although Haynes says lawmakers had this kind of situation in mind when drafting the legislation, others have a very different interpretation. "Despite its name, this legislation crosses the line from protecting religious freedom into creating systematic imposition of some students’ personal religious views on other students," said Hedy Weinberg, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, in a press release. Bloggers at "The Gaily Grind" and "The New Civil Rights Movement" have claimed the law would protect anti-gay bullies. 

"I think that criticism is in bad faith and absurd," said David French, a senior counselor at the American Center for Law and Justice. "I have not seen any evidence whatsoever that there is a desire to use religion as a thinly-veiled pretext to bully anybody." Representative Courtney Rogers, one of the bill's co-sponsors, disagrees—one of the staffers in her office called the claim "slanderous."

How did people come to have such different views on a bill about "religious viewpoints"? One side claims to champion persecuted, God-loving fifth-graders, while the other portends schools filled with gay-bashing bullies. 

"Anger has been building up on both sides," said Haynes. "On the conservative Christian side, they see this as being used to inappropriately hush up kids. But the reality is that this speech does trigger a lot of emotion, and for some people on [the other] side, we’ve come to a place where kids talking about homosexuality being sinful [is considered] unacceptable in public schools."

One of the big questions is how to define bullying in the first place. "To say that homosexuality is a sin is not bullying," said Mathew Staver, the founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, which helped craft similar legislation in Texas. "You can’t make a litmus test that certain words or viewpoints aren’t protected by the Constitution." Haynes agreed that it can be difficult to establish the difference between harassment and free speech. "In the name of stopping what all of us are against—bullying—some groups want to censor religious convictions," he said.

With this particular bill, it seems like LGBT bullying is a bit of a distraction. Of all the religious discrimination claims he's represented, very few have had to do with homosexuality, French said. "I have been on the receiving end of complaint after complaint: Teachers telling students, don’t bring your Bible to recess, you can’t discuss your faith or invite someone to church at school, you can’t form a club, you can’t pray. In all of that time, I can probably count on the fingers of one hand the times that involved any conflict with LGBT students."

But it's also important to remember where this specific debate is taking place. "We are Tennessee," said the ACLU's Weinberg. "It wasn’t that long ago—in 1925—that the Scopes trial took place in Tennessee, and to this day there are efforts to bring religion back into the classroom."

She said the ACLU often gets complaints about schools favoring religious activities. "It shouldn’t be tit for tat, like I have more complaints than you do," she said. "But based on our experience in understanding what’s happening across state, the protections of the Establishment Clause are not adhered to the way they should be. This legislation will create more confusion for schools and families."

This gets at the one thing that everyone seems to agree on: There's a lot of confusion among administrators about how to handle religious issues in their schools.

Many school districts ... are very alert to potential violations of the Establishment Clause, particularly because of potential lawsuits," Haynes said. "The courts have said that public school officials can't take side on religious issues, but at the same time, students have rights."
Staver said the Tennessee bill was designed for this exact reason: to clarify what's already legal. "I think it’s a good law because it sets forth clearly what the law is without having someone having to go research all the cases," he said.

That's somewhat true. Particularly after the Supreme Court's ruling in favor of free speech in public schools in Tinker v. Des Moines in 1969, students have been legally allowed to express their beliefs. But the Tennessee law blurs the line between Tinker and another case, Santa Fe Independent School District v. Des Moines, in which the Supreme Court ruled that praying at school-sponsored football games is unconstitutional. The new law says student speakers at school events can talk about God as long as school administrators don't have any influence over what they say.

"On this issue, it’s not clear what the court would say," Haynes said. "The nuance here is … if the student is allowed to get up and speak if the school has not edited the speech. In that circumstance, is it really school-sponsored speech? Some would argue, well, it’s still a school event, and here’s a kid offering a prayer or talking about their faith, but the other side would say no—that’s free speech."

A more state legislators take on this issue, it's possible that courts will have to provide clarification. Tennessee is just the latest state to pass this kind of legislation—Texas created a similar law in 2007, South Carolina voted for its version in 2012, and Oklahoma approved its "Religious Viewpoints Anti-Discrimination Act" in February of 2014. "There's no doubt that we’ll be doing more of this," Staver said. "This has been a success in several states, and it’s time to start with more of a national campaign."