Sunday, May 27, 2018

#2020: E. Ray Moore

E. Ray Moore is a solidly Taliban-style fundamentalist, theocrat and political activist (staff member for Pat Robertson’s campaigns in the 1980s, for instance) – in 2014 he even ran for governor of South Carolina. He is currently President of Frontline Ministries, Inc. and Director of the Exodus Mandate Project, author of extremist books like Let My Children Go (with his wife, Gail) and The Promise of Jonadab: Building a Christian Family Legacy in a Time of Cultural Decline, as well as – and perhaps most notably – Executive Producer of the documentary IndoctriNation. Moore’s main focus is the separation of church and state, which he doesn’t like, and in particular the fact that children in public schools aren’t indoctrinated with what he judges to be the correct version of Christianity.

“IndoctriNation” concerns this allegedly destructive nature of the public school system, which Moore calls the “main culprit” when it comes to why young adults leave the church: Public schools are like “playing Russian Roulette with your children’s souls,” as Moore sees it. They are “godless and pagan by precept and design,” since they don’t follow his demand for “God in the math class and in the science class as much as in the Bible class.” Instead of letting children attend public schools, parents should do what the Bible demands of them: homeschool them or place them in Christian schools. In 2006 Moore submitted a resolution to the Southern Baptist Convention urging an exit strategy from the public school system, arguing that Christians should not be exposed to any knowledge that doesn’t fit with what hethey already believe.

His 2014 gubernatorial campaign also focused on his dislike for public schools, which are ostensibly causing a  “silent holocaust” (like most screaming all-caps loons on the Internet Moore has a knack for lunatic, idiotic and tasteless turns of the phrase) in American churches by teaching evolution and homosexuality, warning that the curricula turn students, like a young Hillary Clinton, into anti-Christian “janissaries”. Instead, Moore urged the state to replace public schools with an education system led by “churches, families, and private association”. Moore cited studies purportedly showing that “80 percent of Southern Baptists youths are leaving the church and abandoning the Christian faith, and we think all of this is pretty much attributable to government schooling.” Surely having to deal with people like E. Ray Moore would have nothing to do with it.

In 2017, Moore called for God to protect Trump from the demonic “Deep State.” Having evidently no clear idea what “deep state” purports to refer to (and in any case systematically confusing things and lumps in the stream of his own feverish imagination), describing it as some nebulous entity that is not loyal to the Constitution but representing “principalities and powers,” “demonic and Satanic forces” and “fallen angels”; accordingly, he also claimed that prayer would be an appropriate means to deal with the deep state. “We’ve got a man in the government who is a friend of God’s in a unique way in modern American history,” concluded Moore: God gave us a “miracle” in November 2016, heralding a new, great revival.

Moore has also endorsed The New Geneva Christian Leadership Academy, which we have encountered before.

Diagnosis: The Taliban envy is indeed strong among angry, afraid, delusional and hateful fundies. Apparently quite a number of people listen to this frothing lunatic, though his impact is hopefully relatively limited.

Friday, May 25, 2018

#2019: Gene Moody

Yes, there are people who follow
advice on exorcising demons from
youtube clips presented by that guy.
A deliverance ministry is a fundamentalist organization that tries to cure peoples’ ills by casting out demons. More colorful and nefarious than, but otherwise essentially similar to, faith healing, the movement gained momentum with the publication of Pigs in the Parlor: A Practical Guide to Deliverance by Frank and Ida Mae Hammond in 1973. One of the current, grand, delusional and frothingly insane old men of the movement is Gene Moody, a disciple of the Hammonds (and mentor of Stan and Elizabeth Madrak, whom we have already covered).

Moody is the author of Deliverance Manual (“Every Christian should be able to cast out demons at least in their own family”), which is readily available online. The basic idea is the same as that described in Pigs in the Parlor: “Demon spirits can invade and dwell in human bodies” to cause all sorts of ills, from from murderousness to schizophrenia, sleepiness, intellectualism and homosexuality, but can fortunately be exorcised by faithful fundies who write incoherent rants in ALL CAPS on the Internet. Moody adds instructions on “Cleaning Your House (of Demons)” and describes for instance a case where someone threw out their kid’s Big Bird toy because it gave Satan “legal grounds”, which is, of course, an idea of a kind we’ve had the opportunity to cover before. There are some illustrative quotes here.

Like the Hammonds, Moody provides an extensive list of potential demons by name. For instance, “BOYCE and BOICE are two demons that interfere with any electronic equipment, i.e., phone, computer, printer, automobile, etc. If something malfunctions, command these two demons to leave your equipment, in the name of Jesus. We get many emails saying this worked. If it does not work, demons are not causing the problem.” Easy as that.

And like all other deliverance ministry promoters, Moody has serious problems distinguishing fantasy from reality; indeed, it seems that Moody and his ilk take any piece of fiction to either document reality or provide instructions for how to deal with it. An example: “The Necronomicon (legendary occult text) has its place in modern black magic and Transyuggothian metaphysics. […] For example, there is now a whole line of materials based on the hellish Lovecraft Cthulhu mythos (author Howard Phillips Lovecraft), a form of magic practiced in the darkest Satanism – a system of magic prominently featured in The Satanic Rituals. The Necronomicon and the Cthulhu mythos are quite real. Lycanthropy (shape shifting) is the clinical term for being or believing yourself to be a werewolf. The magical act of changing into any wild animal. These are immensely complicated worlds of magic, spells and violence.” That he has some trouble following a single line of thought, is not the most serious shortcoming of Moody’s thinking on display in that passage. 

Diagnosis: Clinically insane, and he ought to be mostly harmless. But there are, in fact, people who take his advice, and whose children will probably be scarred for life.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

#2018: Frank Monte

Few tragedies go by without some idiot moron connecting some dots to find whatever pattern their deranged brains wanted to see, and then forming some lunatic and dumb conspiracy theory. You can probably think of a few examples yourself, and the case in the present post is just an illustrative example chosen more or less at random: When Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace was gunned down in front of his South Miami Beach estate in 1997 by serial killer Andrew Cunanan, one who didn’t accept the official story but created his own was New York-based private detective and one-time Jackie Onassis bodyguard Frank Monte. According to Monte, as described in his book The Spying Game, Cunanan didn’t kill Versace; rather, it was the Italian Mob. According to Monte himself, he was hired by Versace a year before the latter’s death (false) because Versace had fallen afoul of the mob, and the hit was carried out by them using Cunanan as a patsy. The cops, according to Monte, never ran a match on the bullets. As for Cunanan, the Mob had killed him at least a week before the murder and kept his body on ice in the houseboat where he was eventually found. The videotape from Versace’s security camera, which clearly shows Cunanan running from the murder scene, is as far as we know left unexplained.

Apparently Monte has a bit of a story to him, failing in 2012, for instance, a legal bid to prevent the police cancelling his private investigator’s licence due to his “lack of moral integrity” and a history of ripping off clients. There is certainly a possibility that “loon” is not the most apt description of Frank Monte.

Diagnosis: Ok, so it’s just a bit silly and not nearly as crazy (or nasty) as some conspiracy theories. But it is still a fine example of how village idiots like to just make things up and then vehemently believe them regardless of evidence, truth or reason. Probably harmless, but the trend he exemplifies is not, which is why we include him.

Hat tip: jcs-group

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

#2017: Jeff Monroe et al.

Jeffrey “Jeff” Rodrick Monroe has been representing District 24 in the South Dakota Senate since 2013, and previously in the South Dakota Legislature between 1995 and 2003. It is worth mentioning that Monroe is a chiropractor whose education is from the Northwestern College of Chiropractic – now Northwestern Health Sciences University – one of several institutions that specialize in offering courses on various types of woo, pseudoscience and quackery. Perhaps his background might help explain some of Monroe’s confusions over and distaste for science, evidence and reason.

In 2014, Monroe sponsored Senate Bill 112 (details here), which would, if enacted, provide that “[n]o school board or school administrator may prohibit a teacher in public or nonpublic school from providing instruction on intelligent design or other related topics” – it was, in other words, an attempt to introduce Intelligent Design Creationist misinformation in South Dakota public schools (co-sponsors were Phil Jensen (R-District 33), Dan Lederman (R-District 16), Ernie Otten (R-District 6), Bruce E. Rampelberg (R-District 30), and Bill Van Gerpen (R-District 19)). The bill, unsurprisingly, closely followed the Wedge strategy authored by the intelligent design think tank the Discovery Institute, and framed the issue as if it were a matter of academic freedom. Bars on teaching falsehoods is not a violation of academic freedom, and teaching creationism in public schools is of course unconstitutional, but serious nuttery is characterized by applying the same cognitive resources to interpreting the Constitution as to interpreting science. Of course, anti-science legislation on education in South Dakota is no new thing; in 2010 they tried to pass a resolution to stop teachers from teaching global warming, which included the formulation: “astrological, thermological, cosmological, and ecological dynamics that can effect [sic] world weather phenomena.”

Fortunately the bill died, but Monroe promised to return to the issue in the future. He did, in 2015, with Senate Bill 114 (details here), another “academic freedom bill” allowing and encouraging teachers to teach the “weaknesses” of scientific theories, with “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, [and] human cloning” singled out as disputable topics – this time without overtly religious language such as references to Intelligent Design creationism. Co-sponsors were Lederman and Van Gerpen from last time, as well as Bob Ewing (R-District 31), Brock L. Greenfield (R-District 2), Jenna Haggar (R-District 10), Ried Holien (R-District 5), Betty Olson (R-District 28), David M. Omdahl (R-District 11), and Mike Vehle (R-District 20). There is no shortage of anti-science loons in South Dakota. 

And don’t you know: Monroe et al. were at it with another attempt in 2016, with Senate Bill 83 (details here), “[a]n Act to protect the teaching of certain scientific information,” and again in 2017, with Senate Bill 55 (details here) (adding Stace Nelson (R-District 19), Jim Stalzer (R-District 11), and John Wiik (R-District 4) to the list of co-sponsors). This one passed the Senate Education Committee on a 4-3 vote, despite the opposition from the state’s educational communities, which says a lot of not particularly flattering things about South Dakota and its voters. Monroe himself asserted that “we’re dealing with theories, we’re dealing with things that aren’t proven. Things that people know are not established facts.” At least it must be counted as an established fact that Monroe has not the faintest clue about basic scientific thinking, distinctions and vocabulary. The day after, the Bill passed the Senate, and moved to the House (where its sponsors were Blaine Campbell (R-District 35), Julie Frye-Mueller (R-District 30), Tim Goodwin (R-District 30), Leslie J. Heinemann (R-District 8), and Taffy Howard (R-District 33)), where it was stopped by the House Education Committee. The bill was lauded by the Discovery Institute, who even found a local “expert” with an actual PhD (not in anything related to evolution, of course) to praise it. That “expert” was William Harris, whom we’ve encountered before.

To top it all, however, Monroe is also an advocate for anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. In 2012, Monroe introduced a bill making it easier for parents to refuse to get their children vaccinated, in order to guarantee an increase in deaths from preventable causes (not Monroe’s explicit justification). Monroe, of course, claimed it was all about religious freedom, even though South Dakota was already one of the states with the laxest religious exemption laws.

Diagnosis: Astounding mistrust of truth and evidence – and that goes not only for Monroe but for a substantial portion of the South Dakota legislature, and by extension its voters. Extremely scary, all of it.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

#2016: Matt Monarch

Matt Monarch is a raw food vegan activist who thinks that cooking food kills it and poisons you (cooked foods are “dead,” having had their “vital force” and nutrients sucked out of them), while eating only raw vegetables, fruit, grain, and plant matter is the secret to health. He defends the ideas on the website The Raw Food World. Said ideas include the delusion that nearly all disease is caused by unspecified toxins, in particular through “autointoxication,” where allegedly accumulated fecal matter piled up in your colon leaks its “toxins” into your bloodstream and makes you sick. The idea is complete nonsense (having sufficient fecal matter in your colon to make you sick would make you septic – that’s true – but certainly does not cause the chronic illnesses Monarch claims.) In any case, as Monarch sees it this mythical accumulated fecal matter needs to be purged through detoxification, and he seems to be perfectly willing to subject his own children to such procedures, which is less funny.

Of course, he has no evidence for his claims. People who want evidence are sheeple “stuck in the ‘system’, doing everything that they are told by “authority” figures such as their doctors and family members, all out of fear and weakness.” He doesn’t need evidence: the information he provides “is so basic and obvious to me and I feel extremely sad that the majority of the people will likely just brush this info off.” He has anecdotes, however, and willingly tells you how he has applied his methods to unnamed people with “instantaneous results.” 

And there is a conspiracy, of course: According to Monarch, the body is always naturally “purging” but those evil “allopathic doctors” and Big Pharma are pumping you full of drugs that to him “suppress” the body’s ability to detoxify itself. The solution is enemas. Enemas for headaches, for kidney stones, for cancer, for everything. To achieve best possible effect, however, you should supplement the enemas with raw vegetable juice and molasses. And just remember: if you don’t get better, it’s because you didn’t have sufficient faith; if you are “truly” doing “these things consistently for a good amount of time,” you can heal anything, and if you don’t then “my best guess would be it’s a spiritual phenomena that you have to figure out.” Blaming the victim is of course part and parcel of any serious altmed treatment regime.

Among the products promoted by Monarch is Adya Clarity, which Monarch claims – without evidence or any plausible mechanism – can “eliminate pathogens” and “toxins”; in particular, it can get rid of candida and it worked for his wife. Interestingly, his promotion of Adya Clarity got him in a fight with woomeister supreme Mike Adams, since Monarch also claimed that Adya Clarity made Zeolite superfluous, and Zeolite is a bullshit supplement Adams has some financial stakes in (indeed, Monarch and Adams were, at some point, engaged some kind of cooperation, and Monarch has previously written for NaturalNews). So it goes.

Of course, Monarch has gone down the rabbit hole more or less completely. He’s for instance also antivaccine, and is willing to tell us how to make our shoes “grounded”. Unfortunately, he is unwilling to reveal the really deep secrets: “This rabbit hole DOES go deep and most of the stuff that I say probably sounds totally OUTLANDISH and EXTREME to the majority of the population. I feel, for example, that I am doing a service by not revealing what I feel is the real truth about where humans came from and how degenerated we may actually be at this time, as I feel that I would likely lose much credibility sharing these kinds of ideas.” The last insight is probably correct, though.

Diagnosis: Utterly deranged pseudoscientist and conspiracy theorist, and a genuine threat to people close to him. At least you have the option to stay far away; others seem to be less lucky.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

#2015: Tom Monaghan

Often counted among the American Taliban’s greatest success stories, Tom Monaghan is the founder of Dominos Pizza, dominionist and currently owner of the Ave Maria Foundation, the Ave Maria University (garbage) and an area of land in Florida called, well, Ave Maria. Monaghan is, as you may have guessed, a Catholic, endorsing a range of (extreme versions of) positions typically associated with Catholicism (in the US that seems to include supply-side economics), and he thinks that Catholic orthodoxy on these issues is far too liberal. His answer is to donate vast sums to Catholic extremist groups, including the cult Word of God. 

Monaghan is also the founder of the fundamentalist Thomas More Law Center, famous for providing the defense in Kitzmiller v. Dover, for the 2011 claim that Obamacare was unconstitutional, and for a 2001 suit brought against the San Diego chapter of Planned Parenthood to force it to inform women of a possible link between abortions and breast cancer. Needless to say, none of the cases were even remotely successful. Oh, and Monaghan is the guy behind the Catholic fundamentalist Legatus organization, which we have encountered before.

His most curious endeavor is probably his Ave Maria community, however. Officially founded by the Ave Maria Development Company, the Ave Maria community was an attempt to create a version of a Catholic dominionist utopia, completely controlled by Monaghan forever through the the Ave Maria Stewardship Community District, and a limited government law that allows for a “special interest” group to completely and totally control the town’s community infrastructure, its development systems, facilities, services and everything else, without any oversight other than Monaghan’s (the law was passed by the Florida State legislature); details here. Monaghan can, as such, decide which stores, hospitals or churches can be established in the area (as per Monaghan’s right to exercise his religious freedom, of course): “We’ll own all commercial real estate. That means we will be able to control what goes on there. You won’t be able to buy a Playboy or Hustler magazine in Ave Maria Town. We're going to control the cable television that comes in the area. There is not going to be any pornographic television in Ave Maria Town. If you go to the drug store and you want to buy the pill or the condoms or contraception, you won’t be able to get that in Ave Maria Town,” said Monaghan. Also, badmouthing Monaghan or the Pope may get you fired and run out of town. There’s a good description of the place here.

Diagnosis: Fanatic theocrat, and powerful enough to actually realize his dominionist ideas. Honestly, we are not completely sure that he qualifies as a loon in the original sense, but whatever. 

Hat-tip: Rationalwiki

For the record: Stefan Molyneux is Irish-Canadian and thus disqualified from an entry on technical grounds.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

#2014: Roberto Miranda

More religious extremist fanaticism. Roberto Miranda is the pastor of Congregación León de Judá, ostensibly one of the biggest churches in Boston. Miranda is best known for claiming that Satan is behind marriage equality and for directly tying the promotion of gay rights to 9/11. “Satan has warred mightily against [the Boston] region, and has effectively neutralized it through the influence of principalities of rationalism, humanism, intellectual pride and spiritual arrogance,” says Miranda. He seems to mean “rationality”, not “rationalism”. Woe on rationality. As a result, “Massachusetts, as well as all of New England, has become a cemetery of churches, a breeding ground for heretical doctrine, and intellectual furnace energizing attitudes of godlessness, rational arrogance and secularism. It is no coincidence, of course, that something as dramatically distant from the Christian worldview as gay marriage would be originated in this region.” 

As for the 9/11 connection: “Is it exaggerated to see prophetic significance in the fact that on September 11, 2001 Boston served as the point of departure for the deadly forces that spread so much destruction and havoc in this nation and all over the world?” Why, yes: of course it is. But Miranda’s question was rhetorical: “What took place at the material level is now being carried out at the moral and spiritual level, as the virus of homosexuality and gay marriage begins to spread dramatically all over this nation and perhaps the world.”

Diagnosis: Batshit insane wingnut fundie idiot.