A Nation of Believers … In Just About Anything

Irrational beliefs are alive and well in the United States. For instance,

One in five Republican voters believes Barack Obama is the ‘antichrist’ and nearly a third of all Americans think a secret power elite controls the world, according to new research on conspiracy theories.

A survey by the Public Policy Polling group aimed to shed light on the link between political leanings and belief in conspiracy theories. The poll found that:

• 34 percent of Republicans polled believe a New World Order controls the world, compared with 35 percent of independent voters and 15 percent of Democrats.

• 29 percent of US voters believe aliens exist.

• 13 percent of voters think Barack Obama is the anti-Christ, including 22 percent of Romney voters.

More here.


I’m happy for people to believe whatever they want — no skin off my backside. All the same, it can be dispiriting to live in a country whose populace takes to nonsense and disinformation as a fish takes to water.

The survey steered clear of asking about delusional beliefs in various deities, but we know the picture would have been bleak indeed.

[image via Shirtoid]

Muslim Honor Code: A Runaway, an Axe, a Murder

With thanks to CNN, we highlight this story about a teenage runaway who was almost hacked to death in order to protect her family’s “honor”:

Meena Gul knew she was committing the ultimate crime according to strict Islamic customs — running away from her husband with another man — but she also knew she didn’t want to continue living the life she had since her marriage. [Gul was forced into wedlock at age 12 with a much older man.]

“I’d tried to kill myself with poison several times but it didn’t work. I hated my life and I had to escape. When I ran away I knew it would be dangerous. I knew my husband and family would be looking for me but I never thought this would happen. I thought my future would be bright,” she says.

Days later her older brother tracked them down. Armed with an ax, he hacked to death Gul Meena’s friend, and then struck his own sister 15 times — cutting open her face, head and parts of her body.


The Little Girl Who Inspired This Blog

I’d had the idea for Moral Compass since early 2011, I think. Maybe it was earlier than that, but that’s when I registered the domain name and asked an illustrator to create the rotating banners at the top.

But you know how it goes. Life got busy, clients called, my family needed a husband and a dad, we adopted two dogs, and on and on.

Then, in February, I learned of this little girl:

Her name was Lama al-Ghamdi. She was five. This is what her very religious father did to her:

A prominent Saudi Arabian preacher who raped his 5-year-old daughter before torturing her to death has been spared a death sentence or even a lengthy prison term after agreeing to pay “blood money” to the slain girl’s mother. [He] was arrested last November and charged with brutally raping and torturing 5-year-old Lama al-Ghamdi to death. According to a medical report, the little girl had been tortured with whips, electric shocks and an iron. She had broken arms, a broken back and a fractured skull.

The man, Fayhan al-Ghamdi, is a respected Islamic scholar, and a regular commentator on issues of religion and morality for several Muslim TV channels. He’s a bit of a holy man, really. See for yourself:

According to social worker Randa al-Kaleeb, Lama had been raped “everywhere.” Agence France-Presse reports that hospital staff told the girl’s mother that her “daughter’s rectum had been torn open and the abuser had attempted to burn it closed.”

By the grace of Allah the Mighty, the Merciful, al-Ghamdi received just a metaphorical rap on the knuckles, “spared a death sentence or even a lengthy prison term after agreeing to pay blood money.”

Lama was the spark that finally lit my fuse. She is why you are visiting this blog right now, and why I spend countless hours updating it with the latest examples of religious hypocrisy and evil.

Moral Compass is dedicated to what I call, with a wink, “calibrating the faithful.” It’s a chronicle of religious wickedness — one that, by its nature, pokes fun at the delusional claims by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards.

You can help, if you wish, by sending suggestions for new posts.

My thoughts frequently drift to Lama al-Ghamdi. She continues to be an inspiration.

The only reason I’m sorry there is no heaven, is that Lama sure didn’t get much of a life on earth.

And the only reason I’m sorry there is no hell, is that I find it oddly gratifying to picture Lama’s father and his ilk spending eternity immersed in a lake of fire.

Amen. I Mean, Right On.

Via BrightRock.


Saudi Court May Order Man’s Spinal Cord Severed

From YNet, with thanks to BangsNaughtyBits for the tip:

A Saudi court has ruled that a man who paralyzed his best friend should now himself be crippled in an ‘eye-for-an-eye’ punishment, the Saudi Gazette reported this week.

Ali Al-Khawahir has been in prison since stabbing his friend in the backbone 10 years ago, when he was only 14 years old. According to the Saudi Gazette, a court has ruled that the accused should now be “fully paralyzed” unless he pays the compensation demanded by the victim. Originally the victim asked for two million Saudi riyals ($448,500), but this sum has since been reduced to one million Saudi Riyals ($225,500), according to Mail Online.

It is not clear how the punishment would be carried out. However it has been speculated that the victim’s spinal cord would be severed.

spinal cord injury

The news comes one year after the Saudis began thinking about abolishing beheadings — not because they think there’s anything wrong with beheadings, you dig, but because the country is suffering from a worrisome lack of qualified swordsmen.

The oil-soaked desert kingdom beheads about 70-80 people every year. The highest-profile Saudi head removal in recent years involved a Sri Lankan maid, Rizana Nafeek, who received the death penalty for smothering a Saudi baby in her care in 2005. She maintained her innocence and explained that the infant choked to death. Early last year, despite international protests, the Saudis executed her anyway.

According to the International Business Times (IBT), Nafeek’s plight

…refocused the spotlight on the increase in cases of abuse of migrant workers, which is a disturbing phenomenon In Saudi Arabia and across the Gulf. Women in often wealthy households are confined to the family home for much of their lives, with complete authority over foreign staff, who are seldom literate and paid little. Maids often have their passports confiscated by their employers, and are treated as indentured labour.

If the domestic workers get in any kind of trouble with the law, justified or not, their legal challenges can be insurmountable. IBT claimed last year that around 50 foreign maids are on death row in Saudi Arabia. If henchmen with broadswords continue to be scarce, the inmates will probably face a firing squad instead.

If it were me, I might prefer that to being surgically paralyzed.

Do Saudi doctors swear a Hippocratic oath? Would severing a man’s spinal cord be in accordance with it? If not, the Saudi justice department could always hire Nazrul Islam, a young U.K. thug who used a knife on Cambridgeshire student Oliver Hemsley and turned him into a quadriplegic.

Muslim Vandals Attack Dawkins Website

This is currently the front page of Richard Dawkinswebsite (Wednesday 10:30 EST.)

Islamist goons think they have the right to prevent others from speaking, even more so than other stripes of religious nannies.

As much as they say they abhor swine … ironically, to me, that’s exactly what these people are.


‘Derogatory’ Bloggers in Custody in Bangladesh

Glad police in Bangladesh are cracking down on dangerous crime.


Police arrested three persons, including a student of Dhaka University, from different parts of the capital Monday night for writing “derogatory contents about Islam and Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)” on different Internet platforms.

The arrests came hot on the heels of a campaign by radical Islamist organisations which threatened of non-stop shutdown and tougher agitation if “atheist bloggers”, as they termed them, are not executed.

[image via slantedright]

Collaborate and Live. Fight Each Other and Die.

Dr. Abdullah Badr, an Egyptian Muslim scholar, said during a conference last week (video here) that a true Muslim should love and help fellow Muslims, but that it’s a believer’s duty to hate non-Muslims.

He explained that he is “disgusted” by Christians; so much so that, if a Christian were to touch his cup, he’d refuse to drink from it.

On the nominal Christian side, such scurrilous buffoonery is matched by hotheads like Ann Coulter. The hateful hussy once famously remarked that the West “should invade [Muslim] countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.”

It’s only fair to point out that one or two prominent atheists advocate similar solutions. Take Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who told a Reason interviewer that Islam must be attacked and crushed, militarily “and in all forms.”

It’s enough to drive a man to exasperation.

I came across this picture today — three drowned deer, their antlers interlocked — and thought I’d share it here; it seemed like a sadly apt metaphor for how militant faith and humanity’s fate are all tangled up together.

Three Ohio Deer Found Drowned With Antlers Interlocked - Imgur

Burka Bicyclists

Women in Saudi Arabia may now ride bicycles, provided they adhere to “modest” dress codes and are in the presence of a male guardian.

Which somehow reminded me of this old NSFW Queen video — a mullah’s nightmare. You’re welcome.

‘The Will of God’: Son Murders Father in Church

Mysterious ways:

Witnesses say the 25-year-old man accused of walking into an Ohio church and fatally shooting his father after an Easter service Sunday was yelling about God and Allah after the killing.

Police say Reshad Riddle killed his father, 52-year-old Richard Riddle, with a single shot from a handgun Sunday afternoon at the Hiawatha Church of God in Christ in Ashtabula, OH.

Reshad Riddle takes a selfie.

Reshad Riddle takes a selfie.

Associate Pator Sean Adams … said that after the shooting, Reshad Riddle continued into the church, still holding the gun, and yelled that the killing was “the will of Allah. This is the will of God.”

[image via CBS News]

Lego: The Muslim Empire Strikes Back

If you want proof that religion and child-like make-belief are indistinguishable, have I got a story for you. No, it’s not an April Fool’s joke. From the U.K. Independent:

Austria’s Turkish community claimed a victory in its fight against Danish toy giant Lego yesterday after the firm agreed to withdraw a Star Wars toy set featuring a mosque-like building inhabited by an obese, hookah–smoking alien, following complaints that it was anti-Muslim.


Lego added the “Jabba’s Palace” playset to its Star Wars collection in 2012. But in January this year the set started to provoke outrage in Austria’s Islamic community after a Muslim father found that his sister had given one to his son as a present.

Outrage, as you’ve probably noticed, is Islamic believers’ perennial state. If Muslim countries ever run out of oil, I’m sure their citizens can learn to fuel their cars just by tapping into that always-boiling subdural fury they carry with them.

The Lego game, which is aimed at children aged from nine to 14, features Jabba the Hutt in his intergalactic lair. Jabba, the slug-like villain who first appeared in the 1983 film Return of the Jedi, lives in a domed, oriental-looking building equipped with rockets and machine guns. He also smokes a water pipe and keeps Princess Leia in chains for use as his personal slave.

Furious Muslim critics complained that the Lego set’s Asian and oriental figures were “deceitful and criminal” characters such as gun-runners, slave masters and terrorists.

Oh, also,

Critics claimed that the palace had an uncanny resemblance to Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia mosque.

Well, so what? Catholics had an unpleasant slug living in their big fancy God-palace for years, and you didn’t hear them complain about it.

A Debt, a Daughter, and an Islamic Solution

Tribal customs, culture, and religion are often inextricably linked, and such is the case here:

Afghan Debt’s Painful Payment - A Daughter, 6 - NYTimes.com

Taj Mohammad, a resident of an Afghan refugee camp, where he lives with his wife and eight children, says his six-year-old daughter Naghma is collateral for a loan.

If, as seems likely, Mr. Mohammad cannot repay his debt to a fellow camp resident a year from now, his daughter, a smiling, slender child with a tiny gold stud in her nose, will be forced to leave her family’s home forever — to be married to the lender’s 17-year-old son. …

Because Naghma, whose name means melody, was not chosen by the groom, she will most likely be treated more like a family servant than a spouse — and at worst as a captive slave. Her presence may help the groom attract a more desirable second wife because the family, although poor, will have someone working for it, insulating the chosen wife from some of the hardest tasks.

Taj Mohammad and his wife do not want their daughter to leave them.

“We call her ‘Peshaka,’ ” he said, using the Pashto word for kitten. “She is a very lovely girl. Everybody in our family loves her, and even if she fights with her older brothers, we don’t say anything, we give her all possible happiness.”

He added: “I believe that when she goes to that house, she will die soon. She will not receive all the love she receives from us, and I am afraid she will lose her life. A 6-year-old girl doesn’t know about having a mother-in-law, a father-in-law, or having a husband or being a wife.”

Perhaps Naghma can stay with her own family after all: The day the Times published the story, a group led by an American lawyer offered to pay Taj Mohammad’s debt. That’s wonderful — a story of rescue and redemption, a Disney movie in the making. I’m genuinely happy for Naghma. But, as one Times commenter pointed out,

When Westerners intervene with money to buy slaves, all it does is create a new industry — the taking of slaves specifically to be redeemed with Western donations. This is why some governments forbid or refuse to pay ransoms for hostages or captured soldiers. Once outside money enters the picture, the game is on. Like most readers. I am disgusted, horrified and saddened by this story, but what monster will we create by interfering?

I don’t have the answers either. Religion plays a villainous role in this cultural clusterfuck, but that’s nothing new.

Let’s just affirm that Naghma got another chance at a decent life; surely, that’s worth a muted celebration. One down, millions of Muslim girls to go.