be not as the hypocrites are

Well, ain’t this America. Today SCOTUS will hear arguments in one of the stupidest religious rights cases in recent memory. A high school football coach from Bremerton, WA, Joseph Kennedy, insists that at the end of a game he has the right to kneel and say a prayer–with student players gathered around him–on the 50-yard line.

The school told him, “Dude, you can’t do that.” Coach Kennedy said, “Sure I can. I’m a veteran.” The school said, “Seriously, dude, you can’t. It’s a school event. It would be like the school’s endorsing your religion.” Coach said, “I got me the right to religion.” The school said, “Yeah, but not on the school’s dime. Besides, there are players on the team who don’t want to pray with you but feel pressured to do it anyway, and that ain’t right.” Coach said, “I’m being persecuted for being a Christian.” The school sighed and said, “No, you’re not. You can pray quietly all you want, but you can’t make a huge display of it, so just stop.” Coach said, “Nope, not gonna stop.” School said, “Sorry, coach, take a seat, you’re on leave.” Coach said, “I’ll sue.” School said, “Okay.”

And here we are. Every lower court agreed with the school, which was perfectly in keeping with precedent. But now we have TrumpScotus, which has shown little regard for legal precedent. So the coach may actually have a shot at getting approval for his performative aggressive Christianity.

As I’ve said many times before, I’m not a Christian. But I think as religions go, New Testament Christianity has some pretty solid ideas (but I have to say, Old Testament Christianity is pretty fucking scary). The problem isn’t Christianity. The problem is Christians who claim to practice Christianity but don’t. Coach Kennedy, for example. Here’s what the coach says:

“I fought and defended the Constitution, and the thought of leaving the field of battle where the guys just played and having to go and hide my faith because it was uncomfortable to somebody — that’s just not America.”

Dude, that’s totally America. First off, it’s a damned football game–a game, not the field of battle. Second, you don’t have to hide your faith, you just can’t make a public display of it while you’re acting as a representative of the school. Third, why do you want to make some folks uncomfortable? And fourth, the Bible its ownself says you shouldn’t be making a public display of your prayer.

Jesus and Matthew having a quiet chat.

That’s right. First book of the New Testament, Matthew basically tells folks not to be a dick about praying.

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

Okay, that’s the King James version. I prefer KJV on account of I like the way it rumbles. But all of the more modern versions say the same thing. Don’t be a hypocrite, pray quietly and privately. If there’s a god (okay, this is me speaking, not Matthew), they’ll hear you even if you’re not on the 50 yard line. Also? It’s shameful that a non-Christian has to remind Christians what the Bible says.

But this isn’t about the Bible. It’s about the law. It’s about the Constitution of the United States. And it’s about how Comrade Trump (with the willing help of the GOP Senate) damaged SCOTUS by seating Justices who casually ignore precedent when they disagree with it. In any ordinary SCOTUS, this case wouldn’t merit an argument; with TrumpSCOTUS, it may actually prevail.

why i’m not in the cabal

Yeah, I’m starting to seriously doubt that Rev. Rick Wiles is a reliable source of news and information. I began to get suspicious back in July of 2018, when Reverend Rick predicted that Anderson Cooper and Rachel Maddow were going to stage a coup d’état against the Trump administration. He said,

“[Y]ou’re going to turn on the television and see helicopters hovering over the roof of the White House with men clad in black rappelling down ropes, entering into the White House. Be prepared for a shootout in the White House as Secret Service agents shoot commandos coming in to arrest President Trump. That is how close we are to a revolution. Be prepared for a mob—a leftist mob—to tear down the gates, the fence at the White House and to go into the White House and to drag him out with his family and decapitate them on the lawn of the White House.”

It’s not that I wanted to see Trump and his family decapitated on the White House lawn (or anywhere else, for that matter–I am passionately anti-decapitation), but I thought ninjas rappelling from helos onto the roof of the White House on live television…well, people keep saying there’s nothing good on the teevee these days. I’m just saying, that would draw an audience, is all.

Rev. Rick Wiles, not nuts at all, really.

Anyway, that didn’t happen. So naturally I became a tad concerned about Rev. Rick’s information. BUT THEN…YouTube banned his TruNews channel. You guys, they banned it just before the 2020 election. Is that suspicious, or what? I mean, Donald J. Trump, the Once and Future President, had given Rev. Rick White House press credentials. They just don’t hand those out like MDMA at a party. They just totally upped and banned him, just on account of they didn’t like his opinion on what would happen in the totally unlikely event that Trump lost the election. Which was,

“There are people in this country, veterans, cowboys, mountain men, guys that know how to fight, and they’re going to make a decision that the people that did this to Donald Trump are not going to get away with it and they’re going to hunt them down.”

It is well-established fact that mountain men and cowboys WILL NOT TOLERATE that sort of behavior. Or at least I assumed it was well-established…but I guess not. I haven’t seen a single cowboy or mountain man so much as make a mean face at Uncle Joe Biden. So once again, I wondered if we could really truly count on Rev. Rick to tell us what to think and believe.

Then he spoke out against the Chinese Communist Party Covid Flu. He said, right out loud, that the Covid was God’s punishment to Jews for opposing Jesus Christ. Okay, Rev. Rick wasn’t completely clear on God’s motive in working hand-in-hand with Chinese communists, but who are we to question what God does on His Holy Days Off? But guess what? After speaking out against the Covid, Rev. Rick CAUGHT the Covid.

Coincidence? I think not. But Rev. Rick prayed about it, and Jesus totally healed him. So he knows what he’s talking about when he says the Covid vaccines are part of a global conspiracy to commit genocide against Christians. In his most recent statement, Rev. Rick said,

“This is a global coup d’état by the most evil cabal on the planet in the history of mankind, and if it not stopped in the very near future they will win. That’s what’s at stake, control of the world.The planting…they’re putting eggs in people’s bodies…. it’s an egg that hatches into a synthetic parasite, and grows inside your body. This is like a sci-fi nightmare, and it’s happening in front of us.”

Eggs! In people’s bodies! And those eggs? Rev. Rick says they’re just hatching weensy teensy little synthetic parasites like crazy. And do you have ANY IDEA what those synthetic parasites will DO TO YOUR BODY? DO YOU???!!! Something bad, is what they’ll do. You can count on it. Nothing good every comes out of a synthetic parasite hatching from an egg in your body.

Now, Rev. Rick isn’t saying this is what comes from vaccines, but he’s not ruling it out.

Now, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably a wee bit uncertain about the basic science behind planting eggs in human bodies through a vaccine. You may be asking why, if God and the Chinese Communist Party got together to create the Covid, they’d also cooperate to create a vaccine that would actually implant an egg designed to hatch into a synthetic parasite? The answer is obvious, once you start thinking rationally. It’s NOT a real vaccine designed to fight a real pandemic. It’s a fake vaccine to pretend to fight a fake pandemic.

See the logic? They invented the fake pandemic to create a demand for the fake vaccine, and once the eggs in the vaccine hatch into synthetic parasites, then….then…I don’t know, something. Surely, something will happen, right?

This is probably why God and the Chinese Commies didn’t include me in their cabal.

it’s going to be awful

It’s going to be awful for women and girls. It’s going to be awful for almost everybody, but the return of a Taliban ‘government’ in Afghanistan is going to be particularly and singularly awful for women and girls. And it’s going to become awful for them really quick. We’ll see a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan before the end of the year.

It was probably inevitable, given that every foreign entity that’s tried to invade/rule Afghanistan has failed. It’s not because the Taliban are a superior military force; it’s because of 1700 years of Pashtunwalie warrior culture and tradition. They know they don’t have to win a war. They just have to keep fighting and eventually their foreign enemies will leave. Five years, ten years, twenty years–doesn’t matter. Ultimately, they’ll get tired and leave.

The problem for women and girls in Afghanistan is that the Pashtunwali culture–the norms and values that makes the men such dedicated warriors–is also deeply misogynistic. We’re talking about a pre-Islamic tribal code of conduct–a way of life that persisted even as Islam became the accepted religion. Regional tribal groups violently resisted any attempt to organize them into a nation. It wasn’t until the 1880s, when Abd al-Raḥmān Khān became the Emir, that Afghanistan had an actual centralized government. It was Abd al-Raḥmān who made Islam the national religion. But it’s important to understand that Islam is layered over Pashtunwali culture–and 1700 years of tradition, that shit’s hard to break.

We’re going to see a return of gender apartheid in Afghanistan (not that it’s ever completely left). Women and girls over eight years old will have their mobility severely restricted; they won’t be allowed in public unless accompanied by a man who is either their husband, a blood relative, or an in-law. In public they’ll be required to wear some form of full-body covering (“the face of a woman is a source of corruption”), and they’ll be required to be quiet or soft-spoken (“no stranger should hear a woman’s voice”). At home, windows at street level will be painted over or screened to prevent women from being visible from the street; women may even be banned from standing on second story balconies. Medical care for women will be sketchy at best; male doctors are generally prevented from treating women patients and women doctors are actively discouraged from practicing medicine. And, of course, women and girls will be discouraged–or actively forbidden–from receiving education. It’s going to be awful for women and girls in so many ways.

I should note that some women freely choose to cover themselves. We see it in Western cultures as well. There are valid reasons for that choice. The problem is never how women choose to dress; the problem is having a patriarchal society deciding how women are allowed to dress.

Let me say it again, because this is something that can’t be glossed over. When the Taliban takes over, it’s going to be completely fucking awful for women and girls in Afghanistan. We have to face that reality, as ugly as it is. But we also have to consider a response. How do you change 1700 years of tradition and culture?

This isn’t about Islam. All religions have conservative branches, and all conservative branches tend to impose restrictions women and girls. The more conservative, the more restrictive. Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism–it doesn’t matter. But if we (and by ‘we’ I mean specifically the US and generally all of Western society) want to improve the lives of women and girls in Afghanistan–and if we want that improvement to endure–I believe we have to work within the bounds of organized religion. Sadly, religious change is almost never quick.

First, we need to fund Islamic NGOs to help provide health care for women and girls who live under purdah. But if we want to see systemic improvement in the lives of women and girls in Afghanistan, we need to address issues within religion. I suggest we need to encourage moderate madrassas–to fund and encourage moderate imams to open Islamic schools in Afghanistan in order to teach a slightly less misogynistic form of Islam. As moderate forms of Islam take root, then more liberal, women-centric practices can gradually be introduced. I’m not a fan of incrementalism, but perhaps feminism-creep–a slow, steady expansion of the rights and freedoms of women and girls–is the most practical approach.

The Afghan Girls Robotic Team

I hate saying that. I fucking hate it. I hate it because it means writing off this generation of Afghan girls and women as lost. It means accepting that the lives of the next generation will likely be only somewhat less awful. But looking at the long, bloody history of that region, I can’t think of any other way to begin creating a better life for Afghan women.

I find myself thinking about the Afghan Girls Robotic Team. Seven teen-aged girls from Herat, they developed a solar-powered robot that could help farmers with seeding; in response to the pandemic, they built a prototype ventilator from parts of an old Toyota Corolla. And they did that during a war, under circumstances that were already restrictive to girls. Think what girls like this could do in a society that actively encouraged them. What’s going to happen to them when the Taliban take over?

It’s almost too awful to think about. Which is why we need to think about it.

modesty masks and other thoughts

Some of my best friends are Christians. They’re good people; mostly honest, mostly friendly, usually willing to be helpful, relatively clean. They don’t cause much trouble. Terrible dancers, but basically good people. So I am embarrassed for them when some other Christians–people they don’t even know–do something really stupid.

It’s like if you’re a Red Sox fan and you see somebody wearing a Red Sox cap on television and you think, “Hey, fellow Red Sox fan, probably a good person” and then that Red Sox fan does something stupid or wicked–uses a racial slur, maybe, or praises Comrade Trump’s intellectual achievements, or wears black socks with sandals–and suddenly you’re embarrassed for all Red Sox fans because that one asshole has called the integrity and decency of every Red Sox fan into disrepute. Same thing.

Anyway, I came across this in the news:

“[A] Catholic elementary school – Lansing-based Resurrection School – which contends that any state mandate that children age five and older wear a mask in classrooms is unconstitutional. The school says such a rule would violate ‘sincerely held religious beliefs”’ because they say humans were made in the image of God, and masks shield that image from being seen.”

If you’re anything like me (and I’m not sure how I want you to answer that) you had two almost immediate thoughts. Thought 1: That’s really fucking stupid. Thought 2: Five bucks says that school has a dress code based on modesty. And hey, bingo, guess what.

There it is. Girls MUST wear opaque tights, ankle length leggings, or modesty shorts underneath at ALL times. I guess because the legs and ankles of girls weren’t made in the image of god? I don’t believe in god, so who am I to say–but I have a hard time believing an omniscient omnipresent god would want everybody to see your nose and lips, but gets coy when it comes to a girl’s ankles.

At this point I had another thought. Thought 3: what the hell are modesty shorts? Which was quickly followed by Thought 4: Am I really going to google ‘girls modesty shorts’? Which led immediately to Thought 5: Probably the people who think girls need to wear modesty shorts are the types of people who’d google ‘girls modesty shorts’.

Reader, I googled ‘girls modesty shorts’. For research. And I felt a tad creepy. Because let’s face it–the only reason to be concerned with modesty is if you’re having immodest thoughts. Otherwise modesty shorts are just shorts.

But that led me to Thought 6: Maybe we could call the masks ‘modesty masks’ and the school would be okay with it. Or maybe the school would let kids wear modesty shorts over their heads instead of masks. But no, probably not.

In the end, I came back to a thought I’ve been nurturing for a long time. Thought 7: Burn the patriarchy. Burn it to the ground, Burn it to the ground and collect the ashes, and grind them into powder. Bury the powder deep in the earth, and salt the ground above it so nothing will ever grow there. Pour cement over the salt. Then nuke the entire site from orbit (it’s the only way to be sure).

Also? Thought 8: Christians, don’t let these venal anti-science fuckwits be the voice of your religious beliefs. I don’t believe in god and I’m not a Christian, but y’all have something really solid in that whole “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” business. Love your neighbor, encourage them to wear masks for their health as well as your own, don’t waste any time thinking about what’s under the skirts of girls, and really–burn the patriarchy.

the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet

Here is today’s lesson: if you elect stupid Christians, you get stupid Christianity.

Okay, let’s get this out of the way first. This is NOT an attack on Christianity or Christians or religion of any sort. It’s not an attack on Jesus or Jeebus. It’s an attack on stupidity. It’s an attack on insulting the intelligence of the American people. It’s an attack on religious gaslighting. It’s an attack on religious arrogance. But mostly stupidity.

I’m talking about Cindy Hyde-Smith, one of the US Senators (oh my fucking god she’s a Senator) from Mississippi. Yesterday, in an actual real Senate hearing on voter rights, she sorta kinda semi-quoted the Bible to defend legislation in Georgia–a state that is NOT Mississippi–that restricts early voting on Sundays. She held up a dollar bill and said (and I swear, I am NOT making this up) the following:

You know, this is our currency, this is a dollar bill. This says, ‘The United States of America, in God we trust.’ Etched in stone in the U.S. Senate chamber is ‘in God we trust.’ When you swore in all of these witnesses, the last thing you said to them in your instructions was ‘so help you God.’ In God’s word in Exodus 20:18, it says ‘remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.’

Okay, where to start? Let’s start with this: What the fuck? She’s not saying people shouldn’t be allowed to vote on Sundays because of US currency–which would be galactically stupid. Nope, she’s saying people shouldn’t be allowed to vote on Sundays because of her Christian religion–which is only massively stupid. Is she aware that not all voters are Christian? Maybe? Maybe not? Either way, this is stupid.

Next, let’s look at what Exodus 20:18 actually says, which is this:

And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.

Thunderings, lightnings, noise. All of which is oddly appropriate. The thing is, Senator (I still can’t believe somebody this stupid is an actual Senator) Hyde-Smith made an simple, understandable mistake. She actually quoted Exodus 20:8, which does, in fact, say: Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Of course, she left a bit out. It goes on to say more than that. It also says this:

Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates.

Any work. Thou shalt not do any work. Thou and everybody else. No work. No stores or shops open, no restaurants, no taverns, no Walmart, no spa or gym, no movie theaters, no Waffle House, nothing is open. Nobody doing chores. Nobody working the fields. Nobody tidying up at home, nobody doing laundry, nobody cooking or doing dishes. Six days shalt thou labor, and do ALL thy work, but on the seventh day you do fuck all. Just sit around praying and generally being holy.

Senator (it hurts me to call her that) Hyde-Smith may not be aware of this, but her own state of Mississippi is open for business on Sundays. It’s hard to justify forbidding people from voting on Sunday, but allowing them to buy mufflers and eat waffles and watch movies. There’s a flaw in that reasoning.

But also, there’s this: the book of Exodus, which is the second book of the Torah, was almost certainly written around the 5th century BCE. What does BCE stand for? That’s right. Before the Common Era. Before Jesus. The Sabbath mentioned in Exodus? The Sabbath Senator (Jesus suffering fuck, how can she be a Senator?) Hyde-Smith is referring to? That’s not the Christian Sabbath; it’s the Jewish Sabbath. We’re talking Friday evening to Saturday evening, not Sunday.

Finally, there’s this: Senator (really, how is that possible?) Hyde-Smith and her comrades in the GOP are blatantly gaslighting. They’re not interested in protecting the Sabbath. They’re only interested in protecting the GOP from people who want to vote. Mostly, that means they want to protect the GOP from Black people. And Democrats.

Instead of advocating popular policies that will make people want to vote for Republicans, they’ve chosen to find ways to discourage people from voting for Democrats. And what have the people done in response? Having seen the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off from the GOP. And told them to go fuck themselves. Amen.

trump and getting to heaven

I hear this a lot. I mean, really a lot. “I really don’t understand this thing Christians have for Donald Trump. How can they support this guy? It doesn’t make sense.”

The thing is, it sorta kinda does make sense. At least it makes a sort of sense for a couple of different kinds of Christians. The thing is, when most of us think of Christians we think of folks who are trying to live by the principles laid down by Jesus. You know, love one another, judge not, forgive others who have wronged you, the truth shall set you free, the meek shall inherit, all that. Those Christians would have a really hard time supporting a sociopathic serial liar like Donald Trump.

But there are a lot of other sorts of Christians who have different priorities, and those priorities make it possible — even necessary — for them to support a guy like Trump. For example, abortion absolutists. If the main (or only) issue you’re concerned about is overturning Roe v. Wade, then Comrade Trump is your guy. He’s said many times he’ll only nominate appellate court judges who are opposed to Roe, so there’s that.

Worst petting zoo ever.

Personally, I don’t think Donald Trump cares about abortion one way or another. I’d be willing to bet my paycheck (if I had a paycheck) that he’s coughed up some coin to put an end to more than a few unwelcome pregnancies. But if ending abortion gets him applause and support (and money), then he’ll be willing to say he’s against abortion. It’s not religious or philosophical for him; it’s transactional. Still, these Christians will pray for him.

There’s another reason some Christians support Trump. They believe the End Times are just around the corner and it’s time to start making plans for The Rapture. Just a week ago, Pat Robertson, the televangelist, revealed to his audience that god told him “Donald Trump will be reelected…and his reelection will bring about start of the End Times.” These Christians see that as good news. They believe a whole bunch of stuff has to happen before Jesus returns and kicks Evil to the curb. First up, dead true believers will be resurrected, then the living true believers and the resurrected dead will rise up bodily to the clouds to meet god and Jesus. While all this cloud-based business is happening, everything on Earth is going Oh Shit. We’re talking war and calamities and all manner of horrible stuff. Then after a period of time, everybody who was raptured away will get to return to Earth like Jesus’ sidekicks and destroy Evil. I may have gotten some that wrong, and the chronology might be a tad off. But there are a LOT of different interpretations about what’s supposed to happen…but my point, if you can call it that, is that IF you believe somebody like Trump is necessary in order to get to that returning-with-Jesus-to-kick-Evil’s-ass moment, then you’d be all ‘Yay, Trump!’

Farmers and shepherds getting raptured away, and sinners getting stuck with the resulting mess.

So there you go. That’s why some Christians continue to support Comrade Trump. They’re either all about the fetus or they’re working on an appointment with Jesus in the clouds. Or else they’re just racist, women-hating assholes who call themselves Christians.

The thing is, these Christians may not give a rat’s ass about you or your values or your beliefs, but they vote. And they’ll vote for Trump. So unless you want to see forced pregnancies and/or everything on Earth going Oh Shit while some Christians have tea with Jesus in the clouds, you need to vote too.

DISCLAIMER: I’m not a Christian, though I was raised as a sort of half-assed Southern Baptist with a little Lutheran side-eye. Just so you know.

i stand with oreo-eating lesbians

I’m not what you’d call an Oreo cookie fan. As commercial cookies go, they’re okay. I buy Oreos maybe once or twice a year. I’ll be noodling through the market and I’ll see a display of some new ‘Limited Edition’ flavor of Oreo. Lemon Meringue Oreos, Red Velvet Oreos, Chocolate & Peanut Butter Oreos, Tiramisu Oreos, Carrot Cake Oreos, Mint Oreos. And I’ll say to myself, “What the hell is that about?” and buy a package. Because why the hell not?

Today, I’ll go buy some Oreos deliberately. Well, maybe not today. I mean, it’s Saturday and the market will probably be busy. I prefer to do my grocery shopping during the week, when all the decent employed people are at work. So let’s say Monday. On Monday I’ll go buy some Oreos. Rainbow Oreos, if they have them. Why?

Because of OneMillionMoms (which I’m just going to call OMM because it’s easier). OMM is a division of the American Family Association, which describes itself as “a Christian organization promoting the biblical ethic of decency in American society with primary emphasis on television and other media.” OMM says its goal is “to stop the exploitation of our children, especially by the entertainment media (TV, music, movies, etc.).”

Let me just say upfront that I wasn’t entirely sure what a ‘biblical ethic of decency’ means. So I Googled it and was directed to a Bible verse. Matthew 22:39, which I also Googled. It’s about the second of two commandments on which ‘hang all the law and the prophets’. The first is about loving god. Here’s the second (in the King James version, which I think rumbles so much better than any of the newer versions):

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

That seems like a pretty solid foundation for decency. But what does that have to do with Oreo cookies? OMM and AFA are organizing a boycott of Oreos cookies because the company that makes them are “attempting to normalize the LGBTQ lifestyle.” How? By “using their commercials, such as the most recent Oreo ad featuring a lesbian couple, to brainwash children and adults alike by desensitizing audiences.”

I don’t watch much commercial television, so I was completely unfamiliar with an advert that featured Oreo-loving lesbians. But my interest was definitely piqued. This is how OMM describes the advert:

The ad has a daughter going home to see her family and brings her lesbian lover with her. The commercial focuses on the mother approving of her daughter’s girlfriend, but the father is hesitant and has reservations. He later has a change of heart and even displays his acceptance of her lifestyle by painting his picket fence in rainbow colors to further show his approval. The advertisement ends with: “A loving world starts with a loving home.”

Well, that sounded okay to me. I mean, it’s all about family and acceptance and a loving home, right? But according to OMM, “It is obvious they are going after our children.” So I figured I should probably track down the actual advert and watch it. I didn’t want to unfairly decide that OneMillionMoms were homophobic assholes without seeing the advert. Besides, I figured Oreo-loving lesbians would be good television.

Here’s the actual brainwashing commercial:

I didn’t see any children in the commercial. I barely saw any Oreos. I guess we’re supposed to assume the Oreo-based brainwashing took place prior to the events in the advert. I guess we’re supposed to be interpreting the relationship between the two young women and the parents as some form of post-Oreo trauma. It’s not clear.

What IS clear, though, is OMM’s belief that LGBTQ people are somehow fundamentally wrong and shouldn’t be tolerated. Their point seems to be that parents shouldn’t accept their LBGTQ children, even if the children are young adults who are making an effort to be accepted. Their point seems to be that buying Oreo cookies is putting children and young adults at risk of…of being accepted? At risk of being loved by their parents?

I don’t know. Maybe I’m missing something. But this isn’t the first time right-wing Christians have boycotted Oreos. I wrote about this almost exactly eight years ago, during the Great Hydrox Cookie Rebellion of 2012, when right-wing Christian groups tried to bring Oreo to its metaphorical knees by boycotting their cookies.

In their defense, if we’d listened to right-wing Christian groups back in 2012, we wouldn’t be subjects to Maple Creme Oreos. Or Gingerbread Oreos. Or Pumpkin Spice Oreos (which I’m inclined to agree is an abomination in the eyes of the gods).

I’m not convinced that buying Oreos as an expression of LGBTQ support is any less stupid than refusing to buy them as a form of homphobia. But I’m going to buy them anyway. I’m okay with being stupid in a good cause. And I firmly believe that being stupid WITH cookies is better than being stupid WITHOUT cookies. Even if they’re store-bought corporate cookies like Oreos.

I’m here to say I’ll even eat a goddamn Pumpkin Spice Oreo in support of any parent who loves their child without reservation, who believes a loving world begins with a loving home. I stand with Oreo-eating lesbians. And their parents.

the lord knoweth them that are his

If you’re anything like me (and yeah, the odds are against it), when you hear people like Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne of the River Tampa Bay Church in Florida, you almost immediately think of Arnaud Amalric, the Abbot of Cîteaux.

Since you’re probably not like me, you’re probably thinking, “Greg, old sock, these names are completely unfamiliar to me. Who, pray tell, are these people?” First, stop calling me ‘old sock’. Second, they’re both what I like to call ‘providentialist fuckwits’. True, they’re separated by about 830 years, but they share some astonishingly stupid approaches to their religious practices.

Here’s Pastor Rodney just a few days ago:

“If you cannot be saved in church, you in serious trouble. I’ve got news for you, this church will never close. The only time the church is closed is when the Rapture is taking place. If you don’t believe God, and trust God, you will not make it in the days coming. God will protect our people. And if you die to be with Jesus, so what’s the problem?”

This is some seriously old school providentialism that…wait, some of you might be thinking, “Greg, old sock, what do you mean by ‘providentialism’?” Okay, we’ve already discussed the ‘old sock’ issue. Providentialism is the belief that all events on Earth, including the fates of individuals and/or nations, are determined by god, who will take care of the true believers, obv.

This is Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne, providentialist fuckwit.

Basically, in its purest and most idiotic form, it’s an abdication of personal responsibility. ‘If I get sick and die, that’s god’s will. If I expose a few dozen other people who get sick and die, that’s up to god. It’s not me but god, who is responsible for everything that happens. God will sort it out.’

And that brings me to Abbot Arnaud Amalic, who was a big hat in the Albigensian Crusade. In the summer of 1209, our boy Arnaud had led his crusader army to the town of Béziers, which was considered a stronghold of the Cathars. He…okay, okay, now you’re probably thinking, “Whoa, Greg old so…uh, what is this albiwhatsit crusade and who or what are Cathars?”

The guy on the left with the halo? That’s Abbot Arnaud Amalric, providentialist fuckwit. I’m not saying there’s a family resemblance to Pastor Rodney, but….

Yeah, good questions. Understand, this is a really quick and dirty explanation of a really complex and fascinating sociological thingy. With that warning in mind, Cathars were a religious sect, many of whom lived in the town of Albi, which is why they were called Albigensians. The Cathars were vegetarian Christians who believed in reincarnation, gender equality, and non-procreative sex (basically any form of sexual activity that wouldn’t lead to pregnancy — yeah, that’s right, any form). They also thought the pope was corrupt as fuck (SPOILER: despite taking the name Innocent III, he was really pretty corrupt). None of that was acceptable to the Church. The pope decided the Cathars were NOT Christians at all, and therefore they had to be converted. Or killed. Pick one.

Remember, from about 1099 to 1272, Christian Europe did a LOT of crusading. This involved traveling a couple of thousand miles to the Middle East in order to kill non-Christians and take their property. A crusade against non-Christians in the south of France was a LOT easier, a lot more time-effective, you didn’t have to deal with all that foreign food, and you still got to kill folks and take their stuff. That made this a very very popular crusade.

Right, back to our boy Arnaud Amalric. He took his crusader army from northern France into southern France, stopping at the town of Béziers. Another tangent: this wasn’t an army in the way we think of armies today. Crusader armies were largely led by knights (privileged guys who expected to get richer through plunder), but the bulk of the fighting was done by peasant foot soldiers (who expected to get some of the riches the knights missed) and mercenary bands (who expected to get paid by the Church and also get rich from plundering), as well as a contingent of religious pilgrims who just wanted the chance to kill non-Christians (and maybe pick up some extra coin while they were at it).

Christian v. Cathars (The guys doing all the stabbing? They’re the Christians.)

So Arnaud’s boys pull up to Béziers, which basically locked their doors (which they could do since the city was behind walls). Arnaud began to set up a siege. Some townsfolk decided to slide out of the city and whack a few mercenaries before the siege was firmly established. Big mistake. The mercenaries not only whacked the townsfolk, they were able to get in the gate. Where they started killing folks.

Siege warfare at that time was pretty routine. You pick away at the walls until you can send in some mercenaries and foot soldiers and peasants to get gloriously slaughtered while opening a gate or a big enough breach in the wall. Then the knights come flouncing in on their horses, allow the people of the town to get semi-slaughtered until the mercenaries reached the part of town where the richest folks lived. Then the knights would move in, stop the slaughter and the plundering, and take the best stuff. Like Jesus intended.

But in Béziers, the knights were still sitting in their tents drinking wine when the mercenaries broke into the city and started the slaughtering and plundering. Somebody found our boy Arnaud and said, “Dude, they’re killing everybody in town, Christians and Cathars alike, women and children, everybody, what do we do?” There’s some dispute whether the concern was about the slaughtering or about the fact that the peasants and mercenaries were getting all the best plunder. In any event, Arnaud is reported to have said this:

“Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.”

This often gets translated as “Kill them all, let god sort them out.” A more accurate translation is, “Kill them. For the Lord knows those that are his own.” The more accurate translation is important, because it cites the Bible (Paul’s second epistle to Timothy) as the source for the killing.

“[T]he foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.”

In the end, Arnaud wrote to the pope to let him know they’d taken Béziers. He wrote, “Our men spared no one, irrespective of rank, sex or age, and put to the sword almost twenty thousand people. After this great slaughter the whole city was despoiled and burnt.” But hey, we all make mistakes, and surely god knew which of those twenty thousand were good Christians. So there’s that.

“The Lord knoweth them that are his.”

Basically Arnaud’s take on the situation was largely the same as Pastor Rodney’s. “If you die to be with Jesus, what’s the problem?” Of course, it sounds more sober and religious if you say it in Latin. Si morietur cum ad Jesum, quid est forsit?

The problem, of course, is there are folks who’d just as soon not die. They’d prefer to have a choice in the matter. They’d rather not be put to the sword or infected with a disease simply because some folks believe god will take care of everything in the end, and everybody will get what they deserve.

Let me be clear about this. I have no beef with religion as a social institution. A lot of folks find comfort and solace in their beliefs. Ain’t nothing wrong with that. But I do have a problem with the sort of religious stupidity that puts folks with a different belief system at risk because believers think in the end god will take care of his own team.

I think it’s perfectly reasonable to tell those providentialist fuckwits to go fuck themselves. That would probably sound better in Latin.