Thursday, June 10, 2010

Stay STD free - a guest post by Andrew Hall

Andy Hall is the entertaining writer of "Laughing in Purgatory" and he's contributed a marvelously humorous post on a topic that might otherwise bring tears to the eyes, gnashing of teeth and a sense of burning to your privates.  You'll recognize Andy's unique style from having read him in recent blog Carnivals.  I hope you'll all enjoy this sample of Andy's writing as much as I have... Doc

Stay STD free  -  by Andrew Hall

Hi! I really shouldn’t sound so chipper. There has been something weighing on my mind… on my very soul. You see I’m and adulterer. It’s true I adulterate a lot and my wife of 15 years (or is it 16?) may not like it. On a slow day I commit adultery only 20 times or so (it’s difficult to keep count, I’m a busy guy). The days where I adulterate the most is when I go to the gym where there
are many hot women. I get a lot of adulterating done there. In an hour there could be well over 50 discrete episodes.

Wow! I feel better now. That’s a big load off my chest.

However, you may have some questions. You may or may not know it but I’m a fairly busy guy. I work full time, watch after my kids, cook, clean, do laundry, write/direct an occasional short film, and blog like a madman. What’s my time management secret to get all that stuff done and still squeeze in the adultery? There may also the question of my constitution. How can I commit adultery 50 times in an hour? I’m very motivated. 

Kidding aside, I will let you in on how I do it. I put my faith in God almighty. All things are possible with him and in the case of adulterating I don’t even have to try very hard,
“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:28
See? Jesus Christ has said it himself! When I check out a woman God treats it's just like I'm having sex with her! God is sooooo wise. Sure, I'm going to burn in eternal Hellfire (it's for the best God is always right you know), but I don't have to worry about getting any nasty STDs. It's all part of HIS plan

What? You say God doesn't want me to commit "virtual" STD free adultery? Wrong my friends! If God didn't want adultery to occur then he wouldn't have created the male sex drive. I see this as damage control for the Big Guy. He made this insane instinct for us to procreate (I don't think using that word is a sin...evolution definitely but not procreate) as a way to spread the "seed."  But we can't have seed spreading everywhere all time nothing would get done! So if he limits the spread of our seed via virtual means (our imagination) then everyone wins! Some seed will physically go where it needs to, stuff gets done, and an ample amount of imaginary adultery occurs that will cause every male to go to Hell for sure.

Am I saying the system is rigged?
Am I saying God wants us to go to Hell?
Am I saying I would like a corned beef sandwich on rye with mustard?

I have said many things and will continue to do so. My belief in God compels me regardless of the dictates of reason or common sense. That's what I all faith!

.Stay STD free  -  by Andrew Hall

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Calling all God-believers: Pray for a 23 hour day.

I wonder if we can get the help of Christians, Jews and Muslims to do a little prayer work?  If they call on their God to spin the Earth a tad faster and give us a 23 hour day, we might be able to solve our global warming problem in short order.

I hope I've figured it out correctly... I'm thinking that a 23 hour day will yield a cooling effect on the atmosphere. (I'd hate to get it wrong and make things worse - so help me out her if I'm screwed up.)

But what about about it prayer people?  You're hooked into the main man.  Get us the "spin" we need and a few months of shorter days, 23 hour days.  Let's see if that will help us all out of a jam.

(... or give up your wacko ideas about gods and prayer and sell that gas guzzling SUV.) 

.Calling all God-believers: Pray for a 23 hour day.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A prescription for theists:

Take thee of: one holy book and one black marking pen.
Instructions: line-out whatever does not suit your true beliefs.

Thomas Jefferson took an honest approach to his attachment to the Bible and he did exactly what I've suggested above.  In fact, he selected out those passages he agreed with and cut and pasted them into his own personal book of Bible beliefs - the Jefferson Bible.  As far as I know, his example hasn't been repeated by anyone, yet it should have become a common practice.

There is little doubt in my mind that people today, Christians for example, have severe doubt about what their Holy scripture says on many, many counts.  It's obvious that Christians almost universally disagree with the Bible's attitude supporting slavery.  Yet, they boast of believing their Bible.  A great many people will also find the attitudes found in scripture toward homosexuality are reproachful, and so will there be those who would take intellectual issue with their Bible's ideas of crime and punishment, witchery, creation and miracles, etc..

Jefferson recognized that his own disagreement with certain notions of the Bible warranted taking liberty to edit-out what he could not find agreeable.  In my opinion, it was a very wise step for him to take and it rewarded him by yielding a more useful book, his own personal Bible.

It just seems right that for anyone claiming to follow the Bible or the Koran or Torah to be able to make his claim as honestly as he can, his holy book ought to reflect not only what he believes but also NOT reflect what he does not or cannot believe.

Theists... today is a good day to begin.  Grab your marking pens and read through (or line through) the scriptures.  Be like Jefferson.  Be honest with yourself.
.A prescription for theists:   

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Getting at the real deal:

God-believers... try this.  Whether you are a Jew a Muslim or a Christian (including Catholics and Mormons,) this is a "must do" exercise for all of you who wish to think of yourselves as being true to your belief.  (I include Muslims in this Bible reading exercise simply because it is a religion as grounded in the Biblical God, the God of Abraham, as much as all the others and without which it could not exist.) 

Right now, re-read and reconsider your thoughts about the first four words of the Bible - actually only the first three  will be necessary for most of you, if you are honest.  "In the beginning, God..."

If you haven't examined "In the beginning..." for its suggested meaning, its implications, do so now.  Do you actually see any reason to think that a true beginning ever was?  Is it true - could it be possible - that there was once a starting point before which nothing - absolutely nothing - was?  (Even the Big Bang Theory rejects the notion of a "beginning".)  Did everything that is (including your god if you believe that way) pop up from nothing as these words imply?  Do you have any real experience or knowledge of anything at all from nature , from your own life or from the experience of others (other than this biblical proposed beginning) of anything real and tangible actually popping up out of nothing...?  Has even science found anything - even the slightest thing - to suggest that something could possibly come for absolutely nothing - arising from no precursors at all?

In fact "In the beginning..." is quite a preposterous notion.  It is so highly unlikely that a "beginning" from nothing could have been or ever occurred that choosing to read on to the next word of the Bible, "God", is moot.... quite pointless.

Think about it... religious beliefs are not grounded upon anything real.  Not even from their beginning, beginning with the words "In the beginning..."  Religion fails to adequately explain the reality of nature and of our being a small part of it.  It's time to set religious nonsense aside.

.Getting at the real deal:

Monday, May 31, 2010

Black atheism is beautiful...

I've been waiting a long time for this and its finally beginning to show up.  Members of the black community who, like me, stand for separation of church and state and profess atheism and Humanism are stepping up to speak out at gatherings and conferences.  Wow.  I love it.

I have a few black atheist friends - very few - but that's only because non-religious black people are so far and wide between.  If there is any single identity group in America that's drenched, totally, in religion any more than blacks, serve it up for lunch and I'll eat it along with my hat and yours.  Blacks (and it is so surprising when you consider how derided and repressed by religion their people have been throughout history) represent perhaps the smallest atheist group in all America... That couldn't last for ever, of course, and now it's finally beginning to change.  Whoopie...

Here's a treat.  NPR (National Public Radio) did a terrific interview featuring Jamila Bay (here's her blog).  Read the NPR interview yourself - read the whole thing. Interview

Tell me... are some days better than others, or is it just me.
.Black atheism is beautiful...

Sunday, May 30, 2010

US Catholic schools: Should they go it alone?

Here in the US it's a pretty good bet that a kid entering the Catholic school system has a better than average chance of turning out to be a decent adult.  It isn't a 100% guarantee (there are plenty of good Catholic kids who get side tracked by drugs and other temptations) but, for the most part, a Catholic school education can be counted on.  Moreover, it's such a good system that if the system itself doesn't toss a monkey wrench in the way of a developing child, and I'm speaking here of institutional child abuse and the degree to which Catholic priests have been implicated, the chances for just about every Catholic school child to go from kindergarten all the way through post graduate studies and on to receive an advanced degree and become one of our nation's success stories are, in fact, very good.  And that good news leads us to a dilemma.  What should US Catholics do to guard against losing such a great school system because the church is failing top down?

The Catholic church is currently investing heavily into some rather new and very risky expansion in Africa and other third world nations and all its trying to do this even as it faces costly problems of legal suits and decreased membership from its failing churches in Europe, other developed nations and even in some parts of the US.  If this continues, the Catholic school system in the US will begin to feel the lost dollars and cents pain of sharing in the risk and it may see itself begin to fall financially apart at the seams.  What to do?

Perhaps it's time for US Catholics to make a bold new plan and back away from their support for Rome...  (and from church leaders here the US as well.)  Perhaps it's time to demand a formal separation of US Catholic schools from all involvements with the church.  This may be a good time to go 100% private by forming a secular corporation that stands completely on its own and (for very good reason) at more than arms length from the church.  The schools, after all, have grown up entirely on donations and tuition fees paid directly by Americans.  It hasn't been as though Rome was sending money here to develop schools.  Oh no... Rome's place was skimming from the top - it's been doing that right from the get-go.

I wonder how well (in fact, I wonder how much better yet) a privately run (formerly Catholic) school system might work out if it was tried...  The idea is good food for thought, anyhow.  And I hope a few forward thinking Catholics, like principals and teachers, take up the ball. I'll hate seeing what happens if they don't.

.US Catholic schools: Should they go it alone?  

UPDATE: Good news. I've learned through private conversation that some US Catholic schools are already somewhat insulated from the Vatican.  Some are "owned privately" by orders of nuns such as The Sisters of Mercy, and by such special efforts and planning have been moved to put these US Catholic schools in a much better position to survive any failings of Rome.  

Upon learning this, I was very pleased to hear myself respond "Hurray for the Sisters of Mercy."  Imagine those words falling from my mouth - unbelievable, but it's true. I sincerely hope every US Catholic school will follow suit. 

Thanks to Lana Coelho of Little Rock for this update information.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Its not an easy first step... but take it.

Dr Darrel Ray, author of "The God Virus" and creator of a network of support groups for people leaving their superstitions and beliefs behind, - RR (Recovering from Religion) - is someone to be admired for his compassionate work on behalf of others new to non-religion.  He understands that people who have decided to call it quits with their religion face a difficult challenge.  That challenge isn't embodied as much in adopting new ideology as it is in dealing with new social pressure.

A person leaving behind his former belief, the set of notions he has come to realize are unfounded by fact, has very little struggle understanding his own reason for deciding as he did.  He knows his own mind and he's checked his perception of reality to satisfaction.  The real struggle he faces is from outsiders, his former church friends.  It comes from his own family and from his old friends who, with the best of intentions of course, try their hardest to prevent his new change of opinion and his decision to leave religion.  Peer pressure falls hard on anyone leaving religion, and that's a fact.

Support groups like the ones Dr Ray has developed, while they may not be a "must do" step for everyone leaving religion, are a valuable asset for some.  RR groups are a place tailor made for people who are new to non-religion.  I recommend joining if you are just now walking away from religion.  It makes good sense to have a friendly hand to hold, new or not, when faced with the kind of pressure that leaving religion can bring.

Taking the first steps to leave can be a tough decision. That's true enough.  But the very first one, accepting yourself honestly as a non-believer is the easiest one... defending that decision, the next steps in leaving religion, is something altogether different unless one has the added strength of what RR offers.  Leaving religion in the company of new friends makes the challenge so much easier.  Join RR, find a friend to share with, and walk away.

.Its not an easy first step... but take it.     

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The bottom line...

There's something, a general lesson, which must be learned by theists.  And it's a simple enough something that they ought to be able to catch on pretty easily.  It's this: What God wants an what God thinks and what God needs doesn't count.

When a preacher, a politician or anyone speaks of what God wants, there is actually no telling by anyone that what he said is true; and, in any case, it really doesn't matter either way.  Here's an example:  If someone claims that God wants everyone to drink more water, that claim can be questioned for its validity.  Is it true or false?  The fact is that nobody can actually know one way or the other.  Whoever made the claim simple drew his conclusion out of thin air.  He didn't actually get a "message" from God, did he?  And here's the kicker: If everyone did or didn't drink more water, what difference would it make to the price of tea? ... None.

What God wants and what God thinks doesn't make a bean's worth of difference upon reality.  God's desires are only what someone says they are. And the price of a cup of tea will always be the price of a cup of tea regardless of what anyone says God wants.

The bottom line is this... theists must learn and accept the fact that what God wants, thinks and needs is just somebody's made up opinion and opinions (especially on what God wants) are a dime a dozen.  They simply don't count for anything.

.The bottom line...   

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Religion: how to be on wrong side of almost everything...

God-belief has lead people to be on the wrong side, on the immoral side, of so many issues that I have to say I'm truly surprised anyone still clings to it.  By simply looking back at US history alone, it's and easy task to list one after another of cases where Bible followers have made their stand in wrong camps.

Slavery, an institution clearly supported by the Bible and defended openly on that alone, was from our beginnings an issue that nearly tore the country apart.  Our founding fathers and every administration through the Lincoln years - that's 88 years worth of struggle - fought long and hard to eliminate slavery by every reasonable means available; and yet, there it stood, supported to the last by religion.  Moreover, the lasting attitudes of the slavery issue, the racial hatred generated, remained an issue long afterword... into the sixties and throughout the years of the Black Civil Rights Movement.  Its foul attitude continues even today and can be easily seen in signs carried by far right wing Tea Party religious fanatics.

As an aside, I'll mention that it especially surprises me that black Americans, a race so directly downtrodden by slavery, are so easily able, as if  they were blind and deaf to what the Bible says their God stands for, to dismiss completely that which is openly touted - that slavery is moral and right - yet blacks by the million remain loyal Bible followers.

But to continue... slavery and racial hatred aren't the only issues which have seen religionists take the wrong side against reasonable morality.  Religion has been on the wrong side of nearly every American socially moral question.  Witch hunting, for example, the fair treatment of Indians, and consider a woman's right to vote, an issue of the early twentieth century that was dearly fought against primarily on religious grounds.  Men were, according to the Bible, meant to be the dominating sex. And that hasn't changed in the scriptures.  It still stands. The notion remains in the Bible, true, and is still practiced by some Christian sects even today. Take another issue, and an old one, that religion stands resistance to teaching evolutionary science. Beginning with the Scopes Monkey trial, this issue represents a clearly religious lead division between intellectualism and dogma - an issue where religion once again takes a very wrong side - the side that says learning and knowledge are NOT good things - as if stupidity were a virtue.  Gay rights is another issue where religion would, if it could, severely restrict the freedom and liberty of some individuals only to selfishly satisfy their own religiously planted, Biblical supported, ideological thinking - and of course to satisfy what God wants.  It, too, is a case where Bible references are called upon relentlessly in support of ideas that are unjust and unfair.  And the same is true for abortion rights where, for entirely religious reasons, a woman's right to decide on what she may do with her own body would be denied.

All of these issues have had strong religious support in the past, and still do.  Yet, religion has not been and is clearly not as morally correct as it claims itself to be....and  this has caused reason derived morals, burdened by religion all the way, to take the lead in establishing better ways.

So why do people still follow religion when it is clearly so obviously and consistently wrong?  How could they... how do they take pride in calling themselves believers of God, followers of Jesus or believers in scripture-given morals?  I wonder, will they ever catch on?

.Religion: how to be on wrong side of almost everything...       

Monday, May 24, 2010

What's the best way to decide something - anything?

Given a problem to solve, any problem: how should people go about finding the best solution?  Should they, pray, consult their chosen holy book, attend a religious service and then finally decide, or should they do something else, something that's more closely directed to examining the specifics of the problem?

It has frequently seemed to me that god-based decision making and problem solving is to often an end run around the line of reality to be a good first choice problem-solving tool for anything or anyone.  Often, although a particular god-based solution may seem to satisfy and please the church and its community, the result ends up being a shade short of being the best possible solution.  Words from the pulpit that say "God wants this or that" don't fit for most situations and I think this is an important message to spread to church-goers.  The opinions of the church, and even the opinions of God as they may be written out in scripture, may not be the best ones to follow.

When faced with a decision in need of making or a problem in need of a solution, I hope it becomes a common practice for all people to think things through thoroughly first, to get all the facts and measure all the risks, twists and turns of possibility imaginable, and then to finally decide upon an answer or an action.  If it feels right to pray afterwords... well fine.  Pray if you'd like, but keep it in mind that 2+2 will always add up to 4 and the price for a cup of coffee will still be a buck twenty-nine.

If this message became the rule of thumb for everyone, our world would be a better place.

.What's the best way to decide something - anything?       

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Hmmm... How to debunk "Christian Heritage" propaganda

There's no doubt in the minds of people who have checked the facts, that our nations "rich Christian Heritage" isn't as rich as some people are saying.  But how in the world can the secular community debunk the claims of congress people and TV personalities who have all the ears of America listening, and who, with complete disregard for the facts, keep spreading their messages of misinformation.

This seems at be a situation calling for a thorough face-to-face debate held under the public eye.  We need to get America's attention focused on this question and we need to do it on a very public stage.

If the right wing darling, Sarah Palin, or Congressman Randy Forbes with his handful of "evidence" had their feet held to the fires of scholarly argument against true historians, my bet is that they would lose hands down.  The same is true for Glenn Beck and for all of the popular Christian radio and TV personalities who do nothing but parrot these unexamined "rich Christian heritage" claims in unopposed sound bytes.

It's time to call on the experts and on our most knowledgeable non-religious atheist/secularist community members to take the lead.  We have got to set the venue to hear-out everything to the last detail.  Somehow, we have to set the stage to spread the facts - all of the facts - out into open air.

Like science, history is well documented.   There are thousands of early writings to draw upon that will no doubt overwhelm the few examples of "Christian evidence" being offered by the wing nuts of the fundamentalist crowd.   Lets get it on....  The current flood of misinformation needs mopping up.

.Hmmm... How to debunk the "Christian Heritage" propaganda

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Check out your local hospital - again.

Because required return visits to my local hospital are on my schedule the situation of my local hospital has been on my mind and I've been ruminating thoughts about what a secular waiting area "ought" to be like.  On my previous hospital visits (read it here and here) I've become aware that things as they currently stand just don't cut the fairness mustard when it comes to giving hospital patients and visitors the kind of needed "spiritual" support they may require.

As a non-theist, my comfort requirements in a hospital setting are easy to fulfill.  Give me a cushy chair and a nice window view, perhaps a few news magazines and such, and I'll be good to go for a ten minute wait or a day-long vigil. On such occasions, I usually bring along my own reading materials anyhow.  For theists, its likely a different case.  They may find it necessary to consult a page or two of their personal favorite flavor of scripture in order to comfortably pass the time with less stress.  No problem there, eh?

A Christian, for example, would probably appreciate having a handy Bible.  A Muslim would prefer a Qu'ran. And that makes sense.  But about the difference, I'll say in short that I see nohing wrong one way or the other.... until, that is, an obviously unfair imbalance is struck owing to attitudes and actions of the hospital.

The reality of what I've experienced at my local hospital, which happens to be a sharp bias for Christianity, is an epitome of imbalance.  The spiritual "comforts and courtesies" as they're offered currently favor the Christian religion and specifically favor the Christian religion, Gideon-style.

What ought to be there instead..?  I think the answer is quite simple. Variety.  Choice.  A bookcase.

If a small library of religious reading materials and a few non-religious selections as well, books reflecting the wide variety of world beliefs - Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity, Mormon, etc., etc. - were housed in a prominent bookcase in every waiting room area and on every hospital flood, who would be left to complain?  Not even me and wouldn't that be nice?

I hope this kind of attitude of fairness catches on.  Honestly... its a change that's long overdue.  The Gideon are currently being given far to much in the way of special privilege.  It's out of control and over the top.  It's time to speak up and see this situation brought back to something more reasonable. 
.Check out your local hospital - again.     

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Check out your local hospital...

Wow, I'm flabbergasted.  The last time I made a visit to the hospital, it was littered with Gideon Bibles.  This time it was even worse.

Just as before, all the tables in the ER waiting room were decorated by brown covered Bibles. (One table also had a blue one beside the brown one.)  And now I've noticed that there is a neat little display advertising the services of Alcoholics Anonymous.  You all recall that group, I'm sure - they're the ones that get you off your booze habit by hooking you on God.

What's up with theses hospitals?  Do they think everyone in the whole frickin' world needs a dose of Christianity.  Gosh.  Why not just give out "Jesus" injections?

.Check out your local hospital...

Do you ever feel like... ?

Have you ever gotten the urge to make a random call to ask this: "Hey, has Jesus called you lately?"

I've often wondered if a simple reality check of that sort might help wake up a few sleepy-heads.  After all, it's a no-brain-er that every honest response to the question would be have to be "No".

Hmmm.... Perhaps I'll give it a shot.
.Do you ever feel like... ? 

Friday, May 14, 2010

What if we're the the gods?

Since there is actually no one (other than ourselves) to say we aren't gods, why not claim the post?  Humans are by far the highest level beings anywhere to be found on Earth and its a good bet we have no equals in our small part of the universe.  So why not?  Why not simply decide once and for all that we are the gods and there are no others.

I know, for example, without any hesitations at all that I'm a morally better god than Allah and the god of Abraham.  I'm not in favor of subjugating or beheading infidels or genital mutilation, and I certainly have no stomach for flooding the world to rid it of whatever.  Since I'm not a fan of slavery as Jesus was, I'd say I'm probably a better god than him.  And as for honesty... you won't hear me making any promises of rags to riches favors just for following my advice and neither will I promise anyone life after death.  Those notions just preposterous.

So what about it?  What do you think?  Are we or are we not the only gods around?  (I think we are.)  And if so, what grand design should we all work on together for our own good?

. What if we're the the gods?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

No cows spared...

The time has come (finally) to an era of understanding that ought to be common to everyone.  There are no sacred cows.  No faith or belief, no religion of gods can feel as comfortable today as in the past with the idea that having faith is above all criticism and insulated from accountability.  One by one, the mechanisms of special privilege formerly assumed by religion are faltering; and, one by one, reasonable minds are filling in their place with reasoned orderliness, process, fair play and by the restoration of the individual personal rights to liberty which everyone naturally deserves, with honestly weighed equality. 

Freethinkers, skeptics, atheists, agnostics and Humanists are, as one, setting free the religiously enslaved minds of yesterday.  Notions of mysticism, supernatural beings with magical ability, life beyond death, intercessory prayer, divine moral and ethical absolutes, miracles and personal salvation are loosing their faith-born foundation - and reasonably so.

If ever the word Hallelujah had an appropriate time or place, it would be now, said not for its original Hebrew meaning, "Praise Yahweh," but as an expression of "Hey world... What took ya so damn long to wake up?" 
.No cows spared...     

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Annie Laurie steps up to bat:

If you haven't done so already, there are a slew of news videos to watch surrounding the recent ffrf win over the National Day of Prayer.  And guess who's been out front under the spotlight... Annie Laurie Gaylor.  Wow. That's good to see.

Women are too infrequently seen and heard from when it comes to speaking out for atheist issues.  Annie Laurie is a welcomed exception to the rule.  Check out ffrf in the news from their website or visit Youtube and search her by name.  Our girl from Madison Wisconsin is on the job.
. Annie Laurie steps up to bat:

Monday, April 26, 2010

Who should answer...? Who will answer...?

I'm a little frustrated by the apparent apathy and disregard for keeping the record straight on one simple question of the day - or rather on an important question of the age.  It isn't at all uncommon to hear words of "Our country was founded as a Christian nation" spilling from the mouths of politicians on the public stage, the media and especially from little guys on the streets.  And that's just humbug!

Mis-information, widespread misinformation, is dangerous.

The United States has achieved great things in a little more than two hundred years and at least a part of that success has to be attributed to a past which held a healthy attitude for living the original national motto "E. Pluribus Unum" - Out of many, one.  Today, things are different.  The original national motto has given way to become "In God We Trust"...  Our currency, except for the one dollar bill, no longer bares the original motto, failing to give an accurate reflection of where we came from and why we've done so well.  What's wrong with this picture?

Isn't it time to set the record straight?  Shouldn't the nations historians be heard from on the simple question of our nation's founding?  Our college professors have remained far to silent. The media fails to attend to seeking out facts.  Where is the open debate?  Who holds the keys to unlock this silence and bring the truth to light - to BRIGHT LIGHT!

The floor of congress has heard only sparse debate on the subject a year ago when engraving "In God We Trust" on a wall in the Capitol Visitors Center was a week-long hot potato.  But since then, nothing.  The experts weren't called upon - not then and not since.  Why not?  And how much longer must we wait for people of integrity on all tiers of society to rise to the top and demand that attention must be directed to ending the ignorance?  This is a simple question of fact and it must be answered in simple terms for all to know.

We are NOT a Christian nation.  And it's time to shout it clearly from the roof tops. 
. Who should answer...?  Who will answer...?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Scorned and pissed-off about it:

The religiously lead battle wages on for official recognition on anything and everything having to do with government.

Our nation was begun as an experiment in government whereby the people were meant to be the highest voice of authority when deciding rule of law.  Religion, and as well royalty, were scorned - marginalized and effectively set aside from participation in the process.

Royalty had no recourse.  It bowed to the will of the people without a fuss when the American colonies defeated it militarily.  Religion, on the other hand, geared itself up to fight on and to undermin the right of the people to govern on their own. It has been doing so ever since.

Throughout the history of the US we have seen landmark insurgencies upon secular authority.  Like stamps and trademarks and like spray painted gang graffiti marking turf, religion has set a pattern to make itself appear as included into our ruling body.  The enacted "Thanksgiving Day" celebration was one of the earliest of this kind of tactic.  "In God We Trust" cast on coinage came along as another assault in the 1860s and later in the 1950s found its way to being printed on currency and to be recognized as a national motto.  The words "under God" were inserted into the pledge of allegiance at around the same time.  And today, the nations Capital Visitors Center is prominently decorated by the same words engraved in its walls.

And a current battle wages... a somewhat smaller struggle yet one that is of the same cloth. It's happened in the state of Oklahoma.  Automobile license plates bearing the motto "In God We Trust" are now available there, but it took an action of a very few people and a giant step by a single religiously lead individual to get there.  Nonetheless, the scorned and pissed-off religious sector of society has once again made another mark of "officially appearing recognition" by government. It has won another small day.... almost.

Fortunately for Oklahoma and for the nation, there is a counter.  The contralateral  message "In Reason We Trust" is also being made available.  Order your own license here: In Reason We Trust.
. Scorned and pissed-off about it:

Sunday, April 18, 2010

"The sky is falling. The sky is falling."

One of my earliest invitations into critical thinking was given to me in the important lesson of an Esopus Fable, "Chicken Little" - don't jump to conclusions and don't believe everything you hear.

As I recall the fable, Chicken Little ran off in a panic, certain that the sky was falling when in fact it was merely an acorn that struck his head; the poor little guy had to warn the King to do something.  He raised quite a following of believers as he headed off on his self-appointed mission and soon a bunch of additional story characters, a goose, a turkey, and pig were all in a panic, all off to warn the King together.

In today's America there are a great number of Chicken Little characters and even more Chicken Little followers all scurrying about and each with his own version of "the sky is falling."  It concerns me and it ought to concern every thinking citizen that the vast amount of misinformation currently circulating society is a great danger to us all.  and while it certainly wouldn't be fair to say that it's all the fault of religion (and I won't) there is religious nonsense enough to divi-out a portion.

The fable of Chicken Little continues on to include a fox, Foxy Loxey, and here's where things get ugly.  The fox being a fox takes advantage of the dim wits and dolts Chicken Little has amassed.  And one by one he eats them.

Now I don't mean to say that religion puts people at risk of being eaten by foxes, but it isn't unfair to say that religions gather dim wits and dolts by the score and that foxy individuals take advantage of them ... and, more often than not, the foxiest individuals are of the church itself.

Read the original story of Chicken Little to your kids.  They deserve a chance to escape the fox-like world they've been born into.
. "The sky is falling. The sky is falling."     

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A goal for the future: Debate hosting

What place should the atheist/secular movement claim for itself on the stage of tomorrow?  Our message is spreading.  We've achieved an audible volume for our voice, but now what?

I don't anticipate that the non-religious community will grow into a united political party at any time soon, although that may become the case decades from now.  But in the meantime, what are we to do?

Our "cat herding" difficulties are slowly becoming a thing of the past as we atheists and other non-religious people come to realize that our individual differences at the the level of party politics is of relative unimportance.  In fact, I think we're beginning to recognize that our political diversity is actually a strength rather than a weakness.  We stand united, at least loosely so, on a good many social issues of the day; gay rights, woman's rights, and too, on certain other first amendment questions.  Some of what we stand for, as on questions surrounding church/state separation, we stand for very strongly in a very united way.  And it's this combination of points that cause me to think that we atheists and secularists seem to be poised to claim the high ground of being America's most natural Patriots.  We're the Thomas Paines, and James Madisons and Thomas Jeffersons of the present day.  If this image of being natural patriots is true, how shall we use it to our advantage and make it work for ourselves and for the betterment of a larger society?

Almost every election season (but more so of the presidential election years) we're treated to a variety of political debates as nationally broadcast media events.  A few hosting organizations have become mainstays over the years; The League of Woman Voters, The Jewish Defense League and even MTV are examples.  Perhaps providing a stage for political debate ought to become a goal for our own movement to achieve.  Rather than attempting to solidifying our political diversity and remold it into a single voting block (an action that would likely divide us rather than unite us) it may be to our advantage to simply become a willing host organization for fair and open debates... debates held before audiences of "We the People" - we the atheist/secular community.

I'd be interested in hearing the calculated words to speeches coming from would-be politicians mouth's knowing they stood before an audience that was largely non-religious.  Under such a circumstance, do you think the words "God bless you and God bless America" would fall quite as easily from any hopeful's lips?

A move of this type might be good for everyone... What do you think?
A goal for the future: Debate hosting 

Friday, April 16, 2010

It ain't over yet...

I couldn't be more pleased with the wisdom of a single person than I am by that shown in Judge Crabb of Wisconsin over her ruling on the National Day of Prayer.  She gave the question a thorough going over right down to its 1952 origin and decided correctly that it amounted to a clear violation of church/state separation, an act of religious establishment by congress which is prohibited under the the first amendment.  It's to bad that for 58 years this question was overlooked.

I applaud Freedom From Religion Foundation for bringing the case before the court and judge Crabb for hearing it favorably.

Now it's up to our president to decide whether to abide by the judges ruling immediately and ignore the usually heralded first Thursday of May or to cower under pressure to political prudence and add-in one last officially sanctioned Presidential proclamation for a day of prayer.  There is a 30 day stay before the ruling is effective and President Obama has every right to act on his own.  It's also up to the White House to decide if it will appeal the case since the President himself was a losing party in the suit.  That, too, has a 30 day window.

This thing isn't over yet... it ought to be, but it isn't.
.It ain't over yet...     

Thursday, April 15, 2010

No More Prayer Day - Hurray!

Freedom From Religion Foundation's Dan Barker et. al., and that includes me and you if you subscribe also, has had a great day in the sunshine.  By court decision, today marked the end of the National Day of Prayer.  The 1952 Congressional decision to direct the President to call upon all Americans to recognize God through prayer is no more.  And good riddance.

I have a scant recollection of small-screen black and white images of the Reverend Billy Graham's week long 1952 televised revival meeting from Washington DC.  It was likely the only program being aired on WGN in Chicago at that time and my family huddled up in front of the Phillco to watch and listen.  I recall that my dad was interested.  I wasn't.

I had no idea then that I would be so pleased now by the turn of events.  What began in '52 at the recommendation of a single preacher has since its beginning been a growing infection of division in our nation.  Yet, I payed it little mind until soon after the Regan years when it became the established law for the first Thursday of each May to be dubbed "Prayer Day" while my own atheist sensibilities and the first amendment were snubbed and ignored completely.

But, no more.  The National Day of Prayer can finally be swept into the rubble of history, a past problem solved.  Thank goodness.  And thanks ffrf.
. No More Prayer Day - Hurray!

Post script: 
By Annie Laurie Gaylor
Freedom From Religion Foundation

First, a personal note. When our litigation attorney Rich Bolton phoned Thursday shortly before lunchtime to give our our office the happy news that FFRF had won our legal challenge of the National Day of Prayer, the office exploded in whoops. I had to put the phone down so we wouldn't deafen Rich. I realized I was jumping up and down as I passed on the news to staff. Katie, one of FFRF's executive assistants, actually did a little dance.
This was a hard-won decision. The case was difficult and time-consuming, and was unusual for involving a lot of staff input, not just attorney's time. There was onerous discovery by the Obama Administration and we worked very hard to prove the Foundation's standing to sue, based on years of efforts to deal with the numerous complaints and repercussions of this unconstitutional act of Congress. The case seemed to hinge as much on (bad) history as on (bad) law. Several staff, our staff attorney, Dan, I, interns and clerical staff spent much of February 2009 doing research on the case, with lots of additional work in the summer (not to mention an all-day videotaped deposition I went through in December!) So this is also a very sweet victory for all involved.
We truly appreciate that a vitally important constitutional question was taken seriously on its merits by the District Court. We knew the Constitution was on our side. We know it is simply wrong for the President to dictate to Americans that they should pray, and set aside an entire day for prayer once a year. But being right doesn't always mean you can get your foot in the door these days. We are celebrating the fact that at least for now, reason really has prevailed. Hooray for FFRF, hooray for the judge's ruling, hooray for our litgation attorney Rich Bolton, hooray for justice!
I certainly agree with Annie Luarie's excitement...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Books for kids - the library

I know how this is going to look to a lot of you - censorship is an ugly thing and I hate it, too - but I'm very concerned that our kids aren't being protected well enough from the oodles and oodles of religious books and videos available to them through public sources.  Nobody, especially libraries and librarians, have though things through far enough and nobody is holding anyone accountable.

A kid who enters a public library is immediately, naturally, drawn to its "Children's Section" and to stacks and stacks of unsorted materials there - all for their perusal.  And isn't that nice?  But what's there, really?

The fact is that libraries, and I'm speaking of Public libraries, generally don't sort out religious books aimed at kids from anything else a kid might enjoy.  The same is true for video materials.  A case in point: "Veggie Tales" are a popular series of old testament Bible story videos.  They're very professionally made and they're a powerful indoctrinating tool aimed at the uncritical minds of kids. Check it out... You'll find "Veggie Tales" mixed in (unsorted for its religious content) with every other variety of video.  and you'll find books on angels and yes, even on the life of Jesus.

From the book stacks, young readers will easily find that "Christmas" and "Easter" stories and "Jesus this and that" are all a part of the mix.  Shouldn't a set-aside section of religious subject matter be provided for kids just as it is for adults?

Libraries sort adult selections with strict attention, but for kids books... its a willie-nillie oleo.  Does anyone care?  I know I care.  Honestly folks, who's minding the store when it comes to what a kid can pick up at the library?  Even the fictional Hogwarts library had a restricted section, and wasn't that wise?
. Books for kids - the library

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Making news makes the difference:

Northwest Arkansas atheist groups are currently experiencing rapid member enrollment and its thanks to making headlines and TV appearances.  Making the news is what its all about when it comes to generating new interest in atheism.  Groups grow, almost automatically, as a result of all the chatter that media and publicity bring.  But making news isn't an easy thing to accomplish and in the case of Northwest Arkansas where I live, there's a price tag attached.  So here's a hint.

United Coalition of Reason, a national organization operating as part of the American Humanist Association, is a ready ally.  Get in touch with them and see what they can do to help your non-religious group hit the spotlight.  Its an easy step to take and, WOW, does it work.
. Making news makes the difference:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Loaded message email:

It's been the case for email ever since email began that a continuous rash of religiously loaded misinformation and propaganda has been created and passed around as knee-jerk reactions by a thoughtless bunch of computer users - parrots, every one of them.  I received another one a short while ago.  It was a collection of attractive photos punctuated by a series of statements and questions that culminated in a "conclusion" that God gave us a beautiful world. 


I don't usually respond in any way to this relentless barrage of tripe.  I usually just click "delete" and go on about my business.  Today I was in a slightly different mood, I guess, because that changed.  This time I responded.

My retort was brief and to the point: (speaking to the sender) "Emailing loaded messages to me will not help you overcome your personal doubts.  I am not a part of your problems.  In the future, you'll have to deal with yourself directly.  Stop forwarding God-loaded propaganda to my inbox."

I hope it works... for the sake of my own peace. (...and screw the sender.)
. Loaded message email:

Monday, April 5, 2010

"God bless America"

I'm thinking ahead to all the political speeches we're about to have amplified in our direction.  This is the beginning of another election season, after all, so we'd better prepare ourselves for what the windbags and wanna-bes will certainly be offering us as they take to the stumps, airways and platforms.  It will be happening all in short order.  Are you ready?
If you're like me, an atheist, you're bottom is already slightly puckered and your blood pressure has likely risen tad up from its normal resting level all in anticipation of hearing the tired out words "God bless America" at the conclusion of every political speech.  Good gosh, will it ever relent?

In hopes of some small change to the norm that has become our typical day of politics, I've got my expectations set on hearing at least a few nods of recognition for our non-religious community from progressive candidates and perhaps from the mouths of a few socially sensitive moderate speakers - recognition a'la Barack Obama's inaugural address where he acknowledged America's "patchwork heritage" and then correctly noted that "We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers."

It isn't likely we'll hear anything at all with significant enough value addressed directly to us or anything that will a make any real change in the general anti-atheist attitude of society... don't hold you breath.  But, we ought to all be listening for a dollop or two of hints for the future and have hope that it will be enough to nudge society in the right direction.  Even at 43 million people, more people than there are Jews, Jehovah Witnesses, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Mormons, Episcopalians, Muslims and Hindus combined, our organizations of non-religious members still remain far to small and way to discordant to realistically matter at the poles.

So... be prepared for this season.  Buy a tube (or two) of Preparation H and squirt some up your Bazooka.  Take a chill pill (or ten) for your hypertension; listen to this seasons speeches and then look ahead to 2012.  Perhaps by then we'll be ready to take center stage and the spotlight to finally hear a concluded political speech punctuated without the words "God bless you and God bless the United States of America."   
. "God bless America"

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A better world.

Occasionally I get philosophical... pragmatically so, and this is one of those moments.  Today I'm stuck on the question "What would make the world a better place for everyone, my own world and everyone else's world, too?"

I tend to think that if we would each focus on the simple things we need, we'd easily come up with a few new ideas (and some old ones, too) that could actually happen to benefit everyone while harming no one.  How about concentrating on things like clean water and food, for example?  Imagine it...  If there was always a ready supply of simple nutrition available - free for the taking - wouldn't the world be a nicer place?  Think Raman noodles... Gosh, how much could that cost?

In the US, people seldom give much thought to needing food, but in fact there exists a marginalized segment of our own American neighbors who live just above the starvation crest most the time.  They have to make hard choices in order to get by.  And as for having something that's soooo necessary to life - how about having available clean water -cost free running water?  Isn't it a crime that there really are a great numbers of American families who face water shut-off month after month after month.

The nation is about to move ahead with health care reform - socialized medical care.  It's something that everyone needs and something that will actually benefit each of us in the long run.  In deed, the nation ought to be thinking about solving a few additional problems by the same method, socialization, right along with health care. 

All the basics as universally necessary to all of us as these are should be as high up on the list of things to do as they can possibly be.  Do that, and the world will be a little better for everyone. 
. A better world.

Friday, April 2, 2010

ffrf Forum:

Here's a link worthy of a bookmark.  It's something every concerned atheist/secular activist ought to get tied into: ffrf Forum.  It's the way to stay on top of the most important atheism related legal issues around the country.  If there's news having to do with anything about church/state separation, you're likely to find its being talked about here.

The Forum format is divided into topic threads and that makes it easy to follow a specific subject as well as exchange opinions directly with other interested activists.  Check it out.  This is one of the very best organized communication tools the non-religious community has to offer and neglecting to link up to it can only cost you the price of remaining uninformed.  I urge you to click the above link and get on board.

Join ffrf, subscribe to its news letters, listen to the weekly radio broadcasts by Dan Barker and link-up to ffrf Forum.  We'll all gain something when you do.
. ffrf Forum:

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I had reason to run to the hospital emergency room for a little help yesterday evening.  Health-wise it worked out just fine, but...

The gosh darn hospital is virtually littered with Gideon Bibles.  They're everywhere.  And I'm not kidding.

I tossed four of them in the trash while I was there.  The one off the waiting room table where I sat; the one I found on a vacant chair in the triage nurse's office; the one from the treatment room where I was seen by the doctor and finally the extra one I picked up passing through the lobby on my way out all went straight into the nearest bin.  (You're welcome, everyone.)

Now I have to ask: If instead of Bibles these books had been Yellow Pages advertising books or copies of Darwin's Origin of the Species would the hospital and everyone else around be so numb to their presence?  If these were General Motors auto repair books, wouldn't someone complain that a car manufacturer had no place hawking its products in a public facility?  Why then are Bibles allowed?  Is the church paying everyone's medical bills these days and are they providing salaries for the staff?  Are they the ones who erected the building and maintain it?  What's up with this special privilege for religion at our hospitals?

I don't think the Koran would get as warm a welcome or be so blindly tolerated as the Bible seems to be.  And Gideon Bible or not, Koran or King James version or whatever, hasn't anyone got any sense of church/state separation left in them?  Bibles are instruments of private religions.  Hospitals are public places of science and medicine.  The two don't mix at all.

Visit your local hospital and see for yourself.  While you're there, toss a Bible in the trash.  And let's ask a few questions about what's going to be done to put an end to this practice of selling religion in public places. 
. Emergency...!

This is called organizing:

Reprinted from an SCA newsletter, March 31, 2010

SCA Executive Director Unveils Bold Plan for "Our Secular Decade"

The next ten years will bring about major advances for the secular movement, according to a plan unveiled to members of the secular and nontheist communities on February 26, following the historic meeting with administration officials. Sean Faircloth, the Secular Coalition for America's Executive Director, revealed a comprehensive, long-term strategy for realizing the goals of the secular movement and outlining the milestones that will indicate the kind of progress that will be made. Steps to move forward on this plan in the Secular Coalition for America's 2010 budget were approved by its Board of Directors at its January meeting.

Faircloth outlined eight primary tactics that the Secular Coalition for America will execute to bring Secular Americans further into the forefront of American society and give it greater political influence:
  1. Expanding the issue base of the Secular Coalition for America
  2. Increasing already-strong lobbying efforts in Washington
  3. Producing communications materials that connect emotionally with a broader community
  4. Engaging in more robust networking of secular and nontheist Americans
  5. Undertaking a "50-state strategy" in which the SCA sparks a grassroots effort leading to active volunteer advocacy networks in all fifty states before December 2019
  6. Seeking out the "apatheistic" and the functionally secular, expanding outreach to women and younger people and bringing the Secular Coalition for America's message to other potentially sympathetic groups, such as scientists, libertarians and LGBT nontheists--all in service of increased membership for the SCA's ten member organizations, and strengthening the coalition--see a list of SCA member organizations here
  7. Holding a secular policy summit that is tailored to policy and coalition leadership strategy
  8. Instituting an internship program on Capitol Hill
Said Faircloth of the plan in an article for Humanist Network News, "We believe strongly in a rational worldview. Our compassion and decency mandated by that worldview leaves no one out--even those with whom we disagree. This plan will lead Secular Americans to our rightful national leadership role."
Let's get on the ball everyone.  Organize your local on-the-ground groups and support the efforts of your national organizations.
. This is called organizing:

Monday, March 29, 2010

What makes good a meeting topic?

Have you heard enough debunking of the Bible?  Do you really need to be shown a second, third or fiftieth time that the nonsense of religion is actually nonsense?  Gosh, I don't.  But what is there to discuss at an atheist meeting if not this?

Are you interested in Darwin?  Are you ready to hear more about evolutionary changes over the eons of time since life emerged?  Really?   How much detail is enough?  The subject spans more than a hundred years. If you need more,  of it, then why not attend a university and take a class on the subject?

How about cosmology?  Are you deep into physics enough so that you're ready to listen from the edge of your seat to a lengthy survey on that subject?  Are you that hooked on particles?

History then...? The same sort of dried complaints could be applied, couldn't they?

It's my guess that many of you are as warn out on some of this stuff as I am.  There are just so many hours I'm willing and able to commit to participating in the atheist/secular movement and I'm hardly prepared to invest that time attending a meeting that fails to address the kind of things that need voice.  What are we doing to promote social change? How are we planning to overcome discrimination?  Are we making progress at getting better assemblies and action groups established to lead our nation and our world into the next new age of enlightenment?

While some highlights of science subjects are appropriate to mention in passing and ought to be meted out in small doses they hardly make good meeting subjects when served up as the main course.  The same is true for mocking and debunking tired out religions crap.... Let's leave didactics and academia for the classroom.  Been there; done that.  Let's move on to the real world for a change.

My idea of good meeting subjects (or of format, really) for atheists has evolved to become more that of desiring discourse on open questions rather than listening to a prepared lecture.   I like the structure of an open forum and the bantering of ideas set to problem solving.  Debate is healthy.  This kind of thing is far, far more my style than submitting just to listen, and I'll bet that's true for most of us.  I really don't enjoy hearing anything delivered from a top-down lecture point of view regardless of how well the assembled information may be stacked.  Lets face it, classrooms and lecturers can be as boring as church meetings and preachers.

To have a good meeting, I say... kick ideas around the room.  Ask for answers to practical questions; ask for solutions and see if your meetings start to become much livelier, better attended and more productive at effectively resulting in the kind of changes your community really needs.  Start holding town meetings... forums... and debates at your meetings.  You'll be glad you did.   
What makes good a meeting topic?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Have you read...?

Have you read "The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster"?  No...?  Hmmm.  That's odd.

The purpose of this blog post is to point out the need of the freethough movement to begin opening its eyes to snuggling-up to an ally it didn't know it had.  The Library.

Like atheists and agnostics and all the rest of our numbers by name, libraries are ubiquitous.  There isn't a town anywhere that doesn't have one and it's high time we non-religionists take note of that.  Libraries are like churches for atheists... or they ought to be.  Our goals are quite similar, after all.  Both the library and the non-religious community want to share knowledge on a broad basis.  We want people to read widely and learn.  We're both interested in building the best and most informed community we can have.  We're a natural marriage couple, no doubt.

I don't intend to spoon feed how important this notion is to advancing secular society.  You can all think that out on your own, but I do hope to encourage that you lend additional thought to using your local school and state library systems as partners - as churches of real knowledge - and that you ought to tailor the activities of you grassroots group-building efforts to take full advantage of this built-in ally by employing and exploiting everything it has to offer - meeting space, internet, A/V, books  (the ones you want can be ordered) and an attitude to spread the knowledge of the world's real scholars.

I wonder... does the library shelve "The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster"?   Hmmm... good question.  I'll ask.
Have you read...?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Get off your duff and do your stuff:

I've been active at organizing for atheism for some time now and I've arrived, again and again, at moments to take my breath, to pause just a moment or two, and then, to resume pressing forward.  I'm doing what I know is right for myself, what's right for the sake of reason and what's right for America and the world. Yup... all of those!

Reluctance of leaders to organize, group to group across each state and state to state across the nation ought to be seen as a crime by atheists, yet it exists and its shameful!  The problem is perhaps fear.  "What will the community think?"  "What will my friends and family say?"  "What if I try and I fail?"  Reluctance toward activism stinks.

A reluctant leader is no leader at all.  Each of us must recognize a responsibility to take the lead when others won't.  Lead yourself and others will follow.  That's how grassroots movements work.

Now... Get off your duff and do your stuff.  We have a movement to fuel.  Get out there! Get going! Get organized!  Have your ideas of what needs doing and do them.  Share your goals with neighboring groups.  Improve communication.  Seek like minds and fellow activists.  Work for change where change is needed but stand up to vigorously defend that which already works.  We are the people.
Get off your duff and do your stuff:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

So far to the right they've fallen off the edge of the world...

The latest Harris poll shows just how far to the far-right the right wing has gone - way, way, way to far.  Holy cows.

I suspect this poll marks the point where Republican party leadership has lost its grip on its' own party name.  To a Republican "Republican" can no longer feel or mean what "Republican" meant just two years ago.  The party name, it seems, has been stolen away from the greatest number of conservatives, moderate conservatives, and traditional right-wing voters, i.e., the name "Republican" has been jerked out from under the feet of most of the people who would have once called themselves Republican.  And who's to blame?  Can you say Sarah?  Can you say Glen Beck or Fox News?  Can you say hawk radio?

Honestly...!  Who in the world would still be wacko enough to call themselves "Republican" after reviewing the wacko ideas and beliefs of what this, the latest poll, exposes about conservative America... See these current poll results (current ... as in 'right now'). The Harris Poll. Now, ask yourself: Is this for real..?  Well, guess what, it is!!!

Extremism, far right radicalism, is being exposed for all of us to see.  It's coming out in the open  self-righteously, all on its own and it is ugly.

Monday, March 22, 2010

About the poles...?

I find it perplexing, even amusingly so, that two groups of people of reasonably equal intelligence can both live in and observe the same world, review the same data, digest it, and then arrive at entirely opposing points of conclusion on the question of gods, prayer, miracles, after-death life and such.  Like North and South poles, that's the way things are on the topic of religion. And how strange all of that is.

But its a mirage, and an obvious one in fact, whenever one takes the time to look more closely.  One of the polarized groups does more speaking from its pole than it does believing in it.  Which group?  Do you really have to ask... honestly?  The religionists, of course.

How often do we here terms like cherry picker, hypocrite, and apologist preceding or following the name of anyone who would claim belief in gods?  Not often enough, I'm disappointed to say  since the facts of the matter, if anyone would bother to gather those facts, might tell us just how prevalent falsifying ones claim of belief truly is among believers.  My impression is that they are all liars... none of them come close to believing what they say they do.  And aren't they all so willing to admit their occasional struggle with doubt... Good gosh.  When in the world will they ever think wisely enough upon that doubt to change their habits?

Ask a believer to tell how much he believes in a particular tenant of his religion, such as intercessory prayer or after-life or original sin, and then listen.  The gyrations and mental gymnastics displayed while answering are amazing... and often very amusing.  It's my habit to remind them of such whenever I get the chance.  It's a conviction of mine that I have a moral obligation to feed the doubt of believers until they finally act upon it rationally.

In a world where atheists would occupy the North pole and believers would gravitate in precisely the opposite direction, I'd say the South pole would never see a first foot set upon it.  The faithful don't believe even half of what they claim to believe.... They lie.  And that's the truth.     
About the poles...?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

This is fun... and useful all in one.

It wasn't my idea, I'm sorry to say, but its a darn good idea and I hope you'll all have some fun with it.  FREE WANT ADS.

Apparently it began with a few student-types down in Little Rock Arkansas who were tired of reading one after another of 'prayer items' and 'Bible quotes' in the daily want ad section of the newspaper.  And taking an attitude of "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em," they decided to send in a few of their own opinions... but theirs were freethought and atheist opinions.  The aim was to give the personal and announcement classified columns some better balance.  The result was that it caught on... Atheist "Mystery" posts started popping up and nobody knew who or where they were coming from. 

It reminded me of something I've discovered... you can't go into any community anywhere no matter how churchy it looks and expect it to be devoid of atheists.  We are!  And, we are everywhere. Now, even the personal ads and classifieds of the newspaper bares it out.

So have some fun... Post a free want ad or two.  Here's my latest: a Chapman Cohen quote, "Gods are Fragile things; they can be killed by a whiff of science or a dose of common sense."  Truer words have seldom been spoken, and now, perhaps gods can also be killed by a FREE WANT AD.
UPDATE:  Since posting this, I've elected to run a couple of ads in the paper and (funny thing) I received an email from a newspaper employee, the classified supervisor, about my ads.  Hmmm... I wonder if they do that for every FREE classified requested?  Here's the email:

Randall,  if we run your opinion ads they must state your name and city you are in.  

Do you wish to go ahead and place the ad?   Also we will only run one at a time.  

Thank the gods that you have reason and then realize by reason there
are no gods. 

Thank you,
Cathy Wiles

Classified Supervisor
Was the purpose of this communication meant to dissuade me to fearfully change my opinion or to cower and keep my opinion tucked away in the dark of a closet?  I wonder... 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

Non-religious community service: here's a tip...

Many of our skeptic and freethought groups have gotten into taking community service seriously.  Roadside clean-up is just one of the activities groups have opted to perform.  Atheists have pitched in to pick-up and that's good.

And, thanks to the law, roadside cleanup can result in more than just a tidied-up ditch.  It can also reach out to result in assisting to tidy-up messy thinking.  Unauthorized roadside crosses erected by well meaning friends and meant to commemorate the tragedy of a lost life to auto accidents are... "unauthorized."  It's that simple.  These little religious reminders - knee jerk triggers to think god and pray - aren't officially allowed.  

To the person who erected the cross, its an act of healing and a way to overcome temporary grief.  Okay... good enough.  And, I can understand and sympathize with those who feel the need to erect "memorial" crosses.  But is this allowed on public land?  No.  Absolutely not.  In fact, it's tantamount to an act of littering and/or vandalism.

People suffering the loss of family or friend to a roadside auto wreck (I'm so sorry to say) must find some other method to satisfy their grief.  The law doesn't allow special privileges upon its public lands - crosses or no crosses - for erecting monuments, signs or whatnot when friends and relatives die.  That's the way it is and that's the way it's got to be.     

So... has your group decided to take on the duty to pick-up and clean-up a public way?  Well... don't feel limited to collecting just tin cans from a single stretch of roadside.  If you see a roadside cross, you have every legal permission you'd like (and perhaps some moral obligation as well) to jerk that stick of wood out of the ground and pitch it in the trash...

Help keep America beautiful.  Dig up and toss out every unauthorized roadside cross you see!         
Non-religious community service: here's a tip...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The assumed welcome: Christian Prayer

It's been a hot issue all over the country - Christian prayer offerings - but who really asks for it?

There's an assumed welcome mat for prayer laying at the door of just about every public assembly of people everywhere.  Town meetings, political gatherings, commencement exercises, sporting events and the like seem to all have become "fair game" to begin by prayer or to somehow otherwise include some sort of god recognition.  It's an understood done-deal tradition... or at least it use to be.

Who asks for these prayer moments?  Not me, that's for sure, and I really don't think that most of the people who attend these functions, Christian or not, actually give any honest thought to wanting a prayer said wherever they intend to gather in mass.  So who's to blame?

Meeting and event organizers all seem stuck in the same gear.  They have an agenda to fill and it's part of the job of organizing to fill it; but, why fill it with religious bias?  Is it a knee-jerk on the part of meeting hosts?  Is it failed creativity, failed empathy for minorities, failed understanding and respect for first amendment rights to liberty and justice for all?  Just where does this assumed need for prayer come from?

In my mind its a mixed bag.  Meeting planners and hosts, at least in the past few years, have become far more aware of the possibility for negative reactions to any inclusion of any planned group prayer they may offer at an event; (or at least they should have become more aware) yet, there has hardly been any sharp decrease of the habit to include such invocations and the like - more and more, it seems, at every turn.  In fact, it sometimes appears that organized public prayer moments have popped up with greater frequency rather than not.  Is it stubborn backlash?  Personally, I think that could be it.

But what's to be done...?  How about shouting out in protest?  How about filing suit?  How about getting a spot on the event planning committee and then changing the way things go? Try this on for size: Fiendly Atheist, Hemant Mehta, posted this about invocational prayer.

Its high time to do away with the old notions that prayer at public meeting are universally welcomed.  Especially since THEY'RE NOT!  

Get involved in a freethought or skeptic group.  There's plenty to do that needs your help.  
The assumed welcome: Christian Prayer

Saturday, March 13, 2010

We've got the right formula.

We've got the right formula.

Community building doesn't have to revolve around nonsense beliefs... Our atheists groups are managing to mix high ethical standards, intellectual integrity and community building successfully into our organizations and all for betterment of society tomorrow.

Unlike church-sponsored misinformation, offering its notions of superior absolutes in top down fashion to mere mortals, atheist communities celebrate the facts of reality, all of the facts - the nice ones and the not so nice ones included.  We include everything which is brought to us from all levels of human participation and nature.    

We've got the right formula.  Knowing and accepting reality as it is is a far, far better way to find happiness than cowering under the ideas and words of false protection.  The gods aren't there and we non-believers are able to live with it just as we we're able to let go of our Santa Clause fantasies as children.

Our communities are growing up healthy and strong and I suspect they will continue to do so.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Stop Texas...!

Stop Texas...!

Whether to allow bias Christian brainwashing of our nation's children is a question that will be on the Texas board of education bargaining table this spring.  Of course, the question won't be posed in quite those words, but that's the bottom line.

Text book companies are annually persuaded to write the pages of their school books according to the whims of the Texas school board.  Why?  Because Texas is the largest book buying state in the nation.  It's that simple.  The board of education in Texas wields so much power over the schoolbook business that if it should would one day decide that 2+2 does not equal 4 our nations kids might all have to re-learn the answer to this basic addition problem.

A key battle line is drawn in the sand and the sides are currently gathering troops.  The question: Will the establishment clause of the first amendment be included as an important subject for study?  Texas State Board Rejects Teaching About Establishment Clause  Moreover, the agenda written by far-right evangelical fundamentalists goes farhter.  It desires nothing less than to carry on with its dishonest program of spreading misinformation at every opportunity. From the Dallas Morning News: Board member Don McLeroy, R-College Station, said he would seek board approval today for several amendments to the U.S. history standards, including one that would highlight Judeo-Christian values in American history.  "Highlighting Judeo-Christian values" means, in other words, that Mr McLeroy intends to overly emphasize the remarkably few Christian heritage references which can are found among actual history... and he intends to skew the import of those documents to forward his bis notions.

Omission of teaching the intent and meaning of the establishment clause, the very first item of our human rights as protected under the first amendment, and failing to teach history as history actually was will leave the door wide open for Christian aggressors to continue their agenda of spreading false notions about America's history and its heritage - a heritage they wish to falsely paint as one which is brightly colored in glittery Christian richness.  

Reason minded people, we the atheist community and all of our non-religious allies must not overlook the far reaching importance of winning or losing this heavy-hitting controversial fight. Get with it atheists... stand up and demand that our country must be lead by common sense reason and intellectual honesty.   Stop Texas.  Nothing less will do.


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