Alabama Christians are showing their true colors this week, in their responses to a public speech by atheist Amanda Scott, who requested that the government of Mobile, Alabama recognize the equal legal status of atheist residents of the city, rather than giving Christians preferential treatment.
In response to an invitation by local TV station WKRG to share judgments about Amanda Scott, some Christians said that Scott should be killed, assaulted, or commit suicide.
Less physically violent, but just as abhorrent to the democratic values upon which the United States was founded, were calls from Christians for Amanda Scott to renounce her American citizenship and live outside the USA.
Shirley Chatel of Mobile Alabama called for the exile of Americans who don’t believe in Christianity’s god, writing, “She needs to go to another country!”
Shirley Chatel wasn’t alone in this idea. She was joined by Shirley Ard Coburn, who wrote, “She needs to fall on her knees and repent and ask Jesus to open her eyes to the truth. Then if she chooses not to do that go to a country that does not believe in God.”
But then, many Alabama Christians didn’t think that the exile of atheists out of the United States should be voluntary. Katrina Mullins Turner urged a forced deportation of Amanda Scott: “Just ship her out of this country!”
Ron Pierce of nearby Neely, Mississippi added in a strange connection to ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, making a proposal to, “Send her to ISIS they would love her”. At first, this seems like a contradiction, given that Amanda Scott is an atheist, and ISIS soldiers are devout Muslims who threaten to kill anyone who doesn’t share their religion. Then again, it’s possible that Ron Pierce rather admires the ISIS attitude toward nonbelievers, and is hoping that ISIS soldiers will kill her.
Other Christians joined in on the call for voluntary exile or forced deportation:
Malinda Causey: “Send her to a country that was not founded on God!”
Donna Martin: “She can like it or lump it! Whine to someone who gives a f—-…I don’t!! She could also MOVE!!”
Tony Kramer: “Send her to the planet Venus! Maybe God won’t be there but HE IS HERE.”
Diedre Koontz Cowart: “Our country was founded by men of great courage and faith. If you don’t like it, leave.”
Tammy Ellzey Harold: “Tell her to move to a Communist country…country should not have to change anything to suit a small minority….what happened to majority rules???”
John Owen Anderson: “Get the hell out of the United States”
Dawn Donnelly: “This country was founded on Christianity and that’s who it’s going to be and stay!!! You either continue to live here and except OUR RULES,LAWS and RELIGIONS or LEAVE, take your pick!! We’re NOT Athiest or Muslim,we are Christian….period!!”
Becky Smith Williams: “This country was and is based on God , if u dont like that move to some other place or better yet ur own little island.”
Cheryl An Dell Worley: “she should move out of America we were founded own in God we trust”
Ruth McKinley: “I think if she doesn’t like it she can get out of America, We this Country, is founded on faith and love and God is Love!”
Carrie Brush Dickens: “Dont like it LEAVE America!”
Susie Hepstall: “if she don’t like god she needs to go to a different country”
Phyllis Dommert Hagler: “This country was founded on Christianity so if that offends people go back to your country.”
Joy Corbitt: “Send her to iRock Afghanistan anywhere but here”
Patricia Maynard: “She should pack her bags and leave the U.S.A.”
Tommy Kirksey: “This country was founded on GOD, The Bible and If you don’t like it , Please feel free to MOVE to another country”
Karen Peacock Hoof: “Send her out of this country!!”
Donnie Calloway: “i say no the atheist if they don,t like it let them leave the united states”
Jordan Shaw: “I think that athiest needs to go live else where… This nation was founded on God.”
Dana Ashley Moss: “Send her to an atheist country. Our country was founded on God.”
Sharon Lavender: “Send her to the Iraq to live with them. See how fast she prays to god.”
Henry Jolley: “Dump her off at the Iraq border and tell her she’s home, hit the road.”
Debra Roberts: “Tell her to get out of God’s country”
Peggy Burt Burke: “Send her a$$ to a Muslim country!”
Jeremy Smith: “Atheists should all be removed from our God loving country.”
Ashton Wolverton Shirley: “Whoever doesn’t like what this country was founded on is welcome to SHUT UP OR PACK UP”
Lynette Stanley: “Why don’t all these atheist and non believing people get on a bus to no-where. If she wants an atheist world she is going to get it when she gets her place to rest for eternity. Burn, burn.”
That’s by no means all the messages from angry Christians calling for Amanda Scott and other atheists to leave so that the USA can be a purely Christian country. It might take all day for me to find them all. The point, I hope is clear. The next time you wonder why atheists aren’t willing to join in with Christian worship, and to accept Christian attempts to claim the federal government as an instrument of their religion, remember what Amanda Scott has faced as a result of her request for simple equality. The religion that these Alabama Christians are showing is not a religion of compassion.
Have you heard that Christians are pro-life?
You wouldn’t know it from the way that Christians are acting down in Alabama. They’re calling for the death of Amanda Scott.
What did Scott do, that makes her deserve to die?
She’s an atheist, and she asked the city government of Mobile to respect her equality under the law.
Scott’s simple act of standing up and asking for atheists to be accorded equal legal rights led local Christians to flood onto the Facebook page of a local television station, and demand that she be punished.
Bennie Ashby suggested Scott be killed with a gun.
Michael Graham, who works at the Odd Duck Brotherhood in Mobile, Alabama, proposed menacingly, “What ever happened to stoning people in the city square”.
Caity Hill, who lives in Heron Hill, Alabama and works at RSA Insurance, suggested a lynching: “Get a rope,” she wrote.
Dianna Love, who works as a clerk for the city government of Mobile, suggested that Amanda Scott might be threatened with rape or murder to convince her to become a Christian, writing, “I believe in God. In God We trust should not be an issue. I bet that if she was fixing to be raped or murdered she would be asking God to save her.”
Many other Alabama Christians didn’t call for Amanda Scott to be killed, but urged her to commit suicide.
One of these, Jonah Dismukes, owner of the Worthy Insurance Agency in Mobile Alabama, wrote, “I wish people like this would walk into traffic.”
So much for Christianity being pro-life.
When you visit the webpage of We Need Smith, the public relations operation masquerading as a movement, you’ll see a list of questions. The answers to these questions are supposed to tell you whether you ought to support the as-yet unnamed congressional and presidential candidates they’ll be propping up with mystery money in 2016. Here are the “Are You Smith” questions, followed by the percentage of survey respondents who answered “Yes” to those questions:
1. Smith believes political leaders on both sides fight to protect their own power and privilege, at the expense of the nation’s well-being. Do you? Yes: 89% No: 9%
2. Smith believes that if Congress doesn’t pass a budget, members of Congress shouldn’t get paid. Do you? Yes: 95% No: 3%
3. Smith believes the poison of political corruption is eating away at American democracy. Both Democrats and Republicans in Washington are allowing powerful interests to rig the system for themselves at the expense of every American. Do you? Yes: 83% No: 17%
4. Smith believes we need new leaders from mainstream America – Citizen Smiths – who take on the political elites and special interests and put the American people in charge again. Do you? Yes: 84% No: 12%
5. Smith believes we need tough limits on politicians and their staffers taking lobbying positions in Washington. Do you? Yes: 91% No: 6%
6. Smith believes that the economic policies of both parties have failed and the only way to strengthen the middle class is policies that grow the economy and provide real jobs and better wages. Do you? Yes: 94% No: 4%
7. Smith believes that every congressional bill must publicly list every “special deal.” Do you? Yes: 93% No: 5%
Huge numbers agree with these nice-sounding, absolutely vague statements. Is that a miracle? “We Need Smith” seems to think so, gushing breathlessly that “Frankly, in over forty years of public opinion research, we have never seen results so startling, so consistent at such stratospheric levels of agreement.” But these “stratospheric levels of agreement” are not a miracle. They’re the result of how the questions were asked, peppered with suggestive adjectives but almost entirely devoid of specifics. “We Need Smith” didn’t ask the following questions, but they might as well have come right out and added these:
Smith believes in passing good laws and getting rid of the bad laws. Do you?
Smith believes that Washington can do better. Do you?
Smith believes it’s time to stop malfeasance in our government. Do you?
Those three questions are downright dopey, aren’t they? Now go look at the questions “We Need Smith” actually wrote and you’ll see the same problem: there’s are no ideas specific enough to disagree with — so of course people don’t disagree with them.
Almost everybody wants to good things to happen. Almost everybody wants bad things to come to an end. Almost everybody wants to get tough on nonsense. Almost everybody wants real jobs and better wages and to improve the nation’s well-being. Almost everybody despises “special deals” and “special interests” and “corruption.” The reason why we have conflict in the United States and disagreement about candidates is that we disagree about what “good” and “bad” and “tough” and “real jobs” and “well-being” and “special deals” and “special interests” and “corruption” mean when you make actual, specific policy. As long as “We Need Smith’s” hypothetical “Candidate Smith” stands for nothing specific and sticks to lovely adjectives in his or her own fictional universe, people who are given nothing else to judge by will admire the lovely choice of adjectives. As soon as any candidate (including “Candidate Smith”) is forced to act like a real politician and make specific proposals, public approval of that candidate will fall to normal levels.
Perhaps the TV pundits and public relations professionals behind “We Need Smith” didn’t understand this when they commissioned their poll. Perhaps, on the other hand, they know perfectly well how silly their questions are. Perhaps they just think we’re foolish enough to fall for the trick. Either way, this doesn’t seem to be a
campaign funding and independent expenditure jaunt movement worthy of a skeptical person’s cash support.
Alabama resident Amanda Scott was only asking for equality under the law.
In response, she got death threats.
Seeing that Christians had been allowed to place a religious display with messages explicitly promoting their beliefs on government land in Mobile Alabama, Scott asked if Alabama atheists could have the same privilege, and place an atheist display, promoting atheist ideas, on the the city government’s land.
Alabama Christians responded to her request with incitements to violence against Amanda Scott, posting calls for her exile or execution on the Facebook page of a local television station, WKRG. They called for her to be assaulted, to be hung, to be shot dead, merely for asking that atheists be given the same legal status as Christians.
The Friendly Atheist has documented the astonishingly crude Christian response to Amanda Scott’s assertion of atheist equality. That’s a good first step.
However, I don’t think it goes far enough. The Friendly Atheist posts screenshots of incitements to violence and other extreme reactions to Scott’s advocacy on behalf of atheists. In a graphic screenshot, however, the names of those who are seeking to stir up a violent mob against Scott, or to otherwise deprive her of her rights, isn’t permanently documented online.
Given that these Alabama Christians have decided to go onto a publicly-available social media web site, and declare their desire for physical assault or legal discrimination against Amanda Scott, I think that their extremist views should become more widely known to their neighbors and coworkers. Facebook comments aren’t always indexed on Google, but Irregular Times articles are.
So, I’m using the power of the Internet to shame these violent people who believe that people who don’t share their Christian religion deserve to be exiled, attacked, and killed. It’s time to call out these bigots who are threatening violence against Amanda Scott. So, I’ll be posting their identities prominently here tonight. When prospective employers look them up to see what kind of people they are, I hope they find these profiles in bigotry, and think twice.
The first Profile in Bigotry: Bennie Ashby
When Bennie O. Ashby, an officer with the Alabama Department of Corrections (a prison guard), saw that Amanda Scott had requested legal equality between Christians and non-Christians, he got angry. Bennie Ashby logged onto Facebook and joined others who were inciting violence against Scott.
Specifically, Bennie Ashby called for the killing of Amanda Scott. “Shoot her for treason,” he wrote.
Ashby urged the killing of Amanda Scott simply because she is an atheist who asked for an end to legal discrimination against atheists in Mobile, Alabama.
Does the Alabama Department of Corrections believe that it is appropriate to employ people who speak out in public, urging others to commit felony crimes, as Bennie Ashby has done?
Today Christian shares “93 Words That Will Bring An Atheist To Their Knees!“:
I pray today that you would touch the heart of my friend who does not acknowledge your existence.
Let the spirit of pride, doubt and unbelief leave their minds. Let their hearts be tender to the words that would be spoken to them.
Reveal yourself to them in a way that they would know that you are there for them. Let my words and actions toward them be led by love and mercy.
I pray that they would humble themselves and acknowledge you as Lord and Savior. In Jesus Name. Amen
So what does it mean that the spirit of pride, doubt and unbelief has not left my mind, that my heart is not tender to Christian proselytization, that no God character has has revealed itself in a way that can’t be denied, and that I haven’t humbled myself to the God character or acknowledged it as my lord or savior?
I would seem to mean that all this prayer didn’t work. Did it not work because there is no God? Or did it not work because there is a God, but that God really isn’t all that interested in converting any more people to Christianity? Both are possibilities. But what’s certainly true is that those words didn’t bring me to my knees. I’m not awestruck, I’m not changed by these words, and I’m certainly not brought to my knees. I’d know if I were brought to my knees. My knees are kind of creaky these last few years, after all, and kneeling on the floor in awe would be memorably painful. As a matter of fact, I’d probably remember it the next day. That kind of unusual activity makes my knees sore for days afterward, you know.
…Hey, wait a minute! Those 93 words did bring me around to my knees after all! It’s a miracle. Praise be.
In an interview with The Atlantic published this week, Hillary Rodham Clinton advocated the promotion of “American values that also happen to be universal values.”
What values is she talking about? What American values also are universal values?
In order for any such values to genuinely both American and universal, they must be:
1. Core to the American identity
2. Core to all cultures everywhere.
What are they?
A great deal has been made over the weekend of the U.S. Senate Democratic primary race between U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa and incumbent Brian Schatz. Voting was delayed in a small number of precincts due to a tropical storm, and so the race has been declared too close to call.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, headquartered online at BoldProgressives.org, has launched itself into the electoral conflict, declaring itself on the side of Schatz, and pledging its support should he need to mount a legal battle against Hanabusa. One might presume, therefore, that Senator Schatz has a progressive record in Congress – that he is a Bold Progressive.
Is he? His voting record doesn’t reflect it.
When U.S. Senators were asked to confirm David Barron, the architect of a White House policy of execution of people, without trial, by flying robots (yes, really), Brian Schatz went along with the plan. That’s not very progressive.
Now that the United States has been dragged back into war in Iraq, without a congressional vote of approval, Brian Schatz is refusing to offer criticism. That’s not very progressive.
Brian Schatz refused to support the Climate Protection Act. He wouldn’t support the Uniting American Families Act, to help families divided by the U.S. border. Schatz declined to join with senators seeking a vote on the Follow the Money Act, to provide increased transparency in shadowy campaign donations. He wouldn’t support the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act. Schatz even refused to sign his name to the Ending Secret Law Act, which would have forced the President to reveal the legal reasoning behind apparent violations of constitutional rights in programs that conduct widespread spying against the American people.
None of this looks very progressive to me.
Of course, Colleen Hanabusa doesn’t have much of a progressive record, either. She voted against the Back To Work Budget from the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and voted against an amendment that would have required the NSA to specify particular individuals as targets for its espionage, rather than conducting a massive dragnet of all telephone communications. Like Schatz, she has declined to support the Ending Secret Law Act and the Uniting American Families Act, and has refused to help bring the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act to a vote in the House. Hanabusa has also withheld support for the The Fair Minimum Wage Act.
There will be a great deal of chatter from Democratic political groups over the next couple of days, calling for money to support either Schatz or Hanabusa. Given a close look at their records in Congress, however, it looks like neither contender is deserving of progressive grassroots support.
My answer to the Facebook meme.
When most people think of homeschoolers, a particular image comes to mind: A Christian mother who is intent on making sure that her children don’t learn about the scientific theory of biological evolution through natural selection, or birth control, or climate change, or PG-13 movies.
Christian homeschoolers tend to suck all the air out of the room in any cooperative effort of homeschoolers, insisting that their religious approach be given center stage. One Christian blogger proudly writes, “There are people who will get in a huff if you say that homeschooling is a Christian movement, because they are Jewish homeschoolers, or Pagan homeschoolers, or some other brand of non-Christian homeschooler. But the fact is, the homeschooling movement in American was and is, primarily and fundamentally, a Christian movement.”
The International Center for Home Education Research observes that “most observers acknowledge that conservative Christians constitute the largest subset of homeschoolers in the United States. Whether this percentage is two-thirds, one-half, or even less of total homeschoolers, what seems beyond dispute is their disproportionate influence on public perception and rhetoric.”
As ICHER writes, it isn’t Christianity in general that dominates homeschooling communities. It’s an extremist right wing form of Christianity that does. Katherine Stewart in The Guardian writes, “Many parents start off home schooling with the intention of inculcating their children in a mainstream form of Christianity. However… it is easy to get sucked into the vortex of fundamentalist home schooling because extremists have cornered the market – running the conventions, publishing the curricula, setting up the blogs.”
The consequences of this homeschooling extremism can be dangerous. Abuses in homeschooling families are so pervasive that a No Longer Quivering community has grown to support young people who are seeking escape and recovery. Cases of homeschooling abuse are documented at Homeschooling’s Invisible Children.
Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out explains that homeschooling is often used by abusive parents to cut off their children’s access to the world outside the home, and that few in the homeschooling movement work to ensure standards that protect children from these situations. The group writes, “The status quo of homeschool advocacy is advocacy on behalf on parental rights, against child protective services, and in favor of fundamentalist Christian agendas. Thus far no coordinated advocacy has been done on behalf of homeschooled children’s needs and rights and in favor of a healthy relationship between homeschooling communities and child protective services. There are no organizations offering education to homeschoolers on pressing issues like identifying child abuse and addressing mental illness, self-injury, and LGBT* students’ needs.”
It is possible for homeschooling to be an effective alternative to school-based education – for families that have enough resources to pull it off without relying to fundamentalist control freaks. Secular Homeschool is a web site that is building a network between families that want their children to learn outside of traditional classrooms without giving their children over to networks of religious indoctrination.
Of course, abuse can take place in any family, whether religious or secular. For the sake of all homeschooled children who are made vulnerable by withdrawal from the larger community, increased regulation for oversight and child protection that enable parents to retain the power to direct their children’s education, while making sure that abuse can be identified and quickly addressed, is urgently needed.
Americans have spent much of 2014 in outrage at the way that Russian military forces have interfered in Ukraine’s civil war.
Now, Americans have sent their own military to Iraq to interfere in Iraq’s civil war.
What’s the difference?
Peter Baker in the New York Times writes, “If Mr. Putin ultimately decides to send Russian armed forces across the border, analysts say he now has one more pretext. Just as Mr. Obama says he is trying to protect Yazidis and Kurds threatened by Sunni Muslim extremists, Mr. Putin may argue he wants to protect Russian speakers from Ukrainian fascists.”
In the Huffington Post, David Paul writes that, “sanctioning the redrawing of borders is a slippery slope and a remapping of Iraq could have cascading effects on Syria, Jordan, Iran and Turkey. And once the door is opened to the rewriting of borders, there may be unintended consequences beyond the Middle East. Before the ISIS insurgency captured the headlines, international attention focused on the conflict in Ukraine, where, like Iraq, a disgruntled minority was fighting to secede through armed revolt. One has to imagine that separatists in other regions are paying close attention to the outcome in Iraq, and to any American actions that would lend legitimacy to their own efforts to undermine internationally accepted borders.”
Daniel McAdams at the Ron Paul Institute writes that, “the US government has decided to bomb Iraq to address the humanitarian crisis that it caused in the first place. Meanwhile, US Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, warned Russia, as US humanitarian bombs fell on Iraq, that any further intervention in Ukraine, including under the pretense of delivering humanitarian aid, would be viewed as “an invasion of Ukraine.”
On Twitter, Birusk comments that “Just as Obama says he’s trying to protect #Yazidis, Putin may argue he wants to protect Russian speakers in #Ukraine”. Russian Market writes, “Now @AmbassadorPower says any humanitarian aid from Russia to Eastern Ukraine is INVASION, but US bombing Iraq with “humanitarian aid” is ok”. VKofSTEVASTOPOL tweets, “#US started airstrikes on IS 2 PROTECT US CITIZENS IN IRAQ & prevent genocide HOW ABOUT US BLOCKING #RUSSIA ATTEMPTING DO IT IN EAST UKRAINE”.