March 23, 2011

"Voodoo priest linked to Flatbush blaze is one of many scammers, predators, say neighbors."

What a ridiculous headline from the Daily News! The man's link to the fire is that he was the source of a candle.
A voodoo priest whose ritual candles sparked a deadly fire in Brooklyn last month is just one of a cadre of supposed mystics who prey on women for money and sex.

The women - most of them African or Haitian - sought good fortune, fertility, love, employment and sometimes revenge....

"It is very discreet," said Father Jean-Miguel Auguste, who heads the St. Jerome Catholic Church about a block from the E. 29th St. fire. "No one really talks about it."

Auguste, who came to the parish in 2004, said he's counseled hundreds of women who were taken advantage of by the smooth-talking con artists.
So you have rival religions, and a representative of one portrays the other as preying on people. Why not portray the Catholic priests as "smooth-talking con artists"?
"In this community we have people who are desperate," said Auguste, 51, a Haitian immigrant. "When you are desperate, you will believe anything."
Ahem. Listen to yourself, man.

64 comments:

Class factotum said...

why not portray the Catholic priests as "smooth-talking con artists"?

Because the Catholic priest is probably not telling the women he has to 1. charge them and 2. have sex with them? Sure, maybe there isn't anything to Catholicism, but it's not an accepted trade practice of priests to have sex with parishioners or charge them for counseling. It might happen, but it is technically against the rules.

chr1 said...

I don't think this is an apples to apples comparison here.

That kind of relativism might get you some street cred with some Madisonians you've pissed off lately though...

I'd be just as afraid of some Haitian voodoo payback as I would union thugs...the church...not as much.

shoutingthomas said...

I don't think of the Catholic Church as being involved in a rivalry.

The Church seems to reside on its on archipelago, and to be damned unconcerned with what goes on outside of it.

And, that's a good thing as far as I'm concerned.

And, I'm Catholic.

Paddy O said...

Elmer Gantrys come in all creedal and ideological flavors.

chr1 said...

And I should add angry Muslims...

The church is too easy a target.

Phil 3:14 said...

Is this kind of a

Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone

type of post?

Maguro said...

Last month, a Brooklyn woman - unemployed and in desperate need of a job - paid Nelson (Pepe) Pierre $300 to perform a ceremony he promised would change her luck.

I don't know what she is complaining about, her luck certainly changed.

Freeman Hunt said...

Asserting that all religious practice is the same and equally valid is not the mark of being knowledgeable about a variety of religions.

Freeman Hunt said...

But no, the voodoo thing should not be in an article about a fire.

FloridaSteve said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rhhardin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rhhardin said...

(wrong thread)

Phil 3:14 said...

The more I thought of this Voodoo scammer the more I thought of temple prostitutes who are mentioned and condemned in the Old and New Testament.

In doing a quick google search I came across this satire that I thought was funny AND likely offensive to many.

(Sex and religion is always a rough mix.)

FloridaSteve said...

The church gets no pass from me. It's rnot "exactly" on moral equivalence grounds though but it's close. The "slick talking" comment is dead on. And the main reason money is not a factor in the discussion with the church is because they already have tons of it.

And they got that money by preying on the same instincts that the scammers use. They're just institutionalized and a LOT better at it.

bagoh20 said...

I'm not religious, but this comparison demonstrates an incredible lack of understanding about both religions, their history and the actions and sacrifices of their practitioners. It is true the the superficial comparison you make -that both involve faith - is just about all they share.

Lem said...

All "religious practice" is not equaly valid.. imho.

Festivus/healthism vs. salami.

Maguro said...

But no, the voodoo thing should not be in an article about a fire.

C'mon, what's going to draw more page views, an ordinary apartment fire or voodoo sex scam apartment fire? The question answers itself.

bagoh20 said...

I'll let it slide this time, but next time have some coffee before posting.

shoutingthomas said...

Some posts, like this one, highlight the fact the fact that Althouse has been hermetically sealed within academia for decades.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

bagoh20 said...

Well it is true that without the voodoo priest and his candles, there would be no fire, so it's negligent voodoo arson.

Ann Althouse said...

The article reeks of religious bigotry.

If adult women choose to have sex with the men they choose as their spiritual advisors, that is a matter of individual choice and no kind of outrage for some other man to complain about.

Now if you have sex with minors, that's another matter. The Catholic Church has had a special problem there.

But adults having sex? That is a a question of personal freedom, and the priest sticking his nose into it implies a patronizing, infantilizing view of the women.

The Daily News should know better than to present the story this way. It's not merely journalistic sensationalism, it is religious prejudice.

You may think it's obvious which religion is better than the other, but it's the individual's choice, and there are people who choose voodoo over Christianity ... or some mixture of the two. Convince them that your religion is better, if you want, but don't treat them like they are children who can't decide for themselves.

EDH said...

Althouse, playing the Devil's Advocate here?

(Couldn't find video, but note previous Althouse thread from 2008.)

LOMAX: That's a veal roast, Your Honor. USDA approved and stamped. Men kill animals and eat their flesh. Phillipe Moyez killed a goat. He killed a goat.

And he did it at home...in a manner consistent with his religious beliefs.

Now, Mr. Merto may find that bizarre.

It's certainly not a religious practice performed by everyone.

It's not as common as, say... circumcision.

It's not as common as the belief that... wine transforms into blood.

Some people handle poisonous snakes
to prove their faith. Some people walk on fire.

Phillipe Moyez killed a goat.

And he did it...while observing his constitutionally protected... religious beliefs.

Your Honor, this case is not about keeping goats... or transporting goats or goat licensing.

The city was less concerned with the care of the animals...than the manner in which they were slaughtered.

MERTO: Objection!

JUDGE: Enough, enough. I got it.

Let's wrap it up.

LOMAX: Your Honor... the city timed this police action to catch my client... exercising his constitutionally protected right to religious freedom.

This is a law protecting kosher butchering. I'd like to move at this time for a verdict of dismissal.

JUDGE: I happen to know a little bit about kashrut law, Mr. Lomax.

LOMAX: I'm aware of that, Your Honor. That's why I feel confident in requesting a dismissal.

JUDGE: Mr. Merto?

MERTO: Arrrrgggg... [Choking because of a voodoo hex Moyez put on him.]

For God's sake, man...

MILTON (SATAN): Congratulations. Great job.

Maguro said...

Law enforcement sources described the woman as naive and borderline developmentally disabled.

But hey...consenting adults!

shoutingthomas said...

Now if you have sex with minors, that's another matter. The Catholic Church has had a special problem there.

Yes, thanks to the insistence back in the 60s that there was no problem with ordaining gay men to the priesthood.

That worked out well, didn't it?

The Crack Emcee said...

What makes the voodoo nut not a con artist? Because he's got a rival?

Jesus, Ann, get a clue.

Also, as was pointed out a few days ago, candles kill more people than nuclear reactors, and I'm sure most voodoo nuts are pro-candle and anti-nuke, so you got that.

Yeah, I hate those voodoo guys, too.

The Macho Response.

The Crack Emcee said...

Ann,

The article reeks of religious bigotry.

If adult women choose to have sex with the men they choose as their spiritual advisors, that is a matter of individual choice and no kind of outrage for some other man to complain about.


Now you see, I wasn't going mention how awful a religious and the constitution teacher you must be, but then you had to go and say something totally asinine, so here it is:

You HAVE to suck. You just have to. It's impossible for you not to, being so locked into that willful feminist ignorance of yours. It's fucking staggering. Everyone here is telling you the same thing and you still don't get it:

You don't know shit about religion.

Michael in ArchDen said...

Althouse said: "Now if you have sex with minors, that's another matter. The Catholic Church has had a special problem there."

That's an assertion of facts not in evidence. Any reputable study shows that Catholic priest abuse minors at about the same rate as any other clergy, and at a lower rate than school teachers. That's not to excuse the problem; they should be held to a higher standard due to their ordination (asumming you believe there is anything special about Holy Orders).

We get that you hate our Church for her unchanging teaching on homosexual behavior. That doesn't remove your responsibilty to be fair.

Duncan said...

I think the voodoo priest also supplied the sex during which candles were knocked over and the fire started and poured an accelerant (rum) around the bed.

It is also possible to distinguish between established religious traditions and independent outliers.

Just as it is possible to distinguish between philosophical traditions Communism, Classical Liberalism and some guy winging it on the Alex Jones show.

Wriiight said...

Thank you Duncan. Wherever one might stand on the religious freedom issue, I don't understand why Ann is letting the priest off easy on the fire.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Voodoo (SanterĂ­a) has been getting a bad rap in NYC for years thanks to all of the dead animals, (parts and whole) that regularly turn up in Prospect Parka and at various waterfront areas.

http://gothamist.com/2009/06/18/queens_mom_and_grandma_ignited_youn.php

http://gothamist.com/2009/07/30/has_animal_sacrifice_arrived_in_pro.php

Jeff with one 'f' said...

http://tinyurl.com/lk3t6r

http://tinyurl.com/ll3foy

PETER V. BELLA said...

The best was the comment from a police officer the day of the blaze.

"They should have practiced safe sex."

Oligonicella said...

Ann Althouse --

"If adult women choose to have sex with the men they choose as their spiritual advisors, that is a matter of individual choice and no kind of outrage for some other man to complain about."

How about with their lawyer? Doctor? Psychiatrist?

No, religions are not interchangeable and some are better than others. Why? 'Cause of crap like this: "The thirtysomething woman was supposed to file immigration papers three days after the fire that killed a retired teacher and left dozens homeless. Now she lives in fear - warned by Pierre that he would send evil spirits after her if she breathed a word about the ceremony."

If you draw equivalancy with Catholicism and that... What the hell can one say?

edutcher said...

With the rum on the floor, that's not just the candle at work.

Ann Althouse said...

The article reeks of religious bigotry.

If adult women choose to have sex with the men they choose as their spiritual advisors, that is a matter of individual choice and no kind of outrage for some other man to complain about.


The article says they're con artists, not voodoo practitioners. And if they're seduced ("They tell the women that they have to penetrate them in order to pass off the spirit") as the article says, then it is an outrage.

Now if you have sex with minors, that's another matter. The Catholic Church has had a special problem there.

Last I heard, your kid was more in danger of being sexually abused by a union teacher than a Catholic priest.

But adults having sex? That is a a question of personal freedom, and the priest sticking his nose into it implies a patronizing, infantilizing view of the women.

I got the impression the women came to him after they'd been had, not that he sought them out.

Clearly, these women have been victimized and are going to a more trustworthy institution for help.

Think you're wrong on this one.

DaveW said...

If you draw equivalancy with Catholicism and that... What the hell can one say?

Nothing, really. If you can read that story and come away with the professor's take...I don't know what to say.

Cedarford said...

Remember!

"Diversity is Yugoslav.."

Ooops, let's try it again!

"Diversity is America's Greatest Strength."

Suburbanbanshee said...

The Catholic Church? "Slick talking"?

Hahahaha! There speaks a person who hasn't had to sit through a Catholic homily. Ever. Not to mention Mass. "You're not here to be entertained" is THE classic Catholic parental line.

"Slick talking"! Heh! Funniest comment I've heard in years!

Freeman Hunt said...

If adult women choose to have sex with the men they choose as their spiritual advisors, that is a matter of individual choice and no kind of outrage for some other man to complain about.

"I can help you out with the spirit world, baby. Just pay me some money, and I'll perform the ritual. Also, we need to have sex to make it work."

You can't see why people would get mad about that? The guy is a con man, and he takes advantage of people sexually.

An equivalent would be a Catholic priest telling women that they couldn't be forgiven unless they paid him and performed a special ritual that involved sleeping with him.

It would be anti-feminist for someone to think that that was a terrible abuse of the priest's position?

As for Catholic priests and minors, there is zero evidence that Catholic priests have higher rates of this kind of behavior than Protestants or school teachers.

Weren't we just talking about religious bigotry...

Freeman Hunt said...

Also, I hadn't read the article before my first comment.

Since the fire started during the supposed "voodoo ritual," actually just a con man's sexual exploit, it makes perfect sense that they would mention it. Of course they're going to mention the circumstances surrounding a fire, especially when they're so sensational.

Blue@9 said...

I agree with Ann. For someone who didn't grow up under an Abrahamic religion, Catholic rituals sound as odd as voodoo. Seriously, your god died and was resurrected (ahem, *zombie*), and now you ritually drink his blood and eat his flesh.

I'm not putting this down--I'm utterly fascinated every time a Catholic friend invites me to mass--but people need to step back and realize that every religion sounds bonkers to some people.

As for the sex portion, why is that any weirder than some other rituals? Because sex is different? Plenty of old, long dead religions had sexual components, especially in classical antiquity. The Greeks were involved in ritual mysteries (some openly sexual) long before Christians started eating their savior.

Synova said...

Do you really think that there is no difference?

"When you're desperate you'll believe anything."

Some of it will be true, some will be lies, some will be useful and helpful, and some will be predatory.

The *belief* is not the determining factor there, and neither is the fact that the belief involves religious faith.

Synova said...

"Now if you have sex with minors, that's another matter. The Catholic Church has had a special problem there."

The Catholic Church has a "special problem" there the same way that public schools have a "special problem" there.

"But adults having sex? That is a a question of personal freedom, and the priest sticking his nose into it implies a patronizing, infantilizing view of the women."

Try it this way: It's a matter of personal freedom for an adult woman to have sex with her lawyer: It's a matter of personal freedom for an adult woman to have sex with her therapist.

Same, same.

Voodoo may be a religion, but the priest "sticking his nose in" understands that sex with someone who has come to you for help is predatory and unethical. Adult or no.

Blue@9 said...

The Catholic Church has a "special problem" there the same way that public schools have a "special problem" there.

Really? Which public school systems have shown an institutional tolerance for sexual predators, have covered up the crimes and then moved the perpetrators to other schools?

The analogy is silly, but it does underscore the difference between a faith and particular practitioners. A billion Catholics (and their beliefs) aren't stained by the actions of a few bad men, any more than voodoo is stained by a few con-men (assuming that it is a con and not a legitimate religious belief).

Try it this way: It's a matter of personal freedom for an adult woman to have sex with her lawyer: It's a matter of personal freedom for an adult woman to have sex with her therapist.

Same, same.

Voodoo may be a religion, but the priest "sticking his nose in" understands that sex with someone who has come to you for help is predatory and unethical. Adult or no.


You're comparing professions guided by secular ethics versus religious rituals guided by... who knows what. Do they understand that it's predatory? Is it predatory? What if it is integral to that particular faith? Do you want to get into a debate about the legitimacy of some beliefs versus others? Again, no one is arguing that this would be okay with children, but with adults? What's the difference between offering up to a higher power one's body versus one's soul?

Maguro said...

Again, no one is arguing that this would be okay with children, but with adults?

How about with a borderline retarded adult? Still A-OK?

Mary said...

Right Professor.

Because everybody Educated knows, those Catholic aid groups are just out to scam immigrants, and get in their childrens' pants...

Let's say, there really IS a voodoo con artist preying on these women. Is it acceptable to point this out, someone close enough to the population to observe such practices? (or just leave them alone to individually learn on their own, the hard way?)

If so, who exactly is that going to be do you think? The Educated ones, mostly who can't be bothered to interact at any great length with such subgoups? The sociologists, professionally studying the newcomers, at a distance? Or maybe the paid, secular government social workers, with such great track record?

You maybe mean well, but historically and even today, the Church has probably helped immigrants more in reality -- educations, medical care, charity groups -- than the Educated ilk who stand on the sidelines with cynical scorn...

And the minority of pervert priests does not change those facts. Stick with what you know?

wv: distor

Mary said...

Or is there something you know personally about Fr. Auguste that makes you want to smear his reputation like that?

If so ... please do talk about it, and don't be so subtle.

Mary said...

"That kind of relativism might get you some street cred with some Madisonians you've pissed off lately though..."

lol!

Mary said...

"If adult women choose to have sex with the men they choose as their spiritual advisors, that is a matter of individual choice and no kind of outrage for some other man to complain about."

Sounds like later, they all believed they'd been duped. Vulnerable newcomers and all...

The Priest seemed to be in a postition to observe a pattern. And you know what they say about those observable patterns ... often, even in retrospect, they're telling.

Sunshine Cleans. Out in the Open. Good mottos for all faiths.

Blue@9 said...

Again, no one is arguing that this would be okay with children, but with adults?

How about with a borderline retarded adult? Still A-OK?


I don't know, what's the law regarding their ability to give consent?

Personally, I think consent-capable adults are free to believe and act as they choose, so long as they're not hurting anyone. The gov't shouldn't involve itself with faith, whether it involves moving to a spiritual commune, committing one's soul, or engaging in ritual sex.

But heck, if we want to go into the real borderline areas, let's talk about ritual circumcision of boys. Is it barbaric? Are the children capable of consent? I won't argue against the practice, but let's hear the argument why ritual mutilation of children is okay but consensual adult sex is not.

An Unpractical Man said...

Really? Which public school systems have shown an institutional tolerance for sexual predators, have covered up the crimes and then moved the perpetrators to other schools?

Since you asked, the simple answer is "many, many, many of them":

http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2004/4/5/01552.shtml

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/21/AR2007102100144.html

http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/archive/ldn/2010/apr/10040101

These were just the top three links returned by a simple Google search. I'd say if researchers believe the public school system might have 100x the rate of abuse that the Church does it might just have a problem.

And let's bear in mind that, unlike the Catholic Church, the public school system has not been subjected to a massive, probing, public inquiry going back 50+ years. Meaning that who knows how much worse things really were?

Perhaps treating the most powerful drive in human experience as a harmless playtime activity we can trivialize without consequences hasn't worked out as well as we might like to think?

Leo Ladenson said...

@Michael: We get that you hate our Church for her unchanging teaching on homosexual behavior. That doesn't remove your responsibil[i]ty to be fair.


Ding, ding, ding: we have a thread winner.

I was going to say that Prof. Althouse was playing the village atheist. But Michael has pointed out that she's suffering from Anne Rice syndrome: hatred of Catholicism due to a homosexual son.

Synova said...

"Really? Which public school systems have shown an institutional tolerance for sexual predators, have covered up the crimes and then moved the perpetrators to other schools?"

I'm proud of my little rural Minnesota school that *fired* the principal instead of letting him leave with a glowing recommendation as he'd done twice before when his "consensual" and "adult" affair became coercive instead. Repeat offender and pass the problem to someone else. I'm proud of the secretary, too, despite the fact she should have known better, for having the guts to refuse to be blackmailed into sex. Probably those other two times he was allowed to resign it blew up on him the same way, so how many times did he coerce and use blackmail to get sex from subordinates without the coerce-ee calling him on it?

And you know as well as I do that the incidence of sexual misbehavior involving minors in schools is not at all uncommon. And whatever motivation to smooth over a sexual predator involving staff, consider the cost of admitting sexual predation of students.

Don't be naive.

Revenant said...

We get that you hate our Church for her unchanging teaching on homosexual behavior. That doesn't remove your responsibilty to be fair.

The Catholic Church's problem with abuse isn't that the abuse itself is particularly common -- it is that it is a problem the Catholic hierarchy has repeatedly conspired to cover up, and to prevent secular authorities from dealing with.

Nobody can completely prevent depraved behavior by other people. But we can refrain from conspiring to assist them in it.

Revenant said...

she's suffering from Anne Rice syndrome: hatred of Catholicism due to a homosexual son.

Well, yes -- actually knowing homosexuals personally does call one's attention to how just how stupid and ignorant the Church's position on homosexuality is. But there will always be people who think that holding a belief for a really long time somehow indicates that the belief is correct.

The Church is politically weak enough these days that they can simply be pitied for their ignorance, rather than hated for their oppression of others. They don't have the power to oppress anymore.

Synova said...

"You're comparing professions guided by secular ethics versus religious rituals guided by... who knows what."

And secular ethics is based on what, exactly? Adults without limits?

But we do put limits on the behavior of people with authority and power over others... bosses, lawyers, doctors, therapists, teachers.

And pastors. And priests.

And for the exact same reasons.

"Do they understand that it's predatory?"

OMG, condescend much?

"Is it predatory? What if it is integral to that particular faith?"

Then it's out in the open. Maybe not the act itself but the practice and if sex is considered a sacrament in some contexts that is understood as well. And I'm betting that in *those* religions the practitioners understand the difference between a ritual and the predation of a vulnerable person.

"Do you want to get into a debate about the legitimacy of some beliefs versus others?"

Why not? I'm not a moral coward.

The practical legitimacy of some beliefs verses others is a quantifiable value. Which one or ones save you may not be, but the question of which set of beliefs better meet the anthropological and sociological purpose of religions in our communities most certainly can be discussed in terms of legitimacy.

Leo Ladenson said...

Well, yes -- actually knowing homosexuals personally does call one's attention to how just how stupid and ignorant the Church's position on homosexuality is.


I know some thieves and liars too. Strangely they haven't persuaded me that their vices are actually virtues either.

Leo Ladenson said...

Oh, and here is what you're defending.

Somehow I don't think the Black Party is going to play in Peoria.

Fred4Pres said...

Not all voodoo priests are scammers, but some undoubtably are.

The Catholic church has done a pretty good job removing scamers from its ranks too. But there will always be those who prey on the weak.

Blue@9 said...

Synova:

And secular ethics is based on what, exactly? Adults without limits?

Professional guidelines created over time as practioners tried to guide their profession to some ideal. Lawyers' rules of ethics didn't come from god or a religious text.

But we do put limits on the behavior of people with authority and power over others... bosses, lawyers, doctors, therapists, teachers.

And pastors. And priests.


Secular laws applicable to everyone: don't kill, don't steal, don't cheat. But within each profession are internal ethical guidelines, not built into statutes, and they're different for each profession. Doctors, lawyers, and priests all have very different ethical obligations, and they are imposed by professional ethics.

"Do they understand that it's predatory?"

OMG, condescend much?


No, I'm very serious. To an outside observer it seems "predatory," but what does it look like when it's part of your dogma? Are those in evangelical religions "predatory" when seeking converts? Maybe it looks like it to outsiders, but do the practitioners themselves think it's predatory? I would think not.

"Is it predatory? What if it is integral to that particular faith?"

Then it's out in the open. Maybe not the act itself but the practice and if sex is considered a sacrament in some contexts that is understood as well. And I'm betting that in *those* religions the practitioners understand the difference between a ritual and the predation of a vulnerable person.


There are many religions where the most significant rites are held secret from everyone except initiates. Look at the Druze. I don't want to be "condescending," but you seem to be awfully ignorant of other religions and view "religion" through a very narrow lens.

"Do you want to get into a debate about the legitimacy of some beliefs versus others?"

Why not? I'm not a moral coward.


You may as well debate about whose god is strongest. Seriously, faith and religion are arenas where "legitimacy" is nearly meaningless. Faith isn't rational or logical--it's by definition beyond such considerations.

And this is the particular danger of asking the government to decide what is a "legitimate belief" and what is not. I'm all for them cracking down on illegal actions, like kidnapping or child abuse, but consensual adult sex in a claimed religious rite? What bureaucrat is competent to decide whether such a ritual is legitimate?


The practical legitimacy of some beliefs verses others is a quantifiable value.

It is? Does Christianity get a 10? I know the Buddhists love 8, but what do the Jews get?

Synova said...

"Professional guidelines created over time as practioners tried to guide their profession to some ideal. Lawyers' rules of ethics didn't come from god or a religious text."

How do you think that religions developed their ethical guidelines? I'll give you a hint. It was the same way as lawyers did theirs. Rational people observed the consequences of behavior and understood the temptation to be a user.

"Secular laws applicable to everyone: don't kill, don't steal, don't cheat. But within each profession are internal ethical guidelines, not built into statutes, and they're different for each profession. Doctors, lawyers, and priests all have very different ethical obligations, and they are imposed by professional ethics."

They aren't "very different" at all. Not when you start with kill, steal, lie or cheat as if those are *secular* and then sort of segue into some amorphous suggestion of other variable ethical obligations we're simply supposed to imagine existing.

The principle of protecting the vulnerable is consistent.

Perhaps you're talking about a religion where the vulnerable are seen as worthy prey, but I'd like you to name it please.

"There are many religions where the most significant rites are held secret from everyone except initiates. Look at the Druze. I don't want to be "condescending," but you seem to be awfully ignorant of other religions and view "religion" through a very narrow lens."

The Druze believe in the sexual predation of the vulnerable? I certainly doubt that!

Having rites or ceremonies where the uninitiated are not allowed is common enough, no matter what religion, but that's not what I was claiming. Only that within the religion itself the practice is not secret.

Your condescension was in the notion that someone might not *understand* that sexual predation of the vulnerable is wrong. As if some moral actors are stunted that way... probably quaint or primitive moral actors, and we're not to judge them. I don't view some categories of adult persons as children who have to be excused for being simple. There is a certain amount of margin where social and community acceptance can make a practice "healthy" or not, but it's only a margin.

I wouldn't call the refusal to judge actions taken in the name of religion as a narrow view, as it's really no view at all. Someone like Koresh doesn't become moral and require our magnanimous acceptance on account of he's calling it a religion when he knocks up every fertile female in his compound any more than any other guy claiming to have a spiritual solution in exchange for sex deserves our uncritical approval.

As for your last question... the Jews seem to do very well. Weak members of the community are protected, families are stable, children nurtured, identity and belonging is enhanced, and industrious habits encouraged.

Most Christian churches do well.

Buddhist and similar religions do well, particularly in the respect of the wisdom of elders and obedience that gives communities order and stability.

Muslims do well in some respects that seem to end about at the point where a claim is made that Allah demands a theocracy where women have no legal rights and rape victims and gays should be stoned. Muslims rate high in reproductive success and pitiful in science and industry... and yes, it's religion related.

Voodoo seems to suck rocks, as is evidenced by the pitiful state of the communities where it is most often practiced. It's colorful and interesting, no doubt. But what good has it done lately? Or ever?

Blue@9 said...

Synova:
How do you think that religions developed their ethical guidelines? I'll give you a hint. It was the same way as lawyers did theirs. Rational people observed the consequences of behavior and understood the temptation to be a user.

I think you can distinguish rules for temporal life and rules for spiritual nourishment. "Don't kill" is very different from "Worship only me" or "Eat the body of Christ." The latter are religious edicts unconnected to secular rationales.

They aren't "very different" at all. Not when you start with kill, steal, lie or cheat as if those are *secular* and then sort of segue into some amorphous suggestion of other variable ethical obligations we're simply supposed to imagine existing.

You are not being very clear here. An attorney's professional ethical obligations are very different from a religious figure's, which was my original point. One is created because of purely secular concerns about conduct in the profession, whereas the other may be bound by wholly religious rules that have no basis in logic, reason, or experience.

The principle of protecting the vulnerable is consistent.

Perhaps you're talking about a religion where the vulnerable are seen as worthy prey, but I'd like you to name it please.


You are making the presumption that those initiated in religious sex rites are vulnerable victims. I guess you do so partially because they're mostly women, but you should stop and consider what a sexist and paternalist attitude that is. Who are you to say that initiates are poor vulnerable sheep needing the protection of the nanny-state? What kind of fascist shit is that?

The Druze believe in the sexual predation of the vulnerable? I certainly doubt that!

Nice failure to parse.

Having rites or ceremonies where the uninitiated are not allowed is common enough, no matter what religion, but that's not what I was claiming. Only that within the religion itself the practice is not secret.

And yet it is with the Druze.

Your condescension was in the notion that someone might not *understand* that sexual predation of the vulnerable is wrong. As if some moral actors are stunted that way... probably quaint or primitive moral actors, and we're not to judge them.

Seriously? We're talking about RELIGION. Religions create their own moral constructs. Where else is it acceptable to eat flesh and drink blood? Sheesh.

I wouldn't call the refusal to judge actions taken in the name of religion as a narrow view, as it's really no view at all. Someone like Koresh doesn't become moral and require our magnanimous acceptance on account of he's calling it a religion when he knocks up every fertile female in his compound any more than any other guy claiming to have a spiritual solution in exchange for sex deserves our uncritical approval.

You're viewing it through the moral lens of your own beliefs. Koresh was taken down because of allegations of gun-running and child-molestation -- violations of civil, secular laws -- not because he was a horndog. You can be critical all you want, viewing other religions through your particular moral lens, but what a stunted way to view the world. I suppose if you think that you and only you have discovered the Truth, fine, but you must be boring as hell to talk to.

Voodoo seems to suck rocks, as is evidenced by the pitiful state of the communities where it is most often practiced. It's colorful and interesting, no doubt. But what good has it done lately? Or ever?

Good god you're disgusting.

The Crack Emcee said...

Blue@9,

You're making a fatal mistake - fatal for children and others who are vulnerable - but not a mistake I'm unfamiliar with, since I follow these things and it's a strategy most believers (attempting to get away with something) use repeatedly:

The insistence we MUST identify with a belief that causes a crime before the crime itself.

She didn't kill her kid - God said not to give the child medicine! This wasn't a scam, "the spirits" said money will remove the curse!

Oh, anything can be brushed aside, as long as we see it their way. And when I say "their" I mean the "priest" and the "follower" or whatever descriptive terms you want to use. Both want to ignore the dead body/empty bank account/whatever to make the very real cops, jail, and/or outside attention, go away. The fact they think they can make the world disappear at will just exemplifies their - and your - delusion.

Finally, you call Synova "disgusting" for expecting some betterment for people who engage in certain practices. I find you disgusting, and callous - not to mention exceptionally stupid - for not wanting it for them yourself.

I mean it may give you some comfort, to think "you can believe whatever you want to believe", but it don't do shit for the dead.

The Crack Emcee said...

Bwaaaa-ha-ha-ha-ha! I just caught this line as I went to review what I wrote:

I suppose if you think that you and only you have discovered the Truth, fine, but you must be boring as hell to talk to.

Yeah, and Charlie Manson is a hoot as a conversationalist!

Jesus, you're a moron.

Synova said...

"I mean it may give you some comfort, to think "you can believe whatever you want to believe", but it don't do shit for the dead."

This.

Thank you.