Department Of This Should Not Come As A Surprise
“Recent polling shows that 39% of Americans believe that the election that just occurred was rigged… You may not agree with that assessment, but it is nonetheless a reality for nearly half the country.”
(Senator Ted Cruz, 1-6-21)
“In other words, ‘We have no proof the election was stolen, and you may have verifiable evidence that it wasn’t, but that doesn’t matter. It only matters that we believe it.’
And that’s when you’re at religion: that you have to respect something just because people believe it. Does that include professional wrestling?”
( Comedian Bill Maher on Real Time With Bill Maher, re the remarks of Senator Cruz )
The fact that many evangelical/conservative Christians believe and promote QAnon conspiracy theories seems to confuse and embarrass Other Christians ® . Even some leaders of ultra conservative Christian churches and nationalist groups have wondered aloud about the fact that many of their followers are part of a “mass delusion.”
“Why is it our people are so vulnerable to this stuff?”
(Lance Wallnau, self-proclaimed prophet, Christian Nationalist, and
“7 Mountains Mandate” creator, The Washington Post, 1-14-21 )
The embarrassment of these Other Christians is itself an embarrassment – especially when I hear or read my mainstream/progressive Christian family and friends wondering:
“How can those QAnon Christians believe things that make no sense?”
Y’all ask this…seriously?
My religious friends, whose hearts and intentions I deeply respect, the answer is simple, and you’re not going to like it:
The reason those QAnon/Trump/Confederate Flag/Proud Boy Christians can believe things that make no sense is because they already believe things that make no sense. Your fellow Christians  believe such things in the first place *because* of their religious faith, not in spite of it. Religion has already primed them to accept outlandish claims sans objective proof (other than the “proof” they say they find “in their own hearts”).
The January 6 insurrection was a faith-based initiative, and Trumpism/White Supremacy are Christian nationalist movements.
Freethinkers/Humanists/Agnostics/Atheists/Skeptics have long known this, and while we sometimes tiptoe around this subject with our more mainstream and progressive Christian friends and family…c’mon folks. Why do you keep acting so shocked?
It’s not a giant leap from believing some major things that cannot be proven – aka, taking them on “faith” – to believing other things that cannot be proven.
During a recent New Rules segment of his show, comedian and magical-thinking eviscerator  Bill Maher used his incisive wit to point out the overlap between QAnon theorists and (white Christian) religionists. He pointed out that Christians who roll their eyes at or mock QAnon and its baby-eating lizard people/pedophile pizza parlors scenarios seem not to have read their own Book of Revelation. Right there, in the Christians’ “holy book,” are bizarre tales of “…stuff you see only after the guy in the park sells you bad mushrooms.” 
It was evangelical Christians like Senators Ted Cruz and Paul Gosar who spouted the unjustifiable claims that the 2020 election was “stolen” from #45. Who is seriously surprised by the fact that most of the senators who objected to certifying the electoral college votes for Biden – Cruz and Gosar and their frothing cronies, Senators Josh Hawley, Cindy Hyde-Smith, John Kennedy, Roger Marshall and Tommy Tuberville – were fundamentalist Christians? Not only did each of those senators identify and campaign as fundamentalist Christians, Alabama Sen. Tuberville even filmed a campaign ad equating Trump to Jesus .
The January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol “…looked like a revival meeting,” Maher quipped. Watch the videos of the event, and you’ll see the signs that read, “Jesus is my god and Trump is my president,” and “Trump/Jesus 2020.”
“Magical religious thinking is a virus and QAnon is just its current mutation. That’s why megachurches play QAnon videos. We need to stop pretending there’s no way we’ll ever understand why the Trump mob believes in him. It’s because they’re religious…they’ve already made space in their heads for shit that doesn’t make sense.
There’s a lot of talk now about how Republicans should tell their base who still believe the election was rigged that they need to grow up and move on and stop asking the rest of us to respect their mass delusion. But the inconvenient truth here is that if you accord religious faith the kind of exalted respect we do here in America, you’ve already lost the argument that mass delusion is bad.
( Bill Maher, New Rules, 2-5-21, my emphases.
You can see the entire segment here. )
* * *
Department Of One More Thing
#379 In An Ongoing Series
In a recent blog post (3-12-21) , re my rant highly nuanced disagreement with the idea that Muslim women are “free” to “choose” whether or not to wear the hijab, moiself forgot to mention one relevant, veil-related anecdote.
The 9/11 attacks took place on a Tuesday morning, which was the meeting time for a book group I’d been attending for years. The book group met at the church MH and I had attended for years.  The pastor of the church (which belongs to ” among the most liberal of the mainline Protestant denominations,”) was the book group’s leader. She, like the rest of us “bookies” (book group members), was stunned by the news,  even more so because of personal reasons: she had a sister-in-law who was a flight attendant for American Airlines out of Boston,  and a brother-in-law who was from the Middle East, and she was concerned for his safety re the growing anti-Arab sentiment.
Moving right along…. One by one the group members staggered into our meeting room as our pastor put on a fresh pot of coffee to brew (she’d already downed one entire pot herself). Glassy-eyed with “WTF just happened?” confusion, we babbled with one another about the attacks (although I’m not sure my opening remarks – “We’re all FUCKED – this is how wars start!” – count as a babble). The pastor was, eventually, able to steer us into a half-hearted discussion of the book we were reading.
The next week the pastor told us bookies about the latest news from the ecumenical group of ministers she belonged to. The group, which was mostly comprised of ministers from liberal Christian denominations but also with Jewish, Muslim and Bahá’í clergy,  had been brainstorming re how to be of support to local Muslims. The news was filled with accounts of how, across the nation, Muslims (as well as people who were not Muslim but who were “suspected” of being Muslim) were being threatened and even physically attacked. Because of the hijab, Muslim women’s religious affiliations were more visible than that of Muslim men, and many Muslim women and girls reported being harassed while riding public transportation or at the grocery store – or just out in public.
Another (female) pastor from the ecumenical group announced that, to express solidarity with Muslim women, she had started wearing a veil in public, and she was “inviting” other non-Muslim women to do so as well. Moiself expressed the same, immediate, visceral reaction that our pastor said she’d had when she heard Well-Meaning Veil Pastor’s suggestion. It was a reaction my pastor and I vowed to share with everyone we knew who might was supportive of the veil-solidarity gesture:
Solidarity; right on!
Yes indeedy, we’ll be happy to don a veil in support of Muslim women – providing Muslim men and boys first do the same, to show support for *their* mothers/sisters/wives/daughters/cousins/co-workers/neighbors….
Guess what? No takers.
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Department Of More Good Clean Fun Brought To You By That All-American Combo, Misogyny And Religion 
Last week a 21-year old man attacked three spas in Atlanta, shooting nine people and killing eight of them, seven of them women (who were his targets; the men were in the wrong place at the wrong time). The alleged suspect told the police that he killed them because he needed to “eliminate the temptations” they presented to him, and that by doing so he would help other men by removing those same “temptations.”
I don’t get it. What could anyone possibly have against The Temptations?
Ahem. “Temptations,” as in, women. You know – female human beings.
If you’ve been paying attention, it’s not the first time you’ve heart this kind of story. In California, Oregon; Toronto…you can Google more, about male killers who target one woman or all women, but it’s too damn depressing. Two years ago, in a refreshing change, a 27-year-old Denver man was arrested on a terrorism charge *before* he was able to carry out his intended rampage. This enabled the press to write “Here is why he said he was going to commit a mass murder” stories, instead of after-the-fact, “The killer said he killed all those women because…” stories:
A 27-year-old Colorado man…arrested on a terrorism charge…cited his virginity as the reason he said he was planning to carry out a mass shooting: “…its is why I’m planning on shooting up a public place soon and being the next mass shooter cause I’m ready to die and all the girls the (sic) turned me down is (sic) going to make it right by killing as many girls as I see.” (sick sick sick).
(“A man cited his virginity as reason he planned to kill ‘as many girls’ as he could, police say,” Washington Post, 1-22-19)
As shocking as most of us find these rampages, moiself posits that they are also predictable and even inevitable outcomes in our society, due to the mixture of two poisonous cultural ingredients:
*online sexism and incel forums wherein young men commiserate and encourage one another to blame women for their sexual desires and frustrations;
* religious teachings (in particular, “Purity Culture”) which set the stage and fuel the fire for those frustrations by shaming and pathologizing sexual activity – including masturbation, and even the mere *desiring* of sex – outside of heterosexual marriage, and which hold females responsible for male thoughts and behavior. 
“It should come as no shock that purity culture is steeped in contradictions:
1) Women hold the sexual reigns and are wholly responsible for any sexual encounter that escalates to something sinful because men lack the ability and should not be expected to control themselves…but
2) somehow, women also hate sex and use it as a punishment/reward system for their husbands…yet
3) women are weak and need the protection
of these feeble-minded, animal-like men.”
(“Freedom From Purity Culture“)
“When Brad Onishi heard that the man accused of a rampage at three Atlanta-area spas told detectives that he had carried out the attacks as a way to eliminate his own temptations, the claim sounded painfully familiar.
Dr. Onishi…grew up in a strict evangelical community…that emphasized sexual purity….
The evangelical culture he was raised in, he said, “teaches women to hate their bodies, as the source of temptation, and it teaches men to hate their minds, which lead them into lust and sexual immorality.”
(“Atlanta Suspect’s Fixation on Sex Is Familiar Thorn for Evangelicals,” NY Times 3-20-21)
A former roommate of the alleged  Atlanta shooter told police that the shooter
* didn’t own a smartphone because he feared he’d use it to look at online pornography;
* was ashamed of masturbating;
* expressed suicidal thoughts as per his fear that he was “falling out of God’s grace” and “living in sin” because he had masturbated and visited sex workers.
“…the idea that men’s sexual issues are women’s responsibility isn’t new, nor is it a fringe ideology confined to the internet — it’s a mainstream belief held by many Americans…
These thoughts mirror traditional conservative evangelical Christian teachings about sex and the idea that it’s women’s responsibility to avoid leading men into sexual situations.
This kind of purity culture has a reach far beyond religion. Abstinence-only education classes taught in over half the states across the country tell young people that the onus is on girls not to tease or tempt boys, whose sexual compulsions, they say, are near uncontrollable.
But rather than curb sexual activity, these programs seem to normalize misogynist impulses. A 2017 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health, for example, found abstinence-only programs often ‘reinforce gender stereotypes about female passivity and male aggressiveness.’
(“How Many Women Have to Die to End ‘Temptation’?
The Atlanta murders follow a terrible pattern of misogynist violence,” NY Times 3-22-21)
And let’s not forget another key ingredient in this toxic stew: the romanticized reporting of violence against women, which often frames murderers as reflexive sad sacks “at the end of their rope” or “having a bad day.” Various media headlines, and even comments from law enforcement officials, reinforce the sexist idea that the men and boys who hurt women are themselves victims – casualties of their unrequited desires.
Horrific, brutal killings of women by men have been described as being committed by “a lovesick teen,” and the murderers as suffering from “unrequited love.” The lab tech who strangled a pharmacology grad student and stuffed her body behind a wall was referred to in the press as “lovelorn.” And now, in Atlanta, the County Sheriff investigating the killings said the suspect may have been “lashing out,” and another member of the Sheriff’s office said that the subject had had “a really bad day” and “this is what he did.”
* * *
* * *
Department Of Apropos Of Nothing…
And I Know We Have Some Serious Issues Facing Our Country, And The Entire Planet, But This Is Something Which Might Unite Us – Yes, Even Across
Seemingly Insurmountable Borders Of Religious, Political, And Cultural Identity
Can we all agree to get rid of the first *r* in February?
* * *
Department Of Oops I Did It Again
What I did was a whole lotta yoga: 108 Sun salutations, in honor of the Vernal Equinox.
In a less-honorable tribute to the arrival of Spring, once again, hearing the term *Vernal Equinox* made moiself think of a Tennessee mother yelling across the fields for her son.
“Vernal! Vernal Equinox, you git yer butt back home this instant!”
* * *
Pun For The Day
I changed my smart phone’s name to Titanic. It’s syncing now.
* * *
May you try to say February ten times, as fast as you can, pronouncing both rs
(and then agree with moiself about getting rid of the first one);
May you not be deluded as to why *other* people believe crazy shit;
May you celebrate the arrival of Spring, no matter how you feel about a term like
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 And yes, they are Christians, whether or not you approve of them. You don’t own the term; they claim it too, and spout the theology.
 If Maher can have “New Rules” then I can have new words.
 Maher’s delightful recounting of one of Revelation’s major stories: “The book of Revelations will tell you exactly where the world ends – Megiddo, Israel. That’s where all of the armies of the world will gather and Jesus will come down to earth on a flying horse shooting swords out of his mouth (Jesus, not the horse), and have a 1000 year cosmic boss battle with Satan, The Beast, and The Anti-Christ. It’s like ten Avenger movies plus ten Hobbit movies plus a night out with Johnny Depp.”
 It was also the church I was on the cusp of leaving – not that church in particular, but any church, as in religion in general. I had known I was a non- believer for decades yet stayed “closeted” for complicated reasons.
 Our gathering time was 7 am, Pacific time, so we all knew at least something about the attacks on the East Coast.
 One of the four hijacked airplanes, the one which crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, was an American Airlines flight originating in Boston; the pastor’s SIL was not working that flight.
 And very likely, racism. Although as of this writing the (alleged) perpetrator has denied a racial motive (he blamed his “sex addiction”), six of the women were Asian. Others are addressing that issue, including here, here, and here, far better than I could.
 To cite just one of hundreds of disgusting examples, the federally funded Heritage Keepers curriculum teaches students that ‘girls have a responsibility to wear modest clothing that doesn’t invite lustful thoughts.”
 I’m not going to patronize either moiself or y’all by continuing to use that modifier.