Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Opening the floodgates

There's a bizarre battle going on right now in the state of Florida.

First, a Christian group was allowed to hand out bibles to students in eleven high schools in Orange County.  So an atheist group asked the Orange County School Board for permission to hand out atheist pamphlets, and was denied.  This resulted in a lawsuit from the atheists, which was summarily thrown out.

The school board wouldn't comment on the reasons for their denial, only saying that the atheist literature would be "disruptive."  Others opined that since atheism isn't a religion, it's not covered under the freedom of religion clause.

This last suggestion, however, opened the floodgates.  The next to step up to the plate was the Satanic Temple, who applied to the school board to pass out promotional materials including a book called The Satanic Children's Big Book of Activities, the cover of which I show below:

[image courtesy of the Satanic Temple]

The tall kid looks kind of grumpy, doesn't he?  You can tell he's regretting posing for this picture.  Maybe he was coerced somehow, you think?  ("If you won't be part of the group photo, we won't let you take part in sacrificing the goat on the equinox tomorrow.")  And the kid on the left could probably use going up a shirt size or three.

The Satanic Temple, of course, was trying to make a point, and they were completely up front about it.  "There has to be an understanding that they probably have a student body that is generally aware of Christian teachings," Temple spokesperson Lucien Grieves said.  "Kids know about the Bible. They probably go to church on Sundays with their parents. But our material juxtaposed to that offers differing religious opinions, not just the view that's dominating the discourse."

"We don't argue the merits of any one voice in a school environment," Grieves added.  "We think it's in the best interests for everyone, especially the kids, that the district not to have religious materials of any kind distributed in schools."

If that wasn't enough to make the school board question the wisdom of their actions, just yesterday we had another group throw their hat into the ring.  This, unfortunately, was the Raelians, a religion based in France that believes that the Earth was created by an extraterrestrial species, who are still more or less managing matters.  The core beliefs of the Raelians are that we should strive for world peace, feel free to have lots of sex with anyone who is willing, and both men and women should run around shirtless all the time.

"It's about equality for all," Donna Newman, spokesperson for the International Raelian Movement in South Florida said.  "No violence, peace on Earth.  If society is just leaning towards just one specific doctrine, it's not fair.  Why can't they open up their doors to other beliefs?  Let the children choose, not just pound one doctrine into their heads all their lives."

So.  Yeah.  If the whole debacle brings up the phrase "Be careful what you wish for," I have to say that it did for me, too.

But the main thing that bothers me, here, is that none of the groups -- Christian, atheist, Satanist, Raelian -- seem to be thinking much about the children, here and now, who are in the middle of what is turning into a four-way tug of war.  Sure, the school board created this mess, through a misguided Freedom-Of-Religion-As-Long-As-It's-The-Right-Religion approach.  But now the kids are the victims, hearing every other day about some new group who wants a crack at their allegiance.

Can we clarify one thing, here?  Schools are about free education.  They are not about proselytizing, a lesson that I can only hope the Orange County School Board has learned.  But they are also not about using high school students to score political points, however important the issue is (and I do think this issue is important).  Children are not pawns on a chessboard, and partisanship has no place in the classroom.

Being an out atheist in my community means that a good many students walk into my classroom knowing my views on religion.  But that's no different, really, than students seeing one of their teachers walk into any of the half-dozen or so churches in our village.  I keep my religious opinions (and my political ones, as well) out of my classroom.

And so should every teacher.  And so should school boards.  The Orange County School Board's misstep, therefore, serves as a shining example of what not to do.  All of us -- religious and atheist alike -- hopefully get that by now.  So to all the groups currently clamoring for these poor Florida teenagers' ears, I can only say one thing:

Point made.  Time to lay off.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Exorcism While-U-Wait

In the latest from the Bizarre Religious News department, we have word that Catholic exorcists in Italy are being told to take it easy by the powers that be.

The Archbishop of Florence, Cardinal Giuseppe Bertori, has become concerned that priests are conducting too many exorcisms.  There's a danger, Bertori said, that some of the purported possessed actually are suffering from conventional mental illnesses, and would be better off consulting a psychiatrist than a priest.

Saint Francis Borgia Conducting an Exorcism by Francisco Goya [image courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons]

Well, yeah, I'd agree, especially if you substituted the word "all" for "some."  But Bertori obviously still thinks that the whole demonic possession thing is real, because instead of telling the Get-Thee-Behind-Me-Satan crowd simply to knock it off, he's telling them that they have to apply for and receive permission from the higher-ups before going through with it.

This strikes me as simultaneously appalling and hilarious.  Because if bureaucracy is good at anything, it's dragging its feet.  Can you see the problem here?
Italian church member:  Father, you need to come conduct an exorcism on my wife.  She froths at the mouth whenever anyone near her says a prayer, can't stand the sight of crucifixes, chews on the upholstery, and recently turned her head a full 360.  It's scaring the pets. 
Priest:  I'll have to apply for permission.  I'll get right back to you. 
*a year and a half later* 
Priest:  Good news, we've got permission!  I have you on the calendar for March of 2018.  I hope that works for you.
So that could be problematic.  But Bertori et al. seem to be more worried that unauthorized exorcisms are making the church look kind of... silly.  So he's sent all the priests a manual called (I'm not making this up) "Regarding Magic and Demonology," telling them to pay special attention to the section called "Exorcisms and healing prayers… pastoral rules and recommendations."

"Some priests, with the best intentions," a Catholic spokesperson said in an interview in La Nazione, "are making themselves available to listen to these people and sometimes perform exorcisms on them in a way that is not permitted, not regular and not coordinated."

Well, the last thing we want is uncoordinated exorcisms.  And lest you think I'm simply being snide, allow me to point out that there are regular reports of people dying during exorcisms -- just this week a man in Zambia died during a ritual to expel evil spirits, in which the victim was given a poisonous liquid to drink because supposedly the demons would be poisoned, not the man.  It didn't turn out that way.  The pastor, once he realized that his ritual had killed the man he was supposed to be helping, dumped the body and is currently on the run from the law.

This sort of thing hasn't stopped the practice, nor diminished the support of many religious leaders.  And no one is more convinced than Father Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican's "chief exorcist," who claims to have expelled 70,000 demons in his 25 years of service in the position.  Keep in mind, though, that this is the same dude who thinks that yoga is "satanic," and that it "leads to evil, just like reading Harry Potter."

So we're not talking about someone with a particularly sound grasp on reality, here.

In any case, I am heartily in favor of anything the church patriarchy can do to cut back on the exorcisms being conducted by the rank-and-file.  It'd be nice if they'd abandon "magic and demonology" stuff entirely, but that's probably too much to hope for.  In the meanwhile, if you need an exorcism, you might be looking at a long wait.  I might suggest trying a good psychologist in the meantime.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Signs and portents

What would it take to convince you that you were wrong?

It was the question that was asked to Ken Ham and Bill Nye in their famous debate, and significantly, Ham replied, "Nothing would."  Any evidence, any argument, the best data available, would be insufficient.  In other words: his worldview is invulnerable.  Which is why the Nye/Ham debate was, at its most fundamental level, not a debate at all.

That inviolability is an all-too-common aspect of the belief system of the devout, where "unshakeable faith" is considered a cardinal virtue.  Even as a child, going every Sunday with my parents to the Catholic church, this attitude struck me as awry.  I remember asking my catechism class teacher, "If you're supposed to have faith no matter what, how could you tell if you were wrong?"

My teacher responded, "But we're not wrong."

Circular reasoning at it's best.  How do we know our beliefs are correct?  Because they're correct.  q.e.d.

[image courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons]

There was a tragic, but vivid, demonstration of this approach to understanding in Lagos, Nigeria this week.  Evangelist T. B. Joshua, the faith healer and self-styled "prophet" whose revival meetings attract thousands from all over Africa, had some 'splainin' to do after a guesthouse owned by Joshua collapsed, killing eighty of his followers, some of whom had come from as far away as South Africa to hear him preach and take part in his "healing ministry."

Turns out Joshua's people had been doing some major renovations, and apparently didn't notice that the floors they were renovating were occupied.  So the whole building collapsed like a house of cards.

After this, Joshua had three possible responses:
  1. Shoddy construction, not to mention doing work on the weight-bearing walls of a building while people are living in it, is likely to result in said building falling down and bunches of people dying.  My bad.
  2. God is sending me a sign that I'm misleading people and ripping them off.  I better discontinue my revival meetings forthwith.
  3. The building collapse was Satan's work.  The fact that the devil is after me and my followers just means that I'm hot on the devil's trail!  Go me!
Three guesses as to which was Joshua's response.

"The church views this tragedy as part of an attack on The Synagogue Church Of All Nations," a church spokesperson said in a press release.  "In due course, God will reveal the perpetrators."  The collapse was due to "demonic forces" that were determined to destroy Joshua, who is a "man of God."  As a result, church members have become even more devoted than ever to Joshua's message.  The collapse, apparently, has activated the rally-around-the-flag response.  "You think you'll get away with this, Satan?" they seem to be saying.  "We'll pray at you even harder!"

All of which supports a contention I've had for some time, to wit: you can't argue with these people.  The devout are coming at understanding from a completely non-evidence-based angle, so there's  no evidence that would be convincing.  It puts me in mind of the quote, variously attributed, that "you can't logic your way out of a stance that you didn't logic your way into."

But I must say that the whole approach is foreign to me.  On a fundamental level, I've never understood this attitude, which is why my stay in the Catholic Church was largely an exercise in frustration both for me and for the priests and nuns who tried to get me to see it their way.  I know that faith is a great comfort to people who have it, but I can't for the life of me comprehend how anyone could get there from the outside.  It boils down to "believe because you believe," as far as I can see, a summation I saw clearly when I was still in grade school.

And forty-odd years later, I still don't see how anyone could find that a reasonable approach to understanding the universe.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Following Bigfoot down the wormhole

Today, we turn to the ever-entertaining Nick Redfern over at Mysterious Universe, and an article that appeared yesterday called "Bigfoot: An Inter-Dimensional Entity."

What, you might ask, does "inter-dimensional" mean?  I'm not sure.  Over at Dictionary.com we read the following definitions for the word "dimension:"
  1. extension in time.
  2. measurement in length, width, and thickness.
  3. scope; importance.
  4. magnitude; size.
  5. a magnitude that, independently or in conjunction with other such magnitudes, serves to define the location of an element within a given set, as of a point on a line, an object in a space, or an event in space-time.
  6. any of a set of basic kinds of quantity, as mass, length, and time, in terms of which all other kinds of quantity can be expressed.
  7. a property of space; extension in a given direction:
  • the generalization of this property to spaces with curvilinear extension, as the surface of a sphere.
  • the generalization of this property to vector spaces and to Hilbert space.
  • the generalization of this property to fractals, which can have dimensions that are non-integer real numbers.
I guess "inter-dimensional" is "between two or more definitions on the above list."  So I still have no idea, really, what the hell it means, and I suspect Mr. Redfern doesn't either.  Because in the article itself, we discover that he is of the opinion that Bigfoot's elusiveness has come about because of the Hairy Dude's ability to jump through wormholes.

[image courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons]

Redfern seems to have picked up the idea from one Ronan Coghlan, a paranormal investigator from Ireland.  Here's Coghlan's take on the whole thing:
Now, how do you get into, or out of, alternative universes?  Well, the answer is quite simple: You have heard of worm-holes, I’m sure?...   Physicists admit there is a possibility that this exists, and it would be like a short-cut, from one universe to another.  Thus, for example, it’s rather like a portal: Something from the other universe would come through it.  Or, something from another planet could come through it... If there are any of these worm-holes on Earth, it would be quite easy for anything to come through, like a Bigfoot, and it’s quite possible any number of anomalous creatures could find their way through from time to time.
I have to admit, of all of the possible manifestations of wormholes I've ever heard of, their being used as means for avoiding capture by elusive North American proto-hominids is probably the last thing I'd have come up with.  But Coghlan and Redfern think that this may also explain Mothman and UFOs, so apparently wormholes aren't the highly theoretical and unproven phenomena that posers like Stephen Hawking think, they're scattered around in the woods of North America as thickly as beer bottles after a college campout.  You have to wonder, if they're that common, how random hikers aren't getting sucked into wormholes every other day, disappearing from the Appalachian Trail and reappearing milliseconds later in, say, downtown Peoria.

But Coghlan admits that wormholes aren't the only possibility for Bigfoot's elusiveness:
I think, looking at a great many legends, folk-tales, and things of that nature, it is possible to vibrate at different rates.  And if you vibrate at a different rate, you are not seen.  You are not tangible.  And, then, when your vibration changes, you are seen, and you are tangible.  Maybe that this has something to do with Bigfoot appearing and disappearing in a strange fashion.
Righty-o.  As far as this goes, which Coghlan describes as "cutting-edge physics, as it were," I can say with some authority that you can make fiddle strings vibrate at a variety of different rates, and one thing that it almost never does is make the fiddle become invisible.  So Coghlan's grasp of actual physics seems to be tenuous at best, and his ideas about why we don't seem to be able to get a hold of an actual Bigfoot are cutting-edge bullshit.

As it were.

Which may seem a little harsh, but it's a point I've made before: if you're going to use scientific terms to support your argument, you should take the time to learn what the fuck said scientific terms mean.  I mean, it's nice to keep an open mind to strange ideas, and all, but this just strikes me as lazy.

"Inter-dimensional entity," my ass.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The not-a-scientist dodge

I'm getting a little tired of politicians dodging questions -- usually about either climate change or evolution -- by saying, "Well, I'm not a scientist."

In other words, don't expect me to answer authoritatively.  Allow me to proclaim my ignorance as if it somehow implied open-mindedness, as if Not Knowing Stuff was a job qualification.

First there was Marco Rubio (R-FL), who back in 2012 was interviewed by GQ and was asked point blank how old the Earth is.  "I'm not a scientist, man," he said.  "I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States.  I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow.  I’m not a scientist.  I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that.

"At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all.  I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says.  Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that.  It’s one of the great mysteries."

Rubio must have discussed strategy with the governor of his state, because when Rick Scott was asked this May whether he thinks climate change is real and/or anthropogenic, his response was similar in tone.  "I'm not a scientist," Scott told reporters.  "I've not been convinced that there's any man-made climate change... Nothing's convinced me that there is."

Right around the same time, Speaker of the House John Boehner was asked the same question, and gave a nearly identical answer.  "I'm not qualified to debate the science over climate change," Boehner said.

And just this week we have Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, joining the ranks of the proudly ignorant.  Asked at a public event whether he believed in the evolutionary origins of biodiversity, Jindal said, "Well, the reality is that I am not an evolutionary biologist.  What I believe as a father and a husband is that local schools should make decisions on how they teach...  I want my kids to be taught about evolution; I want my kids to be taught about other theories."

This despite Jindal's Bachelor of Science degree from Brown University, with a major in biology.

Can we just clarify one thing, here?  None of the politicians in Congress, or in the governors' mansions, are scientists.  If they were scientists, they would be doing research, or teaching in a university somewhere.  But politicians don't have to be scientists, you know.

They just have to be smart enough to listen to the scientists when they talk.

The statements by Rubio, Scott, Boenher, and Jindal are about as intelligent as a man who isn't sure he should take the antibiotics his doctor prescribed to treat his strep throat.  "Well, I don't know if I should take this medicine or not," he tells his friend.  "After all, I'm not a doctor."

No, you're not, you doofus.  That's why you just went to the doctor.  All you need to do is to trust his knowledge and expertise, and do what he says.

Honestly, however much I like to write about science, I'm not a scientist, either.  I'm a high school science teacher.  I've never done original research, never had a job working in a lab, never written a scholarly paper.  On the other hand, I do know how to read.  If I want to know what the latest research says, I can pick up a science journal and see what conclusions have been reached.  If it's an area outside of my expertise, I can find someone who knows more than I do to explain it to me.

Politicians have these guys, you know?  They're called advisors.  The job of an advisor is to help out elected officials when there are issues about which they lack information or depth of understanding.  Which there always will be; holding high office means dealing with extraordinarily complex situations, and doing what amounts to multivariable analysis on the fly.  And to be fair, you can't be an expert about everything.

But you can trust the experts when they reach consensus.  Which they have, on both the subject of evolution and of anthropogenic climate change.  There is no debate; and especially in the case of evolution, there are no other theories.  The alternatives to evolution are unsupported mythological worldviews, on par with an astronomical model that has the Earth resting on the back of four elephants standing on the back of a gigantic flying turtle.

Drawing by Camille Flammarion (1877) [image courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons]

Look, I understand that Rubio et al. were being disingenuous.  Given the religious fervor of their constituencies, especially in the American Southeast, it would not be politically expedient to say, "Of course evolution is true.  Duh.  Next question."  But dodging the question, and giving the impression that ignorance is the same thing as keeping an open mind, is simply handing the science deniers ammunition.

And the last thing we need here in the United States is to do something that makes the citizenry understand science even less than they already do.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The possessed microwave

Spurred by my post a couple of weeks ago debunking claims that microwave ovens are unsafe, a loyal reader of Skeptophilia sent me an email saying, "Ha.  A lot you know.  Your microwave has just lulled you into a false sense of security.  Because, you know... demons."

Along with the message, he sent me a link to an article from Empire News called "Paranormal Investigators Confirm Poltergeist Possession of Microwave."  And as soon as I saw the title, I knew this was gonna be good.

[image courtesy of photographer Christian Rasmussen at apoltix.dk, and the Wikimedia Commons]

Turns out that Bill Michaud, of Louisville, Kentucky, has been having trouble with his microwave oven.  "We found [the microwave] in the attic when we moved in a few months back," Michaud said.  "Didn’t have one, so figured, ‘what the hell,’ might as well try it.  I tell you, the thing heats up the food real nice.  Sometimes it beeped or turned itself off in the middle of cooking, though.  Then really weird things started happening.  It zapped at food as if we were putting shards of metal in it.  I couldn’t figure it out."

Michaud's wife, Betty, concurs.  "It turns on by itself.  It turns off by itself, too," she said.  "It’s like it’s messing with me.  No matter how many times I popped the door shut, the minute I leave the room it pops open again.  One night, really late, I walk into the kitchen and I’m about to open the fridge, and the microwave door flies open, lighting the whole kitchen up in a horrible, scary lightning-blue color.  It’s like it wanted to electrocute me."

Well, I know what it's like to own a mechanical device that appears to be not only sentient, but evil.  I feel that way about my lawn mower, which seems to have a sensor that detects how long the grass is, so it knows when to break down.  One time this summer, when the grass had gotten so long that my only other choice would have been to rent a flock of sheep, the Possessed Lawn Mower decided that this would be a fine time to stop working.  So it let me back it out of the garage, and get all the way down the hill into the back yard, and then in rapid succession (1) the blade suddenly stopped turning, (2) the engine stalled, and afterwards would only make obscene farting noises when I turned the key in the ignition, and finally (3) it simply decided to stop responding entirely and became the world's largest paperweight.  Because (4) the wheel release is broken, and the brakes engage whenever the motor isn't running, the Possessed Lawn Mower was left out in the back yard in the rain, with the grass slowly engulfing it, until the mower repair guy had time to come fix it three weeks later.

But I digress.

Bill and Betty Michaud certainly had reason to stop using the microwave, not to mention a good explanation as to why the previous owners had tossed it up in the attic.  But that didn't stop them from continuing to use it, until one day when Bill was heating up some leftovers.  "[I]t went off like the food was done," Michaud said, "and when I looked over, the damn thing was still going and said 6:66."

Well, that was enough for him.  Instead of doing what I would have done, which is throw it out and buy a new microwave, he called in some paranormal investigators.  They got Kevin Young, a professional ghost hunter, who got permission from the Michauds to spend the night in the house.

"The Michauds didn’t want to go without a microwave, or risk upsetting the spirit by taking it out of the house," Young said.  "My wife, who is also on my squad, is highly empathic.  As we warmed up TV dinners in the microwave, she sensed a presence.  As soon as she mentioned it, the microwave started beeping repeatedly.  The door flung open, and my 'Hungry Man' dinner went flying across the room.  We pressed the off button.  We unplugged it.  It beeped several times after we cut off the power.  Of course our digital recording became corrupted, which often happens when there is such strong energy."

Of course.  And you have to admit that the spirit crossed a line when it threw Young's 'Hungry Man' TV dinner across the room.  In the words of the inimitable Bugs Bunny, "Of course you know: this means war."

So Young called in the big guns, namely an "authority on mechanical possession," one Carl Richards.  Richards confirmed the presence of a poltergeist in the microwave, but cautioned the Michauds against simply throwing the oven out and getting a new one.

"It is important to remember, the malevolent presence does not strictly ‘live in’ the microwave," Richards said.  "Getting rid of the machine will not solve the problem.  It has the ability to travel throughout the electrical wiring in the house."

Which is pretty scary.  God forbid a poltergeist should get into the coffee maker or something.

In the end, Young and Richards advised the Michauds to stop paying attention to it.  "It is best not to engage the being," Young told them.  "Try not to be fearful.  Always remain calm.  If you’re facing a poltergeist in your kitchen devices, just ignore its outbursts, and it will not be able to feed off your energies."

Myself, I'd have been more worried about the damn thing malfunctioning and burning down the house.  But that's just me.

The Michauds still use the microwave, which "heats up leftovers like a champ," and they ignore its periodic demonic outbursts the same way you'd "ignore a child's temper tantrum."  So it all ended happily enough, which I suppose is good.

So Young and Richards have wrapped up their work in Louisville, and presumably are looking for other possessed devices to investigate.  I'd like to invite them to come look at my lawn mower.  My lawn is needing to be mowed, in what is likely to be the last mowing of the season, and this would be an inopportune time for it to malfunction.  Meaning that the demon that lives in the engine is going to be primed and ready.  I'd like to have a strategy in place by then.  Be prepared, that's my motto.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

War between the states

In a confluence of ideologies that should worry everyone, Ken Ham (of Answers in Genesis fame) is giving a talk on October 18 sponsored by the "Institute on the Constitution."

It's entitled "Six Days and Millions of Years," and the topic would appear to be the same old nonsense if it weren't for the sponsoring organization.  Because the Institute on the Constitution is an organization run by Michael Peroutka and David Whitney, two individuals who work hand in hand with the "League of the South," a group dedicated to the secession of the southeastern states to create a homeland for Christian whites.

This isn't the first time Ham and Peroutka have teamed up.  Peroutka, you may remember, is the rich dude who obtained an allosaurus skeleton and then sold it to Ham for the Creation Museum.  But that move was only appalling to science types, who were understandably rage-filled at the thought of a beautifully-preserved dinosaur fossil being used to broadcast silly mythology.

Here we have the intersection of far more disturbing ideas; racism, secessionism, religious sanctimony, and biblical literalism.  Don't believe me?  Take a look at a piece David Whitney wrote in which he claims that only Christians should be citizens of the United States:
Loving thy neighbor means protecting their God given rights as Exodus 12:49 commands.  That means preserving the structure of civil government from all who would pervert the civil government into an agency of legalized plunder, whereby the God given rights of no one would be safe and secure.  This means, as we have seen in the commands of Scripture, that we restrict citizenship to those who, because they are committed to the Covenant of Disciples of Jesus Christ, are willing to submit themselves to serve in the roles of responsibility in choosing leaders who will preserve God ordained order.  Those who will serve as Jurors, committed to do justice in judging the law by the eternal standard of God’s Law.  Those who will serve when called up as Representatives to serve in civil government to do justice by God’s Law, and those who will put themselves in harms way serving in the Militia – only in just wars as defined by God’s Law.
And here's Peroutka on secession:
I don’t disagree with Dr. Hill [League of the South president] at all that this regime is beyond reform, and I think that’s an obvious fact, and I agree with him.  However, I agree that when you secede, or however the destruction of the rubble of this regime takes place and how it plays out, you’re going to need to take a biblical world view, and apply it to civil law and government.  That’s what you’re still going to need to do. We’re going to have to have this foundational information in the hearts and minds of the people or else liberty won’t survive the secession either.  You see what I’m saying?  I’m saying that because I don’t want people from League of the South that for one minute that I am about reforming the current regime, and that studying the Constitution is about reforming the current regime.
Oh, and the man that Peroutka, "doesn't disagree with," Michael Hill, president of the League of the South?  Here's a direct quote from him about the purpose of the League:
Just so there’s no chance that you’ll confuse The League with the GOP or any other “conservative” group, here’s what we stand for: the survival, well being, and independence of the Southern people.  And by “the Southern people,” we mean White Southerners who are not afraid to stand for the people of their race and religion.
Kind of curious, then, that when Peroutka was running for a council position in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, and was questioned about his connections to the League of the South, he called it a "smear campaign:"
I am an anti-racist. I have spoken publicly against racism. I've gone out of my way to repudiate racism, and if there are any racists in the League of the South, I repudiate them, and I pray for them.
Well, Mr. Peroutka, it might be a good idea to start praying for the president of the organization, then.

[image courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons]

Scared?  You should be.  The only reason these people aren't as bad as the theocrats in Iran is that they haven't been given their opportunity to be in charge of things yet.

The intersection of radical politics and religious fervor is terrifying; the politics for its heartless extremity, and the fervor for the gloss of righteous inviolability it confers.  These people can't imagine being wrong, and (worse) can't imagine that their stance is fundamentally immoral.

And heaven help us all if they are ever elected to lead us.

I'll end with a quote from James Waterman Wise (often misattributed to Sinclair Lewis): "If fascism comes... it will be wrapped up in the American flag and heralded as a plea for liberty and the preservation of the Constitution."

And, I'll add, very likely wearing a cross.