Saturday, October 22, 2016

#1736: Os Hillman

Os Hillman is a dominionist, one of the leading theocrats in the US and an overall pretty scary fellow. He is also president of Marketplace Leaders, an organization devoted to making leaders view their workplaces as a ministry, which is part of the “seven mountains” strategy (Hillman is behind the Reclaiming the Seven Mountains website). His website promotes the work of people like Johnny Enlow, who has asserted that the goal of Christians ought to be to establish a “virtual theocracy” and that the best way to achieve this is through stealth, and Lance Wallnau, who also thinks that theocrats should do whatever is necessary to force Biblical law on everyone (including not using the word “dominionism” when the media is present). “Unfortunately, when we embrace a life of sin, no matter what sin it is, we fall into deception,” has Hillman said in a completely different context (while arguing that homosexual love is not love at all but “Satan’s counterfeit role” and should accordingly be actively fought by Christians), which is both perceptive and displaying a staggering lack of self-awareness at the same time.

But no, he doesn’t like marriage equality, and has warned that America may soon face divine punishment for tolerating gay people (he has also suggested lowering the divorce rate as a means to reducing the gay population; the reasoning is, as you would guess, somewhat tortured). In fact, Hillman has prophecied that something bad might be in store for us soon: In “Are We Entering a Modern-Day Amorite Judgment?” he suggested September 2015, and although the prophecy was a bit complicated (it was based on the lunatic rants of deranged Taliban sycophant Jonathan Cahn and is explained here), it involved pointing out that God judged the Amorites by killing them, which doesn’t sound good. Fortunately, according to Hillman, Christians stand to benefit: “If we are prepared this could be the greatest wealth transfer we have ever seen in our lifetime, or it can be a devastating time if you are not prepared,” which sounds remarkably like a standard, cheap magazine horoscope (including the safety valve: if you don’t benefit, you just weren’t prepared enough). Hillman also asked for readers’ email address in order to get his preparation tips. Yes, it’s spam.

He has also claimed that God is (or may be) using Donald Trump to wake up America and “seems to be using Fox News to bring light to moral injustices.”

Diagnosis: Oh, the Taliban-envy. He is also one of those religious fanatics who seems to think that since everyone is a sinner anyways, it doesn’t matter if he lies and deceives a bit extra. Yet, Hillman is a pretty influential character, and it is hard to exaggerate how scary that is.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

#1735: Michael Hill

This one’s really too easy. Michael Hill is co-founder and president of the League of the South (LOS), whose goal is – if you’re living in a bubble – to get the former slave states of the American South to secede. Hill is a Neo-Confederate, a white supremacist (he has complained that the South at present isn’t racist enough) and – for good measure – explicitly pro-slavery. Hill actually taught history at Stillman College for a number of years before he founded the LOS together with J. Steven Wilkins and some other Neo-Confederates and co-authored the “New Dixie Manifesto” (with Thomas Fleming).

According to Hill, his (“complete”) rejection of racial equality is based on science: Equality is “a flawed idea with no basis in history and biology,” which seems to suggest that he doesn’t really have a clue what “equality” is supposed to mean. And how on Earth could someone, as Hill sees, it justify calling slavery “an abomination”? Surely, it’s “not in the Bible. [Slavery] is regulated there, which means it is an institution approved by God for use in a fallen world.” And if you disagree (or worse, don’t denounce homosexuality) you are a terrorist: “You [sic] worldview is a terror to the truth.” Ouch.

Much of his writing concerns the atrocities committed by Northern libruls to southerners, both during the Civil War and by “the civil rights movement (what we Southerners rightly call the Second Reconstruction),” such as immigration reform, which Hill calls “genocide; this is anti-white genocide,” and which will lead to civil war. Which is what he wants. LOS apparently also has a paramilitary wing now. Which should, in fact, potentially be considered a concern, given that Hill thinks the Second Amendment extends to “weapons systems”, has defended guerrilla warfare applications and even produced a list “primary targets” in the fight for a second secession: “The primary targets will not be enemy soldiers; instead, they will be political leaders, members of the hostile media, cultural icons, bureaucrats, and other of the managerial elite without whom the engines of tyranny don’t run,” Hill wrote, before ending by quoting the Bible: “Blessed be the Lord my strength who teaches my hands to war and my fingers to fight.” Sounds uncannily like some other organizations and networks you might think of, doesn’t it?

Diagnosis: I don’t think someone who is president of the League of the South need any further diagnosis.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

#1734: Steve Hickey

Steve Hickey is a former state representative for South Dakota’s 9th district (2011 to 2015) who received even some national attention when he sponsored a bill that would allow businesses to deny services to same-sex weddings or any others that violate their “sincerely held religious beliefs.” According to Hickey, gay rights are taking the United States “down the road of Iran,” which is certainly an odd claim to make (Iran still has a death penalty for homosexuality).

Hickey’s main characteristic seems to be a persecution complex that might make even Todd Starnes blush. When resigning from the legislature, he was ostensibly going to continue his studies of Christian ethics with a focus on the power of modern surveillance deployed by governments, which he took to be of particular importance since two-thirds of the world is hostile to Christianity. Said differently: If you don’t share his beliefs, you are hostile, an attitude that is the very definition of a persecution complex. He is also bizarrely obsessed with anal sex, going on about it at length even when it is entirely irrelevant to the topic at hand.

Presumably, this Steve Hickey, who has voiced his opposition to having high standards of evidence in medical research, apparently because quackery can’t meet them, is a different one.

Diagnosis: A rather off-putting and unsavory fellow. At least he’s (apparently) out of the legislature by now.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

#1733: Bryce Hibbard

Bryce Hibbard is principal of Southern High School, which is a public school, and would probably have remained obscure (hi, Bryce) if he hadn’t appeared as a speaker at The Louisville Area Christian Educator Support (LACES) conference in 2013. Such conference participation is his own business, of course, but Hibbard made the rather novel point that teaching creationism in the school is perfectly legitimate. Hibbard told the other teachers at the conference that it is perfectly acceptable under Kentucky law to teach Biblical creationism in science classes, and even suggested future meetings with biology teachers to craft curricula. Imagine the expression on his face if he tried that argument in court.

But as Hibbard put it: “I taught biology for 20 years in this state and didn’t know that if evolution is part of the curriculum, that I could have been teaching creation.” Accordingly, “I thought I was sneaky if I had the kids … present it. So it was presented in my classroom by the kids, but I could have been doing it and didn’t know that.” When you hate truth, honesty doesn’t look much like a virtue anymore, does it? We will emphasize once again that this guy has actually for decades been teaching kids in public schools. He also told the crowd that they should be missionaries to students and plant the seed of Christ, since students who aren’t taken to church outside of school will otherwise “have no hope”. Said Hibbard: “At one point I was told, ‘You should be a youth minister,’ and someone said, ‘No, you’re in the greatest mission field there is, stay in the public school.’” Yes, it’s illegal, unconstitutional, and a violation of public trust and religious freedom, but religious freedom presumably means nothing more than freedom to worship Jesus the way Hibbard feels is appropriate.

Moreover, spending science classes giving Biblical lessons would not impede on the academic growth of his students, since creationism is “just another theory.” Said Hibbard: “A theory is a scientific understanding of what we know today. So evolution is a theory. Creation is a theory. Intelligent design is a theory. The theory of relativity is a theory. Yeah.” It’s admittedly an original spin on the “just a theory” gambit, but it doesn’t make Hibbard look particularly competent at the teaching job he is employed to do.

Diagnosis: Possibly the worst teacher your kids could ever be exposed to. Dangerous and repugnant.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

#1732: Alice Hess

We’ve already covered Richard Gordon, the inventor of “Quantum Touch”, a healing technique that involves both Quantum – which in this case has nothing to do with quantum physics but everything to do with soul stuff and prana – and touch, and who promotes the idea that “all healing is self-healing,” which if it were correct would make quantum touch superfluous. Oh, well.

It doesn’t matter how silly the idea is. There are, apparently, plenty of people who have endorsed and are promoting the technique, for instance through the website quantumtouch (the “shop” section is prominently displayed). One of them is Alice Hess, a retired nurse anesthetist who is not only a Certified Quantum-Touch Practitioner and Instructor, but also does Usui/Karuna Reiki, Craniosacral therapy, Reconnective Healing® (once again: that a therapy is a registered trademark is pretty solid evidence that it is bullshit and developed not with the health of patients in mind; Hess is a “certified Level 3” practitioner), the Vogel crystal technique, and something called Integrative Energy Therapy. Well, energy healing is a nebulous staple among New Age faith healing techniques, but what, exactly, is integrative energy healing? Well, first you need to forget about the “exactly”; the rough, handwaving idea is that “Integrated Energy Therapy is the next level to heal with the energy of angels.” So, it’s a type of angel therapy. According to one Carmela Vuoso-Murphy (her website is here) it was developed by one Stevan J. Thayer at the Center of Being, which presumably is precisely the kind of “research” institution the name suggests that it is, and which “uses a divine angelic energy ray to work directly with your 12-Strand Spiritual DNA.” How? By “safely and gently releasing limiting energy patterns of your past, empowering and balancing your life in the present, and helps you to reach for the stars as you evolve into your future.” Alice Hess has also apparently “studied with Native American Elders in MN, SD and MT.” I am sure they must have been impressed with her ability to integrate elements of their teachings into her own personal brand of New Age thought.

Diagnosis: Ok, there are plenty of people like Hess around, and no particular reason to single her out. But really, the concentrated effort to promote desperately ridiculous New Age religion to real health practitioners is pretty dismaying. As a nurse anesthetist she was presumably helping real people. She is not helping anyone anymore; quite the opposite.