Category Archives: Scare Tactics

The Religious Right Shouldn’t Be Able to Vote…

…for Trump based on their conscience.  Yes, admittedly clickbait, but, read below.

I’m not sure how those that believe in the 10 commandments can, in good conscience, vote for Trump.

Let’s look at the commandment “Thou shalt not bear false witness”

Let’s look at last night’s (2016/10/09) debate:

“I didn’t say sex tape”

“Grab them by the p*ssy”

In the debate, when pressed, he said he did not ever act out what he said he’d done in the recently leaked tape, and that it was just ‘locker room’ talk.  Personally, I think it’s more likely that he did do what he was saying, but taking him at his word, is locker room talk an excuse to lie?

He mentions Hillary Clinton proposes increasing refuges by 550% which will lead to ‘hundreds of thousands’ of new refugees.

While the 550% percent increase is true, proposing allowing 65,000 refugees in 2017, there is no additional allow statements made by Clinton, therefore, no ‘hundreds of thousands’.

“I don’t know Putin … I know nothing about Russia”

I got to know him very well because we were both on 60 Minutes, we were stablemates, and we did very well that night.”

He continued to say that he couldn’t release taxes because he’s being audited

“Nothing prevents individuals from sharing their own tax information,” the IRS said in a statement. This has been pointed out to him many times, but he continues to state the lie that he can’t release them.

“ICE just endorsed me. They’ve never endorsed a presidential candidate.”

They did not endorse him. A union of immigration and customs officers voted to endorse Trump.

“… we are letting people into this country that are going to cause problems and crime like you’ve never seen”

Apprehensions at the Southwest border, a proxy for attempted crossings, have dropped by 79 percent from the year 2000, which was the peak. Pew Research Center reports more Mexicans left the U.S. than entered between 2009 and 2014.

“I was against the war in Iraq”

When asked if he supported the war in Iraq, he said on Howard Stern’s show, “Yeah, I guess so. I wish the first time it was done correctly.”

I could go on and on and on.

How about “Thou shalt not commit adultery”

I want to be VERY clear on this.  While Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998, the Senate acquitted him…  While he has had a questionable past when it comes to adultery… He’s not running for President.  Does a person stand on their own merits? If you think so, then Hillary is not guilty of Bill’s crimes. If you think a person doesn’t stand on their own merits, then you have your own issues.

That said, Donald Trump has had confirmed mistresses, affairs, etc., and in fact has left previous wives and married the mistresses. This seems like an extremely large glass house that he’s attempting to throw stones from.

What about “Thou shalt not steal”?

He doesn’t pay taxes, as far as we can tell, and continues to claim he can’t provide proof until he’s done with his audits, which is 100% false, to the point that the IRS has said there is no issues with him releasing his tax documents.  Is not paying taxes not theft? He talks of deficits, which have been largely caused by tax loopholes for the top 1%, but continues to not pay taxes (as far as we can see). Another glass house?

Therefore, as a member of the religious right, do you really feel, in good conscience, that you can vote for an individual that so blatantly flaunts the commandments of the bible?

I haven’t ever said to someone “don’t vote” even when they disagree with me, but, perhaps a write in vote for your ideal candidate would better serve your conscience.

An Uncomfortable Condition

“Don’t you dare bail. I am so furious with people who leave This Church. I don’t know whether ‘furious’ is a good apostolic word. But I am. What on earth kind of conviction is that? What kind of patty-cake, taffy-pull experience is that? As if none of this ever mattered. As if nothing in our contemporary life mattered. As if this is all just supposed to be “just exactly the way I want it and answer every one of my questions and pursue this and occupy that and defy this – and then maybe I’ll be a Latter-Day Saint!?” Well, there’s too much Irish in me for that.”
Apostle Jeffery R. Holland (audio link)

Mr. Holland was not yet an apostle when I was a Conference watcher, so I don’t have much experience with him, but may I offer a brief riposte to the above tersely worded statement?

Dare to bail.  I am so joyous when someone grabs hold of truth, and facts, and reason.  To take the path they know is right, even in the face of difficulty.  I don’t know whether ‘joyous’ is a very good heathen word.  But what on Earth kind of conviction does that take?  What kind of fidelity to veracity?   To let your ability to reason and logic lead you into the unknown and unfamiliar?  Just as if this all is exactly the way it is supposed to be, with all it’s warts and problems, and that “I don’t know, but I will strive to learn more” is a perfectly acceptable answer to hard questions.  To admit that knowing something with your heart isn’t the best way to know anything, and that not knowing is far more honest.

Well, I suppose there’s just enough skepticism in me for that.

Bail on beliefs that can be shown to be false.

Bail on beliefs that cause more strife than they relieve.

Bail on organizations that promise hope and deliver pain.

Bail on leaders who command sacrifice and give none of themselves.

In the words of a man much wiser than I, “Believe as many true things and as few false things as possible.”

“Doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but certainty is a
ridiculous one.” – Voltair

Silent Subjugation

I’m a fat, white, American, male.

I’m white…which, thank God for that shit, boy. That is a huge leg up. Are you kidding me? Oh, God, I love being white. I really do. Seriously, if you’re not white, you’re missing out. Because this shit is thoroughly good. Let me be clear, by the way. I’m not saying that white people are better. I’m saying that being white is clearly better.” … “Now, if you’re white and you don’t admit that it’s great, you’re an asshole. – Louis C.K.

Louis C.K. is right. I wish he isn’t. Skin color is for another day though. For this I’m going to give my own quote and say “I’m male…which, thank God for that shit, boy.”  If I didn’t admit that being male was great, I’d be an asshole.

If we just simply look at gender (just male and female, not variations or identity), being born male is a ‘huge leg up.’

I’m not saying this because I believe there is really any reason for this to be the case, I’m saying this because of society’s and, arguably more-so, religion’s treatment of women.

Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. – 1 Timothy 2:11-12

In fact, I suggest reading all of 1 Corinthians 11, it’s horrible. Stuff about women being created for man, women being “of the man”, etc.

For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. – Ephesians 5:23-24

Talk about a power trip.

Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not so vile a thing. – Judges 19:24

How the Bible is any basis for morality is beyond me.   As the late Christopher Hitchens said, “religion poisons everything.”

These (and the many other) teachings don’t lead to morality, they lead to Donald Trump saying of Megyn Kelly “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”

They lead to college males saying “No Means Yes, Yes Means Anal!” and “My name is Jack, I’m a necrophiliac, I fuck dead women and fill them with my semen.”

If you don’t find those absolutely reprehensible, YOU are part of the problem. And, if you’ve ever said those, or similar phrases, with anything other than revulsion, then I suggest you get help. Maybe we should have women walking around with strap-ons saying “No Means Yes, Yes Means Pegging!” It’s only fair.

If you’re posting things on the Internet suggesting horrible things happen to women for some reason or another… you’re a terrible human being. You should know better, and I bet you do. Your anonymity gives you cover to be a male asshole. You know why you feel powerful?  You’re male.  You have no concept. You don’t have to suffer assholes like yourselves. You have no understanding of the fear that women feel because of male assholes.

They lead to attorney Keith Sullivan saying “Look, many women have what’s known as ‘regret sex,’” as a dismissal of rape.  He’s part of the problem. If you are of a same mind, you’re part of the problem. “Due to varying definitions of a “False Accusation”, the true percentage of false accusations remains unknown, but is assumed to be a very small minority of reports of sexual assault”  If you believe false accusation is a platform, you’re part of the problem.

They lead to Anna Duggar blaming herself for Josh’s cheating.  Want to know Josh’s mother’s top marriage tip for Anna? Saying yes whenever Josh wants sex. If you also think this is a good marriage tip, you’re part of the problem.

They lead to assholes putting women’s home addresses on the internet to cause fear and silence.  If you don’t think this is wrong, or worse, you think this is funny or justified, you’re part of the problem.

They lead to women atheists being told they deserve to be raped.  If you’ve ever thought that rape was justified, you’re part of the problem.

What a price for not having a Y chromosome.

So, I’m a fat, white, American, male. I don’t get my morals from religion. I don’t think my wife should put out anytime I want sex. I don’t say horrible things to women, online or offline.  I don’t wish rape on women.  I don’t post home addresses to shut up people that I disagree with.

If you’re part of the problem, perhaps its time to re-evaluate yourself. Follow the words of Wil Wheaton, “Don’t be a dick.” Male, or otherwise.

Religion, the blind taste test.

Pascal’s wager, which, in its simplified form is essentially, why not be a believer, to hedge your bets that non-belief can lead to consequences in the afterlife.  The biggest argument against this dilemma is, “what if you choose the wrong belief?”

There are many reasons people believe in a specific religion, among them are those in the lack of choice category (raised in it, state sanctioned religion, etc.), and those that are have/had a choice (study, through proselytizing, etc.).  For those in the first category, it is especially difficult for them to see any other belief as a valid religion, and for those in the second category, either it’s a situation of ‘right place at the right time’, or they have studied a set of choices and decided that one fits their position better than others.

This brings me to the point, or “the blind taste test.”  There is a similarity to blind taste tests done by companies like coke or pepsi.  In the case of being raised in a religion, you more often than not, don’t know better, nothing else has been tried.  In the case of choice, you’ve at least decided between more than one choice.  It’s still a blind taste test though, since, if for the sake of argument there is a god who is judging based on you being the right kind of believer, you might have chosen incorrectly.  And in this case, you have to wait all the way until the end to find out if your choice was the better choice.

I hear all sorts of reasons from believers as to why their choice is the correct one.  Nearly 100% of the reasons go back to doctrine (Bible, Koran, Torah, Book of Mormon, etc.) as their proof, yet those using the same texts, get a different taste test result, as an example Catholics and Baptists.  In fact, current estimates of different Christian religions are estimated in the range of 43,000.  In the case of Christian religious exclusivism, these are poor odds, even for Vegas.

Even if we just separate it down into the major players (Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam), you’re looking at 5 choices, which isn’t bad odds in Vegas, but when betting your afterlife, do you really want to get stuck with a 1 in 5 chance of consequences?  Based on current numbers, if the correct choice isn’t Christianity, then at least 31.5% of people are destined for afterlife consequences.

Are you sure your choice is correct?  Sure enough to bet your afterlife?

Oh well, at least the coke vs. pepsi taste test isn’t eternal.

We Have Found A Witch

“We did do the nose.  And the hat.  But she’s a witch !”
— Monty Python and The Holy Grail

Apparently, some LDS Bishops are on a witch hunt.  According to the latest Mormon Stories podcast, after not attending church for more than four years, Taylor Knuth-Bishop has been called before an LDS disciplinary council to face possible [likely] excommunication.  Taylor and his husband, Sean, were among those happy couples married, on-stage, by Queen Latifa at the Grammy Awards in 2014.

Taylor lives in New York, but recently moved back to Utah for the summer in order to help plan his sister’s wedding.  One night, while preparing dinner, the Bishop of the LDS ward he attended as a teenager called and asked to speak with him.  Taylor was informed that they intended to hold a disciplinary council based on his “choice” to marry Sean and the “lifestyle you have chosen.”

excommunicationIf God really wants to remove from Church membership, those of us who no longer believe and who live “lifestyles” that irritate The Almighty, He’d best get crackin’; there are millions of us.

As much as it doesn’t make sense to me that otherwise faithful people like The September Six or Kate Kelly are excommunicated for pointing out inconvenient facts, it makes even less sense to go after people who no longer really have any interest or affiliation with the LDS Church.  In fact, it seems very much like an old fashioned witch hunt – which stokes the fire, anger, hatred, and persecution complex of the still faithful and the expense of those deemed to be disposable.

According to Mormon Stories, at least two other couples have claimed that they now face disciplinary councils for the same reasons.

Taylor declined to attend his trial and, instead, sent this letter.

For this Valentines Day, would you martyr me?

News this past week included the excommunication of LDS church member John Dehlin, whose greatest crime, it appears, was voicing his questions in a snarky way.

If you want to read a very interesting read, you can view the press release here.

Most of the following is based on this release.

On the face of it, based on the letters Mr. Dehlin received from his leaders within the LDS church, it would appear that Mr. Dehlin was verbally bashing the teachings with phrases such as “would rather roll around in thumb tacks than ever teach or support that notion”, and “the probability that God exists is quite low.”

Another mentioned folly of Mr. Dehlin was that he was ordained over the internet to perform a marriage, which according to his accounts, he never did perform. He also offered to resign his ordination.

As I’ve thought this over, in the days since his excommunication, my personal thoughts are that he was really excommunicated because he was an outspoken supporter of marriage equality, and he also was a supporter of the ordain women movement.  Both of which have left the LDS church with black eyes.

While I’m sure some people think that his phrasing could have been better, he still maintained membership, still attended church, and still wanted to believe in God.  Personally, with the questions that he’s had, of which I’ve shared many, I’m incredibly surprised that he still wished to maintain membership, and to a greater extent that he wanted to believe in God.

The LDS church, at this point, had a great opportunity to embrace Mr. Dehlin.  They had the opportunity to nurture his desire to believe in God, and to attempt to answer, or at least help him come to terms.  They did not do this.  They acted instead as a bitter child would and punished him.

When he asked what he needed to do to maintain membership, he was not given clear answers.

Bryan King: I think you just need to go home and just need to really and sincerely search your heart and think and feel and discuss if this is a direction that you think you can do. If membership in this church is important to you, then I think you will feel the direction you need to go. And I think you’ll know. I really honestly think you’ll know. I don’t think it’s a matter of “oh well should I do this?”, “should I do that?” I honestly think that you will know.

What does that even mean?  This in a conversation between Mr. Dehlin and his leadership in the church concerning putting him on ‘probation.’  How is that even fair?  Would you say to your child, “among these 20 things you did, there were a handful of things that were wrong, I’m going to sort of touch on what was wrong, but when you ask specifics, I’m not going to give you an answer, BUT, you’d better not do it again!  I honestly think that you will know.”?

The mind boggles.  Wait, no it doesn’t.  In the world of religion, there is nothing if not contradictions in what to do, and what is right and wrong.

One particular gem, Mr. Dehlin, who is asking for clarification, and reaching out to his leadership, is getting non-answers, and in the following particular case, specifically given an answer because the stake president knows he’ll be called out:

John Dehlin: Right. And do you understand why someone would, would struggle with the historicity of the Book of Mormon?

Bryan King: Yes… yes. I do.

John Dehlin: Do you have any sympathies or empathies for someone in that position?

Bryan King: I do, in the sense that I hope that they would, they would try to gain a stronger association or testimony of it.

John Dehlin: That’s not sympathy or empathy with a position. That is a desire for them to change their position. But do you have sympathy or empathy for people who feel like there are serious historical problems with the Book of Mormon?

Bryan King: I do. Because if I don’t say that I do, then you’ll say that I’m not—so…

How can a leader give such non-answers, yet claim any sort of ability to discipline?

So, at the end of the day, leadership decided to excommunicate him from the church, stripping him of any of the benefits of membership.  Sure, he can still attend church, but when it comes to participation, he simply cannot.  And in a year or so, he can attempt to reapply, I’m sure with the caveat that he’s towed the line.

I believe this is a PR nightmare for the LDS church.  His voice, which was previously viewed as a member who had some serious doubts, and may have been poorly phrased, has now been validated.  The church, which claims to be a humanitarian organization, has shown its true colors.  If you aren’t in line, we won’t work with you.  We won’t take you in, in your time of spiritual distress.  We’ll kick you out.  They claim multiple times in the transcript that he has a ‘forum’, well, he certainly will now.

This comes on the heels of all the controversy over Prop 8 in California, and the excommunication of Ms. Kelly representing the Ordain Women movement, who wasn’t even given the honor of going to the stake level, but was excommunicated by her local bishop, simply because she’s a woman.  These events become much more public when the LDS church takes the ‘hard stance.’

Of course, it also could be that Mr. Dehlin was asking questions that there aren’t any good answers to.  In the information age, it’s hard to say that the Native Americans are the lost tribe of Israel when it is demonstrably false.  It’s hard to talk about steel weapons in a time when forging steel didn’t exist.  It’s hard to talk about horses on the North American continent before they were brought over from Europe.  All churches are at a point where they must adapt to survive, lest they lose people to evidence that is easily validated, thanks to readily available information.

Something that’s been interesting to me, among the people I know, those that are outraged the most by such this event are the atheists or non-religious.  Strange that we are upset by someone being forced from a religion.

You know, for a religion that claims so heavily that Joseph Smith was a martyr, it sure doesn’t seem to remember what that means anymore.

Pumpkin Spice Latte of DOOM!

I’m so very, very tired of the scare tactics used about GMO, FDA, Vaccines, corporations, etc., etc..

Here’s an example:

Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Scare Tactics

On the surface, it looks so very scary, using bold text to make sure that the scary bits are emphasized.

I’ll highlight a few of the more questionable parts.  “After really putting the pressure on, I was finally able to get the complete list, but it wasn’t easy” and “Case In Point: You’ll get 2 doses of Class IV Caramel Coloring” (the later is in absolutely huge text, because we can’t simply read, we have to be beaten over the head with the scariness).

Then there’s a nice picture that has a series of bullet points, using scary terms like “made with ammonia and considered a carcinogen”, and my personal favorite “Ambiguous Natural Flavors that can be made from anything found on earth”.

It goes on and on, and continues to add more and more scary language and references.

The issue here is this… Most of this is just hyperbole to enhance your fear.  There are many a logical fallacy at issue here.

Let’s take a look at the snopes breakdown of this, what I’m now terming the pumpkin spice latte of doom, because I’m scared of it now.

Snopes take on the pumpkin latte of doom

Note that, right off the bat the ingredients are readily available, and in fact you can do a build-your-own style nutrition count, letting you put in size, milk (or non-milk) type, and whipped or non-whipped cream.  This seems to fly right in the face of the claims of this so-called foodbabe.

Not addressed in the snopes article are claims like the “made from anything found on earth,” and I, for one, couldn’t be more scared!  Perhaps there is some sort of controlling body that could protect us from them flavoring our beverage with arsenic and dog feces!  Who will protect us from the addition of lead?  Oh, wait, I remember now, the FDA.  Food products must be verifiably tested to be safe for human consumption, you can’t simply make something out of “anything found on earth”.

Now, just fair warning, I heard from an starbucks ex-employee’s cousin’s friend that if you don’t drink a vegan soy chai from starbucks, you’ll get goiters!  Be afraid! Be very afraid!