musings on music, travel, books, and life from Southeast Asia

Religious Loony Season

Here in Thailand we’re in the midst of our annual rainy season — a wet period that seems to last longer each year — but judging from the news around the world lately, we could also call this Religious Loony Season. Personally, I fear this destructive deluge as much as any floods or rain storms.

In the USA they are preparing to elect a president once again. This time around it’s the incumbent, Barack “I’ve got a Valid Birth Certificate” Obama versus Mitt “I Love my Car Elevator” Romney. Despite Obama’s disappointing performance during his first term (and a lot of that ineffectiveness can be chalked up to the vicious obstruction that’s been thrown at him by Republicans in congress), I think he’s by far the better choice for president. Based on everything Mitt Romney has said and done — not only during this campaign, but during his entire political and “business” career — he’s clearly an aloof and clueless character who has no clear or consistent policies. But hey, rich white guys love him, so he’s in the race.

 It would seem, even though the US economy continues to fart and sputter, Romney is so inept that Obama stands a very good chance of winning. But by no means is his re-election assured. Why? Because of the Religious Loony factor. The loony religious right wingers in the US are dubious of not only Obama’s performance in office, but also his birth origins and religious affiliation. A shockingly high percentage of these nutters fervently believe he is a Muslim and was born outside of the US. Obviously, facts confuse these people. But even church-going Black Americans who voted for Obama the first time around, are having second thoughts about the President. Why? Because Obama belatedly endorsed gay marriage. Oh, the horror! And yet, they aren’t comfortable with Romney, a card-carrying, one-wife Mormon, either. What will they do? It appears they are being urged by their Loony Religious Leaders not to even bother voting! Here’s what one online news story told us this week:  

Some black clergy see no good presidential choice between a Mormon candidate and one who supports gay marriage, so they are telling their flocks to stay home on Election Day. The pastors say their congregants are asking how a true Christian could back same-sex marriage, as President Barack Obama did in May. As for Republican Mitt Romney, the first Mormon nominee from a major party, congregants are questioning the theology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its former ban on men of African descent in the priesthood.

“When President Obama made the public statement on gay marriage, I think it put a question in our minds as to what direction he’s taking the nation,” said the Rev. A.R. Bernard, founder of the predominantly African-American Christian Cultural Center in New York. Bernard, whose endorsement is much sought-after in New York and beyond, voted for Obama in 2008. He said he’s unsure how he’ll vote this year.

Bernard is among the traditional Christians who voted for Obama in 2008 and are now undecided because of the president’s support for gay marriage. But Bernard is also troubled by Romney’s faith. “To say you have a value for human life and exclude African-American human life, that’s problematic,” Bernard said, about the Mormon’s previous priesthood ban.

The Rev. Dwight McKissic, a prominent Southern Baptist and black preacher, describes himself as a political independent who didn’t support Obama in 2008 because of his position on social issues. McKissic said Obama’s support for same-gender marriage “betrayed the Bible and the black church.” On Election Day, McKissic said, “I plan to go fishing.”

http://news.yahoo.com/african-american-christians-waver-over-vote-120333681–election.html

While the Religious Loonies “pray for guidance” and “forgiveness” for their (many) sins, as well as engage in their beloved pastimes of hunting and fishing, Romney continues to put his foot his mouth with totally absurd comments, further proving that he has no clue as to what the average American wants or thinks. You may have heard about the “leaked” speech that Romney gave to some of his rich donator buddies earlier this year. Here a few choice excerpts:

Romney, on Obama and his supporters:

“There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent on government, who believe that they are the victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, you name it, that that’s an entitlement and they will vote for this president no matter what… These are people who pay no income tax … I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

It’s interesting that he would talk about people who pay no income tax. I’m sure his fan club of rich white guys paid special attention to that quote, since most of them endeavor to pay as little tax as possible. To that crowd, “tax” is a four-letter word, and they wince in pain whenever the subject is mentioned. It doesn’t seem to matter which political or social issue is being discussed, the one dearest to their hearts is paying less taxes. Pathetic.

Meanwhile, here in the relatively calm environs of Southeast Asia, we have our share of religious loonies. But instead of deluded Christians we have befuddled Muslims. South of the border, in Malaysia, Muslim authorities are fretting over their children turning into raving homosexuals! Here’s what one wire service article had to say last week:

The Malaysian government has begun holding seminars aiming to help teachers and parents spot signs of homosexuality in children, underscoring a rise in religious conservatism in the country. The federal government said in March that it is working to curb the “problem” of homosexuality, especially among Muslims who make up over 60% of Malaysia’s population of 29 million people. According to a handout issued at a recent seminar, signs of homosexuality in boys may include preferences for tight, light-colored clothes and large handbags, local media reported. For girls, the details were less clear. Girls with lesbian tendencies have no affection for men and like to hang out and sleep in the company of women, the reports said.

Words fail me. Despite the clear absurdity of what these nuts are saying, the fact that so many people with power believe these things and are intent on passing laws is very worrying. And if the Muslims aren’t upset about “unnatural” gay activity, they are all worked over this ridiculous independent film about Mohammed that was leaked on YouTube last week. Instead of wisely ignoring such an amateur cinematic atrocity, some of the religion’s more fervent fanatics have taken grave offense at the film’s content and have resorted to violence in various spots around the world.

We’ve all seen or read about these horrific incidents in the past week.  But the protests have even spread to Bangkok, where yesterday a group of “500 angry Thai Muslims” gathered at the US Embassy to protest the film. It was also quite possibly the largest gathering of facial hair ever seen on the streets of the city. These bewildered loonies apparently had nothing better to do than block a public street and force the US embassy to shut down its services for half the day, all so that they could declare their “love for the prophet” and scream “Death to America” until they were hoarse and needed to walk over to 7-Eleven  and quench their thirst with Coke (oops …  more symbols of American imperialism!). At least there wasn’t any violence and the crowd dispersed after about two hours. I guess I better not tell them that I carry Salman Rushdie novels at my bookshop! Satanic Verses, baby, come and get it!

 

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