Can Jesus Discriminate?

Disclosure: The author is an Atheist.

There’s usually chirping when religion and hiring practices bump against each other and Monday’s Ninth Circuit decision in favor of Christian humanitarian organization World Vision is a case in point.

The 2-1 decision came from a suit contending that World Vision had discriminated by firing three employees who had been with them for 10 years and who didn’t, “believe in the divinity of Jesus or the doctrine of the Trinity.”

The court found that since World Vision is a religious organization, it can hire and fire because its employees directly work within the purview of its ministry and the bulk of its monies go to humanitarian aid, not proselytizing.

A Profound Sense of Religious Mission
In World View’s case, Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain wrote that, “World Vision has met its burden of showing that the ‘general picture’ of the organization is primarily religious.  World Vision is a nonprofit organization whose humanitarian relief efforts flow from a profound sense of religious mission.”

In other words, World Vision’s “religious” side and its “humanitarian relief” side are one and the same. Although why the three employees would join the organization knowing that and why the organization kept them around for 10 years before firing them is a bit of a mystery.

But then, what isn’t these days?

This case is fundamentally different from one a few years back in which Pat Robertson, and what was then known as his CBN University, ran afoul of discrimination laws.

CBNU operated a hotel that did not deny non-Christians guest rooms, but did hire and fire staff based on religious beliefs. They also had similar problems hiring and firing technicians and others working for what was then the Christian Broadcasting Network in non-religious jobs.

In their case, the court found that Robertson ran the hotel and TV network primarily to make money. Most of the money was used for investments in everything from South African diamond mines to stock, but some of it was used to support various religious and charitable pursuits. They lost the suit and eventually divested the hotel and university from Robertson’s personal empire.

Religious and employment discrimination is sometimes a tough thing. Minor differences between how money is collected and spent can have a profound impact on specific cases. It’s easy to take a one-size fits all approach and either say no discrimination or no paid staff. However, when these split hairs mean the freedom to practice religion, it’s a harder decision.

All too often, people on both sides – religious and Atheist – want to make religious freedom an all or nothing proposition. Those simplistic reactions do nothing to help either side of the argument and fuel an ever-growing schism between Americans.

Ersatz Hysteria
Today’s Park51 controversy is a great example. Some want Muslims stopped from building a community center (in fact, some even want them out of the country all together). Others see no reason to stop anything. Still others would be happy if all religions just went away, which I admit is sometimes a tempting, though hypothetical, thought.

All those joining the argument deserve to be heard and all of them have good points to make, but at the end, Park51 is a simple, local zoning case run amok. “Discussion” fell apart long ago and devolved into an ersatz hysteria on both sides.

Enough talking. Let’s just get on with things and stop dancing on the head of a theological pin. Ben Franklin said something about an entirely different topic, but that fits this subject in America today, “We must all hang together or most assuredly we will all hang separately.

Let’s get back to hanging together on something. This whining is giving me a headache.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

 

Can Jesus Discriminate?

Disclosure: The author is an Atheist.

There’s usually chirping when religion and hiring practices bump against each other and Monday’s Ninth Circuit decision in favor of Christian humanitarian organization World Vision is a case in point.

The 2-1 decision came from a suit contending that World Vision had discriminated by firing three employees who had been with them for 10 years and who didn’t, “believe in the divinity of Jesus or the doctrine of the Trinity.”

The court found that since World Vision is a religious organization, it can hire and fire because its employees directly work within the purview of its ministry and the bulk of its monies go to humanitarian aid, not proselytizing.

A Profound Sense of Religious Mission
In World View’s case, Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain wrote that, “World Vision has met its burden of showing that the ‘general picture’ of the organization is primarily religious.  World Vision is a nonprofit organization whose humanitarian relief efforts flow from a profound sense of religious mission.”

In other words, World Vision’s “religious” side and its “humanitarian relief” side are one and the same. Although why the three employees would join the organization knowing that and why the organization kept them around for 10 years before firing them is a bit of a mystery.

But then, what isn’t these days?

This case is fundamentally different from one a few years back in which Pat Robertson, and what was then known as his CBN University, ran afoul of discrimination laws.

CBNU operated a hotel that did not deny non-Christians guest rooms, but did hire and fire staff based on religious beliefs. They also had similar problems hiring and firing technicians and others working for what was then the Christian Broadcasting Network in non-religious jobs.

In their case, the court found that Robertson ran the hotel and TV network primarily to make money. Most of the money was used for investments in everything from South African diamond mines to stock, but some of it was used to support various religious and charitable pursuits. They lost the suit and eventually divested the hotel and university from Robertson’s personal empire.

Religious and employment discrimination is sometimes a tough thing. Minor differences between how money is collected and spent can have a profound impact on specific cases. It’s easy to take a one-size fits all approach and either say no discrimination or no paid staff. However, when these split hairs mean the freedom to practice religion, it’s a harder decision.

All too often, people on both sides – religious and Atheist – want to make religious freedom an all or nothing proposition. Those simplistic reactions do nothing to help either side of the argument and fuel an ever-growing schism between Americans.

Ersatz Hysteria
Today’s Park51 controversy is a great example. Some want Muslims stopped from building a community center (in fact, some even want them out of the country all together). Others see no reason to stop anything. Still others would be happy if all religions just went away, which I admit is sometimes a tempting, though hypothetical, thought.

All those joining the argument deserve to be heard and all of them have good points to make, but at the end, Park51 is a simple, local zoning case run amok. “Discussion” fell apart long ago and devolved into an ersatz hysteria on both sides.

Enough talking. Let’s just get on with things and stop dancing on the head of a theological pin. Ben Franklin said something about an entirely different topic, but that fits this subject in America today, “We must all hang together or most assuredly we will all hang separately.

Let’s get back to hanging together on something. This whining is giving me a headache.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

 

The Non-Ground Zero Non-Mosque Mosqueteers

OK people, let’s calm down! Let’s just stop all this mosqlitizing and use a little common sense for a moment, shall we? Don’t make me turn this country around.

At its heart, the Non-Ground Zero Non-Mosque Mosque™  is a simple zoning application gone awry. If the gutted shell of that ex-Burlington Coat Factory sat almost anywhere else on Earth, the NYC Planning Department would be looking at how much traffic the place would generate and how many toilets to require per person. Instead, it’s caught between creating an international incident and/or sparking Civil War II.

What ever happened to the idea that governmental decision-making should be forced down to the local level? I mean come on Tea Baggers, it doesn’t get any more local than a planning department.

There are literally dozens of places this kerfuffle could’ve been avoided, but as usual, many people were busy helping demagogues turn themselves into demigods instead of simply minding their own business.

Encouraging the Bullies
It didn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that building anything remotely connected to Islam was going to be an uphill battle in today’s America. Of course, the Muslims could’ve simply opted to put their center somewhere else, but they’re under no obligation to voluntarily abandon their Constitutional rights. Although they shouldn’t be surprised at the blowback either. And quite frankly, giving in once they started down this road would’ve been a mistake anyway. There is no better way to encourage bullies than to back down from them when threatened.

As for the anti Mosqueteers, they seem to have bought into this newfangled delusion that the Constitution is up for a vote whenever you don’t like something.  To hear them tell it, if Muslims want to erect a religious venue the Constitution cannot be allowed to stand. However, if the Baptists want to nail the 10 Commandments to every flat surface in the Republic, it’s a Constitutional right. I’m not sure if this is a terminal case of disengenuosity or a complete inability to recognize irony when it bites them on the ass.

Ground Zero used to be two gleaming towers of steel. A brace of buck-ass krazy kamikazes turned it into a smoking hole in the ground. Many people (not Christians or Muslims or Jews or Atheists, or Druids… just plain folks) died. It was a horrific thing, especially if you had friends or family there or were just coming out or the subway as the towers fell.

When Lunatics Run Amok
But as bad as it was, bad things happen when lunatics run amok. As much as Commander Mission Accomplished would’ve like you to believe there is a “war” we can “win”, it just ain’t so. The best we can do it mitigate the problem by taking reasonable counter measures – duct tape, roll-plastic, and MRIs for airline passengers need not apply.

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Americans were pissed. They looked upon the wreckage-choked harbor as a hallowed place where the nation could focus in an attempt to never let such a tragedy happen again. Today, tourists from across the globe, including a hefty number of Japanese, come to visit the place with cameras in tow and leis on display. The place is no less hallowed because of the gauche tourists and would be no less hallowed if a Shinto shrine went up.

In essence, both places are geographic spots on a map. Soil is soil. They are special because we made them special. They are hallowed because we all agreed they are hallowed. The point is that when someone from the opposite of the policitical or religious spectrum agrees with you, shut up and stop arguing with them. You’re on the same side.

If not, we’re no better than those krazy kamikazis. If there is a war to be won or lost, it will be decided over the idea that crazies can knock down some expensive real estate and we will willingly make ourselves more like them.

After all, that was exactly their intent.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

 

If He Walks Like a Muslim and Talks Like a Muslim…

HEATHEN! – I’m not saying he’s a Muslim, but he sure looks to be a born one to me.

There’s nothing surprising about recent poll numbers indicating  more people are “confused” about The Messiah’s™ true religion than ever before. They aren’t confused. Somewhere in that lump of random matter that passes for their brains they know the truth. They’re just being aggressively ignorant. They’re willingly allowing themselves to become the peas in a big chaos theory shell game.

The shills are the usual suspects on these types of things. Orly Taitz still draws a crowd, even after the Supremes slapped her down. The Grizzly Whisperer™ still has a big, fact-challenged following. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are always on the scene when something “ethnic” needs to be opined upon – even if it’s not about their ethnic group. But the gold standard in national matters of religion are the Grahams – first, daddy Billy and now, son Franklin.

Running Like Ecclesiastical Chickens
For my money, Frank doesn’t have nearly the panache of the old man. I can remember when Billy laid hands on people. By God, they’d walk, hell, run like ecclesiastical chickens with their heads cut off. Ernest Angley couldn’t hold a candle to them, even with the help of his “miracle healing cloth”, free with every $19.99 donation. But what Frank lacks in genetic charlatanism he more than makes up for with the greasy rhetorical skills of a Newt Gingrich or any random member of the Fox & Friends staff.

When CNN’s John King asked about Obama’s Christian bona fides, Frank didn’t bat an eye while calling Obama a part-time Christian, but true born Muslim.

“The seed is passed through the father,” Frank said. “He was born a Muslim. His father was a Muslim; the seed of Muslim is passed through the father like the seed of Judaism is passed through the mother…his father gave him an Islamic name.”

Case closed, except for that little conversion loophole.

“But the confusion is because his father is a Muslim; he was born a Muslim. The Islamic world sees the president as one of theirs. That’s why Qadhafi calls him his son. They see him as a Muslim,” he said. “But, of course, the president says he is a Christian, and we just have to accept it as that, ” he added skeptically.

“We just have to accept it as that.” Accepting as in the way we file lawsuits to make him repeatedly produce birth certificates or prove he doesn’t want to throw all of his detractors in FEMA-run concentration camps.

Latching Onto the Christian Fakir
See, Frank and his ilk know that truth isn’t really important if you want to control the conversation. As long as you mix that smidge of doubt with a spoonful of sugary Kool Aid mix, people will want to believe. That’s why millions of otherwise sane people shower this dunderdick with donations and prayer requests. They have troubles, real troubles, so they’ll latch onto anything that puts their minds at rest – even if he is some sort of Christian fakir.

“Them danged Mooslums want to build one of them heathen moss-quet things up at Ground Zero. That just chaps me raw,” they might say. “I wish I knew who was boin’ all this so I could keep and eye on ‘em”

And there, on the TV machine, is Franklin Graham. He’s possessed of a golden, silken tongue and he’s telling Mabel and Irv that the culprit is that damn half-breed Muslim/faux Christian President. “Far be it from me to say he’s a heathen,” he implies. “He SAYS he’s a Christian so we’ll just have to take his word, but (in a tiny voice) you know those Muslims lie a lot”.

Ignorance of this type has been around since the dawn of man – whether you believe that happened 400,000 years ago or 6,000 years ago. And shit-slingers like the Grahams have been around just as long, serving up streaming heaps of the best crap people want to believe.

So don’t be surprised at events like this. They will happen as long as there are people who want to volunteer as idiots and marginally smarter people who want to enable them.

And the worst part is the rubes refuse to see that shit for shinola is a lose/lose bet.

Cross Posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

 

 

Statistics don’t lie, people do

(Cross-posted from Think it Through.)

The Washington Post created a new government statistic this week, and played it on page one – the average tax rate. The post story actually highlighted this in red ink: “If Obama’s 2011 budget is enacted: average [tax] rate rises to 21.4%.

If you are wondering whether you pay the “average tax rate,” stop wondering – there is no such rate.

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