Thursday, January 20, 2005

End World Poverty OR Kill Sponge Bob – Focus on the Family’s James Dobson Speaks Out on the Critical Issue of our Time, Subversive Sponges!

I started this blog in an effort to explain conservative Christianity. I wanted to demystify it in a way that would break down barriers and end nasty stereo types of Conservative Evangelicals. I had this vision of telling everyone about the efforts and resources evangelicals pour into the world to help the poor and the sick and the needy. I was going to do this until I did some research on where conservative Christians really put their money and learned that they spend as much or more on politics in the US as they do on helping the poor. Its hard not to be cynical.

The truth is I spend hours with these folks every Sunday morning. They are nice, well educated and pleasant to be with. But for reasons I fail to understand they just fawn all over nut cases like James Dobson.

So, the Los Angeles Times ran a story on the UN’s Mellemnium project to end world poverty. That’s right, there is a plan in place to end extreme poverty in the world. I will post more on this later. But what does the Religious Right do? Do they jump at that chance to end world poverty? No, they have decided that the greatest threat to humanity is a poorly animated talking sponge! Are these people loopy? From CNN:

The wacky square yellow Sponge Bob is one of the stars of a music video due to be sent to 61,000 U.S. schools in March. The makers -- the nonprofit We Are Family Foundation -- say the video is designed to encourage tolerance and diversity.

Here’s what has the red staters upset:

The video is a remake of the 1979 hit song "We Are Family" using the voices and images of SpongeBob, Barney, Winnie the Pooh, Bob the Builder, the Rugrats and other TV cartoon characters. It was made by a foundation set up by songwriter Nile Rodgers after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, in an effort to promote healing.

Christian groups however have taken exception to the tolerance pledge on the foundation's Web site, which asks people to respect the sexual identity of others along with their abilities, beliefs, culture and race.

"Their inclusion of the reference to 'sexual identity" within their 'tolerance pledge' is not only unnecessary, but it crosses a moral line," James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, said in a statement released Thursday.

OK, attack Barney, knock the stuffing out of Winnie the Pooh and please do away with Rugrats but no one takes a shot at Sponge Bob and gets away with it! Dobson, you’re going down!

Just imagine, rather than wasting millions of dollars on feeding the hunger, clothing the naked or helping the poor, the things that annoying Jesus guy kept talking about, Dobson is putting his money where his mouth is. Yes, the formidable resources of the religious right are now focused on eliminating a cartoon sponge.

And you wonder how Bush won a second term?

Earth to Dobson and his followers, ask your doctor to up the voltage on your next shock treatment.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The "Salvador Option"

In one of the darkest episodes of American history then President Ronald Reagan funded nationalist death squads in El Salvador whose mission was to hunt down and kill rebel leaders. As we now know, the death squads expanded their killing spree beyond the assignations of rebel leaders and sympathizers and included church leaders, human rights workers and anyone who showed sympathy for the poor.

With the conflict in Iraq deteriorating and the Bush administration’s efforts yielding what is beginning to look like a failed state, the “Salvador Option” has reemerged. This is from Newsweek:

one Pentagon proposal would send Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria, according to military insiders familiar with the discussions. It remains unclear, however, whether this would be a policy of assassination or so-called "snatch" operations, in which the targets are sent to secret facilities for interrogation. The current thinking is that while U.S. Special Forces would lead operations in, say, Syria, activities inside Iraq itself would be carried out by Iraqi paramilitaries, officials tell NEWSWEEK.

If one can rationalize torture while positioning oneself as the keeper of “values” on behalf the Religious Right then murder and terror become logical next steps. Are torture and the “Salvador Option” merely “Faith Based” initiatives?

The Gonzales Confirmation – Rewarding Torture

I concur with Andrew Sullivan’s assessment that the January 16 editorial from the Washington Post on the Gonzales confirmation is a must read. Here are some excerps:

It is nevertheless indisputable that Mr. Gonzales oversaw and approved a decision to disregard the Geneva Conventions for detainees from Afghanistan; that he endorsed interrogation methods that military and FBI professionals regarded as illegal and improper; and that he supported the indefinite detention of both foreigners and Americans without due process. To confirm such an official as attorney general is to ratify decisions that are at odds with fundamental American values.

The editorial concludes:
According to the logic of the attorney general nominee, federal authorities could deprive American citizens of sleep, isolate them in cold cells while bombarding them with unpleasant noises and interrogate them 20 hours a day while the prisoners were naked and hooded, all without violating the Constitution. Senators who vote to ratify Mr. Gonzales's nomination will bear the responsibility of ratifying such views as legitimate.

Monday, January 17, 2005

The Religious Right, Silence and Torture – Others are Noticing

I have made several posts on the silence of the religious right on the issue of torture. For the most part I thought I was alone in noting the hypocrisy of the most outspoken moralists in American society, the Religious Right and politically conservative evangelicals, remaining silent on what may turn out to be the pivotal moral issue of our time, torture of prisoners by the Bush Administration. Well, it seems I am not alone, Dwight Welch of the Religious Liberal Blog has also noted the irony. Further Welche’s blog cites a story in the January 6, 2005 Washington Times, yes the paper owned by the Reverend Moon and the arch conservative Unification Church – even THEY noticed! Here are some snipped from the Washington Times :

Focus on the Family, however, has largely refrained from criticizing Gonzales' nomination as attorney general, only issuing a statement saying its members expected Gonzales to fight in court to save the federal ban on "partial-birth" abortions and to aggressively prosecute obscenity cases.

Another conservative religious group, the Christian Coalition of America, earlier called on its "activists to contact their United States Senators to urge them to vote to confirm Judge Alberto Gonzales as the new Attorney General. Left-wing groups are already forming a coalition to defeat this highly-qualified man to be America's top law enforcement officer."

The article concludes:

Everyone, it seems, has taken a stand on the torture issue, except for conservative religious groups, who spoke out with such genuine concern when the issue was abortion.

Where is Focus on the Family? Where, for that matter, is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops? The conference condemned torture but has been silent on the Gonzales nomination and whether he should give a full accounting of what went on.

Again, the silence from that front has been deafening.