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May 01, 2012

Some Christians still debating whether women should be allowed to even speak in Church

Relevant passage: Let the women keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but let them subject themselves, just as the Law also says. And if they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in the church (1 Corinthians 14:34-35, NASB). It should be noted that a lot of people think this is horseshit and that women should be allowed to speak their mind wherever. If you want to know where the roots of the Republican War on Women are, this may offer a clue. Carol Howard Merritt on (Re)Imagining Christianity – Pomomusings
Right now, on the 21st Century blogosphere, Christians argue whether women should keep silent in churches. That’s right. It’s 2012 and they believe that women are so subordinate that we should not even be allowed to ask questions in a Bible study. First Timothy explains that Eve tasted the fruit first, so two thousand years later, anyone with XX chromosomes should not open their mouths within the walls of a church. If that logic is not a contrived recipe for oppression, I don’t know what is. In many congregations, women cannot become pastors, elders, or deacons. Leadership is barred from women. Where else in society does that explicitly take place? I can’t think of any place other than a couple of absurd golf clubs in the South.

April 30, 2012

Behind the Right's Phony War on the Nonexistent Religion of Secularism

I literally had no idea that people thought Secular Humanism was an actual religion. The very idea is fucking insane. Behind the Right's Phony War on the Nonexistent Religion of Secularism | Rick Perlstein | Politics News | Rolling Stone
Here's some background those befuddled Democrats need to know: One of the most robust and effective conspiracy theories on the right, the notion that "secularism" – or, just as often, "Secular Humanism" – is a religion is meant to be taken entirely literally: right wingers genuinely believe it refers to an actually existing religious practice. How do conservatives know? Because, they say, the Supreme Court said so. It was, as religious historian and Lutheran minister Martin E. Marty has written, "an instance where one can date precisely the birth of a religion: June 19, 1961." That was the day the Court ruled in the case of Torcaso v. Watkins striking down the Maryland Constitution's requirement of "a declaration of belief in the existence of God" to hold "any office of profit or trust in this state" — specifically, in atheist Roy Torcaso's case, the office of notary public. In his decision, Justice Hugo Black, writing for a unanimous court, further asserted that states and the federal government could not favor religions "based on a belief in the existence of God as against those religions founded on different beliefs" – and, in a fateful, ill-considered, and entirely offhand footnote explained: "Among religions in this country which do not teach what would be generally be considered a belief in the existence of God are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism and others." From here, things get wacky. As unearthed by the outstanding scholar Carol Mason in her masterpiece Reading Appalachia from Left to Right, in 1974 a Jesuit priest and Fordham University law professor named Edward Berbasse argued that "since humanism is now considered by the court to be a religion , it must be prevented from being established by the government." An activist asked him if that meant they could win their fight to ban the satanic textbooks being forced down their children's throats in Kanawha County, West Virginia by taking the matter to the Supreme Court. "I think you may have the material if you can get a crackerjack lawyer," Father Berbasse responded. A Supreme Court case was never actually attempted – not least because, as Chip Berlet and Matthew Lyons have pointed out, "While historically there has been an organized humanist movement in the United States since at least the 1800s, the idea of a large-scale quasireligion called secular humanism is a conspiracist myth." In Kanawha County, the textbook fight was fought out with dynamite instead. Nationwide, however, the conspiracist myth took on a life of its own – even unto the halls of Congress. For Secular Humanism was not just an imaginary religion. It was, as the subtitle to a 1984 book still revered by religious conservatives, put it, The Most Dangerous Religion in America. How so? Because it held that man, not God, determines human affairs. From that, as Martin Marty explained, the ascendant religious right developed the claim that "when a textbook does not mention the God of the Bible ... it necessarily leads to a void which it must fill with the religion of Secular Humanism." (It's a religion. Thus the Capital Letters.) And that any textbook which does not mention the guiding hand of God is rock-solid proof that the "secular humanist" conspiracists had written it; the absence was the presence.