Monday, June 16, 2014

Congress Opens Forum for Religious Fanatics

Religious leaders at the hearing
Congress recently stepped away from its usual round of idle obstructionism to hold a hearing titled   "The State of Religious Liberty In The United States." The result was a typically embarrassing display of ignorance by several leading religious conservatives.

Perhaps they should be given some leeway, since their circle of knowledge is limited to a book written close to 2,000 years ago.

The Bible doesn’t mentions dinosaurs; they must not have existed, fossils be damned.   The Earth is 9,000 years old, so away with chemistry, astronomy, archaeology and every other science that has proven how erroneous that claim is.  

In that vein, Liberty Counsel founder and chairman Matthew Staver told the incredulous congressmen at the hearing that he didn’t know that Southern ministers used the Bible to condone slavery, but that’s something he would research.

Really?  How about just reading the Bible. Slave holders regularly quoted the Good Book: "Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling" (Ephesians 6:5), or "tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect" (Titus 2:9).

There are many more such verses, including Colossians 3:22: “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.” 1 Peter 2:18: “Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.”

The wonderful people who owned slaves would force their chattel into Christian services and read these lines.

As a report by a University of Virginia professor noted: “Slaveholders believed that slavery would liberate Africans from their savage-like ways, especially if they were infused with Christianity. As religion ran deep through slavery, white Christian slaveholders argued that slavery was a necessary evil because it would control the sinful, less humane, black race.”

Righteous Christians who testified at the hearing kind of missed that point.  They also ignored freedom of religion – except for their own beliefs, of course.

They argued that someone should be allowed to deny social services if religious beliefs were involved.  A Christian hospital should refuse to treat a gay person, for example.  Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.)
naturally was puzzled by the distinction. “Why is requiring insurers to cover contraception or abortion, which the Christian advocates opposed, any more of a restriction on religious liberty than requiring insurers to cover blood transfusions, which some other religions oppose?” he asked.

Staver had a slight problem answering that.  "It could be similar," he conceded, "but I think it's also fundamentally different."

See, to him, gay people somehow aren’t created by God, although fundamentalists believe God creates everything and everyone.  Gay people also aren’t entitled to equal protection under the law, something fundamentalists vociferously claim for themselves.

At the heart of fundamentalist's beliefs
Of course, Staver also doesn’t believe other religious groups should have their fundamental beliefs protected either.

Naturally, Staver is also on record as having supported therapy to “convert” gays to a straight lifestyle. He said that state laws outlawing the practice constituted "religious discrimination," accusing "homosexual activists" of trying to block “the truth” about how gay people "can successfully reduce or eliminate unwanted same-sex attractions."  He ignores extensive research that has found the therapy to be worthless, which is why states banned the practice.  After all, sexual orientation is built into to DNA; it can’t be changed through therapy.  Since Staver and his cohorts don’t bother with data, they can’t possibly know that.

At least, he’s consistent.  Staver has pushed for textbooks in Texas that promote what he labeled “Judeo-Christian values,” but which he demanded didn’t include any references to non-Christian faiths, including, presumably, the Jewish half of the values he touts.

When common sense failed to reach him, Staver naturally turned to the time-honored refuge of a religious fanatic -- he lied.  At the hearing, he claimed not to have spoken about outrageous Russian anti-gay laws.  He told Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), "I don't know what you've read; I haven't spoken on the Russian law anywhere."

Of course he has – publicly.

Clearly, religious beliefs have crowded out his memories.

However, since he and his like-minded cohorts base their information on a book that contains the imaginative comments of unknown writers, the gaps in memory and abysmally limited store of information are understandable and equally laughable.

Long-time religious historian Bill Lazarus regularly writes about religion and religious history.  He also speaks at various religious organizations throughout Florida.  You can reach him at  He is the author of the famed Unauthorized Biography of Nostradamus; The Last Testament of Simon Peter; The Gospel Truth: Where Did the Gospel Writers Get Their Information; Noel: The Lore and Tradition of Christmas Carols; and Dummies Guide to Comparative Religion.  His books are available on, Kindle, bookstores and via various publishers.  He can also be followed on Twitter.

You can enroll in his on-line class, Comparative Religion for Dummies, at

No comments:

Post a Comment