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In Alabama, where I live, if one doesn't claim to be a religious fundamentalist, one is a social pariah.  Religion is what a person has to pretend to have to survive here. So I made up my own.

I believe religion has value and is a vital part of our civilization. I just don't believe that there is only one way to practice religion, so naturally I resent any religious group who seeks to impose their religious laws on others, especially if they want their religious views enacted into civil law or government policy.  

I admire any religion that brings out the best in people.  People who have the inner dialogue I like to call religion (the squeamish or non-Southern call it spirituality) seem to be happier than people who have a lot of inner cussing.  These people seem happier, are nicer, and seem to derive a health benefit from their religious (okay, spiritual) life.

Cults are a different thing.  They demand conformity, blind allegiance, unquestioning submission to authority, elimination of outside influences, and money. Groups I consider to be cults are the Moonies, the Scientologists, David Koresh's group, Jim Jones' Jonestown group and the original Mormons. I expect most modern Mormons don't believe their denomination's myths are the literal truth.  

Religion is all powerful in Alabama politics.  Our Christians won't vote for someone who doesn't believe in the same God they believe in.  In his inaugural address, Governor Robert Bentley said that those of us who are not "born again" are not his brothers.  Anyone who disagrees can go to hell.  

I wish I believed in hell.  I'd like to see people who use religion to advance themselves go there. That marketing major who built a mega-church and writes best sellers.  The television preacher with gold plated bathroom fixtures at his cathedral.  The "pro-family" preacher whose wife was five months pregnant before he married her.  Most especially, the preacher-politicians who use religion to get rich and accrue power.  

God's Chosen One of the month is Gov. Huckabee.  Mike Huckabee talks like a Baptist preacher, thinks like a politician, and works for the Republican media.  Facebook devotees put money in his collection plate, HuckPAC.  Recently Huckabee proved his value to the Republican Party by persuading the fundies to stand in line to spend their money (fried chicken with a side of righteous indignation, please).  By this display of political power, Huckabee has gotten an invitation to speak to the Republican Convention.

Barring an act of God, Willard Mitt Romney will fulfill his earthly mission by getting the Republican nomination for president.  Another Republican will try to succeed where his father failed!  Alleluia.  I don't care that Romney is a Mormon.  I care that he is a highly placed Mormon.  Not only was he a Mormon bishop, at some point he had the title of "state president."  

A writer on AL.com (Alabama's sad excuse of an online newspaper) quipped this morning that a Mormon president was better than Obama, who sat on a church pew for 365.25 days a year for twenty years, listening to Rev. Jeremiah Wright.  I listened to the entire sermon that the FOX NOISE clip was cut from four years ago.  I was not shocked to find that he preaches in the cadences of a black preacher, which I think is what terrified white America.  What I heard was Wright speaking of how the national sin of slavery had harmed this nation.  The former Marine said that God had "damned America." Not "Goddamn America."

Why is Sean Hannity calling President Obama a Muslim now?  Bless his heart.  

Originally posted to MsLiz on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 12:51 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Ask them what they think of this quote by (7+ / 0-)

    Ayn Rand:  "Altruism is incompatible with freedom, with capitalism and with individual rights." What do they think Jesus would have thought of that line of reasoning?

    These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert, to fleece the people... -Abraham Lincoln

    by HugoDog on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 12:57:05 PM PDT

  •  "Stake president" not "State President" (8+ / 0-)

    A trivial correction. A Mormon stake is a group of individual churches (wards.)  I am concerned about many aspects of Romney's Mormonism.  One interesting one is what does his position that  marriage is "between one man and (only) one woman" say about his polygamist ancesters.  Were they not married is his (current) view.  

    Mitt is soulless (in a secular sense), he has no core.  His beliefs are whatever is needed for his next political step.  He wants to be president just to get executive experience before dying and becoming a god, according to Mormon theology.

    It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged. G. K. Chesterton

    by redbaron on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 03:09:06 PM PDT

  •  Hiya fellow traveler (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rat racer, commonmass, Old Lefty, Joieau, leema

    You should look up Al Stefanelli - very prominent atheist bloke, author and broadcaster....he lives in Alabama. His web log is a must read. I think he runs the state atheist network, arranges meet ups etc.

    As I wrote in a recent diary post Ryan has now denied his messiah Ayn and instead insists he takes his leads from Thomas Aquinas, that most saintly of bigots of the Catholic Church. Give the diary a read and see what Tommy boy had to say about women, gay people, and non believers like me and you.

    Unfortunately the lazy ass US media will not pick up on the fact that Ryan has replaced one disgusting extremist with another.

    Good luck angel and keep on keeping on!

  •  They're (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ubertar, Fishtroller01, Old Lefty

    my favorite subjects too! I love confronting fundies with scripture. The bible is chock full of mental grenades to lob at them! Their mistake is accepting every jot as inspired by sky-god, when one gospel contradicts the other. I ask them, which one is wrong? This creaks open one of their "battened down" hatches, letting in a sliver of sunshine.

  •  This confirms why I am so sad. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ubertar, Fishtroller01, Old Lefty

    Religion isn't real.  It's a scam, and it appears the more religion in an area, the scarier it gets.  Scary is when people have to pretend they are a part of a religion to pretty much survive and get along.  That is scary.  It's no different than the Taliban in Afghanistan.

    So, the Christian Taliban is alive and well in Alabama.  That makes me sad.  I would think that today, people have a pretty good shot at really looking into religion and how it operates, and who benefits.  It's a scam.  It's a scam with many flavors.  

    I always think places like Alabama can't just stay in the dark ages forever, but you pretty much nailed the situation in that one sentence

    "where I live, if one doesn't claim to be a religious fundamentalist, one is a social pariah"

    Very Christian Taliban like.     Makes me sad.

    " With religion you can't get just a little pregnant"

    by EarTo44 on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 03:41:44 AM PDT

    •  Fundies aren't good, but it's not Taliban bad. (0+ / 0-)

      Sad that people who live in regions like that have to pretend they're a part of the community in order to be accepted, or have any sort of life.  I'm rather lucky not to live in a situation like that.  I understand people that do fear being 'discovered', based on what they see happens to others when they're found out.

      It's antithetical to love and compassion for others that a community can behave that way, but it's the natural impulse for people to be afraid of the outsider, and the other.

      Ironic how that happens so often in rabidly Christian communities.  Hopefully, one day, they'll undergo some community-wide revelation of what the concept of love, compassion and acceptance actually is.

      Maybe when that happens, one could live there without claiming to be a religious fundamentalist and not be a social pariah.  But I'm not expecting any miracles.

      They're not on the level of the Taliban.  They probably don't want to murder people in the streets or put gay people to death or kill political rivals.  They're just a bit silly, and don't put actual thought into what they're doing as an overall community.  I blame the leaders.

    •  The Alibamaban! n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MKSinSA

      Just getting a handle on the knobs and dials.... Hey, don't touch that!

      by Old Lefty on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 12:16:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Religion and politics are both interesting. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LynChi, Old Lefty, Joieau

    Those two topics interest me greatly as well.  I generally do not have much positive to say about their mingling; for the same reason you sometimes wished you believed in a hell, I have a serious dislike of religion.  There are no shortage of charlatans and con artists willing to use religion as a means to achieve power.

    If people like that didn't exist within religion, I suspect that there wouldn't be so many adamantly vocal anti-theists out there.  Their cynical exploitation of others is certainly a rather awful thing in this world.

    But, at least those things provide some interesting/silly things to read about.

    •  With the growth of the non-religious (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Old Lefty

      populations and the super growth of atheism in the US, it won't be long until the political establishment will have to pay attention.  I can't wait to see people like Romney and Ryan twist their knickers to appeal to atheists for the vote.

      •  The number doesn't matter as much as organization (0+ / 0-)

        The growth of atheists as a statistic is not what matters for political influence.  What matters is the strength of atheist political organization and influence lobbies.

        Form lobbies, atheist-centered political action groups, and communities, and only then will politicians try to appeal to those groups.

        I have a feeling most atheists are appealed to already by the interfaith-alliance groups that are out there, since those groups do have a general interest in keeping the government secular.

        So going to an interfaith alliance group is seen as the only necessary political agenda, plus the politician won't have to do any appearance that makes their commitment to religion any more questionable than it is already.

        The only way I think this would happen is if there were some major divide between the interfaith alliance groups and the atheist community, and I don't see any real major rifts there.

        •  I belong to both AU (interfaith) (0+ / 0-)

          and FFRF and also MRFF (military).  The Freedom From Religion Foundation's membership numbers have gone up by over 6000 since just a couple of years ago. Plus, the Student Secular Society on college and university campuses is growing so fast they can hardly keep up with them.

          AU, FFRF and MRFF run law suits and legal notices constantly, so they are doing vital work.  However, there is no one central atheist political entity, and probably won't be because atheists are both conservative and liberal.  However, the common ground is getting religion out of government.  AU is the only one of these groups that also lobbies.

  •  Religious camouflage (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Old Lefty

    I understand perfectly about the protective facade of religious affiliation. Having lived most of my life in Boston and Las Vegas, I moved with my wife to a medium sized town in Oklahoma. (Don't ask me why; that's a long story!) It didn't take long to discover that you're a pariah here if you don't claim some sort of religious affiliation. So we occasionally visit the Methodist church, the most liberal one we could find in this community. (Its sign bears the message, "Open hearts, Open minds", an encouraging theme.) The sermons  are benign: Be nice to one another! Religion lite! No anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-Obama, fundy rants. Now we can claim that affiliation, even though we attend maybe once a year. Hypocritical, yes, but better than long arguments with the Baptists and Pentecostals. The irony is that in Boston, I freely attended Unitarian/Universalist churches, where I could always find interesting, undogmatic people (nearly all Democrats.) The nearest Unitarian church is in Norman, a 90-minute drive from the cultural backwater I must now call home.

    "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be." - Thomas Jefferson

    by Blue Boomer on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 08:07:46 AM PDT

    •  My daughter just left there (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MKSinSA

      and is back on the left coast with the little ones. When visiting them in OK, my Spider Senses were constantly tingling, telling me it was actually not at all OK in OK, weird and creepy. My hearty condolences. I hope there are sufficiently compensating factors at play as well. Keep the anti-faith.

      Just getting a handle on the knobs and dials.... Hey, don't touch that!

      by Old Lefty on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 12:22:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We need a noisy Christian left (0+ / 0-)

    At least that's what comes to my mind when I hear so-called "Christians" calling for all manner of hatred and cruelty in the name of Christianity.  I wish the Christian left would become vocal--loud, actually, and respond forcefully to the hypocrites out there trying to justify their hatred with their religion.  And yes, a Christian left does exist.  Quakers would be one example.  I'd like to see more of true followers of Christ mentioning the world's most famous dark-skinned, liberal Jew, Jesus Christ.  

    I've been in the company of atheists.  I have good friends who are atheists, and my atheist friends are the finest, most compassionate people I know.  But I've been around other atheists who sound every bit as intolerant as some faux Christians I've been around.  

    "Your silence will not protect you." --Audre Lorde

    by altruista on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 09:44:22 AM PDT

  •  Jehovah Witness (0+ / 0-)

    Are about the only religion that steer clear of politics, they do not vote, cannot give too political campaign ,  but they become victim of thier own Karma ,when political parties come knocking on thier doors during election season

  •  Stake President, not state president. (0+ / 0-)

    The org chart for the LDS isn't hard to find, guys.  :)

    Basic congregation: Ward (or Branch if too small to be called a Ward).  The head of a Ward is the Bishop.

    Multiple Wards (and Branches) in a specific geographic area: Stake    The head of the Stake is the "Stake President".

    It's like cities (towns) and counties.  

    Romney was head of a congregation (Bishop) then moved up to be head administrator for multiple congregations in his area (Stake President).

    So, like being the County Chairman or whatever they call it in your area of the country.

    It's not a really high office in the Church, but it is higher than most people would ever be at.  Most people fiddle around in their local congregation, maybe a devout man could spend a couple years as a Councilor to the Ward's Bishop, maybe even spend a couple years as Ward Bishop himself.  

    It bothers me that Romney is a Mormon, just like it bothers me that Ryan is a Catholic.  Because both of them belong to churches that have a very strong belief in interfering with the secular world, in spades.

    *The administration has done virtually nothing designed to reward its partisans. - Kos 8/31/10*

    by Rick Aucoin on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 04:09:07 PM PDT

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