The Very Scary Mike Pence

The former vice-president has been making the media tour these past several days, touting his new book So Help Me God and sticking his toe in the water for a possible run for the presidency. His appearance in those media events reflects the nature of the man—somber, speaking in controlled low tones, and wearing a dark gray suit. He didn’t once crack a smile (ABC interview) nor did he show any emotion, although when asked about his feelings regarding Trump’s inciting remarks during the January 6 insurrection that he lacked courage, he did duck his head briefly before changing the subject.

We were left to assume he became emotional over the betrayal by his commander in chief. Instead, he seemed an automaton, not truly human but rather a creation of his own religious obsession.

While we can be thankful that his determination to “do the right thing” prevented him from aiding Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election, that same determination drives Pence toward goals that violate the freedoms of Americans. Just because he kissed Trump’s ass for four years then refused his last most important command doesn’t mean he has given up his religious beliefs.

Never forget. Mike Pence is an extremist evangelical, modeled on the Pilgrim mindset that God reigns in all things. His interpretation of God’s rules bears closer examination if we are to understand exactly how well he fit into Trump’s presidency. He, not Trump, attracted the votes of the many evangelical voters responsible for Trump’s election. Finally, evangelicals had a man who shared their point of view on virtually every issue.

Pence has repeatedly fought against abortion rights and has pursued all possible channels to block financial support for any entity which provides abortions. He has criticized sex education and supports promotion of abstinence. He has also voiced opposition to embryonic stem cell research. He supported the overturn of Roe v Wade but when asked in the 2020 vice presidential debate what he would do if it was overturned, he refused to endorse criminalizing abortion—yet another example of his fishtailing in the face of reality.

Pence is staunchly anti-LGBT rights. He has opposed non-discrimination legislation and allowing gays to openly serve in the military. He opposes same sex marriage and civil unions.

Pence has proposed a flat federal tax rate, opposed the auto industry bailout of 2008-09, and voted against raising the federal minimum wage from $5.15/hour to $7.35.

Voting against the Medicare Part D that helped provide prescription drug coverage, Pence continues to reveal his lack of medical knowledge with such assertions as “smoking doesn’t kill.” He came out firmly against needle exchange programs as a method of decreasing spread of AIDS.

Pence is opposed to the birthright citizenship policy wherein children born in the United States to non-citizens automatically become citizens. He also promoted an immigration plan that would have increased border security and implemented strict enforcement of laws against hiring undocumented immigrants.

Pence supported a 2005 plan to partially privatize Social Security but since has backed away from any specific plan, saying only that cuts to Social Security would need everyone at the table.

After many years of denying that human activity is the primary driver of climate change, in 2016 Pence stated that there was no doubt the human activity “affects” the climate. Despite this equivocation, “While in the House, Pence ’voted to eliminate funding for climate education programs and to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.’ Pence also ‘repeatedly voted against energy efficiency and renewable energy funding and rules’ and voted ‘for several bills that supported fossil fuel development, including legislation promoting offshore drilling.’”[1]

Pence is a hardliner on drugs, protesting any steps to decrease penalties for low-level marijuana offenses. He worked to reinstate mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes. He supports federal restrictions on online gambling.

Mike Pence has been one of the most public voices in asserting that ‘All Lives Matter’ rather than supporting the understanding that ‘Black Lives Matter’ addresses specific problems faced by formerly enslaved people. He supported the Citizens United ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court which allowed corporations to act as individuals in donating to political campaigns. He supported the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

Pence imagines himself as an upright Christian man, what an observer might consider as ‘smug’ in his satisfaction with his rigid stance on all the above-named issues. His primary role in the Trump White House was to uphold the pretense of religiosity that kept evangelical Christians firmly in support of Trump while simultaneously ignoring Trump’s many and repeated violations of the Ten Commandments and common decency. Pence was willing to scorch his coattails with his proximity to Trump because he, like so many other evangelicals, believed that their conservative agenda would be fulfilled through the presidency of a ‘flawed vessel.’ In their view, God made Trump president largely because Pence was there quietly steering policy toward a Christian nation.

Whether or not Pence seeks the Republican nomination for president, his dogmatic stance on so many important issues is not his alone. Rather, he epitomizes the increasingly familiar face of the Republican Party as one of extremist religious objectives. In embracing his faith, Pence (and others like him) plod toward the seditious goal of enforcing Christianity in U.S. laws and policies.

The entire extremist belief system Pence embraces ignores the reality of our evolution as humans, moving toward greater knowledge and understanding of processes that previously seemed magical, from the hand of God. As our scientific advancements allow us to develop vaccines against viruses, travel in motor vehicles, and interact with people anywhere in the world via the Internet, we gain greater opportunity and willingness to improve human life in every way. We are learning every day to become more humane, more tolerant. Yet despite appreciating the benefits of these technological advancements (pretty sure Pence uses a cell phone and the Internet), the collateral expansion of understanding and tolerance escapes the evangelical.

The deal Pence and his fellow religionists have made with God is a simple quid pro quo. We’ll do everything we can to force people to see it our way and in return, God will grant us a place at his right hand in Heaven. This magical thinking follows in a direct line from the most primitive religious practices wherein sacrifices were made to a god in order to improve some aspect of existence—fewer earthquakes, the withdrawal of enemy troops, release from slavery, relief of illness, et cetera ad infinitum. Sacrifice of pleasure, of our most valuable foods or assets, even of our children, has been the key element of religion.[2] Whatever has been a trial upon human life was within the power of a god to mitigate if only the people could hit on the best method of pleasing that god.

While the Constitution of the United States assures that church and state are to remain entirely separate, written as it was by those who knew the history of unending wars caused by religion, the evangelicals of our country either choose to ignore or ignorantly second guess the basis and importance of this provision. They will not stop their attempts to make the nation a manifestation of Christianity. The appearance of decency and patriotic intent in Pence’s refusal to grant Trump his wish to overturn the 2020 election is a throw-away relic of Pence’s true motivation, which was and remains his ‘duty’ to do right, thereby pleasing his god.


[1] This quote and much of the preceding information gleaned from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Pence

[2] It can be argued that Christianity is itself a carryover of primitive death cults whose sacrifices ensured God’s benevolence. The crucifixion of Christ and the practice of communion in which the faithful partake of bread and wine as symbols of Christ’s body and blood is a direct link to the ancient belief that a life had to be sacrificed in order to please the god.

The War, Again

Yet again, or should I say, still, we the people are engaged in a religious war. One could argue that religious wars never really stop. Sometimes they go underground to simmer while parents exhort their children in the evils of their neighbors’ ways. But other times, like now, religionists strong arm their beliefs and opinions into public policy.

And that, my friends, is when the bloodshed inevitably begins. It was bad enough that the religious beliefs of your neighbors caused them to say insulting things about you, to sneer or, predictably, pray for your lost soul. Let their prayers rise to the heavens, calling upon their god to save them from the sins of their irreverent brethren.

How many gods are there? Over 5,000? 330 million? But of course only your god is real.

All of them exist in the sky, came to earth to kick-start humanity, taught us important skills, and told us how to honor Him. Well, Her in some cases. Those pesky extraterrestrials with their genetic manipulations, coming here to help us and leaving us to fail.

One source provides this following summary:

Redeeming God.com : All War is Holy War

Abrahamic:

Christians believe in one God, saints, and millions of angels. Muslims believe in one god called Allah. Judaism is also monotheistic.

Eastern:

Hinduism: I don’t know much about Hinduism but some Hindus I’ve met say there are millions of gods. Buddhists don’t really believe in a “god” in the classical sense

Jains and Shinto: animistic, believe in souls of non- living and animate things. Jains believe even insects, plants, fungi, and bacteria possess spirits. Shinto believe in 8 million “kami” inhabiting rocks, trees, rivers, etc.

Persian:

Not sure about Zoroastrianism. Baha’i’ appears to believe in one god. Native religions are often polytheistic.[1]

But of course that’s a drop in the proverbial bucket.

Even more fascinating is the idea, growing in acceptance, that the gods are nothing more or less than highly advanced being from other worlds. Archaeological evidence coupled with the mythologies of most religions provide excellent evidence for this theory. After all, they come from the sky and probably despair of our continuous reversion to animal behavior, from which they crafted us. Haven’t they gone to a lot of effort to instruct us?

But back to the more fantastical concept of magical beings.

Thanks to our mortal fear of things we don’t understand, we humans find ourselves subservient to one god or another, or fifty, in order to cope with our lives. We pray, fervently, when that wall of muddy water rises to our front porch, when our child burns up with fever, when the person we love dies, that our god will hear our prayer and save us. Never mind that the crisis at hand could have been prevented if a god was truly paying attention.

We join with others to pool our resources to build a church or temple so we can pray with others, hoping our joined voices somehow better penetrate the vast distance between our physical existence and the domain of our god(s). We pool even more resources in order to send our emissaries to other places to spread the good word about our god (who is of course superior to any gods those places might already know) in order to gain god’s favor.

Israel’s Homeland Security website

My god is better than your god.

Only believers in my god will enter the kingdom of heaven.

The kingdom of heaven—somewhere in the sky, the kingdom exists with its pearly gates and troops of glittering asexual angels. For Christians, Heaven is where Jesus Christ sits on the right hand of God while the Holy Spirit hovers effervescently around them. There is where you can exist in bliss for eternity if only you follow the rules set down by God. I won’t even try to go into the discrepancies and horrors enshrined within the pages of that many-times-edited document called the Bible, manipulated now for over 1700 years to fit the political whims of one ruler or another, ad infinitum.

Yes, as astute power brokers have long understood, religion is the key to controlling the masses. Through fear. Fear of your neighbor. Fear of disease. Fear of the great unknown, Nature in all her many ways of killing you or your children—flood, fire, earthquake, volcano, lightning, insects that consume your crops, wild animals that want you for dinner, accidents that leave you crippled. There is no end to the great unknowns. No end of things to fear.

Fear of GOD HIMSELF, a judgmental angry god who doles out death and destruction, an eternity in pain and suffering if you don’t follow his rules.

But your god is there, promising that if you only do x, y, and z, you will at least find surcease once you die. By then, of course, it’s too late to figure out it was all meant to keep you in thrall to the power structure with your tithes and contributions, your allegiance, your taking up arms to protect the power structure, your obeisance to the belief system.

Currently, the belief system for at least 74 million U. S. voters is an amalgamation of Christianity and pseudo-patriotic blather, worshippers of the earthly manifestation of their beliefs, Donald Trump. Incoherent as he may seem, he has managed to embody this confused belief system with his worldly embrace of excessive materialism, his adulterous affairs and marriages to women who can’t talk back, and his dishonorable thievery and abuse of countless workmen, friends, and professional associates.

The fear that drives Trump’s true believers is a new kind of fear. This fear is an addition to the traditional fear of Nature, disease, death, etc. The new fear is about incomprehensible technology and science that, on one hand, presents us with marvels like cell phones and the internet, and on the other hand, boggles our minds and bodies with demands we are mostly not yet evolved to endure.

It’s only been one hundred years since the majority of us lived our lives in the same patterns as we had for thousands of years. We tilled the land and cared for animals which in turn provided our food. We interacted with neighbors who were like us, who might have the skills to craft a plow or horseshoe, or who might teach our children to read. We scheduled our days by the season and the chores before us, washing our few clothes, grinding our grain, weaving our cloth. Those of us who lived in the cities might practice special trades, but the cities weren’t yet vast streams of headlights and towering structures of steel and glittering glass. Now suddenly we measure our time by the minute, steer our automobiles down the highways at 70 miles per hour, see on the television scenes of havoc and violence from places around the world.

We are not ready for this.

Battle Scene from 30 Years War, 1856 by Christian Sell

Mostly. The few among us who are ready, who embrace new ideas and new ways of living, are seen as the enemy. In fact, they are the future. They are evolving into the new humanity while the rest of us are doomed to die out.

The new people are different. They see the world as one community, the population as brothers. They accept the personal autonomy of women. They accept transgender and all forms of intimate interaction. They accept people of all colors. They accept that gods are not the answer. Rather, they embody the ultimate concept of any god’s primary teaching, that we must love each other and treat each other as we wish to be treated.

It is the Age of Aquarius.

In retreat from change, fearful people embrace what they know best, the violence enshrined in our past and its reactionary religions. Enemies, those who are Other, must be eradicated in order to protect self, family, and tradition. Random mass shootings are simply the enactment of this understanding.

This is a war that can only get worse as ‘leaders’ of the old beliefs increasingly harden their rhetoric in a craven attempt to bring glory and power to their misbegotten selves. Trump is only the figurehead for these rigid disciples. His inchoate mutterings satisfy the unspoken desire for an understandable past, when saddling a horse or following a plow were the only skills required. While these ‘conservatives’ take full advantage of the products of progress, everything from modern medicine to the use of secret internet groups where they can foment more hatred, they cannot grasp the tandem mindset, the mental/psychological trajectory of our evolution.

If only the ignorant could learn not to fear change. If only the dogmatic could understand the lessons of history. If only the evangelical Christians could see how their desire for a Christian nation mimics exactly the desires and objectives of the Taliban, the jihadists, and echoes the countless previous destructions of human life and civilizations in the name of their god.

~~~

“You cannot raise your children the way your parents raised you because your parents raised you for a world that no longer exists.” Mufti Menk


[1] https://www.quora.com/How-many-religions-and-different-gods-exist-currently

Putin’s Coup

Abortion has been, and continues to be, a vital weapon in the Republican toolbox, a means to gain control over a multitude of less savory objectives. With this hot button, they have been able to whip up energy within their ranks. Over the last fifty years, a growing mob of zealots have taken to the streets and the halls of government with placards showing the pitiful fetus so wronged by evil women and their fiendish abortion doctors.

The truth is that the flap over abortion was never as much about the ‘unborn baby’ as it was about political capital. Powerbrokers saw right away that this issue aroused emotion like nothing else. Yet what the Republican Party stood for, then as now, also enshrined racial prejudice, but it had become impossible to openly advocate for white supremacy.

The mass migration of voters from Democratic ranks to the shelter of the Republican Party began not with Roe v Wade, but with the 1952 Brown vs Board of Education decision and followed more decisively with the Kennedy-Johnson push for civil rights. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbade discrimination on the basis of sex as well as race in hiring, promoting, and firing. The Act prohibited discrimination in public accommodations and federally funded programs. It also strengthened the enforcement of voting rights and the desegregation of schools.

Police dogs, held by officers, jump at a man with torn trousers during a non-violent demonstration, Birmingham, Alabama, May 3, 1963. Police officers used both dogs and firehoses to break up the rally.

After the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white, conservative Southern Democrats became Republicans. The South had been mostly Democratic before 1964; it was mostly Republican after (although on the local level continued to be heavily Democratic for decades). Many “values voters” became Republicans.[1]

The 1973 Roe v Wade decision legalizing abortion did not have nearly the same impact as the Civil Rights Act as far as political response. For a time, other issues sidetracked voter attention, such as the winding down of the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal that shoved Nixon out of office. The Arab oil embargo also diverted public interest with skyrocketing gasoline prices. In reality, the behind-the-scene Republican strategists were slow in coming around to a full understanding of how to use the abortion issue to represent the real interests of conservatives.

Early in Reagan’s presidency, developing tactics on the abortion issue spread through the nation in the hands of then-fledgling evangelical groups wielding signage of dismembered fetuses (remarkably mature for the gestation dates named) and demonstrations by women crying for the lost babies or, more heart-rendering, testimonials by women who had obtained abortions and later regretted it. (This vanishingly small group remains an active feature of anti-choice campaigns. One could sum up their position as yet another demonstration of ignorance.)

At first, Democrats yielded ground on the matter, not firmly convinced enough about women’s right to bodily autonomy to take a firm stand. Lamentably lacking in early opposition to the anti-abortion crowd were strategies to fight back with their own weaponry, for example, citing Biblical scriptures showing that personhood began at birth.

After God formed man in Genesis 2:7, He “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and it was then that the man became a living being”. Although the man was fully formed by God in all respects, he was not a living being until after taking his first breath.[2]

Democrats have finally taken a stronger stance on the topic, linking the party to “their support of ‘human rights’ and of groups whose rights have been long suppressed – African Americans and other minority groups, women seeking to vote and enjoy full property rights, LGBTQ people and immigrants.”[3]

To Republicans, the abortion issue is a coded message about the party’s stance on longstanding prejudices, not only uppity women but also African Americans and other minorities, LBGTQ people, and non-white immigrants. Without having to advertise racism or other prejudices, Republican strategists can push voters to champion the rights of the fetus while avoiding the party’s full agenda.

It is not the facts of an issue which drive evangelical voters. As a general rule, evangelicals don’t embrace facts. Their hands are full of Bibles, which they don’t precisely understand, but they do hear what preachers tell them. What the preachers tell them is intended not to elucidate the facts but rather to stoke FEAR of God’s wrath. And, in these narrow hallways of evangelical mentality, God will punish them if they don’t stop women from killing fetuses.

It’s not that evangelist preachers are pursuing a goal they understand in terms of social policy. Their vehement sermons about abortion and their endorsement of specific political candidates derive from their urgent personal desire to make money off of Jesus. Evangelicals are an easy mark. See, for example, the fundraising headline at Focus on the Family’s website: “SAVE 2X THE BABIES FROM ABORTION!  Double Your Gift to Save Lives!”

The more insidious objective of the Republican agenda is to continue shifting power to corporations and the super wealthy while the frontmen lure evangelical voters with the promise of a Christian nation. Sadly, evangelicals lack any understanding of the threat posed in religion as government, a condition that increases exponentially as more private religious schools and homeschooling take the place of public education.

Remedies for the current crisis would include regulations that deny diplomas to any student, homeschooled or otherwise, who cannot pass examinations proving understanding of American history and government, among other subjects required of public school students. If U. S. citizens cannot begin adulthood on the same page, we have no hope of continuing as a nation.

One thing such an education would ensure is the awareness that the Republican/evangelical drive toward a Christian nation is a form of sedition, “an overt conduct, such as speech and organization, that tends toward rebellion against the established order. Sedition often includes subversion of a constitution and incitement of discontent toward, or insurrection against, established authority.”

Vladimir Putin personally authorized a secret spy agency operation to support a “mentally unstable” Donald Trump in the 2016 US presidential election during a closed session of Russia’s national security council, according to what are assessed to be leaked Kremlin documents. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/15/kremlin-papers-appear-to-show-putins-plot-to-put-trump-in-white-house

Equally tragic is while Republican power brokers chortle over wins for the One Percent, they have failed to recognize the puppet master profiting from their maneuvers: Putin.

Trump’s victory lap over the demise of Roe v Wade unveils one of the subtle purposes of Vladimir Putin’s support. The Russian ploy to undermine U.S. society gained a witless ally in Trump, who pulled his best con job in his election to the presidency, aided and abetted by the machinations of Russian interference.

What has now been made clear is that Russian trolls and automated bots not only promoted explicitly pro-Donald Trump messaging, but also used social media to sow social divisions in America by stoking disagreement and division around a plethora of controversial topics such as immigration and Islamophobia.

The overarching goal for Russia, during the election and now, analysts say, is to expand and exploit divisions, attacking the American social fabric where it is most vulnerable, along lines of race, gender, class and creed.

“The broader Russian strategy is pretty clearly about destabilizing the country by focusing on and amplifying existing divisions, rather than supporting any one political party,” said Jonathon Morgan, a former state department adviser on digital responses to terrorism whose company, New Knowledge, analyzes the manipulation of public discourse.[4]

Russia’s desired outcome in the months before Donald Trump’s election in 2016 was not simply to see him elected. It aimed, instead, to more broadly “undermine the US-led liberal democratic order” (in the words of a January 2017 intelligence assessment), an effort that Russia believed would be aided far more by Trump’s election than Hillary Clinton’s. This overlapped with its desire to “provoke and amplify political and social discord in the United States” (in the words of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III), leading it to weigh in not only on electoral politics but cultural fights — investing in amplifying and exacerbating contentious social debates.[5]


[1] https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Party_realignment_in_the_United_States

[2] Also Job 33:4: “The spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

Ezekiel 37:5, 6: “Thus says the Lord God to these bones:   Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.   And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

Exodus 21:22: If a man causes a woman to have a miscarriage, he shall be fined; however, if the woman dies then he will be put to death. It should be apparent from this that the aborted fetus is not considered a living human being since the resulting punishment for the abortion is nothing more than a fine; it is not classified by the bible as a capital offense.

[3] https://www.npr.org/2022/05/08/1097118409/the-leaked-abortion-decision-blew-up-overnight-in-1973-roe-had-a-longer-fuse

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/14/russia-us-politics-social-media-facebook

[5] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/02/24/bump-russia-american-unity-undermined/

Pussyfooted Justice

Slave Market in Ancient Rome, by Jean-Léon Gérôme

If Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett really stood up for their convictions on the abortion issue, they wouldn’t just shuffle the decision to the states. They’d completely overturn Roe v Wade.

Why didn’t they?

Because they AREN’T convinced they are right.

If bodily autonomy isn’t guaranteed for the entire nation, and states are the appropriate venue for giving or denying those rights, what’s next? Slavery?

After all, former Confederate states form the bulk of those states eager to strip women of bodily autonomy.

What is loss of bodily autonomy other than slavery?

But wait! Save those cogent arguments!

  • Fanatic evangelicals eager to sacrifice women on the altar to their angry misogynistic god will never change their minds.
  • Lawmakers eager to harvest the fruits of their fifty-year campaign to be elected by targeting women will never stop the manipulation.
  • Evangelical women eager to bow down to male authority in order to avoid taking responsibility for their own lives believe their salvation depends on submitting to authority, God and men.

These people do not have the intellectual capacity to reason through the facts. Whatever intellect they might naturally possess has been subverted by religious brainwashing.

Throughout the millennia, women have aborted unwanted pregnancies—or abandoned unwanted newborns to die. Their decisions have shaped the human race. Yes, evangelicals, even you are the result of selective breeding.

Evangelicals believe that overturning Roe will magically end abortions. They are willingly ignorant of the history.

What would it take to really stop abortion?

  • Monitor all women of childbearing age, every month, for pregnancy.
  • If they test positive, sequester them so they can’t grab a coat hanger. Keep them locked up until they give birth.
  • That means keeping them away from their jobs, their husbands, their children.
  • It means turning women into baby machines under the force of law.

In truth, it is not possible to stop abortion.

What is possible—and predictable—is that laws restricting abortion rights will cause women to suffer. Sterility and even death are often outcomes of back-alley abortions.

This is the Big Win for evangelicals. In religious teachings, God said women should suffer because Eve tempted Adam into falling for the apple. So why ease that suffering? God said.

Never mind that pathetic Adam couldn’t think for himself and Just Say No. That bitch used her sexuality to manipulate the poor guy into something he knew he shouldn’t do.

What could better ensure that God extends welcoming arms when the faithful reach those pearly gates than a record of supporting the punishment of women?

NEVER MIND the truth staring us in the face, the result of smug religious thoughtlessness: OVERPOPULATION.

The greater the world population, the greater the environmental damage. The higher our standard of living, the greater the environmental damage. Electricity, motor vehicles, chemical agriculture, waste disposal—already we see the oceans rise, thick with waste. Already we watch as climate change disrupts agriculture and water supply.

It’s not possible to maintain anywhere near our standard of living with the population projected to double in the next 80 years.

World population estimates from 1800 to 2100, based on “high”, “medium” and “low” United Nations projections in 2010 (colored red, orange and green) and US Census Bureau historical estimates (in black). Actual recorded population figures (as of 2010) are colored in blue. According to the highest estimate, the world population may rise to 16 billion by 2100; according to the lowest estimate, it may decline to 7.2 billion.

For decades, we’ve seen the increasingly negative results of overpopulation—people dying of starvation, the spread of disease, the expansion of desert into previously productive lands due to climate change as well as overuse of farming and grazing in marginal areas.

The evangelical solution: Teach them about Jesus. It’s in God’s hands.

No. It is in OUR hands.

We see the rush of people from marginal lands into areas of greater resources. From Africa into the Middle East, from the Middle East into Europe. From Central America and South America across our southern border.

The evangelical solution: Build a wall.

How long until the money runs out to care for the disabled, the elderly, the compromised? How long until schools are so crippled that they fail utterly? These are problems of OVERPOPULATION.

When the time comes, do we allow women to continue their ancient role of deciding who is born, or do we authorize the government to make those decisions? A government empowered to force birth is equally empowered to deny birth.

The evangelical fight to make the United States a “Christian” nation is nothing less than an attempt to overturn our government. The Founding Fathers were clear on this point, to keep religion OUT of government. Power to the people.

“The people have the power. All we have to do is awaken the power in the people.”
— John Lennon

Freedom from Religion

Book burning on the rise

Senior year in high school included the long-feared ‘senior paper.’ A project of English class, the paper’s thesis had to be approved first then the long drudgery of research would begin. The paper itself, to be footnoted and typed, would form a significant part of the final grade in that class.

I was no stranger to research and looked forward to hours at the local library, which was located only a block from the high school. Unexplored wonders could be found in that quiet place, books on the history of the world and the various exploits of human kind. As I sought further information to prove my thesis, I jotted my notes on 4×6 index cards, another requirement for the project.

My thesis asked the question: Why did existential thought that existed throughout the history of mankind suddenly become an overwhelming condition of modern mankind?

The material I explored included Will Durant’s The Story of Civilization, James Gutman’s Philosophy A to Z, John Killinger’s The English Journal, and a long list of citations from the Bible as well as ancient writings from world cultures. In reading these materials and processing the information into a coherent statement in proof of my thesis, I realized that much of what I had come to believe in my eighteen years was right: Christianity—indeed, all organized religion—was a construct of humanity meant to salve our existential despair.

The difference with the modern age, as so clearly delineated in philosophical examination, is/was that by the very process of advancing civilization, humans have cut themselves off from key partnerships that once provided balm to our woe: Nature, tribal life, our gods, and ourselves, the latter with our frenetic pace and endless amusements. With these alienations, we find ourselves utterly alone, a condition so difficult that we endlessly seek escape in intoxicants, entertainment, and work.

The paper earned me an “A.” I packed it away along with the notecards in their little clasp envelope. I’ve always remembered the paper and the education I gained in my research, but I never looked at those cards again. If the question ever arose, I would have guessed they had been tossed out a long time ago.

Not so. My mother saved them, and they once again entered my domain when a few years ago she handed me a couple of boxes crammed with souvenirs of my life—photographs of junior high and high school friends, letters home from California or the Philippine Islands, clippings of my various public activities through the years. And the notecards.

At first, I picked up the small packet of cards not knowing what it contained. On the outside, at some point my mother had written “Denele’s – what helped her turn away from God!”

Well.

Yes, insomuch as I indeed turned away from the Church of Christ’s concept of God, this project helped. But what my mother could never grasp is that I had been questioning God, or more to the point, religion in general, since age five. By eight years of age, I had settled on key questions no one wanted to answer, typical questions for young people such as ‘Where did God come from?” and “Who did Adam and Eve’s children marry?” The answer always condensed down to “Don’t ask.”

Fast forward six or seven decades while I continued to read and question and discover. I have no regrets that I discarded the blinders imposed by my parents’ fundamentalist faith. I’m happy that my curiosity led me to explore philosophy, natural history, and science with the many mysteries of human existence. What makes me sad is that even today parents still seek to limit their children’s exposure to knowledge that exists outside the boundaries of their rigid belief systems or which violates the dogma of their faith.

The burning of the pantheistic Amalrician heretics in 1210, in the presence of King Philip II Augustus. In the background is the Gibbet of Montfaucon and, anachronistically, the Grosse Tour of the Temple. Illumination from the Grandes Chroniques de France, c. AD 1455–1460.

For example, I once lamented the limited extracurricular activities available at the small rural school my children attended, pointing out that so many opportunities were being lost. Where was the encouragement to attend college, learn music or art, explore the wonders of the world? The response from one parent actually struck me speechless. “Well, honey, somebody’s got to flip the burgers,” she said, fist propped on her hip. “What about that?”

Indeed, what about that? How tragic that her children and so many others would be trapped in that mindset.

The price of limiting the thinking of our children is immeasurable. We see it every day in intolerance even hatred for anyone different, whether ethnic, racial, or gender differences. We see it in embrace of authoritarian figures like Trump who fit a distorted concept of leadership based on an authoritarian god. We see it in the fear of change that leads to violence against those perceived as ‘Other.’

Frans Hals – Portret van René Descartes, Wikipedia

Much of what is written on those cards is nonsensical taken in isolation, like quotes from Heidegger’s book Being and Time (1927) about the two kinds of being, “Sein” meaning all things, and “Dasein” meaning only mankind. Or the postulation of Descartes in his 1637 Discourse on the Method wherein he wrote: Ego Ergo Sic, or “I am, therefore I am thus,” or more widely conceived as “I think, therefore I am.” Pondering these kinds of concepts is not easy and tends to take oneself out of the hum of routine. And away from the strict belief systems of doctrines undergirding religion.

What my mother exclaimed in her quickly penned remark about my notecards is true. Those learning experiences helped me abandon religion entirely. Another big step on that path was a college course in English Bible, where the three authors of the Books of Moses were examined with comparisons of material in Genesis to the Sumerian books of Gilgamesh—and much more. It’s been a lifelong study, full of empathy for others who, like me, struggle with the very essence of existence, remarked by feminist French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir in her book The Ethics of Ambiguity (1948):

“The sub-man is not very clear about what he has to lose, since he has nothing, but this very uncertainty re-enforces his terror. Indeed, what he fears is that the shock of the unforeseen may remind him of the agonizing consciousness of himself. …Everything is a threat to him, since the thing which he has set up as an idol is an externality and is thus in relationship with the whole universe; and since, despite all precautions, he will never be the master of this exterior world to which he has consented to submit, he will be constantly upset by the uncontrollable course of events.”

For de Beauvoir, freedom comes in the act of trying to be free and accepting that this journey is the freedom.[1] Freedom to believe, to act, to question, to reach out to others in individual acts of kindness—these fulfill us in myriad ways that counter the existential despair of modern life. Understanding that, and the awareness that our personal journey is best seen as an opportunity to make the world a better place, has helped me live a rich life.

I thank the notecards. I thank the Founding Fathers for enshrining my freedom of thought within the Constitution. And I thank my parents and ancestors for giving me the intelligence, if not the freedom, to choose.


[1] Summarized at https://fs.blog/simone-de-beauvoir-ethics-freedom/

Duggar’s Failed Defense

A particular mindset thrives within certain layers of the evangelical set, that a person is merely a pawn of God’s wishes and the Devil’s intent. The disciplining of children, for example, is pursued not as a punishment for bad deeds, but as a casting out of demons who have, for inexplicably malevolent reasons, infested the immediate presence of that child and forced him/her to do bad things.

So it comes as no surprise that Josh Duggar’s defense team would come up with a far-fetched concept that staggers the imagination. Not that Duggar himself, or perhaps one of his equally delusional siblings, inlaws, or—possibly his parents, paragons of evangelical ineptitude—might have been the one who struck upon this brilliant scheme. The key point in his defense was: It wasn’t Josh who secreted his way into the dark web to view babies and young children being defiled in abhorrent scenes of the most depraved form of pedophilia. No, it wasn’t Josh at all!

The person(s) responsible for those videos and images tracked on his work computer and personal Apple device were mysterious strangers who fiendishly crept into his hard drive, manipulated all the right layers of interface, and planted that stuff in there just to hurt poor Josh and, by extension, the rest of his righteous family. Because we all know that True Christians are always persecuted, falsely accused, and otherwise made to suffer the slings and arrows of the world. It’s a story as old as, well, the New Testament, at least.

Government prosecutors asserted that Duggar had installed Linux systems where he worked at the family car lot in order to evade the “accountability” application that would notify his wife if he tried to access sites showing child molestation. Witnesses for the prosecution stated that Duggar has questioned them about installing a Linux system as early as 2010, with the intention of evading the restrictions.

The key defense witness, Michelle Bush, a digital forensics expert, admitted under prosecution questioning that she had never been trained on a Linux system or the Torrential Downpour software used in investigating Duggar’s case. She also agreed that the installation of Linux on the computer at Duggar’s used car lot had to have been done by someone at the car lot, not remotely as Duggar’s defense tried to claim. Furthermore, she admitted that a thumb drive could not have been plugged into that computer unless a person was present at the car lot to plug it in.

Further questioning of Ms. Bush confirmed that the bookmarked Hidden Wiki site found in these computers was frequently accessed specifically for viewing child exploitation sites. She also agreed that multiple applications were found on both the car lot’s computer as well as Duggar’s personal Apple devices, and there were no files or evidence of remote access to those systems.

Despite the utter absurdity of this attempted defense, attorneys for Duggar really had no other option. Their client has a long history—at least since he was fourteen years old—of being a pedophile. Many evangelicals who hung on every episode of the long running television series enshrining the Duggars’ reproductive excess utterly rejected the idea that he was a pedophile even after he admitted that he had regularly crept into his sisters’ bedroom to fondle them while they slept.

Oh, they said, he just made a mistake. He’s sorry.

That there could be some scientific understanding of pedophilia evaded the consciousness of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar whose firstborn child first confessed his attraction in early adolescence. In keeping with the typical evangelical denial of science in general, their response included a lot of prayer to cast out those quirky demons and to ask divine forgiveness. Ultimately, when his continued indulgence in his perversion pressed their hand, the solution was to send Josh off to do hard manual labor in the company of another evangelical.

That worked well.

Savaoph God the Father, 1885-96, Mikhailovich Vasnetsov

Legitimate treatment of pedophilia might include cognitive-behavior therapy such as relapse-prevention therapy, aversion therapy, and other forms of psychotherapy (conditioning approaches, behavior skills training, social skills, empathy training, and trying to address the underlying sexual arousal pattern) as well the use of drugs to affect androgen levels or serotonin inhibition. Treatments for obsessive-compulsive disorder have also been shown to be effective in treating pedophilia.

Some might have privately suggested the quite effective old-fashioned method of treatment: castration.

No treatment will be effective if the pedophile does not want treatment. As long as Josh Duggar lives within a cloud of denial, he will not stop craving child molestation. Sadly, there’s little chance that he will find his way out of that cloud. It exists all around him, in his parents, his siblings, and in the greater community of evangelical believers who see themselves as pawns to God’s will or Satan’s.

There is some evidence that pedophilia may run in families, though it is unclear whether this stems from genetics or learned behavior. A history of childhood sexual abuse is another potential factor in the development of pedophilias, although this has not been proven.

According to mental health studies, “some experts propose that the causes are neurodevelopmental. Differences in the brain structure of pedophiles have been noted, such as frontocortical differences, decreased gray matter, unilateral and bilateral frontal lobe and temporal lobe and cerebellar changes,” according to mental health specialists.

“Pedophilia could be a byproduct of other co morbid psychiatric diseases. These brain abnormalities may have been formed by abnormal brain development. However, post-traumatic stress disorder also causes these types of brain abnormalities. Traumatic experiences in the pedophile’s early life could have caused this atypical development. Other neurological differences found in pedophiles included lower intelligence levels and the lower the intelligence level, the younger the preferred victim.

“Some pedophiles were also found to have chromosomal abnormalities. Out of 41 men studied, seven of them were found to have chromosomal abnormalities, including Klinefelter syndrome, which is a condition in which a male will have an extra X chromosome in their genetic code.

“The environmental factors involved in pedophilia must also be considered. There is much controversy over whether or not being sexually abused as a child causes that child to grow up to be a sexual abuser. Statistics do weigh out indicating, that in general, more people who abuse children as adults were abused themselves as children.”[1]

Cornelis Galle I, “Lucifer” (c. 1595)

Whatever the reason for Josh Duggar’s sexual perversion, it is most certainly not that “the Devil made him do it.” It is possible that other members of his family suffer similar mental health issues but have been more successful in keeping them secret. It is possible—even likely—that one or more of his children have been the target of his obsession. As noted in mental health studies of this affliction, pedophiles feel that they ‘love’ their victims and believe that the victims enjoy the interaction.

Clearly Josh Duggar’s parents, Jim Bob and Michelle, are not “normal” in their sexual proclivities which urged them to keep producing children far beyond what might be considered a healthy number, even past the point when doctors were warning Michelle not to become pregnant again after, at age forty-three, her nineteenth child required a Caesarian delivery. At forty-five, she miscarried her 20th pregnancy. Again, this is the mindset that the individuals themselves bear no responsibility for the outcome. In other words, having unprotected sex doesn’t make babies, God does.

It follows that when one believes that sex itself is not to be indulged unless one intends to produce children, one might end up with lots of children. Simple.

Medieval thinking is comfortable for those who don’t have the capacity to think for themselves and for those who have been convinced early in life that thinking somehow insults God. Science has long shown that disease and natural disasters are not, in fact, a punishment sent by the Invisible Almighty, but rather the result of natural forces like bacteria, viruses, and weather/geology. But to understand science, a person needs the capacity and will to learn about cells, bacteria, and tectonic forces which, to many, is simply an insurmountable task. Much easier is willful ignorance dressed up like God’s will and the intercession of demons.

Until the insidious impact of religious and home schooling is interrupted by enforced teaching of science, this plague of irresponsible stupidity will continue alongside inevitable fallout such as pedophilia in denial.


[1] https://psychcentral.com/pro/causes-of-pedophilia#1

Justice! Josh Duggar Convicted.

Josh Duggar Leaves Court with Pregnant Wife Anna (7th child) After Push to Dismiss His Child Porn Case Fails  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-YfxGgVeAQ Credit: 40/29 News

Some of my blog followers may remember my report on the State of Perversion a few years back. At the time, the tip of an iceberg had been uncovered, but there was no justice because the statute of limitations had run on Duggar’s child molestation (and incest) crimes before it came to light.

We all know a leopard can’t change his spots, and likewise–apparently–neither can a pedophile. In the interim, Duggar has fathered several more children on his hapless wife, but at least now his children as well as perhaps other children can rest easy while he serves his time.

Here’s the report:

Federal Jury Convicts Former Reality Television Personality for Downloading and Possessing Child Sexual Abuse Material

A federal jury convicted an Arkansas man today for receiving and possessing material depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Joshua James Duggar, 33, of Springdale, repeatedly downloaded and viewed images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of children, including images of prepubescent children and depictions of sadistic abuse. Duggar, a former reality television personality who appeared with his family on the TLC series “19 Kids and Counting,” installed a password-protected partition on the hard drive of his desktop computer at his used car lot in Springdale to avoid pornography-detecting software on the device. He then accessed the partition to download child sexual abuse material from the internet multiple times over the course of three days in May 2019. The password for the partition was the same one he used for other personal and family accounts. Duggar downloaded the material using the dark web and online file-sharing software, viewed it, and then removed it from his computer.

“Today’s verdict sends a message that we will track down and prosecute people who download and view child sexual abuse material, regardless of the lengths they go to conceal their conduct,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “I am grateful for the efforts of the prosecution team and our law enforcement partners who helped ensure the defendant would be held accountable for his crimes. I hope today’s conviction serves as a reminder of the department’s steadfast commitment to bringing to justice those who callously contribute to the online sexual exploitation of young children.”

“Over 7% of the cases sentenced in the year 2020 in the Western District of Arkansas were child pornography and sexual abuse cases,” said the U.S. Attorney Clay Fowlkes for Western Arkansas. “Our office is focused on expending all the resources necessary to the very important work of protecting children in Arkansas and elsewhere. This verdict sends the message that these cases are a top priority for our office. This verdict also demonstrates that no person is above the law. Regardless of wealth, social status, or fame, our office will continue to seek out all individuals who seek to abuse children and victimize them through the downloading, possession, and sharing of child pornography.”

“Because of the exceptional efforts by HSI special agents and our law enforcement partners, a child predator has been brought to justice,” said Special Agent in Charge Jack Staton of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New Orleans, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “Every time child exploitation imagery is shared, it re-victimizes innocent and vulnerable children. The verdict demonstrates that regardless of an individual’s notoriety or influence, they are not above the law. HSI agents make it a priority to protect children by investigating these offenders and ensuring they pay for their incomprehensible actions.”

Law enforcement in Arkansas detected Duggar’s activity during an undercover investigation involving the online file-sharing program, subsequently searched his car lot in November 2019, and seized Duggar’s desktop computer as well as other evidence. Significant evidence was found that pointed to Duggar’s presence at the times of the offenses, including pictures that Duggar took on his phone that geolocated at or near the car lot. Duggar also sent multiple timestamped text messages to various individuals that indicated he was at the car lot at the relevant times; the messages were sent, and the iPhone pictures were created, at times within minutes of when the child sexual abuse material was downloaded or displayed on the desktop computer. Additionally, he was the only paid employee on the lot at those times.

Duggar was convicted of receipt and possession of child pornography. His sentencing date has not been scheduled yet. Receipt of child pornography is punishable by a term of imprisonment of five to 20 years. Possession of child pornography depicting prepubescent children has a maximum penalty of 20 years of imprisonment as well. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

HSI in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the Little Rock Police Department, and the High Technology Investigative Unit of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) investigated the case.

Trial Attorney William G. Clayman of CEOS and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Dustin Roberts and Carly Marshall of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Arkansas are prosecuting the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

[This report from https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/federal-jury-convicts-former-reality-television-personality-downloading-and-possessing-child%5D

See previous posts on this topic:

Evangelical Christian Perversion

The Devil Within

A State of Perversion

Email to my Christian Siblings

Recently in discussing the role of religion in wars over the centuries, my sister wrote:

“The Jewish people conquered and obtained land,  because God told them to. He kept his word to Abraham, telling him he would give his descendants that land, though it took hundreds of years. He said plainly in his word that it wasn’t due to the goodness of the Hebrews, but as a punishment to the nations there, due to their unacceptable practices…”

I wrote back:

Surely you realize that the claim that ‘God told us to do it’ is an entirely self-serving justification for whatever the Jews wanted to do. The Old Testament, written by Jews, is full of their violent behavior, not only by conquering tribes in order to seize the lands, but in admonitions like ‘an eye for an eye’ and other aspects of their primitive early laws. 

By the way, if you ever want to know how the Israelis got a lot of their Old Testament stories–especially the creation stories–check out Sumerian history recorded on clay tablets. The Sumerian civilization predates the rise of Jewish tribes by at least a thousand years. Tribal people who would become Israel lived in the hills around early Sumerian cities and adopted much of the Sumerian mythology. Here are a few of the Biblical stories that are copied from earlier Sumerian beliefs:

  • In the beginning, there was chaos (Enuma Elish–Sumerian story of creation)
  • Chaos was transformed to order (Enuma Elish)
  • God/gods created all things (Enuma Elish)
  • Light existed before the creation of the sun and moon (Enuma Elish)
  • God/gods were displeased with humanity and decided to destroy humanity via the flood (Epic of Gilgamesh, Eridu Genesis, and the Epic of Atrahasis)
  • The flood (Sumerian kings list)
  • One man and his family survived the flood (Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Netherworld)
  • Those on the Ark opened a window near the end of the journey sending birds as scouts
  • Food and drink can give eternal life (Adapa)
  • After the flood, this one man gave thanks to his God
  • The early settlers in Mesopotamia were of one speech (Enmerkar and the Lord Aratta)
  • The language was confused (Enmerkar and the Lord Aratta)
  • Migration originated from those who survived the flood
  • The Sumerians knew the concept of eternal life in paradise and were seeking it (Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Netherworld)
Part of the preserved clay tablet record of Sumeria

But I’m off topic. I deviated into that to explain why I have zero faith in the Jewish idea that they were God’s chosen people. They were just a scrappy little fringe tribe that came together around an adopted mythology and used violence to take what they wanted.

Warmongering and violence inflicted by the Jews is part and parcel of their history. Consider when God instructs King Saul to attack the Amalekites: “And utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them,” God says through the prophet Samuel. “But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey. When Saul failed to do that, God took away his kingdom. In modern terms, God was demanding genocide of an entire people.

But then, the Old Testament idea of God included wiping out all of humanity because God was offended by sin. According to the Epic of Gilgamesh, the gods who set up the great flood were offended by the NOISE.

Similar edicts by God urged the ‘utter destruction’ of the Canaanites when the actual motivation for Jews was to take over Canaan instead of continuing to live in the mountainous regions where few crops could thrive. i.e.–the Jews wanted the land and they’d do whatever it took to get it including slaughtering as many Canaanites as necessary including women and children.

Part of a new print ad for Henry guns; a new TV commercial plays up the brand’s origins as made in the United States. From The New York Times, “My Rifle, My Bible and Me” by Stuart Elliott, Sept 17, 2009

Yes, the New Testament claims certain teachings of Christ were meant to limit or eradicate the old ‘eye for an eye’ mindset of the Old Testament. “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing,” for example. But I’m pretty sure that while this idea sounds good in church, in reality many Christians today are among the first to hoard guns and exert deadly force when they feel they are threatened. It is Christians who pray over a campfire then turn around and start killing Afghans, or Syrians, or whoever else they decide to improve or challenge in their native lands! 

Or, on a lesser more pathetic scale, pray in a huddle to win a football game before trotting onto the field to physically assault one another.

To me, even going into places to evangelize — teaching the ‘pitiful heathens’ about God — is a form of violence. There are tribes who existed for thousands of years in peace, living off the land and worshiping in their own way, now told that their beliefs are all wrong and they must adopt this new religion in order to be ‘saved.’ Suddenly they become caught up in a war of dogmas–Islam vs Christianity, mostly, although in India and Myanmar for example, the conflict is between Buddhism and Islam. Africa right now is an absolute nightmare of warring tribes operating under the flag of Islam or Christianity, a situation I blame entirely on Christian missionaries who were so arrogant to believe that undermining tribal traditions with this new religion could ever turn out well.

While we can agree that Islam is often the birthplace of radical sects pursuing jihad in the name of their religion, we can’t escape the long history of equally abhorrent behavior by Jews and Christians. I mean, all you have to do is read through the Old Testament to see the countless times that the Jews use “God said” to justify their aggression against other people who possessed lands or other resources the Jews wanted. According to the pope, God said Christian crusaders should invade the Middle East and exterminate the ‘infidels’ (Muslims) who had occupied Israeli (Canaanite) lands for 500 years. The latest version of this mindset is before us today–Israel has not only taken most of the land away from Palestinians, but continues to attack and kill those who protest and move forward with taking more land–bulldozing homes, orchards, and gardens to drive out Palestinians. The situation in Israel is infuriating to any neutral observer. 

I think this kind of attitude of ‘God said’ and its subsequent use to justify aggression both in personal dealings and in national ones, is an underlying cause of the hatred directed toward Jews over the centuries. At the end of WWII, sympathy for the Jews after Hitler’s holocaust led Western powers to grant Jews a place of their own by taking a SMALL PART of Palestine to create Israel. Jews had not ‘owned’ a homeland since around 600 AD, so it’s hardly a matter of giving back what had been theirs any time recently. What other place on earth takes land away from its current occupants and gives it to people who lived there 1,400 years ago? This came about due partly to a strong Zionist movement among the Jews living in places like the U.S. as well as Christian fundamentalists eager to facilitate the predictions of Revelations. *sigh*

Here’s what the Jews have done with that:

image.png

Finally — here’s a hilarious take on the situation with the land now mostly called Israel.
https://vimeo.com/199418954

Sibling response to this email? Silence.

And that’s fine, because a) there is no reasonable response, b) we’ve argued about this for decades, and c) they do not have interest in challenging the belief system in which they’ve been brainwashed since birth. They’re comfortable with what they believe. How I escaped is beyond my comprehension, but I am thankful for it. I’m especially encouraged that nearly one out of three people in the U.S. today share my disgust with religion and the evil it often perpetrates.

Washington County Court Fails Its Duty and Presumes to Infringe on Constitutional Rights

Joseph Wood, Washington County Judge

In an ideal world, government provides for its citizens by addressing problems so complex or so large in scope that citizens alone or even in groups cannot address them. Our tax dollars support government agencies that regulate the costs of necessary utilities, the purity of our food and drugs, and the safety of our mass transportation systems such as airlines and trains, among many other things. Under our U. S. Constitution, matters of personal conscience such as privacy and religious belief are left to the individual.

At the local level, we here in Washington County, Arkansas now find ourselves with a county government which has forgotten—if indeed they ever knew—their proper role. For example, about a year ago, the county government closed their south Fayetteville hazardous waste collection center. There was no public notice of this decision.

Meanwhile, a resolution introduced by Quorum Court Republican Patrick Deacon and passed through committee last night quotes a Bible passage and presumes to embed certain religious beliefs into county law. A more experienced county judge would have stopped this presumption in its tracks.

A deeper look at the county judge’s tenure finds that upon taking office, he not only fired experienced county employees but replaced them with cronies from his former position at Ecclesia College. He gutted several of the county’s departments and ended up defending his actions in court.[1] Environmental affairs, tasked with protecting our natural springs, streams, and the rest of our land, was reduced to one employee. The county archives, a priceless repository of old deeds, marriage records, and other arcane and fascinating bits of our local history, was relieved of its professional archivist and its open hours reduced to a few hours one day a week. Other departments suffered similar cutbacks, all in the name of saving money and, to the Republican mantra, reducing government.

Hazardous waste isn’t something to toy with. These subtle poisons are found in virtually every household—cleaning products, solvent-based paints, pesticides, weed-killers, and other garden chemicals, batteries, motor oil, kerosene, swimming pool or hot tub chemicals, pharmaceuticals (all medicines), obsolete computer equipment and televisions, thermometers, barometers, thermostats, fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent globes (CFLs), and more. Educating the public about household hazardous waste (HHW) over the last thirty years has been a major effort for community recycling and solid waste departments.

Washington County had made some headway not only in educating residents about the nature of HHW but also in providing a convenient drop-off location where such items could be safely collected for appropriate disposal. This has meant that tons of these chemicals have NOT ended up being poured on the ground or dumped into landfills where someday, no matter how great the liners, they will leak into the ground. Chemicals in the ground don’t just sit there. They don’t decompose into harmless biomass. They migrate through fragmented limestone and clay and every other type of strata until at some point they join groundwater. And sooner or later, that groundwater becomes the water we must drink.

Now perhaps Judge Wood and his cohort were not aware of the dangers inherent in HHW. Perhaps their only thought was to make other use of that small building on the county’s south campus that would save the county a few dollars. (The building is currently used for storage.) And perhaps their thought was that any solid waste issue, including HHW, properly fell into the domain of the Boston Mountain Solid Waste District (BMSWD).

Whatever the considerations which entered into the decision to close the HHW collection center, these considerations did not include the cardinal rule about the safe disposal of HHW: disposal should be convenient for the greatest number of people.

In a society acculturated to the concept of convenience, it is the burden of public officials to ensure that the solution to important problems like proper HHW disposal is made as convenient as possible. Number 1 consideration should be to accommodate the operation of a facility which has become well known and well used by area residents.

When the county closed its HHW collection center in south Fayetteville, BMSWD scrambled to open a new collection center in Prairie Grove. However, Prairie Grove has a population of about 5,800 people whereas Fayetteville’s population is over 85,000, which raises the question of who is being served with this location change. The tenuous justification for the move hinted that it wasn’t the county’s responsibility to collect HHW for Fayetteville. Also, that Prairie Grove was more rural and therefore more suitable for HHW collection from county residents.

Questions posed in early April to Judge Wood were diverted to Brian Lester, formerly county attorney and now assistant to the judge.

Q: How much money did the county spend on the south Fayetteville HHW collection center?

Didn’t know.

Q: What was the tonnage collected annually at the Fayetteville HHW center? Has that tonnage increased or decreased in the year since the south Fayetteville facility closed?

Didn’t have any data.

Q: Why did the county not notify Fayetteville solid waste officials about the planned termination of the south Fayetteville site and ask for a cost sharing solution?

No answer.

Q: Is the county’s population center at or near Prairie Grove?

A: No, the center is just south of Fayetteville.

Mr. Lester alleged that BMSWD now offers local HHW pickup at various outlying communities such as Elkins. Not true. The district’s plan for HHW collection is that if a community decides it needs a HHW collection, it will provide a location and staff and the district will provide education and disposal of said waste. At the present time, the only HHW collection service in the county is a weekly one-day collection event in Fayetteville, which began AFTER early April when we circulated our questions to not only Mr. Lester, but also a quorum court member, BMSWD employees, and Fayetteville solid waste representatives.

BMSWD confirms that they received no advance warning that the county judge planned to terminate their contract to use the county’s building in south Fayetteville for the HHW collection center. Likewise, Fayetteville solid waste officials confirm that they received no warning or offer of cost sharing or other arrangements to secure the south Fayetteville location for the program.

No one advising Judge Wood or his staff on this decision seems to have considered that lots of residents of small towns and rural areas of Washington County used the Fay’vl HHW facility because Fayetteville is the largest city and the county seat and serves as the shopping, entertainment, and employment destination for most of the small town/rural residents of the entire county. Which, obviously, means Fayetteville is the most convenient HHW disposal location for most county citizens.

The allegation that Prairie Grove is a more convenient disposal location for rural citizens than Fayetteville is a fabrication based on the need to cover ass after the issue was raised with hard questions.

Government and only government has the power and scope to make decisions that provide protection for the region’s water supply for decades and centuries to come. Unfortunately, Judge Wood and his cohort’s interests seem to center on his religious beliefs and how to best impose those beliefs on individual county residents.

Despite Judge Wood’s administrative experience in various posts, his primary interest seems to follow his Masters of Christian Leadership degree (2016). Aside from imposing religious beliefs on county government, Joseph Wood’s righteousness apparently suffers lapses.

“In the 2016 race for County Judge, former Ecclesia board member Joseph Wood replaced Republican nominee Micah Neal when he abruptly withdrew from the race.  Neal later pled guilty to federal bribery charges over state funds he directed to the school.  Wood’s first actions as judge were to fire employees without cause, and violate county policy by hiring Ecclesia cronies without posting the position. It’s not gotten any better from there. Despite running on fiscally conservative credentials, Wood has presided over dwindling reserves and a budget shortfall in the county.”[2]

Not only Neal, but another state senator Jon Woods (appealing a fifteen-year sentence) and a well-known lobbyist Rusty Cranford (serving a seven year sentence) were part of this scheme to divert tax dollars to a religious school while lining their own pockets. As investigators ultimately discovered, the scam involved sixteen people in two states.

“As part of his guilty plea, Neal admitted that, between January 2013 and January 2015, while serving in the Arkansas House of Representatives, he conspired with an Arkansas state senator [Jon Woods –ed.] to use their official positions to appropriate government money known as General Improvement Funds (GIF) to a pair of non-profit entities in exchange for bribes.”

While Joseph Wood may not have been complicit in this scheme, his position as Ecclesia College board member made him responsible for the activities of its representatives. If he knew about this illegal scheme, perhaps he viewed it in the same way he views the unconstitutional overreach of the proposed resolution declaring the county ‘pro-life’ – that the end justifies the means. The end, in this case, would be a ‘Christian nation.’

Joseph Wood announced in May 2021 that he is running for lieutenant governor, a position one step away from the power of state leadership. In his lengthy press release announcing his candidacy, Wood extolls his career and adds his blessings to the Trump presidency:

“President Trump will go down in history as one of the greatest Presidents because he pushed ahead in the face of adversity and delivered results. Arkansas needs a proven leader for the future of Arkansas. I am running as a strategic thinker and leader who consistently delivers results. I am running as a conservative, committed to faith, family, and fighting for what’s possible in Arkansas.”

The tenure of Judge Wood has been a black mark on our county’s reputation. If elected to state office, this man and his supporters will only drag the state further down, and we’re already scraping the bottom.

We aren’t the only person to speak out about egregious behavior by Republicans on the Quorum Court. This letter to the editor was published in the Northwest Arkansas edition of the Democrat-Gazette on February 7, 2021. Please note that this Patrick Deakins is the same member of the court who put forth the pro-life resolution cited above.

“Public’s voice provided little time in meetings

“On Tuesday, Feb. 9, after months of the public calling for a public discussion regarding over $4 million in CARES Act relief funds being sent to Washington County, the public was finally offered an opportunity for discussion. Or so we thought.

“I was excited for this opportunity as my own Justice of the Peace, Lance Johnson, will not respond to my other attempts to reach him. At the beginning of the meeting, JP Patrick Deakins was elected chair of the committee, then rudely and sarcastically breezed his way through the entire agenda and insisted the only time for public comment would be at the very end, even though an agenda item was named for “public discussion.” At the end, under a brand new rule, only 12 minutes were allowed total for the entire agenda, 10 items in total.

“Five members of the community, in a county of over 230,000, were allowed to speak. Five. And, the last person speaking was yelled over and cut off, on an item that hundreds of us have waited months to discuss.

“I hope the public is aware that whether for or against any items, we have been completely shut out of participating in our local government. This 12-minute rule applies to all county business. The county received “reimbursement” for over $4 million dollars in funds they claim they spent on covid-related expenses, yet detailed as their justification were expenses that were budgeted prior to the pandemic. They have hijacked our tax dollars and our democracy. That is our money and our Quorum Court, and we are not allowed to have an opinion? This should rock every one of us to our core and they should be ashamed of themselves.

“Start talking to your neighbors, friends or family about running. We have a Quorum Court to take back.” Written by ReBecca Graham.

~~~

See https://www.nwaonline.com/news/2019/apr/12/corruption-case-spans-16-people-2-state/


[1] See https://arktimes.com/arkansas-blog/2018/03/30/washington-county-official-resigns-amidst-lawsuit-over-county-judge-joseph-woods-hiring-practices

[2] http://www.forfayetteville.com/2018-elections/washington-county-races

Is Racism In Our DNA?

Typical Western European/American representation of Jesus Christ as a white man with light hair and blue eyes

If we track the roots of Western civilization to its earliest evidence in language and genetics, we find that our language and other markers of our ancestry track the spread of the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) language from its roots in the Eurasian steppe circa 4,500 years ago. This expansion can be traced through word relationships as well as commonalities of myth and religion, but also through similarities in social behaviors. From Bronze Age Greeks, Indo-Iranians, and Anatolian (Hittite) people, this cultural thread weaves through Iron Age Indo-Aryans, Iranians and, most importantly for our consideration, European groups including Celts, Germanic peoples, Italic peoples, and other Western European populations.

Recent DNA analyses of these populations support the theory of PIE migration and conquest over earlier human settlements.[1] By the Middle Ages, ancient Indo-European traditions, myths, and languages had reached Scandinavian cultures and spread across medieval Europe. Genetic information shows that certain characteristics currently attributed to European ancestry such as blue eyes first appeared in the genetic record around 13,000 to 14,000 years ago in Italy and the Caucasus. Light skin is less easily tracked as a genetic factor but researchers believe this feature spread through Western Europe between 19,000 and 11,000 BCE (Before Current Era). Other physical characteristics also follow this migration, including taller height and blond hair.

This movement from east to west parallels the penetration of farming practices into hunter-gatherer populations. Farming required settling into one location to oversee the planting, cultivation, and harvesting of farmed crops, meaning that people were able to accumulate more worldly goods which in turn led to inequalities as well as the need to determine paternity of children who might inherit such goods. Social rules proliferated to govern communal norms including the sexual behavior of women.

Migrations that spread PIE language and culture

By around 3500 BCE, people of the PIE traditions had domesticated the horse, adapted the wheel to chariots and wagons, and begun herding food animals such as cattle. The growth of grazing herds led to conquest of neighboring lands to expand grazing space. Increasing use of metals for weaponry (copper, bronze, iron) alongside war chariots pulled by domesticated horses led to the rise of empires from Greece and Rome to the European colonialism that shaped the modern world starting in 1500s. Just like their PIE ancestors, early Western civilizations seized power by conquering bordering indigenous populations and usurping any natural resources native to those lands.

Operating in the arrogance of supremacy, or the ‘might-makes-right ideology,’ expansionists viewed the world as theirs for the taking. If the tools of conquest could overcome native defenses, then it was conveniently considered a God-given right to take whatever the natives might have, not limited to their possessions and lands but also their very lives. Enslaved to their new masters, conquered people endured the various brutal labors required of empire building whether mining lead, tin, or salt or building roads, temples, and coliseums where even more slaves could be forced to ‘entertain’ their masters with fights to the death.

Rising from the ashes of the vast Roman Empire, by 1500 CE, Western European powers traveled the world, spiking their nation’s flags into new lands to claim it for king and country. During the next five hundred years, Spain ‘discovered’ the so-called New World. France, Great Britain, Portugal, and Holland (Netherlands) quickly joined the land grab, swooping in to establish their own satellites in the Americas and then around the globe. Most of these conquered people were people of color, therefore automatically considered inferior and suitable for genocide or enslavement.

Ironically, all these Western European powers were themselves shaped by invasions by outsiders, virtually all of which were also PIE cultures. For example, after the Celts penetrated the British Isles sometime around 2000 BCE, continuing waves of foreign invaders included the Romans (circa 55 BCE); Germanic Angles, Saxons, and Jutes (circa 400-500 CE); Norse, Danes and other ‘Viking’ entities (700-900 CE); and finally the conquest by Normans (1066). The influence of Scandinavian influence on British culture and language can’t be understated, since the Normans (Northmen) themselves were Norse Viking invaders of France circa 900 CE who agreed to stop pillaging Paris in exchange for lands along France’s western coast.[2]

England and subsequently the British Empire staked its claim first on Ireland and Scotland, but also on North America, India, Australia, Egypt and a major swath of Africa along with portions of China, Indonesia, and various Pacific islands.[3] Spain plundered most of South America as well as the western half of the present-day United States and the Philippine Islands. Not wanting miss out on native hoards of gold, silver, and precious gems, the Catholic Church worked through both Spain and Portugal to destroy indigenous religious traditions and take possession of their wealth.[4] France suffered the loss of much of their colonized territories to the British in the Seven Years War (1756-1763) including a large swath of the United States heartland and much of eastern Canada, then made up its losses with the occupation of northwest Africa, parts of India, and various parts of Indochina.[5]

Along the way, racism stood as a primary justification for enslaving not only Africans to produce wealth in American and Caribbean colonies, but virtually any indigenous peoples who fell before the advance of Western Europeans. A standard concept undergirded these actions, perhaps best stated in 1884 by the Frenchman Jules Ferry: “”The higher races have a right over the lower races, they have a duty to civilize the inferior races.”

The western European colonial powers claimed that, as Christian nations, they were duty-bound to disseminate Western civilization to what Europeans perceived as the heathen and primitive cultures… In addition to economic exploitation and imposition of imperialist government, the ideology of the civilizing mission required the cultural assimilation of “primitive peoples,” as the nonwhite Other, into the colonial subaltern of eastern Europe.[6]

Then, just like that, there were no more new lands to conquer and movement westward turned back on itself. Throughout the rush to ‘conquer’ the American West, freed slaves, migrant laborers from Mexico and the rest of Central America, and imported Chinese performed the backbreaking labor of building railroads, mining, and agriculture. Today’s U. S. agricultural industries depend heavily on the descendants of mixed Spanish-Native peoples.

For a time, the tradition of colonization continued into the 20th century in the form of wars against lesser nations. In a belated effort to rein in this long tradition of conquest, “In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill jointly released the Atlantic Charter, which broadly outlined the goals of the U.S. and British governments. One of the main clauses of the charter acknowledged the right of all people to choose their own government. The document became the foundation for the United Nations and all of its components were integrated into the UN Charter, giving the organization a mandate to pursue global decolonization.”[7]

Meanwhile, domestic discrimination by whites takes form in laws that are used selectively in the United States to disproportionately imprison Blacks and Latinos where they are used as a labor force and whose imprisonment enriches the rapidly growing private prison industry. The racist white-supremacy inheritance of PIE ancestry continues in the 21st century, thriving in right-wing hate groups and political party movements across the United States and Western Europe.

The racialist perspective of the Western world during the 18th and 19th centuries was invented with the Othering of non-white peoples, which also was supported with the fabrications of scientific racism, such as the pseudo-science of phrenology, which claimed that, in relation to a white-man’s head, the head-size of the non-European Other indicated inferior intelligence; e.g. the apartheid-era cultural representations of coloured people in South Africa (1948–94).

…Despite the UN’s factual dismissal of racialism, in the U.S., institutional Othering continues in government forms that ask a citizen to identify and place him or herself into a racial category; thus, institutional Othering produces the cultural misrepresentation of political refugees as illegal immigrants (from overseas) and of immigrants as illegal aliens (usually from México).[8]

The same science that has tracked white ancestry over thousands of years has not only provided modern civilization with countless amenities but also clear evidence that underneath our skin and other outward appearances, humans are all the same.

https://themetamodernist.com/2017/12/27/why-god-is-a-white-man-god-the-father-in-western-art/

See Part II coming soon: “Are Whites Superior?”


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_history_of_Europe

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normans

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Empire

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Empire

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_colonial_empire

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civilizing_mission

[7] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analysis_of_Western_European_colonialism_and_colonization

[8] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Other_(philosophy)