The Uninspired Manifesto
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Fox News on Bill Maher's New Doc
If Judaism or Christianity actually taught even a fraction of the absurdities Bill Maher apparently thinks they teach, I would send him my resume and petition him to bring me on as a co-producer of his upcoming documentary, “The Absurdity of Religion” (title still indefinite), as announced last night on "Larry King Live." I, too, would want to reveal the fraud.
Because Mr. Maher has decided to step out of his field of expertise and into mine, in a genuine spirit of dialogue, I would like to clarify a few things here that he has managed to jumble. You will notice that I am assuming the best — that Mr. Maher simply doesn’t know what Christianity really teaches.
If Christianity really taught that the man in the jungle who has never heard the name of Jesus is going to be damned forever to hell, I, too, would doubt. But Mr. Maher, Christianity doesn’t teach that. We are responsible to God in as much as God reveals himself to us. Christianity teaches that the saving grace of Jesus Christ is bigger than our date or place of birth. Christians believe God gives all of his children, in ways often unknowable to our little brains, the opportunity to accept or reject his love.
If that's true, why am I constantly threatened with eternal hellfire? I'm pretty sure 'accepting christ' at least requires knowledge of him. Even so, these people who have never heard of jesus have their own customs and ritual, which in most cases, disqualify them heaven. You're just assuming that if someone hasn't heard of christ, they have no concept of religion.
If Christianity really taught that God sometimes commands us to kill the innocent in his name, I too would doubt. But Mr. Maher, Christianity doesn’t teach that. This would go against the very nature of God as all-loving and all-just. I am equally as scandalized as you are when I see religious people, in our checkered past and present, mistake their own pride and ignorance for the voice of God and march off to holy war. As Pope John Paul II said, “War is always a failure of humanity.”
"In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God ... who shall be punished with everlasting destruction." 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9
You seen to have trouble comprehending that people can read the same text and draw different conclusions. Worse yet, many take it literally, which is the problem with every 'holy book'.
If Christianity really taught that people with homosexual tendencies are all going to hell, or that somehow they are not God’s children, I, too, would doubt. But Mr. Maher, Christianity doesn’t teach that.
I know of a lot of christians who would disagree with you. One of them even posted a comment on an article I related about an innocent homosexual man being killed, 'in the name of god'. Here's the comment he left me:
Rev. Don Spitz said...
Terry Mark Mangum was right.
The Bible is clear that homosexuals are sexual deviants and enemies of the LORD God. Your support of these sodomites is disgusting.
Whatever you think, you will not be able to change God's Word and will one day have to pay the price for not believing what God has written.
Leviticus 18:22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.
Leviticus 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
V22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, V23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
V24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
V25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, Who is blessed for ever. Amen.
V26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
V27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
Hard for you to believe, I'm sure, but you're both christians. When you look at the bigger picture, it's not really all that absurd.
New Talib Kweli
I picked up Talib Kweli's new album 'Eardrum' yesterday, and it's some of the best work I've heard in a while. If you haven't heard the first single released off the album, check it out below.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
First Negative Press For 'The Golden Compass'
The best selling novels of atheist author Philip Pullman which were written specifically to indoctrinate children with anti-Christian values, have sparked the creation of a controversial new fantasy film to be released this December 7 by New Line Cinema - a Time Warner Company.I grew up reading the 'His Dark Materials' trilogy. It was among my favorite books when I was young, and still is today. Of course there are atheistic undertones in the novel, because Pullman is an atheist. Just like there were xian undertones in The Chronicles of Narnia. Even so, are you so afraid of this one movie, you have to shoot it down before even seeing it? What child watching this film is going to interpret the evil 'Magisterium' as a parallel to the Pope?
The trilogy consistently gives a negative portrayal of the Catholic Church. Priests-one of whom is an assassin-are evil and violent while one positive character is an ex-nun who has lost her faith. There is even a pair of "sexually ambiguous" angels. The main problem, however, as one Amazon reviewer noted, is that "The evil in this story is God". The reviewer stated, "I realized part way through the second book, that the characters Lyra had been fighting against, and I had been rooting against were God, His Angels, and His followers."
In context of the anti-religious books, the movie is making an obvious negative parallel with the Catholic Church. The dark and evil organization called "the Magisterium" in the film has the same name as the body that makes up the Catholic Church's teaching authority - the bishops in union with the Pope.
As much as I would like the film adaptation to retain those undertones, there's no way Warner Bros. could get away with that without fucking riots in the street from The Catholic League. Do yourself a favor and read the book, if you haven't already. Then, sit back and wait for a film studio to fuck up another classic novel.
Monday, August 20, 2007
"God's Warriors': Religion And Politics On CNN
This is available from many sources, but I'll be quoting The Wall of Seperation
Tonight CNN starts delving into the volatile mix of religion and politics.
At 9 p.m. EDT, “Larry King Live” will preview a three-part series called “God’s Warriors,” which is scheduled to start tomorrow evening on CNN. The series’ chief reporter, Christiane Amanpour, and a panel of guests, including Americans United’s Barry W. Lynn, will join Larry to discuss the impact religious fundamentalists are having on politics worldwide.
In a press release previewing the series, Amanpour says that “As I report around the world, people often ask me about the rise of religious influence on political power within the United States, but in fact this true worldwide.
“Wherever I go,” Amanpour continues, “what the believers do all have in common is that they want to bring the politics of faith into the very center of public life – we are seeing this now on almost every continent.”
Lynn will focus on this nation’s Religious Right groups and leaders who have spent decades trying to destroy the First Amendment principle of church-state separation in an ignoble drive to force all citizens to live within the fundamentalist movement’s rigid moral codes.
Religious Right activists continue to argue that America was founded as a Christian nation and that our laws should be based on their literal reading of the Bible. A Christian Reconstructionist gathering in Asheville, N.C., earlier this year included an array of speakers who trumpeted this line of thinking.
Other than the example quoted in the article, many blogs are adding their own in Ron Luce, proprietor of a group called Battle Cry, whose call to action is to retake America from the "virtue terrorists" (gays, pro-choice supporters, etc.).
Rolling Stone did a piece on Luce and his movement back in April, "Teenage Holy War."
They rise, heartened; the crowd, en masse, swears off "harlots and adultery"; the twenty-one-year-old MC twitches taut a chain across the ass of her skintight red jeans and summons the followers to show off their best dance moves for God.
[T]hese 4,000 teens are about to become "branded by God." It's like getting your head shaved when you join the Marines, Luce says, only the kids get to keep their hair. His assistants roll out a cowhide draped over a sawhorse, and Luce presses red-hot iron into the dead flesh, projecting a close-up of sizzling cow skin on giant movie screens above the stage.
"When you enlist in the military, there's a code of honor," Luce preaches, "same as being a follower of Christ." His Christian code requires a "wartime mentality": a "survival orientation" and a readiness to face "real enemies." The queers and communists, feminists and Muslims, to be sure, but also the entire American cultural apparatus of marketing and merchandising, the "techno-terrorists" of mass media, doing to the morality of a generation what Osama bin Laden did to the Twin Towers. "Just as the events of September 11th, 2001, permanently changed our perspective on the world," Luce writes, "so we ought to be awakened to the alarming influence of today's culture terrorists. They are wealthy, they are smart, and they are real."
This is just sad. Not for the lack of supporters, but from the OVERWHELMING number of people who buy into this shit. If you want an example of his inluence, just check out YouTube and search 'Ron Luce Battle Cry' for a look at the sold out stadiums he preaches his hate to.
Why I Will CONTINUE To Hate TRL And MTV
If you've tuned into MTV's video countdown show "Total Request Live" over the past few weeks to groove along to Sean Kingston's summer hit "Beautiful Girls," you might have noticed that the chorus is missing the word "suicidal."
While it's not unusual for the cable network to censor the songs they broadcast for explicit language, many have been left scratching their heads at the decision to bleep a non-four-letter word, especially because most radio stations across the country leave the lyrics untouched.
"Beautiful Girls," which has maintained the No.1 position on the Billboard singles chart for the past three weeks, includes the lyric:
You're way too beautiful girl
That's why it'll never work
You'll have me suicidal, suicidal
When you say it's over.
But you'll never hear the S-word on MTV.
"Because we know [suicide] is an issue that so many members of our audience struggle with, we do not take any references to suicide lightly," a spokeswoman for MTV told the Daily News.
"With regards to Sean Kingston's 'Beautiful Girls,' we knew that the label had a version substituting 'suicidal' with 'in denial' so we gave them the option of submitting the version with 'in denial' or audio dropping 'suicidal.' The label chose to audio drop 'suicidal.'"
Okay, I don't watch TRL, so I don't know if its the VJs or the music, but what the fuck is up with their demographic being made up of suicide risks? And how do you even come by that information? Are their really people listing TRL as one of the reasons they offed themselves in suicide notes?
Props go out to Kingston for not substituting the lyrics, though. Fuck MTV and their fragile sensibilities. To show my support, here's the unedited video. Enjoy.
Athiests On CBS Sunday Morning
Sunday, August 19, 2007
I've been unable to work with the code, so I have to add all the blogs individually to the marquee, and it's taking a long fucking time. While you're waiting, take a minute to go through the list, and support the MASSIVE amount of other atheist blogs out there on the web. I'll be back with news updates when I finish the list.
*UPDATE*: I finished the blogroll, finally. If you'd like your site to be added, just send me an email with something relevant in the subject line.
BBC forced to removed 'bastard' slur about Jesus
The BBC has been forced to remove statements from its website referring to Jesus as a 'bastard'.
It is the latest in a string of offensive comments that BBC editors have allowed members of the public to post.
The remarks have been allowed to remain for weeks, despite complaints from religious groups.
It has led to claims that the BBC is allowing its output to be hijacked by extremists while censoring anti-Muslim sentiment.
The remarks about Jesus were left as part of a discussion of the death of the Archbishop of Paris.
The debate had descended into an argument about the merits of Christians, Jews and Muslims when a writer, known as 'colonelartist', posted: "Are you a christian? You do know that jesus had to hide all his short life he lived in those promised land because his tribesmen used to call him fatherless, ridiculed him for being a B-A-S-T-A-R-D...'
He added: "Jesus...was also persecuted because the jews would never accept as their Messiah a person whose father was missing...'
The comments were allowed to remain for a week despite complaints. But after The Mail on Sunday contacted senior BBC officials, they were deleted.
While the comment is technically true, I can see how BBC wants to protect themselves. Still, if they already left it up there for that long, they might as well keep it, considering the other shit that was posted.
The BBC has also been criticised for allowing allegedly anti-Semitic posts from a contributor called "Iron Naz'.
In a message left on the site for more than a month, Iron Naz says: "Zionism is a racist ideology where jews are given supremacy over all other races and faiths. This is found in the Talmud...which allows jews to lie as long as its to non-jews."
The remarks brought complaints from the Board of Deputies, the organisation that represents Britain's Jews and its Community Security Trust. They say the post draws on a discredited 19th Century text, the Talmud Unmasked, which is still distributed by neo-Nazi booksellers.
However, the BBC said the remarks did not merit removal.
A spokesman said posts were taken down if they were considered likely to 'disrupt, provoke attack or offend others or are considered racist, homophobic, sexually explicit or otherwise objectionable'.
I've always had a vert linear view of censorship. Either it's all allowed, or none of it is. Of course there are limitations to protect basic rights, such as safety and privacy, but speech especially should be protected from special intrest groups who feel their point of view is more important than any other.
Sure, its offensive, especially the neo-nazi bullshit, but taking down some comments is not going to stop this person from thinking these things to be true, and expressing their opinion in any medium they can. How can a person ever expand their knowledge if their ideology is only enforced, and never challenged?
You can read the article here.
I'm not going to post the article itself, because it's way too fucking long, but it's worth a read if you're at all interested in the book. I had a chance to read it not too long ago, and while I disagree with Mr. Hitchens on a number of issues, the nature of religion in this country is not one of them. It really is a good thing to have someone as outspoken about the topic on our side.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Jesus Is In My Cabinet!
MANCHESTER, Conn. - A Manchester, Connecticut couple is convinced they have a very special piece of woodwork in their kitchen.
Malynda and Eric Smith say they noticed last Friday that one of the cabinet doors has an image of Jesus Christ in it.
The couple says they have lived in the house for about a year and never noticed anything different about the cabinet.
And they say it may be hard to believe, but everyone who looks at it sees the image.
Malynda says "my daughter came and said mom look it's God.. and I looked.. and there it was a picture of Jesus Christ. Then my son noticed it and my husband came in and noticed it. I just can't believe we hadn't noticed it before."
The family says, unlike others who have items bearing the likeness of Jesus, they are not going to sell the cabinet door.
They say that would be bad luck.
Look at that picture. Personally, I can't see a damn thing except wood grain, but somehow they think that jesus showed up for some reason. And in Conneticut of all places. What does he have against the bible belt all of a sudden.
Comcast Throttles BitTorrent Traffic
Over the past weeks more and more Comcast users started to notice that their BitTorrent transfers were cut off. Most users report a significant decrease in download speeds, and even worse, they are unable to seed their downloads. A nightmare for people who want to keep up a positive ratio at private trackers and for the speed of BitTorrent transfers in general.
ISPs have been throttling BitTorrent traffic for almost two years now. Most ISPs simply limit the available bandwidth for BitTorrent traffic, but Comcast takes it one step further, and prevents their customers from seeding. And Comcast is not alone in this, Canadian ISPs Cogeco and Rogers use similar methods on a smaller scale.
Unfortunately, these more aggressive throttling methods can’t be circumvented by simply enabling encryption in your BitTorrent client. It is reported that Comcast is using an application from Sandvine to throttle BitTorrent traffic. Sandvine breaks every (seed) connection with new peers after a few seconds if it’s not a Comcast user. This makes it virtually impossible to seed a file, especially in small swarms without any Comcast users. Some users report that they can still connect to a few peers, but most of the Comcast customers see a significant drop in their upload speed.
The throttling works like this: A few seconds after you connect to someone in the swarm the Sandvine application sends a peer reset message (RST flag) and the upload immediately stops. Most vulnerable are users in a relatively small swarm where you only have a couple of peers you can upload the file to. Only seeding seems to be prevented, most users are able to upload to others while the download is still going, but once the download is finished, the upload speed drops to 0. Some users also report a significant drop in their download speeds, but this seems to be less widespread. Worse on private trackers, likely that this is because of the smaller swarm size.
This is such bullshit. Just after I switched from AT&T DSL to Comcast cable, (fucking Time Warner had to go and get bought out) they pull this shit. Even worse, I just cleared my entire hard drive to free up space for my custom chopped and screwed mixtapes. I gave up LimeWire long ago, and have no plans to go back, so I guess I'll have to work on some encryptions or, as the article suggest, set up a more secure VPN or SSH connection. More on this if I can connect later.
War On Xmas Starts Today!
Jesus Loves Your Crappy Videos
Behold GodTube.com, the place where sex, humor and warm spiritual inclusiveness go to die
The Internets, they're just so chock-full of gul-dang liberals, aren't they?
This is, after all, the big conservative lament. It's like you can't hit your Gizmodo or your Fleshbot or your Savage Love without running smack into some well-read, free-thinking pseudo-hipster gleefully expounding on the joys of anal sex or a recent hilarious Jon Stewart/"Daily Show" riff or offering up a link to some dark, brilliant Polish anti-war animation. Horrible!
Or maybe it's a hot sex blogger slapping Fox News for being such an obvious bastion of hateful sexist homophobic right-wing moronism, or some hip design blog talking about the sad homogeneity of conservative fashion sense, maybe you're innocently cruising MySpace personals with your Bible and your GOP handbook and you just can't escape all the neo-pagan urban lefties who absolutely refuse to be appropriately terrified by, say, gay marriage, or foreign people, or, you know, God.
Oh, it gets worse. Hell, as any good Christian will tell you, the Net is packed like a perky Vegas whorehouse with godless heathens, too: perverts and nonbelievers and hyper-intelligent Buddhists and smart-ass Wiccans, yoga lovers and kinky reformed Catholics and delightful "spiritual cowgirls" who would no more kneel at the altar of wholesome Christian values than they'd eat a stack of greasy McDonald's Filet-O-Fishes and eight pounds of deep-fried Snickers bars and move to Alabama and get diabetes and call themselves a patriot.
But if there's one site in particular that offers the ultimate proof of godless Internet evil, the one e-joint that encapsulates all that's wrong with the perverted Net world, it is, of course, YouTube.
Oh my God, yes. See, the problem is, millions of heathen perverts like you seem to believe YT is one of the great creative wonderlands/pop culture wastelands of our time, an uber-egalitarian repository for all things trite and wonderful and cheesy and amateur and sublime and stupid and viral and interesting and boring and silly and wonderful and righteous and fascinating and delicious and kaleidoscopic and inclusive and wow. You know, just like the Internet was originally intended. Well, sort of.
Hence, many ideological culture sluts reading these very words might argue that YT is one of the Net's finest creative equalizers, the most level of multimedia playing fields, a grand sociocultural melting pot that's open like a 24-hour lube dispensary to all beliefs and talent levels and perspectives and beholden to none (well, save copyright infringement. And porn. But that's why god invented Bitorrent. And PornoTube. Praise!)
Ah, but therein lies the true proof of Satan's dark plan, right? From the Christian perspective, YouTube is, apparently, far too inclusive, far too tolerant and messy and scary and depraved and unpredictable and wonderfully, blindly all-encompassing -- and baby, if we've learned anything about God and America during this miserable pile of Bush years, it's that the God-fearing of this nation want nothing more than to instill and perpetuate a deep, abiding fear of the Other, to stigmatize, to restrict, to polarize to the point of total spiritual and intellectual paralysis.
But wait! Salvation is, apparently, finally at hand. Witness, won't you, the stillbirth of GodTube.com, the place where good, Net-fearing Christians can go to see awful Christian rap videos and grainy evangelical sermons and 101 flavors of all-American sanctimony with, quite naturally, not a hint of sex or deep humor or true spiritual exploration or religious tolerance. Praise!
Witness, in other words, the thing that modern Christianity seems to do best, and I don't mean help justify brutal unwinnable wars or slam gay people or bash women's rights or promote ignorance of stem cell research or science or music. Because oh hell yes, that's there for you, in heaps and droves and mounds. I mean the other thing: to fracture. To splinter and divide and segregate. You know, to exclude.
That's right. GodTube is billed, quite naturally, as the place where people can go to, uh, "Broadcast Him." Which is a nice mutation of YouTube's own slogan, "Broadcast Yourself." That pretty much sums it all up right there. See, it ain't about you or your creativity or your perspective or your sexuality or your happy self-defined sense of pop culture blasphemy. And it certainly isn't some deeply sacrilegious idea that you yourself might very well be the divine creative spark you seek -- that God is, in other words, right there in the mirror. Oh my heavens, no.
As GodTube will happily slap you upside your deviant head, it's all about, well, something else, something outside of you and beyond your meager ability to understand, and of course that thing is male and probably very, very angry and you can't possibly comprehend it, so please just quit asking questions and smash your Quan Yin statue and burn your yoga mat and your Philip Pullman books and watch this nice little clip of a perky blonde toddler reciting Psalm 23 like a cute robot doll and then watch GodTube founder Chris Wyatt get stroked on Fox News or Kirk Cameron lose what's left of his mind, over and over and over again. You know, just like Jesus intended.
I really wouldn't mind it so much if there weren't already so many racists and xian bigots trolling YouTube, posting inane comments on Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens videos, quoting bible verses and telling people they're going to hell for not accepting jesus. But, the mere fact that youtube allows people to post Dawkins videos is so offensive, they have to create their own, controlled enviorment where racists and xian bigots can post their own videos about, citing god to justify their hatred.
It's a long article, but well worth the read, and a trip to GodTube to see how stupid these people are as they try to disprove evolution with a bannana, and call Barack Obama a terrorist.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
CBS Sunday Morning
ELLEN JOHNSON, President of American Atheists will be one of the guests on the CBS News program "CBS Sunday Morning" this coming Sunday, August 19, 2007. The show airs at 9:00 AM ET; check your local listings.
Ms. Johnson will be discussing the latest wave of popular books on Atheism, and role that religion and Atheism now plays in the country. Other guests include Julia Sweeney, Christopher Hitchens, and Boston University Professor Stephen Prothero.
I, of course, will probably be sleeping, since I recently broke my alarm clok after it failed to wake me in time for work. It wasn't the clock's fault, of course, because I was probably tired and set it wrong. But, my short temper is often mis-placed when I get a call telling me I have fifteen minutes to be there or I'm fired. Anyway, enjoy the show.
'Americans United' Attacked By Rev. Drake
Thanks to our friends in the blogosphere, we are learning more and more about the Rev. Wiley S. Drake, and it’s far from pretty. The Buena Park, Calif., pastor, who is urging supporters to pray for the demise of Americans United and its staff, is a radical character with alleged ties to some of our nation’s most extreme Religious Right operatives.
Drake called for “imprecatory prayers” (curses) against Americans United after we asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate his misuse of church resources to endorse Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. All nonprofits, including houses of worship, are barred from endorsing candidates for public office. Churches that do wade into electioneering place their tax exemption in jeopardy, subject themselves to fines and frequently invite divisiveness into their pews.
It's not an entirely unreasonble request by AU, but it drew a lot of attention from one of the more fucked up church leader.
Drake’s outburst, however, has brought some much-deserved scrutiny of the pastor’s associations and work.
In a post on Talk To Action today, veteran student of the Religious Right Frederick Clarkson says, “It is worth noting that Rev. Drake has been associated with the violently anti-abortion Army of God — an association he now denies. However, his name appeared for years on the Army of God web site endorsing James Kopp’s assasination of abortion provider Dr. Barnett Slepian. (It has since been scrubbed.) Drake also maintained a close relationship with the late Robert Ferguson, whom the Army of God considers to be a ‘Hero of the Faith,’ alongside James Kopp and other convicted criminals.”
Additionally, Brian Kaylor reports for EthicsDaily.com that Drake, who apparently sees God as some sort of heavenly hit man, is defending his calls for curses on Americans United, saying, “God’s Word says if they continue to attack God’s people, God will curse their children to become orphans and their wives to become widows.”
Kaylor also reports that earlier this year, Drake “found himself in the midst of controversy after his name was discovered on a petition supporting the killer of an abortion doctor, although Drake denied he signed it.”
The company Drake has allegedly kept is telling, though not terribly surprising. On his radio show today, Drake repeated his calls for “imprecatory prayer” against AU. He also agreed with guest commentator Bill Wilson who repeatedly dubbed Americans United a “threat to national security,” communists, and subversives that need to be brought down. “Amen, amen,” replied Drake.
How the fuck does this guy get a radio show? Especially a guy who is literally calling for the death of people so he won't be fucking audited.
Just one more example of an evangelical leader on a fucking power trip, thinking he's above the law, and anyone who questions him should incur the wrath of god.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Atheists In South Carolina
It wasn't so much the brutal attack that outraged, but more so the fashion in which it was reported in the daily newspaper:
Admitted atheist attacked outside gym
"A Myrtle Beach man and admitted atheist was attacked and robbed on Thursday night by a group of men who took offense to an anti-Christian phrase on his windshield."
Okay, the first part of the article talks about Eric Heyd. If you haven't heard this story, the guy got the shit kicked out of him for having 'Fuck The Skull Of Jesus' written on his car. I'm all for the bumper sticker, but he did take it a little far, especially for South Carolina. Still, you can't just bitch up like that if some people wannt to fuck with you. Anyway, back to the article.
Reported by The Sun News on May 4, the entire mention was merely a small blurb, one of the police beat nuggets that so many cub reporters cut their teeth on. However, the story gained a life of its own, soon appearing on more than 100 secular humanist/atheist blogs and websites around the world. And as much as people had a problem with the fact that a person was beaten up and robbed, they moreover had a problem with the language - and, some would say, subtle editorializing - in the article's headline and in the article itself.
A reader posting on Unscrewing the Inscrutable (www.brentrasmussen.com) put it thusly: "The expression 'admitted atheist' is unacceptable. He didn't confess to doing something wrong like an 'admitted pedophile.' No one uses the expression 'admitted Christian.' The article's use of 'admitted' is editorializing in the worst way."
Indeed, despite the fact that no fewer than five atheist/secular humanist-related books have appeared on bestseller lists in the past two years - Sam Harris's "The End of Faith" and "Letter to a Christian Nation," Daniel Dennett's "Breaking the Spell," Richard Dawkins's "The God Delusion" (currently # 29 on the NY Times Bestseller list) and now Christopher Hitchens' "God Is Not Great" (currently # 3) - and the fact that, if polls are any indication, many American citizens are worried the United States is headed down the road to becoming a theocracy (more on this later), there's still pockets of anti-atheist/humanist sentiment out there, especially in the Deep South...and South Carolina.
"Suppose I tell you that the universe was created just five minutes ago, at 11:28 AM, and that a supernatural being planted false memories in all of you. You can't disprove my claim, but you still think it is nonsense, right? Atheists have the same reaction to god beliefs."
- Herb Silverman, in a "sermon" to the Unitarian Church of Charleston
A professor of mathematics at the College of Charleston since 1976, Herb Silverman first felt the stamp of the scarlet "A" - atheism - in 1991, when he applied to be a notary public.
Probably on of the more inopportune times, but I want to say this about the 'out' campaign. I like the effort, and really respect Prof. Dawkins, but am I the only one that thinks the shirts look like shit? I'm not putting that stupid 'A' on my blog, because all you have you have to do is read any of my previous posts to see I'm an atheist. Sorry for sidetracking.
But the story doesn't begin there. You see, way back in 1961, the United States Supreme Court ruled that state governments cannot require a belief in God as requirement for public office.
Thirty years later, Silverman was floored to find out that - simply because he'd crossed out the part of his notary oath that read "so help me God" - that he was rejected for the position. (Indeed, of the 33,471 notary applications received by the Secretary of State's office from 1991 to 1993, Silverman's was the only one rejected).
In 1993, after some deliberation, Silverman and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the state. In 1997, the state lost the staring match, and Silverman and the ACLU won a unanimous decision in the South Carolina Supreme Court, which summarily struck down the religious test requirement for holding public office in the state.
Silverman - who also founded the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry in Charleston and who is the spokesperson for the S.C. Secular Council as well as a national board member of the Athiest Alliance International - says he's quite pleased that the subject of God (or god, as he puts it) is once again being tried in the court of public opinion. (Silverman, along with his SHOLC compatriots, was a key figure in bringing the "In Reason We Trust" license plates - the second such plate in the United States - to South Carolina.)
"I think the new interest in atheism is terrific," Silverman says. "I hope it convinces more people to come out of the closet. When people tell me I am the first atheist they ever met, I generally respond: 'No I'm not. You've met thousands of atheists. I'm just the first person you knew was an atheist.' The more people that acknowledge their non-belief in any deities, the less we will be stereotyped. There are good and bad atheists, good and bad Christians, and good and bad in all other groups. I hope someday that people will be judged more on their actions than on their professed religious beliefs. If all 30 million atheists acknowledged who they are, that action alone would change our culture."
Really, this article goes on for some time, but the point I want to get across is... well, I guess I don't have a point. Its been a slow few days. Still, it's a good article, even with quotes from a few ignorant priest denouncing atheism as evil, etc., etc.
Rally In Austin
Friends, are you tired of hearing about all of the religious bills and now laws coming from our Texas state government lately? Don't you think it's time we had a rally for state/church separation here in Texas?
Come take part in the 2007 Texas State/Church Separation Rally here in Austin, at the Texas State Capitol Building on Saturday, September 8, from noon till 3pm. We'll have speakers from lots of Freethought groups there, including:
American Atheists www.atheists.org
The Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers http://maaf.info
The Freethinkers at the University of Texas at Arlington www.freethinkersofuta.org
The Freethinkers Association of Central Texas www.freethinkersact.org
The Rational Response Squad www.rationalresponders.com
Four of the goals of this rally are the following:
1. To speak out for the civil rights of non-religious Americans.
2. To vocally promote the separation of government from religion.
3. To show support for the Croft family in Carrollton who have sued over the moment of silence in their public school. (No matter how the case ends, or whether it's over by then or not.) http://www.foxnews.com/story/
4. To protest the flurry of religious bills and now religious laws coming from our current Texas State Legislature.Please contact me if you'd like to be a speaker at this rally.
What: Rally for State/Church Separation
When: Saturday, September 8th, Noon to 3:00 PM
Where: State Capitol, Austin, Texas
Texas State Director,
American Atheists, Inc.
I don't know if I'll be able to make it yet, but if possible, I will be there.
Louis CK Learns About The Catholic Church
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
It Had To Be Florida
…There is no excuse for anyone to not know of the coming calamities. Violence, lawlessness, drought, famine and earthquakes in many places. God’s Word has warned everyone, but as in the days of Noah, many will ignore and suffer the consequences. You would have to be dumb, blind, stupid or in denial not to know that there is a powerful, demonic movement in this world today whose purpose is to steal, kill, rob, destroy and separate everyone who thinks differently.
Only Jesus, the Prince of Peace can defeat it. For Christians, “Look up, your redemption is nearer than when you first believed.” Bless God and the brotherhood of believers.
Really, I can't complain too much about this one, seeing as how I've spent the last week encouraging everyone I know to rid themselves of lucky rabbit's feet, since the "revolution is upon us". But this next one is so much worse.
The most educated atheist throughout the world cannot inform us when atheism originated. They have their main perpetuators but cannot identify their founder. The absence of the founder and origin suggest atheism is not a man-made doctrine. The originator is Satan, the very one the atheists deceptively deny exists.
Atheists have been very successful in setting their set of ethics and morals (or lack of them) on others, by legal enforcement. Atheism says down with God, up with man. Regardless of what atheists claim, the decline of Christian morals and the increase of crime and murder are because of the humanistic and atheistic influence in our nation.
We all have knowledge of the existence of God, but most, including atheists, choose to ignore it. Without God there is no accountability and everything is permissible. Today’s society chose to live the standards set by the atheistic and humanistic agenda.
Edward de Bie
When did atheism originate?
Atheism in the Western world “has its roots in pre-Socratic Greek philosophy, but did not emerge as a distinct world-view until the late Enlightenment.”
The originator is Satan? How fucking reclusive are you that the only opinion you can form is the same one your pastor spews from a pulpit every Sunday. By the way, no atheist sets their beliefs on others, and no atheist would ever want to. That's just you walking into a Borders, seeing a Richard Dawkins book, and crying out that they're attacking your faith.
I can't even remeber how many times I've had to explain how morals aren't a christian tradition, so to make this quick, even in a secular society, there are still laws that have to be abided by. These laws are decided on by the people, not by fucking jesus. More to the point, only two of the 'ten commandments' are actually enforced by our government, and those values were in place in societies long before xians took them as their own, you ignorant fuck! I'll end it there, because this is giving me a headache...
The Fuck Is Wrong With China
Aug. 20-27, 2007 issue - In one of history's more absurd acts of totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is "an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation." But beyond the irony lies China's true motive: to cut off the influence of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual and political leader, and to quell the region's Buddhist religious establishment more than 50 years after China invaded the small Himalayan country. By barring any Buddhist monk living outside China from seeking reincarnation, the law effectively gives Chinese authorities the power to choose the next Dalai Lama, whose soul, by tradition, is reborn as a new human to continue the work of relieving suffering.
All kidding aside, I seriously hope this ends up as a reality show... 'Who Wants To Be Dalai Lama', or some shit like that.
At 72, the Dalai Lama, who has lived in India since 1959, is beginning to plan his succession, saying that he refuses to be reborn in Tibet so long as it's under Chinese control. Assuming he's able to master the feat of controlling his rebirth, as Dalai Lamas supposedly have for the last 600 years, the situation is shaping up in which there could be two Dalai Lamas: one picked by the Chinese government, the other by Buddhist monks. "It will be a very hot issue," says Paul Harrison, a Buddhism scholar at Stanford.
Why would the government want to institutionalize management of reincarnation anyway. Do they seriously expect to get confirmation from every Buddhist before they die? What's going to happen to whoever doesn't comply? Kind of hard to enforce capital punishment on a fucking corpse.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Pastor Sentenced For Fake Visas
TACOMA -- A pastor has been sentenced to spend 4 1/2 years in prison for filing fake visa applications.
Dong Wan Park, 53, of Tacoma was found guilty last summer of filing false religious worker visa applications for two Korean nationals in exchange for tens of thousand in cash.
On bond after being convicted in 2006, Park sold his Hope Korean Church for $448,595, wired $290,000 to a bank in South Korea and fled to Mexico with his wife, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Once there, authorities said, he told the Mexican police he had lost his travel documents and with the false police report went to the Korean consulate in Mexico City and applied for temporary Korean travel documents.
According to court records, by June 23, 2006, Park went to Canada, then Korea where he was arrested and convicted for passport fraud. Because Park is a U.S. citizen, he was deported to the U.S.
In April, he pleaded guilty to one count of failure to appear and one count of transportation of stolen property. Park had created a false document showing his church board approved the sale of the church real estate. According to follow-up investigation, the church did not have a board at the time.
In addition to the prison sentence, U.S. Court District Judge Ronald Leighton ordered Park to pay $290,000 in restitution and a $250,000 fine.
I guess just taking money from his own congregation wasn't enough for this guy. Still, what the fuck was he thinking going to Canada before Korea? "Fuck running from Interpol, I wanna watch a Leaf's game."?
Sunday, August 12, 2007
The 'War On Christians'
Somehow, over the course of the last several years, loud voices on the Right have managed to convince huge numbers of Christians in thriving congregations that they are somehow under attack by all things secular -- from progressives, feminists and the culture in general to the government and the courts. .
A key technique in this bogus "us-against-them" rabble-rousing is planting the idea that Christians are victimized on every front. Right-wing activists, pundits, and leaders seek to spin any and all developments in a manner that suggests they and all Christians in America are being constantly discriminated against and harassed.
At Vision America’s “The War on Christians and Values Voters” conference in 2006, right-wing activists spent two days telling one another horror stories about how people were supposedly being arrested simply for sharing their faith or losing their jobs for standing up to a government hostile to Christianity, citing ousted Ten Commandments judge Roy Moore and ousted Navy Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt as the two most high-profile examples – Klingenschmitt ever went so far as to compare himself to Abdul Rahman, the man who faced a potential death sentence for converting to Christianity in Afghanistan.
It's not That I particularly mind when these people make shit up, because, well, do I even really have to reference the bible at this point. Still, when you compare yourself, in a nation of entirely like minded people (80 fucking percent, you pretentious asshole), to someone in a country where being different means death? What fucking hardships have you faced because of your beliefs, except having to deal with a couple statues of the fucking ten commandments being removed from a courthouse. I hope you get sent to a country where christianity really is under attack, and they slice your fucking head off.
Since then, the idea that Christians are under attack has been a standard rallying cry for the Right, cropping up most recently in their opposition to hate crimes legislation which they claim will lead to “open persecution” of Christians and pastors being dragged from the pulpit and thrown in jail.
If you haven't heard them complaining about this yet, it's basically a bunch of ignorant bigots that want to bash homosexuals and are afraid they'll be prosecuted for it. How very christ-like.
So ingrained has this idea become on the Right that they are always on the look-out for new evidence that Christians are being victimized – and columnist, pundit, and blogger Michelle Malkin claims to have found the latest example in the group of South Korean Christians being held hostage by the Taliban in Afghanistan:Across Asia, media coverage is 24/7. Strangers have held nightly prayer vigils. But the human rights crowd in America has been largely AWOL. And so has most of our mainstream media. Among some of the secular elite, no doubt, is a blame-the-victim apathy: The missionaries deserved what they got. What were they thinking bringing their message of faith to a war zone? Didn't they know they were sitting ducks for Muslim head-choppers whose idea of evangelism is "convert or die"?
I noted the media shoulder-shrugging about jihadist targeting of Christian missionaries five years ago during the kidnapping and murder of American Christian missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham in the Philippines. The silence is rooted in viewing committed Christians as alien others. At best, there is a collective callousness. At worst, there is outright contempt -- from Ted Turner's reference to Catholics as "Jesus freaks" to CBS producer Roxanne Russell's casual insult of former GOP presidential candidate Gary Bauer as "the little nut from the Christian group" to the mockery of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's Mormon faith.
So the fact that media coverage has been round-the-clock in Asian nations but not round-the-clock here in the US has less to do with the fact the victims are, you know, from South Korea than it does with the fact that US media is openly hostile to Christians?
Of course, these kidnappings can just as easily be linked to how secular our counrty has become, and how there's no more prayer in school...
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Carl Sagan's Cosmos -- Edited for Rednecks
By the way, this post constitutes the most insignificant milestone for any blog, the 50th post. Now that I think about it, I kind of wish it was about something meaningful... Fuck it.
Convert or Kill
Actor Stephen Baldwin, the youngest member of the famous Baldwin brothers, is no longer playing Pauly Shore's sidekick in comedy masterpieces like Biodome. He has a much more serious calling these days.
Baldwin became a right-wing, born-again Christian after the 9/11 attacks, and now is the star of Operation Straight Up (OSU), an evangelical entertainment troupe that actively proselytizes among active-duty members of the US military. As an official arm of the Defense Department's America Supports You program, OSU plans to mail copies of the controversial apocalyptic video game, Left Behind: Eternal Forces to soldiers serving in Iraq. OSU is also scheduled to embark on a "Military Crusade in Iraq" in the near future.
"We feel the forces of heaven have encouraged us to perform multiple crusades that will sweep through this war torn region," OSU declares on its website about its planned trip to Iraq. "We'll hold the only religious crusade of its size in the dangerous land of Iraq."
Remember that game Left Behind? No? Me either. So for the sake of argument, let's see what GameSpot had to say about it:
Don't mock Left Behind: Eternal Forces because it's a Christian game. Mock it because it's a very bad game. The real-time strategy/adventure game from Left Behind Games based on the best-selling series of novels from Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins will even let down born-again types who expect the Rapture to beam them up to heaven any day now. Nobody has enough faith to endure a game with such a hokey story, terrible mission design, serious problems with the interface and graphics, and loads of crippling bugs.
So what is this studio, (Left Behind Games... how fuckin weak is that) supposed to do with the thousands of copies of a shitty game they couldn't sell? Why not push it off on members of our military with support from The Pentagon.
Producers of the Left Behind videogame were faced with a storm of controversy after Christian blogger Jonathan Hutson exposed its eliminationist overtones in a series of posts on the website Talk2Action. Statements by the Anti-Defamation League, the Conference on American Islamic Relations, the Christian Alliance for Progress, and others condemned the game and demanded that Walmart pull it from its shelves. Even Marvin Olasky, the evangelical publisher, intellectual author of "compassionate conservatism," and a force behind the George W. Bush Administration's White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives," denounced the Left Behind videogame. In a blog post on the website of his World Magazine, Olasky described the game's content as akin to "the way homicidal Muslims think." As a result of the fallout, Left Behind Games fired its senior VP and released three board members.
This controversy has not deterred OSU from encouraging US troops to play virtual rounds of kill or convert after a hard day of house-to-house searches and counterinsurgency warfare against Iraqi insurgents. What's more, OSU's "Freedom Packages" include a copy of evangelical pastor Jonathan McDowell's More Than A Carpenter -- a book advertised as "one of the most powerful evangelism tools worldwide" -- that is double-published in Arabic. Considering that only a handful of American troops speak Arabic, the book is ostensibly intended for proselytizing efforts among Iraqi civilians.
Wow... that's encouraging... And yet, some people want to hang on to the hope that we still have a seperation of church and state in this country. I guess it's to be expected, though. If this is a so-called 'christian nation', we might as well act like one and kill everyone we can't convert to believe in the divinity of jesus.
It amazes me every single day that people continue to kill others, all in the name of some prick who ran his fucking mouth and got nailed to some plywood 2000 fucking years ago...
More Christian Infighting
The Family Research Council is launching a project aimed at convincing its supporters before the 2008 election that liberal politicians “are spouting God-talk” in order to “confuse people of faith” and hide their “true agenda.” Invoking the Religious Right’s recent favored phrase for its imagined constituency - as well as the “Swift Boat” campaign of 2004 - the so-called “Values Voters for Truth” campaign is an attempt to vilify liberals - and, obviously, Democratic candidates - as enemies of Christianity who are undertaking a conspiracy to “deceive and split values voters.” [..]
As an example of this supposed “fraud,” the letter cites a Democratic presidential candidate who spoke of his “belief in Christ” and also supports civil unions for gay couples. Similarly, the letter warns that a candidate noting a “biblical call to feed the hungry” also voted against an anti-abortion bill. A third candidate is denounced for the “hypocrisy” of wanting to let gay couples adopt children. According to FRC, these supposed contradictions indicate that Democrats discussing their faith and values is merely “lip service,” part of a “campaign of deception” that led directly to the Democrats winning control of Congress in the 2006 elections.
FRC’s tactic of trying to claim “values” and “faith” as Religious Right-only attributes is hardly new - it was the driving force behind the group’s “Values Voter Summit” last year, organized before the elections to encourage a disillusioned base to turn out for Republicans. It is also the premise behind cries of “anti-Christian persecution,” such as at the “War on Christians” conference, at FRC’s “Justice Sunday” events (in which opposition to right-wing judicial nominees was presented as an attack on “people of faith”), and with “Patriot Pastor” political machines that warn of the “forces of darkness” trying to “deny America’s Godly heritage.”
Not that it matters much, but they're all hypocrits. Still, its always funny to see them turn away from attacking Muslims and secularists to argue about which one of them loves god more.
By the way, the 'War on Christians'... that was totally me.
San Antonio Pastor Arrested on Assault Warrant
A San Antonio pastor and an employee of his Christian boot camp were arrested today on aggravated assault charges, accusing them of dragging a girl behind a van after failing to keep up with others during a running exercise.
Investigators with the Nueces County Sheriff’s Office arrested Charles E. Flowers shortly before noon at the Faith Outreach Center in northwest San Antonio, said Brad E. Bailey, a spokesman for the Schertz Police Department.
The department assisted Nueces County authorities in the arrests because some of the camp's training exercises occur in Schertz.
Bailey said boot camp trainer Stephanie Bassitt was arrested later in Kirby.
Authorities said both boot camp officials restrained a girl June 12, tying her to the back of the truck before dragging her on her stomach at the Love Demonstrated Ministries boot camp in Banquete, about 10 miles west of Corpus Christi.
The 15-year-old girl’s mother complained to authorities about the incident after taking her daughter to get treated for scrapes and bruises.
Flowers is the self-proclaimed "commandant" of the boot camp, which he operates with his wife, Janice.
He declined to comment on the allegations Friday, evading reporters outside the offices of the Faith Outreach Center.
I'm not sure what a 'christian boot camp' is, but I am pretty fucking sure it shouldn't involve torturing kids for getting tired. If this doesn't turn the kid off from religion, I don't know what will...
Friday, August 10, 2007
Republican Bigotry In The Senate
A few weeks ago, the Senate invited a Hindu leader to deliver the daily invocation. Apparently, this has sent Idaho’s Bill Sali (R) over the edge.
“We have not only a Hindu prayer being offered in the Senate, we have a Muslim member of the House of Representatives now, Keith Ellison from Minnesota. Those are changes — and they are not what was envisioned by the Founding Fathers,” asserts Sali.
Sali says America was built on Christian principles that were derived from scripture. He also says the only way the United States has been allowed to exist in a world that is so hostile to Christian principles is through “the protective hand of God.”
“You know, the Lord can cause the rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike,” says the Idaho Republican.
According to Congressman Sali, the only way the U.S. can continue to survive is under that protective hand of God. He states when a Hindu prayer is offered, “that’s a different god” and that it “creates problems for the longevity of this country.”
So, apparently, not only does Senator Bill "Scared of Change" Sali feel that not praying to the christian will cause the country to spin out of control like some kind of Pat Frank 'Alas Babylon' bullshit, (If you don't get the refernce, read the fucking book) but also, if they don't all say christian prayers, their god will come down on them as well as the Hindus. How the fuck did this bigot asshole ever wind up with a seat in the fucking Senate? Even in America, not everyone is Christian you jackass, and it's not your job as a polotician to fucking convert them!
Australia To America: "Why Do You Hate Atheists?"
Pete Stark found himself in a unique and slightly uncomfortable position earlier this year. The longtime Democrat congressman for the Oakland district near San Francisco had responded to a survey from the Secular Coalition for America which offered a $1000 prize to the person who could identify the "highest-level atheist, agnostic, humanist or any other kind of 'nontheist' currently holding elected public office in the United States".
To his surprise, that was him. Stark was the only one of 535 federal politicians prepared to admit he had no religion. For a few brief weeks he was the poster-boy for the humanists in a nation where, according to Pew Foundation research, eight out of 10 people say they have "no doubt God exists" and that "prayer is an important part of their daily lives".
In the immediate aftermath, Stark's staff worried about the backlash. Would his office be targeted by fire-and-brimstone Christians, prophesying his imminent damnation? One or two callers promised to pray for Stark's soul, but for the most part, the callers felt Stark was championing a position held by a significant but silent minority.
Fortunately, at 75, Stark is not planning to seek higher office. If he had been, he had just committed political suicide.
I still can't believe he didn't get more shit than he did. Then again, he is in California, home of the satanic, secular Hollywood, corrupt of all christian morals.
Being an atheist is the biggest handicap a person could have to being elected US president - worse than being gay or a woman, according to a Gallup poll in February.
More than 53 per cent of people surveyed said they would not vote for an atheist. They would prefer a homosexual president - 43 per cent said they would not vote for a homosexual - or a woman president (11 per cent said they would not vote for a woman).
And it seems that these days being black or Catholic or Jewish is hardly a barrier at all, with each of these factors being named as a bar by fewer than 7 per cent of voters.
Nice to see we still got that racist streak alive and well in middle America. What did they do, interview members of the fucking Klan for this poll?
To Australians, the idea of asking a politician about their religious beliefs and practices would seem impertinent, at best irrelevant. Being a non-believer is certainly not a bar to high office as Bob Hawke proved. In 1980, during a interview on ABC television, Hawke admitted: "Until I get some evidence one way or the other which is compelling to me, I'm going to have to remain an agnostic …" He was prime minister three years later.
It seems that Americans want a Christian president, but they are not sure that he or she should let their religious supporters have open access to the Oval Office.
I don't particularly mind if we have a christian president. Mostly because this isn't an one issue election, and if it were, I wouldn't have a single candidate to even consider. All I ask is that you don't base your decisions on your faith, and compromise the freedoms of those that don't agree with your viewpoints. There are far too many examples to name with the current administration, so suffice it to say this country has been fucked up enough over the last eight years. Let's not continue on this path by electing someone who is only going into office to further the cause of their religous affiliation.
Your Faith on CNN
CNN is going to be airing a six-hour documentary over three nights beginning on August 21st. It’s called God’s Warriors. Christiane Amanpour will be hosting.I'm probably not going to watch this, since they won't cover any atheist issues, and if they do, it will probably follow a bunch of these 'God Warriors' as they protest teaching evolution in schools, or some shit like that. If you have the time, I seriously suggest you send in a video offering some kind of dissenting viewpoints. That way, I have something else to watch on YouTube besides Arrested Development clips.
For this documentary, Amanpour reports that during the last 30 years, each faith has exploded into a powerful political force, comprised of followers – “God’s warriors” – who share a deep dissatisfaction with modern society, and a fierce determination to place God and religion back into daily life and to the seats of power. Their political and cultural struggles to save the world from what they view as secular materialism, greed and sexual corruption have caused anger, division and fear.
“There are millions of people around the world who feel that their faith is being ignored – pushed aside – and they are certain they know how to make the world right,” Amanpour says. “We cannot and should not ignore them. And, with this report, we’ve tried to explain them.”
CNN is asking for your I-Reports:
Are you one of the millions of people who live by faith? Do you believe religion is under attack in modern society? Have the lines blurred too much or not enough between religion and politics?
Share your thoughts about faith and the state of religion in the world. Plus, send us your photos and video to show others how you worship.
I’m sure there are atheists who have something to say about that third question…
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Sharing Your Beliefs
My job (a law clerk for a legal services organization that serves migrant farmworkers) is constantly inviting me to make comparisons with my missionary service. Like my time as a missionary, I work with Latinos, mostly Mexicans, in the U.S., who live off of field work. Like missionaries, I visit my clients in their homes. Like missionaries, I have to gain my clients' trust. Heck, I even drive a 1999 Sentra like when I was a missionary.
As I met with a client family in a trailer park in a small town in western Minnesota, I couldn't help but be brought back to my mission service. Especially when my client asked me: ¿Cómo aprendiste el español? I explained to him that I was a missionary for my church a few years ago in Arizona. His face glowed with recognition and he said that he had had visits from Mormon elders at his home in Texas. At that point, I would have responded with a follow up question: how did you like it? Or, why did you stop meeting with them? Or, did you ever go to church? Or, would you like me to have the elders here visit you?
I would have. But I stopped myself. I hesitated. It didn't feel right. Somehow, it had the feel of an abuse of authority, or an impermissible blending of church and state, or a violation of the legal services non-solicitation policy, or some other verboten thing. Even though it wasn't strictly any of those things, it felt like something of that nature.
He goes on to ask some deep questions, but I want to address proselytizing. As an atheist, I get asked to explain my 'beliefs' a lot, and I'll try to, to the best of my ability, or tell the person to 'fuck off', depending on the situation. Still, I make it a point to never bring it up unless they ask me specifically. This is for a couple reasons. For one, I hate getting into arguments; they're pointless, and it usually ends in a string of profanitys directed towards Jesus. Secondly, it always leads to stupid questions I've already answered so many fuckin times, it make me want to stab the next guy who brings it up.
It's good to see someone from, of all places, the Mormon religion at lest try to be reasonable about this type of things. I've seen so many situation, and been in a few myself, where overtly religious people will take any opportunity to preach in the name of their god. If you want to preach and proselytize about whatever the hell you want, at least have the common courtesy to wait until someone asks. Otherwise, assume they're like me, and don't give a shit, and leave them the fuck alone.
Atheist Mistreatment in Iraq
Courtesy of Dispatches From The Culture Wars
Thought you'd be interested in this report of the first-ever meeting of Atheist service-members in Iraq under the umbrella of the MAAF-Iraq chapter of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers. This meeting was put together by the same young MAAF member who recently had his second letter published in the Stars and Stripes.
One of our members, a young Atheist enlisted soldier, thought he would like to see if he could generate some interest in MAAF meetings at his Forward Operating Base (FOB) here in Iraq (not the base I'm at, by the way). He got things coordinated and started hanging flyers, and after weeks of having to re-hang his flyers almost daily because some vandal kept tearing them down, he finally succeeded in having a small MAAF meeting. I wasn't there because the meeting wasn't on my FOB, but I knew he was holding it and was expecting to hear from him after the meeting. Keep in mind that this young soldier did everything right - he went through the Chaplain's office and jumped through all the hoops it takes to legally hold meetings that are religiously or philosophically based. Four soldiers attended this meeting - all of them very junior enlisted soldiers with the exception of one Major (an O-4), who claimed to be a "freethinker".
Well, to make a very long story a little shorter, the Major turned out to be a fundamentalist Christian who verbally berated the other attendees, accused them of plotting against Christians and disrespecting soldiers who have died protecting the Constitution, and threatened them with punishment under the UCMJ for their activities (said they were "going down") and said he would do whatever it took to shut the meetings down. Keep in mind that by this point, he had two of the attendees (one soldier fled when the shouting started) standing at the position of attention so that he could yell at them, berate them, and humiliate them. This apparently went on for several minutes at which time the Major shut down the meeting by saying he wasn't some "push-over Chaplain" and that he would not tolerate the meetings to continue.
The young MAAF member who hosted the meeting is absolutely freaked out about what happened, but he said he's going to continue with the meetings and isn't going to be bullied by the prayer warriors. I've advised him to immediately notify the Chaplain sponsor of what happened to get guidance while I try to figure out what to do next. I should hear something back from him tonight sometime and there's even a small possibility I might be able to score a mission to his FOB and attend one of his meetings in the next few weeks (if I do, I'll meet with the Chaplain in person).
As for immediate action, he's going to get me the names of his Chaplain sponsor and the name of the officer who disrupted the meeting. My intent right now is to make a formal report to the most senior Chaplain I can find along with possibly an Equal Opportunity complaint against the officer if we can get him fully identified. I may not be eligible to make that complaint because I wasn't there, but I can at least smooth the way for this young troop to make one if he elects to. At the very least, I can make the EO office formally aware of what happened there.
More info will follow when I get it, but right now, feel free to disseminate this information since I've intentionally sanitized it for names and locations. I will be happy to forward any words of support to him if they get mailed to my (redacted email) address - he could really use some encouragement right now, I think.
Refuting Christopher Hitchens…
Well played, Target employee...
Does EVERYTHING Have To Be About God?
Math class descriptions at Castle Hills First Baptist School:
Students will examine the nature of God as they progress in their understanding of mathematics. Students will understand the absolute consistency of mathematical principles and know that God was the inventor of that consistency.
Because when you study triangles, you’re really just studying the Trinity.
And does anyone else start twitching when you realize they talk about God and proofs in the same paragraph?
Of course, every semester starts with the explanation of how they can't use the digits 0-9 since Islam is so evil.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
TV preacher Pat Robertson targets Obama
About a year ago, in a speech before a left-leaning religious group, Barack Obama delivered a fairly provocative speech urging progressives to do more to “acknowledge the power of faith in the lives of the American people.” Last week, Obama chatted with TV preacher Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network and had some advice for the other side of the ideological spectrum.
For my friends on the right, I think it would be helpful to remember the critical role that the separation of church and state has played in preserving not only our democracy but also our religious practice. Folks tend to forget that during our founding, it wasn’t the atheists or the civil libertarians who were the most effective champions of the First Amendment…. It was the forbearers of Evangelicals who were the most adamant about not mingling government with religious, because they didn’t want state-sponsored religion hindering their ability to practice their faith as they understood it. Given this fact, I think that the right might worry a bit more about the dangers of sectarianism.
Whatever we once were, we’re no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of non-believers. We should acknowledge this and realize that when we’re formulating policies from the state house to the Senate floor to the White House, we’ve got to work to translate our reasoning into values that are accessible to every one of our citizens, not just members of our own faith community.
Well, he's not entirely right about the evangelical founders, but I'm not going to split hairs when he's trying to be progressive.
Of course, TV preacher Pat Robertson, who still controls CBN, didn’t quite see it that way.
The way CBN is set up, religious-right reporters will give a religious-right perspective on a news story. The broadcast then turns to Robertson, who shares his unique insights on the news, before the program, “The 700 Club,” moves on to the news story.
Last week, after his show reported on Obama’s comments, Robertson was less than pleased.
“I think what he says is dangerous,” Robertson blustered. “I think that it has a veneer of sophistication and it has a veneer of moderation, a veneer of intelligence, but underneath it he basically is selling out, well, the origins of our nation.
“America wasn’t built on Hinduism,” Robertson continued. “America wasn’t built on Islam. America wasn’t built on Buddhism. America and our democratic institutions were built on the Christian faith. There is no question about it…. And I think to put Christianity on a par with Hinduism, Buddhism, etc., I believe this man is doing a grave disservice to our nation.”
Hate to break it to you, Pat, (scratch that, it actually feels pretty good) but this country wasn't founded on Christianity. It was founded by deists trying to escape the tyranny of The Church of England. The real 'disservice to this nation' is mother fuckers like you building empires by taking money from hard-working people, and using it to spout your insane backwards logic rhetoric.
Dad Crusades Against God In School
Fight against moment of silence goes to court today
Among many parents at Rosemeade Elementary, he is viewed as a nuisance.
But David Wallace Croft says he is fighting against the influence of "Judeo-Christian monotheism."
He defines himself as an atheist, an "optihumanist" and a Libertarian. Over the past several years, he has fought any signs of religion at the Carrollton school his three children attend.
His largest fight to date is set to play out in federal district court in Dallas today. He and his wife, Shannon, are suing Gov. Rick Perry and the Carrollton-Farmers Branch school district, arguing that the state's minute of silence, in effect since 2003, is unconstitutional and amounts to state-sanctioned school prayer.
The lawsuit says a Rosemeade teacher told Mr. Croft's son that the minute of silence held each morning was specifically for prayer. She then bowed her head, clasped her hands and began to pray.
"Moment of silence bills have been popping up in additional states," Mr. Croft wrote on his blog. "To have millions of public school children waste a minute of education each day for a practice that has no secular purpose seems to me like a great sin."
I'm glad to see someone is at least drawing attention to this, but it's definately a fight he won't win. Moments of silence are specifically designed to get around 'church-state seperation' laws. (If they even exist anymore...) Personally, my high school also had the 'moment of silence' thing every morning, but I just used it to get a few minutes of rest before I got bitched at by my Calculus teacher for not doing some assignment. I was never told that I had to pray, but it WAS encouraged.
If you read further into the article, it doesn't paint a very good picture of Mr Croft. Still, he's done a lot of good fighting for secularism in our schools, even if its just on a local level.
Fuck South Carolina
The South Carolina (motto: "First to Secede!") governing body is maybe not so much the bastion of science and reality-based thinking. But now, as reported in The Charleston Post & Courier, they join Texas in what I can only think of as utter stupidity:
State lawmakers shot down a request for extra financial help for low-income students who will attend South Carolina’s public colleges and universities next year.
Meanwhile, they approved $2.5 million to help low-income students attend Bob Jones University, a private school in Greenville.
Yes, that BJU, where it is school policy to forbid interracial dating (I guess Thomas Jefferson wouldn’t be allowed to attend), and where, more to the point, they teach creationism instead of, y’know, reality.
That’s right. In South Carolina, if you are poor or middle class and want to be educated, you can either do without, or go to a private school like BJU where you’ll learn the Earth is 6000 years old!
If you go there, you can take a Life Science class where you can learn that:
Christians must reject any evolutionary ideas that people try to include in the classification system… God commanded all living things to reproduce "after their kind". You can see the results of God’s command by simply observing the living things around you.
Of course, BJU is accredited… by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools. That sounds legit enough… until you actually do some, y’know, research. If you go to their website and look at their educational standards for schools they accredit, you’ll see this gem:
The institution must have a Biblical Foundations Statement that includes affirmations of tenets such as … the divine work of non-evolutionary creation including persons in God’s image… Special creation of the existing space-time universe and all its basic systems and kinds of organisms in the six literal days of the creation week.
That’s right. To get accredited by this fine organization, you have to affirm that you do not teach evolution, and/or that you do teach young Earth creationism.
Also, you have to affirm that existence of Satan.
This is why Americans are so fucking stupid. Legislators would rather endorse 'No Child Left Behind' and give money to bullshit Universities than give help to people that actually need it.
Worst Excuse Ever
About a month ago, Florida State Rep. Bob Allen (R), a co-chairman of John McCain’s presidential campaign in the Sunshine State, ran into a little trouble with the law. He was arrested in a public park after allegedly offering to pay to perform oral sex on an undercover police officer. Not a good career move.
Josh Marshall notes today, however, that ol’ state Rep. Allen can explain everything.
[I]t turns out that Allen revealed the true reason for the alleged park-john-offer in a tape recorded statement he made just after his arrest.
“This was a pretty stocky black guy, and there was nothing but other black guys around in the park,” said Allen, according to this article in the Orlando Sentinel. Allen went on to say he was afraid of becoming a “statistic.”
OK, let me get this straight. Allen was in a public park, late at night. For some reason, he’s afraid of black people. As a result of this irrational fear, he wanders into a bathroom, where he offers another man $20 to perform oral sex.
In other words, Allen thought he might be attacked by some “stocky” black men, and this is his first instinct? Josh added, “I guess this raises the question of whether if you thought you were about to get mugged by a group of stocky black guys, your first plan of escape would be to try to give one of them a blowjob.”
If I didn't hate John McCain so much, I might feel sorry for him. Still, how can any Democratic candidate get more shit than this guy?
Monday, August 6, 2007
Christian Group President Facing Prostitution Charges
Former state legislator Coy C. Privette – a Cabarrus County commissioner, retired Baptist minister and president of the Christian Action League of North Carolina – was charged Thursday with soliciting prostitution, authorities said.
Privette, 74, of Kannapolis, was charged with six counts of misdemeanor aiding and abetting prostitution by renting a hotel room and paying for sexual acts, according to State Bureau of Investigation Agent Kevin Canty.
Tiffany Denise Summers, 32, of Salisbury, was charged with six counts of prostitution, Canty said.
On Thursday, the Christian Action League board of directors suspended Privette, pending the outcome of the investigation. The organization represents the Christian groups' interests in the General Assembly.
“If these allegations are true, then I’m absolutely broken-hearted and extremely disappointed,” said Mark Creech, executive director the Christian Action League.
Privette was the group’s president the past six years. Before that, he served as its executive director for 15 years. Creech said he considers Privette a mentor and a friend.
“It’s hard, it’s hard. But I still want to hear from Mr. Privette,” Creech said.
What's so much worse than the actual act, is those that defend the man. What fucking side of the story is this asshole going to have? "I thought the cop was a prostitute."?
Evangelism at Highest Levels of US Military
A report released publicly on Thursday by the Defense Department's (DOD) inspector general has found high-ranking Army and Air Force personnel violated long-standing military regulations when they participated in a promotional video (also here) for an evangelical Christian organization while in uniform and on active duty.
The report found that Air Force Maj. Gen. Jack Catton, Army Brig. Gen. Bob Caslen, Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, Maj. Gen. Peter Sutton, and a colonel and lieutenant colonel whose names were redacted in the inspector general's report, had "improperly endorsed and participated with a non-Federal entity while in uniform" and recommended that the men should be disciplined for misconduct.
The 47-page report was also highly critical of Pentagon Chaplain Col. Ralph G. Benson, whom the inspector general's report accused of knowingly misleading the DOD when he requested permission from DOD officials to film a video inside the Pentagon claiming he was interested in gathering information about the Pentagon's "own ministry." In fact, the report says, Benson was determined to use the video to "attract new supporters" to the Christian Embassy, an evangelical organization that evangelizes members of the military and politicians in Washington, DC via daily Bible studies and outreach events. The group holds prayer breakfasts on Wednesdays in the Pentagon's executive dining room, according to the organization's web site.
Why the fuck does The Pentagon have it's 'own ministry'? Is it really too much to ask that government officials pray on their own fucking time?
Over the past few years, the military has set its sights on prosecuting Iraq war veterans who have completed active duty, soured on the war and participated in antiwar protests while wearing their uniforms. Recently, the US Marine Corps prosecuted Cpl. Adam Kokesh and Marine Sgt. Liam Madden, both of whom were photographed marching in an antiwar protest while wearing their uniforms in what the Marine Corps says was a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Military prosecutors vigorously sought to have both men dishonorably discharged. However, it appears unlikely the military will apply the same standard to the Air Force and Army officers who the inspector general said violated the same code of conduct Kokesh and Madden were found to have broken, according to the disciplinary recommendations of the report.
The Army generals who appeared in the video appeared to be speaking on behalf of the military, but they did not obtain prior permission to appear in the video. They defended their actions, according to the inspector general's report, saying the "Christian Embassy had become a 'quasi-Federal entity', since the DOD had endorsed the organization to General Officers for over 25 years."
"The report confirms the total destruction of the Constitutionally-mandated wall separating supernatural and natural, metaphysical and physical, spiritual and temporal, church and state at the highest levels of the technologically most lethal organization ever created by humankind; our honorable and noble United States military," Mikey Weinstein, the founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said in an interview. "The embarrassingly pedestrian excuses feebly offered by senior US Army and US Air Force generals and other senior officers are pathetic and not worthy of those that might have been offered by a first-grader. the military's strict policy that prohibits military personnel from appearing in uniform and participating in "speeches, interviews, picket lines, marches, rallies or any public demonstration ... which may imply Service sanction of the cause for which the demonstration or activity is conducted."
Weinstein said perhaps the most egregious aspect of the inspector general's report is the findings that non-military personnel were given "badges" to roam freely throughout the Pentagon calling it a "shocking national security breach of the highest order." He called for Congressional oversight hearings into the matter.
"The rise of evangelical Christianity inside the military went on steroids after 9/11 under this administration and this White House," Weinstein said in an interview. "This administration has turned the entire Department of Defense into its own personal faith-based initiative."
(Emphasis is mine.)
As the article says, they probably won't be prosecuted, even though it was an obvious "violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice".