Ratzinger’s blood libel against atheists

Not exactly a denial of God, is it?

It reminds me of Durban: a gathering of peace-minded folks from all over the globe getting together to discuss problems which afflict us all. But all they can talk about is Israel. The love-fest turns into a blood libel against the Jews.

Joseph Ratzinger knows that he can’t aim his pious invective at the Jewish people as his predecessors did. So this most contemporary pope takes aim at the next best enemy of his faith: atheists. It’s another blood libel in the making. Here are his words from Assisi yesterday*:

The enemies of religion…see in religion one of the principal sources of violence in the history of humanity and thus they demand that it disappear. But the denial of God has led to much cruelty and to a degree of violence that knows no bounds, which only becomes possible when man no longer recognizes any criterion or any judge above himself, now having only himself to take as a criterion. The horrors of the concentration camps reveal with utter clarity the consequences of God’s absence.

Do we really demand that religion disappear? Or do we just demand that it know its place and stay in it, and not meddle in things which aren’t its business? And there in that last line is the blood libel: that Nazism was the outcome of atheism. But Ratzinger was in the Wehrmacht as a young man, and knows perfectly well that Nazi anti-Semitism was a Christian inheritance. Adolf Hitler was a Catholic who has never been excommunicated and Mein Kampf was never added to the Index Librorum Prohibitorum as, say, Kepler, Voltaire, Locke, Mill and Galileo were. Kettle black enough for ya’?

The absence of God leads to the decline of man and of humanity. But where is God? Do we know him, and can we show him anew to humanity, in order to build true peace? Let us first briefly summarize our considerations thus far. I said that there is a way of understanding and using religion so that it becomes a source of violence, while the rightly lived relationship of man to God is a force for peace. In this context I referred to the need for dialogue and I spoke of the constant need for purification of lived religion. On the other hand I said that the denial of God corrupts man, robs him of his criteria and leads him to violence.

See? There it is: “the denial of God corrupts man, robs him of his criteria and leads him to violence.” While religion can be used either as a means to violence – as Ratzinger knows only too well – or peace, atheism inevitably leads to the degredation of humanity and the violent corruption of society.

He’s telling fibs again. The happiest societies on Earth are the most secular. Sociologists know this. Ask anyone who has escaped from religion and they will likely tell you they are happier and feel “free” for the first time in their lives. This is not uncommon at all, no matter which religion is being left behind.

This knowledge is making the pope shit his pants.

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* One year ago, almost to the day, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said some disturbingly similar things about atheists. And he published them in a Vatican newspaper, to boot.

An unwelcome guest

Don’t expect to hear many voices pipe up in opposition to the pope’s visit to Assisi tomorrow. There will be no demonstrations, occupations or black bloc terror (thankfully not this last). Maybe in other countries, but not in Italy. Just phony respect, ecumenical backpatting and “reaching out” to atheists, heretics and other people who would’ve been tortured and burned not so long ago – possibly in this same city square.

Allow me to register one clear voice in opposition to this man and the rapacious organization of politicized religion he heads. Don’t let the pomp fool you; we haven’t ALL been taken in. There are people in Italy, in Assisi even, who detest this man, his church and all that they stand for: superstition, ignorance, bigotry, greed, corruption, falsity and the pretension that they alone are above the laws that govern the rest of human society.

I, for one, do not welcome Joseph Ratzinger to Assisi.

Viewpoints

This is from the BBC:

I was very happy for all the prisoners and their families as they were reunited after years of unlawful separation and inhumane treatment, but especially for the al-Ghouls who live in Mughraga, central Gaza, close to the former Israeli settlement of Netzarim.

Omar al-Ghoul was a member of the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas. He received a triple life sentence from an Israeli court 24 years ago for his role in attacks on Israeli targets in Gaza and for joining a secret cell of fighters.

OK so let’s get this straight: members of the al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s armed branch (meaning they sanctify the murder of Israeli Jews) are “unlawfully separated” from their families – that is, they were in prison for terrorism.

This is a bad thing to do, as they miss their grandchildren terribly.

This is followed by some sentimental nonsense about broken-up families and the pains of separation:

It has been difficult to grow up without getting to know his dad. “It’s like you are told you have a father but you have never seen him,” Ibrahim told me.

Suheir has always said that her husband Omar is not a murderer, but a hero. He was fighting for our freedom and our dignity. He never wanted to fight anyone but living under the Israeli occupation is very tough.

So Suheir was in an Israeli prison for killing people, which was a heroic duty. Once that is established – that killing isn’t murder if it can be called “freedom-fighting” – then one begins to comprehend the author’s mindset. (No mention here that Israel ended its occupation of Gaza in 2005, the year before Shalit was kidnapped.)

What one doesn’t comprehend is how a quick run-through of the Hamas Charter, disguised as a victim’s tale, makes it onto the BBC website as a “viewpoint.”

I also believe Gilad Shalit was a legitimate target for capture. As I remember, he was inside a tank while on patrol near the border with Gaza at the time. He was a soldier in the Israeli army, which has murdered Palestinian women and children. The world should not value an Israeli’s life more than a Palestinian’s.

Wait, Shalit was near the Gaza border? He wasn’t in Gaza, you see, but he was near enough to be considered game (translation: he was in Israel). And he may never have killed anyone, but other Israeli soldiers have, and that was enough to make Gilad Shalit guilty of murder.

Maybe we should turn this logic around, and make all Palestinians guilty because some Palestinians have murdered Israelis. This is the logic of Hatfields vs. McCoys. And it’s in the BBC. Shame, shame, London.

But hey, it’s just another viewpoint, right?

Science Saved My Soul

One thing I love about the Internet is that no matter how much cool stuff you come across there’s always something that makes you think, “How did I never see this before?” Yesterday I was listening to an interview with Phil Hellenes on the Thinking Atheist podcast about his awesome video “Science Saved My Soul.”

Today I went and watched the video, and I’m sharing it here for anyone who may have missed it.

Jefferson to Adams

I want to share this wonderful little nugget I plucked from one of Thomas Jefferson’s letters to John Adams. I think you’ll see why when you read it.

“I have thus stated my opinion on a point on which we differ, not with a view to controversy, for we are both too old to change opinions which are the result of a long life of inquiry and reflection, but on the suggestions of a former letter of yours, that we ought not to die before we have explained ourselves to each other.”

Rome burns – get used to it

Here’s a video of today’s “protests” in Rome. There’s a pattern to these protests, which basically boils down to a group of masked marauders getting in the middle of things and burning shit, throwing rocks through storefront windows and antagonizing the police. This typically destroys whatever force or function the protest might have had to begin with. The result is that everyone blames everyone else for the riots for days and weeks afterwards. Nothing is ever resolved. They never make a point. It’s just photos and videos of idiots with scarves over their faces throwing Molotov cocktails at the cops while those who came to actually demonstrate are sent hightailing it over the nearest fence. So much for the constitutional right to a peaceful protest. Enjoy your gelato.

Frederick Douglass on religious slaveholders

I’m not sure why, but until now I’ve never read Frederick Douglass’ Narrative. I think the impetus was actually from Carl Sagan, who devotes a section of The Demon-Haunted World to Douglass’ life.  It’s a remarkable story, not least for the improbability of its ever being written down. His escape from slavery began, however, with his clandestine education by the wife of one of his owners. She taught him to read, but not to write.

Douglass, while invoking a general sort of God throughout, has nothing but the harshest words for the pious Christian slave owners of the American South (mind you he was in Maryland, the state I grew up in 150 years later; the deep South is a whole ‘nother story, as we say.)

“I assert most unhesitatingly, that the religion of the south is a mere covering for the most horrid crimes – a justifier of the most appalling barbarity – a sanctifier of the most hateful frauds, and a dark shelter under which the darkest, foulest, grossest and most infernal slaveholders find the strongest protection. Were I to be again reduced to the chains of slavery, next to that enslavement, I should regard being the slave of a religious master the greatest calamity that could befall me. For of all the slaveholders with whom I have ever met, religious slaveholders are the worst. I have found them the meanest, the basest, the most cruel and cowardly, of all others. It was my unhappy lot not only to belong to a religious slaveholder, but to live in a community of such religionists.”

Bearing this in mind, isn’t it amazing more African-Americans aren’t hostile to religion in general, and Christianity in particular? I think so.

The silliness of shabbos

Not long ago I was trying to explain the “Sabbath elevators” in Israel to my Catholic aunt. She just kept looking at me like, “You gotta be sh/£&%g me!” Too bad she doesn’t have a computer, or I’d send her this video. It’s really crazy what observant Jews won’t do on Saturday, and the ingenious ways they invent in order to get around the system.

Which means they either think G-d is a bumpkin, or they just pretend to believe in His Omniscience in reverence to Tradition.