Archive for justice

Susanna Did What!

Posted in agnoticism, Atheism, Atheist, belief, Bible, Christianity, faith, random, religion, sex, thoughts with tags , , , , on November 7, 2010 by chouck017894

There is a narrative that does not appear in all Bibles, which exemplifies the pick-and-choose habit of faith systems to select only things that they wish to accept as true.  The narrative in question is in regard to Susanna and the Elders, which is omitted in Protestant Bibles such as the King James version and the Revised Standard.  The tale is regarded as of questionable origin or of doubtful religious significance but which was tacked onto the  Book of Daniel.  The earlier Roman Catholic Church, due to the Council of Hippo (393 CE) and Council of Trent (1546 CE), made up of priests needing occasional suggestive reading matter, cleared the tale as the word of God and added it to Daniel as chapter 13.  This was allowed despite the fact that the style and setting of the story, and even the character traits of Daniel do not harmonize with the rest of the book of Daniel.  The work is now place in an appendix after chapter 12, which also includes the work  known as Bel and the Dragon.

In a nutshell, Susanna is about a beautiful and devout Jewish woman who is falsely accused of adultery by two Jewish elders who had lustful desires for the untouchable Susanna.  In essence, the story verges on soft porn, but the tale was included as an example of justice being  triumphant due to her plea to the Omniscient Lord to reveal the truth of her innocence.  Susanna was summoned before the judges who constituted the court, and the two accusers were  among them.  A beautiful woman being publicly accused of adultery attracted widespread attention, for the prospect of witnessing the sadistic punishment and death for a female adulterer was a powerful magnet.  But young Daniel is alleged to have risen to her defense, seeing in her the living example of truth and faithfulness as she faced her accusers, the court, and the gathered mob.

The trial began with the two lying elders demanding that she uncover her face, a custom prescribed in the book of Numbers 5:18; but by the historical timeframe in which the tale is set, the Mishna, tr. Sota 1, 5, forbade public unveiling of an attractive woman at such an event.  But the story goes on that the two elders rose up “…in the midst of the people, (and) laid their hands upon her head.”  Not a likely move, for under Jewish judicial procedure a witness could not also serve as judge.  But the false witnesses, their lust unfulfilled, told of having been by chance  in the orchard where the alleged incident took place and seeing Susanna receiving and having congress with a young man.  The mob absurdly believed that honored elders were above lying  about anything, and so the mob, manipulated into a  frenzy, condemned her to death. 

It is here that young Daniel enters the tale.  The  story does point up the fact that the majority of people  do not like to apply reason to a problem; they prefer finding gratification in having their opinions manipulated.  Ignored was the detail that no one had bothered to ask; why the two elders just happened to be loitering in the woman’s private garden.  Nor had anyone bothered to ask them to describe the young man or describe what the young man had been wearing.  Fortunately there was an established juridical procedure in this timeframe by which an appeal from a conviction of a capital offense stayed an execution until new evidence was asked for and received. 

Daniel made use of this procedure, and in the reopening of the case proceeded to cross-examine the two dishonorable elders separately in front of the court so that neither man knew what the other had said.  The single question put to the men was, under what kind of tree had the intimate incident occurred?  The first elder, without hesitation, declared the sexual act took place “under a mastic tree.”  The second elder, a bit reluctant, said it had occurred “…under a holm tree” (Daniel 13:58).  The assemblage recognized the discrepancy in the alleged witnesses’ testimony, and true to the fundamentalists’ mentality moved to, “To fulfill the law of Moses…(and) put them to death, and innocent blood was saved that day.” 

Unanswered is the nagging question, where was Susanna’s husband during this sordid trial?  He is absent for the simple reason that if the husband, named Joakim, had played the loyal husband role at the trial, Daniel would not have held the starring role: the episode was inserted as part of Daniel, after all.  So the tale ends with a fairytale flavor, the implication being that Susanna and Joakim lived happily ever after.

We are supposed to ignore that in gambling with contradictory answers from the elders to a single question, Daniel was actually gambling with Susanna’s life.  It was not totally impossible that both elder might have named the same tree.  Modern legal practice would never hinge on such a flimsy procedure.  What this tale does accentuate, however, is how easy it is to sway the populace through inflammatory remarks, slanted news, and  unethical persuasion. 

Unfortunately, the crude, swift, and erratic injustice personified with the elders and by the mob is still to be seen in religious and political arenas to this day.  For some reason we may wonder why we think of the Tea Party crowd in today’s US politics.

  • Related post: Book of Daniel, Another Borrowed Myth

Pretense of Piety

Posted in Atheism, Atheist, belief, Christianity, culture, enlightenment, faith, history, life, politics, random, religion, secularism, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , on February 16, 2010 by chouck017894

Religious proselytizing is a special type of propaganda.  From at least the early 1960s in the United States there has been a virtual epidemic of this type of pseudo holiness.  The spread of this affliction has been a carefully plotted pattern of contamination by those who recognized the material profits and worldly power that was to be had by injecting people’s psyches with holy fears of being rejected by the Source and sustainer of all diverse life.

Through the last couple of decades of the twentieth century each person’s personal beliefs about how they are to respect the creative life force has been artfully deformed into a political cause that dares assert that their selected belief systems should have free access to tax money collected from all diverse people to practice their religious brand of discrimination.  “Faith-based” is a deceptive moniker chosen to proclaim their delusions of exclusive access to an indifferent creative force, and is nothing more than propaganda rhetoric.  Even today, a decade into the 21st century, sectarian lobbies shamelessly seek the political clout to force all U. S. citizens to live under their narrow, man-invented theological regulations.  How militaristic maneuvering for earthly power is a soul-saving operation for a loving omnipotent Creator fails to compute as spiritual integrity.

Think this claim of religious politicizing is farfetched?  In November 2009 a coalition of extremist evangelicals and Roman Catholic bishops met to pound out a 4,700 page document they called “Manhattan Declaration,” with the pretentious subtitle, “A Call of Christian Conscience.”  Of course it is implied that the arrogant political demands framed in the document were God-directed, with God supposedly recommending public policies that covered such things as marriage rights, reproductive rights, what is to be accepted as proper sexual magnetism, and other niceties.  These representatives of a proclaimed loving God backed up their holiness by declaring they would ignore any democratic-flavored laws that they did not like.  They, and no one else, had heard God’s shrill trumpet—or “clarion call”—for strict regimentation in conduct of life’s diversity that would please him. 

So extreme and devious are these types of hierarchical “faith” systems that they dare to self-promote their spiritual selfishness as “a promotion of human dignity.”  And, by God,  they will seek to wipe out anyone who disagrees with them!

The Preamble of this bloated Declaration begins with the statement that…”Christians are heirs of a 2,000 year tradition of proclaiming God’s word, seeking justice in our societies, resisting tyranny, and reaching out with compassion to the poor, the oppressed and suffering.”  The interpretation of Christian history that follows this whitewash then lingers only on the sparse times when Christian practitioners happened to actually rise above the very offenses they say that they denounce.  True history shows that justice was not exactly a Christian concern in the formative years of the movement: they were more rebels, criminals and agitators than law-abiders.  The tyranny of the Roman Catholic Church indulged in justice by “reaching out with the compassion” that is known as the Inquisition when millions of defenseless souls were tortured and killed for not measuring up to church demands. 

The document sidesteps all the many gory pages of their religious practices by saying, “While fully acknowledging the imperfections and shortcomings of Christian institutions and communities in all ages…” they then quickly claim Christianity to have been the only source that “defended innocent  life”!  If this document is taken as truth, only Christians have been responsible for any advances in human welfare and care in the world. 

To borrow words from the Manhattan Document, “…consider carefully and reflect critically on the issues…” that you pompously trumpet.  You have no right whatsoever to make demands on the diverse expressions of life that you dare to judge.  What you pretend is spiritual enlightenment amounts to little more than masturbation of your ego.

Our Legal Environment

Posted in Atheist, culture, history, life, politics, religion with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2009 by chouck017894

Rules of the game: That is what cultures and societies establish and speak of as “laws,” and which, ideally, institute a framework of conduct that presumably serves to protect the majority.  But when a minority faction becomes the majority that occupies the seats of law policy for the nation, the likelihood of impartial interpretation of law becomes dubious.

As noted in the earlier posting, Democracy Under Siege (June 20), perfidious factions (extreme religious right) have for years sought to chip away at the safeguards that were established in the United States Constitution in a disloyal attempt to jam their religious interpretations into government rule.  If a wall is not maintained between church and state the result is theocratic bedlam, and gross orgies of persecution and harassment are enthroned as divine justice.  The clerical rule of Iran through the last few decades is a good example of such a divinely brutal system.

The United States skated close to the edge of disaster through eight years under a president that thought he had been divinely chosen to direct policy and the course of action that the nation should follow.  But his appointment had not been by majority choice of the people as it should have been, but by a Supreme Court that was heavily indebted to a Republican power base which had stacked the court with five doctrinally “conservative” Catholic “justices” out of nine seats.

When that court-elected president neared the end of his detrimental term in office, the US Supreme Court under Chief Juistice John G. Roberts, a doctrinally conservative Roman Catholic, openly indicated that the court was s willing to render wide-ranging decisions that would reverse time-honored trends in jurisprudence.  Those desiring a theocratic takeover of the nation were ecstatic at the decisions of the court that limited citizens’ rights to challenge government support for religion!  Anti-evolution propaganda thus gained muscle to combat well-proven evidence of evolution and inject into schools the biblical myth of creation as “scientific creationism.”  The Supreme Court also chose to ignore medical  evidence as a consideration in some abortion cases thus imposing  theocratic limits upon rules that had been established in 1973 in Roe vs. Wade.   And true to doctrinally conservative interpretation of law, the court increased pressure on scientists and educators to alter or even suppress scientitic research and findings that conflicted with the schema of the religious right.  Religious theory was/is being wedged into government policy.

With the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court the nation is now confronted with having still another Roman Catholic added to the Supreme Court, making the religious beliefs of SIX out of nine justices a drastic imbalance in the court’s point of view.  Having a Latina woman on the court is, in itself, a wonderful declaration of democratic principles.  Unfortunately, we should be excused for wondering can such an ideologically imbalanced Supreme  Court remember that narrow dogma is NOT the mark of wise democratic justice?

Burden of Proof

Posted in Atheist, Bible, Christianity, culture, history, humanity, politics, random, religion, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on May 12, 2009 by chouck017894

In a court of law, at least in the United States, there is declared an obligation to prove affirmatively a disputed claim relating to an issue that is being contended in court. Because it is always the plaintiff (claimant) that brings the action, it is the plaintiff’s responsibility to persuade the court of the merits (truth) of his case. The plaintiff must therefore establish his case beyond a reasonable doubt.

In a civil case, however, the claimant is allowed what is called “a fair preponderance of the evidence” to establish the truth of his claim. In other words, reasonable doubt can be muddied and manipulated by legal theatrics.

How do these rules of “justice” stand up when questions regarding religion are presented? Unfortunately, history shows repeatedly that in cases debating issues of “belief” the scales of rational justice too often suffer considerable abuse.

In a theocracy, for example, where some religous faction holds iron-fist control of the state, “justice” is balanced against a defendant’s acceptance of the in-power’s religion. In such a religion-dominated governing setup, if one is charged with even a misdemeanor and does not subscribe to the prescribed manmade dogma, the defendant has virtually no chance of receiving genuine justice. When a faith system—any faith system—exerts muscle over the balance of national inquiry, neither spiritual nor human welfare is being served: only those in the seat of power benefit.

So it was considerably alarming in the United States when, in the opening days of the 21st century, the citizens of the U.S. found religious fundamentalists actively seeking to destroy the whole foundation of democratic principles in hopes of imposing their narrow concepts of a “Bible-based” nation. Through their clamor and forgery of the nation’s true history they thus placed themselves in the role of plaintiffs in the court of popular evaluation. Unfortunately for them, the claim of “revealed” wisdom and guidance made by these would-be controllers is not a premise that can be advanced beyond reasonable doubt. Presenting the Bible as their authority is not persuasive either, even in a civil court, for there are countless translations and interpretationsof that book. Moreover, the original authors of those stories were convinced that Earth was the center of all Creation.

But there still remain reasons to worry about the religious fanatics seeking to chip away at the principles set forth in the U.S. Constitution and in the Bill of Rights. The heavy-handed manner of the Supreme Court in the 2000 election belied the noble principles of “goverment of the people, by the people, and for the people,” and by Supreme Court rule a man was set in the Oval Office who brazenly claimed to be chosen by God! Inspired by biblical tales no doubt, he and his cohorts quickly mired the nation neck-deep in an illegal war; those who were taken prisoner were held without charge and without access to legal counsel; torture was approved and indulged in; citizens’ rights to privacy were betrayed—and numerous other biblical niceties were extended. Meanwhile the rich quickly got richer as they sank even deeper into spiritual poverty.