Monday, January 18, 2010

Scientology Is Going Up-Scale in Columbus

The Columbus Dispatch had an article last Friday about the church of Scientology purchasing the old Time-Warner building on Dublin Rd to use as their new "Ideal Church of Scientology." This places them conveniently near the up-scale neighborhoods of Grandview Heights and Upper Arlington whose residents can, presumably, afford the monetary demands of participation in Scientology. I don't have any problem with this as long as they don't teach it in public schools. They can follow the teachings of a sci-fi author and ignore the fact that "fi" is short for fiction if they want.

What cracked me up was the quote from Scientology spokesperson, Frank Dean. He stated that the new church would be "an island of sanity in Columbus." Sanity? I do not think that word means what he thinks that word means. As I understand it, scientologists oppose main stream psychology and psychiatric medications. Since their religion (pretty much by the definition of religion) isn't rational, and they steer their followers away from the only proven treatments for insanity, could he have meant to say "an island FROM sanity in Columbus"?

They spent $3.2 million purchasing the property and estimate the cost of renovation at $3.5 to 4 million, but they have only raised $500,000 so far. They obviously need to sell a lot more Dianetics books, which makes me wonder what would be the effect on their recruitment if they filed for bankruptcy.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Pray or Shut Up

Here's a little followup to the last post about a xian prayer gathering to support the police and firefighters. I also expressed my opinion on the Columbus Dispatch website that the event should have been more inclusive. Although I didn't indicate my beliefs other than to say I was a non-xian, a response to my comment included this little gem: "Keep your godless garbage out of this forum, you have other vents for your thoughts, go find one."

It's funny how often I get responses like this when I suggest that people other than conservatives and/or xians have a right to exist . Maybe it's my writing style that some people find irritating. Actually, as I think about it, although I've frequently been disagreed with in forums (no, really), conservative xians are the only ones who have actually told me to shut up and get off the forum.

I just now recalled when someone sent me an email that advocated supporting George W. Bush and fundy religion. I think I responded, and I'm paraphrasing here, "I'd rather eat vulture crap with broken glass." He responded by saying "That's just your opinion and it's not welcome here." I guess he should have sent a selection of acceptable responses with the email.

I think I may have mentioned before that I've noticed some people seem to feel that only people that agree with their beliefs and opinions should have a right to exist. They're not all necessarily conservative xians but they're all fundamentalists in the sense that there are things they believe wholeheartedly in spite of mountains of evidence to the contrary and their first response to any suggestion they might be wrong is rage. I kinda like getting them to tell me to shut up, but I almost never do.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"Bless the Badge"; Stopping Crime for Xians Only

The Columbus Dispatch had an article today entitled, "Crime Stoppers organizes 'Bless the Badge' prayer service," where three local pastors led about 75 in prayers to bless local law enforcement officers and firefighters. The event was scheduled to fall on the anniversary of the death of Columbus Police Officer Bryan Hurst so that he might be memorialized at the same time.

I'm all in favor of doing everything possible to support law enforcement and firefighters, but I don't see the point of this prayer service at all. To me, the event seems like about 75 people gathered in a room to talk to themselves about police and firefighters. Except to make those gathered feel good and the subsequent article which lets law and fire persons know that some people are thinking nice things about them, I don't see that the service has any effect on anything at all. I mean, this gathering doesn't raise any money, or organize a neighborhood watch, or provide any protection from harm (since god always answers prayers, but sometimes he answers "no"), so the whole event, pretty much, is just a Christian publicity stunt.

My next question is; why is Crime Stoppers organizing a Christian event? I can find nothing on their website that indicates that the organization has a religious affiliation or sponsorship, so why are they organizing an event that stops no crimes and alienates everyone in the community that is a non-christian? Has no one ever called in a tip to inform them that other religions and beliefs exist in Ohio or are they like the conservative evangelicals who believe all non-christians are the evil enemy?

A lot of us infidels would like to be involved in a gathering that showed support for these brave public servants and we'd like to be able to honor our fallen heroes, but we don't think we should have to have a gathering separate from the Xians and we don't think our participation should be contingent on our willingness to engage in the religious ceremonies of a belief system other than our own. Crime Stoppers is supposed to be about the whole community and they might want to start be ending their own participation in the crime of religious bigotry.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Is Freshwater Losing Supporters?

I've kinda been hanging back and watching the reactions in the news and blogs to the most recent days of the John Freshwater hearing. Of the news coverage, the articles in the Mount Vernon News by Pamela Schehl provide the most detailed information and are available here and here, although the Columbus Dispatch articles by Dean Narciso, here and here, are also quite informative. Most importantly, now that the MVSB's lawyer is questioning Freshwater directly, it is becoming increasingly clear that Freshwater's testimony has major inconsistencies and that he is being very evasive about answering the questions.

Comments to the articles reflect that an increasing number of people have determined that Freshwater's pants are on fire. Comments for previous articles consisted of little more than proponents and opponents hurling insults at each other, but, with these latest articles, which quote the actual testimony, a larger number of self-identified Christians are reaching the conclusion that A) Freshwater is guilty, and B) that he is not a good Christian either. It's refreshing to see comments from Xians who, at least in this case, say that lying for god is as immoral as other lies.

A lot of blogs with an anti-creationist leaning have recently discovered the hearing and are reporting on it, although in some cases, they seem to be relying on 1 1/2 year old information. What the heck. At least they got here in time catch the finale.

The blogs I was trying to watch most closely are the ones that support Freshwater. Some of these were actually set up specifically to follow the hearing and most indicate support of teaching creationism in school as well as most of the other conservative Xian crackpottery. I was anxious to see how the blogs would deal with Freshwater's testimony a few weeks ago when he denied ever teaching creationism in his science classes and insisted that he was opposed to the teaching of creationism. The bloggers dealt with it as they would most scientific evidence; they ignored it.

The pro-Freshwater bloggers (does that make me a pro-saltwater blogger?) prefer to quote Freshwater's testimony where he insists he never did anything wrong and to promote the idea that he was the innocent victim of an evil conspiracy. I thought the description on the header of pretty well summarized the viewpoint of a lot of these supporters; " America is in the midst of a raging cultural and spiritual war. Forces of Good, Light, Conservatism and a Judeo-Christian Worldview daily battle the forces of Evil, Darkness, Socialism and False Religions and Philosophies. A Good Choice is on the frontlines exposing evil across America’s political and social spectrum." Um, OK, that sure sounds like a fair and balanced perspective to me. Sign me up in the evil column, please.

In general, it would seem that more and more people are reaching the conclusion that the Mount Vernon School Board had valid reasons for firing John Freshwater and that it was always his plan to lie his ass off if it was necessary in order to win. I can't help wondering what will happen as more Mount Vernon residents realise that Freshwater knew he was guilty of at least some of the reasons for his firing and yet chose to insist on a hearing that has cost the taxpayers half-a-million dollars so far, just so he could gamble that he could outsmart the school board. At least his closed-minded agree-with-me-or-die friends will stand by him.