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This Shit Has to Stop

20 Nov

I suppose you’ve all heard or read about the new anti-Obama slogan that’s making the rounds in conservative circles.This little gem is available on t-shirts and bumper stickers – Pray for Obama: Psalm 109:8.

For those of you who may not be familiar with that verse, this is what it says:

May his days be few;
may another take his place of leadership.

Standing alone, the verse may not seem too sinister. Maybe it means “may his days in office be few….” Anyone who is inclined to accept that interpretation, however, is gonna have a whole lotta ‘splainin’ to do when that verse is put in its context:

8 May his days be few;
may another take his place of leadership.

9 May his children be fatherless
and his wife a widow.

10 May his children be wandering beggars;
may they be driven from their ruined homes.

11 May a creditor seize all he has;
may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.

12 May no one extend kindness to him
or take pity on his fatherless children.

13 May his descendants be cut off,
their names blotted out from the next generation.

Now, I know that anti-W rhetoric got heated. And, it was often less than kind. But, the right-wing hatred of Obama has gone beyond differences of opinions and grown disgustingly toxic. Then again, there are some who contend that this is simply a joke, a funny meme. As far as I’m concerned, anyone who thinks this slogan is funny is seriously humor-impaired.

A slogan like this would be bad enough if it were merely vicious. What bothers me nearly as much as the malice is the seemingly seamless blending of religion and politics. What kinds of people are drawn toward this slogan?

Jews? After all, the passage comes from the Old Testament. But, somehow, I don’t think many Jews are plastering their Chevys with these bumper stickers.

Muslims? I doubt it.

Buddhists? Yeah, right.

No, the people that seem most likely to be attracted to this slogan are the ones who currently infest the Republican party: rabid, uber-rightwing conservative Christians. Some of them are the kind of people who organize teabagging events to protest taxes and health care reform. And some of them are the kind who insist that the United States is, or ought to be, a “Christian Nation” – with the understanding, of course, that their particular, peculiar flavor of Christianity is the one that should prevail. If this kind of vile, violent, virulent hatred and intolerance for people with whom one disagrees is part of what living in a “Christian Nation” entails, I want no part of it. Furthermore, I will not stand by quietly while they try to wreck my country. I’m all for freedom of religion. And freedom of conscience. And freedom of speech. I am all against theocracy. And oligarchy. And fascism. And I will oppose all of those forces with every breath in my body.

As much as the malice of this simple-minded slogan bothers me, and as much as the narrow-mindedness of the sloganeers bothers me, the thing that bothers me the most about this situation, by far, is the silence of a) Republicans and b) Christians. The Republican party is going to hell in a roller coaster; Republicans aren’t playing a role in the governance of our country, they’re playing count-the-votes in next year’s mid-term election. Listen up, Republicans: get your shit together and do the right thing. Either get some control over the radicals in your ranks or cut them loose. They are a drag on your party and they do not advance the cause of conservative politics. You may think you’re using them, but, be aware, they’re also using you. There’s no guarantee that the civil wing of the party will win the battle for party control. From where I sit, it looks damn well like the radicals have taken over and are well into the process of marginalizing the thoughtful among you. Grow some balls and take back your party, lest you lose not only your party, but your country too.

As for Christian leaders, I’m sick and tired of the deafening silence that accompanies Christian extremism. I commented on this before, shortly after the murder of Dr. Paul Tiller. Ever since 9/11 (perhaps even before then), Christians have urged moderate and liberal Muslims to police the rogues within their camp. Has Tony Perkins spoken out against this ostensibly Christian rhetorical nonsense, this oh-so-clever “joke?” Or Don Wildmon? Or Rick Warren? Or Gary Bauer? To my knowledge, not one of them (nor anyone like them) has uttered a word. If I’m wrong, please provide links in the comments. Listen up, Christian activists: now’s the time to put your money where your mouths are. Tell the violent, theocratic thugs and teabaggers in your ranks to get over themselves and put an end to the reckless rhetoric before someone – like, maybe, President Obama – gets hurt. Or worse. Until Christians start policing themselves and cleaning up their own wretchedly soiled house, they have no business telling Muslims to do so, nor do they have any business trying to persuade non-Christians that they, Christians, are the keepers of the secrets of God’s Kingdom, the bearers of Good News and all other such tommyrot. From where I sit, most Republican officeholders and many Christian political activists look like nothing more than power-hungry opportunists and control freaks. I want nothing to do with people like them and I sure as hell don’t want them running ruining my country. This extremist shit has to stop before we all get so deeply into it that we’ll need bucket loaders to dig us out. The shit has to stop, and it has to stop now.

UPDATE I: Here’s a video of Rachel Maddow and Frankie Schaeffer discussing this matter:

UPDATE II: It seems that a number of Internet vendors have removed this merchandise from their product lines.

– the chaplain

 
65 Comments

Posted by on November 20, 2009 in humanism, politics, religion

 

65 responses to “This Shit Has to Stop

  1. xpusostomos

    November 20, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    You claim to want freedom of religion, but you don’t want someone praying a prayer from the bible? Why is that? What exactly is your problem with this tee-shirt? Maybe you only want freedom of expression and religion when it agrees with you.

     
  2. WoogieB

    November 20, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    The problem is not that it is just any prayer.
    The problem is that the prayer in question calls for the assassination
    of the PRESIDENT.
    You can say that the next line isn’t included and shouldn’t be taken into
    consideration, but that just isn’t possible because of what that says.
    “May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.”
    The fact that it comes from the bible has nothing to do with it.
    The Secret Service does not take kindly to these kinds of threats.
    I think that the people who are selling this should held accountable
    and prosecuted.

     
  3. Tommykey

    November 21, 2009 at 12:08 am

    I wonder why we didn’t have these when Bush was president. After all, thousands of American soldiers died as a result of the invasion of Iraq, and Iraq became a very unsafe place for Iraqi Christians. These people must labor under the delusion that their god is a card carrying member of the Republican Party.

     
  4. quantum_flux

    November 21, 2009 at 1:14 am

    Oh my gosh, Obama needs the cure verse for the curse verse:

    Lamentations 3:44 – Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through.

     
  5. Mark

    November 21, 2009 at 2:41 am

    The Bible full of shitty generic phrases that can applied to any occasion both good and bad or happy and sad.

    Using Psalm 109:8 as a prayer for Obama is just as sick and sadistic as the actions as the Muslim extremists.

    @ xpusostomos

    Just because something is in the great fairy tale book of babble does not mean it is moral or even just for that matter.

    American Christianity is choking itself with its wealth of hypocrisy.

     
  6. Michael

    November 21, 2009 at 2:59 am

    Freedom of religion is one thing, what about the freedom to indoctrinate and brainwash people? Children?

    People don’t believe this nonsense without someone convincing them it is true – why isn’t that process labeled fraud?

    Thing is, they can’t do any policing of this, otherwise they’d have to go the whole hog and declare themselves charlatans too.

     
  7. Spanish Inquisitor

    November 21, 2009 at 10:58 am

    xpusostomos

    First, did you read anywhere in the OP where Chappy called for restrictions on freedom of expression? No. So why do you immediately get your hackles up and equate what she wrote with a threat to your 1st Amendment rights. Certainly, you have the absolute right to buy one of those slogans and proudly display it. You can even have it tattooed on your forehead if you want. (Please do so).

    Her problem is not with the expression of the message, but the message itself. How did you miss that? Wait, I know. You didn’t read the post, did you. You just glossed over it, experienced Christian rage at having your super holy book insulted, and let loose, right?

    Second, since when is every single word of the Bible now a prayer? It’s a quote from Psalms, not a prayer (though I imagine if you actually use those words to pray to your god, you really are one sick fucker). I guess if I wore a T-shirt that said “Kill All Christians”, put it on a bumper sticker, and then claimed it’s a prayer to god, that would be OK with you? Because I call it a prayer?

    Chappy

    I’m currently taking bets that a certain troll whose name begins with a G and ends with an N is already selling those T-shirts out of the trunk of his Mercury.

     
  8. the chaplain

    November 21, 2009 at 11:45 am

    xpusostomos:
    YOMANK

    WoogieB: Death threats against Obama are 400% higher than they were for Bush. The Secret Service is not amused.

    Tommykey:
    Unfortunately, anti-Bush rhetoric and imagery also got pretty extreme too:

    QF:
    Is that the believers’ verse for explaining why their prayers go unanswered?

    Mark:
    I agree with your comment, especially the bit about hypocrisy.

    Michael:

    they can’t do any policing of this, otherwise they’d have to go the whole hog and declare themselves charlatans too

    Agree. They should understand the difficulty for Muslims in dealing with their homegrown extremists. On this matter, they either need to put up or shut up.

    SI:

    Her problem is not with the expression of the message, but the message itself.

    Yes, you’ve got that exactly right. People can and do say all sorts of stupid shit. And I can criticize what they say. Ain’t freedom of speech grand?

     
  9. PhillyChief

    November 21, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    Well part of xpusostomos’ problem, aside from not bothering to read the post, is seeing any criticism regarding anything related to Christianity as an attack on both Christianity and their right to worship. I think there are those in Christian circles who are feeding such fears because it’s certainly not the first time any of us have encountered it, am I right? Fear is a great motivator, and when you can set up that us vs them and exaggerate the them to this monstrous, well you’ve done your job.

    I also would not be surprised if most of the people with these bumper stickers have no idea what the rest of the bible passage is, so with that in mind I’d say our outrage to the sticker might be a little unnecessary. These idiots don’t read, remember? They don’t read entire articles and they most certainly don’t read their bibles (aside from some choice passages which someone has told them are good to read). That’s what makes them good sheep.

     
  10. the chaplain

    November 21, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    Philly:

    our outrage to the sticker might be a little unnecessary

    Actually, I’d say it’s even more justified. The thought that people were buying this stuff without having any clue what it actually means in context does not bring me any comfort. If they know what it means, and that’s precisely what they intend to say, well – that’s their right unless the Secret Service or another agency determines otherwise.

    UPDATED INFO: It seems that a lot of the Internet marketplaces that were selling this stuff have stopped doing so.

     
  11. Rob H.

    November 21, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    You’d have a much more compelling (IMHO) — convicting case — if you’d remove the “counter-offensive” slang and derogatory terms — teabagging/teabagger (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Tea-Bag) is a particularly gross, pejorative term that makes me cringe. I know, I’ll get BITCH-SLAPPED for even mentioning it with this audience.

    But seriously, your argument is insightful — and I’d forward it to Tony P. (a friend of mine, btw) but your own mean-spiritedness renders it useless, except to the Libs.

    I do appreciate that you took the time to put this in the proper biblical context — to make his wife a widow — that is very, very disturbing and clearly indicates the mind behind the creator of this slogan.

    Rob

     
  12. the chaplain

    November 21, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    RobH:
    Welcome to the chapel. I find it ironic – in a thread in which we are discussing the ideal of free speech – that you suggest that my plain-spoken expression of my opinion is too crude to be circulated to Christian leaders. I will not revise one word of it. If my “insight” has merit, as you say it does, then Christians should be able to ignore the allegedly offensive terminology, which plays a minuscule role in the piece, and dig into the meat of the post. They’re adults, and I suspect they’ve read and heard language that’s a lot more “mean-spirited” than what I’ve said here. In fact, quite a lot of “mean-spirited” rhetoric comes from Christians (do the “Obama is the anti-Christ” and “Obama is not a real Christian” lines ring any bells?), which brings me back around to the topic of this post – a slogan that is far more offensive than my two variants on the word “teabag” (in a post of nearly 1,000 words, I seriously doubt that 2 of them render the piece “useless”). Would you suggest, in a similar vein, that some Christians’ “own mean-spiritedness renders [their insights] useless, except to the” Conservatives?

    I’ll tell you what: I won’t censor your speech – although I may exercise my right to criticize it, and ask that you don’t censor my speech – although you may, as you’ve done here, criticize it.

     
  13. PhillyChief

    November 21, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    I know, I’ll get BITCH-SLAPPED for even mentioning it with this audience.

    Can you explain what you meant by “this audience”?

     
  14. Kagehi

    November 21, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    I also would not be surprised if most of the people with these bumper stickers have no idea what the rest of the bible passage is, so with that in mind I’d say our outrage to the sticker might be a little unnecessary.

    The problem being, of course, that the people publishing the damn things now ***very clearly*** what they mean, and are more than willing to use the stupid sheep who buy them, without knowing, as evidence of their own power and strength, the next time they need to point around and say, “See how many people support us. Be afraid!!” Does anyone honestly think this isn’t one of the tactics used to support, never mind propagandize, the idea that extreem Islam is wanted by the majority of people in the ME too? Hate is hate. Unethical and vicious rhetoric is unethical and vicious rhetoric. Combining religion with it actually makes it, imho, worse. Which would most sane people, given the history of such actions, worry more about, a group of crazies marching down the street waving crosses and calling for someone to be killed, while babbling quotes from a holy book, or the same group wearing a T-Shirt and waving a few signs?

    Somehow the “Kill Bush” T-Shirt doesn’t invoke visions of Salem or Tokemata, just saying…

     
  15. Kagehi

    November 21, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Well.. Actually for some right wing loonies it might, but they probably think both of those events where part of a left wing, liberal, conspiracy. lol

     
  16. xpusostomos

    November 21, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    @WoogieB: “the prayer in question calls for the assassination of the PRESIDENT”

    What? Where? It doesn’t say anything of the sort.

    @Mark: “Just because something is in the great fairy tale book of babble does not mean it is moral or even just for that matter.”

    And your standard for judging such things would be what?

    @Spanish Inquisitor: “First, did you read anywhere in the OP where Chappy called for restrictions on freedom of expression? No”

    Errr, what is this blog article called? Did you check?

    ” if you actually use those words to pray to your god, you really are one sick fucker”

    And your standard for judging such things would be what?

    ” I guess if I wore a T-shirt that said “Kill All Christians”, put it on a bumper sticker, and then claimed it’s a prayer to god, that would be OK with you? Because I call it a prayer?”

    I have a standard. What’s yours?

     
  17. PhillyChief

    November 22, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    I have a standard. What’s yours?

    Assuming we had a standard to point to, what would that matter to you, xpusostomos? You’ve chosen yours and your position is such that no matter what we say, you’ll dismiss it as inferior so your question is disingenuous.

    Still, at least you’re not trying to hide the truth of what your religion dictates, which is that what’s in your bible is true, whatever your god commands is good, including dashing babies on rocks or killing your son, and whatever he condemns is evil and that there is no other moral authority. When we get down to brass tax, THAT is Christianity, which means fundamentally a Christian cannot abide by many of our US laws, parts of the Constitution, and I don’t see how they can serve as government agents or in the military since on top of everything else, they can’t acknowledge the sovereignty of either the President or the Constitution. If any Christian honestly believed their god wanted the President dead, they’d have no choice but to do everything in their power to make that happen since it’s the will of their god, his will is good, and failure to abide by his will means eternal torture in Hell.

     
  18. Spanish Inquisitor

    November 22, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    xpusostomos (or John, or whatever your name is…)

    Errr, what is this blog article called? Did you check?

    Yes. “This Shit Has Got To Stop”. Your point? Mine was that she has not said one word about restricting anyone’s right to say whatever they want. She did say that any call for the death of the President, especially in the guise of a Bible quote and prayer, is just sick, anti-Christian (if you believe all the good stuff Chsritians say they believe) and morally reprensible. I agree with her. If you don’t, that make you a “sick fucker” in my book, (which incidentally is NOT the Babble…erm…Bible).

    Really. You ought to read the post.

    And your standard for judging such things would be what?

    Common human morality. I think the Golden Rule works pretty good. If you were President, would you want “good” Christians” praying for your wife to be a widow? What’s your standard?

    I have a standard. What’s yours?

    Asked and answered. Your turn.

     
  19. The Exterminator

    November 22, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    If people in leadership positions would stop wielding the bible as ways to get and/or hold power over the ignorant, the “slogan” you’re writing about would have no power. Since Obama has often quoted from the bible himself, I don’t see any reason why he should not be hoist with his own petard.

     
  20. Kagehi

    November 22, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Huh. Sure.. Everyone is waving around sticks, and half the world is blind, but the answer is to wave more sticks, not tell them (and I mean all of them, including Obama) to bloody stop it, before they make the other half blind. Exterminator, yours is precisely the sort of thinking that helps to promote the idea among certain people that if quoting stupid stuff is good enough for the other guy, its good enough for them, and damn the consequences when someone doesn’t think its rhetorical or joking.

     
  21. the chaplain

    November 22, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    Ex:
    Looking at this slogan from a rhetorical point of view, I can appreciate your point about the irony of the scriptures Obama uses at his convenience being turned against him. If I were confident that everyone would view it as mere rhetorical shenanigans that would not have any real-world consequences, I probably wouldn’t give it a second thought.

    Looking at it from a practical point of view, however, it only takes one idiot zealot with a rifle, a scope and a bullet to take it on him/herself to find inspiration in this slogan, or some other batshit but equally nefarious non-religious slogan, and take deadly action. Inciting violence – implicitly, explicitly, humorously, rhetorically, metaphorically, it doesn’t matter – is not an acceptable way to participate in civil society. This slogan is not cute or funny, it’s disgusting and infantile, as are all other slogans in a similar vein, and it does nothing to advance civilized political dialog.

    Am I saying that people should not be allowed to say this shit? No. They can say whatever they want to say – and accept whatever consequences ensue from their speech acts. But, when they say it, I’m certainly going to call them on it.

     
  22. The Exterminator

    November 22, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    chappy:

    My comment had nothing to do with rhetoric.

    What I’m saying is: If so-called “moderates” like Obama choose, when it’s convenient, to use religion for their own ends, they thereby enhance the perceived authority of ridiculous books like the bible. So those so-called “moderates” are partially culpable for creating a climate in which the extremism of the zealots seems “reasonable” to some among the unthinking masses. When Obama and his Democratic ilk tout their superstitions in the public fora (God bless America!) — even if they do so benignly — they enable the worst wingnut Republicans to twist those superstititions toward their own evil ends.

    Obama, by pandering to the religious, has helped to create the very situation you describe and deplore. I deplore it, too. But I’m not surprised, because religion seems to permeate this administration almost as much as it did the last one.

     
  23. Spanish Inquisitor

    November 22, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    That’s essentially the same thing Sam Harris has been saying for years. The moderate religious give cover for the wing nuts. Without the moderates paving the way, making their religious attitudes and beliefs “respectable”, the wing nuts would have no ability to forge inroads into respectability. Without the moderates, these type of bumper stickers and T-shirts would be treated like ones from the KKK.

     
  24. Spanish Inquisitor

    November 22, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    BTW. Do Owls eat Praying Mantises? :twisted:

     
  25. The Exterminator

    November 22, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Do Owls eat Praying Mantises?
    Not if their prayers work.

     
  26. the chaplain

    November 22, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    Ex and SI:
    I agree with you guys and Sam Harris that “moderate” and “liberal” religion provides cover for extremism. Once one allows any room for supernaturalism, superstition, mysticism, special revelations and so on as viable foundations for understanding the world and taking action therein, there is no clear point at which to draw a line between beliefs that are comforting and relatively harmless, and beliefs that are warped and dangerous to believers and others around them. You also know that I’ve deplored Obama’s use of god-talk as much as anyone. Still, I cannot, in good conscience, just stand by and say, “Obama made his bed, let him lie in it.” We’ve got to keep reminding all of these people – including Obama – that using religious rhetoric in the political arena and wielding so-called holy books as weapons with which to either curry favor or beat down opponents are not appropriate in a secular society.

    Having said that, if I were inclined to cite a Bible passage to counter the Psalm 109:8 slogan, I might cite Romans 13:1-2:

    Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

    But, I’m not so inclined. 8)

     
  27. xpusostomos

    November 22, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    @PhillyChief: ” I don’t see how they can serve as government agents or in the military since on top of everything else, they can’t acknowledge the sovereignty of either the President or the Constitution. ”

    Maybe you don’t understand the sovereignty of the constitution since Christians wrote the thing.

    ” If any Christian honestly believed their god wanted the President dead, they’d have no choice but to do everything in their power to make that happen”

    Nonsense. You know nothing about Christianity, obviously.

    @Spanish: “Mine was that she has not said one word about restricting anyone’s right to say whatever they want.”

    Neither does this bumper sticker, nor the Psalm in question.

    “She did say that any call for the death of the President, especially in the guise of a Bible quote and prayer, is just sick, anti-Christian”

    How can imitating the bible be anti-Christian? And if the call is to God, God will decide if he wants to answer it or not.

    ” If you don’t, that make you a “sick fucker” in my book”

    You don’t have a book or a standard, that is the point. Nobody cares about your book.

    “Common human morality. I think the Golden Rule works pretty good. ”

    There is no “common human morality”. Prove that the Golden Rule ought to be a rule.

    @the chaplain: “Am I saying that people should not be allowed to say this shit? No.”

    Maybe you should stop saying “this has got to stop”, or we might confuse you with someone who actually thinks “this must be stopped”.

     
  28. PhillyChief

    November 22, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    Alright, well you’re clearly an ignorant ass, xpusostomos. Granted, you Aussies might not be up on your US history so let me clue you in – the US Constitution is not a Christian document. Yes, some of the architects of it were Christians, and some were not. Both facts have no bearing on the content or intent of the document.

    Prove that the Golden Rule ought to be a rule.

    Right after you prove the rules of your religion should be followed.

     
  29. The Exterminator

    November 22, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    Maybe you don’t understand the sovereignty of the constitution since Christians wrote the thing.

    They may have professed themselves to be Christians, as opposed to Muslims, Jews, Hindus, or even — gasp! — atheists. But Gouverneur Morris and James Madison (the “prime movers” of the Constitution) were both considered Deists in their day, rather than Christians. George Mason, without whom there may not have been a Bill of Rights, was also probably a Deist. Madison and Mason definitely believed in a clear separation of church and state. (See Madison’s Memorial and Remonstrance, which he was encouraged to write by Mason.) Even if these three men were Christians, they certainly did not pen the Constitution as a Christian document. It mentions neither a god nor Jesus, nor does it claim its authority from any entity other than “the people.” You should read it sometime.

     
  30. Spanish Inquisitor

    November 22, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    Neither does this bumper sticker, nor the Psalm in question.

    I’m sorry, did you lose track? Pay attention. It was your first comment that started this, not the Psalm quote. Remember?…

    [xpusostomos] Maybe you only want freedom of expression and religion when it agrees with you.

    I’ll reiterate. She never said anything about freedom of expression and religion. You did.

    How can imitating the bible be anti-Christian?

    Let me count the ways and the infinite # of Christians interpreting the Bible. Is genocide a Christian attribute? How about mauling children? Slavery? Stoning people to death? Let’s say you pick up a few sticks in your yard today (Sunday). Can I stone you to death? The Bible says I should, so I would just be imitating it. That would make me a good Christian, wouldn’t it?

    Nobody cares about your book.

    Well, if no one cares why did you ask?

    There is no “common human morality”. Prove that the Golden Rule ought to be a rule.

    Two can play this stupid game. Prove there’s no “common human morality”.

    You asked me what my standard for morality was. I gave it to you. Now you want me to prove it ought to be a rule? It already is a fucking rule! Notice the word “Rule” after the word “Golden”. What next? You want me to prove the Ten Commandments ought to be commandments?

    Let’s turn it around. Prove to me it shouldn’t be. Do you believe the Golden Rule is not a valid standard for morality? Do you expect people to treat you different than you treat them?

    Apparently so.

     
  31. the chaplain

    November 22, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Maybe you should stop saying “this has got to stop”, or we might confuse you with someone who actually thinks “this must be stopped”.

    My statement, “this has to stop” is very different from both of your re-wordings of it, “this must be stopped” and “this has got to stop.” Since you appear to be unable to grasp the distinction, I’ll explain it to you.

    Your misstatement of my phraseology, particularly “this must be stopped,” implies a possible restriction on freedom of speech. My statement, along with the post that explicates it (I hope the word “explicate” isn’t too big for you; if it is, grab a dictionary and, if you learn nothing else today, learn a new word), suggests that people who say things like “Pray for Obama” and then cite one of the vilest imprecatory* passages in the Bible should monitor themselves and consider whether it is appropriate to make such a suggestion. Or, if they lack the capacity to think for themselves (and such may well be the case for at least a few of them), it would be wise for their spiritual leaders to step in and explicate to them what is wrong with the sentiment implied in the offensive slogan.

    * If you have trouble with words like “imprecatory” and “imprecation,” as well as “explicate,” keep your dictionary handy.

     
  32. xpusostomos

    November 23, 2009 at 1:38 am

    PhillyChief: “Both facts have no bearing on the content or intent of the document.”

    It has major bearing on your credibility if you think that self-described Christians framed a document that would exclude self-described Christians from being in government. That’s a loopy claim.

    “Right after you prove the rules of your religion should be followed.”

    Doesn’t matter if I prove it to you or not, if there are a bunch of us who agree on it and follow it, it gives us a foundation to talk about it. On the other hand, your opinion is just that – and gives you the moral foundation to shut up and discuss it among yourself.

    Exterminator: ” It mentions neither a god nor Jesus, nor does it claim its authority from any entity other than “the people.”

    Irrelevant to the loopy claim that they wrote a document to exclude themselves by their own religious confession.

    @spanish inquisitor: “She never said anything about freedom of expression and religion. You did.”

    Hello? Did you read the blog? I quote: “I’m all for freedom of religion.”

    “Let me count the ways and the infinite # of Christians interpreting the Bible. That would make me a good Christian, wouldn’t it?”

    Apparently yes, in your interpretation. You’re arguing both sides against the centre now.

    “Well, if no one cares why did you ask?”

    I didn’t.

    ” It already is a fucking rule! Notice the word “Rule” after the word “Golden””

    Wow. The intellectual force of this is amazing. Why don’t we crown you king now.

    “Let’s turn it around. Prove to me it shouldn’t be.”

    It’s not me you have to prove it to. When the next Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin walks in, then you’ll have to prove they shouldn’t shoot you in the back of the head.

    “My statement, “this has to stop” is very different from “this has got to stop.”

    That’s a heck of a lot of baggage to put onto “got”, which is rich when your side can’t distinguish between a wish and a call to violent action.

     
  33. The Exterminator

    November 23, 2009 at 2:48 am

    Irrelevant to the loopy claim that they wrote a document to exclude themselves by their own religious confession.

    What?

     
  34. the chaplain

    November 23, 2009 at 10:19 am

    your side can’t distinguish between a wish and a call to violent action

    Sometimes, one person’s wish is another’s command.

     
  35. That Other Guy

    November 23, 2009 at 11:11 am

    “You don’t have a book or a standard, that is the point. Nobody cares about your book.”

    I nearly fell out of my chair laughing.

    We stole countries! That’s how you build an empire. We stole countries with the cunning use of flags! Just sail halfway around the world, stick a flag in. “I claim India for Britain.” And they’re going, “You can’t claim us. We live here! There’s five hundred million of us.” “Do you have a flag?” “We don’t need a bloody flag, this is our country you bastard!” “No flag, no country! You can’t have one. That’s the rules… that… I’ve just made up! And I’m backing it up with this gun… that was lent from the National Rifle Association.”

     
  36. Spanish Inquisitor

    November 23, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    It has major bearing on your credibility if you think that self-described Christians framed a document that would exclude self-described Christians from being in government. That’s a loopy claim.

    Wait. What makes you think the Constitution excludes anyone from anything? Christians are not excluded from being in government. Nor are Muslims, or Hindus or atheists. The document is religiously neutral. You do understand that don’t you?

    Seriously, is English your first language? Because there’s a real disconnect going on here between what we write and how you respond. I’m thinking translation problems.

     
  37. Postman

    November 23, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    I’m obviously not needed to pile on this ridiculous god-bot you’ve unfortunately picked up, Chappy. So I just popped in to say how much I like the Fiesty Chappy. She rocks.

     
  38. bk

    November 23, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    As the post made clear, there were such calls regarding Bush…but they were few and frankly, the province of the true fringe. There were no “mainstream” media figures leading the fray on national media.

    The current almost frantic anti-Obama mania, with 30% of Republicans in some states stating doubts about his citizenship…I’m sorry, but that is a horse of a different color. And that metaphor is deliberately chosen

     
  39. cl

    November 23, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    As much as the malice of this simple-minded slogan bothers me, and as much as the narrow-mindedness of the sloganeers bothers me, the thing that bothers me the most about this situation, by far, is the silence of a) Republicans and b) Christians. The Republican party is going to hell in a roller coaster;

    Right on, Chaplain; you have great discernment here. To me, this bumper sticker is duplicitous and murderous, a true work of Satan – the leader of all unspiritual churches. The word “for” is used as a deceptive euphemism for “against” and the slogan is nothing short of mixing politics and religion. We can see this difference literally. Those who prayed for Bush generally did so as they would pray for a brother: they asked God to bless Bush or to give him guidance. The meaning of “pray for Obama” here is more akin to something like voodoo.

    *************

    I often see a corollary between creationists and their ignorance of science, and atheists with their ignorance of Scripture:

    When we get down to brass tax, THAT is Christianity, which means fundamentally a Christian cannot abide by many of our US laws, parts of the Constitution, and I don’t see how they can serve as government agents or in the military since on top of everything else, they can’t acknowledge the sovereignty of either the President or the Constitution. (PhillyChief)

    This argument is as cogent as the worst creationist argument. Note that this is Christianity according to PhillyChief. Though I’m sure she didn’t mean to, Chaplain swiftly counters your argument here.

    Maybe you don’t understand the sovereignty of the constitution since Christians wrote the thing. (xpusostomos, to PhillyChief)

    This is misleading at best. OTOH, I agree with you that Philly’s knowledge of Christianity is wanting.

    The current almost frantic anti-Obama mania, with 30% of Republicans in some states stating doubts about his citizenship…I’m sorry, but that is a horse of a different color. And that metaphor is deliberately chosen (bk)

    Well said.

     
  40. PhillyChief

    November 23, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    The voice of Christianity in this country conveniently ignores Romans 13:1-2, so far from citing “Christianity according to PhillyChief”, I’m citing the actual Christianity, the demonstrable Christianity, the one we see, hear and are confronted with repeatedly justifying the denial of equal rights, denial of reproductive rights, denial of government funded research, and opposing the President and the laws of this land.

    I don’t think citing a theoretically possible Christianity to oppose a claim against actual Christianity makes for a cogent argument, Jackass. Why don’t you hold off using the big words and phrases until you grasp what they mean first. Just a thought.

     
  41. Spanish Inquisitor

    November 23, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    …Philly’s knowledge of Christianity is wanting.

    What’s to know? It’s based on fiction, it has a fictional mythology, and it continues to spin out more fiction. Knowledge is not a factor. Appreciation of mythology, maybe, but not knowledge.

     
  42. cl

    November 24, 2009 at 1:07 am

    How fresh the air is when we escape from the prison of our own self-certainty!

    The voice of Christianity in this country conveniently ignores Romans 13:1-2, (PhillyChief)

    Don’t change the subject; here’s the statement you wrote that I objected to:

    When we get down to brass tax, THAT is Christianity, which means fundamentally a Christian cannot abide by many of our US laws, parts of the Constitution, and I don’t see how they can serve as government agents or in the military since on top of everything else, they can’t acknowledge the sovereignty of either the President or the Constitution. (PhillyChief)

    Of course, no justification accompanies this subjective opinion of yours. What forbids a Christian from abiding by current US laws? What forbids a Christian from abiding by the Constitution? What forbids a Christian from becoming a government agent or serving in the military? What forbids a Christian from acknowledging the sovereignty of the President. Nothing. To the contrary, Scripture encourages each of these things.

    Until you’ve got an argument you can substantiate with evidence, you’re clearly wrong, but I know admitting it is not an option. Neither is refutation with evidence, so, you’ll probably just break out more insults like “Jackass,” or “douche,” while the others get a kick out of it. No biggie.

    I don’t think citing a theoretically possible Christianity to oppose a claim against actual Christianity makes for a cogent argument, Jackass. (PhillyChief)

    Is cogency required to highlight the lack thereof?

     
  43. Modusoperandi

    November 24, 2009 at 6:31 am

    “This Shit Has to Stop”
    Don’t worry. It will, right when Palin wins in 2012. Then the imprecatory prayers will stop, and we’ll be back to Romans13 and “dissent” will again equal treason.

    xpusostomos “You’d have a much more compelling (IMHO) — convicting case — if you’d remove the “counter-offensive” slang and derogatory terms — teabagging/teabagger…is a particularly gross, pejorative term that makes me cringe. I know, I’ll get BITCH-SLAPPED for even mentioning it with this audience.”
    “We” didn’t pick the term, if memory serves. “They” did. That they did so with no knowledge of its slang meaning isn’t “our” fault. It’s merely…delicious.

    “Maybe you don’t understand the sovereignty of the constitution since Christians wrote the thing.”
    /me taps you on the shoulder, whispers “If American’s True Christians™ (now official sponsor of the GOP) knew what some of the Founding Fathers actually believed, they’d disown them in a heartbeat. Virtually all of the FFs were Christian, but they had the tendency to not be the Pharisee-style of Christian that the Christian Right favours”.
    “Prove that the Golden Rule ought to be a rule.”
    Because it results in less misery than the alternative.

    “When the next Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin walks in, then you’ll have to prove they shouldn’t shoot you in the back of the head.”
    The Golden Rule still works there. I would expect them to defend themselves, killing me if necessary, if I walked in to their pad and was about to shoot them in the back of the head.

    “That’s a heck of a lot of baggage to put onto “got”, which is rich when your side can’t distinguish between a wish and a call to violent action.”
    That’s odd. I remember the bible having God use Man a bunch of times to do His dirty work. It’s not “our side” where distinguishing between the two interpretations is a problem.

    WoogieB “The problem is not that it is just any prayer. The problem is that the prayer in question calls for the assassination of the PRESIDENT.”
    Reading all of Psa109, it’s David (or someone writing as him) praying for God to curse an enemy, not off him outright. It’s a bit muddy. That the reader can easily read in at least two interpretations of “Let his days be few” is troubling, or should be for those who are defending the bumpersticker because, to them, it means “Let Obama not get reelected” rather than “I hope he dies soon”.
    I see it as a self-administered Rorschach test. Take from that what you will. (I should note that I read Psa109 as prayer for candy. This is because I’m sweet)

     
  44. Modusoperandi

    November 24, 2009 at 6:50 am

    I should also note that The Golden Rule results in a special hell when attempted amongst sociopaths or Objectivists. Man is not made up of all square pegs to be pressed in to the square holes of the ideal. Some are square, some oblong, some round. Believing that everybody is the ideal is as bad as believing nobody is. Both result in a bunch of mangled pegs. Reality is messier than ideal. That’s why it’s called reality.

     
  45. Craig

    November 24, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    When are you Americans going to get a sense of perspective?
    In Europe we look on debates like this and despair. Whichever Presidential candidate you vote for, you know that he is in the pay of powerful corporate backers. Even with the best will in the world the President will be hamstrung by numerous corporate lobby groups and despised by at least a third of his constituency, to the extent that there will be numerous attempts upon his life.
    Your President, just like our Prime Ministers and Presidents over here, is a politician. Only a politician. A man who has sacrificed his integrity in return for power.
    So stop reviling him and calling him the great shaitan. Stop trusting and revering him and begin holding him and all the other trough feeders to account by voting out every democratic and republican politician at the first opportunity. Vote for independants who will feel beholden only to their electorate.

     
  46. PhillyChief

    November 24, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    When are you foreigners going to admit you don’t know a damn thing about how the US works and shut the fuck up already?
    First would be the corporate financial backing. How is an independent going to compete with that come election time? Everyone will just vote independent then? Ok, let’s assume everyone votes independent next time. Well then the lobbyists will go after the newly elected independents. Oh, they’ll not take any of that cash because they’ll be beholden to the people? HA! Anyway, let’s keep smoking and pretend they don’t take any of that and everything goes great with all independents getting all mavericky and doing stuff for the people. Utopia at last! Then time passes and there’s the next election and Mr. or Mrs. Independent has to now compete against a new crop of independents, and chances are they have corporate backing. Well people will see that and not vote for these new posers, right? Yeah, like most Americans will check. The fucking tea baggers actually believe they’re part of a grass roots movement and not being manipulated by corporate interests and Fox. So then the well funded “independents” will more than likely win out against the first crop of independents and guess what? We’re right back where we started only perhaps worse off since we won’t even have parties anymore to at least have a partial clue where someone stands. Ta-DA!

    You know what? Get your own house in order before advising others, and good luck with that, btw. :)

    Ideally, we need more parties. Having only two options each election simply blows. Still, that wouldn’t escape the problem of corporate influence. I don’t think anyone has figured out a way to eliminate that. Any bright ideas there, Craig? Well, keep us posted if you have a revelation.

     
  47. cl

    November 24, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    See? Doesn’t matter who it is, or what they say: if they disagree with the Most High PhillyChief’s View Of How The World Should Work, they will feel the full wrath of his temper and flaming insults!

    Having only two options each election simply blows.

    Um, which America do you live in? There were more than two options on the ballots I saw – it’s just that like Team Scarlet A, most Americans also stick to party lines.

     
  48. PhillyChief

    November 24, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    Again with the hypothetical to challenge the demonstrable. Yes, there are the occasional “other” candidates, just like there might be a Christian out there who subscribes to that passage from Romans. Problem is, who knows about these candidates? They don’t get media coverage, they have no money to advertise, and usually aren’t present at debates so who’s going to vote for someone they don’t know or never heard of? And to vote for them simply because they’re not a D or an R is as silly as voting for someone because they are a D or an R. Plus depending on the area, you sometimes don’t even get two options for certain positions. Shocking, right? You’d know that if you could see past your own little world of San Fran. What I’m talking about is LEGITIMATE parties. If you honestly think the reason why people don’t vote for these “others” is because they stick to party lines, well, let’s just throw that on the already very high pile of evidence for you being an idiot.

    Oh and I REALLY find it amusing to vilify me for arguing my positions so strongly. That’s just hysterically funny. Talk about sour grapes. Geez!

     
  49. cl

    November 24, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    Okay. I can deal with this one. Seems like maybe you just took a huge bong rip, or a quaalude or something. I like it: “CHILL-yPhief”

    Is it true that R and D got America by the balls? Is it true the indies are underfunded? Of course! Anybody would be a fool to deny those claims.

    When I hear you [or anyone] carry on with the “There’s only two parties” trope, I speak up because it’s precisely this attitude that prevents people from voting for independents. It’s essentially a caving-in to the two-party system. They’re pimping you, and you don’t even know it. What? Did you vote for Obama? If so, sucker!

    Plus depending on the area, you sometimes don’t even get two options for certain positions. Shocking, right?

    I really don’t see what you mean by that, such that I could tell you if it’s the case here in SF or not. If you simply mean to say that some places are all R or all D, this I realize. I’ve got family in small midwest towns. I know the drill.

    If you honestly think the reason why people don’t vote for these “others” is because they stick to party lines, well, let’s just throw that on the already very high pile of evidence for you being an idiot.

    IOW, we’re right back to, “not holding Most High PhillyChief’s View Of How The World Should Work” = “evidence of idiocy.” Must’a been some dirt weed!

    Let’s not argue in generalities: did you vote for an “other?” If yes, why? If no, why not?

    Oh and I REALLY find it amusing to vilify me for arguing my positions so strongly.

    How many more times need I say? I admire your passion, Philly, I really do. We’re much alike in that regard. I don’t vilify you for being passionate or outspoken. I don’t vilify you for arguing your positions strongly; I vilify you when you argue them vacuously and with name-calling, because that just blows more smoke into issues that need clarity. I guess I just don’t understand the whole “bigmouth toughguy” mindset. Do you get off calling people names over the internet or something? Seriously. Why do you do it? As for me, I’m just here for a damn discussion.

    Sour grapes? Not at all, Chief, not at all. You’re silly if you think you’ve got that much power.

     
  50. Titfortat

    November 25, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    When are you foreigners going to admit you don’t know a damn thing about how the US works and shut the fuck up already? (Philly)

    Now that is funny! Considering most Americans dont even own a passport and probably couldnt even find their own state capital for that matter. Surely you jest about what the rest of the world knows about you.

     
  51. PhillyChief

    November 26, 2009 at 12:05 am

    So your point is what, that foreign ignorance should get a pass in light of the existence of domestic ignorance? That’s a pretty crappy rationalization, T4T. I’m curious though how the issue of passport ownership plays a part in your rationalization. How does the fact that someone may never have left their country imply they don’t know their country? Sounds counter-intuitive, no?

     
  52. cl

    November 26, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    That’s not the point, T4T: the mistake poor ol’ Craig made was that he just happened to see things differently than PhillyChief. You and I both know that whenever that happens, it’s a hoot and a holler’s worth of cuss storms – masquerading as rationalism, of course.

    How does the fact that someone may never have left their country imply they don’t know their country? (PhillyChief to T4T)

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I understood you just fine, T4T. Then again, I’m not looking for a reason to puff up my chest and denigrate you. The fact that “most Americans dont even own a passport and probably couldnt even find their own state capital” implies that maybe they don’t have as solid a grasp on “the way the US works” as they think.

    Anyone,

    PhillyChief has claimed,

    When we get down to brass tax, THAT is Christianity, which means fundamentally a Christian cannot abide by many of our US laws, parts of the Constitution, and I don’t see how they can serve as government agents or in the military since on top of everything else, they can’t acknowledge the sovereignty of either the President or the Constitution.

    Yet, when asked for justification, or given the specific questions,

    What forbids a Christian from abiding by current US laws? What forbids a Christian from abiding by the Constitution? What forbids a Christian from becoming a government agent or serving in the military? What forbids a Christian from acknowledging the sovereignty of the President?

    Philly just drops the ball, and resorts to calling people names – as usual. Are we supposed to just take Almighty PhillyChief’s word for it?

    I would really like to know if Philly’s position here reflects a generality within all atheists. I don’t think all of you can be that ill-informed.

     
  53. Titfortat

    November 27, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    So your point is what, that foreign ignorance should get a pass in light of the existence of domestic ignorance?(Philly)

    Im sure youre smart enough to know what I was implying. Maybe your teaching skills should improve before you go telling the rest of the world they dont know shit about your country. I have a sneaky suspicion most foreigners know considerably more than the average American.

     
  54. Modusoperandi

    November 27, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    Titfortat “I have a sneaky suspicion most foreigners know considerably more than the average American.”
    Well if they’re so smart, why are they still living in France, Mister Smartypants?

     
  55. Titfortat

    November 27, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    Modusoperandi

    Tabernac, t’ai pas serieux. ;)

     
  56. PhillyChief

    November 28, 2009 at 12:00 am

    So let’s assume I’m not smart enough to know what you were implying, T4T. Enlighten me, because it sure sounds like you’re saying that because you have ignorant Americans, then foreign ignorance gets a pass. Perhaps you meant that foreign ignorance gets a pass because there’s greater American ignorance?

    Look, the situation is clearly more complicated than Craiger up there made it out to be. Suggesting it’s an easy fix and Americans are just dropping the ball is just ridiculous, and when you say things like that then you shouldn’t be surprised when called out for it and it’s not your obligation as a fellow non-american to defend him.

    And you still never explained that passport thing.

     
  57. Titfortat

    November 28, 2009 at 9:43 am

    Philly

    Do me one favour then. Lets say youre right about craig, how then do you justify marking all “foreigners” as being ignorant?

    As far as the passport thing goes, most people who travel do tend to have more knowledge about there surroundings. So if you lack a passport I would imagine you would be a little more limited in knowledge about your surroundings. You know what I mean, like Palin and Bush. ;)

    Tu comprends ca, Oui? ;)

     
  58. PhillyChief

    November 28, 2009 at 10:01 am

    I didn’t intend to mark all foreigners as ignorant; however, it’s rather presumptuous for a foreigner to assume he or she not only knows more about a place they don’t live in than a resident of that place, but also that they can solve the problems of that place where the resident can’t. Is that fair or not? Ironically, this is a criticism we Americans get a lot, and perhaps rightly so, of telling others what they should be doing as if we know best yet here we have a non-American doing it.

    As for the passport issue, I think what you mean and what you’re saying are two separate things. First, if the issue is how well someone can know THEIR area, then having a passport is not only irrelevant but actually counter-productive since being away from your area could potentially reduce your ability to know your area, no? Now I’m guessing what you meant was having perspective, as in being able to put your area into a greater context of surrounding areas as well as benefiting from knowledge of those areas which perhaps you could apply to your area. I have no complaint with that idea, if that’s what you meant by the whole passport thing, capiche?

     
  59. Titfortat

    November 28, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    Got ya!

     
  60. That Other Guy

    November 29, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    I feel like I should point out, for those complaining about free speech rights, that the “this needs to stop” comment should be read as “people need to stop doing this,” not “people need to be stopped from doing this.”

     
  61. Tommykey

    December 2, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    Chaplain, I think you misunderstood me. I know there were people on the left who expressed hatred for Bush in vitriolic terms.

    What I meant was that the people who sell or buy Obama Psalm 109:8 paraphernalia apparently do so because of Obama’s support for abortion rights (not that Bush’s opposition to abortion resulted in fewer abortions), but did not seem to have a problem with Bush’s invasion of Iraq which resulted in the deaths of many Iraqi Christians and many other Iraqi Christians having to flee the country for their lives. I guess for fundy Christians in America, Iraqi Christians were expendable.

     
  62. the chaplain

    December 2, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    Tommykey:
    The right-wing ability to simultaneously oppose abortion and support the unjustified slaughter and displacement of people who did nothing to provoke such behavior is mind-boggling. It looks to me like many of the people who bought this paraphernalia oppose – in addition to abortion – health care reform, homosexual rights and just about anything else Obama supports just because…

    he’s for them.

    They don’t need any other reason to belong to the Party of No. As for Bush’s Folly in Iraq, I suspect that many of the people buying this stuff don’t realize that there is such a thing as an Iraqi Christian.

     

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