Are you gay? You must have a fart demon.

July 28, 2014

According to Bert Farias of Holy Fire ministries anyway. He’s adamant that stinky demons live in every gay person. Fart demons.

In an interview with Charisma magazine, Farias begged gay people to “not get upset with me” as he explained his groundbreaking new theory.

“[You] will see that I am actually trying to help you,” he assured them.

He continued: “Homosexuality is actually a demon spirit. It is such a putrid smelling demon that other demons don’t even like to hang around it.”

The “real proof” he has for this apparently comes from a biblical story where Jesus sent demons into pigs and the pigs drowned themselves rather than live in pigs forever. I don’t know this story so I take from gotquestions:

Why the demons begged to be allowed to enter the swine is unclear from the account. It could be because they didn’t want to leave the area where they had been successful in doing their mischief among the people. Perhaps they were drawn to the unclean animals because of their own filthiness.

I guess the latter thought is what Farias had in mind. Back to the article from Queerty:

“A genuine prophet of God told me that the Lord allowed him to smell this demon spirit, and he got sick to his stomach,” he said.

Farias also warned that the growing acceptance of homosexuality in the United States is a sign from the man upstairs that our society is in “the last stages of decay” and that there will be severe “destructive physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences.”

He can think this if he wants, I guess, but if he’s well known enough, or popular enough, then his weird thoughts on homosexuality will be passed onto other believers who’ll continue to spread this fart demon pig story around as if it’s truly God’s proof that homosexuality is the biggest sin of all, even though the original story has nothing at all to do with homosexuality directly. But, when has that stopped anyone…

Gotquestions again:

The Bible doesn’t explain to us Jesus’ reasoning, but displaying His sovereign power over demons could be one reason why Jesus sent them into the pigs. If the pigs’ owners were Jews, Jesus could have been rebuking them for violating Mosaic law which forbids Jews from eating or keeping unclean animals such as swine (Leviticus 11:7). If the swineherds were Gentiles, perhaps Jesus was using this miraculous event to show them the malice of evil spirits under whose influence they lived, as well as displaying His own power and authority over creation. In any case, the owners were so terrified to be in the presence of such spiritual power that they made no demand for restitution for the loss of their property and begged Jesus to leave the region.

It’s such a stupid story. Small wonder I never came across it before, although now that I look at the Skeptics Annotated Bible, I see where the “I am Legion” notion comes from — this guy with the demons that begged to go into the pigs. I’m more familiar with Legion from Red Dwarf. A far better and more clever story if I do say so. The crew lands on a strange planet with evidence of great intelligence and discover Legion. Kryten does a bang-up job with his logical solution to the problem they have once they realize Legion does not intend to let them leave again. Well done, Kryters. Well done.


10 questions for every atheist part 2

July 17, 2014

I found out about the list here and the original set of questions. I haven’t even read the answers given at maasaiboys because I didn’t want to look like a copy-cat.

Answers 6-10: Read the rest of this entry »


10 questions for every atheist part 1

July 17, 2014

I found out about the list here and the original set of questions. I haven’t even read the answers given at maasaiboys because I didn’t want to look like a copy-cat.

I wound up writing quite a lot for the answers so I’m breaking this into two parts. Questions 1 through 5: Read the rest of this entry »


Pareidolia hair

July 11, 2014

Looks more like OOOO to me

Kristin Kissee says her hairstyle is divine.

As she recovered from rounds of chemotherapy and radiation in a battle against non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Kissee posted a photo to Facebook of her regrown hair in November 2011.

She’d never noticed when she posted the picture but a year or so later she was going through some other troubled times and happened upon the picture again – this time seeing what she supposedly missed before.

She believes the holy hairdo — which is only visible in that one photo — was God’s way of sending her reassurance when she needed it.

“I was overcome with feelings of joy and serenity,” she told HuffPost. “I cried. God answered my prayers.”

Kissee says she does not go to church and is “a bit wary of organized religion,” but does believe she has a “spiritual relationship with God.”

When it comes to signs, it’s very easy to make anything mean something. I can see why she thinks the word GOD is in the curls on her head in that photo. She’d been through something traumatic and scary and who wouldn’t look for reassurance of some higher power looking out for you? Well, me and other atheists.. but ignore us for the moment. I can see why, even if she’s not a regular church goer.

It’s soothing and made her feel like she’d been singled out to be special and prized. It’s a common thought among the faithful I think, that challenges of this nature are put upon a person because God is a bastard wants to test one’s strength and faith. It’s Job all over again. Everyone wants to have steadfastness like Job when the shit hits the fan. God will take care of it..

But they’ll still visit doctors and get chemotherapy. Faith and prayer only go so far…


Black Jesus cartoon too discriminatory

June 8, 2012

Poke fun at Christian beliefs all you want, but cut the racism. That’s what I say.

Times Live reports on a short cartoon that featured a black Jesus:

The two-minute animation, created by Johannesburg company Mdu Comics, depicts a “black Jesus” attempting to commit suicide after his doctor “diagnoses” him as a Shangaan.

In the clip, which has had 49000 hits on YouTube, “Jesus”, who speaks Zulu, consults a doctor after breaking his toe. After a DNA test, the doctor says: “Jesus, there is no easy way of telling you this … You are Shangaan.”

The character then scrubs himself with bags of oranges to rid himself of his “shangaan-ness” before leaving a suicide note.

Shangaan part of an ethnic group in South Africa, the Tsonga people.

According to the Tsonga, there exists a strong relationship between the creation (ntumbuloko) and a supernatural power called Tilo. Tilo refers to a vaguely described superior being, who created mankind, but it also refers to the heavens, being the home of this creature.

The Tsonga believed that man had a physical (mmiri) and a spiritual body with two added attributes, the moya and the ndzuti. The moya is associated with the spirit, enters the body at birth, and leaves at death to join the ancestors.

The ndzuti was associated with the person’s shadow and reflected human characteristics. At death, in the spirit world, it left the body. This meant that the spirit was attached with the individual and human characteristics of that person. Inherent in this concept is not only the belief in life after death but also that the dead retain very strong links with the living. Passing over into the spirit world is an important stage in the life of a Tsonga.

The country is rife with racist notions of certain tribes being better than others and the woman who initially lodged the complaint has heard many a slur against her Shangaan roots. Caroline Sithole thought this particular cartoon was worth taking to the Human Rights Commission after an acquaintance sent her to look at it.

“The [animation] came from a colleague and friend who said: ‘I am happy you will be Zulu soon’, referring to the fact that I will be getting married to a Zulu man.

“Well, it is sad that in this democratic South Africa you still have people who really believe Zulus or other tribes are more superior than Shangaans and that Shangaans are non-human or sub-human,” Sithole wrote in her complaint.

She said the animation carried many upsetting stereotypes.

“No wonder my son refuses to be Shangaan. I grew up being ridiculed by schoolmates for being Shangaan and I was not sure where this hatred was coming from.

Nowhere logical or scientifically factual, I’m sure.

Mdu Comics founder Mdu Ntuli denied the cartoon was offensive.

“It is purely fictional . Every nationality has a joke on each other and that’s just how it is. For me, it is just ridiculous for any Tsonga person to take this personally,” Ntuli said.

“Just how it is” is just what the problem is. So long as people refuse to see the problem with that kind of attitude, the longer the attitude will persist.


Linkskrieg! (First pass)

June 7, 2012

It’s occurred to me that I’ve collected far more links than I have time to write about, so here’s a batch of things I did want to bring up at some point but never did. I may flesh out some of these at some point, though. Time will tell.

1. The Codex Gigas:

Lore behind the codex suggests the book was the effort of one monk’s labor in a single night. After breaking the rules of the monastery, he’d been sentenced to a slow death – he’d be walled up in a room of bricks. The night before his sentence would be executed, the monk decided to write his last work, an evil book written on animal skins. He realized that finishing the book before imprisonment would be impossible, so he made a Faustian deal at midnight with Lucifer to finish the book, with the devil signing the document by painting a portrait of himself on the 290th leaf.

2. A pastor’s controversial book on sex:

The book was written by Driscoll and his wife, Grace, to, in Mark’s words, “compel married couples to have important conversations about important things.”

In the first half of the book, the Driscolls discuss their own sexual issues using the lessons they learned to discuss how to reignite a marriage whose flame may have gone out. The book’s second half, which is getting most of the negative attention, discusses sex in detail.

In response, religious scholars and writers have blasted the Driscolls’ work on a number of grounds ranging from the logistical to the biblical.

3. Apocalypse tourism:

The Mexican government is expecting 52 million tourists to visit the five regions — Chiapas, Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Tabasco and Campeche, over the next 12 months, says the Latin American Herald Tribune.

According to goverment reports, the boom is part of Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s tourism campaign: “Mundo Maya 2012,” to promote Mexico as a unique destination.

4. Ancient document claims dozens visited Jesus, not just three:

The translation of the mysterious ‘Revelation of the Magi’ describes how the three wise men actually numbered over a dozen and came from a faraway land, possibly China.

(Since the bible never specifies how many wise men visited, I don’t see this as news, personally. Straight Dope dealt with this years ago.)

5. “Miracle” survival of a kid with flesh eating disease:

The pope on Monday signed a decree authenticating the miracle, clearing the way for Tekakwitha to be canonized as America’s first Roman Catholic indigenous saint.

“There is no doubt in me or my husband’s mind that a miracle definitely took place,” Jake’s mother, Elsa Finkbonner, told msnbc.com on Tuesday. “There were far too many things that could have and should have gone wrong with his illness. The doctors went through every avenue they could to save his life and he survived. It’s a miracle that all of the other things that could have gone wrong, didn’t.”

6. Utah’s festive season vs atheist billboards:

“We’re glad to share the Christmas season with Christians, but they have stolen Christmas, and it is not the birthday of Jesus,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Wisconsin-based organization. “It’s a natural event, the winter solstice. … The shortest day of the year has been celebrated for millennia in the Northern Hemisphere with decorations and lights and celebrations. We just think it’s important to celebrate reason and celebrate reality.”

She added that the foundation has heard there’s a feeling of claustrophobia among non-Mormons and nonbelievers in Salt Lake City. “There’s a great dominance there, so we want to be there, too.”

7. Evidence from Dead Sea dirt may verify some bible tales:

Ben-Avraham, head of the Minerva Dead Sea Research Center at Tel Aviv University in Israel, noted that this is important because, when it comes to earthquakes, the last century in the Middle East was unusually quiet.

“People don’t take this into consideration,” Ben-Avraham said, “but we have mighty earthquakes.”

Looking farther back, one of the seismically active eras revealed by the core samples appears to have been about 4,000 years ago, he said.

“If you believe the biblical chronology, this is roughly [the time of] Sodom and Gomorrah,” he said. During this period, according to the Book of Genesis, God “rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed all.”

8. British PM and Dawkins disagree on need for faith schools:

David Cameron has said atheist campaigner Richard Dawkins “just doesn’t really get it” on the issue of faith schools.

The Prime Minister made the comments as he answered questions from well-known figures for a Guardian newspaper article. Mr Cameron said he thinks faith schools are “very often good schools” and he noted that the church had provided “good schools long before the state got involved”.

Dawkins would rather see more schools promoting secularism and critical thinking instead of traditions and indoctrination.


Prom season is open season on gay relationships

May 14, 2012

A Catholic school in Kentucky banned a lesbian couple from attending theirs. The trouble is, Hope Decker and Tiffany Wright found out they couldn’t go as a couple when they arrived at the gym on Saturday night and were immediately turned away. No warnings ahead of time. Just found out on the day.

“I would understand and respect the school’s decision if they truly upheld church teachings,” Wright said Sunday night. “They didn’t forbid the entrance of all the couples who’ve had premarital sex and all the kids who planned to get drunk after the prom.”

Sounds like hypocrisy in action. I’d say they truly are upholding church teachings… The kids opted to party in the parking lot after that.

Wright said the couple’s parking-lot prom was great.

“We had a wonderful night, and we were surrounded by true friends,” Wright said. “I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.”

Among the other students outside with them were Lexington Catholic senior Suzie Napier, who said she wrote a letter to school administrators expressing displeasure at their decision. Napier said 107 fellow students signed it.

Puts me in mind of anther school a couple years ago in Mississippi that actually cancelled their prom to stop lesbians from dancing together. The school got a hell of a lot of bad press and the girls got a hell of a lot of support from many circles.

Napier said the students played music from their parked cars at the outside prom and set up a table for refreshments.

“I definitely think this prom will be much more memorable than any prom the school hosted,” Napier said.

Megan Carter-Stone, a senior, also attended the outside prom.

“It was a wonderful time, and I think we got our point across,” Carter-Stone said. “At least I hope we did.”

It’s good that these girls and their friends made the best of a stupid situation and hosted their own party instead of let the school officials ruin a night that’s supposed to be memorable for better reasons.

If the school had always planned on keeping them out of the gym, they should have been told sooner. It was mean spirited to let them think they could come to prom and then leave them out of it entirely. Would Jesus treat people like that? If he really was the caring equalizer Christians want to claim he was, then the only obvious answer is no. Decker graduates this year but Wright still has a couple years left at this school. How’s she going to be treated after this? Catholics praise their martyrs for standing up for what they believed in in the face of adversity. Will they praise her, too, or make the rest of her time there a living hell?


Not old news: old Billy Graham advice column

May 11, 2012

I look up Billy Graham’s advice once in a while and I liked the question posed on March 15th, 2012. High time I do a write-up about it.

DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: I’ve had a lot of emotional problems, and recently I started going to a psychologist someone recommended. I like her, but she’s very opposed to religion and thinks people must solve their own problems instead of turning to God for help. My faith is very important to me, so should I look elsewhere? — M.F.

People should be trying to find solutions to their problems and a psychologist can be a good start. It’s certainly better than diving into an Eckhart Tolle/Deepak Chopra style “self-help” guide, although nowhere near as cheap. If M.F. is going through depression or anxiety issues or OCD or whatever might be the issue, he or she should pursue the help of professionals in that particular field. If the issue is that this psychologist is not also an armchair theologian, why not ask to be referred to someone who will include the spiritual approach? At least s/he would still get the benefit of educated training. Graham agrees with me, but:

This person has already let you know that she has no sympathy for people who look to God for help, and almost inevitably she will try to impose her views on you.

That is not the role of a psychologist.

Psychologists help individuals focus on what is causing the symptoms to manifest or intensify. Once the source of the condition is identified, psychologists work with patients to develop coping skills. Psychologists provide a safe environment to express one’s feelings.

If she’s being professional, she won’t push her own beliefs (or lack of) onto the patient. If this patient wants God to be a part of the process, she’ll have to work it in. I’m assuming this isn’t a situation where a cult member needs to be deprogrammed. If she’s unable or unwilling to use God as part of the therapy process then she should be the one referring this person to someone else. Yes? Maybe someone who knows more about this can pipe up in the comments.

Back to Billy.

But God loves you and wants to help you deal with these problems. One way he may do this is by leading you to someone who has the training to understand your problems — but who also shares your faith. After all, God knows all about you; he understands what you’re going through, and he also knows the reasons for it. More than that, he knows the answer to your problems. The Bible says, “To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his” (Job 12:13).

Maybe it’s just me, but I find it amusing that people decide to fix something about themselves, be it their health or their outlook on life or what have you, and when they succeed they refuse to take the credit for the hard work and give it all to their God instead. God’s the reason I lost 20 pounds. God’s the reason I reunited with my estranged father. God’s the reason. God’s the reason. What can’t one’s own desire and determination be the reason? There’s no need to go overboard with the pride or arrogance or anything, but isn’t it something of a confidence booster to realize that you’re capable of solving your own problems? Be the success story. “I went through this and I made it through. It was tough and it was shitty and more than once I wanted to (insert quitter talk here) but I persevered and now I’m better…”

Thank God?

Why?

There can be enough strength in the self. Often there is enough strength in the self, but people aren’t always willing to put faith in that and instead put it into some external, invisible, ephemeral source and think that when they succeed, that’s the root cause. Everyday people behave like Dumbo did toward his “magical” feather. At least Dumbo saw the error of his ways eventually…


Old news: faith healing event ends in tragedy, death

May 11, 2012

It wasn’t directly the fault of Pastor Chris Oyakhilome of Nigeria, but he was the person 150,000 people had traveled to see in Cape Town back in March. He has a reputation as a miraculous faith healer so people who should be going to doctors – or have but don’t like their diagnoses or prognoses – are putting their faith in his ability to heal. One man in the audience during the three day Pentecostal show died, another pastor by the name of Simon Williams. The fifty-six year old

was taken from hospital intensive care to the event by his family. He collapsed and died from renal failure inside the stadium.

Dr Wayne Smith, head of disaster medicine for Cape Town, said he treated about 30 patients in the stadium’s medical centre and sent 16 to hospital.

“Some of them had travelled long distances to get there, they had ongoing medical issues and were in a lot of pain,” he said.

Pastor Chris has a few black marks on him already. In 2008, he was accused of protecting another pastor from his church who might have murdered a girl. He’s been suspected of money laundering to the tune of 35 million dollars and charges exorbitant attendance fees for special events at his Christ Embassy church. He, along with a lot of other evangelicals in the country, preach the prosperity gospel, and the poor are giving him upwards of 30% of their available money in the hopes that God will turn things around for them. Of course, the truth is that only Christ Embassy and the pastors in it get to prosper and enjoy a windfall.

So, back to this faith healing business. It’s understandable why people with little hope of improvement (in health or finances) would try something like this but this shit doesn’t work. James Randi helped expose Peter Popoff as a fraud back in 1987 but he’s still kicking around and still fleecing otherwise intelligent people on a weekly basis. “Desperation changes the balance.”

If you would tell them not to give their money to Peter Popoff, what would you tell them to do instead? Would they be better off giving that $100 to the bank that’s about to foreclose on their house anyway, or to the landlord about to evict them? If we have no alternative solution to offer, then our best arguments may boil down to this: false hope is expensive, and hopelessness is free. That’s not a strong selling point.

People need hope. We have a powerful need to feel like we have some control over our fate, even if it is an illusion. That’s why those with the most serious illnesses spend the most money on quack therapies. And it’s why we can’t save desperate people from the likes of Peter Popoff through debunking alone—we need to offer a positive alternative that meets their needs.

When people really don’t know which way to turn, any wrong direction can feel like the right one. Maybe it seems like there isn’t time to look into alternatives, or it doesn’t occur to them to look for different kind of aid or support, or they think there won’t be anything even remotely close to what they need, save a miracle. I don’t know. I just hope that if I’m ever in dire straits I’ll look for real help rather than put faith in something ultimately useless.


Pride week is not far away

May 7, 2012

But I found this now and don’t want to forget to post it. I found out about it via recordnet.com and their article about North Carolina’s gay marriage issue.

One hopes that plea is heeded. Vines’ speech is long – a little over an hour – but well worth the time, particularly for those seeking to reconcile first-century faith with 21st-century social concerns.

Many in North Carolina – many around the country – are swimming against the tide of human freedom and blaming God for it. Again, this is not a new thing. We saw it back when God was for segregation and against women’s suffrage.

How convenient it must be to lay your own narrowness and smallness off on God, to accept no responsibility for the niggardly nature of your own soul. Vines’ video is a welcome, overdue and eloquent rebuke of the moral and intellectual laziness of throwing rocks, then hiding inside Scripture. It is a reminder, too.


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