Jeffrey Tayler’s Sunday Salon secular sermon

May 24, 2015 • 11:45 am

Brother Tayler has once again gone after religion in the Sunday Salon. This time his piece, which discusses—nay, eviscerates—Jeb Bush’s commencement address at the fundamentalist Liberty “University,” is called “Jeb Bush cozies up to haters: Jerry Falwell, Liberty University, and the real story of religious right evil.

I’ll leave you to luxuriate in Tayler’s anti-theism, but here’s Bush’s 18-minute talk, if you can stand it. Watch it quickly, for it’s already been taken down once from YouTube:

And a brief excerpt from Tayler’s piece:

And what an outrage that in 21st century America, institutions such as Liberty can train classes of otherwise normal men and women in the art of toadying to a tyrant, and one who doesn’t even exist.  They have passed four years mastering the intricacies of a colossal sham, and they can’t get those years back.  What a waste.

For those who read the above words and wish to accuse me of being a “hater,” let me say this: you’re right.  I hate that religion steals our funds – some $82.5 billion through tax exemptions in 2013 alone, for example – that we could have spent on our great needs, including rebuilding our infrastructure and bettering public education.  I hate how its ignorant teachings about sex and reproduction cause unnecessary hardship, fostering underage pregnancies and the prevalence of STDs – all most problematic in the God-fearing red states.  I loathe how it yearns for the world’s demise, and even has 49 percent of Americans believing that climate change is just another inevitable sign of the End of Days.

That 49% figure at the end shocked me a bit, but if you click on Tayler’s link, that’s what it says. Finally, Tayler’s strident ending:

I peered into the young faces of the audience, to which the cameras periodically panned for variety’s sake, and felt a pang of despair.  Falwell is dead, yet from the halls of Liberty surely such a one as he will arise, and continue his work.

In a much more enlightened time than our own, the revolutionary Thomas Paine remarked, “The whole religious complexion of the modern world is due to the absence from Jerusalem of a lunatic asylum.”

The lunacy goes on, once propagated by barefoot prophets, but now, by the duly capped and gowned. 

I had a peek at some of the comments, expecting the worst (this is, after all, Salon, The Official Richard Dawkins Hate site), but was impressed by the number of people supporting Tayler’s views.

52 thoughts on “Jeffrey Tayler’s Sunday Salon secular sermon

    1. And that’s just in America. Germany funnels funds to religious groups. Spain hands over huge chunks of money to the Catholic church every year- apart from tax exemptions. If we added it all up, I imagine most people would be shocked; because, trust me, that money doesn’t trickle down.

  1. Just showing up at Liberty should disqualify Bush from running for the office he is after. What he truly proves by this spectacle (speech) is the republican party is nothing more than a religion pandering club of g*d followers.

    I think Tayler was too easy on him.

    1. “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” – Napoleon

      By pandering to the crazies he’ll alienate the middle, and hopefully that’ll be the end of that political dynasty.

      We’re in the age of information. Ireland just voted for gay marriage; In large part, I believe, because the manipulations and deceptions of religious arguments have been so widely discredited. Hopefully the trend continues and spreads.

      1. That is a good optimistic thought, however even if Bush is cast aside there are nearly a dozen crazier right behind him. Also, not too clear that there is a middle but we will see. Religion is discredited but few of them know it. They don’t read the professor’s book.

  2. “I hate that religion steals our funds – some $82.5 billion through tax exemptions in 2013 alone”

    I sympathize with the sentiment, but this is factually wrong since the federal government does not need to collect taxes in order to spend, and the tax dollars that are collected are simply dollars taken out of the economy (they cease to exist). On the other hand, that is 82 billon that religious institutions retain and use to further their religious ends, so boo on the exemptions. But there is no reason we couldn’t spend an additional 82 billion (or any amount) on education without collecting the taxes first.

    1. Money spent by the government goes around the economy in exactly the same way as money spent by anyone else – it does not disappear. Government cannot just spend money whether or not they have it – if they don’t get the money from taxes etc they have to borrow it from other countries. Luckily for America, it’s seen as a good credit risk and interest rates are extremely low.

      If it doesn’t borrow, America has also created extra money via quantitative easing (basically that’s the equivalent of printing the extra money you need) in the recent past. However, this is extremely risky to the economy as a whole, and you can’t just keep doing it like you seem to imagine. It’s been stopped for very good reason. It devalues the currency – the US dollar is worth a lot less around the world than it used to be because of QE, and has only held up at all because it’s the reserve currency. (There was some talk internationally of getting another reserve currency because of the amount of QE going on, which would have destroyed the US economy.)

      The difference between government programmes and church ones is that government ones don’t play favourites. Help goes to those who need it most, not those the church thinks are most deserving, and is therefore fairer and usually more effective. Even if a religious group helps everyone, people often won’t approach them.

      $82 billion spent by the government is likely to have a much more positive effect on both those in need and the economy as a whole.

      1. “Money spent by the government goes around the economy in exactly the same way as money spent by anyone else”

        I’m sorry, but that’s simply not true. It is true for state and local governments who can’t issue their own currency, but it is not true for the Federal government which is a money issuer, not just a money spender. Think about it for just a moment… where do you think all those dollars came from in the first place? The Federal government creates dollars out of thin air.

      2. Most money is created by banks when they create debt; when debt is repaid the money really does disappear.

        …the US dollar is worth a lot less around the world than it used to be because of QE

        Evidence? If you were right about QE devaluing the currency, then you would see the results in exchange rates, but if you look at the history of exchange rates throughout the period that QE1, QE2, and QE3 were carried out, there is very little correlation with exchange rates. The British pound has fluctuated, the dollar dipped for a while against the yen, but is now above where it stood when QE1 began. Likewise, the dollar has fluctuated against the euro, and right now is up. The Chinese yuan has gradually strengthened against the dollar, but no more that it has been for 15 years before (and it is still contolled by the Chinese government, so it’s hard to make much of it anyway).

        1. Yes. QE is a controversial move and economists argue about it real effects and whether it is ‘stimulative’ or not. But since it is simply exchanging bonds for reserves it is moving money from one place to another and does not create any new dollars or cause any increase in the money supply. Some economists think that increasing the liquidity of the banks will stimulate the banks to make loans. However, in a recession, with a populace already deeply in debt, and interests rates near zero, it is very hard to see how adding liquidity to the banks will increase the number of loans they make, since a shortage of cash does not seem to be the limiting factor. It seems, rather, that people in general are more interested in paying off existing loans than they are in going even deeper into debt. There is, I believe, low demand for loans because there is little faith among the people that new debt will be easily paid off in an economy of high unemployment, crapified jobs, massive home foreclosures, extremely high medical costs, etc. etc. on the one hand. And on the other hand, the banks are not likely to loan the downpayment on a 300K house (typical housing prices where I live in Philadelphia) to a poor sod making minimum wage or barely above. you would think after the housing bubble burst the price of housing would be extremely low, but housing stock was massively bought up by a lot of speculators who thought they would make a killing turning around and renting the properties back to the people who were foreclosed on. So even though the “bubble” burst, we still have extremely inflated housing prices and QE just adds to this “asset inflation”. It is “good for Wall Street”, but not for “Main Street”.

          1. I’m unsure how much QE has helped increase economic activity too, but my point is that it didn’t devalue the dollar. I don’t disagree strongly with much of the rest of what you’ve said though. IMHO (and not just mine, of course), we’d have been much better served with stimulative fiscal policy, you know, the evil Keynesian approach. It seems pretty bloody obvious that the time to build infrastructure is when money is dirt cheap, the labor market is slack, and the infrastructure is crumbling. Monetary policy was far from preferred prescription, but it was all we were going to get.

      3. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying government debt has no consequences, but the so-called devaluation of which you speak hasn’t occured in a zero-lower-bound interest rate environment. Debt should be repaid in a boom, as the US did in the late ’90s, not in the wake of a huge recession. Of course, if one insists on reducing debt, there is a whole lot of money out there being plowed into car elevators, mansions, and off-shore bank accounts. All of which have only slightly more broad economic impact as burying the money at sea.

    2. I remember talking to a friend who argued that Roosevelt did nothing to ease the Great Depression with his spending and work programs. It was, they said, WWII that ended the Great Depression. How did WWII do that?, I asked. Why, the government ordered all of those tanks, and planes, and ships and put everyone to work! (or enrolled them in the make-work project of grabbing a rifle and storming a beach somewhere). Heh.

      I don’t know your politics, but most Republicans who make the argument that government spending doesn’t count somehow will, in almost the next breath, tout the vital need to spend untold billions of dollars on the F-35 because the economy needs the government to buy F-35’s. Perhaps you have a more coherent view than many Republicans, but whenever I hear the argument that government spending money somehow “doesn’t count”, I can’t help but think of the bizarre double think that Republicans often have on this topic.

      1. One of my favourite sayings is, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

        Something similar could be said of those who don’t understand economics. A first year paper on macroeconomics is pretty easy and would give someone all they need to know to understand why so much of what is spouted by politicians and commentators (on both sides of the political divide, but mostly the GOP) is rubbish.

        1. Don’t be so sure. I picked up a used economics textbook (from a mainstream academic publisher) once and was amazed to see that the “Laffer curve” was defended in it.

  3. That 49% figure at the end shocked me a bit

    I’m not surprised. To a wide range of important issues: population, food, running out of oil, species extinction, global warming, etc., the collective response of my religious friends is, “Meh. The world’s going to be destroyed anyway, and probably pretty soon. And we were told things would get bad before the end and, voila, here it is.”

    [Quoting Genesis]”as long as the earth remains there will be seed time and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night,” my point is, God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous. -Inhofe

    I think many people misunderstand when religious people say things like this. I think they think the religious are saying, “The Earth will be hunky dory”. That is not what many of them are saying. Many are saying, “The Earth will be hunky dory until God decides it won’t be, which will be the end of times.” If Inhofe is like most of my religious friends, they have no real expectation that the earth will be inhabitable for another 1000 years, or even 200 years. They fully expect some world-ending cataclysm. Their main contention isn’t that the Earth will be fine, but that it’s fate is entirely out of our hands.

    I think, among the many pernicious effects of faith, I would rank this fatalistic vision of the future of the Earth right near the top.

    1. As I remember christian dogma (it’s been a very long time…) the end times occur just before baby jesus comes back trailing clouds of glory and assumes rule of the earth. This regime then lasts for a thousand years. Those christians are going to need the planet to be in good condition when it all happens.

      1. The Premillennialist who believe in the 1000 year Jesus reign on Earth mostly expect horrible wars, famine, and disease to savage the Earth first because the same “prophecies” that give them the idea of the 1000 years also predict these things. I don’t often hear them say so explicitly, but their views must imply that Jesus cleans up the mess somehow to kick-off his thousand year reign. Of course, this sets up perverse incentives… if the Bible is true, then these horrors MUST happen, for if they don’t, the Bible is false. So their belief in the Bible, their identity, is threatened if these horrors to come to pass.

        The fundamentalist sect I came from vehemently rejected Premillennialism. They were convinced that Jesus was coming back and the Earth would be destroyed and any believers alive then would be taken to Heaven right then. Even so, they too tend to think, from various “prophesies”, that things are going to get really bad on Earth before the end, so they too have set up the perverse incentive: world problems getting solved equals discrediting Bible equals threatening their personal identity.

        Of course, being humans, they don’t believe any of this with total conviction. They want to have a nice house and clean neighborhood and pretty scenery to look at while they are alive. So most days most of them aren’t actively hoping for an apocalypse, at least not now. Maybe in 40 years, they think. This is why the end of the world is always thought be just-over-the-horizon… it’s going to happen just after I’m done having my party with the last of the Earth’s resources… THEN Jesus comes. Subconsciously, at least, this is how it comes out. They aren’t hoping for war and famine, but their commitment to the idea that these things must happen drains them of any sense of urgency, or even obligation, for the future beyond their own personal lives.

        I’ve known Christian friends to briefly become alarmed by pollution, or global warming, or population growth, or whatever. They aren’t completely unreasonable, they can see and understand the various issues we face, but then I have seen them calm themselves with the idea that, “Oh well, none of it’s going to last is it?” or “I’m glad it’s all in God’s hands.” It’s a get-out-of-responsibility-free card.

        1. Correction: So their belief in the Bible, their identity, is threatened if these horrors **fail* to come to pass.

        2. “They aren’t hoping for war and famine, but their commitment to the idea that these things must happen drains them of any sense of urgency, or even obligation, for the future beyond their own personal lives.”

          Yes. And although that commitment in an individual is engendered by many influences, I think one source is, somewhat recursively, that individual’s selfishness, or iow having no feelings of obligation to future generations. Someone with a selfish disposition will probably gravitate toward worldviews that support selfishness.

    2. And Ben Carson, a JW and therefore a strong believer in the End Time being imminent, has just won the most recent GOP straw poll. Effing scary.

      1. Actually, Carson is a 7th day adventist. Which doesn’t make him any less scary, but which does give me an opportunity to practice my pedanticism. 🙂

  4. How appropo:
    2016 candidate Ben Carson said on Saturday that Republicans shouldn’t let the progressives “bully” them and allow the government to infringe on their religious liberty, TPM reports.
    Don’t let the secular progressives drive God out of our lives,” Carson said. “We have to stop letting them bully us. . . . We back down too easily. It’s an important part of who we are.”

    He also invoked the “founders” and accused progressives of politicizing religion and persecuting Christians.

  5. I didn’t bother wasting time listening to Shrub (Third of that Dynasty). But … I didn have to Wiki it to find out what a “commencement address” is – or was. Is that normal practise in the States? Because I think we were about 3 weeks into the graduation sessions by the time we got our (non-existent) bits of lamb’s skin. I actually got a certificate (for a Canadian job, actually) 23 years later.
    It may be a climate thing. Finding a venue where 3000-odd guests and a thousand graduands could meet indoors would be a serious struggle, and no-one but no-one would be as stark-staring insane as to contemplate an open-air ceremony.

  6. Jeb Bush is the most centrist of the leading GOP candidates. The rest are even worse.

    There’s one, Carly Fiorina, the only woman, who looks like she might be OK, and the best of the lot imo, but I think she might be too unknown to get anywhere. I don’t know enough about her yet to be confident in my judgement of her though.

    1. Fiorina strikes me as the most intelligent of the crowd, which isn’t saying much. She is also a lousy politician and an off-putting personality. She also suffers from the “I was a CEO so I’m a leader” syndrome. Business people make lousy (ineffective) politicians; people have tendency not to salute and follow orders in politics.

      I think Kasich can act like a “centrist” when he works at it – and has much less baggage than Jeb. The GOP sugar daddies will try to shove Scott Walker down our throats if they think they can get away with it.

      1. Kasich was the sort of CEO who believed putting thousands out of work to increase profits for the one percenters was doing good work. IMO, she’d be as much a disaster as a President as shrub was and as any of the other current candidates would be. Hey, Ben Carson’s a brain surgeon — and he’s still an irrational idiot when it comes to religion!

    2. Carly Fiorina
      * destroyed half the value of HP. A stockholder who invested $100 when she took control would have lost $50 by the time the board of directors gave her the heave-ho.
      * killed 30,000 American Jobs
      * took over $100 million from HP in pay.

      Of the over 100 former employees I asked, %100 hated her.

      1. She could be heard, cringe inducing, on Bill Maher’s show recently. Makes you wonder how deeply flawed our business and government structures must be to allow such dimwits access to so much decision making power. See also GWB.

        1. I don’t agree (but that’s OK!) with the assessment of Fiorina being dimwitted. She may have halved the share price and terrified HP employees creating low moral and shitty productivity – but she did manage to walk with 100 million.

          Despicable sociopath, yes – she was a freaking CEO after all. Dimwitted, not so much (IMO).

          If she is dimwitted I would be happy to be half as stupid (and walk with 50 M).

  7. Has Jeb Bush learned nothing from his brother’s mistakes, including his ill-advised 2000 campaign visit to Bob Jones U? I thought Jeb was supposed to be the smart one — Michael to Dubya’s Fredo.

    Somebody better warn these lunk-heads that whoever comes to them at Poppy’s funeral proposing a meeting with Don Barzini is the family traitor. Will it be James Baker or Brent Scowcroft — which one is Tessio, which one Clemenza?

  8. “The whole religious complexion of the modern world is due to the absence from Jerusalem of a lunatic asylum.”

    That is an amazing quote but I’m having trouble with my research because about half the Google links say that Thomas Paine said it and the other half says that Havelock Ellis said it. FFRF says it was Ellis so that is must likely correct.

    1. It is attributed to Ellis by the Bloomsbury Biographical Dictionary of Quotations, Wikipedia, and The Freedom from Religion Foundation.

      Intuitively, it sounds a lot more like Ellis than Paine.

    2. The clincher is that the major rise of lunatic asylums in Europe was in the 19th century shortly before the life time of Ellis, but long after the life of Tom Paine. Prototypes of psychiatric institutions can be traced back to the early Middle Ages, but there were no lunatic asylums anywhere on the planet during the time of Jesus (to whom Ellis is referring).

  9. I had a peek at some of the comments, expecting the worst (this is, after all, Salon, The Official Richard Dawkins Hate site), but was impressed by the number of people supporting Tayler’s views.

    I just checked. While I was quite surprised to see only 52 comments, I was even more surprised to see that all but about three or four supported Tayler!

  10. We can expect a lot more tacking to the right from all Repub wannabes until the primaries are over. Then they’ll all change course in a effort to look harmless to the left. It’s ever thus.

    Listened to Jeb droning in the background while reading these comments. Holy shit. Scary thing is, he can actually speak, unlike his brother.

  11. Hey Jeb, what’s with the super-hero robe? Man he looks as dumb as he sounds. The opposition should plaster the photos with him in this ridiculous garb; it just shouts “I’m a fool!”

    1. Yep, as Professor Dawkins’s reflected upon Hitch’s demise, “We have lost our most powerful rhetorical artillery piece.”

  12. ” . . . here’s Bush’s 18-minute talk, if you can stand it.”

    Can’t bear it today. Will have to git a bit likkered up.

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