This week in Steve McConkey: Meditation is “dangerous” and a “false religion”

My new friend Steve McConkey has been busy this week at his job, which is getting angry at the various ways in which the United States is not a Christian theocracy.

As is Steve’s tireless habit — I discovered that he even has his own tag on “Right Wing Watch” — he’s using distortions of reality to maximize his level of personal unrest. For example, yesterday, he titled one of his complaints “Trump, GOP Congress Give Planned Parenthood $500 Million In Taxpayer Funds,” as if this is something new (it’s not). But since this nominally a running blog, and Steve McConkey has historically focused his energetic stupidity on track and field athletes, I’ll focus on his major track-related gripe of the week: Nike’s new “Headspace” app. (In a version of this complaint he posted two days ago, he mentioned 2016 U.S. Olympian Colleen Quigley’s endorsement of the technique, but later scrapped it. He does quite a bit of this sort of rant-tweaking and screed-juggling.)

The potential utility of mindfulness meditation is sports is well established, though in need of further study. (I’ll admit that the name “Headspace” reminds of this.) But I won’t spend time here analyzing this because it’s not central to the point, which is that Steve McConkey is lying about what this technique is, how people are using it, and the possible effects of trying it.

He starts with the usual breathless hyperbole:

Freedom From Religion and other atheist groups try to eliminate prayer from all facets of society, including on teams and at schools. At the same time, teams and schools promote mindfulness meditation.

First, it’s the Freedom from Religion Foundation. Not “Freedom from Religion.” Considering that Steve rarely goes more than a day without pointing out that he lives very close to the FFRF’s national headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin, and that he likes to call other people “failed writers,” I think it’s fair to suggest that he should be working harder to get this one right.

Second, “atheist groups try to eliminate prayer from all facets of society” is so laughably far from the truth that there’s no need unpack it. Go ahead and try to get arrested or even sanctioned for praying in public somewhere.

Steve continues:

Eastern religions are allowed in schools through mindfulness meditation as Christianity is eliminated. 

Secular universities and schools can promote false religions in the disguise [sic] of mindfulness meditation. 

He’s wrong, of course. Be it mostly the result of ignorance or mostly because he’s awash in the mortal sin of lying, Steve is mangling what’s really happening here. Meditation may be a major component of Buddhism, but one need not be a Buddhist to meditate. Sam Harris, who is not exactly a friend of the organized religions of this world, is a strong proponent of meditation. And as far as I know, no one is complaining that Easter Egg hunts preferentially promote Catholicism.

Then there’s the unattributed-quote/passive-voice bullshitter’s ploy:

Despite claims by some researchers, mindfulness meditation is not as mentally healthy as promoted. The research is questionable with many warning of potential dangers. 

Steve doesn’t point to either the research about mindfulness meditation’s benefits or evidence that this research is sketchy; he just expects people to take him at his word. Given that he is a stammering serial liar, I will take a pass on that.

After this comes the real fun, as Steve starts openly talking to himself, as he does in every one of his “press releases.”

“There are false duplicates for the things of God,” states 4 Winds Christian Athletics President Steve McConkey. “Prayer is a means of getting to know God as we meditate on His Bible and ask for His strength. Mindfulness meditation is a false duplicate. 

“Interesting,” noted Kevin Beck, owner and operator of the worldwide blog Beck of the Pack. “Steve doesn’t seem to recognize that quoting yourself in a post on your own website doesn’t add weight to the nonsense you’re promoting. In fact, speaking in the third person is something normal people do purely as a schtick.”

“But please!” Beck invited cordially. “Keep talking!”

“Instead of connecting to the God of the Bible, people open themselves up to dark forces that are harmful. Teams and schools have replaced asking for God’s blessings through prayer with mindfulness meditation that focuses on themselves.”

Again, he offers nothing about what these “dark forces” might be. Moreover, though, the idea that meditation is “replacing” Christian prayer is patently false. Both Christians and non-Christians can choose to engage in meditation. It’s not like everyone has a daily prayer withdrawal limit, like the one most banks impose at their ATMs. This goes back to my original argument with him, when he was lying about prayer being banned at American public schools in  1962. Steve is either too dumb to understand the court decision forbids, which forbids school officials to lead students in sectarian prayers but in no way bans kids from praying to themselves, or lacks the integrity to frame it accurately.

One common thread among Christian extremist loons: They choose targets they stand absolutely zero chance of toppling. You might argue that this is trivially true of any person or institution that some semi-literate crank decides to start whining about on the Internet; things like same-sex marriage and abortion, while controversial, are not going to go away thanks to the hysterical blathering of someone whose audience consists of other fifth-degree knuckleheads for Jesus and people with overt psychiatric problems. But extremists like Steve McConkey pick especially unwinnable battles, because this both feeds their persecution complexes and keeps donations from dupes flowing in because unwinnable fights are by definition endless fights. They spew nonsense that even other Christians find objectionable, and they attack things that are not only popular but gaining momentum. Arguing against guided meditation at this point is like arguing against the entire notion of self-driving cars; like or not, that idea is here to stay and is inexorably working its way toward everyday reality.

By the way, here are some thing you would expect a conscientious full-time Christian mouthpiece to at least make a note of:

  • A home-schooled Christian terrorist and suicide bomber killing a few black people in Texas
  • An attempted bribe by associates of Christian lunatic, exiled judge, and brownie-hound Roy Moore of the attorney who represented one of Moore’s sexual-assault accusers during his ill-fated U.S. Senate race against Doug Jones
  • The various, and still-accumulating, accusations of sexual misconduct and extramarital affairs by one Donald Trump

But of course this guy is a hypocrite and a mealy-mouthed coward. He prefers to complain about the kids at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and transgender athletes.

I expect to make Steve McConkey posts a regular weekly feature. Hell, if I had time I could make it a daily feature, so prolific a whiner and bullshitter is this chap.

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