2013.11 Action: Promote the Meme "Neo-Theo"

I invite you to join in propagating a new meme: "neo-theo".

Despite its obvious resonance with "neo-con", the term "neo-theo" more closely parallels the rebranding that the creationist movement undertook after getting repeatedly slapped down for making its religious motivations too visible. They went back into their burrows and emerged again as defenders of "academic freedom" (religious zealots have a free-speech right to indoctrinate school children about "evilution") and "intelligent design" (a pseudo-scientific label for the laffably named Discovery Institute, which operates no labs, runs no experiments, publishes no papers, and has never discovered a damn thing). The legal, academic, and scientific false fronts they put up are mere sham, of course, but they help to preserve the legal facade of not being religiously motivated.

It's the same deal with the neo-theos. Instead of being repackaged creationists, they're gussied-up dominionists. In their heart of hearts, they believe the United States should be (and probably all along was intended to be) a theocracy, but they've learned from bitter experience that they can't come right out and honestly say so. Instead, they take refuge behind nominally secular legal concepts, such as the idea that corporations are people (which gained legal credibility after the eye-opening Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC) and thus entitled to "human rights", such as conscientious objection.

There's another case currently headed for the US Supreme Court, in which the newly minted "person" known as Hobby Lobby claims its conscience has been shocked by being required to provide the same kind of health-care coverage for its employees as, say, General Motors or Microsoft. In fact, while the fundamentalist owners of Hobby Lobby may have just such an attitude (the same way that the owners of Chick-fil-A are opposed to gay marriage), the corporation itself, not being a human being, is devoid of opinions on the subject. And the law applies to the corporation.

Just as with the "academic freedom" claims of the creationists, the neo-theos are attempting to put a smiling secular face on their ludicrous claim, wrapping it in shiny colored paper with a ribbon, a bow, and a label reading "religious liberty". Well, "corporate personhood" (either as such or in its guise as "church personhood") is as much an oxymoron as "intelligent design" and deserves to be exposed for what it truly is: dominionist dogma rebranded for secular consumption.

I believe that identifying its proponents as "neo-theos" (which has the added advantage of rhyming) will help to do that.


2013.11 Opinion: Honesty of a Neo-Theo

Today I submitted this letter to the editor of the Cap Times of Madison:

Thanks to Craig Vance for his honesty in revealing the true agenda of the self-proclaimed "right to life" movement. In asserting that his particular favorite flavor of superstition outranks the highest court in the land, he places his lust for a theocracy ahead of the people-ruled, rights-based republic envisioned by America's Founders. His Dominionist advocacy of 2nd-class "your body is ours" status for women exactly parallels his fellow religionists who burned "witches" at the stake during the Middle Ages or who stone them to death in modern-day Saudi Arabia for the "crime" of being raped by somebody not their husband.

His comparison to the Nazis was apt in a way he probably didn't envision, in that those genocidal maniacs also favored keeping women "in their place" with their official policy of Kinder, Küche, Kirche (children, kitchen, church). Yes, Hitler too meant the part about Kirche. It's so easy to oppress others when you have Gott mit uns (God with us).

Fortunately, in America we still have at least lip service toward the 1st Amendment, with its guarantee of separation of church and state, and neo-theos like Craig Vance haven't yet succeeded in undermining it entirely.

I too am particularly unhappy with certain decisions of the US Supreme Court (Bush v. Gore, Citizens United, Kelo v. New London), but the proper way to deal with them is thru the political process or Constitutional amendments, not by denying or undermining the court's legitimacy. If you want to live without the rule of law, try Somalia. If you'd rather live with the civil authority subordinate to a religious supreme leader, Iran's set up exactly that way.


2013.11 News: Graveyard of the Gods

Created by our young friends over at AHA (Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics at the University of Wisconsin – Madison) for Halloween 2013, this Graveyard of the Gods display on Bascom Hill features mock tombstones for many of the thousands of gods once as revered by their respective civilizations as Yahweh is by many in our supposedly modern, enlightened, sophisticated society.

Follow the above link to see more images.