Combs Spouts Off

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Posts Tagged ‘religion’

Religious liberty in the Age of Obama

Posted by Richard on March 14, 2012

Item: The federal government has exempted an Indian tribe from the Bald and Golden Eagle Act to accommodate their religious beliefs.

A pair of Wyoming bald eagles now qualify as a really endangered species.

The Northern Arapaho Tribe secured an extraordinarily rare permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allowing the Native Americans to kill two of the national birds for religious use.

The national agency, in a 2009 report, said it has never issued a license for the killing of a bald eagle — making it likely that the tribe was the first group to ever get the legal go-ahead.

Federal law bars the killing of any bald eagle under almost any circumstance. The Wyoming tribe argued that the ban was a violation of their religious freedom.

Item: The federal government has refused to exempt Catholic institutions from the mandate to provide birth control and “morning-after” (abortifacient) pills to their employees. The Catholic institutions argued that the mandate was a violation of their religious freedom.

I’m not religious, or anti-abortion, or particularly pro-eagle. But I’d love to have someone explain to me on what rational basis the federal government can choose to accommodate one group’s religious beliefs, but not the others’.

Does the phrase “equal protection under the law” have any meaning at all anymore under the Obama administration?

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Everything is a symptom of global warming

Posted by Richard on February 3, 2011

The blogosphere is abuzz about Al Gore's claim that recent heavy snowstorms are a symptom of global warming. But this is nothing new. Gore made the same claim in a New York Times op-ed last February.

This time, Gore quoted noted scientist Clarence Paige: 

Last week on his show Bill O’Reilly asked, “Why has southern New York turned into the tundra?” and then said he had a call into me. I appreciate the question.

As it turns out, the scientific community has been addressing this particular question for some time now and they say that increased heavy snowfalls are completely consistent with what they have been predicting as a consequence of man-made global warming:

“In fact, scientists have been warning for at least two decades that global warming could make snowstorms more severe. Snow has two simple ingredients: cold and moisture. Warmer air collects moisture like a sponge until it hits a patch of cold air. When temperatures dip below freezing, a lot of moisture creates a lot of snow.”

“A rise in global temperature can create all sorts of havoc, ranging from hotter dry spells to colder winters, along with increasingly violent storms, flooding, forest fires and loss of endangered species.”

Eleven years ago, scientists at East Anglia's Hadley CRU (yes, the epicenter of ClimateGate) warned that global warming would make snowfalls a thing of the past

Sledges, snowmen, snowballs and the excitement of waking to find that the stuff has settled outside are all a rapidly diminishing part of Britain's culture, as warmer winters – which scientists are attributing to global climate change – produce not only fewer white Christmases, but fewer white Januaries and Februaries.

… According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia,within a few years winter snowfall will become "a very rare and exciting event".

To the true believers in anthropogenic global warming, everything fits their theory: droughts or floods; warm, dry winters or cold, snowy ones; more hurricanes or fewer. As Paige put it, "all sorts of havoc" are consistent with global warming. Nothing that happens can ever cast doubt on their "settled science." Nothing can serve as evidence against their claims.

A claim that isn't falsifiable isn't science. It's religion.

UPDATE: More evidence of global warming. Instapundit wondered if it's time to "Party like it’s 1046?"

Last Thursday, Denver hit 70°. Since then, we've had a record low high of -1°, followed by a low of -17° and wind chills of -25° to -40°. Those cheap homes in Phoenix are starting to look more appealing.

Although, if another Little Ice Age is about to begin (and some people, including reputable scientists, think it is), Tucson might be a better bet. Or, better yet, Costa Rica or Belize. Maybe I should look into Rosetta Stone and learn some Español. 

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Colorado Christians outraged by Jesus art

Posted by Richard on October 5, 2010

An exhibit at the Loveland Museum/Gallery in Loveland, CO, includes a twelve-panel lithograph by Enrique Chagoya. One of the panels apparently depicts Jesus engaged in oral sex with a man, and it's sparked outrage among Colorado's Christian community.

On Sunday, police used tear gas to disperse a violent mob of Christians attempting to storm the museum. One man was killed and seven injured, including three police officers. In nearby Boulder, roving gangs of Christian youths vandalized storefronts, defaced a mosque and a Buddhist ashram, blocked streets, and torched at least a dozen vehicles. Riots have broken out in several other Front Range cities with large Christian populations.

The Loveland City Council is expected to address the issue at its Tuesday meeting, and more violence is feared if the artwork isn't ordered removed. Museum employees, city council members, and their families are under 24-hour police protection due to numerous threats. 

… 

Of course, none of that's true (except the part about the lithograph). The outraged Christians are peacefully protesting with signs outside the museum — signs like "Would you portray Mohamad this way?"

I made up the part about rioting Christians. But you already knew that, didn't you? Because you know that Christians — at least modern Christians who come from a culture that, thanks to the Enlightenment, has largely embraced reason and tolerance — simply don't behave like that. Oh, maybe an isolated nut-case — but large, violent mobs of Christians? It just doesn't happen.  

Just as a reminder, here are the Mohammed cartoons that sparked massive riots throughout the world in which many people were killed. Not a sex act depicted among them.

Mohammed cartoons

BTW, I'm an atheist, so I don't have a dog in this fight. I'm just calling 'em as I see 'em.

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Mixing politics and religion Obama-style

Posted by Richard on May 15, 2008

Remember all the fuss last December over the bookshelves in this Mike Huckabee Christmas greeting ad?

 Huckabee in front of subliminal-cross bookshelf

Liberals were all upset at Huckabee's "subliminal" attempt to mix politics and religion (in a Christmas greeting, no less). Some religious leaders objected:

Catholic League president Bill Donahue said Huckabee went beyond wishing people a joyous holiday. Donahue said he was especially disturbed by the cross-like image created in the background of the ad, saying he believed it was a subliminal message.

“What he’s trying to say to the evangelicals in western Iowa (is): I’m the real thing,” Donahue said Tuesday on Fox News Channel’s “Fox and Friends. “You know what, sell yourself on your issues, not on what your religion is.”

And libertarian Republican Ron Paul flirted with Godwin's Law, suggesting there was something quite ominous about it:

Asked about the ad today, Ron Paul decried Huckabee's religious iconography with his own veiled reference on Fox and Friends:

"It reminds me of what Sinclair Lewis once said. He says, 'when fascism comes to this country, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross.' Now I don't know whether that's a fair assessment or not, but you wonder about using a cross, like he is the only Christian or implying that subtly. So, I don't think I would ever use anything like that."

I wonder if Ron Paul, Bill Donahue, the folks at Huffington Post, and the Kos Kids were reduced to apoplexy when they saw the flyer the Obama campaign is distributing in Kentucky:

Obama flaunts his faith Back of Obama faith flyer

Somehow I don't think so. After all, Barack — or should I say Barry? — is just trying to counter those rumors that he was brought up Muslim. And look, he's promising us Hope! And Change!

Double standard? What double standard?

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Minnesota’s taxpayer-funded madrassa

Posted by Richard on April 12, 2008

Imagine a public charter school co-located with an evangelical Christian church and filled with Christian symbols, where learning how to be a good Christian and practicing Christian rituals are part of the school day, where fundamentalist Christian ministers lead daily prayers that all students have to attend, and where the buses don't take kids home until after the "optional" after-school Christian Studies program. Can you imagine the reaction from the National Education Association, American Civil Liberties Union, People for the American Way, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and countless other liberal/progressive organizations?

I suspect that hours after the news got out, there would be pickets in front of the school, rallies at City Hall and the Board of Education, and scores of pro bono attorneys filing lawsuits and motions for restraining orders in every courtroom within a hundred miles. 

Apparently, Jefferson's "wall of separation" has an exemption for Islam. Or maybe the people who eagerly pursue an in-your-face adversarial stance toward Christianity, who work tirelessly to banish creches, Christmas trees, and St. Nicholas from the public square, are just a bit more reluctant to confront Muslims.

I remember a story last year about a taxpayer-funded New York madrassa. It seems there's one in Minnesota, too, and the usual defenders of secular public schools are looking into complaints and queries very reluctantly, cautiously, and slowly — if at all.

Katherine Kersten of the Star-Tribune first wrote about the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA) — a K-8 charter school in Inver Grove Heights named after the Muslim conqueror of Spain — more than a month ago. She revisited the topic this week. It's not hard to find evidence that this school promotes Islam: 

TIZA has many characteristics that suggest a religious school. It shares the headquarters building of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, whose mission is "establishing Islam in Minnesota." The building also houses a mosque. TIZA's executive director, Asad Zaman, is a Muslim imam, or religious leader, and its sponsor is an organization called Islamic Relief.

Students pray daily, the cafeteria serves halal food – permissible under Islamic law — and "Islamic Studies" is offered at the end of the school day.

The imam denied that TIZA is a religious school, but wouldn't let Kersten visit and simply didn't respond to additional inquiries. Apparently, nothing was done by anyone in the wake of Kersten's first report about this taxpayer-funded Islamic school — no investigations, lawsuits, outcries, pickets, or demonstrations from the many zealous guardians of Jefferson's "wall of separation." 

Kersten's new story adds an eyewitness account — by substitute teacher Amanda Getz — from inside the school:

Arriving on a Friday, the Muslim holy day, she says she was told that the day's schedule included a "school assembly" in the gym after lunch.

Before the assembly, she says she was told, her duties would include taking her fifth-grade students to the bathroom, four at a time, to perform "their ritual washing."

Afterward, Getz said, "teachers led the kids into the gym, where a man dressed in white with a white cap, who had been at the school all day," was preparing to lead prayer. …

"The prayer I saw was not voluntary," Getz said. "The kids were corralled by adults and required to go to the assembly where prayer occurred."

… "When I arrived, I was told 'after school we have Islamic Studies,' and I might have to stay for hall duty," Getz said. "The teachers had written assignments on the blackboard for classes like math and social studies. Islamic Studies was the last one — the board said the kids were studying the Qu'ran. The students were told to copy it into their planner, along with everything else. That gave me the impression that Islamic Studies was a subject like any other."

After school, Getz's fifth-graders stayed in their classroom and the man in white who had led prayer in the gym came in to teach Islamic Studies. TIZA has in effect extended the school day — buses leave only after Islamic Studies is over. Getz did not see evidence of other extra-curricular activity, except for a group of small children playing outside. Significantly, 77 percent of TIZA parents say that their "main reason for choosing TIZA … was because of after-school programs conducted by various non-profit organizations at the end of the school period in the school building," according to a TIZA report. TIZA may be the only school in Minnesota with this distinction.

There's more. Why doesn't the Minnesota Department of Education do something about this massive breach in Jefferson's wall? They said they hadn't received any complaints.

After a month of inquiries, news reports, and complaints, the Department decided to conduct "a review" of the school, and the ACLU said it's begun "an investigation." 

If this were the John Calvin Academy run by the Rev. Billy Bob Tubthumper of Faith Evangelical Christian Bible Fellowship Church, it would have been shut down two weeks ago, and state psychologists and social workers would be interviewing the students, looking for evidence of abuse.

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Chocolate Jesus

Posted by Richard on March 30, 2007

Oh boy, oh boy, this means trouble:

The Easter season unveiling of an anatomically correct chocolate sculpture of Jesus Christ, dubbed "My Sweet Lord" by its creator, has infuriated Catholics preparing to observe some of their holiest days of the year.

The 6-foot sculpture by Cosimo Cavallaro was to debut Monday evening, four days before Christians mark the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday. The final day of the exhibit at the Lab Gallery inside Manhattan's Roger Smith Hotel was planned for Easter Sunday.

The naked Jesus is supposed to be displayed in a street-level window.

I expect that mobs of young Catholics in New York and elsewhere around the country will burn down the Roger Smith Hotel, along with some randomly selected secular institutions and synagogues, mosques, and ashrams. And evangelical Christians all over the world will riot, carrying signs with slogans like "Crucify those who insult Jesus!" and beating up secular humanists.

Do you think the Pope will call on the United Nations Security Council to convene and condemn this display? 

Actually, Cosimo Cavallaro's sculpture may be the biggest chocolate Jesus, and it's almost certainly the only one that's naked and anatomically correct, but it's nowhere near the first. Here, let Tom Waits tell you about it:
 

 The lyrics are here .

UPDATE: Well, that didn't take long. The hotel has canceled the display. I think all the looting, overturned cars, and burned-out buses frightened them. 

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