The Conspiracy Deepens

Arizona Republican audit finds

even bigger lead for Biden

in 2020 election

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Republicans are looking into a possible repeat visit of the Phoenix Lights, with the use of lasers able to seek out and neutralize Trump votes.

Another Christian Soldier Heard from at Baylor University.

He’s ABD at way-Christian Hillsdale College, and already Baylor, America’s premier Baptist University – the best campus in America for a college student to get shot at, or, if she prefers, merely raped – has hired him to teach kids how their natural God-given rights preclude the wearing of masks during pandemics.

On the first Friday of Baylor’s fall semester, a political science professor refused to wear a mask in at least one of his in-person classes, forcing the university to move the class online…. Three of the four students [Baylor newspaper] The Lariat interviewed claimed that in his first in-person class, [Stephen] Goniprow said that he refused to wear a mask and that because he wasn’t going to, he didn’t expect his students to wear them.

Fuck the state, kids! God made you free, and if you listen closely Jesus is telling you to ditch the mask.

Just as I am, without a mask
To rid my face of this I ask
To thee whose blood can heal disease
O Lamb of God, I sneeze, I sneeze

ULTRA SPORTS!

Melbourne’s ultraorthodox perform dangerous rooftop sprints at night!

First, a diversionary ultra-team places itself in front of the team’s synagogue so police think they’re up to no good; then, while police aren’t watching, other ultras scale the synagogue roof and enter the building (breaking lock-down orders).

When police get wise to the ruse, ultras inside the building race back up to the roof and then escape the police by running along other Melbourne rooftops!

The so-called “Piety Pentathlon” incorporates

  1. scaling a building
  2. climbing into the building from the roof
  3. climbing back up to the roof
  4. racing across rooftops
  5. climbing down from rooftops

Spectators are amazed.

A neighbour, who identified himself as Brent but declined to provide a surname, said he had seen several men enter the building in the same way over the past fortnight.

“I wasn’t around on Tuesday, but this has been going on for a while now, and often happens around early evening. It’s just bizarre,” he said.

“[F]or those of us not on board with the theocratizing of America: Who let God into the legislative chamber?”

The answer is that we did. Our silence has turned us into enablers of those who are now foisting their religious beliefs on a country founded on opposition to an established church.

About one-third of Americans, according to a recent Gallup poll, want the court to overturn Roe. And yet, as we saw last week, the right to abortion is already functionally dead in Texas, and its fate may soon be left to the whims of Republican politicians everywhere else. It’s incumbent on the rest of us to call out those who invoke God as their legislative drafting partner.

… [T]he country lurches toward theocracy...

‘The leader of a Hasidic sect whose members illegally constructed the walkway where 45 people were crushed to death during a religious festival in the northern city of Meron this summer has called the tragedy a “divine decree.”‘

Bitch set us up.

This one’s way over my head, but because it makes me think of Nathanael West’s “Day of the Locust” I want to mention it.

Two theological traditions collide in this story about the collapse of a Christian Scientist congregation in Los Angeles and the purchase of its iconic building by a Church of What’s Happening Now.

Famous for putting their trust in God even unto the deaths of their children, Christian Scientists are a little out of it when it comes to grand larceny too. This particular congregation collapsed because it failed to notice that for fifteen years its financial officer stole absolutely all of its money. This left it with no money, so it had to sell the iconic building...

The financial officer used some of the money to become a member of an “exclusive Disneyland dining club.”

This story is too rich a brew for me. It has too many moving parts. I merely record the outlines here, and direct you to various links.

Babies you can report to the authorities. But pre-teens are so… fuckable…

Child abusers from a British religious community should not be reported to the police, one of its leaders has argued.

Paltiel Schwarcz, a leading rabbinical authority among ultra-Orthodox Jews, said informing statutory authorities in the UK of a suspected Jewish child sex offender was generally “a severe sin”….[I]t is forbidden to report child sexual abuse to “gentile” authorities, [argued Schwarcz, a Jewish religious court judge]...

[He argued that it] was not permitted to report an abuser to police if the victim was a girl aged 12 or older or a boy aged 13 or older.

Oh what a witless web we weave…

… when first we practice to deceive ourselves about ignorant religious cults among us.

Look what Israel, of all places, has achieved: So many civically useless children that

Some 50% of Israeli children from the country’s fastest-growing sectors are getting a third-world education that will not be able to support a first-world economy, without which there will be no first-world health, welfare and defense systems, according to a new report published by the Shoresh Institution for Socioeconomic Research.“The absence of a first-world ability to defend itself in the world’s most violent region will jeopardize the State of Israel’s very existence,” Prof. Dan Ben-David, who authored the 2021 report, told The Jerusalem Post. “This is an existential threat.”

For decades, Israeli governments have let the burgeoning ultraorthodox opt out even of the basic – required! – national curriculum. And behold the Kafkaesque result: A massive brain drain, because smart people don’t want to live in a country being taken over by stupid people; and a remaining, enormous, absolutely hopeless population. Worse than hopeless, because many of these people revile Zionism and would never think of taking up arms to defend it. Well done!

Vox Clamantis in Deserto

Six years ago, I filed a complaint with the New York City Department of Education (DOE) alongside 51 others because there are dozens of ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Yeshivas in our city that do not provide their students with an adequate secular education, as required by law.

As a result of the complaint, the city announced an investigation on July 28, 2015. Yet now more than six years later, despite findings from the investigation that backed up our complaint, no concrete actions have been taken. The lack of action by the city means that approximately 40,000 students today continue to experience educational neglect.

The NONES and the AND THEN SOMES.

Harvard’s new chaplain di tutti chaplains, elected unanimously, is an atheist. This gesture acknowledges the super-rapid rise, in America, of the category Nones — non-church-goers, many of whom retain spiritual leanings. Some Nones are atheists, or close to it; others look like mild versions of deists. All seem to have abandoned organized religion, though all seem subject to the same existential anxiety and ontological questioning typically shared by traditional followers of God. We’re talking about a quarter of the US population – on a par with evangelicals, and with Catholics – and a segment that’s growing really, really fast.

Why is this happening? In reading about it, UD has encountered many theories, starting with the general point that increasing secularization is baked into most modern, successful countries. Even so, the US has until quite recently exhibited strikingly higher rates of belief in God and of church attendance than places like Norway, France, and England. What has changed?

Nonreligiosity is on the rise far beyond the confines of Harvard; it is the fastest growing religious preference in the country, according to the Pew Research Center. More than 20 percent of the country identifies as atheist, agnostic or nonreligious — called the “nones” — including four in 10 millennials.

The reasons that more young Americans are disaffiliating in the world’s most religious developed country are varied. The Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith attributes the trend partly to the growing alliance between the Republican Party and the Christian right, a decline of trust in institutions, growing skepticism of religion in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and a shift away from traditional family structures that centered on churchgoing.

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The trend, [Robert] Putnam says, is borne out of rebellion of sorts.

“It begins to jump at around 1990,” he says. “These were the kids who were coming of age in the America of the culture wars, in the America in which religion publicly became associated with a particular brand of politics, and so I think the single most important reason for the rise of the nones is that combination of the younger people moving to the left on social issues and the most visible religious leaders moving to the right on that same issue.”

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Since the 1990s, the Republican Party has sought to win support by adopting conservative Christian positions on same sex marriage, abortion, and other cultural issues. But this appeal to religious voters has had the corollary effect of pushing other voters, especially young liberal ones, away from religion. The uncritical embrace of President Donald Trump by conservative evangelical leaders has accelerated this trend. And the Roman Catholic Church has lost adherents because of its own crises. A 2020 Pew Research Center survey found that an overwhelming majority US adults were aware of recent reports of sexual abuse by Catholic priests, and most of them believed that the abuses were “ongoing problems that are still happening.” Accordingly, many US Catholics said that they have scaled back attendance at mass in response to these reports.

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Note what’s not cited: The intellectual stardom of the New Atheists. You might expect this to appear as a reason, but UD didn’t expect it to. It’s rare to reject organized religion merely because of arguments people make against it. Lots of people have pointed out that Dawkins and Hitchens recycle the same anti-religion arguments people have made for centuries. It seems more likely, as the above comments suggest, that you leave organized religion because of the actual beliefs and behaviors it seems to generate in your time, in the world around you. Ol’ UD, for instance, thinks this photograph alone probably accounts for two million or so newbie Nones.

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

For a closer look at some of those beliefs and behaviors, read rural Texan writer Natalie Jackson:

“When my classmates were hospitalized with COVID-19, there were repeated calls for prayers and proclamations that God would provide healing. When they died, those prayer requests became comments that ‘God called [them] home.’

The belief that God controls everything that happens in the world is a core tenet of evangelicalism — 84 percent of white evangelicals agreed with this statement in PRRI polling from 2011, while far fewer nonwhite, non-evangelical Christians shared this belief. The same poll also showed that white evangelicals were more likely than any other Christian group to believe that God would punish nations for the sins of some of its citizens and that natural disasters were a sign from God. What’s more, other research from the Journal of Psychology and Theology has found that some evangelical Christians rationalize illnesses like cancer as God’s will. 

This is why I remember friends and acquaintances in Leon County when I think about how religious beliefs influence one’s attitude toward COVID-19 and vaccination. PRRI’s March survey found that 28 percent of white evangelical Republicans agreed that ‘God always rewards those who have faith with good health and will protect them from being infected with COVID-19,’ compared with 23 percent of Republicans who were not white evangelicals. And that belief correlates more closely with vaccination views among white evangelical Republicans — 44 percent of those who said God would protect them from the virus also said they would refuse to get vaccinated. That number drops to 32 percent among Republicans who are not white evangelicals.

Complicating matters further, the pandemic also fits neatly into ‘end times’ thinking — the belief that the end of the world and God’s ultimate judgment is coming soon. In fact, nearly two-thirds of white evangelical Republicans (64 percent) from our March survey agreed that the chaos in the country today meant the end times’ were near. Faced, then, with the belief that death and the end of the world are a fulfillment of God’s will, it becomes difficult to convince these believers that vaccines are necessary. Sixty-nine percent of white evangelical Republicans who said they refused to get vaccinated agreed that the end times were near.

Moreover, given how many white evangelicals identify as Republican or lean Republican — about 4 in 5 per our June survey — disentangling evangelicals’ religious and political beliefs is nearly impossible. Consider how many white evangelical leaders like former Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. downplayed the severity of the pandemic in line with Trump. Falwell was hardly the only evangelical leader to do this either. If anything, the pattern of white evangelical resistance to vaccination has reached the point where some white evangelical leaders who might otherwise urge vaccination hesitate to do so because of the political climate.”

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And Falwell Jr’s a twofer: Told people fuck-all about what pandemic; and turned out to be a flaming moral degenerate.

Hitch used to say that until people stop being afraid of death, religion will always be a winner. Point taken. But it’s just as true that as long as religions spawn large numbers of dumb and dumber fanatics (dangerous fanatics is for another post), secularity’s got a fighting chance. Ask Adelle Goldenberg.

Adelle Goldenberg, 22, grew up in the Hasidic community in Brooklyn, where she recalls being told that she could not attend college. In preschool, when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, her answer was simple: a bride. It was the only thing she could envision for a girl like herself. When she turned 19, she applied to Harvard in secret and fled the community.

Once at Harvard, she was wary of assuming any religious label, but she still yearned to find people wrestling with issues deeper than academic achievement. She started attending meetings of the humanist group and discovered in Mr. Epstein a form of mentorship that felt almost like having a secular rabbi, she said.

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One more thing, if I may: Read Jackson again, and add to her characterization of rural evangelical Texans the fact that every one of their houses is dripping with guns. It’s hard for UD to avoid the conclusion that these people are death-lovers — passive nihilists who can’t wait for it all to be over in any one of the many ways their… arsenals (see notorious rates of suicide vs. homicide with household guns) of faith provide. And then eternal bliss.

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UPDATE: You have to admire the fervency of the evangelicals.

An evangelical pastor and senior VP for a non-profit called National Religious Broadcasters was fired on Friday for promoting COVID vaccines on MSNBC’s Morning Joe… National Religious Broadcasters, a 1,100-member organization of Christian communicators, told [Daniel] Darling his statements violated their policy of remaining neutral about COVID vaccines, Religion News Service reports. He was told he could sign a statement admitting he had been insubordinate, and admit that his pro-vaccine statements were wrong, or be fired. He chose the latter.

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

Joel Rainey, who leads Covenant Church in Shepherdstown, W.Va., said several [evangelical] colleagues were forced out of their churches after promoting health and vaccination guidelines.

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

We’ve reached snake-handler levels of stupidity here.

Fascinating Fatwas

UD‘s pretty excited about the prospect of new and noteworthy fatwas coming from the government in Afghanistan. She’s not sure they’ll be able to surpass the famous breastfeeding fatwa:

Sheikh ‘Abd Al-Muhsin Al-‘Obikan, an advisor at the Saudi Justice Ministry, recently issued a fatwa allowing the breastfeeding of adults. The fatwa is aimed at enabling an unrelated man and woman to be secluded in the same room, a situation which Islam considers forbidden gender mixing. The rationale behind the fatwa is that breastfeeding creates a bond of kinship between the man and woman, … thus making it acceptable for them to be together in seclusion.

She is sure, though, that they’ll come up with some great stuff.

My Own Private Cathophate

Catholic integralism has enjoyed a small renaissance on the right in recent years, taken up by prominent apologists like Adrian Vermeule, a law professor at Harvard, and Sohrab Ahmari, the op-ed editor at the New York Post.

[In this connection, a] sort of authoritarian tourism [is emerging among] a new generation of right-wingers who, alienated from the secular liberalism of America, are attracted to illiberal alternatives. The same impulses that took [Brent Bozell] to Franco’s Spain now attract the Tucker Carlsons and Rod Drehers of the world to Orbán’s Hungary. Theorists like Vermeule and Ahmari might dream of a Christian commonwealth, but Orbán is showing how it is actually done, providing a real world model to emulate…

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Afghanistan’s caliphate will no doubt be Vermeule and company’s next stop on the authoritarian theocracy tourist trail. Excise Mohammed and you’re in the same spiritual universe, with a close to identical social ethos. Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada, with his global ambitions, is a far better tourist attraction than provincial Orbán, for while integralist Hungary contents itself with its iota of irrelevant territory, Akhundzada is just getting started.

“Yes. They hate us. It must be said.”

Mona Eltahawy’s crucial cover essay for Foreign Policy (2012) needs rereading as an important corrective to the wishful thinking we’re starting to hear about prospects for women in Taliban Afghanistan.

“Name me an Arab country, and I’ll recite a litany of abuses fueled by a toxic mix of culture and religion that few seem willing or able to disentangle lest they blaspheme or offend. When more than 90 percent of ever-married women in Egypt — including my mother and all but one of her six sisters — have had their genitals cut in the name of modesty, then surely we must all blaspheme. When Egyptian women are subjected to humiliating ‘virginity tests’ merely for speaking out, it’s no time for silence. When an article in the Egyptian criminal code says that if a woman has been beaten by her husband “with good intentions” no punitive damages can be obtained, then to hell with political correctness…

Not a single Arab country ranks in the top 100 in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, putting the region as a whole solidly at the planet’s rock bottom. Poor or rich, we all hate our women…

Attempts to control by such regimes often stem from the suspicion that without it, a woman is just a few degrees short of sexual insatiability…

[W]omen are silenced by a deadly combination of men who hate them while also claiming to have God firmly on their side… The Islamist hatred of women burns brightly across the region — now more than ever…

The hatred of women goes deep in Egyptian society. Those of us who have marched and protested have had to navigate a minefield of sexual assaults by both the regime and its lackeys, and, sadly, at times by our fellow revolutionaries…”

And that was the Arab Spring, baby! Fasten your seat belt for the Ice Age.

The cosmic convergence in these two news stories about massive fraud committed against the federal government is the University of Miami medical school.

A school that lionizes national conflict of interest icon Charles Nemeroff also thinks nothing of lionizing seedy nursing home mogul Morris Esformes

Morris’s overwhelming preoccupation for many years has been keeping his son, Philip, out of prison for having run with the whole seedy nursing home thing and turned it into the largest health care fraud in American history.

Philip, when not taking all of the federal government’s money, was himself long preoccupied with bribing the head basketball coach at the University of Pennsylvania to put Philip’s son – named Morris after Family Crook #1 – on the team, and thereby grant his admission to that Ivy League institution.

Head-spinning, ain’t it? Flamboyantly pious religious people, too — all of them. But maintain your focus! I’m trying to update you on all of this.

So Philip got twenty years but because of a ton of flamboyantly pious friends he got DJT to pardon him! Largest health care fraud ever MEH.

But not so fast! For some reason the feds would prefer that its expensive, protracted, extremely difficult fight to put Philip in prison NOT be blithely overturned by rich corrupt people. Athough Philip has indeed been released, the Justice Department “will pursue unresolved charges from Esformes’ healthcare fraud trial in 2019.” And since there were like three million original charges against the guy, the feds have a full plate of leftovers from which to choose. He will soon go to trial again, and because the man of God is guilty as hell, he’ll soon be back in prison, and it’ll be Arrested Development all over again.

The other University of Miami medical school story? Ne quittez pas.

Afghan women can’t wait to embrace the burqa, because it’s so liberating!

“All of our European sisters rallying in support of veiling are right!” exulted one young woman eyeing the onward march of the Taliban. “I can’t wait for total coveringmodesty’s the ticket! Allah’s gonna love it!”

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UD devoutly hopes that watching vibrant living beings die under the vile shroud that is the burqa will strengthen Europe’s (most of Europe’s) determination to ban it among its citizens. Together, footage from ISIS prisoner camps and from pious perverted Afghanistan should be more than enough to silence the fools defending the invisibility cloak.

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

Today’s [American] college students are too young to remember the utter shock of seeing a country of women wearing burqas, head-to-toe coverings with small patches of mesh in the eye area. Women who looked all the same, women who were completely hidden, women unable to see except barely and straight ahead.

It was a nightmare.

Tsk. How judgmental. How culturally non-relativist. USA Today’s opinion writer just comes right out with her Islamophobia, and this must be because she has failed to read the right books and attend the right rallies. A nightmare? Oh no. No, you can’t say that. The burqa is a beautiful expression of the piety of Muslim women. Now all Afghan women will be beautiful in the sight of God.

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