South Carolina Pastor gets jail time for being too loud in church

September 16, 2014

Neighbours had complained repeatedly about Johnnie Clark and his “turn it up to 11″ approach to his church’s sound system, often running it at crazy volumes for evening services. The police had to go there dozens of times and the church has been fined several times. In June a judge granted them an injunction prohibiting loud services between 8pm and 8am which they refused to follow and now they’re reportedly shocked that a jury sentenced him to a couple weeks of jail time plus more fines. From WLTX:

“I can’t believe it, jail time, for serving God, what’s next,” said Pastor and First Lady Harriet Clark.

No no, honey. It’s not jail for serving god. It’s jail for being too fucking loud when you’ve already been told bunches of times to turn the sound down. Be nice to your neighbours and respect their right to a quiet night.

“They are trying to tell us how not to worship. We have church at 7:30, so what does that mean we only have 30 minutes to worship? ” Clark says.

At the “Pump up the volume!” level, yes. After eight, worship all you want, but at reduced volumes. I don’t see the problem here beyond outright stubbornness and a belief that you’re all above the rules. You have to abide by city rules too, not just the god rules you’ve cherry picked to follow. By this story, I guess “love thy neighbours” is one you’ve opted to ignore.

If you want more than a half hour of loud, have your service at 4pm or something. There’s nothing in the bible that states service must be at 7:30 or you all go to hell. Adjust your services so you can abide by the law. Stubbornness again.

Borders believes that their rights are being violated because they can’t praise God in their own way. He says the real problem is that the city noise ordinance isn’t specific.

This is not about the city’s general noise ordinance now. This is about the specific injunction you refused to follow.

“It’s up to the neighbors to say if its irritating to them or a nuisance to them. Well you can get a weed eater and go outside and if someone complains nothing will be done, but when it comes to worshiping God its now a problem,” said Borders.

Nobody in their right mind would hook a weed eater up to an advanced sound system and crank the volume for as long as one your services likely runs. If someone did that, you can be damned sure complaints would roll in and something would be done about it, pronto. Especially if the same thing happened night after night after night…

The church has owned the property for several years and thinks it’s not fair that they are being punished because of the close proximity to their neighbors.

Wah wah wah, we want special treatment! Sorry. You can’t have it. Rules are rules and you’ve been told repeatedly to be quiet after 8pm. Did you guys go deaf from all the loud music?

Also, did the neighbourhood pop up over night, or was the church property already surrounded by housing when you bought the land? Even if it’d been on the outskirts of town at purchase however many years ago, it’s part of the city now due to urban expansion and has to abide by city rules like everyone else in that neighbourhood.

You’re not like the alligator in Florida who used someone’s swimming pool because the swamp they used to hunt in got landscaped over when the city expanded. (The gator in the story was relocated to a special farm, not killed. That’s special treatment and deserved.)

The church admits they should have soundproofing but they’re complaining that it’s too expensive to overhaul the church. I wonder how much they paid to overhaul their entertainment system, myself. There was money galore for that, I’m guessing.

Maybe they should try a Kickstarter campaign or something. For all they know, their neighbours would be more than willing to throw a few hundred bucks their way in order to shut them up…

Oklahoma Pastafarian wears colander in official photo

September 16, 2014

For the truly dedicated like Shawna Hammond, the colander represents the freedom of religion.

I usually wind up finding British papers reporting on this type of story and the same is true here. The Mirror reports:

Atheist turned Pastafarian Shawna Hammond agreed to take off her glasses for the picture, but was adamant she should wear the kitchen utensil.

Oklahoma state rules say that religious headpieces are permitted providing they do not cause shadows and do not obstruct the view of the face.

Stunned driving office workers were left bemused and sent into hysterics by the choice of headwear and went on to question the unusual beliefs.

She told News Channel 4: “I asked if I could wear my religious headwear and he said, yes, it just couldn’t have any logos, or any type of writing. I told him it didn’t, and I went out to my car and got my colander.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol has the final word on whether or not her license photo meets their critera in term of religious headgear. So wait and see if there’s an update to this story down the road.

At the end of the article they offer a poll:

pasta poll

At the time of posting:

pasta poll results

Talk about an unfun bunch of respondents. None was my pick, too, admittedly.

That said, these folks that fight for the right to wear pasta strainers on their heads do it to remind those in power (to whatever degree) that religion needs to be a choice. It’s not a life sentence with no chance of parole. There should always be the right to choose to opt out.

I wonder how effective “Don’t Say the Pledge” will be.

September 11, 2014

Being Canadian, I can’t quote any part of the Pledge of Allegiance without looking it up. (Thanks, Wikipedia, for the rundown of how many times the Pledge has changed over the years, and when.)

On Monday, Sept. 8th, the American Humanist Association started this movement to urge people to remain seated during the pledge as a means of protesting the inclusion of the words “under God,” which were added to the pledge in 1954. The Knights of Columbus (via the wiki page: “the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organization”) came up with the idea to add it a few years earlier and the idea caught on like wildfire. They claim they got it from a line in the Gettysburg address but in 2004 a linguist named Geoffrey Nunberg suggests they did it wrong. Amusing if true.

The original supporters of the addition thought that they were simply quoting Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. However, Nunberg said that to Lincoln and his contemporaries, “under God” meant “God willing” and they would have found its use in the Pledge of Allegiance ungrammatical.

Though not all manuscript versions of the Gettysburg Address contain the words “under God”, all the reporters’ transcripts of the speech as delivered do, as perhaps Lincoln may have deviated from his prepared text and inserted the phrase when he said “that the nation shall, under God, have a new birth of freedom.”

Onto the Don’t Say the Pledge website:

With “under God” added, the Pledge is not a statement of patriotism. Instead, extremist preachers and politicians point to the language to validate their view that those who don’t believe in God don’t belong.

Until the Pledge is restored to its inclusive version, we can take it upon ourselves to refuse to participate in what’s become a discriminatory exercise. (Note: A Supreme Court case – West Virginia vs. Barnette –gives public school students the absolute right to sit out the Pledge, for any reason. Public schools might not tell you about this right, but if anyone questions you about sitting out the Pledge, contact the AHA’s Legal Center.)

The Wikipedia article touches on that, too. Part of it centered around Jehovah’s Witnesses and their belief that standing for the flag was akin to idolatry and thus forbidden in their faith. First the courts wanted to force the kids to stand and pledge but later rulings reversed that decision.

Probably a lot of people would rather sit than stand for this pledge but stand because they fear judgment from peers and authority figures.

On the god and Canada side of things, our national anthem mentions “God keep our land, glorious and free” and there have been murmers around about wanting to edit God out of that line. On Canada Day (July 1st, you foreigners) a 9 year old made a name for herself by replacing God with Please in her version. It did not go over well if this report can be believed.

Her father explains Selaena’s reasoning to sing “please” as follows:

She wanted to be inclusive, given that her and a lot of her friends don’t even know what ‘god’ is. My children are secular and neutral – free to make up their own minds when they are old enough to do so.

But, this alteration of the anthem led to organizers cancelling Selaena’s performance at a festival later in the month.

I realize that many people are offended by the removal of the word ‘god’ from the anthem, but they too must realize that in our multicultural society, the millions of Canadians that do not recognize any god or gods are equally offended by its inclusion. It was for this reason alone that my children have always sung the anthem this way – my daughter didn’t think she was doing anything that would be considered wrong. This will be my fight to have with the government, and has nothing to do with my daughter nor the CCC Festival.

It’s unlikely we’ll get God out of the anthem any time soon. In 2010 requests were made to change the lyrics, “true patriot love in all thy sons command,” to something less man-centric.

“We offered to hear from Canadians on this issue and they have already spoken loud and clear. They overwhelmingly do not want to open the issue,” said Dimitri Soudas, a spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office. “The government will not proceed any further to change our national anthem.”

If we ever get rid of Harper, maybe we can try again…

Public parks should not endorse religion says FFRF yet again

September 4, 2014

A sculpture to honor World War II vets is set to be placed in an Indiana State park but the Freedom From Religion Foundation wants it know that creating a sculpture including the shape of a cross within it isn’t very inclusive to the faiths (and lack) of all soldiers who died for the country. Govorner Mike Pence will, of course, fight for its right to be there.

The Wisconsin-based atheist group last month sent a letter to Clark telling him that a cross attached to a new war veterans memorial statue has no place at the park. The park, about 80 miles east of Indianapolis, was formed in 1949 and dedicated to World War II veterans from Union, Wayne, Fayette and Franklin counties in east Central Indiana.

The 14-inch, white-painted cross is at the bottom of an 8-foot-tall wooden chainsaw-carved statue. At the top of the statue is a bald eagle perched above lettering that says, “All gave some; Some gave all.” One side of the eagle’s perch is an Indiana state flag. On the other side is a soldier.

“No secular purpose, no matter how sincere, will detract from the overall message that the Latin cross stands for Christianity and the overall display promotes Christianity,” Markert wrote.

That being Rebecca Markert, the FFRF’s attorney who couldn’t be reached for comment at the time. There’s rumor that the FFRF was considering serious legal action.

The debate over the cross erupted earlier this summer when a Liberty man sent a letter to the DNR after he saw the statue on display at the park because he thought the cross amounted to a government-sponsored “religious shrine.”

Veterans’ groups and other residents donated money to pay for the carved memorial. No taxpayer funds were used for the carving, which was donated to the park.

And it does look like a religious shrine to my eyes. The religious patriotism is well evident within the design.


The sculpture could honour everyone if the cross was removed. This way it really looks like it’s sponsoring the very incorrect notion that only Christians fought in the war. The only way this would be fair is if every other faith got to put up a statue honouring their fallen soldiers, too. There were Jewish soldiers, Wikipedia mentions:

During World War II, approximately 500,000 American Jews served in the various branches of the United States armed services. Roughly 52,000 of these received U.S. military awards.[29] The historian Solomon Grayzel, in A History of the Jews: From the Babylonian Exile to the Present, records that more than a million Jews were officially enrolled in the fighting forces of the Allies and that the largest number were Jewish Americans. Grayzel gives a number of 550,000 Jews in military service in the United States during World War II out of a total population of 4,770,000 American Jews.[30][31]

Nobody would ever say a star of David is all inclusive, so how can a cross be?


Atheist Scruples 2014: women and boobs

August 31, 2014

A couple different issues trigger this one. First, should women be allowed to go topless like men can? I think the answer should be yes but that doesn’t mean I’ll want to be one of them. I’m pro-choice in many ways.

In Saskatoon last August a woman got charged for going topless on the sandbars by the river.

Danielle Forget was tanning at the sand bar near Spadina Crescent Thursday when she decided to go topless. The move offended at least one other beach comber, and the police showed up at the beach.

“It’s a public place, a kid and a family friendly place. We don’t need that here,” said Jenelyn Ong, who called the police about Forget’s topless tanning.

“My nephew is 13, going into high school. He’s never been exposed to anything like that,” she said.

Oh, you sweet, ignorant woman. Of course he has. And if he hasn’t, he may as well see it now so he’s not surprised later. Women look like that with their tops off, kid.. Use it as a learning experience and be the cool aunt, not the crochety old bag he’ll complain about spending a summer with later on in life.

John Gormley is a local talk radio host I don’t listen to, but I found a facebook page where this news story was getting discussed. Most of the comments leaned toward, “They’re boobs; get over it.” It’s natural. It’s not unseemly. It’s not wrong. It’s natural.

The strange UFO cult called the Raelians recently picketed in Montreal for the right of women to go topless.

There were about two dozen women at the protest, along with several shirtless men showing support by wearing bras.

Onlookers taking cellphone pictures of the topless women outnumbered protesters.

Go Topless Day was founded in 2007 by Rael, the spiritual leader of the Raelians, and Sunday’s event was the second Go Topless rally in Montreal.

Clearly I don’t keep up with topless news on a regular basis. Never heard of this.

Also recently, also Montreal: Read the rest of this entry »

Atheist Scruples: don’t drink and drive

August 26, 2014

I guess it’s a question in this game because not everyone thinks like I do.

One of your guests has drunk too much and become obnoxious. Finally, he is about to leave. Do you allow him to drive home in his condition?

Saskatchewan Government Insurance offers an Android App called SGI Safe Ride.

The SGI Safe Ride App puts all Saskatchewan taxis, DD services, transit routes, and even your own designated drivers in the palm of your hand. So, if you have been out for a few drinks you can always plan a safe ride home.
• Automatically determines your location, and lists one-touch calling for all local taxis and designated driver services.
• Provides available city transit information in your area.
• Allows you to easily assign designated drivers from your contacts list or add custom numbers.
This app is currently only designed for people living in Saskatchewan, Canada.

So, no use to my worldly readers, but locally worth knowing about.

This is assuming my annoying, obnoxious friend has not made an ass out of himself to a point where I’d want to go year before another visit and wouldn’t care if he killed himself crossing the road after what he said.

Then again, that’d be mighty cruel of me and, for all I know, liable in the death of him or those he may harm if I let him leave while inebriated.

So, aiming to avoid that possibility: crash on my couch, idiot. I’ll give you coffee in the morning and tell you all about the stupid ass things you did and said. You’re lucky we’re such good friends…

Animal rights over religious rights in Denmark? That’s interesting.

August 15, 2014

To say the least…

European regulations require animals to be stunned before they are slaughtered, but grants exemptions on religious grounds. For meat to be considered kosher under Jewish law or halal under Islamic law, the animal must be conscious when killed.

Yet defending his government’s decision to remove this exemption, the minister for agriculture and food Dan Jørgensen told Denmark’s TV2 that “animal rights come before religion”.

Commenting on the change, Israel’s deputy minister of religious services Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan told the Jewish Daily Forward: “European anti-Semitism is showing its true colours across Europe, and is even intensifying in the government institutions.”

NPR notes that Sweden and Norway have had a ban in place for years.

Dutch lawmakers took up the issue in 2012, and even Britain’s top veterinarian is now making headlines by suggesting his country would do well to follow the Danish example.

As Europe grows more secular, says Finn Schwarz, president of the Jewish Congregation in Copenpagen, “religious tradition” is no longer a valid argument for much of anything, he says.

Benyones Essabar with the group Danish Halal agrees.

“Religion itself in Europe doesn’t play the big role … it does in other countries. So every time we speak about something that [has] to do with religion,” he says, “it will always be looked at as something from medieval times, and something that doesn’t have any scientific place in our modern days.”

There are a lot of rules set down to make food properly Kosher or halal. Some of it sounds completely silly in terms of blessings and prayers to certain gods in order to make it “official” but other parts probably did have a basis in food safety and health at a time when people did not have refrigerators or any knowledge of bacteria and parasites. Salt has been used as a preservative for centuries and the kernels of Kosher salt are ideal for soaking up liquid like blood; blood is a no-go for both traditions. Why milk and meat can’t go together for halal food is up for grabs in terms of sciency reasons, but it would have made sense at the time to avoid the meat of carnivores. It still makes sense.

I can’t speak to the sense people have about these bans coming across as anti-Semitic or Islamophobic, though. I can see why that would be a fear since both are minority groups in Europe with a history of racism, fear and propaganda denouncing the faith and its followers. But, what if it really does just come down to compassion for the plight of animals? So long as people insist on eating them, shouldn’t all attempts be made to make their end as painless as possible? Can Kosher and Halal butchers and the rest involved guarantee that?


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