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Pussy Riot gets 2 year sentence for insulting non-existent beings

Back in February, the Russian female punk band, Pussy Riot, was invited to play at an event at a Russian Orthodox church in protest of Vladimir Putin.  You remember Vlad?  George W. Bush said that he could see Putin’s soul in his eyes, or some other vaguely romantic nonsense that induced {{cringe}} moments in thinking Americans?

So, how did the performance go?  The BBC says:

Along with other members of their band, the women staged a flashmob-style performance of their song close to the altar in the cathedral on 21 February.

Their brief, obscenity-laced performance, which implored the Virgin Mary to “throw Putin out”, enraged the Orthodox Church – its leader Patriarch Kirill said it amounted to blasphemy.

And what were their crime?

Critics of the band have also been demonstrating, saying the stunt was an insult to the Russian Orthodox Church.

One, Igor Kim, told the BBC News website from Moscow: “Shouting and screaming and spreading hate in Church is unacceptable and is contrary with Christian ethics.”

Just the kind of thing you’d expect to hear from whip kissers who are such cowards that they willingly embrace the authority of their oppressors and they *like* it.  But how can what Pussy Riot sang be an insult if there are no victims?  Just curious.

The world needs to start asking itself how much reverence we are supposed to give to people who believe in things that they can’t prove exist.  Do they really deserve tax breaks?  So much free air time?  The right to dictate society based on Bronze Aged mythology?  Unquestioning respect?  When was the last time a religious person on TV gave agnostics and atheists respect?  The religious fairly ooze contempt and condemnation towards the freethinkers and non-believers.

It should be the other way around.

When you really think about it, it boggles the mind.  We are letting the religious skate away tax free and at the same time, they have the unmitigated gall to tell people what they can and can’t get in their insurance policies and NO one bothers to ask them to provide proof of their convictions.  Is that insane or what?  In what other aspect of life are you allowed to make claims and get freebies and respect and publicity and the right to condemn other people and no one asks you for anything to back up your claims?  You could never get published in a scientific journal without data and observations.  You could get sued for libel if you lied about someone in print without proof.  You can’t even advertise that PF Flyers make you run faster and jump higher or that cigarettes are good for you.  All that is forbidden because we recognize that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

But religion answers to no one but its unprovable gods and we give it a pass and a lot of special privileges.  Think about it this way: if an atheist organization opened up a string of places of non-worship and did everything a church does, without the supernatural mumbo-jumbo, would it qualify for tax breaks and all of the other privileges of churches?  Or would it specifically have to acknowledge belief in a entity whose existence is unproveable?  In most states, you can get married by the justice of the peace, who can’t be just anyone, or by a minister of an approved church but as far as I know, there aren’t any states that allow a secular minister to marry anyone.  (Pennsylvania Quaker self-marrying licenses not included)  So, if you believe in a supernatural but unprovable being, you’re qualified to perform the same rites as a judge.  But if you believe in reality, you’re not.

Clearly, in the case of Pussy Riot, the blasphemer-hooliganism charge is just a cover for their real offense- criticizing Vladimir Putin.  We here in America can see the hypocrisy and hard fist of the remnant of the Soviet system, which, ironically, used to be anti-religious.  From a distance, we can see the cruel and brutal force of authoritarianism using  religion to crack down on dissidents.

Here in the US, one party hides behind the religious to pass its own authoritarian, harsh agenda on the rest of us, while the other party tiptoes around the religious in order not to offend them, and we’ve been letting them get away with imposing their ancient morality on a modern country for 30 years.  Look where it’s gotten us.  We have politicians who proudly proclaim that they don’t believe in evolution and they are applauded for that pandering to the ignorant.  We have celibate men dictating parenthood and sexuality to young women.  We have people who supposedly focus on families, condemning the children of gay parents to financial hardship if one of the parents die because they refuse to acknowledge their marriages.  And all of this is a giant distraction and smokescreen for the ruthless politicians and their wealthy backers to take everything that isn’t nailed down.

We should be having a “Hey! We’ve been eating grass!” moment but no one dares to raise their voices to the politicians who are hiding behind the religious except for some brave and defiant atheists or a handful of girls in a punk band.

Enough is enough.

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32 Responses

  1. I bought the Cambridge Companion to Atheism yesterday, and woke up from a righteous nightmare this morning. So I too must have upset the people upstairs.

  2. if an atheist organization opened up a string of places of non-worship and did everything a church does, without the supernatural mumbo-jumbo, would it qualify for tax breaks and all of the other privileges of churches?

    Actually, the answer to that question is probably yes. It certainly is true of Ethical Culture, which is agnostic.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethical_movement

    • I find this bit from that wiki page pretty revealing:

      The tax status of Ethical Societies as religious organizations has been upheld in court cases in Washington, D.C. (1957), and in Austin, Texas (2003). The Texas State Appeals Court said of the challenge by the state comptroller, “the Comptroller’s test [requiring a group to demonstrate its belief in a Supreme Being] fails to include the whole range of belief systems that may, in our diverse and pluralistic society, merit the First Amendment’s protection.”[18][19]

      So, it looks like belief in a Supreme Being is one of the requirements for tax status of a church. The way that the Ethical Societies get around it is by showing that their belief system is similar to Taoism and Buddhism. In the eyes of the comptroller, it may still look like a religion because it is not explicitly ruling out a supreme being.

      Do Pastafarians also enjoy tax exempt status? What about if you are explicitly atheist?

      BTW, I remember reading somewhere that Margaret Downey who considers herself a secular minister can only perform marriages in PA using the self-uniting license. That is, the bride and groom have to request this special license that used to be standard for Quaker marriages (they have no officiant). It looks like the secular minister in PA has no other authority to perform marriages unless they are ordained members of an established church or a justice of the peace. To be a justice of the peace means a judge, mayor or other municipal authority. AND to top it all off, the marriage rules have gotten more restrictive. In the last several years, the state has ruled out ordination via internet churches (I guess to keep the pastafarians out) and in some counties, has eliminated the self-uniting license. So, you either need to have a fully religious ceremony or a civil ceremony. I suppose you can write your own vows but you can’t have a minister from your local humanist society marry you in a ceremony that reflects your own values and philosophy.

      It sounds like discrimination to me. Do pagans have ordained ministers? What about Asatru?

      • Do pagans have ordained ministers? What about Asatru?

        Yes. Humanists too.

        http://humanist-society.org/about/

        • But if you check their pages, most of the ones that are licensed to perform marriages are ordained through the Universal Life Church. I think this may now be outlawed in PA. Maybe they grandfathered ministers who were already ordained but the ULC is located in CA which means that if you want a license now by internet, you can’t get one in PA.

          • That’s not really true for the humanists. It still is for many of the pagan groups, many of whom are still in the process of trying to reconstruct a viable religion from archeology and ancient literary sources. That is changing. In the case of Wiccans, the establishment of institutions for training Wiccan priests and priestesses is proceeding rapidly (the days of “Solitary Wicca” are numbered, IMO).

          • Good to know but I still don’t think they get all the benefits of churches.

          • “In the case of Wiccans, the establishment of institutions for training Wiccan priests and priestesses is proceeding rapidly (the days of “Solitary Wicca” are numbered, IMO).”

            I sincerely doubt that Nakajima. There were attempts since way back in the late 1960’s by a minority to do that- those institutions you speak of have existed since then, but the nature of American Wiccan itself, as opposed to the British revival of the 1940’s-50’s, has at it’s core a fiercely individualistic and deeply personal spirituality. No one is an authority over your own spirituality but you. You can see the difference in the near direct precursors of modern paganism in Britain and the US. In the US you had the very individualistic Transcendentalists while in Britain you had the Golden Dawn and the Druid revival. In Britain more pagans belong to groups, while in the US Solitary Wicca is overwhelmingly the majority….

      • Really you should be glad that they got rid or internet ordination because a lot of nuts come out of those places and I’m not talking about “pastafarians”. I’m talking about some pretty out there Christian Fundamentalists.

  3. RV:
    Great post, don’t have much to ad, but just thank you for all of it.

  4. Excellent, R.D.

  5. Pussy Riot couldn’t have designed a better trap and it amazes me that the Russian authorities walked right into it. They rose to the bait without a second thought. It doesn’t seem to have occured to them that if they’d ignored Pussy Riot no one would even be thinking of them right now.

  6. I do believe God exists, but I DON’T believe those unfortunate young women offend God. Rather, I think the authorities offend God by jailing those musicians for speaking their minds.

    Of course, in the eyes of the authorities, the women’s REAL offense is challenging the chief thief Putin and his minions. “Offense to God” merely provides one of many convenient excuses to stifle resistance to kleptocracy.

    The idea that God could be offended by such things stems from the fact that we are social primates, and therefore we will think like social primates. Therefore, our minds tend to assume that God will think like an alpha male primate. Primates in higher positions in dominance hierarchies want “respect” because it reassures them that no one is trying to dislodge them from their relatively high position. (Never mind that the guy who bends over to kiss your butt probably has his eyes rolled upward, staring at your back, picking out the best spot to stick the knife eventually.) ;) Hence, higher-ranking primates tend to react viciously to any perceived “disrespect”. So, it is unfortunately natural for us talking primates to assume that God will feel and think the same way, which gives the kleptocrats one of many convenient excuses to stifle resistance to official thievery.

    Of course, a God who is truly loving and forgiving, who lives above and beyond such petty simian emotions as pride (and hence, offense at being “disrespected”) is a God who is useless for browbeating slaves, peasants, and other exploited workers into obeying an unjust social order–which, alas, became a primary function, maybe THE primary function, of the Church when it became the official religion of the Roman Empire.

    • The irony here is that the three women are not atheists, not even close. Pussy Riot’s song, if you’re really willing to listen, is very religious in tone.

      As for being guilty of “hooliganism”, that’s rich, considering nothing inside the church was damaged.

    • I think we’ve been over this before. If you want to believe in god, don’t let us stop you.
      Some of us simply have problems treating your belief as something that needs to be privileged. Since everybody’s definition of blasphemy is slightly different, you’re always going to be offending someone and since there is no objective proof that a deity actually exists, imposing a criminal sanction on that is really pretty outrageous when you think about it.
      There are no limits to what you can be charged with and apparently no limits to what brutal thugs will be allowed to do using religion as an excuse.

      • We have covered some of this before, indeed. I agree that criminal penalties for blasphemy are wrong–I hope you knew that already.

        Again, the idea of blasphemy goes back to the fallacy that God has a fragile little ego like we talking apes do.

        I suspect the crimes and follies of authoritarian religion make more “converts” to unbelief than the most fervent atheist could ever hope to make. Warren Harding, after some of his friends were implicated in the Teapot Dome scandal, is said to have said (unreferenced quote, so I may be wrong): “Lord, I can handle my enemies. Deliver me from my friends!” God could be said to have the same problem in regard to the authoritarians among Hir worshippers. They keep giving God a bad name. :mrgreen:

        I really need to get to work. Ciao for nao.

      • Tell us more about this “subjective” proof thou alludes to.
        Tis true that thine hidden force is most undetectable to our wizards & alchemists, yet flourishes in the realm of the uncreated middle paradoxes our sages dutifully protract ere millenia ago and now.

  7. Just donated to Amnesty who have a campaign on to shame Putin

    • It’s a good idea but I have a feeling that people like Putin have no shame.

      • More than that, Putin can use Western disapproval to fuel Russian nationalism. Distrust of the West and its motives runs deep.

  8. Why on earth did a church invite them to perform? I don’t know. None of this makes sense to me.

    • I can’t find any indication that the Russian Orthodox Church invited them to perform. The news reports say that the women took part in a flash mob event. It appears to me that it was a protest that was planned for maximum effect.

  9. The Soviet System was never antireligious. It was based on the religious belief in the existence of no god. That religion is called Fundamentalist Atheism. In particular, the Soviet Union was dedicated to the Orthodox Atheist Church of Marx, Leninist. They were violently opposed to religious beliefs other than their own belief in the non-existence of any god or gods. That belief is just as faith based as the belief in the existence of one or more gods, and is just as unprovable.
    There is no scientific test for god or gods or no god or no gods. Sergei Bulgakov once wrote an interesting book about the religionist aspects of Marx’s Fundamentalist Atheism.

    http://www.allbookstores.com/Karl-Marx-Religious-Type-His/9780913124345

    An argument for Constitutionalist Secularism extended to argue for de-privileging organized religious institutions over the civil sphere might be better recieved without attempting to missionise for Militant Fundamentalist Atheistianity, which is a religion.

    • You see this mindset amongst western Atheists too- Ayn Rand was of that type. The more militant modern big name atheists ditto. It’s just an exchange of one type of rigid authoritarianism for another. Those same rigid authoritarian atheist also are rife with misogyny….

      • Which is why I feel more comfortable with strict Constitutional Secularism and Religious Neutralism.

  10. So much for the “godless Commies.” Putin is pretty shrewd, if you ask me. Enslaving 90% of the population, and using fear of the state to keep people in line, proved a backbreaking financial burden for the Soviet Union. Why let your economy collapse when you can get people to enslave themselves, cowering in fear of some invisible being? Pooty has to have looked around at countries like ours, Saudi Arabia and Israel, among others, and realized that if he could get the Orthos on his side, give them some free publicity and a pat on the head, his security problems are halfway to being solved. You don’t have to pay good money to police/imperial security forces when you have a bunch of wild-eyed witch-hunters on the prowl, intimidating the sane portion of the population (which seems to be shrinking world-wide).

    Great opportunity for the fundie megachurches here to continue globalizing their franchises…

  11. What religion would invite the Pussy Riot to perform? From what I understand, it was all their idea which might have resulted here in two different misdemeanors, Trepassing and Disorderly Conduct. A weekend in custody should have satisfied everyone.

  12. In a NYC demonstration of solidarity with them at the Russian Consulate, six were arrested

    http://observer.com/2012/08/developing-three-arrested-at-pussy-riot-demonstration/

  13. Riverdaughter…
    You’re a one-woman Pussy Riot!! Really really smart!! Keep up the good work!!! Stay out of jail!!

  14. All the above having been said . . . I did recently read from one of Colonel Lang’s commenters about a clever poster seen in Texas saying: “Science flies men to the moon. Religion flies planes into buildings”.

    Somewhat in the spirit of my one-time contribution: ” 9/11 was a Faith Based Initiative.”

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