Friday September 04, 2015

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by P. David Gardner

The stubborn persistence of religious bigots never ceases to amaze me.

Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk in Ashland, made the headlines a while back when she refused, on religious grounds, to issue marriage licenses to homosexuals who wanted to exercise their legal rights to become a couple in the eyes of the law.

Not only did she do that, she promised (and delivered) to stop issuing licenses to heterosexual couples as well, until such a time as the United States court system "came to its senses" and reversed its decision to allow gay marriage in every state of the Union.

The press arrived in due time, photos were taken and video cameras rolled, and Davis got her 15 minutes of fame. But that apparently wasn't enough to satiate the bigot. In the face of court challenges to her ill-considered stance to not perform the job she was hired to do, she continued to make her stand, saying that her imaginary god tells her not to allow gay couples to marry.

In June 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that, under the U.S. Constitution, same sex couples have the right to marry, and ordered officials in every state to issue marriage licenses. Clerks in several states who had refused to issue licenses before buckled under and began enforcing the terms of the law, issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, but there were a few holdouts, including Davis, who filed an appeal to reverse the law. She said that she would not issue licenses to anyone till the law was reversed.

When challenged, U.S. District Judge David Bunning told her in no uncertain terms to enforce the law even during her appeal. She refused and took her case to the U.S. Court of Appeals, which last week refused her request for a stay.

Bunning this week ordered her to start enforcing the law. Predictably, she refused, and is now awaiting whatever sanctions that may come her way as a result of her refusal to obey laws she agreed to enforce when she was elected to office.

Davis came down off her cross long enough to say, "To me this has never been a gay or lesbian issue. It is about marriage and God's word. It is a matter of religious liberty."

Representing gay couples seeking marriage licenses, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky said, "The duty of public officials is to enforce the law, not place themselves above it."

Some interesting news about Davis came down the pike this week. Apparently she is divorced three times, something that her self-proclaimed Apostolic Christian faith frowns mightily upon. So not only is she a raging bigot, she apparently is quite the daft hypocrite as well.

HOT NEWS ADDITION: Kim Davis has been arrested and is headed for jail. Her time in the slammer would be well spent if she takes the opportunity to reconsider her position as she cool her heels. One can only imagine that her religious friends will be stopping by to nail her to a cross.

P. David Gardner is a long time writer and reporter, as well as a graphic designer and photographer. And he creates terrific web sites too. For more details, see pauldavidgarder.com.

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by P. David Gardner

Not a week goes by any more without us all having to read about something totally despicable done under color of religion.

This time, it's a Port St. Lucie, FL couple who take the prize for “Most Hated Humans Acting Criminally in the Name of The Lord.”

Seven years ago, Rob and Marie Johnson took in a then 13-year-old girl who had recently lost her mother. Nice move, huh? Altruistic, helping a poor girl whose mother had died.

But it didn't take long for them to decide to turn the little lass into a sex slave, in a horrid ordeal that would last for five long years.

Citing Biblical passages cherry picked from the Old Testament and contorted to serve his and his wife's twisted desires, Johnson told the girl that she could only be a part of the family if she agreed to have sex with him and his wife. He forced the girl to call him “Master,” while his wife slammed the girl up against a wall and grasped her firmly by the throat until she agreed to meet the despicable couple's outrageous demands. Unable to fend them off, the girl agreed to their whims.

The girl, who has not been publicly identified, was beaten whenever she failed to follow the couple's commands during the following five years. She was not allowed to use the phone, and was rehearsed in what to tell inquisitive doctors that might ask about her sexual activity.

Police say that Johnson presided over in-home Sunday school classes, and used certain Old Testament passages to justify what he and his wife were doing to the girl.

Now 21 years old, the girl was able to leave the home only when her grandmother bought her a plane ticket to come live with her in Ohio.

The couple is now out on bond, awaiting trial.

Simply outrageous. What humans do to each other in the name of God is both frightening and horrific.

The next time a Christian tells you that you cannot be a moral person without having their God in your life, you can tell them this story. God was supposedly in the Johnson family's life. So no thank you, proselytizers, I can live quite well and ethically without your God.

P. David Gardner is a long time writer and reporter, as well as a graphic designer and photographer. And he creates terrific web sites too. For more details, see pauldavidgarder.com.

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by P. David Gardner

L. Ron Hubbard, the dead but not forgotten inventor of Scientology, is said to have once loudly proclaimed, "I'd like to start a religion. That's where the money is!"

And he was right. Despite years of scrutiny and some measure of setbacks, his legacy is now worth billions of dollars, much of it socked away into solid investments in real property all over the world.

You can look at that sentence and rightly say that this is dead wrong, that the money-making cult should be shut down or at least taxed to death. But Scientology continues to enjoy tax-free status as a religion, though it is clear to anyone with two brain cells to rub together that the “religion of Scientology” is anything but.

If you turn your gaze to the most popular organized religion in the world, Christianity, you may find that even though it is not cloaked in the same garb of religion as is Scientology, it is just as ruthless a money-making enterprise as the cult is.

Witness one Franklin Graham, son of the deceased pastor Billy Graham.

The Charlotte Observer has noted that Graham Jr. takes down over $250,000 from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the Charlotte ministry his father started a long time ago. On top of that, he nets more than $620,000 by being the head of Samaritan's Purse, an international relief organization.

What's more, when the economic downturn occurred in 2009, Graham stopped pulling a paycheck from the Charlotte organization because it was in trouble, and had to let staffers go just to survive. But now things have turned around, and the ministry's board told Graham he should be getting paid again. And he agreed with them.

This “God” Business pays, and it pays well, as long as you're at the top of the heap. Meanwhile, a substantial amount of the “flock” which attend services are losing ground every year, often struggling to make ends meet, and going hungry to boot.

What a world.

P. David Gardner is a long time writer and reporter, as well as a graphic designer and photographer. And he creates terrific web sites too. For more details, see pauldavidgarder.com.

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by P. David Gardner

Oh, Fox News. I guess this is the end of our long and tenuous relationship ... the one where you supposedly protected atheists, that is.

Snif.

On Monday, the weekend's insanity continued as Fox News "Outnumbered" host Ainsley Earhardt pulled out the big guns and hollered at a contributor for defending atheists, or any minority, really.

"I'm tired of protecting the minority!" she shouted. "What about the majority? What about the rest of the country?"

What devolved quickly into a shouting match began with a segment on a Missouri sheriff's decision to affix "In God We Trust" bumper stickers on the backs of his deputies' cruisers.

When Sheriff Doug Rader got called out for it, he complained about being singled out, claiming that there must be "hundreds, thousands of departments" that do the same.

"Where's our patriotism?" he grumbled. "Any time someone wants to be patriotic and make a symbol these days, they're attacked."

Considering that the bumper sticker isn't so much patrotic as it is a proclamation of theism, it clearly doesn't belong on any government vehicles. Yet other participants on the show agreed with the sheriff's decision. Andrea Tantaros made a tenuous connection between the bumper sticker and currency because money has "In God We Trust" boldly emblazoned on it too.

Fox News contributor Julie Roginsky argued that the phrase doesn't belong on currency either because it could offend atheists.

Which caused a predictable outrage.

Earhardt quickly shut it all down, proclaiming that because a "majority of Americans, 77 percent, believe in some sort of God" and "only 23 percent are atheist or agnostic," the majority should rule out over the minority.

Fortunately, Fox New's mock court of "law" doesn't really apply in the real world, save for entertainment for those a bit vacant in the brain pan.

For if it did, the weighted scales that Earhardt employed on Monday could easily be used to deny a voice to any minority at all, be they LGBT, black, Middle Eastern, Native American or yes, even atheists.

P. David Gardner is a long time writer and reporter, as well as a graphic designer and photographer. And he creates terrific web sites too. For more details, see pauldavidgarder.com.

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by P. David Gardner

Shhh ... if you listen closely, you might actually hear the quaking of feet in well oiled boots as priests, preachers, deacons and other clergy officials in the United States are no doubt wondering just where their future paychecks may be coming from.

The Pew Research Center conducted a study in 2014 that, when the results were compiled and released in May this year, showed that over several years now, the new generation, dubbed "The Millennials," has become far less likely to identify with a religious group than their parents.

Not only that, approximately 35 percent of adults born between 1981 and 1996 now claim to be unaffiliated with any religion at all.

To add coal to that fire, an increasing percentage of those Millennials not eligible to participate in the study because they were not yet adults at the time of the survey also identify as religious “nones.”

The study does concede that as the Millennials grow older, get married, have kids and begin to more fully realize that they are mortal, they may begin to identify with a religious group. That, however, is mere speculation on Pew's part, and we will not know if this supposition is true for decades to come.

So perhaps those who minister to the faithful may not be too worried about it. They just have to keep hammering folks with the good old “don't go to hell” shtick, and maybe they'll catch a few new ones and bring them into the fold, to tithe their wages to keep the ancient and outdated religions going and going and going.

Those interested may read the Pew report for themselves here:

P. David Gardner is a long time writer and reporter, as well as a graphic designer and photographer. And he creates terrific web sites too. For more details, see pauldavidgarder.com.



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