Sunday, September 2, 2007

Christianity = Deception

PZ Myers has recently blogged about his experiences with being a part of an upcoming movie with Ben Stein that highlights creationist agenda and religious superstition as being unfairly excluded from public schools and discourse. Apparently the whole thing began with a deception by the film's producer, Mark Mathis, who promised that he was making a documentary about the intersection of science and religion in America, called Crossroads: the Intersection of Science and Religion. It turns out that the film is actually titled Expelled which works on the premise that scientists aren't even allowed to think thoughts that involve an intelligent creator. The producers, backed by religious funding and proceeding with religious motivations, deceived PZ Myers and others like Eugenie Scott and Richard Dawkins to appear in their "documentary."

Such deceptions aren't alien to Christians.

It would seem that some Christians think it is their god's will that they lie and deceive in order to spread or justify their delusions. The Dover, PA case in which a court ruled that the local school board's attempt to inject "intelligent design" into the district's science curriculum was complete deception designed to infiltrate public schools with religion.

Another deception has shown up in the news recently with regard to a Colorado high school student, Erica Corder, who used her commencement speech to proselytize to the audience. This is what she had to say:

"We are all capable of standing firm and expressing our own beliefs, which is why I need to tell you about some- one who loves you more than you could ever imagine. He died for you on the cross over 2,000 years ago, yet was resurrected and is living today in heaven. His name is Jesus Christ. If you don't already know him personally, I encourage you to find out more about the sacrifice he made for you, so that you now have the opportunity to live in eternity with him."

Fox News ran a 3-4 minute report on the issue where they reported that she thanked Jesus and had her diploma withheld until she agreed to apologize for thanking Jesus. Online news outlets and blogs are reporting the same thing. This quote pretty well sums up the position that Faux News had as well:

So continues the fight for right in the United States. The first amendment guarantees freedom of religious expression; however, interestingly enough even in so-called educated quarters, this freedom is cut through

As you can see, there's no hesitation in citing the First Amendment and a guarantee of "freedom of religious expression." And if the right-wingnut news outlets were reporting the whole story, I'd be in agreement: Corder should have been able to thank whomever she wished, regardless of whether the person really exists. She could want to thank the Tooth Fairy and it should be a protected expression of gratitude. And we should all be free to ridicule and criticize that expression.

However, Faux News and News By Us didn't give the full story. They conveniently left out the fact that the commencement speeches were rehearsed well in advance and the speech Corder promised to give –the one she rehearsed – was different and didn't include an encouragement for others to join her in delusion and superstitious thought. She surprised school officials with a proselytizing that she had planned all along, according to a Colorado Springs newspaper. Apparently, she admitted to "praying about it for months" and was deluded into thinking that a god wanted her to do it.

The deception in the Corder case was two-fold: first, Corder herself deceived the school officials and fellow valedictorians and sprung her preaching moment on them; second, religious nutters in media are deceiving the public by omitting her tacit promise to give a different speech. They attempted to make it seem that she was persecuted by the school for mentioning a mythical deity when, in reality, she was being held accountable for lying.

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