Navy Chaplain Prepared to Starve to Death…In Jesus Name

Navy Lt. Gordon Klingenschmitt has just about completed the 18th day of a hunger strike because he was reprimanded for delivering an inappropriate evangelical eulogy aboard ship last month.  While the ideological lieutenant claims that his Christian faith is being suppressed by removing the common Christian prayer closing of ‘in Jesus’ name’, a closer examination shows that the real offender here is Lt. Klingenschmitt.

The US Military is one of the few government organizations that still begin and/or conclude just about every ceremony imaginable with a prayer of some sort.  This in itself causes serious concerns, but the military is steeped in tradition and slow to change.  In 1991 the Department of Defense did make a sweeping change throughout the chaplain’s corp in realizing that not all of its service-members were of the Christian faith.  The new directive merely required that chaplains across the board deliver non-denominational prayers when not engaged in a ‘specific’ religious service.

Doesn’t seem too much to ask, considering the federal government is funding this religious activity.  So when chaplains are praying at military funerals, graduations, change-of-commands, etc… they are to deliver a generic prayer and when they’re preaching at their faith’s service, mass, temple, etc… they can say pretty much whatever they want.

The Navy allows chaplains to pray in the name of Jesus Christ, Allah or any other deity during chapel services, [Naval] spokeswoman Lt. Erin Bailey said.

At other public events, “Navy chaplains are encouraged to be sensitive to the needs of all those present,” she said, “and may decline an invitation to pray if not able to do so for conscience reasons.”

Now in typical fundamentalist fashion, Lt. Klingenschmitt calls out the Christian oppression card.  Feeling that somehow the the Navy rules don’t apply to him, since he is ordained by God, he has directly violated the regulations on numerous occasions and is now lobbying congress the White House to change the DOD’s position.  So he’s not being told to do anything that violates his religious belief, he’s upset that he cannot force his belief system on others.

How is he doing this?  Well with assistance from the Christian Coalition, he has amassed some 175,000 signatures and sympathy from 74 congressmen.  His main tools are daily prayer services outside of the White House and not eating anything.  In an interview with FOX News neo-con, Sean Hannity, Klingenschmitt says he is prepared to go all the way and ‘die’ for this this cause.  I wonder if Klingenschmitt is aware that if he fails to eat or submit to medical treatment he will be in violation of yet another Naval regulation that will put his survivor benefits in jeopardy?

My real hope is that Klingenschmitt’s actions will cause the federal government to rethink the role of religion in the military altogether.

Orignially posted on: S.I.M.U.

More info: The Washington Times

Biblically Inspired Stupidity

I’m beginning to think that we need a Christian stupidity award that dovetails into the Darwin awards.  Maybe the St. Petey, or something along those lines.

Mr. Baxter’s botched attempt to circumcising his 8-year old son would definitely be a strong contender for a St. Petey.  It turns out that Baxter, a Fundamentalist Christian, was reading through the bible and became inspired to take a knife to his son’s genitals.  The really disturbing part is that he consulted with his wife and together they concluded this was a good idea.

Circumcision Attempt – Father sentenced to three years
Columbian News
Thursday, December 16, 2004
By STEPHANIE RICE, Columbian staff writer

Ridgefield father Edwin B. Baxter asked God for mercy and a judge for understanding Wednesday as he faced sentencing for an attempted circumcision on his 8-year-old.  Baxter said he was inspired to cut his son after reading Scripture and first consulted his wife.

“It never has been my desire or intent to violate any laws,” Baxter, 33, told Superior Court Judge James Rulli.
 
“I pray God will have mercy on me,” Baxter said, choked up. He then put his head down on the table where he sat with his attorney.

There are just so many things wrong here.  How is it that the wife was not on trial for conspiracy?  How can a 33 year old man not know that performing surgery on someone without a license is illegal?  Why the fuck is he asking for God’s forgiveness for something God supposedly instructed him to do?

Baxter likely will appeal on the grounds that Rulli did not let him use his Christian fundamentalist faith as a defense, but Rulli cast doubt that argument will fly.

Ah, yes.  The old the devil God made me do it defense.

Baxter and his 30-year-old wife have nine children in their two-bedroom home. His wife, Tammy, is pregnant and due in February.

WTF?!?!  Eleven people in a two bedroom house with a mother that agrees that it’s okay to perform surgery in the bathtub.

The Full Story is even more disturbing.
 
All I can say is the world would be a lot better place if people stopped adhering to fairy tales.  Can I get an Amen?

Please Don’t Smile

In the process of renewing my passport, I came across an interesting development within the State Department.  It seems that many Americans have been entirely too happy as of late and they want to change that.  Actually, they are just changing the guidelines for identification photos.  As of January 1st, passport photos that portray a smiling subject will no longer be accepted.

ABC News – You better not crack a smile in your passport photo

December 3, 2004 — If you’re traveling out of the country in the near future you know what you have to do, check out that passport to make sure it’s still valid. And while you’re at it, take a good look at your old passport picture. Are you smiling? If you are, when you get your next photo taken, you won’t be.

That’s right. From now on the state department says we should wipe that smile off our face. They say it’s because when we smile, in a sense, we change our faces and we really don’t look exactly like us.

“No smiling, no frowning. The passport agency wants to see the person’s natural face in a relaxed state,” said Karen O’Brien, manager “Travisa” Office in Chicago.

They say it has nothing to do with extra security. It’s just so immigration officers can more easily compare the real you with the photo you. So don’t go “cheese.”

“Nothing to do with security”?  I’d say it has everything to do with security.  As a matter-of-fact, I’d say it has everything to do with Facial Recognition.

Following 9/11 there were a bevy of security companies competing to waste earn our tax dollars.  Biometric industries seized the opportunity to peddle their wares and move into the Homeland Security Agency spotlight.  In June of 2002, the government sponsored a conference with all the biometric industry leaders and the focus was on facial recognition.  This is where FERET comes in to play.

The FERET program ran from 1993 through 1997. Sponsored by the Department of Defense’s Counterdrug Technology Development Program through the Defense Advanced Research Products Agency (DARPA), its primary mission was to develop automatic face recognition capabilities that could be employed to assist security, intelligence and law enforcement personnel in the performance of their duties.  Source: http://www.frvt.org/

The FERET program was terminated for several reasons: high cost, failure rate and privacy concerns were the major factors.  Following the conference in 2002, the FERET program was given new life and is now being used in collaboration with private companies.  The deployment seems to be moving ahead even though DARPA has openly stated that the improvements in accuracy have been minimal.  Companies such as Ratheon and Imagis have been closing key deals with government agencies.  It will only be a matter of time before security personnel know who you are before you even know they’re present.  Just don’t smile.

 

 

Children can now be euthanized in the Netherlands.

Seeing as how the thread about The lawsuit to include religious beliefs of the Founding Fathers has turned toward the issue of abortion, I felt this news might be of interest.

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) – A hospital in the Netherlands – the first nation to permit euthanasia – recently proposed guidelines for mercy killings of terminally ill newborns, and then made a startling revelation: It has already begun carrying out such procedures, which include administering a lethal dose of sedatives.

Full Story

Personally I believe that everyone should be privy to euthanasia and seeing as an infant has only his parents to rely upon for such judgments, this would be a very humane way to eliminate the pain and agony that goes along with these types of births.  As long as the parents and doctors are working together I see no reason why The Groningen Protocol could not be implemented on a global scale.

As you can imagine, this has several anti-choiceabortion activists up in arms.  The issue has also attracted broader interest from groups claiming that this is a covert attempt to develop a supreme race or a slippery slope toward it at best.  Needless to say, these claims are extremely exaggerated as the legality of terminating and infants life is still the responsibility of the doctor and can only be carried out in terminal or severely debilitating cases.

While reading up on this issue I also discovered an article on why Abortion is biblical.  The author makes some very interesting points that those who have not fully read the bible will find interesting.

Oddly enough, the Vatican is none too pleased.

Pastor Used Fear Of Devil To Have Sex With Women

Alrighty.  In this religious sports update it seems the Sex Starved True Believers TM are gaining ground on the Catholic Pedophiles.  There’s still a lot of time left in the season and I suspect that the Mormon Polygamists won’t go down without a fight.

Pastor Used Fear Of Devil To Have Sex With Women
Trial Set For Next Year
UPDATED: 1:23 PM EST November 29, 2004

SAN DIEGO—A National City, Calif., pastor accused of using the fear of the devil to persuade women in his congregation to have sex with him will go on trial next year.

Carlos Romero, 59, faces up to five years and eight months in prison if convicted of three felony counts, including making a criminal threat.  Superior Court Judge William Kennedy Wednesday scheduled a pretrial hearing for Dec. 13, with trial scheduled to start Feb. 14.

At a Sept. 17 preliminary hearing, La Mesa, Calif., police Sgt. Daniel Willis testified that Romero told him he was sorry for telling three women who went to his church the “devil would physically harm them and he could protect them if they had sex with him.”

Willis said the pastor told him he knew his actions toward the women were wrong and he “wouldn’t do it again.”
A woman identified as Dora testified that she had gone to Romero’s church for about a year and came back in 2000. She said she met the defendant in Fashion Valley last January.  “He told me that there was a revelation from God,” Dora said. “He told me that I had already been attacked by the devil, that I could only stop this by having sexual relations with him.”

Dora said she believed Romero because she considered him a “true pastor” who was “guiding us toward eternal life.”  Another woman testified that Romero told her the devil would leave her “gravely wounded” if she did not have sex with him.  A third woman testified that Romero threatened to kill her after she tried to end their sexual relationship in February 2003.

Just how brainwashed does a woman have to be go along with this?  Oh, for you ladies out there.  If your pastor tells you the devil is gonna get you if you don’t have sex, call me.  I’m fully trained to protect you.

Remember to check local listings for events in your area and stay tuned to this channel for more exciting religious moments throughout the season.

Pop a cap in Bambi and email Grandma

Hunting season is upon us and Texas has kicked it up a notch.  It seems that corn feeders and deer stands were giving those pesky deer far too much of an advantage.  One never knows if you’ll be able to hit that 600 pound target with a high-powered rifle from 30 yards away.  Besides, it might be cold outside.

Well fret no more.  Technology and hunting have finally come together to allow you whack Bambi from the privacy of your barcalounger.  A property owner in South-Texas has teamed up with avid technologists to design Live-Shot.com.  The first online hunting site integrating real weapons, animals and ammunition with the modern FPS controls we have come to expect in some of the better shooting games.

The pitch: All individuals will be allowed to experience the finest hunting regardless of their physical ability from the comfort of home.

While Mr. Underwood still has a couple of legal hurdles to overcome, as Texas requires the hunter to actually be present at the time of the kill, he has launched the target shooting portion of the site and has hopes to begin hunting shortly.  Hmm… What happens if a person wandering through the range area gets shot?

While Underwood is enthusiastic that the scheme would appeal to “disabled hunters unable to get out in the woods or distant hunters who cannot afford a trip to Texas”, the authorities are not so keen. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department wildlife director Mike Berger wants a change in state law to require hunters to be physically present at a kill. He notes that under current legislation Berger is prevented from allowing punters to pop a cap in native species such as deer and birds, but this does not extend to non-native deer and wild pigs. He’s worried that internet hunting could quickly get out of hand.

Underwood dismisses these concerns. He reckons that online hunting is the next logical step in the sport’s technological evolution: “First it was rocks and clubs, then we sharpened it and put it on a stick. Then there was the bow and arrow, black powder, smokeless powder and optics. Maybe this is the next technological step out there.”

Full Story

Now, I’m not an anti-hunting advocate and have even been out a couple of times in my past, but this doesn’t constitute hunting in my book.  Neither do feeders nor deer stands.  I consider hunting to be a rich part of our heritage and also a verb requiring activity on the part of the hunter.  When animals are being raised for the sole purpose of being hunted or hunted in canned environments, the fundamental element of hunting is removed and replaced by an entertainment based slaughterhouse.

Other advocates for the technology state that this will provide people with the opportunity to hunt without the remorse of the kill.  Yeah, that’s a good idea.  We wouldn’t want anyone to feel bad about intentionally killing something for sport.  The biggest attractor is that sportsmen that have become disabled will be allowed the virtual thrill of the hunt.  Somehow I don’t think these people are going to make up the large market.

Life in Texas is always on the cutting edge.  The Church down the street is having another gun show this weekend.  Pretty soon they can have a virtual Sunday School hunt.  Virtual hunting costs are expected to range from $3000 – $8000 depending on the animal plus shipping and handling.

Internet Bashing up for Debate

It seems that internet free speech may not be as free as I first thought.  This story comes from The San Antonio Express News

DALLAS, Ga. (AP)—When Alan and Linda Townsend were unhappy with the sprayed-on siding applied to their house, the frustrated couple launched a Web site to complain and to give other unsatisfied customers a forum. Visitor postings to the Web site said the product, Spray on Siding, cracked, bubbled and buckled. For their efforts, the Townsends got slapped with a lawsuit by the product’s maker. The federal case may help shape the boundaries of online speech.

I’ve visited and even posted on some of these complaint sites in the past to blow off steam on various products deficiencies or a company’s lack of service.  Some of the better know sites are Complaint.com and the airline site bashing United’s service Untied.com.

I’ve never thought much about it, as the majority of the posts seemed to be escalations of issues that customer service departments seemed unable or unwilling to resolve.  What I do find disturbing though is the way many of these sites get steam rolled by the brute force of some of these companies.

Companies routinely go after individuals when they feel people are maligning them on the Internet. And often, legal scholars say, the Web site’s owners don’t fight back at all.

In this dispute, North Carolina-based Alvis Coatings Inc., which supplied the siding product used in the Townsends’ $16,721 project, claims the couple’s Web site infringes on the company’s trademarks, defames its product and intentionally misleads and confuses consumers.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that they’re doing more damage to their company by not resolving this issue out of court instead of attacking one its customers.

Internet law expert Doug Isenberg of Georgia State University said the courts need to better define free-speech issues for the Internet, and this case could help.

“The right to criticize is certainly protected in general, but it is not unlimited,” Isenberg said. “Some of those limits include how you can use someone else’s trademark.”

The complaint filed by Alvis alleges that the name of the Townsends’ Web site, spraysiding.com, “is confusingly similar” to the official Alvis site, sprayonsiding.com, as well as its trademark “Spray on Siding.”

Levy argues that the Townsends have the right to use the domain name they purchased.

Courts have provided greater protection to non-commercial sites, such as the Townsends’, “but it is not quite so cut-and-dry to say if it is non-commercial use it’s acceptable,” Isenberg said.

Judges also weigh whether a person is likely to confuse the gripe site with the real one, said Wendy Seltzer, staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based civil-liberties group. A site that bashes a product is not likely to create such confusion, she said.

It will be interesting to see how this one turns out.  I imagine that the courts will find in favor of the Townsends, aside from the trademark infringements, and they can keep blasting away.  In the meantime, there is comfort in the fact that site owners are not responsible for the actions of their visitors.

A federal law offers some protections to Internet providers for content their visitors post or transmit, and courts have separately held that criticism when framed as opinion is not libelous, legal scholars say.

Bash on.

 

SCOTUS to Hear Religious Tolerance in Prisons Case

I have feeling things are coming to a head in the Supreme Court regarding the issue of Faith Based Prisons and Inner Change Programs.

The high court announced today that it will hear a challenge to the 2000 law, known as the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. The measure requires prisons to accommodate prisoners’ religious needs unless corrections officials can show a compelling reason not to, such as security concerns.

“This is a reasonable law that requires prisons to meet the religious needs of inmates while still respecting the security concerns of correctional institutions,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “We hope the Supreme Court upholds the law.”

Okay, I see no problem with that, but there seems to be a trend showing religious tolerance only toward Judeo-Christian and other mainstream religions.

The case comes from Ohio, where prisoners who belong to minority religions say they have been denied access to religious literature and ceremonial items. A federal appeals court struck down the law, saying it promoted religion at government expense.

So the Federal Appellate Court actually makes the right call but it goes against what Bush and company are doing in Florida where tax dollars are indeed being used to further religion.  What to do, what to do?

So now this goes before SCOTUS for resolution.  It’d be nice to see them realize this for what it is as stated in the Appellate Court ruling.  What are the odds?  How many supreme court justice posts will be replaced during this next presidential term?

Big Brother puts the smack-down on citizens

Upon recommendation from the Sept. 11th commission, the US Congress has seen fit to establish something of a National ID Card system.  While the card won’t be issued at a federal level, it will require all the information including the ID Number to be standardized across the board.

Congress Close to Establishing Rules for Driver’s Licenses
By MATTHEW L. WALD, New York Times

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10 – Following a recommendation of the Sept. 11 commission, the House and Senate are moving toward setting rules for the states that would standardize the documentation required to obtain a driver’s license, and the data the license would have to contain.

Critics say the plan would create a national identification card. But advocates say it would make it harder for terrorists to operate, as well as reduce the highway death toll by helping states identify applicants whose licenses had been revoked in other states.

The Senate version of the intelligence bill includes an amendment, passed by unanimous consent on Oct. 1, that would let the secretary of homeland security decide what documents a state would have to require before issuing a driver’s license, and would also specify the data that the license would have to include for it to meet federal standards. The secretary could require the license to include fingerprints or eye prints. The provision would allow the Homeland Security Department to require use of the license, or an equivalent card issued by motor vehicle bureaus to non-drivers for identification purposes, for access to planes, trains and other modes of transportation.

The bill does not give the department the authority to force the states to meet the federal standards, but it would create enormous pressure on them to do so. After a transition period, the department could decide to accept only licenses issued under the rules as identification at airports.

The House’s version of the intelligence bill, passed Friday, would require the states to keep all driver’s license information in a linked database, for quick access. It also calls for “an integrated network of screening points that includes the nation’s border security system, transportation system and critical infrastructure facilities that the secretary determines need to be protected against terrorist attack.”

  Full Story 
Ah, the joys of living in a fear based society.  As you can see, advocates are already touting fine examples of the law’s implementation outside the scope of the intended usage.

For some reason the first thing that came into my mind when I read this was my unpaid parking ticket in New Jersey.