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 »

“The Turtle Moves…”

July 9, 2014

I can’t resist a Terry Pratchett quote when the opportunity arises.

This is really about the senseless killing of a tortoise by a Uganda police officer, however.

After Onegiu had killed the tortoise, a group of people belonging to the Charismatic faith prayed for him, before burning the dead reptile to ashes.

When contacted for a comment on the incident, Nebbi DPC Onesmus Mwesigwa burst into laughter and went about how Onegiu had called him, telling him what had happened.

“Yes, I got that report because Onegiu called me and narrated how the tortoise came to his house and tried to grab his legs. “As, you know in the villages, there is a lot of superstitions where people think ‘somebody is after me’. But, we consulted with some elders and his colleagues.”

The police boss called for calm from the residents and police officers, maintaining that their lives are not in danger as they may have assumed.

It wandered into his house and rather than figure out a way to lure it out gently, he harassed it with a plastic chair and shot it dead once it finally did wander out again. Was that really necessary?

And the prayer stuff.. take a superstition, add some hard-core religion and you’ve got a recipe for a special kind of insanity — at least when viewed from the outside by a skeptical atheist like myself.

Perhaps it made for some good (but strange) PR for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal currently underway in the country. Who knows. Downright stupid and an abuse of the man’s power in the community, if I do say so. So very stupid.

Or, North Carolina could just stop making their police pray…

June 23, 2012

Police chaplains there have been asked to omit Jesus from any prayers they give in public venues. The policy change comes out of a decision to embrace more faiths than just Christianity at these particular events.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department in Charlotte, N.C., has roughly 2,000 employees representing a variety of faiths, and seven chaplains, all Christian, Major John Diggs, who oversees the chaplain program, told the paper.

Some are struggling with the sensitive issue.

Volunteer chaplain Pastor Terry Sartain said he was sad to hear the news, and chose not to participate in the upcoming public ceremony where he was supposed to speak.

“I want to serve the officers and their families. I don’t want to jam my beliefs down anybody’s throat. But I won’t deny Jesus,” he told the News Observer.

He later asked the police department not to consider him for future public prayers, Fox News radio reported.

Any chaplains that feel uncomfortable giving a secular prayer can opt out of ceremonies without hurting their standing, reported WSOC TV.

The better option is to dump the prayer entirely. All of it. Stop doing them at any and all public events. It’s unnecessary. If people in attendance want to pray, they can pray whenever they want to, as much or as little as they feel like. They can do it in their car, in the bathroom, while they wait in line for food. Making everyone do it out loud at an assigned moment is unnecessary. Go completely secular and eliminate prayer at public events. The chaplains can still perform their religious services on Sundays or visit inmates or whatever else it is they do, but prayers at public secular events should end.

Old news: Lady Gaga is evil; South Koreans beg God to intervene

May 3, 2012

Lady Gaga had a concert set up for Seoul back in April but the Korean Association of Church Communities hoped God could do something about that. It’s vital he save the children of South Korea from “being infected with homosexuality and pornography,” and Cassie Murdoch, who writes for Jezebel, responded:

And here we had no idea that pornography and homosexuality were diseases that could be spread through song. You really do learn something new every day!

Well, probably her choice of clothing would have something to do with it, too, but no matter. I like her music well enough but I don’t pay much attention to the lyrics necessarily. I’m one of those people who uses music more for filler than message. I always have music on and might not even know the name of the song I’m listening to let alone who sung it on what album and when.

I’ll have to look up some of her lyrics now.

Love Game:

I wanna take a ride on your disco stick
Don’t think too much just bust that kick
I wanna take a ride on your disco stick

Beautiful, Dirty, Rich:

Beautiful, dirty dirty rich rich dirty dirty beautiful dirty rich
Dirty dirty rich dirty dirty rich beautiful

Beautiful and dirty dirty rich rich We’ve got a redlight pornographic dance fight
Systematic, honey but we go no money

Not going to win many awards for poetry with this stuff but it’s good enough to dance to, I guess.

Black Jesus:

Amen, on the runway,
dressed in his best.
Amen Fashion, on the runway,
Work it! Black Jesus.
Amen, on the runway,
dressed in his best.
Amen Fashion, on the runway,
Work it! Black Jesus.

The line “Jesus is the new black” can’t count as blasphemy, though, since Gaga is reporting that Jesus is not out of style at all.

Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)

She’s just an American riding a dream
And she’s got rainbow syrup in her heart that she bleeds
They don’t care if your papers or your love is the law
She’s a free soul burning roads with the flag in her bra

Rainbow syrup makes her heart sound pro-gay, I suppose, but the song also speaks toward American patriotism, which tends to require anti-gay sentiment in order to prove one is a True American (TM) in the so-called “one nation under God.”

These crazed opponents of Lady Gaga’s “lewd lyrics and performances” have been raising quite a fuss. They’ve protested outside the officies of Hyundai Card, the show’s sponsor, and they also put up banners all over Seoul. The banners were taken down, but the state did raise the show from 12 and over to 18 and over.

There’s that at least. I suppose that wasn’t good enough for the protestors but at least it limits attendance to consenting adults instead of “impressionable” children. I expect it’s too late, anyway. They probably already know all her lyrics by heart and accept the fact that they were “born this way,” whatever way that might have been.

I’m late commenting on the Saskatoon atheist angst…

April 30, 2012

Local story, though, so I should have been more on the ball. Life getting in the way a little, I think. Interesting times and all that.

Anyway, there was some brouhaha earlier this month when a man by the name of Ashu Solo got a bit miffed over having to sit through a prayer at a civic function. The National Post picked up the story:

A Christian prayer by a city councillor at a City of Saskatoon volunteer appreciation dinner discriminated against non-Christians, says a volunteer who intends to complain to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.

Ashu Solo, a member of the city’s cultural diversity and race relations committee, was among the guests at the dinner Wednesday, where Coun. Randy Donauer said a blessing over the food in which he mentioned Jesus and ended with “amen.”

“It made me feel like a second-class citizen. It makes you feel excluded,” said Solo, who is an atheist.

“It’s ironic that I’ve now become a victim of religious bigotry and discrimination at this banquet that was supposed to be an appreciation banquet for the service of volunteers like me.”

He started with a letter to the Mayor and passed out copies to the rest of City Council, too. Mayor Atchison was “caught off guard,” over the complaint regarding prayer, the article goes on-

because many of the events he attends include a prayer before meals.

“I’ve never given it any thought at all,” he said.

Atchison said he is sorry to hear Solo felt excluded.

While Atchison suggested perhaps featuring prayers from other belief systems and sometimes skipping prayers all together, this notion didn’t satisfy Solo. He wanted an apology and a commitment to scrap prayer at all civic events or he was going to take things up with the Human Rights board. Good luck with that…

Understandably, there are differing opinions regarding Solo’s complaints and intentions. Friendly Atheist wrote stuff up about this, taking the side that Solo over-reacted. Indi in the Wired had this to say:

When you feel insulted or marginalized as an atheist, the first step is not to point fingers and scream “bigotry” and “discrimination”, it’s to think – to understand the insult or slight better. And that doesn’t mean a thought process like, “well, i’ve seen other cases of bigotry and discrimination that sorta kinda look like this, so… that must be what it is!”; it means real thinking – we’re a movement that prides itself on rationality, so we should act like we believe what we preach. Understand the insult or slight, and its motivation, then decide on the best response: which could be firing up the word processor for some hot letters to the editor… or it could be a gentle reminder that atheists exist, and have feelings, too.

There’s this editorial out of the National Post as well, where Barbara Kay mocks Solo and the atheist movement in general, making us all out to be whiny complainers who’ll bawl over the littlest things. She claims Solo’s problems are nothing like real Christians suffer around the world. True enough, but I’d say she ought to look into some of the countries where people aren’t safe to be admitted atheists, either. Including areas of the USA and possibly parts of Canada. It’s just as big a concern, I’d say. Persecution is persecution.

She’s right about abusing human rights commissions over petty grievances, though. She and Hemant Mehta make the point that Solo could have discussed his concerns about including a prayer with the organizers of the event after the fact and simply request they consider dropping such blessings in the future. Claiming his rights have been violated because he was stuck hearing “Amen” before he could receive his volunteer award makes him seem… well, petty. Why drag Council and the Mayor and everything else into it?

I believe Atchison when he claims he never gave it a thought. Christians don’t. It’s just the every day thing and who takes much notice of how others might feel to be surrounded by people praying when they might not share the same beliefs? I recall being at a co-worker’s home for a meal once and the whole damn family broke into some praise song before they served any food. Good gravy, what the fuck is this.. awkward much? So I’m stuck standing there while everyone sings joyfully and in tune. Real good time for the atheist stranger in the crowd.

By and large, I don’t really care for the whole blessing thing either. They do it at my work Christmas party and it’s the library. That’s city. Why have prayer at that city event? But it’s there. One year it came from a rabbi. Last year it was some random babble from an employee’s kid. I’m not going to go up and whine about it. I’ll just sit there and ignore it. It doesn’t concern me. It bores me more than anything. If you’re going to thank anyone, thank the makers of the food and everyone else who played a part in getting it to the table.

I found an anonymous piece (via friend and commenter koinosuke) at the Star Phoenix offering more on this:

Whether it’s the non-denominational theistic prayer with which the provincial legislature opens its daily business or a city councillor invoking Jesus at a taxpayer-funded civic event meant to honour volunteers, it’s time that Saskatchewan reconsiders such practices in venues where secular public proceedings are held.

For as much as Judeo-Christian ethics and practices have contributed greatly to shaping western society, the Saskatoon of today isn’t a Christian society but a richly diverse community where atheist Ashu Solo, a member of the city’s cultural diversity and race relations committee, is justified in asking to be spared from religion at a public function.

His request isn’t an impingement on the freedom of religion claimed by his critics, whose right to practise their beliefs is protected by law, with tax deductions granted by senior governments to those who donate to religious organizations and tax abatements granted by the municipality for church property.

He’s not saying make all religion go away (even if he’d like it to). He’s saying make overt prayer go away at civic events. People can pray at their own tables if they feel like it but does the whole damn place have to stand up to honour a god they may not follow or give a damn about?

It’s a stupid tradition that’s easily done away with if people would just up and do away with it.

quick edit: via koinosuke I get another link: CFI has a media advisory out about Solo and the filing of his complaint on May first.

“Atheist teen forces school to remove prayer from wall after 49 years” Good!

January 27, 2012

Sadly, in a poll where the question is “Do you think a federal judge was right in ruling that the school prayer hanging on the wall of the Cranston High School West gym was unconstitutional?” the YES answers were woefully trailing the NOs when I voted this morning:

The vote numbers wound up a bit unreadable: 587 to 1,266 with undecided sitting at 10 votes. Results as of noon today look a lot better, 71,338 votes of yes to 18,309 votes for no. (79.1% vs 20.3%) And gosh, gee willikers I wonder why…

Moving to the story itself, teen student and “outspoken atheist” Jessica Ahlquist succeeded in getting a court to take her side regarding a prayer display on the wall of her school auditorium. The move has “incensed this heavily Roman Catholic city” of Cranston, Rhode Island. And that might be an understatement.

A federal judge ruled this month that the prayer’s presence at Cranston High School West was unconstitutional, concluding that it violated the principle of government neutrality in religion.

In the weeks since, residents have crowded school board meetings to demand an appeal, Jessica has received online threats and the police have escorted her at school, and Cranston, a dense city of 80,000 just south of Providence, has throbbed with raw emotion.

State Representative Peter G. Palumbo, a Democrat from Cranston, called Jessica “an evil little thing” on a popular talk radio show. Three separate florists refused to deliver her roses sent from a national atheist group. The group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, has filed a complaint with the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights.

I commend her bravery. I really do. I can’t imagine I would have raised the issue had I been in her shoes. I would have put up with it, ignored it, or even more likely, never make a connection between what the wall sign represented and why it was wrong to be in a school.

The prayer, eight feet tall, is papered onto the wall in the Cranston West auditorium, near the stage. It has hung there since 1963, when a seventh grader wrote it as a sort of moral guide and that year’s graduating class presented it as a gift. It was a year after a landmark Supreme Court ruling barring organized prayer in public schools.

The sign is printed on t-shirts, too, the image of which was used in the article. Jessica was baptized Catholic but quit believing by the age of 10, she reports, and seeing that sign every day started to make her feel like she wasn’t welcome there. She wasn’t the one who raised the red flags, though, some anonymous parent “filed a complaint with the American Civil Liberties Union.” Jessica got involved in the issue once meetings were being held to discuss that. She talked at every one of them.

Last March, at a rancorous meeting that Judge Ronald R. Lagueux of United States District Court in Providence described in his ruling as resembling “a religious revival,” the school board voted 4-3 to keep the prayer. Some members said it was an important piece of the school’s history; others said it reflected secular values they held dear.

If morality, kindness, helpfulness, honesty, good sportsmanship, friendliness, and good conduct truly are “secular values” then they can certainly eliminate mention of god and still promote the message. An “important piece” of history maybe, but not something that should be hung so prominently in the school.

Does she empathize in any way with members of her community who want the prayer to stay?

“I’ve never been asked this before,” she said. A pause, and then: “It’s almost like making a child get a shot even though they don’t want to. It’s for their own good. I feel like they might see it as a very negative thing right now, but I’m defending their Constitution, too.”

Smart of her to reason it out that way. The choice might not be popular but if it’s the right choice, then it’s the one you have to go with. Tough tits, believers. Take your lumps, cry your tears, and get on with your lives the way you want to lead them, just like Jessica no doubt plans to do. Now is the time to be better Christians and turn the other cheek.

And does the couple thank God for the husband’s stupidity as well?

January 3, 2012

He gets credit for finding their jeep. He ought to get credit for making them stupid enough to leave it in a position to be so easily stolen:

A Crawfordsville couple’s Jeep was lost but now it’s found, and they say God is to thank.

On December 9th, Jared and Angela Pickett’s Jeep disappeared from their Crawfordsville apartment.

“It was like I wanted to cry and then I wanted to be mad,” said Angela Pickett. “But I’m like, ‘who can I get mad at?'”

They were partially mad at themselves. Jared Pickett left his keys inside the Jeep between running errands, and he couldn’t lock his driver’s side door because he’d just replaced it with mismatched a dark green one.

“It made it that much easier for somebody to get into my vehicle,” Jared Pickett said. “And then leaving the keys in the console just was the cherry on top of the cake.”

To pile on, Jared Pickett, a member of the national guard, realized that he left his helmet inside the Jeep.

Good gravy. I hope he’s not typical of the National Guard.

Anyway, the couple prayed for a whole week then just as they were losing hope of ever seeing the vehicle again, Angela spotted it in a parking lot after getting lost using GPS. What a couple.

“I looked in the review mirror and I saw the green door, and I screamed, ‘There’s my husband’s Jeep.'” Angela Pickett said.

Once Angela stopped to get a closer look, she saw that the green door wasn’t just a coincidence. The Jeep also has some very distinguishable stickers on the back.

“I saw the orange motorcycle sticker that he has by his license plate,” Angela Pickett said. “Ao I hurried up and called 911. The police officer didn’t know what to say.”

Angela Pickett was speechless too.

“I was in shock. I just texted all my friends. I’m like, ‘I just found my husband’s Jeep,'” Angela Pickett said. “It was a miracle. God led me to his Jeep.”

The police officer was probably stunned that the woman had to use the door and stickers to recognize the vehicle that has been parked at her house every day for who knows how many weeks, months or years. Me, I tend to check the license plate number when I’m approaching what I hope is my car in a parking lot. That’s why I memorized it.

Security at the place where the jeep was left claimed it had been sitting there for a week before Mrs. Pickett came across it. Everything was still in it, so the joyriders obviously changed their mind about keeping a car that distinctive. Plus, finding a National Guard helmet in there probably make them a bit wary of hanging around lest a swarm of uniformed and morally sound men descend upon them and make them regret they were ever born.

Sometimes it can be beneficial to be completely idiotic, I guess. I’m glad they got their vehicle back, but I hope they’ve actually learned something here and won’t stop at, “Isn’t it great that God loves us so much?” Get a proper door, doofus, and lock your damn jeep next time. Cripes…

The world hasn’t ended, therefore prayer works!

October 21, 2011

I am, of course, being facetious. The world never was going to end and fervent prayer isn’t the reason why some invisible higher power stayed his hand. The whole idea of predicting an end time is a complete and total waste of time and it’s too bad people won’t be able to sue Harold Camping and Family Radio for ruining their lives. Maybe a sucker isn’t born every minute but enough gullible people took Camping at his word back in May and had to live with the consequences of that – job loss, willful bankruptcy…

This is somewhat heartening, though:

there is little evidence that swarms of believers who once fanned out in cities nationwide with placards advertising Camping’s message — some giving up life savings in anticipation of being swept into heaven — were following a new doomsday countdown.

Gone, too, are the billboards posted around the country by Camping’s Family Radio network declaring that Judgment Day was at hand.

Reached by telephone on Thursday, network spokesman Tom Evans declined to comment on Camping or his prophecies, except to say that he had “retired” as a radio host but remained chairman of the board of Family Stations Inc.

The article also states that attendance at the weekly prayer meetings has “dwindled” to 25 people but doesn’t mention how many more used to take it in, unfortunately.

Are any lessons going to be learned from this?

I picked up a book from the library called Believing Bullshit: how not to get sucked into an intellectual black hole by Stephen Law. I think I’m going to find it fairly educational, but years of blogging about religious nonsense and other skeptical writing I’ve done on here has probably given me something of an edge (albeit miniscule) in terms of recognizing a flawed thought process and dubious “proof” that a belief has merit. I’ve been bad about promising to do do book reports and then not delivering but you have my word that this one will get written about upon completion.

Churches to preach “No King but Jesus” on July 3rd

June 22, 2011

It’s all part of a rededication ceremony, apparently. The U.S.A. isn’t godly enough already so God has to be officially invited by as many churches as possible or the States are doomed. Doomed!!1eleventy1

It’s hard to tell by the article, but Pastor Steven Andrew, the author of Making A Strong Christian Nation might be the one behind the push by USA Christian Ministries to flood their market with glossy posters and pamphlets preaching their message. Their aim is to remind everyone of the American Revolution with their motto and what they claim the Founding Fathers stood for in the first place.

“We are encouraging all churches to include the covenant insert in their bulletins on Sunday, July 3rd,” said Pastor Steven. “We also ask individuals and other patriotic groups like the Tea Party, homeschool groups and pro-life America to distribute the handout and to pray the covenant on July 4th.”

“Pastors know that a national covenant with God brings God’s blessings, including God’s presence, protection and economic prosperity,” adds Pastor Steven Andrew. The Bible shows us King Asa called the people to affirm their covenant with God and God blessed them (2 Chronicles 15).

I won’t quote the prayer he thinks everyone needs to say this very second to make sure this really works.

They can do what they want, of course. Free country, freedom of speech and all that stuff. Never mind that the Founding Fathers also had some kind of separation of church and state thing in mind when they planned things out. Creationists want to claim it’s a myth, funny enough, but I think it’s fair to state that the writings speak for the men themselves.

I feel compelled to quote Thomas Paine from his book, Age of Reason, via rationalrevolution:

“Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is none more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory in itself, than this thing called Christianity.”

He was a deist and of the opinion that belief in a god, however defined, should be enough for anyone. Creating religions and myths to fill them with was a waste of time and energy and brain power.

As far as belief in gods goes, if people want to believe, I don’t really care that much. I think opposite, is all. Belief in a god isn’t the problem; it’s what people do because of the belief that gets problematic. If believers would just stop at “I believe” instead of adding, “and so should you or you’ll go to hell and burn for eternity,” I think we’d all be better off.

I’ll quote from rationalrevolution again:

The Declaration of Independence would have been clearly recognizable as deistic at the time it was written. The Declaration did not, for example, state: “In the name of The Lord God Jesus Christ,” as would have been a much more traditional reference to the Christian God in a manner that was used by Europeans at the time. The Declaration was written during the height of the Enlightenment when Deism was popular and widely known. Deistic language was easy to recognize by people of the time because Deists avoided all of the traditional references to the Christian God.

Pastors like Steven Andrew deliberately ignore that distinction in order to sell their ideology to the masses. All that tea party crap, all the “America’s a Christian Nation!” garbage.. it’s all deliberate misrepresentation of history in order to promote a specifically Christian-themed future for the country and its people. If they have to rewrite history in order to “prove” it, that should be more than enough evidence that they have no legs to stand on in the first place.


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