Tag Archives: Mormon

Almost All Praise to Allah

Scene: Lots and lots of fluffy clouds. A big, pearly gate. Sitting outside the gate at a folding table is a figure with a long , white beard.
Enter from the left a grungy, dark-skinned hobbling figure. Smiling and excited.

Bearded figure (with thick Brooklyn Jewish accent): Oy. So, who are you? Vat do you vant?
Dark -skinned figure: All praise to Allah. I am your humble servant, Amedy Coulibaly. I have come for my reward.
Bearded figure: Allah shmallah. I am who am. You can call me Yahweh. So, let’s see if you are on my list.
Coulibaly: But isn’t this paradise? The heavenly garden of delights?
Yahweh: Yah, yah. Some paradise. We had to lay off staff. So now I have to work the third shift every other week. And my bursitis is acting up. Look. I think you want to see Allah. right?
Coulibaly: Yes. Allah the all-powerful. The all-knowing. The master of all things.
Yahweh. Right. Whatever. Look. Allah works the third shift this week. You’re gonna have to wait over there with the other Muslims and Christians. I only handle the Chosen People. No goyim. Ever since Zeus retired it’s been a madhouse up here. When will you people stop reproducing, already ?
Coulibaly: All praise to Allah. I shall wait.
6 hours later. Shift change.
Coulibaly: All praise to Allah. I am your humble servant, Amedy Coulibaly. I have killed infidels in your name and in your honor. I have come for the rewards of paradise.
Bearded figure at table: Coulibaly. …Coulibaly…Nope, not on the list. Were you a Protestant or a Catholic?
Coulibaly: Neither, most holy one. I am of the Seal of the Prophet. The completion of the Holy Scripture. I am ISIS and /or al-qaeda, take your pick.
Bearded figure: Well, my son, I am Jesus. Jew turned Christian. I don’t think I can help you, but let me check my records just to be sure. You said ISIS? Is that the name of your congregation?
Coulibaly: Yes, Jesus. It is my true calling, to die for Allah and ISIS. And so enjoy the fruits of the heavenly garden of delights.
Jesus: Right…heavenly delights…OK, let me check my list of organizations…Baptist…no..Congregationalist…no…Not Catholic. OK…Presbyterian…First Church of the Second Church of the Holy Redeemer….OH, WAIT. What’s this ?…MARY! Mary Magdalene…get Lucifer on the hot line.
(A woman in very short robes and plenty of cleavage showing sashays over with a phone.)
Jesus: (to Coulibaly) She can’t type, but, what the heck, this is heaven, right? (On the phone)..Hey Beelzebub, wassa up dog ?…We have a problem…I’ll send the sheet down….No, it was just a mix up…OK , add this to your list “Westboro Baptist Church membership rolls”…I know they are….No, we don’t want them either. …You know in your heart they belong to you…OK OK, send up Jack the Ripper as a tradeoff…keep warm, Bub.
Jesus: Look, Amedy. I would like to help you but your gonna have to wait for the next shift. That is when Big Al takes over. Allah to you.
(8 hours later)
Coulibaly: Finally, All praise to Allah. I am Amedy Coulibaly.
Allah (also an old guy with a beard): I know who you are. What do you want?
Coulibaly: I have come to claim my reward in paradise. I have destroyed infidels in your name. I have killed a policeman. I have taken hostages and killed them in cold blood. Praise be to Allah.
Allah: What are you? Nuts? Why would you kill people I have created? Innocent people. With families. Minding their own business. What were they doing to you?
Coulibaly: They were infidels. All praise to Allah. Death to infidels. I deserve a reward.
Allah: You know. You people with your crazy ideas and guns and infidels and terrorism. You are giving me a bad name. You want to kill civilians, fine. But don’t try to lay that shit on me. Don’t try to pull that “Inquisition” nonsense like the Christians did to Jesus. Couldn’t you just chill and enjoy life?
Coulibaly: No. I was promised a reward. Entrance into paradise. Eternal heaven with 72 virgins.
Allah: Oh, Jesus! Not the virgin thing again. If you weren’t such a tightass you might get laid on Earth. Look. There are no virgins. At least not in Heaven. Unless you count Mother Theresa, but she had to buy her way in. You people need to learn to read.
Coulibaly: No virgins? No reward?
Allah: Oh, there is a reward, okay. Here, in this bowl. 72 white grapes. The Aramaic word for white grapes: hur. That is the word for grapes. Some idiot mistranslated it to mean “virgins” a long time ago and it stuck. So, here we are in paradise. Lots of fruit. Lots of grapes. A few bananas. A mango or two. But virgins ? No. All these girls went to college. Sorry.
Coulibaly: So, it was all for nothing? The hatred. The murder. The blind obedience to authority. All for nothing?
Allah: Take heart. It could be worse. See that group over there painting campaign posters and writing speeches. Their idea of paradise is to campaign for President of Heaven for all eternity with never a chance of winning.
Coulibaly: Are they heathens? Romans? Jews? Idiots?
Allah: Mormons.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/08/04/opinion/martyrs-virgins-and-grapes.html

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Filed under Christianity, Foreign policy, Islam, Judaism, Religion, Terror

Corporate Rights #2: The Hobby Lobby Religion

Central to the Hobby Lobby case before the Supreme Court is whether a corporation can exercise the right to religious freedom. And thereby excuse itself from laws it finds religiously offensive.

We have a long history of allowing religious institutions and sometime even individuals exemptions from the law. Or parts of the law. For example, the Affordable Care Act exempts religious employers from paying for health insurance costs related to some areas of contraception and abortion. The principle, not really tested yet in court in the case of the ACA, being that legitimate religious beliefs trump this part of the law. While I personally do not agree that any institution or individual is above the law, the Congress disagrees. Perhaps the lobbying power and financial clout of non-tax paying religious organizations may be part of the reason for this exemption. At any rate, it is there. It exists. It is legal.

But other times the courts have ruled that certain practices of religious groups are not above the law. Polygamy, for example, was considered essential for the leaders of the Church of Latter Day saints. But the government ruled otherwise. Even though it was, at the time, a central doctrine of the faith. The Mormons believed in it. The US government said “No”.

And no one would argue that child marriage, slavery, human sacrifice  or actions which obviously harm individuals should be protected, no matter how sincere the beliefs of the religious group that holds them. So, the courts have ruled that religious freedom has  limits, as does  any right.

Individuals who may object to joining the military can apply for conscientious objector status, which precludes them from taking part in combat. But even in this case, it does  not exempt them from military service. They are given other jobs to do. So,  in that sense, they are not exempt.

What about Hobby Lobby? It is not a religion. It is not a church. It is a junk store. It does business in the United States as a multi-million (perhaps billion dollar) corporate entity. Not a mom and pop operation. Not your local Jewish deli. It is a corporate chain, like a MacDonalds or a Dollar Store. What is it’s claim to a religious exemption?

The family that owns Hobby Lobby has sincere religious beliefs. As do the owners of thousands of businesses. And the CEO  of Exxon  or GE or Boeing.  But Hobby Lobby is claiming that the beliefs of a few people, because they are owners of a business enterprise,  somehow allow them to impose their terms on a secular labor contract. While the law says that any business must provide certain things…overtime pay, safe working conditions, minimum wages and now minimum health care benefits, Hobby Lobby is claiming that it does  not have to  abide by those laws. While it uses a religious argument, the actual substance of the case is about money. After all, no one is forcing the Green family to pay for anything out of their own pockets. They have the legal protections of a corporation, but do not want to fulfill the responsibilities of a corporation under the ACA.

The workers earn benefits. Can a corporation limit or reduce or deny benefits based on some new and radical idea of “corporate religion”? If so,  any reasonable person can follow the thread and see where it leads. Any corporate lawyer worth his salary will be codifying “religious beliefs” for Wendy’s and GM before the ink dries on a favorable court decision.

Of course a corporation cannot claim religious freedom to avoid labor laws. A corporation is an artificial , man-made legal construct.  Can anyone claim with a straight face that the original intent of the Bill of Rights was to shield business entities from the powers given Congress in Article 1 ?

Perhaps. After all, some members of this court have already turned the Constitution and themselves  into a logical pretzel with the Bush v Gore decision and the Citizens United decision. While both were obviously politically motivated the majority managed to mangle the interpretation to mean “whatever I say it means”.

So, while an honest interpretation of the law (which already exempts religious groups) and the Constitution would seem to indicate a 9-0 decision against Hobby Lobby, there is no telling how far some members will go in their homage to corporate power. We shall see. Just as Citizens United has turned our elections into a livestock auction,  (“twenty dollar, eighty dollar, five thousand dollar, two million dollar…SOLD, to the two brothers in the back of the room slinking in the corner”) this court decision could eviscerate any worker protection and undercut Article 1 of the Constitution. Believe it.

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