The Religious Right Bogeyman Again

PZ Myers seems to be floating a new conspiracy theory – if you are a lesbian who does not believe that women have penises and produce sperm, it’s because you have been duped by the Religious Right.  According to Myers, the Religious Right has this master plan to split up the LGBT community.  And Myers even thinks it is “strategically  brilliant.”  It’s odd how one day the Religious Right is do dumb they worship paintings of Trump, yet another day, they are so brilliant that they are breaking up the LGBT family.

Look, my whole life I have heard about the Religious Right bogeyman and how it was just millimeters away from enslaving us all in a theocracy.  The crackpots who advocate such lunacy have never been right about this.  Not even close.  Yet they cling to this bogeyman either because they are mentally unstable or…….they are playing a clever game of misdirection.

To ground yourself in reality, simply realize that in 2021, there are two primary, powerful sources of cultural power – the education system and the media (news and entertainment).  Both sources shape minds and beliefs.   Once you can acknowledge this fairly obvious fact, next simply notice how much power/influence the Religious Right has in either.  Answer?  Next to none. In contrast, the LGBT community has immense power/influence in both.  I could build on this and point to multiple examples where the Religious Right is not very savvy at manipulating the media to further underscore its lack of power. But no need.

What this means is that any attempt to blame the Religious Right for any splintering in the LGBT  community is nonsensical.  It’s the old “theology is coming” bogeyman argument in a cheap tuxedo.  Yet that people like Myers are trying to raise the bogeyman tells there is indeed disharmony in the LGBT community.  Hmmmm.  For example, when the trans community is trashing the lesbian community simply because lesbians don’t want to date women with penises, is that really the clever manipulation of the Religious Right at play? 

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36 Responses to The Religious Right Bogeyman Again

  1. TFBW says:

    So long as he’s blaming the Religious Right, he has failed to identify the actual threat, and the circular firing squad will continue to operate. Keep up the good work, PZ.

  2. Dhay says:

    PZ Myers, linked > …they are having remarkable success at picking off one narrow demographic at a time and weakening the bonds of our unity.

    Here’s a 2016 Guardian article entitled “No Asians, no black people. Why do gay people tolerate blatant racism?”, which sums up with:

    Being oppressed yourself does not mean you are incapable of oppressing others: far from it. LGBT people have had to struggle against bigotry and oppression for generations. It is tragic that they inflict and ignore injustice in their own ranks.

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/24/no-asians-no-blacks-gay-people-racism

    Unity?

  3. What are these various different groups and communities supposedly united by, exactly?

    To me it makes little sense to insist that one’s race, gender identiy or sexual orientation is a significant part of one’s identity – i.e. an attribute that sets oneself apart from others – and then at the same time demand not to be set apart from anyone else based on them.

  4. Dhay says:

    H/t Jery Coyne’s fun 2017 blog post entitled “NYT editor decries “intersectionality”, says Chicago Dyke March was wrong to ban the Jewish Pride flag; Dyke March says it was misunderstood.”:

    What the whole interview demonstrates is what the [New York] Times’s Bari Weiss realized too late: the cancer of anti-Semitism, masquerading as anti-Zionism, is metastasizing through much of the Left, and has now infiltrated the gay community.

    https://whyevolutionistrue.com/2017/06/30/nyt-editor-decries-intersectionality-says-chicago-dyke-march-was-wrong-to-ban-the-jewish-pride-flag-dyke-march-says-it-was-misunderstood/

    Unity?

  5. Kevin says:

    To me it makes little sense to insist that one’s race, gender identiy or sexual orientation is a significant part of one’s identity – i.e. an attribute that sets oneself apart from others – and then at the same time demand not to be set apart from anyone else based on them.

    Exactly. You can’t demand I pay attention to whatever demographic checkbox you are obsessed with and then act surprised when I pay attention to it.

    I hear that ignoring people’s skin color is now a racist microagression. Seems like someone once had a dream that this not be the case.

  6. Sem says:

    > Look, my whole life I have heard about the Religious Right bogeyman and how it was just millimeters away from enslaving us all in a theocracy.

    While a Christian theocracy has not happened, a Christian insurrection has.

  7. @ nihilst2christian: I can see where ones race can set one apart but this has to do with heritage and therefore culture: language, food, customs, though I do fail to see how such things unite others outside of a specific culture when in times of peace.

  8. ThirdCoast says:

    I’m quite sure that those who warn about the possibly of a theocracy that will strip away abortion and gay “rights” don’t know the definition of such a thing let alone can give an example of a theocracy.

  9. TFBW says:

    Anyone who uses the term “insurrection” to describe what happened is using it to justify their plans for retaliation, in much the same way that Leftists label people “Nazi” or “Fascist” to justify their own violence and aggression against their targets. These are the same baldfaced liars who describe it as “mostly peaceful” when BLM burn down a district, loot the stores, and leave a corpse or two in their wake. Accusations coming from such brazen, partisan liars, have no moral legitimacy. They merely act as a telegraphed warning regarding what they feel they have the moral authority to do to you as payback.

  10. Michael says:

    While a Christian theocracy has not happened, a Christian insurrection has.

    Adding more support to my point. It has been almost one month since The Great Insurrection of 2021. And where’s the theocracy? No where to be found. So even with The Great Insurrection of 2021, a theocracy failed to materialize and, it never had a chance of materializing. Tell us Sem, are you one of those kooks who is afraid the Religious Right is close to enslaving us all in a Theocracy?

  11. Dhay says:

    OP > Religious Right bogeyman … enslaving us all in a theocracy.

    Sem > While a Christian theocracy has not happened, a Christian insurrection has.

    I’m British, so no expert on US demographics; the US is too remote and too foreign for me to have an informed opinion. What I can do is ask questions, and ask you to ask yourself the same questions: what is the relationship between the Religious Right, the Alt-Right, Evangelical Christians, Christian Nationalists, and those Donald Trump Rallyers who invaded the Capitol; do you claim these are five distinct and separate groups, partially overlapping groups (and how far so), or one group by five names?

    *

    About four years ago I commented on a Friendly Atheist post by Sarabeth Kaplin — she’s nowadays known as Beth Stoneburner — in which she claims – actually no, she insinuates, insinuates strongly, several times, without actually saying it – that “the vast majority” of the Charlottesville White Supremacy Rallyers were Christians.

    That was questionable, and a very good cause to question it was provided by Hemant Mehta just a few days later in his “Alt-Right Expert Claims Movement Includes a “Lot of Agnostics and Atheists”” post, in which he quoted and linked to Professor George Hawley of the University of Alabama; Hawley’s expert — Mehta says — research showed that:

    Did Hawley have any further justification for saying the movement primarily consisted of non-religious people? I asked him that question last night and he told me this:

    … in my qualitative research, I did not talk to a single Alt-Right supporter that was a serious Christian. There are Christians in the movement, but most of the leaders share Spencer’s views of Christianity. On average, I am confident that the Alt-Right is much more fond of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris than, say, Pope Francis or Russell Moore. That said, the Alt-Right has largely moved away from its overt hostility to Christianity, probably because it does not want to alienate potential supporters.
    [Mehta’s emphasis.]

    Let’s re-phrase that first bit: Hawley has never talked to even one Alt-Right supporter that was a serious Christian; re-phrased again, Hawley has never talked to even one serious Christian who was an Alt-Right supporter.

    Mehta himself admits that, yes, “Richard Spencer, one of the figureheads for the alt-right movement, is an atheist”, and continues to tell readers that Spencer described the average alt-right supporter as:

    someone who is thirty years old, who is a tech professional, who is an atheist, and who lives on one of the coasts.
    [My emboldening — Dhay]

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2017/03/10/friendly-atheist-alternative-facts/#comment-19493

    My point is, the Alt-Right seem to be a) predominantly atheists and b) to not overlap at all – or not to any significant extent – with either 1) Evangelical Christians or 2) the Religious Right. So back to questioning: were the Trump Rallyers at the Capitol Alt-Right… or were they not? I don’t have an answer myself, but would not accept an answer that amounts to insinuation or to “Everybody knows [insert claim here].”

    *

    Mehta gives the impression of believing that the Religious Right is largely Evangelicals, and Evangelicals are largely the Religious Right. If the invaders of the Capitol were all or most from the Religious Right, were they largely Southern Baptists and their like? How does anybody know one way or the other?

    *

    Were the invaders of the Capitol Christian? Mehta says Yes:

    Somehow, Graham must have missed the most viral video from inside the Capitol, in which the terrorists paused their ransacking of a Congressional chamber in order to say a prayer to Jesus.

    Silly Mehta, just one person said that prayer, the “QAnon Shaman” and he turns out to be a genuine shaman (in his own eyes, at any rate), espousing a mix of pagan and New Age-like religious beliefs, meditation (as I discovered later), ley lines and ley-line energies, and the “white light” he went about at length in his bumbling, non-Christian prayer: the rest just said “Amen”, which given the prayer wording was presumably said not from convinced agreement with the words about God’s fictitious and unBiblical “white light” but possibly from social reflex and politeness.

    I note that for some, token ‘Christianity’ is a group membership badge, a part of the self-image of the White American Nationalist – much as ‘Science and Reason’ is a group membership badge mostly worn by people whose nearest approach to Science is eg the second-hand, second-class Science of brushing teeth with toothpaste, and whose nearest approach to Reason is the second-class Reason of eg “I’ve just got time and money to pop in and get those two bags of nappies before commuting home” – so I don’t set much store by mere “Amens”.

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2017/03/10/friendly-atheist-alternative-facts/#comment-38949

    Understanding and intent matter in prayer: how much of either was there in the self-appointed prayer leaders; or in those saying “Amen”?

    There was another prayer reported, one said outside by a leader of the far-right group the Proud Boys. As seen inside, “prayer” can be one guy with a bullhorn, spouting religiously literate or religiously illiterate words, and a chorus of “Amen”. In this case, the prayer leader prayed:

    The group, whose participants have espoused misogynistic and anti-immigrant views, prayed for God to bring “reformation and revival.” They gave thanks for “the wonderful nation we’ve all been blessed to be in.” They asked God for the restoration of their “value systems,” and for the “courage and strength to both represent you and represent our culture well.” And they invoked the divine protection for what was to come.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/11/us/how-white-evangelical-christians-fused-with-trump-extremism.html

    This is religiously illiterate; they “asked God for the restoration of their value systems”: the kingdom of God entails, not God restoring their value system but them restoring God’s value system; the prayer that Jesus taught says “Thy will be done…”; these look like very shallow or nominal Christians.

    Mehta says, Yes, they were Christian: how far is Mehta right, and how far is he wrong; and how do you know?

    *

    Hopefully I have raised doubts that the invasion of the Capitol was a Christian insurrection.

  12. TFBW says:

    Let’s not forget that the Alt Right demon, Richard Spencer, endorsed Biden this time. Is anyone on the Left worried about the guilt by association that brings? No? Not worried that the self-described Alt-Right Fascist endorsed Biden? It was a big deal when he endorsed Trump, as I recall.

    It’s pointless trying to hold Leftists to their own standards, because they don’t have any. They just act like they do when it’s politically convenient for them. It’s not hypocrisy: that would imply that they have standards and just fail to live by them. The behaviour is better understood as cynical opportunism.

  13. Sem says:

    It is difficult for me to imagine a follower of Jesus reading David French’s article yet still resist engaging in introspection.

  14. Michael says:

    It is difficult for me to imagine a follower of Jesus reading David French’s article yet still resist engaging in introspection.

    Er, I never bought into the whole “stop the steal” thing. Never liked Trump and never followed his Tweets. People do desperate and stupid things when they buy into extreme views and conspriracy theories. And French did make many good points. This one is spot on:

    I could go on, but the enabling lies that have rocketed through the church for years share important characteristics. They not only dramatically exaggerate the stakes of our political and legal disputes, they dramatically exaggerate the perfidy of your opponents. Moreover, when the stakes are deemed to be that high, the moral limitations on your response start to fall away.

    And if you think about it, blogs like The Friendly Atheist make money by daily spreading enabling lies. A great example of an enabling lie is the “Coming Theocracy” claim I have heard my whole life. Look, I have come to realize most atheists are afraid of my questions. I did ask you one, remember? I asked, “Tell us Sem, are you one of those kooks who is afraid the Religious Right is close to enslaving us all in a Theocracy?”

    If you buy into that lie, you are in no position to expect others to engage in any “introspection.” Tend to your own enabling lie first, extremist.

  15. Dhay says:

    Sem > It is difficult for me to imagine a follower of Jesus reading David French’s article yet still resist engaging in introspection.

    I, too, like David French’s article and views. I also like his quoting Micah 6:8, a favourite verse of mine:

    He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=micah+6%3A6-8&version=ESVUK

    French starts his article:

    I’m going to be honest. I can’t shake the sadness. I can’t shake the anger. We have to be clear about what happened in Washington D.C. on January 6th. A violent Christian insurrection invaded and occupied the Capitol. Why do I say this was a Christian insurrection? Because so very many of the protesters told us they were Christian, as loudly and clearly as they could. The Atlantic’s invaluable religion reporter, Emma Green, compiled considerable evidence of the Christian presence in her excellent report. [Linked.]

    Green wrote about the overt Christianity on display and tells readers:

    Some were participants in the Jericho March, a gathering of Christians to “pray, march, fast, and rally for election integrity.”

    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2021/01/evangelicals-catholics-jericho-march-capitol/617591/

    This snippet from Green’s report on the Jericho March stands out for me as reason to question their credentials as committed Christians:

    “Shout if you love Jesus!” someone yelled, and the crowd cheered. “Shout if you love Trump!” The crowd cheered louder.

    Those there might well have been some or all of them Christian… but I see that for many or most, Jesus was not their first love.

  16. Dhay says:

    Sem> It is difficult for me to imagine a follower of Jesus reading David French’s article yet still resist engaging in introspection.

    The US is a majority Christian country (70.6% of adults, says Pew), which means that many Democrat voters were Christian, and conversely means that many Christians were Democrat voters; if you find it difficult “to imagine a follower of Jesus reading David French’s article yet still resist engaging in introspection” you, you personally, have a failure not only of imagination but of rationality.

    It’s not at all difficult for me, myself, to read that article (and Emma Green’s) yet still resist engaging in introspection. I am a very un-evangelical member of a very un-evangelical British church, someone who has never, ever voted Tory let alone anything more right-wing; so neither article comes close to giving me rational cause to introspect my own involvement – none – in the invasion of the Capitol. You, you personally, have a failure not only of imagination but of rationality.

  17. Dhay says:

    Sem > It is difficult for me to imagine a follower of Jesus reading David French’s article yet still resist engaging in introspection.

    One of my past employers required me to take an online course (then occasional refreshers) on ‘Equality and Diversity’, a course both promoting seeking equality and valuing diversity and deprecating prejudice and bigotry: to illustrate what prejudice and bigotry are, and how even people opposed to prejudice and bigotry can easily fall into it themselves without realising it, the course started out with an exercise involving matching people and their gender, age, ethnic origins etc with descriptions of their jobs and interests; if you matched by the stereotype for that gender/age/ethnicity/etc you got every single one wrong; the point was, that if you expect people to conform to the relevant stereotype for ‘people like them’ you can expect to get it wrong very often. If you characterise people — and especially if you behave thus towards them — as if they are mere representatives of ‘their group’, as typical of their group’s stereotype, rather than as unique individuals, you are consciously or unconsciously displaying and acting out prejudice and bigotry.

    You plainly have it in mind that Michael and his Christian responders are a match for some unspecified but unflattering stereotype; French would probably call your implicit claim – implicit! do you hope your not making your claim explicit reduces the likelihood of it being shot down?… French would probably call your implicit claim an “enabling lie”, though I prefer to call it a baseless assertion; or I could call it prejudice and bigotry: should you, yourself, be engaging in introspection?

  18. Dhay says:

    Sem > It is difficult for me to imagine a follower of Jesus reading David French’s article yet still resist engaging in introspection.

    It’s an emotive article designed to appeal to the emotions of people like yourself. I understand its force, but it’s based upon subjective impressions rather than striving for objectivity. Clearly French means his readers to conclude that the invaders of the Capitol were all or most of them fervently evangelical Christians, but was that so? Time, then, to stand back and look for some objective analysis of who they were… such as this research:

    In their 02 February 2021 The Atlantic article entitled “The Capitol Rioters Aren’t Like Other Extremists: We analyzed 193 people arrested in connection with the January 6 riot—and found a new kind of American radicalism” two researchers from the University of Chicago researched and analysed what characterised those arrested (roughly a quarter of the invaders of the Capitol) — newspaper reports say those arrested were the obvious leaders plus those invaders who came equipped for violent insurrection:

    On January 6, a mob of about 800 stormed the U.S. Capitol in support of former President Donald Trump, and many people made quick assumptions regarding who the insurrectionists were. … 193 have been charged with being inside the Capitol building or with breaking through barriers to enter the Capitol grounds. We focused our research on these 193. … Our team reviewed all court documents related to each arrest—which include criminal complaints, statement of facts, and affidavits—and conducted searches of media coverage of each arrestee. … We erred on the side of inclusion; we counted an arrestee as affiliated with … an organization if any court documents or news articles describe the person as a member, refer to social-media posts expressing an affinity for a certain group, or attest to patches or apparel that directly indicate support.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/02/the-capitol-rioters-arent-like-other-extremists/617895/

    For fuller information on those characteristics, and more, see:

    https://d3qi0qp55mx5f5.cloudfront.net/cpost/i/docs/americas_insurrectionists_online_2021_02_05.pdf?mtime=1612585947

    Which The Guardian has summarised as:

    One of the emerging truths that FBI detectives and prosecutors will have to wrestle with is that, despite the substantial presence of white supremacists and military personnel, most of those who have been arrested are what might be described as unremarkable Americans with no previous criminal records or history of extremist behavior.

    Political scientists at the University of Chicago who studied the profiles of arrestees and published their conclusions in the Atlantic found that many were middle-class and middle-aged – with an average age of 40. Almost 90% of them had no known links with militant groups. Some 40% were business owners or with white-collar jobs, and they came from relatively lucrative backgrounds as “CEOs, shop owners, doctors, lawyers, IT specialists, and accountants”.

    The one common denominator uniting this large group is not any extremist group, website or media outlet, but an individual – Donald Trump.

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/feb/06/us-capitol-insurrection-fbi-investigation

    Evangelicalism is not mentioned as being a common denominator of these leaders of the invasion of the Capitol, nor mentioned as being a characteristic of most or many. Likewise, Christianity is not mentioned as being a common denominator of these leaders of the invasion of the Capitol, nor mentioned as being a characteristic of most or many.

    I searched the researchers’ words in vain, in both article and research, for any mention of evangelicals or Christians.

    In vain.

    *

    It’s almost certainly incorrect to assume that the researchers took the invaders’ Christianity (or evangelical Christianity) for granted, as such an obvious characteristic it didn’t need mention. The research compared and contrasted the Capitol invaders’ characteristics with those arrested for perpetrating (or plotting?) right-wing political violence during the five years previously.

    We compared our findings on these suspected insurrectionists with demographic data that we had previously compiled on the 108 individuals arrested by the FBI and local law-enforcement agencies around the country for violence related to right-wing political causes from 2015 to 2020. We used the same methodology to analyze both groups:

    Had there been a comparison to be made, or a contrast to be made, in levels of Christian fervency, either should surely have been worthy of the researchers’ mention and analysis. Does anyone sincerely think the researchers set out to ignore (if existing) a level of evangelical and Christian fervour that French (Emma Green likewise) seemingly opines is so very, very relevant that it can be claimed to be direct indirect cause of the invasion?

    *

    For clarity: I have no doubt that there were fervent Christians present on the march to the Capitol and present outside during some or all of the invasion of the Capitol. Whether any of them fought the police, forced entry, mortally wounded a policeman, invaded the Capitol, attempted to lay hands on the lawmakers, etc is unclear: the research on the quarter of invaders who were leading says, No, or not enough of them to be a research finding and of interest for further research.

    I know there definitely were fervent Christians present, because there was a two-day Jericho March around the Capitol scheduled for the 5th and again for the 6th. There had been earlier Jericho Marches in multiple locations, Marches designed to appeal to and attract and recruit people combining three characteristics: Trump supporters, who were convinced there was election fraud and of a need to ‘Stop the Steal’, and who were fervent Christians (fervent, else the ‘Walls of Jericho’ symbolism would have no appeal, but not so Biblically knowledgeable and fervent that they were aware that the culmination of the Biblical circumambulation was, “Then they devoted all in the city to destruction, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys, with the edge of the sword.”!)

    Having been lured to a two-day Jericho March starting on the 5th, I have no doubt those fervently Trump-supporting fervent Christians would have been there on the 6th, too, cheering at the Rally before the invasion, participating in the march on the Capitol and fervently, proudly, unmissably loudly Christian.

    French and Green should have used some commonsense instead of claiming that the presence of fervent Christians meant the invaders were Christian and that it was a Christian insurrection.

    That’s doubtful — doubt based on evidence and reason.

  19. Sem says:

    > Look, I have come to realize most atheists are afraid of my questions.

    It would seem “atheists” (WTF? Why the fuck do you think I’m an atheist and how the fuck is that relevant?) appear to be afraid of your questions because you block their comments which answer them.

  20. Dhay says:

    I see that David French’s article includes a nice illustration of how prejudice works:

    Do you think, for example, the Christian attack on the Capitol is now proof that your average Baptist is willing to kill to keep Trump in power? No. It is not.

    We are, however, constantly in the business of taking exceptional behavior from our political opponents and trying to argue that the exceptional is emblematic. It proves what “they” are “really like.” It’s an extremely comfortable mode of thinking. It repeatedly reinforces our priors.

    https://frenchpress.thedispatch.com/p/only-the-church-can-truly-defeat

    Sem > It is difficult for me to imagine a follower of Jesus reading David French’s article yet still resist engaging in introspection.

    Yep, Sem knows what Christians in general — US Baptists, British URC members, Catholics worldwide, South Korean Pentacostalists, all Christians in the US, all Christians everywhere – Sem knows what “they” are “really like.”

    It’s an extremely comfortable mode of thinking. It repeatedly reinforces his priors.

    *

    Sem > It would seem “atheists” (…) appear to be afraid of your questions because you block their comments which answer them.

    I trust you know the difference between moderation, which causes a slight delay before (normally) approval – the approved comment then appears in the thread – and blocking.

    You are specific in your complaint’s claim: you have provided answers – two or more comments in reply – to Michael’s questions in his OP, his replies to you or in both; these answering comments have not merely had their appearance in this thread delayed, they have been blocked.

    He has, I notice, allowed through four of your comments – though one merely Oops’d to add a missing web-link, so I can safely discount that one as a mere edit by other means, leaving just three comments – three comments.

    Each of these three consists of one sentence. The last is not thread topic relevant, it’s a complaint, so that’s just two sentences of thread-relevant comment supplied by you in this entire thread – apart from the multiple comments you say Michael blocked, that is, comments which I look forward to seeing because the two sentences visible represent a poor effort.

    The first doesn’t make an actual argument, it merely asserts that the invasion of the Capitol was a Christian insurrection, adding a link to David French’s nearly 2,400 word long article. The second also doesn’t make an actual argument, it merely repeats the invitation to read and agree with French’s article. The third also doesn’t even make an argument: it is a complaint along the lines of ‘don’t label me’ or ‘don’t mis-label me’ – I have some sympathy with that; and it is an accusation that Michael is blocking you.

    Michael has long and often shown exemplary tolerance of dissenting views: that he has suddenly changed tack and is now blocking your comments seems unlikely, and if it were so, the appearance of your final comment, the complaint, would rather undercut your accusation.

    I look forward to Michael unblocking all of your blocked comments answering his questions. They must be real humdingers of answers if Michael is (presumably) so cowed by your intellect, expressed in devastating arguments, that he feels the need to suppress your answers to (presumably, again) avoid public shame.

    I notice that although I have expended much time providing several long and detailed responses to just one of your sentences, you have apparently not yet responded to so many as one of them. Michael is presumably suppressing your answers to me in order that my blushes, too, can be spared.

    Fear not, I authorise Michael to release your devastating answers forthwith (and to let me know if there never were any.)

    I’d love to see those answers or “answers”. Or – echoing back to you your jibe against Michael in the other thread – is your claim of “answers” satire after all, then?

  21. Michael says:

    It would seem “atheists” (WTF? Why the fuck do you think I’m an atheist and how the fuck is that relevant?) appear to be afraid of your questions because you block their comments which answer them.

    False. Now, are you going to answer the question?

  22. Dhay says:

    Sem, quoting Michael > “I have come to realize most atheists are afraid of my questions”

    Sem, responding > It would seem “atheists” (WTF? Why the fuck do you think I’m an atheist and how the fuck is that relevant?)…

    In my last response I concentrated on the second part of that composite sentence, assuming Sem was making a valid claim in the first part, that reproduced above. But no, I see that the context of Michael’s “I have come to realize most atheists are afraid of my questions” is:

    And if you think about it, blogs like The Friendly Atheist make money by daily spreading enabling lies. A great example of an enabling lie is the “Coming Theocracy” claim I have heard my whole life. Look, I have come to realize most atheists are afraid of my questions. I did ask you one, remember? I asked, “Tell us Sem, are you one of those kooks who is afraid the Religious Right is close to enslaving us all in a Theocracy?”

    If you buy into that lie, you are in no position to expect others to engage in any “introspection.” Tend to your own enabling lie first, extremist.

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2021/02/01/the-religious-right-bogeyman-again/#comment-39114

    As I read the original, and as I think a reasonable person would read the original, Michael didn’t refer to Sem as an atheist. I’ll paraphrase, for clarity: the Friendly Atheist blog spreads enabling lies daily; the “Coming Theocracy” is one such enabling lie; most atheists are afraid of my questions [such as] the one I asked you, “Tell us Sem, are you one of those kooks who is afraid the Religious Right is close to enslaving us all in a Theocracy?”…

    Channelling Sem: WTF? Why the fuck does Sem think Michael thinks he’s an atheist and how the fuck is that relevant?

    *

    I’ll ask Sem my own question: Who are you posturing before, who are you seeking to impress?

  23. Dhay says:

    Michael > A great example of an enabling lie is the “Coming Theocracy” claim I have heard my whole life. … “Tell us Sem, are you one of those kooks who is afraid the Religious Right is close to enslaving us all in a Theocracy?”

    Those kooks certainly do exist, and one group of such kooks is the ‘Iowa Atheists & Freethinkers’:

    IAF has been declining for a while.. Our FaceBook page has over 1500 members but our dues-paying membership keeps decreasing. Christian theocrats, on the other hand, wield more power in our government than at any other time in the nation’s history. We need to do that something about that folks. We need a project, a big win like that bus ad campaign to reignite the spark that kept us going for the last ten years.

    With all that in mind, I propose that IAF should put up a billboard in metro Des Moines. It should be something in-your-face, attention-grabbing, and pointedly aimed at Christian Nationalists.

    Here is my idea:

    In a large font: “Theocracy is Un-American.” Underneath in smaller text, ”iowaatheists.org.” All of that would be set against a picture of the US Capitol Building with a huge crucifix shoved through the dome. …

    …And the sight of it would induce wannabe theocrats to froth at the mouth.

    https://www.iowaatheists.org/new-blog/should-iaf-erect-a-billboard

    Hemant Mehta shows us what that billboard (and two others) looks like; I see they omitted the huge crucifix, otherwise it’s as described:

    https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2021/02/10/these-billboards-call-out-christian-nationalist-bills-filed-by-iowa-lawmakers/

  24. Dhay says:

    Fascinating! I see the Iowa Atheists & Freethinkers have had a “shiny, brand-spanking-new website”, with that Heathen of the Corn blog on it, since 16 January 2020. It took the blogger eight months, until 16 September, to figure out and publicise how the blog readers can post comments on his IAF blog; evidently it took the blog readers, those Iowa Atheists & Freethinkers the same eight months not to figure out how to post comments (Anne, commenting on 1 February, was the sole exception):

    https://www.iowaatheists.org/new-blog/comments-we-have-comments

    These are self-declared rational, STEM type people; or is that just their preferred type of Iowa lawmakers:

    Our members believe strongly in the separation of church and state and that reason, science, critical thinking, and compassion should guide the legislative process.

    https://www.iowaatheists.org/new-blog/help-spread-reason-on-the-hill

    To be fair to IAF members, the first few January posts didn’t have a facility to make comments. But after those first few, I think anyone clicking around the blog and in possession of half a brain and minimal experience (or none) of how blog navigation normally works would or should discover the Comments box in seconds to a few minutes; I find it difficult to credit that for all but one of them it took eight months.

    So much for the claim to hold the high ground of evidence, science, reason and critical thinking: these guys — with the honourable exception of Anne — weren’t bright enough to work out where to find the Comments in a pretty standard blog design.

    Not for eight months, anyway.

  25. Dhay says:

    > PZ Myers seems to be floating a new conspiracy theory – if you are a lesbian who does not believe that women have penises and produce sperm, it’s because you have been duped by the Religious Right. According to Myers, the Religious Right has this master plan to split up the LGBT community.

    Myers quotes a Southern Poverty Law Center article as his authority:

    This seems to be part of a larger strategy, meant to weaken transgender rights advocates by attempting to separate them from their allies, feminists and LGBT rights advocates.

    Why assume a conspiracy theory to separate transgender rights advocates “from their allies, feminists and LGBT rights advocates” when the evidence in Myers’ Comments — read those comments, or see the next Shadow to Light post and thread, entitled “Lesbian Accused of Being Transphobe” — is that Trans advocates and their LGBT advocate allies need no help or manipulation to make each other feel unwelcome and othered.

  26. Kevin says:

    Why assume a conspiracy theory to separate transgender rights advocates “from their allies, feminists and LGBT rights advocates”

    Because if the extreme social justice left has any defining trait, it is absolute certainty in the moral correctness of their beliefs. One has to blame evil external influences to explain their internal failures, as they are inherently pure.

  27. From what I can tell, they measure a person’s morality by the political/social positions he/she publicly espouses rather than the things they actually do. To admit fault or culpability would imply that their political and social opinions are incorrect, and they can’t do that because their political and social opinions make up their personal identity.

    I guess that’s what happens when Christianity – previously the West’s chief source of morality, meaning and identity – is removed and replaced with self-worship.

  28. Dhay says:

    In his 23 February 2021 “Like I have any clout with American Atheists at all” PZ Myers complains about e-mailers who expect him to have influence on the American Atheists organisation; and he complains about, and quotes an atheist who says the AA managers should not be supporting LGBT groups and their aims:

    What has the LGBT community done to support the rights of Atheists? Not a damn thing. When the Boy Scouts ended its ban on Gays but continued its ban on Atheists, did Gays stand behind Atheists and protest the continued bias against them by the BSA? No, of course not, although the LGBT people have demanded the support of Atheist and Humanist groups for their own narrow interests.

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2021/02/23/like-i-have-any-clout-with-american-atheists-at-all/

    Myers jumps on this:

    Whatever happened to the golden rule, and doing things because they’re right, not because we expect immediate reciprocation?

    But as is obvious from the e-mail it’s not — contra Myers — that reciprocation of support wasn’t immediate, it’s that there has evidently been no reciprocation of support on the Boys Scouts issue or on any other issue — “Not a damn thing” — no reciprocation of support at all.

    Unity?

  29. TFBW says:

    I could point out that PZ, as a philosophical materialist, has no grounds for asserting either the Golden Rule or the idea of “right” in the sense of objective morality, but such objections are old and tired. This time, I’d be more interested to know why he extends his Golden Rule behaviour to the LGBTs and not the Boy Scouts. How golden and rule-like is the rule if it doesn’t apply to the Boy Scouts? And if it doesn’t apply to the Boy Scouts, then why does it apply to the LGBTs? We get the following hints.

    Supporting civil rights and strengthening protections for everyone is a good and righteous position for an atheist organization to take. … Supporting the LGBTQ cause should be a natural for atheists, since this strengthens protections for everyone. … Civil rights are not something you fight for for one group, but not another.

    It looks to me like his reference to the Golden Rule was a citation bluff. There is no evidence of a Golden Rule in operation here. He’s not promoting a “do as you would be done by” attitude towards others: he’s a “Civil Rights Activist,” which is a horse of an entirely different colour. More precisely, the kind of “Civil Rights” for which he is an activist consist of a fairly narrowly-targeted set of anti-Christian ideals, centred on the sexes, sexual roles, sexual relationships, marriage, and family, plus “religious freedom” in any sense which weakens Christianity or strengthens its opponents. As such, he’s for anything and everything which harms or undermines the Christian (and plain old Natural Law) model of these things

    If PZ were honest with himself and his correspondent, his answer would not have required reference to “the golden rule, and doing things because they’re right.” A forthright and candid response would have looked something like the following.

    This idiot doesn’t get it. AA isn’t a pro-atheist organisation: they just label themselves as such to get suckers like him to fork over cash for life memberships. First and foremost, AA is an anti-Christian organisation. The same applies to the LGBTQ activist crowd: they’re just a different flavour of anti-Christian activist. As such, we have common cause where it really matters: namely, a common enemy. Gill is playing the correct tactical and strategic game here. If you’re complaining about “reciprocation” (or a lack thereof), you’re just a clueless chump with no tactical sense demanding attention. Pipe down.

  30. Dhay says:

    Sem > While a Christian theocracy has not happened, a Christian insurrection has.

    Continuing my questioning that the invasion of the Capitol was a Christian insurrection, I observe that a The Atlantic article linked to and quoted by Michael in his 11 March 2021 “Secular Zealotry” OP includes:

    On the right, adherents of a Trump-centric ethno-nationalism still drape themselves in some of the trappings of organized religion, but the result is a movement that often looks like a tent revival stripped of Christian witness. Donald Trump’s boisterous rallies were more focused on blood and soil than on the son of God.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2021/04/america-politics-religion/618072/

    As Hamid has it, those Trump rallyers, a movement “stripped of Christian witness”, had but draped themselves in the trappings — the trappings! — of Christianity.

    What one journalist — David French — plainly asserts, that a “Christian insurrection invaded and occupied the Capitol”, another journalist — Shadi Hamid — as plainly denies.

  31. Dhay says:

    > According to Myers, the Religious Right has this master plan to split up the LGBT community.

    Not just according to PZ Myers, there’s others saying the same, indeed he’s parroting the 2017 Southern Poverty Law Centre — they mostly promote Woke activism nowadays — article he links to.

    But it’s not just the Religious Right: one of the founders of the UK’s LGB charity, Stonewall is severely critical of its over-focus on Trans issues, saying that the charity had “lost its way”:

    Journalist and former Tory MP Matthew Parris, one of Stonewall’s 14 founders, recently suggested the charity had “lost its way”.

    In an article for the Times, he said: “The organisation is tangled up in the trans issue, cornered into an extremist stance on a debate that a charity formed to help gay men, lesbian women and bisexual people should never have got itself into.”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-57281448

    Ms Kelley, Stonewall’s head, acknowledges indirectly that Stonewall has indeed got diverted as described:

    [She] expressed frustration that the volume of media coverage and debate around trans rights meant “it can be difficult to get across all the work we do… focusing on the experiences of LGB [lesbian, gay and bisexual] people.”

    Not just a Religious Right conspiracy, then, but also an internal debate among LGBTQ+ people themselves, with strongly held divergent views expressed and clashing.

  32. Dhay says:

    Breaking news: in the UK, Maya Forstater’s appeal, against the earlier Employment Tribunal judgment that her employer was right in law to sack her for holding, and expressing on social media, the view that trans-women are not biological women, has been allowed: her employer (and the lower court judge ruling in favour of said employer) was wrong in law

    Monica Kurnatowska, employment partner at law firm Baker McKenzie, said the ruling meant that “individuals are entitled not to be discriminated against because of gender critical beliefs… and gives those beliefs the same legal protection as religious beliefs, environmental beliefs and ethical veganism”.

    “Employers will be watching closely for any guidance on how to handle employee conflict fairly and lawfully, while respecting the rights of all involved,” she added.

    Lui Asquith, director of legal and policy at Mermaids, a charity that supports transgender, non-binary and gender-diverse children and young people, said: “This is not the win anti-trans campaigners will suggest in the coming days.

    “We, as trans people, are protected by equality law and this decision in the Maya Forstater case does not give anyone the right to unlawfully harass, intimidate, abuse or discriminate against us because we are trans.”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-57426579

    Both opinions are correct. But while harassment of, and discrimination against trans-people remains illegal and a potentially sackable offence, harassment of, and discrimination against people criticising the more outrageous claims trans-people and their allies make, that, too, has now been ruled illegal.

    *

    We’ll have to wait and see whether this will or will not bring back for reassessment the later Kristie Higgs case, in which the judge relied on the Forstater case as precedent in deciding what were the relevant points of law.

  33. Dhay says:

    More on the above, from Maya Forstater herself, and a bit more light on the controversy (two above) within Stonewall:

    Mr Justice Choudhury overturned an earlier judgment of the Employment Tribunal, which had declared that gender-critical beliefs are “not worthy of respect in a democratic society”, and were therefore not protected against discrimination. The Employment Appeal Tribunal substituted a finding that gender-critical beliefs are a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. Those who hold such beliefs are now legally protected from discrimination and harassment in employment and as service users.

    Sitting with two lay members, Judge Choudhury ruled that under the European Convention on Human Rights, only extreme views akin to Nazism or totalitarianism are excluded from protection on the basis that they are not worthy of respect in a democratic society. The Appeal Tribunal held: “The Claimant’s gender-critical beliefs, which were widely shared, and which did not seek to destroy the rights of trans persons, clearly did not fall into that category.“

    Mr Justice Choudhury said: “It is clear from Convention case law that…a person is free in a democratic society to hold any belief they wish, subject only to ‘some modest, objective minimum requirements’.”

    The judgment directly contradicts the views of Stonewall, the lobby group that advises over 850 major employers in the UK, including many government departments, universities, police forces and schools, covering 25% of the UK workforce.

    https://sex-matters.org/posts/updates/gender-critical-beliefs-are-worthy-of-respect-in-a-democratic-society/

    “It is clear…”; yep, that’s a clear enough judgment, and a slap in the face for Stonewall. I wonder whether Stonewall will now change its advice to reflect how this judgment on how UK law is to be applied, or whether it will continue to advise what its Woke LGBT activist head wishes.

  34. They must know the vast majority of the public would agree with (or simply not care enough to oppose) Forstater’s position. They must know that.

  35. Dhay says:

    Further to my last two responses above, the UK Kristie Higgs case is indeed coming back to court to appeal the original judgment. Part of the case against Higgs was that her expressed gender-critical views failed one of the criteria for a protected belief in the precedent case of Nicholson v Grainger, namely “[36 (e)] It must be worthy of respect in a democratic society, be not incompatible with human dignity and not conflict with the fundamental rights of others.” The recent Maya Forstater appeal succeeded because the appeal court ruled that particular criterion unlawful:

    Mr Justice Choudhury overturned an earlier judgment of the Employment Tribunal, which had declared that gender-critical beliefs are “not worthy of respect in a democratic society”, and were therefore not protected against discrimination. The Employment Appeal Tribunal substituted a finding that gender-critical beliefs are a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. Those who hold such beliefs are now legally protected from discrimination and harassment in employment and as service users.

    Sitting with two lay members, Judge Choudhury ruled that under the European Convention on Human Rights, only extreme views akin to Nazism or totalitarianism are excluded from protection on the basis that they are not worthy of respect in a democratic society. The Appeal Tribunal held: “The Claimant’s gender-critical beliefs, which were widely shared, and which did not seek to destroy the rights of trans persons, clearly did not fall into that category.“

    Mr Justice Choudhury said: “It is clear from Convention case law that…a person is free in a democratic society to hold any belief they wish, subject only to ‘some modest, objective minimum requirements’.”

    .

    Whether or not Higgs’ lawyers will be arguing that the ruling against Higgs should be set aside for the same or similar reasons as for Forstater is not at all clear from the Daily Mail report I have. Having seen her ‘Christian Legal Centre’ lawyers fail her (and themselves) last time round because they had their eyes on protesting discrimination against Christians in general instead of fighting for Higgs specifically, and argued inappropriately — argued the wrong case, if you like — I am not particularly confident they will adopt a sensible approach that will succeed in the appeal; indeed, I consider those blinkered lawyers an obstacle not only to Higgs’ chances but also to their own Christian activist cause.

    *

    But there are other issues at hand: an employment tribunal judge sits with two lay advisors, one representing the viewpoint of employers, the other of employees; Higgs’ appeal is scheduled to appear before a panel including the prominent trans-activist, Edward Lord, as one of the lay advisors:

    Andrea Williams, from the Christian Legal Centre, said the recusal of Lord was a ‘simple and reasonable request that helps avoid any whiff of a stitch-up’. But in an email to the court, Lord said: ‘Whilst I do have views on the topics at the heart of the case, and indeed have expressed some of those views publicly but in an entirely private capacity with no reference to my judicial office, I did not consider them grounds for recusal … When exercising judicial office, my decision-making follows the facts of a case and pertinent law and nothing else.’

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10930909/Trans-rights-activist-judge-case-teaching-assistant-sacked-gender-identity-lessons.html

    Well, it’s what judges and their panel members are officially required to do, it would be odd if Lord had not answered that he could achieve that level of impartiality, he would be removed from his position on this and any judging panel if he did not claim to meet the standard all judicial office holders are required to meet.

    It might even be that so outspoken a trans-activist can put his habitual views, his strong views strongly expressed, put them aside and, by co-judging fairly, give Higgs a fair hearing and a fair judgment. But can he reasonably be expected to actually do so? I, like Higgs and her lawyers, I question whether he will, whether he can; and I observe that justice must not just be done, it must be seen to be done.

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