Critical thinking is the enemy of religious fundamentalism.


Why chess upsets religious fundamentalists

Chess is a “waste of time” and causes enmity between players, according to the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh. It is therefore as much to be forbidden as more obviously sinful activities like indulging in alcohol or gambling.

His remarks, on a television show last year, resurfaced in the media this week as the kingdom prepared to host a tournament, and they were immediately rejected by a member of the Saudi chess association, who tweeted that the game flourished in the kingdom and would continue to do so. Because the cleric’s word were an off-the-cuff answer to a question rather than a formal decree, they are not expected to be enforced harshly.

This is not the first time that a spiritual leader has denounced chess as a distraction from religious devotions. An Italian sage of the 11th century, Saint Peter Damian, scolded the bishop of Florence for his weakness for the game. Chess was initially outlawed by Iranian Revolution which prevailed in 1979; however in 1988, Ayatollah Khomeini said it was permissible as long as it is not combined with gambling. However a contemporary Shia leader, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani of Iraq, has emphatically forbidden all forms of chess, whether played online or with physical pieces, and regardless of whether betting is involved.

Why do religious leaders feel threatened by chess? Perhaps because the game is one of those great, consuming products of human ingenuity. It flourished as a courtly pastime in Persia in late antiquity, having originated, probably, in India. After Persia’s embrace of Islam, it travelled through the Muslim world, reaching Spain via the Moors. Very soon after, it was flourishing on Europe’s westernmost fringes.

Words and artefacts provide a clue. The victor’s cry of “check-mate” is often said to originate with Persian words meaning “the king is dead” (shah-mata) but it seems that a better translation would be “the king is helpless.” The Persian word for an old form of chess,shatranj, surfaces in the Spanish ajedrez and the Turkish satranc.

Among the world’s finest chess pieces are a set discovered in the Outer Hebrides and probably made in Norway in the 11th century, from walrus ivory and whales’ teeth. (Most of these “Lewis Chessmen” are in the British Museum.) So chess must have reached Europe by a northern route as well as a southern one.

And in case you thought that chess was culturally Christian, because it features a mitre-topped, diagonally-moving piece which English-speakers call a “bishop”, think again. Only in the extreme west of Europe is the piece linked with Christian prelates; the other languages which call the piece a “bishop” are Icelandic, Faroese, Irish and Portuguese. Turkish and Russian speakers describe the piece as an “elephant” (slon), and several Latin languages use words derived from the Arabic for elephant (al-fil, Spanish alfil, Italian alfiere); Germanic languages call it a “runner”.

The real-life bishop of Florence, upbraided for playing chess, defended himself by saying that it was different from gambling: “chess is one thing and dice is another.” His critic retorted, rather strangely, that there is no real difference. Possibly a form of chess that did involve the use of dice existed at that time. A century or so later, the compilers of a new code of law code took a different view. They decided that a rule forbidding clergy from playing or even watching backgammon did not apply to chess, because chess was purely a game of skill.

Then, as now, religious professionals were wary of a game that transcended religious and cultural categories, and stimulated the brain rather than the soul.


Angus Buchan se piel sal styf raak as hy hierdie artikel lees.


Spanking for Jesus: Inside the Unholy World of ‘Christian Domestic Discipline’

What do you call it when a husband beats his wife with a paddle for disobeying him? Some would say domestic abuse. These people say he’s doing God’s work.
By Brandy Zadrozny.

On a pain scale of one to 10, Chelsea ranks the epidural-free birth of her child as a six. Her husband’s spankings? Those are an eight.


First, he uses his hands for “warm-up” slaps. Then comes a combination of tools based on the specific infraction. The wooden spoon is the least severe; for the worst rule-breaking—like texting while driving (“It could kill me,” Chelsea admits) or moving money between accounts without his permission—she’ll be hit with something else: a hairbrush, a paddle, or a leather strap.


But this isn’t domestic abuse, Chelsea says. This is for Jesus.


Chelsea and her husband Clint, who asked that I use only their first names, belong to a small subculture of religious couples who practice “Christian Domestic Discipline,” a lifestyle that calls for a wife to be completely submissive to her husband. Referred to as CDD by its followers, the practice often includes spanking and other types corporal punishments administered by husbands—and ostensibly ordained by God. While the private nature of the discipline makes it difficult to estimate the number of adherents, activity in several online forums suggests a figure in the low thousands. Devotees call CDD an alternative lifestyle and enthusiastically sing its praises; for critics, it’s nothing but domestic abuse by another name.

Clint was in the room while I talked to Chelsea. They do everything together, including running their blog, Learning DD, which chronicles their exploration of domestic discipline. When Chelsea gets flummoxed by a question, she asks Clint for guidance in a voice so high-pitched that it belies her 28 years: “Honey, how long does the spanking usually last?” (About 5 minutes, Clint says.)

He has left bruises, Chelsea says, but it’s rare, and she attributes them to anemia.

You don’t have to be a Christian to practice domestic discipline, although many of its practitioners say they believe that domestic discipline goes hand in hand with their faith. Specifics of the practice vary by couple, though CDDers all seem to follow a few basic principles. Foremost, that the Bible commands a husband to be the head of the household, and the wife must submit to him, in every way, or face painful chastisement.

When a wife breaks her husband’s rules—rolling her eyes, maybe, or just feeling “meh,” as one blogger put it—that can equal punishments which are often corporal but can also be “corner time”; writing lines (think “I will not disobey my master” 1,000 times); losing a privilege like internet access; or being “humbled” by some sort of nude humiliation. Some practice “maintenance spanking,” wherein good girls are slapped on a schedule to remind them who’s boss; some don’t. Some couples keep the lifestyle from their children; others, like CDD blogger Stormy, don’t. “Not only does he spank me with no questions asked for disrespect or attitude in front of them, but I am also required to make an apology to each of them,” she writes.

After discipline, many wives report being held and comforted. And on Internet message boards dedicated to the practice, couples emphatically advocate for the CDD way of life. As such, there’s a temptation to file away domestic discipline into to the “different strokes for different folks” category. But mental-health and abuse experts see a potential for danger.

Jim Alsdurf, a forensic psychologist who evaluates and treats sexual psychopaths and is the author of a book on abuse in Christian homes, says CDD isn’t about religion—it’s an outlet for emotionally disturbed men with intimacy deficits.

“No fool in his right mind would buy this as a legitimate way to have a relationship,” Alsdurf says. “A relationship that infantilizes a woman is one that clearly draws a more pathological group of people.”

For Alsdurf, though, CDD sounds less like an act of violence and more like of an act of distorted sexual arousal. “If people want to spank each other, go ahead,” he says. “The problem of course, is if it’s done in a controlling and a mildly abusive way.” Like with all outer variables of sexual expression, he says, “If they’re not done in a healthy way they can become about abuse and control.”

Others are less equivocal. “It’s sick,” says Wendy Dickson, who runs an emergency shelter for women and children fleeing abusive homes in Evanston, Illinois. Women who receive beatings in the name God, she says, are no different than the women she sees every day in her shelter. Domestic abuse, which one in four U.S. women (PDF) will experience at some point in their lifetime, often conjures scenes of thundering rage, broken bones, and black eyes. But the most dangerous kind, Dickson says, is the emotional kind, because it keeps people trapped. “The definition of domestic abuse is power and control over another individual,” she says.

And as for women who seem content? Dickson says many of the abused women whom she helps also make excuses for staying in an unacceptable relationship. “Everyone just wants to maintain and tell themselves this is what they want,” she says.

Perhaps for these reasons, CDDers are a private group. As they see it, they’re fighting (and losing) a culture war against liberalism and feminism. There are no brick-and-mortar churches where adherents gather to pray and paddle. Instead, the ties that bind the community are formed in largely anonymous online communities.

There are dozens of online meeting places. On Fetlife, the Christian Domestic Discipline group has more than 500 members. The private Yahoo group boasts some 4,000 members. The topics on these forums range from the banal (“Happy Flag Day, everybody!”) to the political, such as a thread on whether Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly got it wrong on bread-winning momsAnd then there are posts that are just plain disturbing: “My wife cries and writhes and begs me to stop during spankings, should I?”

Some women post questions about how best to convince their husbands to begin disciplining them, or pen distressed posts when the punishments wane in number or intensity.

Dig deeper, though, and you’ll find women who seem to want out. They describe being scared and in physical and emotional pain. The responses range from suggestions to submit more fully and try harder to leaving the relationship.

 “I wanted the spankings to stop and my husband told me it was either DD and marriage or divorce,” one user named “Michelle” wrote on a popular domestic discipline blog. “I chose divorce. I couldn’t handle the pain of spankings anymore, emotionally or physically.” Leah Kelley, a CDD blogger and author of “spanking romance stories,” split from the man she had described as her “knight in beat up armor,” in 2010, citing her husband’s “deep-seated mental issues,” as the reason for the marriage’s end.

What seems to be the most obvious explanation for CDD, one acknowledged by some domestic discipline advocates not tied to the Christian church, is that the practice is a means to justify the fulfillment of a sexual fetish. On a CDD blog, “Sue” writes, “Boy do I wish more of the women in DD would admit to this. It’s a sexual fetish. There’s nothing wrong with it, but they try to make it so much more than it is.”

But the moral constraints of the church make it difficult for couples to be honest about the sexual nature of their desire, says Paul Byerly, who with his wife runs The Marriage Bed, a site dedicated to sexuality and religion. Byerly, who calls CDD a “distortion of what God intended,” believes that “women, particularly in the Christian church tend to be sexually repressed.” Domestic discipline, he explains, could be “a way around that”—a chance to explore sexual desires while still nominally acting in the name of Jesus.

Still, CDDers themselves reject this pain-for-pleasure explanation. “The pure CDD people don’t go there,” says Vera, who is both in a domestic discipline relationship as well as into sex play. “A lot of folks think of Fifty Shades of Grey—but this is not that,” she says.

Vera (not her real name), argues that abuse is all about intent. “He never punishes me when he’s angry,” she says of her partner. “He doesn’t yell. The worst thing I can do is disappoint him and I do that when I act on one of my character defects.”

And do men have any of these defects? Who is there to correct them? “He’s not perfect,” Vera says, “but it’s not my role to point that out. He self corrects.”

And as for what a man gets out of it, besides a woman who obeys his every command, Vera says her partner is satisfied by her growth. “He enjoys seeing the person he owns, his property, become the thing God wants her to be. It might sound weird, but that works for me.”

Peddlers of snake oil will butcher science to help them sell their products. Look at this loon driving fear into the ignorant. It doesn’t take a genius to see she has no idea what she is talking about.


Nothing much has changed over the last few centuries. It’s a con and it targets the gullible, ignorant and people who take pride in having some kind of “faith” in a higher kind of power and miracles.

The Satanists are wiping the floor with Christianity when it comes to morals.


Seven Tenets vs. Ten Commandments 

by Valerie Tarico

Skeptics have questioned whether the Satanic Temple is real religion or simply smart political theater but founder Lucien Greaves insists it is genuine, citing other religions that lack supernatural beliefs. According to Starr, she and fellow practitioners are simply living according to Satanic precepts.

The Satanic Temple, which is based in Massachusetts but has approximately 20 chapters across the U.S., lists their seven fundamental tenets as the following:

  • One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason.
  • The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.
  • One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.
  • The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo your own.
  • Beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world. We should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs.
  • People are fallible. If we make a mistake, we should do our best to rectify it and resolve any harm that may have been caused.
  • Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word.

Anyone who is familiar with the Ten Commandments will immediately recognize that these seven tenets offer an easier path to equanimity than do the famous Ten. The first of the Ten Commandments—Thou shalt have no other gods before me–asserts the primacy of a single deity rather than the primacy of compassion and empathy. It prescribes competition between religious worldviews–the very antagonism expressed by Christian students in Bremerton and Christian callers from across the country.

By contrast, the seven tenets emphasize positive, pro-social values rather than bad behaviors to be avoided. They largely express egalitarian values that transcend tribal boundaries, in contrast to the Ten Commandments, which endorse the view that women, slaves, and livestock are possessions of men. They invite inquiry rather than certitude, and individuality over tribalism.

Compassion, Acceptance, Meditation

I asked Starr what attracted her to the Satanic Temple. She said that she first became familiar with Satanism through a relationship that has since grown into a marriage. At the time she and her husband met, she was struggling with addiction:

Maybe because he was a Satanist or maybe because he was a good person, he was extremely honest and accepting. He didn’t make judgments; he just loved me for who I was. When that happened, I vowed to live a sacred life. I didn’t believe in God, but I vowed to engage in a sacred practice.

Starr’s leadership in the Seattle Temple is part of that practice. She also says that she was formerly a student of Zen Buddhism and still sits for meditation daily. She sees parallels between compassion as the highest value of Buddhism and that same focus in the Satanic Temple, and in fact has laid out this and related values in a manifesto of sorts at the beginning of her book, The Happy Satanist: Finding Self-Empowerment. “I believe that every human being on this planet deserves love, compassion and connection, regardless of their race, religion, class, sexual orientation, gender, or any other meaningless category beyond ‘human being’. . . . I believe compassion and working together will get us much further than judgment, shame and fear.”

If Lilith and fellow members of the Satanic Temple are representative, the greatest threat to Christianity from Satanism may simply be this: that self-proclaimed followers of Satan come across more sane and kind than self-proclaimed followers of Christ.

Perhaps Christians should consider upgrading from a set of 10 Commandments that were written in the Iron Age to a better set. It might do wonders for Christianity’s public image—and for their ability to follow the teachings of Jesus himself.

About the Author

Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington. She is the author of Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light and Deas and Other Imaginings, and the founder of Her articles about religion, reproductive health, and the role of women in society have been featured at sites including AlterNet, Salon, the Huffington Post, Grist, and Jezebel. Subscribe at


Sune Botha is ons nuwe Poepol van die Week. Sy verdien hierdie toekenning vir vele bydraes wat haar fundie vriende en volgelinge se harte warm maak. Maar in die wereld van die normale mense staan hierdie teef voor in die koor saam met die fundies en gelowiges wat nie meer die verskil kan sien tussen ou spook stories en die regte wereld nie.


sune bothaSune Botha. (Screengrab: Seugne Botha/YouTube)
Cape Town – The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is investigating a charge of hate speech against an Afrikaans gospel singer over alleged homophobic comments made on Facebook, reports Netwerk24.

Suné Botha made the following comment on her Facebook page last Sunday: “Can’t believe Ireland has now legalised same sex marriage…how sick, and how outside God’s will!!!!! Like in the days of Lot, I personally believe if God doesn’t punish them he will one day explain to Sodom why he destroyed the cities…. The King is comming! !!!! (sic)”

She believes legislation “breaks God’s heart” and that it is “Satan’s way to rebel against God”.

“The thing is we don’t judge there is a right and a wrong…then you should also not say someone is a murderer or thief, or rapist, or drunk…then you judge, God clearly says in Romans 1 that even those who approve same sex marriage deserves death, which refers to hell, that’s why I am very careful to show my support at all…I mean what will God one day judge if everything is ok????” Botha wrote.

Among her supporters on Facebook is Pastor Willem Franck, head pastor at the Nikos congregation in Akasia in Pretoria.

“Human rights rebel against the will of God because they are in the grip of evil. Christians that want to obey human rights above the word of God don’t realise that fornicating with the world is animosity against God and that it can cost them their salvation (sic).”

According to MamboOnline, freelancer and columnist Thorne Godinho laid the complaint against Botha with the SAHRC.

“Suné Botha suggested that homosexuality is sick and I find that deplorable.

“Young lesbian-, gay-, bisexual, transgender – and intersex people often get forced to live in houses and communities where the unscientific opinion about gay identity is pervasive.

“Suné’s comments reaffirm this stupid view,” Godinho said.

HRC spokersperson Isaac Mangena confirmed that a charge has been laid. The HRC is assessing the charge with the eye on an investigation.

Botha couldn’t be reached for comment on Monday.

She did however write the following on her Facebook page on Monday morning: “My bible say no weapon formed against me shall prosper!!!…glory to Jesus Christ!!!! The protector of Israel neither slumber nor sleepeth! !!!!! (sic)”

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