• Alabama VotesAlabama Votes

    By TUBS [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia CommonsAs Alabama voters go to the polls today, it is tempting to speculate about whether they will do (what I believe is) the right thing. In 2016, we learned - or at least we should have learned - that polls can be very wrong. That said, it is difficult to ignore the fact that Roy Moore is ahead in all of the polls I have seen. While that does not mean he will necessarily win, it seems reasonable to conclude that his chances of winning are decent. If this happens, many on the left will undoubtedly take to social media to insist that Alabama voters endorsed pedophilia. I wrote previously about what the continued support for Moore tells us about tribalism, but we can see something similar from many of Moore's opponents.For the average Republican voter in Alabama, this election is not about supporting pedophilia. I find it unlikely that most of these voters are having an internal dialogue about how electing a Democrat would be far worse than electing a pedophile. This is one of the left's many unfortunate tribalistic narratives. So what is the average Republican voter in Alabama doing? Clearly, some do not believe the allegations against Moore. They've decided it is all "fake news" and not the sort of thing that will deter them from voting for someone they have long supported. I imagine more are doing the same thing most of us do when faced with a candidate we don't like. They are trying to figure out whether they can vote for Moore, support a write-in alternative, or stay home. I do not expect more than a few to vote for Doug Jones any more than I'd expect a Democratic voter who did not like the Democratic candidate to vote for the Republican.If Moore wins, Alabama's reputation will be tarnished. I have no problem with that. If Moore wins, Alabama's reputation should be tarnished. Remember, the allegations of sexual misconduct against Moore are only one of many reasons he is unfit for public office. We should take a critical look at any state that elects someone like Moore. But if Moore does win, I think it would be a mistake to accuse Alabama voters of supporting pedophilia or any other sort of sexual misconduct. This is more about the toxic effects of political tribalism than about supporting sexual misconduct.Those of us on the left have a long list of valid criticisms of Roy Moore. We will be disappointed if he wins, but I don't think we should be surprised by such an outcome. And if Moore does win, I expect we will see an outpouring of unhelpful tribalism from many on the left. They will demonize Alabama voters in much the same way many continue to demonize those who voted for Trump. I think this is unfortunate because it accomplishes little more than electing more people like this. That is something I do not think we can afford.Polarization and tribalism are destructive forces that are doing little to help our democracy. We need to replace them with reason, nuance, civility, critical thinking, healthy skepticism, and freethought. And we are not going to accomplish this so long as we continue to indiscriminately vent our feelings of outrage through name-calling, ridiculous memes, and reliance on bigoted characterizations of those who disagree with us.Copyright © 2017 Atheist Revolution.

    Atheist Revolution / 5 h. 56 min. ago more
  • Professor: Academic Rigor = Bad.Professor: Academic Rigor = Bad.

    Prof: Academic rigor reinforces 'power and privilege'Suggested Subtitle: I'm too lazy and stupid for actual academic rigor, so I don't reap the rewards that those who actually are rigorous get, so they must stop being rigorous, amirite? And BTW I don't do math or empiricism, I do feminist, Foucaultian destructive criticism which gets me published in non-engineering feminist journals.The leader of Purdue University’s School of Engineering Education recently declared that academic “rigor” reinforces “white male heterosexual privilege.”Donna Riley, who previously taught engineering at Smith College for 13 years, published an article in the most recent issue of the journal Engineering Education, arguing that academic rigor is a “dirty deed” that upholds “white male heterosexual privilege.”"Scientific knowledge itself is gendered, raced, and colonizing." Defining rigor as “the aspirational quality academics apply to disciplinary standards of quality,” Riley asserts that “rigor is used to maintain disciplinary boundaries, with exclusionary implications for marginalized groups and marginalized ways of knowing.”Engineering Education is a discipline??? No freaking wonder she can't do engineering, and finds it threatening: quality in engineering is too hard for her and "genders, races" and thus it succeeds over those, which appears colonizing.This is a blatant admission of technical inability cum SJW totalitarianism, focused on destruction of something they cannot understand much less dominate.Again, what the hell is "engineering education" anyway? And don't forget this wonderful diktat:"Scientific knowledge itself is gendered, raced, and colonizing."This is a marker for ideological insanity. In fact, take a look at Prof. Riley's published papers (I've bolded the pertinent info):Selected PublicationsRiley, D., Pawley, A., Tucker, J., and Catalano, G.D. "Feminisms in Engineering Education: Transformative Possibilities." National Women's Studies Association Journal, (August 2009).Riley, D. Engineering and Social Justice. San Rafael, CA: Morgan and Claypool (2008).Riley, D. and Sciarra, G.L. "'You're all a bunch of fucking feminists': Addressing the Perceived Conflict Between Gender and Professional Identities Using the Montreal Massacre." Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference, October 28–31, San Diego, CA (2006).Riley, D. M., and Claris, L. "Power/Knowledge: Using Foucault to promote critical understandings of content and pedagogy in engineering thermodynamics." ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings, June 18 - 21, Chicago, IL (2006).Riley, D. and Armstrong, E. "Common Ground: How a course collaboration between engineering and women's studies produced fine art." ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings, June 12-15, Portland, OR (2005).Chesler, N. and Riley, D. "The Art of Engineering: Using fine arts to discuss the lives of women faculty in engineering." ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings, June 20-23, Salt Lake City, Utah (2004).Riley, D. "Employing Liberative Pedagogies in Engineering Education." Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, 9(2): 137-158 (2003).Riley, D. "Sex, Fear and Condescension on Campus: Cybercensorship at Carnegie Mellon University." Wired_Women: Gender and new realities in cyberspace. L. Cherney and E.R. Weise, eds. Seattle: Seal Press, 1996.This illuminates and explains her approach to "engineering education":She claims that rigor can “reinforce gender, race, and class hierarchies in engineering, and maintain invisibility of queer, disabled, low-income, and other marginalized engineering students,” adding that “decades of ethnographic research document a climate of microaggressions and cultures of whiteness and masculinity in engineering.”She evens contends that “scientific knowledge itself is gendered, raced, and colonizing,” asserting that in the field of engineering, there is an “inherent masculinist, white, and global North bias...all under a guise of neutrality.”[RELATED: Prof: Algebra, geometry perpetuate white privilege]To fight this, Riley calls for engineering programs to “do away with” the notion of academic rigor completely, saying, “This is not about reinventing rigor for everyone, it is about doing away with the concept altogether so we can welcome other ways of knowing. Other ways of being. It is about criticality and reflexivity.”“We need these other ways of knowing to critique rigor, and to find a place to start to build a community for inclusive and holistic engineering education,” she concludes.

    Atheism Analyzed / 6 h. 47 min. ago more
  • Jailed for life: ex-priest who murdered a woman in 1960Jailed for life: ex-priest who murdered a woman in 1960

    It took 57 years for justice to catch up with John Bernard Feit, 85, who was found guilty last week of killing Irene Garza, a schoolteacher and former beauty queen, after she went to him for confession at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, Texas, in 1960. According to this report, although colleagues and elected Catholic officials in Hidalgo County suspected Feit of being involved in the killing, he was shielded to protect the church’s reputation. Prosecutors asked jurors for a 57-year prison term – one year for each year he had walked free since killing Garza. The 25-year-old victim disappeared on April 16, 1960. Her bludgeoned body was found days later. An autopsy revealed she had been raped while unconscious, and beaten and suffocated. Prosecutor Michael Garza, who is not related to the victim, had asked the jury not to view the now elderly and weak Feit as he is today, but to try to imagine him as a 28-year-old man capable of subduing the woman. The jury deliberated just over four hours on Friday before deciding on the maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Afterward, Garza said at a news conference that he wished that he could take credit for the conviction and sentence, “but it was God-driven.” Prosecutors presented evidence earlier in the week that church and elected officials suspected Feit but didn’t want to prosecute him. They feared it could harm the reputations of the church and Hidalgo County elected officials, most of whom were Catholic. Senator John F Kennedy, a Catholic, was running for president that year. Feit, then a priest at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, came under suspicion in the investigation early on. He told police that he heard Irene Garza’s confession in the church rectory rather than in the confessional, but denied he had killed her. Two priests told authorities that Feit had confessed to them. One of them said he saw scratches on Feit soon after Garza’s disappearance. His portable photographic slide viewer was found near Garza’s body. Feit had also been accused of attacking another young woman in a church in a nearby town just weeks before Garza’s death. He pleaded no contest and was fined $500. The church sent Feit to a treatment centre for troubled priests in New Mexico. Later he became supervisor with responsibility in the clearing of priests for parish assignments. Among the men Feit helped keep in ministry was child molester James Porter, who assaulted more than 100 victims before he was defrocked and sent to prison. Porter died in 2005 aged 70. Feit left the priesthood in 1972, married and went on to work at the Catholic charity St. Vincent de Paul in Phoenix, training and recruiting volunteers and helping oversee the charity’s network of food pantries. Garza’s family members and friends had long pushed authorities to reopen the case, and it became an issue in the 2014 district attorney’s race. Ricardo Rodriguez had promised that if elected, he would re-examine the case.

    The Freethinker / 6 h. 51 min. ago more
  • Pervnado at the NFL, New Yorker, Larry King, NPR's AshbrookPervnado at the NFL, New Yorker, Larry King, NPR's Ashbrook

    seven more pervs today:NFL Network Employees Allegedly Groped Female Colleague">...Marshall Faulk, Ike Taylor and Heath Evans allegedly groped and made sexually explicit comments at her.... said Weinberger sent “several nude pictures of himself and sexually explicit texts” and told her she was “put on earth to pleasure me.” In the complaint, she also alleges Weinberger pressed his crotch against her shoulder and asked her to touch it.Taylor sent Cantor “sexually inappropriate” pictures of himself and a video of him masturbating in the shower. Go THERE for details.The New Yorker Fires Star Reporter Ryan Lizza Over ‘Improper Sexual Conduct’The magazine ‘severed ties’ with the political journalist best known for ending Anthony Scaramucci’s brief Trump White House career.The New Yorker has let go of its star reporter Ryan Lizza amid allegations of sexual misconduct, the magazine confirmed Monday.

    Atheism Analyzed / 8 h. 11 min. ago more
  • Boomers and Gen Zyklon, a Gen X MetaphorBoomers and Gen Zyklon, a Gen X Metaphor

    Too funny - read it all there:Baby Boomers as Explained by Gen X

    Atheism Analyzed / 9 h. 9 min. ago
  • Time for Churches to Support Mandatory ReportingTime for Churches to Support Mandatory Reporting

    By Mattinbgn (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia CommonsI've made it fairly clear that I'm not a fan of outrage. I believe that the sort of chronic undifferentiated outrage we encounter on social media these days probably does more harm than good. Still, I'd never argue that selective outrage serves no purpose. I'd also never claim that there aren't plenty of things worth getting outraged about.The sexual abuse of children by clergy and the well-documented efforts of church hierarchy to conceal these crimes and protect known perpetrators are some of the things that should provoke outrage. Of course, what I'd really like to see is evidence that this outrage is leading to meaningful change to prevent such abuse from happening. But so far, this appears to be elusive. In fact, church leadership often seems to be an obstacle.According to the National Secular Society, "Survivors and campaigners have accused the Archbishop of Canterbury of being 'evasive' and failing to offer 'clear leadership' over child abuse." Again and again, we have seen evidence of church leadership circling the wagons to protect known abusers. And when such evidence comes to light and church officials have the opportunity to do something about it (e.g., mandatory reporting), we see them fail.Mandatory reporting is an excellent example of something religious institutions could implement that should make a difference. As the National Secular Society explains, mandatory reporting requirements "...would mean Church officials who had reasonable grounds for suspecting child abuse and failed to inform the authorities would be breaking the law." So what are we to make of religious institutions who refuse to support such requirements? It seems to me that we have to suspect that they aren't serious about preventing abuse or assisting in the prosecution of those who perpetrate it.Copyright © 2017 Atheist Revolution.

    Atheist Revolution / 10 h. 27 min. ago more
  • Pervnado Abused?Pervnado Abused?

    E! Investigating Ryan Seacrest Misconduct ClaimThis claim might well be bogus:According to the Hollywood Reporter, the alleged victim is said to have, through her representation, made a substantial financial ask in exchange for her silence, however, Seacrest declined via his lawyers.This is a fairly blatant blackmail fail which shows the character of the accuser. Thus it's likely false.It was only time before entrepreneurial women would seize the opportunity for profit presented by Pervnado.I think it is empirically observable that only the Left asserts accusation/belief/punishment without judicial process. A woman's accusation automatically condemns the man being accused. The Left holds firm to that policy even as it eats its own. Many of the accused admit to their "issues" anyway, with newfound "remorse". When they attempt to condemn those on the Right who are accused, they are furious that full, immediate condemnation is held off until proper adjucation occurs. Innocent until PROVEN guilty, and all that. Left not really into that.As for the continuing Leftist purge, I personally accept their condemnations because these are narrative mongers who play within their own narrative and are nailed by their own narrative hypocrisies. Even ignoring that most if not all of them being purged really are scum. They need to follow Weiner's path into prison. Line them up, dress them in orange, herd them through the automatic gate.I'm not certain about Judge Roy Moore, except that the yearbook fraud is looking like possible jail time for Allred, rather than Moore. Other Moore accusers need to prove their "abuse". Because: Innocent until PROVEN guilty.ADDENDUM: Case in Point:Democrat Accused of Masturbating in Front of Lobbyist Resigns, Denies AllegationsFor Democrat California Assemblyman Matt Dababneh, the narrative has won: the accusation is the verdict. Who knows what actually happened?

    Atheism Analyzed / 1 d. 4 h. 55 min. ago more
  • Plan to publicly fund damaged cathedral meets oppositionPlan to publicly fund damaged cathedral meets opposition

    Almost seven years ago ‘acts of God’ in the form of earthquakes damaged buildings – including a deconsecrated Anglican cathedral –  in Christchurch, New Zealand. But a plan to use get residents to contribute cash rebuild the cathedral has not gone down well with many local residents, according to this report. In September, the Anglican Synod voted to rebuild the ChristChurch Cathedral, which had been damaged on no fewer than six occasions by earthquakes between 1881 (coincidentally when the Freethinker was first published) and 2011. The plan came with various funding pledges, including a $10-million (£5.7-m)  grant from the Christchurch City Council. But after public consultation, the council found the majority of residents did not believe ratepayers should foot part of the bill. A total of 1,063 people lodged objections to the grant. Spreydon resident, Janet Begg, was among them, and she said the Christchurch City Council should not waste a cent of ratepayers’ money on it. It’s not one of the core functions of the Christchurch City Council … we have far more important things to be doing. We are supposed to be a secular country and our rates should not be used to prop up the Anglicans. The campaign to restore the cathedral, at a cost of $104-m (£53.77-m), already came with significant financial support, including a separate $25-m (£12.93) pledge from the government. The Greater Christchurch Building Trust pledged another $13.5-m (£7-m), and believed it could raise more money. The Anglican Church’s insurance payout of  $42-m (£21.7-m), would also be used. In October, the Christchurch City Council voted that its $10-m contribution, if passed, would be raised through targeted rates. Celia Hogan, who was a direct descendant of the city’s first Anglican bishop, Henry Harper, did not think a small rates increase was too much to ask for. I think it’s very affordable and very beneficial for our city … it only equates to about 23 cents per week … per ratepayer. The council grant also had the backing of the New Zealand Stone Mason’s Association, and its spokesperson, Paul Gautron, said it would give some stone masons a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The chance to train apprentices, to give them the experience of working on a project like that, it’s not something that happens on a regular basis [anywhere in the world]. It would be an honour for any stone mason to work on that building. A Hearings Panel, made up of Christchurch’s councillors and the Mayor, Lianne Dalziel, will discuss the submissions at a meeting on Thursday. Christchurch Anglicans are currently worshipping in a cathedral made of cardboard. It has been decribed as “kitsch” by the Wizard of New Zealand, London-born Ian Brackenbury Channell, 85, above. He strongly campaigned against the plan to demolish the cathedral and build a new one on the site.

    The Freethinker / 1 d. 7 h. 2 min. ago more
  • #RaptureAnxiety: Evangelical Torture of the Mind#RaptureAnxiety: Evangelical Torture of the Mind

    I’m not on Twitter as much as I used to be, but I did spot this trending hashtag: #RaptureAnxiety, started by evangelicals and “exvangelicals” testifying to the mental anguish and terror that an apocalyptic Christian upbringing inflicted on them. One of the earliest threads that started the hashtag off was this one by Mandi Livingston: […]

    Daylight Atheism / 1 d. 7 h. 55 min. ago more
  • cBScBS

    Atheism Analyzed / 1 d. 10 h. 58 min. ago
  • What's With Democrats and Lunch Counter Discrimination?What's With Democrats and Lunch Counter Discrimination?

    Lunch Counters THEN:....Lunch Counters NOW:At least in the 50's they got to sit at the counter.

    Atheism Analyzed / 1 d. 23 h. 13 min. ago
  • Are you willing to use your personal BS detector on your own holy book?Are you willing to use your personal BS detector on your own holy book?

    By John Draper ~ The most incredulous person in the world is a fundamentalist who is reading someone else’s holy book. Suddenly, they can smell subterfuge a mile away.But point out something ridiculous about their holy book—and watch the fur fly. Obvious discrepancies are “apparent” discrepancies. Any “apparent discrepancy” a True Believer can’t resolve is an “unsolved mystery.” We’ll just have to ask God about that when we get to heaven.Everybody seems to have a personal bullshit detector, which they’re eager to use on all holy texts except their own.I discovered this truth when I was researching my first novel, which is about a Mormon missionary who goes insane on his mission. I read more books about Mormonism than you can shake a stick at it. How can people believe this crap? Then I read the Book of Mormon itself.Here’s the Book of Mormon in 79 words: It was Jews who populated North America, coming over first in wooden submarines. The good Jews were “white and delightsome.” The evil Jews were given a black skin so God could tell them apart. They built a vast steel-smelting, chariot-driving civilization and engaged in battles that left millions rotting on the field of battle. After his resurrection, Jesus showed up and quoted the New Testament, King James Version. Meanwhile, elephants roamed the heartland in a vain search for peanuts.Amen.The Book of Mormon’s an obvious fraud—obvious to non-Mormons, that is—the whole thing written in a wooden King James English. In fact, large swaths of the Book of Mormon were lifted whole hog from the 1611 edition of the King James Version, including all of that version’s errors. Joseph Smith obviously had a King James Bible at his elbow when he “translated” the golden plates.What he needed was a National Geographic. He was woefully ill informed about the nature of Pre-Columbia America. There was no steel, silk, bumblebees, or wheels in the land before the Spanish arrived. No elephants either.What’s more, no archeologist—that is, no non-Mormon archeologist—has ever found a scintilla of evidence for these civilizations. And they’ve looked. A lot. No roads or temples. No Hebrew writing. No kosher delis. And never has anyone ever found Arrowhead One from these hyperbolic bloodbaths in upstate New York.And the Mormon apologists’ justifications of these “problems” are so tortured as to be hilarious. For example, the Book of Mormon claims Pre-Columbia America was lousy with horses. The Book of Mormon has the ancient Americans riding them into battle all the time. Non-Mormon scientists point out that there is absolutely no evidence that horses existed on the American continent during the 3,000-year history of the Book of Mormon. None. Horses evolved in North America but grew extinct at the end of the Pleistocene. Horses did not reappear in the Americas until the Spaniards brought them from Europe.What was the response from Mormon apologists? When the Book of Mormon said “horses,” it really meant—ready for it?—tapirs.Tapirs. Can’t you just see the ancient Americans riding out to battle on their tapir-drawn chariots?And Mormons wonder why people make fun of them.But when I stopped chuckling, I was struck by an inconvenient truth, as Al Gore says. I couldn’t help but compare the Mormon apologists’ apologies to those proffered by evangelical apologists.One example out of many: Just exactly how many angels did the women encounter when they came upon Jesus’ empty tomb? The gospels vary. Some say two; some say one.Well, to solve this conundrum, I went to—where else?—the internet. I found the website for J. Warner Wallace, a cold-case homicide detective and adjunct professor of apologetics at Biola University. He calls his ministry Cold-Case Christianity.Using his hard-won detective skills, Wallace concludes that there were two angels at the tomb. One rolled away the stone. Both helped Jesus from the tomb. His conclusion: Matthew does not say there was only one angel. John and Luke say there were two—and wherever there are two, there is always at least one!Where do I start?The gospels weren’t written by eyewitnesses. The gospels were put to paper 30 years after the crucifixion of Jesus. Thirty. During those 30 years, the stories of Jesus were told and retold and amended and exaggerated across the Roman Empire. Over in this geography, Jesus did/said X. Over there, he did/said Y.The gospels say different things because they were written for different faith communities hundreds of miles apart from each other. They couldn’t fact check one another. To say they even saw the need to fact check belies a modern worldview. The church then wasn’t even remotely what it is now. It wasn’t even the church.When True Believers like Wallace defend the Bible, they’re not doing so based on thorough examination of the data. Rather, they start by assuming their point of view is correct and then sift through the data to find that which confirms their assumptions.It’s not that I think they’re stupid. Wallace is probably smarter than me, which isn’t that difficult. It’s not a matter of intelligence. It’s a matter of motive.Apologists have an agenda.Apologists have an agendaApologists don’t seek the truth. If they did, they’d be willing to go where the data takes them. They defend the truth as they see it. Which means they dismiss and deflect. They engage in rhetorical prestidigitation. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!True Believers use apologists like castor oil. They don’t read their stuff on a regular basis. It’s as dry as dirt. But if a nonbeliever presses them with a question they can’t answer, they run to the apologists, read their baloney, and heave a sigh of relief—comforted that “smart people have dealt with these issues.”Ask yourself this question: If your religion were false, would you want to know it? Most folks say no, which means job security for apologists.http://johndraperauthor.com/

    ExChristian.Net / 2 d. 0 h. 42 min. ago more
  •  An atheist obeys 1 Peter 3:15 An atheist obeys 1 Peter 3:15

    By Thin-ice ~ (Prelude: I was a Bible school grad, a missionary in Europe, and de-converted about 8 years ago, after 46 years as an evangelical, born-again Christian. I have posted my original de-conversion story, and 3 or 4 subsequent updates, here on Ex-christian.net, first under the name "Portland Guy", and then under "Thin-Ice". Here's another small episode, that I experienced today.)Today I was on the Portland streetcar, when I saw a young fellow near me, wearing a t-shirt with the name of a small rural high school near where I grew up in Spokane, WA. He was also writing in a journal which had a cover with an embossed Bible verse reference. I decided not to talk to him, seeing that we had different worldviews. But my curiosity got the best of me: maybe we knew people in common in that rural community.So I asked if he went to school there, and I mentioned the name of the church I grew up in, thinking he might even have attended there. But he didn't, but he asked about the church, as he knew of it, and I mentioned that though I grew up there, went to Multnomah Bible College (where friends of his attended), and at one time was a missionary in Europe, I gave up my faith about 8 years ago.We went on to reminisce about the area, and skiing at Mt. Spokane, and other things. But he returned to my departure from faith, and said he wanted to know what caused me to stop believing in God.So, reluctantly, and very apologetically, I answered his question. Basically that I wasn't mad at God, or mad at any church experience, but that I had to be intellectually convinced (after 46 years!!) that the Christian worldview was true. I said that to me, the biblical concept of hell, and original sin, and blood sacrifice, seemed like completely human concepts. And if there were a supreme being, which I don't rule out, he certainly wasn't the biblical God. And that he wouldn't condemn me to eternal torture because my belief system was wrong.So eventually we came to his stop, and we wished each other a nice day. I felt he was truly curious, and although I did not set out to "de-convert" him, I ironically thought of the words of 1 Peter 3:15, which says "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness...". I thought I had obeyed scripture admirably! (And I had the distinct feeling that the 3 or 4 people around us were listening intently.)

    ExChristian.Net / 2 d. 0 h. 42 min. ago more
  • A letter about leaving Christianity in mid-lifeA letter about leaving Christianity in mid-life

    By Susan ~ This is a letter I sent to my loved ones that have been concerned about me... Hi Family and Friends:)Many of you have been interested/concerned/curious about my recent stepping away from the church/christianity, and I wanted to take some time to share my heart so you can better understand my decision.First off, thank you so much for loving me.It has been a long journey.  I once was a wide-eyed, the-world-is-my-oyster-as-long-as-I-love-Jesus kind of a girl.  I was unwavering in my faith and wanted nothing more than to live my life well, pure from pretty much anything of ‘the world’.  I was the girl that my friends would apologize to after swearing.  I felt SO guilty after drinking beer in Jen Carter’s basement in Grade 8 that I promised God I would never go to a party again.  I was always trying to bring other teens to youth group or a DC Talk (Kevin Max tho'....such a dreamboat...) or Micheal W. Smith (less hairspray and tanning cream please!) concert, or anything, especially, that would have an altar call.  For our dry grad event at KSS, there was a contest for the best skit.  My friends and I decided to do a dramatic 'demons vs angels' skit to a narrative song by Carman.  So yeah, I was that girl.(For your viewing delight, please see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGKbhYmBVKs )  Naturally, after high school ended, I went to 'Youth With a Mission' which is about as all-in as it gets.  We were a bunch of charismatic young missionaries ready to change the world with...you guessed it...more Carman skits!!!  There were hundreds of people in Waikiki blessed by our amazing 18 year old selves flinging our arms out like Jesus on a cross, followed by some stellar hip hop/cheerleading moves to the music pounding out of the ghettoblaster (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/ghetto-blaster).  On another note, we once ‘witnessed’ to some Pearl Harbor naval officers who gave us a ride down Kalakaua Avenue in a limo...they must have been so touched by our powerful testimony;)I digress...The next 10 years were exactly as I imagined them to be.  I married my youth group love at the tender age of 19, we bought a house, I worked and Josh went to school, we moved to California after Josh was offered a great job in Silicon Valley, and began to plan for a family.  I had a blues band that I absolutely loved performing in, but I often felt guilty for performing in ‘the world’ and I questioned my motives constantly.  Am I just giving in to the world?  Am I still a humble servant?  Do I come across as prideful?  Should I be showing off like this?  I so wanted Jesus to be proud of me and I hated the thought that I may be failing him.Ugh.  I so wish I could go back and tell that girl just to let loose and rock out like a 24 year old musician in San Francisco should:)After trying to get pregnant for about a year, Josh and I finally conceived our baby girl twinsies.  It was a beautiful pregnancy besides the ridiculous morning sickness, and in Aug 2004 our hearts came out into the world in the form of our Gracie and Rose.I was so ready to be their Mom and damnit, I was going to be amazing at it!  I put a lot of pressure on myself which ended up making my (then-undiagnosed) anxiety disorder even worse.  I was having panic attacks within days of their birth, I couldn’t eat a thing, and I remember calling the doctor and telling him I was positive that I was dying because my legs were too skinny:)  I didn’t show this part of myself to the world, as I didn’t want to seem ungrateful for this great gift that God had given us.  I put on my smile everyday and told myself to be thankful and I prayed for strength to be the best Mom I could be.20 months later, I found myself in the Mental Health Unit at El Camino Hospital, handing in my belt and my earphones, and closing the door to the naivety of my youth.  Hasta la vista, babay.  I had been pushed to the end of me and fell into a deep, dark depression that took years to climb out of.In this season, I clung tightly to my faith.  I felt that this must be a lesson for me and I continued to try and see the positive as often as I could.  Perhaps this is happening to me so that I can be a help to others in this situation?  Or maybe God wanted me to witness to those people in the psych ward?  I mean, God must have a plan for all this.  Since he ‘knows the plans he has for me’, he obviously had this all sorted.  Okay then, onwards and upwards, push, push, push...back to church, back to music ministry, back to bible study, back to the only thing I knew.The next 8 years were basically me trying to be as faithful a servant as possible.  I was going to win God’s favour like a beeotch!  Ne’er was there a person that wanted to be a better Christian.  I was attending a church that placed a lot of value on church involvement, so I took every course I could, led worship, joined a mommies group, stressed out about whether or not we were tithing enough, sat in the front pews (as a leader in the church I was expected to always sit in the first few rows and to keep notes) and basically just devoured what I could of the bible in expectation of freedom from depression and anxiety.  If God’s plan was for good for me and if he wants health for me, then he and I were going to be TIGHT!  And I was going to kick this thing!  Hurrayyyyy!!!!  Go team!!!!When I wasn’t at church, I was struggling.  The church building and community made me feel hopeful so I loved being there, but when I was at home, my anxiety had to be constantly managed.  I lost my shit on my daughters from time to time, with one awesome memory of actually damaging my vocal chords from screaming so loud.  I got up early each day to do my morning devotions and went on many long drives with calm worship music playing...and I kept believing for my full healing.  At this time I encouraged our family to make a switch to a much smaller, more charismatic church in our community.  I loved that the worship time (which was always very calming and life-giving) had no limit and that they were fervent in their belief that God could work miracles.  For 3 years we served faithfully there and enjoyed the small community.  Around this same time, several of my family members began experiencing significant, life-altering challenges.  Their pain affected all of us, and I found myself trying (and failing) to balance my need to try and help them with my need to protect my fragile nervous system from stress.  Ultimately, the weight of my loved ones struggles, coupled with the ongoing anxiety disorder that I had been living with for 8 years, crushed me.  I found myself, once again, in a bed, body shaking, darkness overtaking me, and living minute to minute.The leaders of the church we were attending believed wholeheartedly that the struggle I was going through was the result of demonic oppression/spiritual warfare.  Over the course of 2 weeks, my leaders (who were operating with only the best of intentions), screamed and prayed over me that the demons leave my body.  At one point, they asked me if I had any sins that I hadn't asked for forgiveness for.  I spoke out personal and intimate struggles that I never would have shared with the male leader had I not been in distress.  But, the prayers didn't fix me, so I went to my doctor and my beloved Psychologist...and they used their years of education and experience with my disease to bring me to a place of health again.But, the prayers didn't fix me, so I went to my doctor and my beloved Psychologist...and they used their years of education and experience with my disease to bring me to a place of health again.As my nerves began to calm down and the seratonin receptors in my brain got themselves sorted, I began to see clearly for the first time in a very long time.  I was able to do things that I hadn't dreamed of doing for years.  I felt powerful for the first time in over a decade and on many levels it felt like a re-birth.  I began to rebuild my life using my passions and talents as a guide rather than the expectations that I felt 'the church/the bible/God' had for me... and it was amazing.  I made music without feeling guilty about it.  I took my physical health more seriously and got my body in shape.  I began a non-profit organization in the inner city of Vancouver and was blown away by the response from the 'secular' community.  I had always had the feeling that people were good, but that the Christians were the ones that had it really sorted.  However, I found that many people in 'the world', are quite amazing...full of love...so ready to serve the poor and the hurting, so compassionate, so empathetic and open-minded.Open-minded.  That was a new concept for me.  Because as much as one can try to have an open mind within the constraints of a faith, there are always barriers.  Like on the Truman Show when his sailboat punctures the outer wall of his bubble world, christianity has a wall where full acceptance can't happen without that person 'becoming a christian'.  I was Truman and I had arrived at a place where I simply could not keep a closed mind anymore.  After coming to an understanding of the real and deep pain that many people experience on a daily basis, I was unable to look struggling people in the eye and tell them that God has a plan for them.  Sometimes life is just plain old messed up.  I get so angry by meme's on facebook or instagram that say that "God works all things out for good".  Because...when your baby is dying, or your spouse has cancer, or your house is burning down....that is not, f-ing good!  There is absolutely nothing good about it.  (PS.  My apologies to anyone that I have ever said that to...ugh...)  In the charismatic circles I ran in, there is a lot of listening to and speaking out God's voice.  We all would get deep in prayer to listen to the Holy Spirit and then share or write down what God was saying.  I often thought that I had heard from God and to be honest, that is all very confusing to me now.  For instance, I was sure I was going to adopt an African son and I even had his name picked out.  For years, that name was my password on many things.  That obviously hasn't happened and naturally that messes with my head a bit!  If I didn't hear him in those moments, did I ever actually hear him at all?  Have I been brainwashed by my environment since I was a child?  OMG this is getting long.  Blessed be those that have read this far;)Okay, so here I am, at mid-life, with an entirely new perception of life and faith...which pretty much trickles down into every area of my life.  I feel free, far more free, in fact, than I have ever felt.  But it is very challenging as I am questioning basically everything I have ever been taught up to this point.  As you can imagine, this has been very difficult for me, and for some of my loved ones (and it may be hard for you too:).  I ask only for grace, and peace, and love, as I redefine myself (once again).  I have decided to step away entirely from the christian faith for now so that I can experience life outside the ideals and expectations of the church and can sort out where my beliefs lay.Thanks for loving me,Susan

    ExChristian.Net / 2 d. 0 h. 43 min. ago more
  • A letter to my children: Emma, who is 27 years old and Dustin, who is 24 years oldA letter to my children: Emma, who is 27 years old and Dustin, who is 24 years old

    By Dorothy Husen, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist: submitted by Karen Garst ~ Dear Emma & Dustin,These are my greatest hopes and desires for you today as I write this letter:             For you to love and accept yourselves;              For you to feel comfortable with who you are; and              For you to trust your intuition to be your inner guide through life.             These desires are quite different from when I was a Christian.             When I was your Christian mom, my greatest desires for you were:                          For you to recognize your need for God;                           For you to believe in Jesus to save you from hell; and                          For you to find your purpose and guidance through faith in Christ.I don’t think that any of these desires has anything to do with my love for you. I love you now and I loved you then. What HAS changed is my love for myself.Over the last six years, I’ve been healing in therapy from my childhood trauma of emotional and sexual abuse and at the same time I’ve been deconverting from Christianity to Atheism. I know you’ve felt the change. Both of you have mentioned it to me.

    ExChristian.Net / 2 d. 0 h. 44 min. ago more
  • Expansion Expansion

    By Tania ~ My world has expanded. I am seeing a bigger picture now. There is so much is out there, out in the real world. My focus used to be so narrow!Those are some of the phrases that I catch myself thinking and saying nowadays, as “post-Christian Tania” who has settled more into this life and is continuing to let go of the bits of religion that linger. Chances are, there will always be some things that I miss about the lengthy chapter of my “churched” life, but I’m moving on. As time goes on, I am appreciating the expansion of my world. There’s the freedom to question, to explore, to totally turn things on their heads and see them in a new light.The thing I remember most clearly about summer of 2011 — the year of the start of my deconversion — is curling up on my fake leather couch in my basement suite and reading, reading, reading. Unable to find satisfying answers to my “big questions” by reading books written by religious (mostly Christian) authors, I decided to…yes, carefully, hesitantly, a bit guiltily…read books written by agnostics, atheists, skeptics, and non-religious or “backslidden” people. To my surprise, a lot of the books made sense. I “got” them. The authors frankly discussed matters that I used to think were “bad” — they tossed around the concept that God might not be real, or that the Bible might be written soley by people, or that Jesus might have been less than the saviour the of the world. I spent much of that summer on my couch, and at the library, and on websites that I never would have glanced at the year before. Early one morning, around 2am, I sat at my kitchen table and I realized that God was no longer real to me. My world seemingly shattered. And my world got bigger.I’ve often heard that for many people who deconvert from their religion, there is a period of about two years early on in the deconversion that are the most intense. There are challenges and changes that happen for years afterwards, but this two-year period is an especially intense roller-coaster ride. It is a time of letting go of many things, and a time of letting in new ways of being and doing. During that period of my life, a few other big life events also took place. In the winter of 2012, I moved to a new town, started a job at a funeral home, and became involved in an unhealthy relationship with a man who eventually became my fiance (and then, not much later, my ex). Those four circumstances quickly led to what I call my “Summerland chapter,” and it was not fun. There were numerous times when I thought, I can’t do this anymore; every single tiny task seems so monumental; why bother with anything? And yet, looking back now, I see that my world was made bigger. I saw a lot. I felt a lot. My mind entered places that I never imagined. Luckily, eventually, I emerged.For quite a long time, I tried to maintain some of the routines of a Christian’s life; but as time went on, I necessarily dropped them. My church attendance became more sporadic. I struggled with praying…then I gave it a break for a while…then I forgot to pray… then eventually I realized that I just couldn’t do it anymore. My Bible stayed on the shelf. I decided to attend the Centre for Spiritual Living instead of regular church. There, I had permission to believe or not believe. I was encouraged to let go of the things that no longer serve me. I was reminded that if something does not resonate with me, I do not have to go along with it. These were new concepts to me. Some Sunday mornings, I decided to not attend any type of service anywhere. I slept in. I went to coffee shops and the art gallery, and I walked by the lake. I saw how other people did Sunday mornings.As my Christian beliefs and routines began to crumble, so did my connection with my Christian circle. I no longer had much in common with the church people. I felt out of place, awkward, upset. I wanted to hold on to the community, but I felt torn — should I just fake it and keep things the same, or should I be true to myself? I reminded myself that even though church was where I most “belonged,” I did have some good friends at work; in fact, sometimes I felt just as comfortable with them as I did with all the Christians.Of course, loss and rebuilding happen in many areas of life, and often in areas where we least expect it. Around the time of the “peak” of my deconversion — and for reasons mostly unrelated to it — I lost a good friend. No, I lost one of my closest friends, someone I definitely thought I’d be friends with for forever. I never really believed in “best friends,” but if I would have had to pick one at that time, it was her. The story of us was good, at least as far as I knew. It was easy and fun. We saw each other often, talked on the phone quite frequently, spent hours in pleasant silence. We went on road trips, watched movies, went to the fall fair together almost every year for years. A problem arose, and it never was resolved. Overnight, almost, things changed; and no amount of attempts to correct it seemed to be enough. Looking back on the past ten years or so, I did eventually see the red flags in our relationship, but still…still, it was a shock, and it took me a long time to recover. Gradually, I learned to allow other friendships to develop to the depth that I’d had with my old friend. As I waited for her and also for the church people to ask “What’s going on? How are you?” and to come running after me, I felt the emptiness when that didn’t happen… and as I reached out to other people and they reached out to me, I slowly began to see that maybe, just maybe, the potential for friendship and closeness exists even outside of my old friend and “the family of God.” My eyes were opened a bit more to the rest of the human population.I’ve often heard that for many people who deconvert from their religion, there is a period of about two years early on in the deconversion that are the most intense. One of my favourites quotes is by Bertrand Russell: “Even if the open windows of science at first make us shiver after the cozy indoor warmth of traditional humanizing myths, in the end the fresh air brings vigor, and the great spaces have a spendor of their own.” When we allow ourselves to see more of the world, it can feel wrong sometimes. However, if we can manage to push aside the obstacles — our fears, or the rules we grew up with, perhaps — it can be a wonderful thing to see all of creation in a new light.Since that summer of countless hours of reading on my fake leather couch, I’ve become more curious, more fascinated, more free. I definitely want to keep exploring.

    ExChristian.Net / 2 d. 0 h. 44 min. ago more
  • God Ain't Nothin' but a Tool God Ain't Nothin' but a Tool

    By Carl S ~ My former co-worker was a black man raised in Alabama. He'd quote words of wisdom from his father, who lived through years of extreme racial prejudice in the American South. One time, my partner was summoned to the office on what he suspected were trumped-up allegations against him, and told me, “My daddy always said, 'Never give a man a stick to beat you with.”' Isn't “God” a stick used by others to beat you into feeling guilty or embarrassed about anything harmless you think or do - whenever they want you to?One dictionary definition of a tool is: “a means or instrument.” Words, as symbols, are tools. A physical tool is an extension of an organic body's abilities; symbols are tools of the imagination, extensions of ideas. For thousands of years it was believed only humans made tools, but observations have confirmed other animals make tools to accomplish their wants and needs. Humans, with more wants, needs, and more solution-driven complex imaginations, can create very sophisticated tools for their ends. And their ends may be solely for control over things: nature, animals, or other humans. Tools can be used for both good and bad purposes.All tools originate as ideas, the mental processes of a mind. If they are successful, their uses become habits. Whatever becomes acceptable in words and pictures is also a tool. Some say the penned words are mightier than the sword. Words often create a reality of their own. Words can illuminate the mind or blind with bullshit. Gods, being words, are also tools; they're also fabricated from the imagination, used to accomplish ends beyond normal human capabilities. The accepted “God” who knows and is the ultimate explanation for everything, also defined as an all-potent creator, is an infinite egotistic extension of man the creator, his “words” the pronouncements of, obviously, man the know-it-all blowhard. This “God” is the ego's ultimate blowhard.The most ignorant, cleverest, and the most indifferent to truth, are the ones who most often employ this “God-tool” for their ends.Consider the “God-tool” user experts: Whenever you hear a political speech or any pronouncement from a clergy member, or read a letter to the editor emphasizing “God” as authority authorizing their point of view, know that they use “God” as a tool to intimidate, to force, to deter the listener and reader from questioning them. Whenever they say “God,” its case closed, what further needs to be said? They are telling those who disagree to just shut up. “God” is a gun, is a weapon used to bludgeon thought, and the objections and observations of those who know differently, suspecting the “God's will” invokers are lyingand/or self-deluded. The invokers themselves know “God” is invisible and even “He” will not contradict them! What tool would contradict its user? The God tool can be used to justify any purposes.The most ignorant, cleverest, and the most indifferent to truth, are the ones who most often employ this “God-tool” for their ends. Being a tool, “God” is not responsible for the results of “his” tool-users, who use “him” to emotionally put a church together or to mentally beat others with that same hammer. Anything they want to do with this tool, they can, for it's neutral. “God the Tool” is silent, impotent, unprotesting, powerless, immobile. There's no “infinite power” to their “God!” The whole creator-god idea was crafted by men who make tools to suit their purposes. The only power of “God” is finite power, and it comes from the way the “tool” is used. All god-tools are products of imaginations. And we know many fictional characters become successful tools!Float above while free thinking on these things whenever someone tells you what “God” wants, thinks, feels, or demands, especially since your mental health is concerned. Beware, stay clear of, and laugh at them. Don't let them make a toolof you, too.“There is not sufficient love and goodness in the world to permit us to give some of it to imaginary beings.” - Nietzsche.

    ExChristian.Net / 2 d. 0 h. 45 min. ago more
  • An Earthquake in My FaithAn "Earthquake" in My Faith

    By Srdjan ~ Firstly, excuse me for my bad English, I am citizen of an ex-communist country. My name is Srdjan (derived from greek Sergios, meaning Saint from Hyos) and surname Michailovic (like famous writer Fyodor Michailovic Dostoevsky, looooool..)During my school years atheism was imposed to us pupils. I thought that humankind during thousands of years believed in God, and that my teachers must be wrong, that they cannot be smarter than many previous generations which believed in Christ, so I started to read and study Bible daily, and regularly attend orthodox Church (at least twice a week). I had met many interesting people there, and we all thought that we were right and the rest of the world was wrong. All we hated atheism, and communists (in spite of evangelical "love your enemies") for their imposing dialectical materialism and evolution as final truth that must be learned in school as "scientific" worldview. For my opposition to majority in school I had problems with my teachers (they were informed by someone that group of pupils attend Church under guidance of "some" Michailovic). I was stubborn in defending my faith. I remember that I responded them that religion is constitutional right of every person in the state and that they should let me to do what I appreciate. I had high estimations in subjects that we learned and they lessen their pressure on me.Next problem occurred during my service in army. That was communist army. Military officer found my hidden Bible which I secretly had read ( I could not live without Bible, the Word of God as I firmly believed in those times.). I had been summoned by officers of my company, and was threatened with sending to jail, because any religious literature was forbidden to posses during military service. I proudly responded that even in jail I would read my Scripture, that Christ taught people to love each other...I was proud to be like martyrs in old Roman army. In the end they did not send me to the (military) jail, but they took away my Bible.When I finished my military service I continued to study scriptures and endeavor to live Christian life. Few girls wanted me to date with them, but I refused because they did not share my Christian beliefs, although I liked them very much. It was some kind of psychological conflict in my soul, not so easy. And I began to pursue bachelor degree in Chemistry, I became young student.First "earthquake" in my faith was in considering unfulfilled prophecies of Isaiah that Tyre and Damascus will be destroyed by God. All we know that these towns are still standing whole, and are of the oldest towns on the earth. After that came mismatched genealogies (Matthew an Luke), many other contradictions in Bible, earth and herbal world created before Sun and stars, ancient primitive three tiered cosmology, unicorns and other fictional monsters in the book of prophet Isaiah, unanswered prayers and so on, and so on.....I began to consider myself an agnostic. I suppose that there is some kind of High Power in the Universe, some "transcendental reality", but no one know what it is. No philosopher in the whole world does not know...Some say it is matter, some say it is eternal and unbounded energy or something else...Maybe it is..But, THERE IS SOMETHING.I think it is important to know that mystery HAS SOME SOLUTION. Maybe humankind will never attain the answer. Maybe will...I do not know.In any case I feel freed from religious restrictions in my behavior. Leastwise I may date any woman regardless of her attitude towards Christianity .

    ExChristian.Net / 2 d. 0 h. 45 min. ago more
  • VOTE BIBLE?VOTE BIBLE?

    By Steven Dustcircle ~ On the way to the gym, I drive by this house that has a weird display.For years, this rickety, little house has a weathering paint job, rusty vintage vehicles, and a roughly constructed wooden cross shoved into a hole in the ground. Across the crossbeam are crudely-painted, blue capital letters reading, VOTE BIBLE.Perhaps—like myself—you've already mentally pictured the type of person that would do this. You've drawn him or her, or a couple and their kids, in your head. Like me, maybe you've put together their theology or how they would debate you considering religious matters. Maybe you've put together their voting patterns and maybe what kind of work they do, or what kind of health they are in.I mean, really, what kind of person puts a homemade Etsy reject in the front of their property, to face a fairly busy street of traffic for everyone to see.VOTE BIBLEWhat does that even mean? Any theologian—and layman—would tell you that the Bible has varying degrees of different views and stances. This isn't only because of the mistakes and inconsistencies, but also because the Bible cover to cover isn't constructed as a guide for behavior (or how to vote!).Most of the Bible is a collection of stories set in a supposed historical context. While some of the book is a collection of poetry, genealogies and letters, most of it is about people in one part of the world (in a period of 4000 years) behaving badly, claiming to be People of God. Within the Bible are sadly many instances of murder, incest, rape, child abuse, plural marriage, drunkenness and more. These tales, true or not, are passed off as how the forefathers of Judaism and eventually Christianity acted in history. Yes, the People of God.What does that mean, to VOTE BIBLE?So, let's get back to that painted cross in my city. What does that mean, to VOTE BIBLE?Vote for murder? Vote for child rape? Vote for slavery? Vote for pillaging foreigners' lands?I doubt that this is the intent of the crafters at this particular residence. They probably mean to vote for “morality.” Vote for convictions. Vote for whichever candidate that claims to be the more robust Christian.I assume that this is what they mean, but I am still quite embarrassed for them.While I kind of see where they are coming from, the ignorance that they are displaying for the whole city to read is rather numbing. To try and show off how spiritual they are—how godly they are—they are instead making themselves look foolish.Sure they think they might look like a beacon of light to those who don't know any better, but for those of us who have read and studied the actual Bible cover to cover—over long periods of time (and with other scholars)—they are showing nothing in boldness but their bare asses.

    ExChristian.Net / 2 d. 0 h. 46 min. ago more
  • Alabama Conservatives are Right: Roy Moore’s Behavior is Perfectly BiblicalAlabama Conservatives are Right: Roy Moore’s Behavior is Perfectly Biblical

    By Valerie Tarico ~ Conservative Christians often proclaim that the Quran encourages marriage and molestation of girls who are too young for consent. But it’s rare that they take to the airwaves proclaiming that the Bible does the same. By citing the Bible and Christian tradition in defense of Roy Moore, that is exactly what they have done. And their arguments have merit.Moore is a former Alabama judge, now senate candidate, who believes emphatically that the Bible should take precedence over the U.S. constitution and American tradition of jurisprudence. He fought long and hard to keep his preferred version of the Ten Commandments—carved in stone—on display in the state supreme court. Moore boldly proclaims his allegiance to the Bible, citing verses at will. So, when he was accused recently of making unwanted sexual advances toward several young teens while a lawyer in his 30s, people accused him of hypocrisy. But if Moore’s only transgression was exploiting his greater age and status to seek sex or intimacy from teenagers, the accusation is unfair. Such behavior is perfectly biblical.1. In the Bible, females are created for the benefit of males. A man’s right to expect that females will serve his needs and desires is established on literally Page 2 of the Bible, in the second creation story in the book of Genesis. In this version of creation, Eve is made from Adam’s rib to be his “helpmeet” because none of the other animals is a suitable companion and helper for him. The next chapter, the well-known serpent-and-“apple” story, reveals even more about how the writers and their culture view women. After Adam and Eve eat from the Tree of Knowledge, God punishes Eve with a curse, saying: “I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16)This brief passage distills three core components of Judeo-Christian attitudes toward women that persisted down through the rest of the Bible and through the words of Church fathers, and into many modern day pulpits: 1. Discomfort or pain women feel around sexuality and childbearing are inevitable, even morally proper. 2. Regardless, women really want it. 3. Men are in charge.2. In the Bible, female consent is not a thing. The Bible talks about a lot of sexual couplings and marriages, and it gives a lot of options for the form that these relations can take—a man and a slave, a man and his brother’s wife, one man and two sisters, a man and hundreds of female concubines. Most of these can be found only in the Old Testament—the Bible shows clear evidence of cultural evolution over the centuries in which its texts were written—but nowhere in either the Old Testament or the New does a Bible writer communicate that a woman’s consent is needed before sex. (The Virgin Birth story itself reflects this moral-cultural nexus.)On the contrary. Like livestock, children, and slaves, reproductive-age women are legal chattel—property of their male owners, who also own their reproductive capacity and the “fruits of their womb.” The sexual consent required is that of the male owner: Young women are given by their fathers in marriage; sold, when necessary, into slavery; and taken as war booty. The New Testament accommodates evolving social mores, but it never condemns or reverses this arrangement, and wives, like slaves, are encouraged to submit to those God has rightfully placed in positions of power over them. 3. Unwanted sexual contact in the Bible is a violation not against a woman but against her male owner. Under Levitical law virginity is prized because when men know who has had sex with which females, they also know who fathered any offspring. Kin groups and family obligations are clear. By contrast, female fertility that isn’t regulated muddies things. A virgin who voluntarily has sex with a man, thus reducing her value as an economic asset, can be stoned. If she is raped against her will, her rapist can be forced to buy and keep the damaged goods as happens today under some forms of Sharia. In this worldview, Roy Moore may have come precariously close to violating the rights of the fathers of the young women he pursued, but that is not the accusation made against him, nor a question that his defenders have taken up.4. In the Bible, young women are commonly given to older men. Modern Westerners decry child marriage, for very good reasons. We recognize children as autonomous beings with human rights of their own, but we also recognize that cognitive and emotional capacities develop gradually over years and with them, the capacity to provide full and free consent. Caregivers (and our legal system) try to give young people choices in keeping with their capabilities but we also protect them, knowing they are easily pressured or manipulated by people who are older and more powerful.None of these concepts—human rights of children, cognitive development, full and free sexual consent—existed in the conceptual world of the Bible writers, rooted as they were in the Iron Age cultures of the Ancient Near East. Ignorance of child development, the legal status of women and children as chattel, and the view of female fertility as a family economic asset each incline families to swap female children for other goods as soon as they are sexually mature (or sometimes before).The Bible story of the Midianite virgins, suggests that even pre-pubescent children could become sexual property. In a battle with the Midianites, Israelite warriors are commanded to kill all the male adults and children among their defeated enemies, and all the women “who have been with a man.” But God’s anointed messenger tells them to keep the virgin females for themselves and gives them instructions on how to ritually purify the girls before having sex with them. Presumably most of these girls would have been pre-pubescent (or they wouldn’t have been unmarried virgins.)Even apart from this awful story, Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler pointed out that many biblical pairings are between older men and younger females:He’s clean as a hound’s tooth. Take the Bible. Zachariah and Elizabeth for instance. Zachariah was extremely old to marry Elizabeth and they became the parents of John the Baptist. . . . Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.5. Christian tradition has long assumed that Mary was a young teen. The Catholic Encyclopedia, citing customs at the time, says that the Mary of the Virgin Birth story would have been as young as 13. Jewish tradition allows betrothal at the age of 12 and consummation at sexual maturity. Outside of sacramental mythology, a story about an uneducated human girl getting impregnated by a powerful alien being would disturb many people. That Zeigler saw this rapey story as a defense of Moore’s behavior, says something about the extraordinary moral and ethical exceptions our society makes for religion.6. The Abrahamic sacred texts--the Quran and the Bible--largely agree on a God-given male-dominated gender hierarchy in which men can negotiate bodily rights to pubescent and prepubescent girls. Those Christians who find themselves appalled by Islam’s stories about the Prophet marrying multiple wives, one of whom is six years old at the time he acquires her—and those who are appalled more broadly by Islam’s subordination of women or the penchant of fundamentalist believers toward forcing young girls into marriage and killing females who transgress—would do well to remember this: The Quran contains little that is original. It derives from the same tribal shepherding culture that produced Judaism and Christianity, and much of it is explicitly derivative of the Bible itself.You might be surprised by how hard it can be to tell the two books apart. (Try it here.)  The differences may be real and consequential, but so are the similarities. All Abrahamic texts, taken literally, anchor believers to the Iron Age—a time when men alone were created in the image of a god, and women were vessels and helpmeets, and God favored patriarchs who he blessed with lots of male offspring born to not only their wives but also concubines and handmaids.The Bible contains fragments that are uplifting and beautiful—verses that record timeless wisdom and elevate humanity’s shared moral core. But that’s not all it contains. When it comes to relationships between woman and men, the contents of the Bible confront modern Jews and Christians with a difficult choice. Believers can treat the “Good Book” as the literal and perfect word of God or they can embrace an egalitarian view of men and women, one in which sexual intimacy is rooted in shared desire and consent. These two options are mutually exclusive, and people who say otherwise are engaged in a desperate attempt to protect the Bible from itself. Roy Moore has made his choice. You can call him disgusting, even vile, but don’t use the word hypocrite. Moore is living the script.None of these concepts—human rights of children, cognitive development, full and free sexual consent—existed in the conceptual world of the Bible writers, rooted as they were in the Iron Age cultures of the Ancient Near East.

    ExChristian.Net / 2 d. 0 h. 46 min. ago more
  • Christianity didn’t flow out of JudaismChristianity didn’t flow out of Judaism

    By John Draper ~ It was stapled on by the Church—and ham-handedly.I came to this realization the other day when I was busy arguing with myself on Facebook—my former self, my mid-20s Sold-Out-for-Jesus self. These young evangelicals and I were discussing my post No one has a personal relationship with God. I was trying to get them to see that the “relationship” they had with God was nothing special. It’s the same thing all devoted religious people have. In fact, what they call a “relationship with God” is just what nonbelievers call life. So when an evangelical says, “God has given me a peace about this decision,” a nonbeliever just calls it “gut instinct.”Of course, they couldn’t process that.So they grilled me. How could I say Christianity was just like all the other religions? Didn’t I realize that other religions are people reaching up to God—whereas Christianity is God reaching down to humans? As they went on, I couldn’t help but see myself in college, going up to people cold with Campus Crusade for Christ to “share” the Four Spiritual Laws.This got them going on about how Jesus perfectly fulfilled Old Testament prophecies—in particular Isaiah 53, which talks about the “Suffering Servant.” How could I not see that that is talking about Jesus? It’s as plain as the nose on your face.I get it. I was them when I was their age. That the Old Covenant perfectly segued into the New Covenant seemed self-evident. It was silly to say otherwise. (In fact, I would use part of Isaiah 53—we all like sheep have gone astray and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all—when sharing the Four Spiritual Laws with Campus Crusade.)Here’s a slice of Isaiah 53 that is critical to Christians:Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities.When you’re a Christian and you read something like that, it’s nearly impossible to unread it. It’s so obviously Jesus!Nearly impossible. I’ve trained my brain to spot baloney from believers.First off, Isaiah 53 clearly is not about the Messiah. It’s about Israel. Read the context. Specifically, read Isaiah 52, 53 and 54 together, and you’ll see this. The servant is Israel.A Christian’s best position, then, would be to admit that the passage is in fact about Israel but that there is second hidden meaning that is about Jesus.The other Old Testament “references” to Christ are the same way. They make sense only as referring to Jesus in light of his life and death, which obviously the Jews knew nothing about. Read the passage where Abraham takes Isaac up a mountain to plunge a knife into his gut, as instructed by God. As they’re ascending, Isaac asks where the sacrifice is—and Abraham says, “God will provide the lamb.”Ah ha! Christians say.Thing is, you need to be wearing your Christian decoder ring to spot things like that.Which makes you wonder, Why would God hide these messianic references from the Jews? If the sacrifice of a suffering Messiah was so critical to God’s plan—Christians will tell you it was the whole point of Judaism—you would think He would have made sure the Jews understood it. As it is, it looks like God botched the plan of redemption. He left His Chosen People out in the cold.Sorry, guys. My bad!The Jews studied the Hebrew scriptures diligently and devotedly, looking for any clue about the Messiah. In so doing, they built a popular expectation that the Messiah would be the God-sent king who would sit on the throne in the Kingdom of God in Jerusalem. The idea of a suffering Messiah was stupid. The Messiah was going to rule.If Christianity did indeed flow out of Judaism, then the Jews would have naturally become Christians. Makes sense. But what we see is that the God of Christianity pulled a bait and switch on the Jews. He allowed the Jews to get a completely incorrect picture of what the Messiah would be. They didn’t see the hidden clues because they were . . . hidden.There’s no way around it. If modern-day Christianity truly was from God, He did an awfully crappy job of laying the groundwork for it. At least if you’re a Jew. (Meanwhile, if you’re on the Winning Team, you give Him an A+.)I think what’s more likely is that the early Christians who came to believe in the idea of a suffering Messiah searched their scriptures—what Christians call the Old Testament—looking and looking for verses that supported their case. And—whattayaknow?—they found them.Also, they knew these passages intimately and made sure the stories of Jesus’ life and death lined up. Make sure someone pierces him! And have him say nothing when he’s in front of the Sanhedrin! Think about it. The only reason we know that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, for example, is that the gospel authors claim it. There are no other sources.Am I saying the early Christians lied? Well, yes. They probably found ways to rationalize it. Who’s to say he WASN’T born in Bethlehem? The important thing is that people get saved! Christians lie all the time. Have you not watched Benny Hinn lately?Bottom line, Jesus failed. Judaism may well be true. The Messiah may yet come. Who’s to say? Until then, though, I’m laying my bet that both religions are just wishful thinking: We’re God’s People!Truth is, God doesn’t have A People.Process that.

    ExChristian.Net / 2 d. 0 h. 47 min. ago more
  • Love Is Not Christian - It Is HumanLove Is Not Christian - It Is Human

    By Fernando Alcántar ~ I’m sorry. I used to challenge the veracity of your love and doubted your understanding of it on a regular basis. I believed you didn’t really know love, or understand the fullness of love, because you didn’t know Christ like I did. At times, I’ll admit, I wondered if that hurt you—but to be honest, at times I also hoped it did. I figured that if you felt that way than somehow that would discomfort you enough into seeking what I considered to be the source of true love—Jesus.But, I also did it for selfish reasons. I boasted of some proprietary rights on love because I considered that to be my greatest evidence toward the existence of an invisible being. That feeling inside my chest was really the one true “tangible” piece of truth I could sort of really hold on to. Let’s face it, not much else can truly be proven between Genesis and Revelation.1 John 4:8 reads, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” This theme is narrated and strongly pushed forward at most Christian assemblies. They’ll preach and sing that, “They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love. They will know we are Christians by our love.” The most quoted bible verse of all time reads, “For God so loved the world…”. This persistent focus on the love of god made me and other Christians believe a number of things:That we had proprietary rights on love because our god gave it to usThat we possessed a moral high ground because we truly knew loveThat any love outside of Jesus’ love is inferiorThat real love outside of Jesus’ was impossibleThat anyone who wants to experience true love must convert to ChristianityThis produced an arrogance over our ironclad hold on love, but also a fragile faith on a lifeline connected to that hold. We saw non-Christians as eternally incomplete, and our emotional mechanism overworking itself as it tried to compensate for lack of evidence to our faith.The more scientific discovery tried to convince me to listen to my mind, the more I made an intentional decision to quiet my thoughts and “only listen to my heart” because that’s where “god spoke to me.” You see, when life got hard, that’s when I struggled most to see evidence of my god’s existence. Facts were troubling and they were debilitating. But love had always been, though at seasons rare, able to lift me and give me a second wind on faith.So I preached love as a tool to win an argument, and also as a way to maintain myself in this hope of a better life. When I testified of “Jesus’ love” I was holding on to a rope hoping that my public declaration of faith would lift me off the cliff of doubt I was in. I built my support system so strongly around it that the mere thought of losing it felt like a threat to my very existence.And I wasn’t alone. Sermons were preached every Sunday about it. Posts on social media flooded our timeline as we thanked Jesus for giving us love, blowing our own horns of a special connection with him—through love. And I constantly assured you that you wouldn’t know “true love” unless you converted to my religion—I mean—“relationship.” At times I said that I respected all religions, or lack their of, but in reality I was preaching my faith with a pretense of respect for diversity.But this public display of understanding of love only powerfully furthered a bias towards people who don’t ally with such belief—not just for atheists; but for Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, and other members of the human family. This belief further promoted stereotypes and prejudice against those who believed differently because if ‘God is love,’ and ‘Jesus loves you,’ than if you are not a Christian you must not know true love or how to truly love. But I didn’t see that then.I understand that some people use religious belief to further their value and love for humanity—I’ll take that any day over the atrocities done in the name of deities every day. But there is a point to be made about the virtue of being able to have such value and love for humanity, not because a deity told us to, but because it grew naturally from our connection to each other as members of this family floating around the universe in a pale little cosmic rock.If someone chooses to believe their love comes from a creator—that is their choice and they have every right to make that choice. But human history has shown us that we don’t need gods to act in love or hate, though often religion will intensify both of these. Furthermore, breaking from the belief that love can exist just as powerfully and real outside of Christianity is threatening to Christian belief because: It supports the troubling hypothesis that a belief in Jesus is nothing more than a preference (as preferring red over blue) and NOT evidence for a creatorIf non-Christians can love just like they do, they lose their upper hand and claim on moralityIt would bring a weakening unbalance to the emotional health many Christians are holding on to dear lifeBelieving in an all-powerful god who sent his one and only son to die for the sins of humanity is a beautiful story. It really can be inspiring in the voice of a powerful speaker. Christians admit that they’d rather believe they are the creation of a loving deity than the result of some “cosmic accident.” But preference doesn’t produce causality. Choosing to believe we arrived at work riding a magic carpet than by taking the bus may be uplifting. Fantasy is certainly more alluring and awe-inspiring, but it doesn’t make it real--quite the opposite. The fact that love and value for humanity exist just as greatly outside of belief in Jesus only strengthens the challenge that you do not need such belief to love or to value people.As human beings we do need beautiful stories. It’s called inspiration and we need that as motivation. But I also feel it is beautiful to ponder that of billions of solar systems, and an even greater number of planets, we were the astoundingly lucky ones who got a crack at life. And not just life, but a diverse, colorful, and complex one at it.I now value people because they hold me when I cry, because they cheer for me when I win, and because they give me a second chance when I fail. I hope my value and love for humanity is judged by my ability to do the same for another, and not over my preference of belief in a mystical source. Love is not Christian, it is human. Let’s act like it.--  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  Fernando Alcántar is a former evangelical missionary leader, now a gay atheist activist, and author of 'To the Cross and Back: An Immigrant's Journey from Faith to Reason," now available on audiobook. You can read more of his blogs on gospelofreason.com.

    ExChristian.Net / 2 d. 0 h. 51 min. ago more
  • Catholicism is killing meCatholicism is killing me

    By stillsearching ~ I am not sure where to start so I thought that I would start at the beginning. I was born and raised catholic, i was lucky I guess i wasn't brought up in a strict catholic religion at all I did go to church every week and i attended a public school where they didn't teach the doctrine of hell only the fluffy side of religion. it wasn't until I was around 18 when i stopped going to church. I guess you could call me a cafeteria Catholic i never read the bible (and to this day it gives me anxiety thinking about reading it all the way through as I feel it will cause me more panic attacks and sleepless nights). You must wonder why i have gotten to this point. I guess I always had a belief in God, I still do to this point however by belief was based on a fluffy version of Jesus where I never thought hell was even possible, I guess that is cognitive dissonance at its finence. I guess I always belived in God, jesus etc because everything that i prayed seemed to come true. One of those prays was meeting my aithiest boytfriend who has been the best boyfriend I have had so far. My boyfriend was never raised in a religious household his dads parents fought over religion and his dad vowed not to bring his children up in it. It wasn't until my boyfriend and I discussing whether we wanted children that I started to really look into my religion and see that I didn't have a choice according to them I had to be a baby making machine and any type of sex that wasn't open to creation of children was intrinsically evil. That put me into a complete tail spin as I guess I always thought that once you were married that God was happy. From there I went into a complete anxiety state over everything in regards to "living in sin" I had to have time off work and stayed with my parents who didn't know how to help me. Taking medication helped alot and i am lucky to be around people who are cafeteria Catholics who think I am thinking way to much into this however it got me thinking. How can I pick and choose what I want to and leave the rest out. I understand to some point why the catholics believe that contraception is bad as they feel the end result of sex is having a baby and frustrating this frustrates the "purpose of sex" and by doing this makes it "sinful". There are times when I think maybe I am being selfish towards God and that I must follow everything the catholic church teaches. I feel trapped and angry why would God put us on this earth knowing that most of us would go to hell, the thought of bringing children into this world with the small chance that they could go to hell causes so much pain and misery. I look at my bf family and they are the most loving real people you could find and the thought that they would go to hell for not believing totally baffles me. No one can understand what I am going through not even my Athiest boyfriend who can't see how having sex with him can be a "sin" whether in marriage or not, I can see it really hurts him as he sees what we have and sex as a beautiful thing as I used to see it as that until I got more into Catholicism. the other part of me wonder if I am throwing away jesus and God because of a faulty belief system that the catholic church has and that Cafeteria Catholics have it right. The thing that stop me from believing are as follows1. I have known someone who i trust that has had poltergeist experiences where they had been threw them across the room onto the couch and they had to get a priest in to get rid of it which makes me think maybe Catholicism / Christianity is correct I know most if not all of you guys don't believe in anything supernatural2. stories of stigmata's of religious people3. stories of demonic and poltergeist activities where priests were brought in to get rid of them4. fear of Hell - one of the big motivators of why I hanging on5. I believe a lot of the tenants of Catholicism except when it come to contraception even though I understand where there reasoning comes from.I don't want to forever feel that I am a sinful person especially around sex as it is affecting my relationship greatly.I don't know what to do I feel immensely trapped please help.

    ExChristian.Net / 2 d. 0 h. 56 min. ago more
  • Judeo-Christian Absolute ValuesJudeo-Christian Absolute Values

    By Carl S ~ A friend of mine, Wizened Sage, asked me to submit my response to a commentary that appeared in a weekly newspaper on Oct. 19. I spent over three hours that night (finished at 2:15 a.m.) composing this letter. I was very reluctant to write it, but even more compelled to respond. It was published on Oct. 26.In essence: The guest commentator described himself as “Christian, fundamentalist in faith, with conservative values,” and is very upset, most likely as a result of believing those “war on Christianity” fear tactics his fundamentalist leaders have been propagating for decades.He blames “the Supreme Court's church-state separation decision of the 1940's,” plus the ongoing removal of crosses, nativity scenes, the ten commandments (all on public property), the removal of prayers and bible readings from public schools, etc., as reasons for a breakdown in our “moral values,” and the reason why we have public massacres! He asks, “What has been the effect of the attack on the Judeo-Christian ethic that has been the foundation of America's value system for over two centuries?” Really? (Between you and me, I think publicly displayed crosses, including those on steeples, should be turned into crucifixes. It's time to change the public's perception of them.)He condemns the “significant population who challenge every aspect of Judeo-Christian moral absolutes,” maintaining there can be no American morality without them. Then, he somewhat sums up with: “In the beginning,” from Genesis, as “the basis for the validity of everything that follows in the bible,” and therefore, “it follows,” we would not have rights, since only his biblical Creator endows us with those unalienable rights. This is my humanist response:In “Another View” of Oct. 19, guest columnist …, tells us “America must return to Judeo-Christian moral absolutes.” “Absolutes” is a loaded word; absolutes are responsible for much misery and death in human history. Absolute moral convictions drive all religious persecutions and wars, the Crusades, Inquisition, denials of equal rights, and in our times, the 9/11 “martyrs” and ISIS. Absolutes propelled the Holocaust and the terrors and deaths that came of Communist ideology. For decades now, I've noticed the literature of evangelicals is dedicated to “returning” our country to their special interpretation of absolute moral values. Otherwise, I wouldn't bother replying to Another View.The author begins with listing examples of “absolutely senseless violence,” in our country, attributing them to a “ lost sight of its values.” Have you noticed: for every single killer there are hundreds, even thousands, of good people who show up to help and comfort the survivors? That is only one of our values. Some people take advantage of our tragic mass casualties as examples of what happens as a result of removing crosses on public lands, prayers in public schools, nativity scenes on public land, ten commandment monuments, etc. These “effects” the author claims, are “attacks on the Judeo-Christian ethic that have been the foundation of America's value system for over two centuries.” Not true. Our Constitution and Bill of Rights are founded on the rights of the individual citizen. America's value system resides with We the People and in those documents. Those rights are not found in Judeo-Christian absolutes.Yes, our country had prayers in public schools, and bible readings, too. This was wrong, since the first amendment disallows government favoritism of any religion. There's one good reason for this. Whenever political power is wed with religion, there is repression and inequality. (Notice: those Christian protesters do not endorse Islamic, Judaic, or Buddhist scriptural readings and prayers in our public schools, or their symbols on taxpayer paid properties. This would also be unconstitutional.)If we learn anything, it should be that displaying religious symbols, saying public prayers, and preaching, do not make us moral. We don't really need scriptures and churches to be kind, caring, compassionate, non-judgmental and ethical. And if religious spokesmen did their moral duties, there would have been no KKK, slavery, lynchings, denials of human rights, the right to vote, no beatings of gays, etc., in our history. Those, unfortunately, took place all the while prayers were said in school. Where are the massed protesting voices of the spokesmen of God when the president and governor deny essential health care to “the least of our brethren?” (Why did 81% of evangelicals vote for an amoral man for president?) There is no denial of religious rights in our country, but there is a rebellion, initiated by the Founders, to keep any one religion or sect thereof from dominating our nation.I'm beginning to understand the fears of the Christian and Islamic fundamentalists. Societies are changing. Diversity is good, but diversity is a threat to any deeply-held traditional values. Also, if we are to put ourselves into their shoes, we need to understand something. The biblical God has a habit of punishing the good people, including children, for the “sins” of the real and perceived perpetrators. Ergo, those punishments would extend to our nation. Most people are unwilling to see God that way.Lastly, the author quotes from the opening phrase of Genesis; “In the beginning...”, telling us “This phrase becomes the basis of everything that follows in the bible.” It follows, though, the words “in the beginning” are very telling. We know that whoever wrote them was literate and capable of writing. It follows that the author was not, could not have been, present to witness the beginning. And so, he was inventing, and therefore, everything that followed those words was likewise invented.

    ExChristian.Net / 2 d. 1 h. 1 min. ago more
  • Nothing They Told Us Was Actually the TruthNothing They Told Us Was Actually the Truth

    By Karen Garst ~ I started challenging myths when I was about twelve years old. That’s right! I was a young skeptic, very young. Being raised in a religious cult can do that to a kid. Through the lottery of birth, I started my life in a family of religious zealots. You might say that I was forced to hit the ground running. We don’t get to pick our parents. Mine were total outliers. Thus, I grew up living in a closed society. When I was eighteen, I left home with a small bag of personal belongings and little else. I was attempting to find my place in the civilian world. The decision to leave the church ended with my excommunication from the family. So, with no money, no family, no friends, no job, no world experience, no car, and no driver’s license, I was soon sorely tested by the great, big, unpredictable world.Of course, I’d been told that Satan ran the world!Sometimes, it actually did seem like evil prevailed, but I wanted to stick my big toe into the civilian waters at whatever cost to my never dying soul. I turned my back on the church and thus my father’s god, a very domineering god who promised a burning hell to those like myself that refused to comply with his wishes. This isn’t a totally unique American tale, but there was one thing that made my experience with an extremist religion a bit different. My father believed that he’d been chosen, handpicked by god if you will, to be the final prophet of the last day and age. He didn’t just believe that sinners were sinners, he also believed that most Christians were sinners. He claimed that the actual voice of his god had revealed all of this to him. He’d been personally chosen to restore the truth, the holy truth that had been virtually lost from the face of the earth.Now that’s a mighty tall order for one mortal man and his family to bear, but my father seemed to relish it. Little by little, he cut his ties with every church he attended. It might be fairer to say that most churches were relieved to see him go. Finally, it boiled down to just me, my two brothers, three sisters, and my mom. We were it. Yet, he wasn’t deterred. He carried on by himself, hearing the voice of god every day of his life.  That’s right! God told my father a lot of stuff. He promised him that if he was faithful that he’d deliver unto him a million followers before Jesus returned to rapture them all. He promised that he wouldn’t die, but instead, would one day in the near future be swept into the heavens by the angels — just in the nick of time. As soon as he and his followers were gone, god would pour out his wrath upon the earth and the scores and scores of miserable sinners left behind to suffer.Little by little, his god began to reveal all kinds of things that needed fixing.It turned out that my mom, sisters and I needed lots of fixing. Over the course of about five years, we had a complete godly makeover. Slacks, shorts, and swimsuits were put away for good. Hair was never cut again. Dresses were lengthened. Makeup and jewelry discarded. Dresses were lengthened again. Hair was pulled back into a bun at the nape of our necks. Dresses were lengthened again. Black stockings replaced flesh colored ones. Finally, we gave up color and the ultimate makeover was completed — long gray dresses to the ground, buttoned at the throat and wrists, a cape that fit over the bodice hiding our blooming figures, black stockings, and no accessories. Plain women who were shamefaced and modest was the goal. God, apparently, has no sense of fashion whatsoever and hated the sight of a woman’s body.I experienced a lot of brutality growing up.My father’s god was a vengeful deity that punishes on earth in addition to after death if he doesn’t receive total compliance. Children apparently really piss god off. So, the belts, hair brushes, hands, and all manner of instruments of torture were wielded with complete confidence that, if done regularly, would save our childish sinful souls from eternal damnation. Anything that brought pleasure was suspect. In fact, pleasure and sin were synonymous. Life was very drab for a young girl who was told that there was no use in planning for her future because before she was twenty or thirty, well, soon, the world was going to end.  My story is a long one.It started with turning my back on god and my family and ended with eventually giving up on all gods. It was a process that didn’t happen quickly. For a long time, the church was in my head, hounding me with fear and trepidation. Every time something happened on the world scene, it seemed prophetic. I worried that the world was going to end and that I’d be left behind with the unbelievers to suffer untold anguish. Fortunately, I had always been extremely sensitive to the inconsistencies of my ultra-religious upbringing. My mind seemed to be hardwired to recognize contradictions. For that reason, becoming a lifelong myth buster may have been easier for me. That was an amazing stroke of good fortune considering the family that I’d been born into.The most interesting thing that I learned after I left a closed society in search of my place in the civilian world was that the world at large also expected conformity.That bothered me. I’d already had a bellyful of forced compliance to the extreme. The last thing that I wanted was to have to become a card-carrying member of any club. Thus, began my official career as a myth buster. Once I’d managed to debunk my religious upbringing, I went on to question many aspects of my culture. Incidentally, I didn’t get to choose where I’d reside once born either. Turns out there wasn’t a lot that I got to choose. I didn’t get to choose my gender, country, how my brain was wired, family, level of intelligence, genetic makeup, looks, and so much more. As if that wasn’t enough to deal with from the get go, I eventually discovered that all societies are built upon myths, fairy tales, and cultural expectations and that very few people are living a life they actually chose. People usually don’t realize the predicament they are in, but there’s a reason why most everyone lives out their existence pretty much like everyone else. We never knew we even had a choice.Religion was a great place to begin my myth-busting career. It’s so absurd in all of it’s ridiculous forms that it literally screams to be challenged. Yet, many atheists haven’t exercised their myth-busting skills beyond the realm of religious fairy tales. Religion is just one of many culturally concocted myths promising a fairy tale ending if we’re fully compliant with the thousands of attached cultural expectations. All cultures have developed very detailed requirements of compliance and coercion. Belonging to the tribe comes with certain benefits but we sacrifice an enormous amount of personal autonomy as well. There are a thousand different ways to do something, many happening simultaneously all over the world, but humans tend to do it the same way over and over again. I contend that is to our great disadvantage.Not only does compliance and conformity rob of us of getting to live a life of our choosing, but it discourages creativity and problem solving. Most people do things over and over in roughly the same fashion hoping for a different outcome. Yet, when a true nonconformist comes along with a creative idea, they are often resisted, even driven out of town. Fortunately, there are those who were born to question. And, they make all the difference.If you’re a myth buster, too, congratulations.The world needs us more than they’ll ever know. If you’ve managed to bust the myths surrounding religions, you’re already familiar with the skills needed to expose cultural limitations at large. Join me in the trade. There’s plenty of work for everyone.I'm a myth buster. My recent published book -  Have We Been Screwed? Trading Freedom for Fairy Tales - can be purchased on Amazon. http://amzn.to/2wDEabD Check out Teresa's books on her website Creative Paths to Freedomhttp://findingthegypsyinme.com/home-2/

    ExChristian.Net / 2 d. 1 h. 12 min. ago more
  • Killjoy preacher tells kids Santa is fantasy, but Jesus is for realKilljoy preacher tells kids Santa is fantasy, but Jesus is for real

    There is more historic evidence for the existence of Santa Claus (aka St Nicholas) than there is for Jesus Christ, but pastor David Grisham, above, doesn’t want children to know that – and he’s more than happy to wreck Christmas family days out by bellowing at youngsters that Santa is ‘make-believe’. His latest attack on Santa has earned him very few fans and a whole bunch of new enemies. According to this report, Grisham, the former leader of the Repent Amarillo outfit in Texas, went to the Santa Claus House in North Pole, Alaska, to repeat a stunt he pulled last Christmas at the Westgate Mall in Amarillo. Grisham, who is now headquartered in Anchorage where he is running Repent Alaska and Last Frontier Evangelism, angered many parents when he recently walked up to the line of children and parents waiting to see Santa, and with his phone camera in hand, proclaimed: I wanted to tell you kids today that Santa Claus does not exist. Santa Claus is not real. The man you’re going to meet today is a man wearing a suit like a costume and it’s make-believe. For good measure, he added: There are no reindeer, flying reindeer. He then posted the video he shot on his Facebook page. It shows a store employee asking him not to bother the customers. He retorted: I’m not interfering. I’m just telling them the truth. At that point, a parent interrupted and said: She said leave, so go. Another said: Don’t come over here talking your mess. So Grisham moved on, but not before he concluded with: Kids, there is no Santa. Your parents are lying to you. After Grisham’s mean-spirited treatment of kids at the Texas mall, Jon Mark Beilue, writing for Amarillo Globe-News, opined that this sort of behaviour was precisely why more people were distancing  themselved from Christianity. The online public reaction was expected – barbs against organized religion, confirmation of stereotypes that most Christians are loose cannon loudmouths, that there is a whole lot less love and a whole lot more bigotry. Addressing Grisham directly, he barely stopped short of calling him an arsehole, but said: Nowhere, and at no time, has anyone mind or heart been changed by any of your antics. In fact, it’s driven most of the unchurched further away, and caused others to waste time apologizing. I’m fairly confident in saying that no mom pulled her kids out of line last weekend, telling them, ‘You know, that loudmouth over there is right, kids. There is no Santa. I’ve been a very bad woman.’ This goes without saying, but I’ll still say it: there are millions of Bible-believing homes where parents allow their children to believe in the wonder of a fairy tale, to play along with the excitement of make-believe while at the same time directing them to the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of savior, the hope of the world. It happens in healthy homes everywhere. To believe they are mutually exclusive is being patently ridiculous. If proof were needed that Grisham is a thoroughly nasty piece of work, hop across to his Facebook page where, on December 2, he posted a link to a report that the Chinese were working on “spray away the gay” chemical: He commented: I pray the Chinese are onto something here. Imagine if this spray actually makes sodomites straight. Imagine how far forward towards righteousness we could go if we crop dusted Gay Pride parades with this stuff? LOL But until then we will continue to use the only cure for homosexuality there is, the saving power of Jesus Christ. Condemnation was a swift as it was brutal, and addressed both his homo and Santaphobia. Here’s one of many examples of comments posted to his page: Hey scumbag, Jesus isn’t real. He’s a mental illness that people like you like to shove on others. Kill yourself, save good oxygen for people who aren’t delusional. Hat tip: BarrieJohn

    The Freethinker / 2 d. 1 h. 44 min. ago more
  • Pervnado and DisneyPervnado and Disney

    Disney Suspends Executive Jon Heely After Felony Child Sex Abuse ChargesCHILD SEX ABUSE?? It's frickin' PEDOPHILIA.

    Atheism Analyzed / 2 d. 6 h. 50 min. ago
  • The MSM: Crisis of CompetencyThe MSM: Crisis of Competency

    This is even better than the "Dewey Wins" disaster: The smoking gun that didn't even exist.The U.S. Media Yesterday Suffered its Most Humiliating Debacle in Ages: Now Refuses All Transparency Over What HappenedDespite its length, this article is well worth reading the whole thing.

    Atheism Analyzed / 2 d. 8 h. 8 min. ago
  • Street preacher and gun nut beats hate speech convictionStreet preacher and gun nut beats hate speech conviction

    Daniel Courney, 33, a deranged evangelist who was convicted earlier this year of using “threatening and discriminatory language” during an anti-Islamic rant in Lincoln, had his conviction overturned this week. Courney, an American missionary who served in the US military and has been a missionary in Nepal and India for eight years, advocates for arming civilians as passionately as he does for Christianity. The picture above on his Facebook page has this caption: Hooah. I shot expert (38 of 40) and was able to disassemble and reassemble my M16 A2 in a little over a minute when I was in the service. (If civilians didn’t have firearms, the US wouldn’t be free from tyranny today – for all the nay-sayers out there.) Courney’s conviction in September this year followed a complaint from a Muslim woman and her family who heard him preaching on the street. She claimed the nutter singled them out, called them “ISIS” and told them to “go back to your country”. As a result, Courney was arrested. He denied the charge but was booked under Section 5 of the Public Order Act for using: Threatening or abusive words or behaviour or disorderly behaviour within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress. Adrian Clark, a friend of the evangelist, posted on Facebook on September 14, 2017, that Courney was: Convicted at Lincoln Magistrate Court by a District Judge on two counts of religious and racially motivated public order offences. Conditional discharge and bound for 9 months. £320 costs. The judge was a impassioned multi-culturalist. He seemed antagonistic to the one person publicly declaring another’s religious beliefs as being wrong. He trusted the prosecution witnesses despite their glaring inconsistencies. Despite Daniel being a man who serves his community in India and Nepal without fear or favour, (all are subject to his generosity), and courageously protected a Muslim from being beaten in Bristol, this seemed to have had no bearing on the judge’s finding. An appeal has been lodged. Adrian Clark, a Christian clown in kilt. Photo: Facebook. I am assuming that this is the same Adrian Clark who had a run-in with the law in Bristol last year when he was arrested along with two fellow street screechers. Michael Overd and Michael Stockwell were convicted February 28 at Bristol Magistrates’ Court of a religiously-aggravated public order offence. Earlier, the court dismissed the case against Clark, ruling that there was no case to answer. In June, Overd and Stockwell won an appeal against their conviction. During Courney’s appeal, the Christian Legal Centre’s solicitor Michael Phillips argued that  English law provides Courney with the freedom to preach Christianity, and that this has been successfully upheld for many years. The Crown Court judge agreed and overturned the conviction. Courney lost no time after his victory to return to the streets of Lincoln to resume spouting his special brand of bullshit. But it didn’t go too well. He claimed in a Facebook post yesterday that he was attacked by two drunk females: Had two inebriated women assault us tonight. Throw my Bible, my bag (which damaged my Macbook), break my microphone, slightly assault me, and another lady ask me a very crude question. Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do! Of course, Andrea Williams, above, Chief Executive of the Christian Legal Centre, felt compelled to comment on Courney case. It demonstrated, she said, that police do not “understand” free speech laws. We are proud to represent street preachers in our country as they share the love of Jesus Christ with people on the street. This case once again highlights the need for police operating in these situations to understand how the law protects free speech. After his conviction was overturned, Courney said that he had come to the United Kingdom to: Bring back the message of Jesus Christ. The message is a simple one: repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and do not follow false religions. Unfortunately, I’ve had to travel to and from the United Kingdom four times in the past three months. I have had other restrictions on my liberty during that time. I have been held in police custody and accused of being a hate preacher. At all times I simply wanted to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. Courney thanked the Christian Legal Centre for their help, support and free legal counsel. In reporting the Courney case, Dorothy Cummings McLean  of Life Site News, said Christian street preachers in the UK are fighting an uphill battle to revive faith in a country where Christianity is on its way to extinction. Approximately 60 percent of people in the United Kingdom declare themselves to be Christians. But, according to United Kingdom’s “Faith Survey”, the number of Christians born in Britain is falling at a staggering rate. Between 2001 and 2011 the number of Christians born in the U.K. fell by 5.3 million. “With a continued rate of decline at this level, the number of UK-born Christians would reduce to zero by 2067,” the survey predicted.

    The Freethinker / 2 d. 10 h. 47 min. ago more
  • more news
  • SF/F Saturday: The Old KingdomSF/F Saturday: The Old Kingdom

    I had Garth Nix’s novel Sabriel on my reading list for so long, I forget where I heard about it. Then I made the happy discovery that the New York Public Library has an app that lets you check out e-books. This was the first one on my list that I could get, and I […]

    Daylight Atheism / 2 d. 20 h. 16 min. ago
  • Happy Holidays - Deal With It"Happy Holidays" - Deal With It

    christmas tree (Photo credit: fsse8info)An earlier version of this post was written in 2006. It was updated and revised in 2017. The phrase "happy holidays" seems to enrage many conservative Christians and represents the heart of the war on Christmas. When an individual says "happy holidays" to such a Christian instead of "merry Christmas," the Christian is supposed to assume that this is code for "I am an atheist, and I detest your Christmas." Never mind that many prominent atheists celebrate Christmas.Even worse is when a company sets a policy encouraging their employees to say "happy holidays" instead of "merry Christmas." This is worse because it is supposed to reflect an organized conspiracy of misguided political correctness and hostility toward Christianity. Thus, "happy holidays" has come to symbolize efforts to "take the Christ out of Christmas" to many gullible Christians.If we cut through the right-wing efforts to inflame their easily provoked base to bilk them out of a few dollars, we can examine what is really happening here and learn something valuable about the conservative Christian mind. Our starting point is to ask what might lead an ordinary person to say "happy holidays" instead of "merry Christmas." Perhaps the person simply wants to wish someone a merry Christmas and a happy New Year in the most efficient manner. "Happy holidays" accomplishes this quite well. However, there could be other reasons for doing so.Perhaps the speaker does not know his or her audience well enough to know the listener's religious beliefs. Thus, "happy holidays" is selected because it covers all possible holidays that the listener might celebrate (e.g., Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the Winter Solstice, or my personal favorite, Festivus). But why would the speaker do this? Why not simply assume that everyone one encounters is Christian? By opting for "happy holidays," the speaker is recognizing that not everyone shares his or her beliefs and that those who do not are still deserving of respect. Is this political correctness run amok or simply a healthy sensitivity to the reality that people differ in their beliefs?When the Christian meets a complete stranger and says "merry Christmas," we have a few possible motives to examine. First, the statement may indicate that the Christian genuinely believes that the stranger shares his or her beliefs. Perhaps this derives from simple ignorance in that the Christian routinely assumes that everyone shares his or her beliefs. Of course, this is hard to imagine in light of the efforts of right-wing pundits to convince their base that they are under constant attack by a liberal media and an army of secular progressives seeking to ban their bible and eradicate their holidays.A second and much more likely possibility is that the Christian has never thought about how hearing "merry Christmas" might feel to a person who practices another religion. The Christian is used to being in the majority and has probably never been surrounded by people wishing him or her "happy Hanukkah" or something similar. This is a different form of ignorance, but it is still ignorance. In this scenario, the Christian has never felt the need to put him or herself in the shoes of another. Thus, this type of ignorance involves a lack of empathy for others.A third possibility is that the Christian knows full well that others don't share his or her beliefs, understands perfectly well how his or her greeting may affect people, and simply doesn't give a damn. This is the Christian who might say something like, "This is America, and in America we celebrate Christmas." This is the hostile neoconservative sort of Christian which Bill O'Reilly seems to represent. "If the listener has a problem with my greeting, that's their problem. I'm not going to change my behavior for anyone."In the context of corporate America, we see similar reasoning but on a larger scale. By setting a policy that employees of a particular store will wish customers "happy holidays," the corporation is is demonstrating recognition that this greeting captures all possible holidays and carries little risk of excluding anyone. In fact, the only group who seems offended by it are the conservative Christians.And why do they take offense? They take offense because their right not to respect non-Christian beliefs is not being honored. This is what makes me suspect that many more conservative Christians belong to the third category I mentioned above than one might otherwise guess. These Christians want to hear "merry Christmas," and they don't care how this greeting affects others. When this attitude wins, intolerance wins.Copyright © 2017 Atheist Revolution.

    Atheist Revolution / 3 d. 0 h. ago more
  • Twitter Tips: Turn Off Someone's RetweetsTwitter Tips: Turn Off Someone's Retweets

    I have been using Twitter since 2008, but I just learned something about it that was new to me and that has significantly improved my experience with it. I'm not sure if this is a new feature or something that has been around for awhile. I thought I'd share this quick tip with you in case you didn't know about it either.Have you ever been so annoyed with the frequency with which someone you are following retweets? Or how about the content of what they retweet? Maybe their original tweets are good but the content they choose to retweet is rarely of interest to you. You could unfollow the person, but there are times when you might not want to do so (e.g., you like their content but could do without the garbage they retweet). Did you know you can prevent their retweets from showing up in your timeline without unfollowing or muting them? I had no idea I could do this until recently, and it has made Twitter far less annoying.Preventing someone's retweets from showing up in your Twitter timeline is easy. Select the person in question, and take a look at their Twitter profile. Just to the right of the "Following" button you'd click if you decided to unfollow them, you'll see three vertical dots. Click them and select "Turn off Retweets" from the menu. That's it. You won't see any more retweets from this person in your timeline.I follow several people on Twitter who tweet great stuff but regularly retweet content in which I have no interest. This often led me to unfollow them; however, turning off their retweets lets me keep a much less annoying version of them around if I choose to do so. It has made my Twitter experience far more positive. Now if only I could discover a way to turn off the endless begging for retweets, I'd be set!Copyright © 2017 Atheist Revolution.

    Atheist Revolution / 3 d. 4 h. 7 min. ago more
  • Archbishop’s ‘shameful’ attack on non-religious schoolsArchbishop’s ‘shameful’ attack on non-religious schools

    The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has been strongly rebuked by Humanists UK for saying that, in ‘schools that are not of a religious character, confidence in any personal sense of ultimate values has diminished.’ Speaking in a House of Lords debate on education this week, Welby said: [The Church has made] a clear move towards schools that not only deliver academic excellence, but which have the boldness and vision to do so outside the boundaries of a selective system. The Church of England’s educational offer to our nation is church schools that, in its own words, are deeply Christian, nurturing the whole child spiritually, emotionally, mentally, as well as academically, yet welcoming the whole community. A major obstacle to our education system is a lack of clear internal and commonly held values. We live in a country where an overarching story which is the framework for explaining life has more or less disappeared. We have a world of unguided an competing narratives where the only common factor is the inviolability of personal choice. Which means that for schools that are not of a religious character, confidence in any personal sense of ultimate values has diminished. Utilitarianism rules. And skills move from being talents held for the common good which we are entrusted with as benefits for all, to being personal possessions for our own advantage. The challenge is the weak, secular and functional narrative that successive governments have sought to insert in the place of our historic Christian-based understanding, whether explicitly or implicitly. Humanists UK, which campaigns for a fully inclusive education system in which children are not defined or divided on the grounds of religion or belief, described the remarks as a “shameful”. Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented: This is a shameful use of the privileged position that Anglican bishops enjoy in Parliament and an alarmingly wrong-headed and divisive attack on our shared values. It is incredibly worrying that the head of an organisation running a quarter of all state-funded schools in England can stand up and attack the values of hard-working teachers and governors, while also implying that the non-religious majority in this country exist in a moral vacuum. In doing so, the Archbishop has effectively outed himself as someone who is deeply prejudiced against both non-Christians and non-Church schools. This is not to mention his appalling attempt to mis-sell the inclusivity of Church schools, most of which continue to religiously discriminate against children in their admission arrangements. What trust can we place in Church schools to promote the British values of ‘mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faith and beliefs’, if the head of the Church falls so short of doing this himself? He should apologise.

    The Freethinker / 3 d. 9 h. 10 min. ago more
  • The Radical Left Investigates TrumpThe Radical Left Investigates Trump

    Atheism Analyzed / 3 d. 11 h. 16 min. ago
  • DNC Pot Boils OverDNC Pot Boils Over

    DNC closed-door meeting for honchos to determine the future of the DNC.Common Democrats unfranchised from the decisions.Common Democrats burst into meeting with "Democratic or Undemocratic" signs.Democrat honchos call security on Common Democrats.UH OH! Disunity erupts at DNC’s 2020 Unity meetingLordy I do love the DNC, always good for a laugh!

    Atheism Analyzed / 3 d. 21 h. 57 min. ago more
  • Christian music festival leader charged with child abuseChristian music festival leader charged with child abuse

    Harry L Thomas, who launched America’s largest and longest-running Christian music festival, has been “indefinitely suspended” from the ministry and his church following his arrest Wednesday on charges of child molestation. According to this report, Thomas, 74, who is senior pastor of Come Alive New Testament Church in Medford, New Jersey, has been accused of sexually assaulting four children over a 16-year period between 1999 and 2015. The church stated that the alleged misconduct was “unrelated” to his leadership. Thomas has been charged with one count of aggravated sexual assault, three counts of sexual assault, and four counts of endangering the welfare of children, according to the prosecutor’s office in Burlington County, New Jersey, where Thomas lives and where his church is located. Authorities have refrained from releasing further details in order to protect the identity of the victims. The prosecutor’s office said: All persons are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. It noted that Thomas was “being treated at a medical facility” while a case was prepared for “possible indictment” by a grand jury. The ministry said in a statement to media yesterday (Friday): It is with deep regret and saddened hearts that the Elders and Trustees of Come Alive New Testament Church have indefinitely suspended Pastor Harry Thomas from all leadership positions with the church, festival, and all associated ministries. While the allegations are unrelated to his roles in these ministries, leadership has determined this to be the proper course of action at this time until there can be a full investigation. It is requested that all pray for the parties involved and refrain from speculation regarding the circumstances. Following the arrest, the staff and history pages of Come Alive’s website, which chronicled Thomas’s involvement in the church since its founding in 1983, were no longer accesssible. Thomas once advocated for a couple in his church who were accused of starving four foster kids in their care in 2003 and were sentenced to prison for: Endangering the welfare of the children. Thomas’s Come Alive Ministries puts on the Creation Festivals, a pair of multi-day Christian music events in Pennsylvania and Washington state, that draw up to 100,000 attendees a year. Known as the “grandfather of Christian music festivals”, its lineups read like a who’s who in popular Christian music and include an annual message from Thomas. Since its founding in 1979, Creation has acquired other major events including the Ichthus Music Festival and the Sonshine festival.

    The Freethinker / 4 d. 3 h. 59 min. ago more
  • The Next Leftist Self-AnnointmentThe Next Leftist Self-Annointment

    Matthews: ‘The Worst You Can Say About Democrats Is They’re Too Pure’'Scuse me. I just had to hose off my computer after I snorted all over it. Best joke in a very long time... and I suspect that the Leftocrats will go with that as their motto next year - "Vote Dem; We're TOO Pure" and "Need morals? Let us cook some up for you!".

    Atheism Analyzed / 4 d. 5 h. 32 min. ago
  • Pervnado: Another Hollywood PervPervnado: Another Hollywood Perv

    Bryan Singer Sued For Alleged 2003 Sexual Assault Of Teen; Promised Acting Roles In Exchange For Silence

    Atheism Analyzed / 4 d. 6 h. 24 min. ago
  • Repubican Trant Franks Nailed for "Discussing Surrogacy"?Repubican Trant Franks Nailed for "Discussing Surrogacy"?

    Must be more to it than just that.Arizona GOP Rep. Trent Franks announces resignation after discussing surrogacy with female staffers

    Atheism Analyzed / 4 d. 6 h. 47 min. ago
  • The Fountainhead: A Shot in the DarkThe Fountainhead: A Shot in the Dark

    Rand's villains resort to persuasion and democracy, while her heroes rely on terrorism and violence.

    Daylight Atheism / 4 d. 7 h. 55 min. ago
  • Catholic school sheltered child abusers, says former abbotCatholic school sheltered child abusers, says former abbot

    A former abbot at Downside Abbey in Somerset, Aidan Bellenger, above, claims that a school attached to the monastery sheltered child sex offenders and tolerated abuse. According to this report, Downside Abbey is is being investigated by an Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse after two of its monks were jailed for child sex offences. Letters from Bellenger revealed his fears that: The issue of child abuse was tolerated by all my predecessors as abbot. In a letter sent last year, he said of two monks who had been imprisoned over abuse: Neither was penitent. Both were protected (and implicitly) encouraged by their abbots. He said of two other monks: [They] avoided trial, but their offences (more than allegations) remain on record. His letter including a warning that a monk who still lives at Downside had taken part in “perverse and criminal” activities. Two others he said were open to allegations of “paedophilia”, adding: Small fry perhaps but in outside perceptions they would be in trouble. And he warned: More ‘historic’ cases will emerge’, listing five other names, which have been redacted by the inquiry. Earlier this week, the inquiry heard from a woman who said she was abused by a member of the staff at the school in the 1980s, when she was a disabled teenager having to use a wheelchair. In 2012, when he was still Abbot at Downside, Bellenger apologised to former pupils for abuse that led to the jailing of a monk, Richard David Monk, 66, for five years. In a lengthy  letter to  past pupils, known as Old Gregorians, he disclosed the extent of the failure to protect children at the school. Hat tip: Angela_K and BarrieJohn

    The Freethinker / 4 d. 8 h. 19 min. ago more
  • Oz gay marriage vote puts daft couple back in the headlinesOz gay marriage vote puts daft couple back in the headlines

    Back in 2015 Nick and Sarah Jensen – both devout Christians – vowed to divorce if gay marriage was ever legalised in Australia. Their silly pronouncement prompted a backlash, and among the first to speak out against the couple’s bigotry was Nick Jensen’s older brother, Soren Jensen, who penned an open letter on Facebook disapproving of his sibling’s stance. In it he said: I love and respect you brother. You speak from your truth and I speak from mine. And on this issue I believe you are wrong. The time is now. This country is finally having an open debate on this issue, all voices should be heard, and then the obvious decision should be made. It is time for Australia to join the rest of the world in embracing marriage equality. And my brother should too. Well, today, Australia passed same-sex marriage legislation amid scenes of wild jubilation – and the media lost no time in tracking down the Jensens to see whether they now  intended to make good on their promise. Various news outlets, including the Telegraph, carried a terse statement from Nick Jensen, who said: My previous public comments regarding civil divorce never envisaged me separating from my wife, but rather our marriage from the state. The legislation currently makes it untenable for us to do this under the law. The point we were highlighting and that still stands however is the fact that a redefinition of marriage changes the agreement under which we were originally married. We will be making no further comment. So that’s a no, then. In his original 2015 letter to the Canberra City News, the posturing plonker said their proposed divorce was “nothing to do with the state of our marriage” and described his wife as: The only woman I have ever loved, the mother of our children, my perfect match. Explaining their threat to divorce he said: Our view is that marriage is a fundamental order of creation. Part of God’s intimate story for human history. Marriage is the union of a man and a woman before a community in the sight of God. And the marriage of any couple is important to God regardless of whether that couple recognises God’s involvement or authority in it. My wife and I, as a matter of conscience, refuse to recognise the government’s regulation of marriage if its definition includes the solemnisation of same sex couples. This has been a big decision for my wife and I. Some will accuse of us being bigoted or too hateful to share. But this couldn’t be further from our intentions. The truth is, marriage is simply too important. It is a sacred institution, ordained by God. Meanwhile, it’s reported here that Austria is about to legalise same-sex marriage. The country’s Constitutional Court announced that gay marriage will be legalissed in the Catholic-majority nation starting in 2019, arguing that its traditional marriage law is “discriminatory.” The court said that although gay couples already have essentially the same rights as married couples, having been allowed to enter into registered partnerships since 2010: The distinction between marriage and registered partnership … cannot be upheld in this day and age without discriminating against same-sex couples. The court’s ruling added: The resulting discriminatory effect is seen in the fact that through the different title of the family status, people living in same-sex partnerships have to disclose their sexual orientation even in situations in which it is not, and must not be, relevant and … are highly likely to be discriminated against. Civil partnerships, it added, will be open to both gay and straight couples, while the words “two people of different sex” will be removed from the law on marriage. Hat tip: BarrieJohn (Australian same-sex marriage report)

    The Freethinker / 5 d. 7 h. 7 min. ago more
  • Toddler allegedly killed at Florida House of Prayer schoolToddler allegedly killed at Florida House of Prayer school

    Anna Elizabeth Young, above, who ran the House of Prayer for All People religious boarding school in Micannopy, Florida, has been arrested in Georgia on charges of torturing and killing a toddler in the late 1980s. The alleged killing, according to this report, came to light after a year-long investigation into the abuse suffered by many children placed in her care. Young, 75, was arrested in Cobb County near Atlanta last Thursday after the investigators in central Florida determined through the investigation that she allegedly murdered the boy, Emon Harper. Harper died after he was denied food by Young who had allegedly tortured and maliciously punished him. The investigation into Harper’s death began when a relative of Young’s who witnessed violence and deaths take occur at the House of Prayer as a child came forward to police to detail what she witnessed. The witness’s account opened up a “Pandora’s box” for investigators as they looked into Young’s past and continued to find more witnesses and collaborative evidence. Authorities believe that Young began abusing children across several states as early as 1968, when a minor may have died “as a result of her treatment,” Art Forgey, public information officer for the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office said. She is also believed to be connected to a six-year-old who went missing in Michigan 1973. Young is even listed on the original missing person report and is now believed to have buried him before reporting him missing, Forgey said. She was never considered a suspect until the investigation into Harper’s death began, he added. Investigators believe that Young established roots in Alachua County in 1983 and came to the Micanopy area in 1985, founding the House of Prayer shortly after. Police are also investigating similar cases of abuse that may have been committed by Young in Puerto Rico in the 1980s as well, after she had moved to Alachua County but before the House of Prayer had been founded, Forgey said. In 1992, a 13-year-old girl who was placed in Young’s care by her parents was badly burned after Young bathed her in a bathtub full of chemicals. The child’s parents had brought her to the House of Prayer for “schooling” and “teaching”. After the incident, Young fled the area and was found eight ears later living in an attic of a relative’s home in Illinois, according to the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office. She was then extradited back to Florida and served prison time for that crime after she was convicted in 2001. Forgey said the the school was: Run like kind of a religious institution. However, the treatment and care that these children received was anything but biblical or church-related. Alachua County authorities had investigated the House of Prayer prior to the 1992 incident, but “nothing was ever substantiated at the time”. It is unclear how many people participated in the cult, Forgey added. Young’s husband was allegedly also involved in the operation. Really, the hard part here is we know there were probably a lot more people who were associated with her and knew her and may have been at the House of Prayer. There were no records of who were there and what children were there. Investigators hope that the media attention garnered by Young’s arrest will inspire additional witnessed and victims to come forward, Forgey said. Young has been charged with first-degree murder for Harper’s death. She will be held without bond once she is transferred back to Florida, according to the indictment. Hat tip: Pat

    The Freethinker / 6 d. 0 h. 45 min. ago more
  • Masterpiece Cakeshop Case Could Have Implications for Atheists TooMasterpiece Cakeshop Case Could Have Implications for Atheists Too

    By Arthur S. Siegel - This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID fsa.8d13572. Public Domain, LinkShould Denny's be able to refuse to serve Black customers? No? What if their reasons for doing so are rooted in the "deeply held religious beliefs" of those working there? Still no? Fair enough. Should a small family-owned carpet cleaning business in Mississippi be able to hang a "Christians only" sign near their front door and refuse to provide services to anyone failing to identify themselves as Christian? No? But but but...sincerely held religious beliefs! Still not convinced, huh?As the Supreme Court wrestles with Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, we are reminded that many businesses would still very much like to be able to deny service to people on the basis of groups to which they belong (e.g., Black, non-Christian, LGBTQ). The case could end up setting an important legal precedent on whether businesses, large and small, are able to deny services to people on the basis of their sexual orientation. And I do not believe it is much of an exaggeration to say that there are many conservative Christians in the U.S. who would very much like to do just that.Colorado has an anti-discrimination law on the books prohibiting businesses that serve the public from discriminating based on sexual orientation and many other factors. The owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Denver turned away a gay couple. They alleged that this was illegal discrimination based on their sexual orientation; the owner, a conservative Christian, claimed that "he could not in good conscience create a wedding cake that celebrates their marriage." That is, he's arguing that his "religious freedom" allows him to do this. The Colorado Civil Rights Division ruled against the owner, noting that this was a violation of the anti-discrimination law and that he had no right to refuse to serve the couple on the basis of their sexual orientation. After a Colorado court affirmed this decision, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.I haven't had nearly as much time to follow this case as I'd like, but that doesn't mean I haven't taken an interest in it. As an atheist living in a small town in Mississippi, it is fairly easy to see how this ruling could end up affecting me. According to Americans United for Separation of Church and State,The bakery is seeking a right to use religion as a vehicle to discriminate. If the court rules in its favor, that could create a huge loophole in the nation’s civil rights laws. Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, for-profit businesses are expected to serve members of the public equally without regard to race, religion or national origin.If the court were to rule in favor of the baker, it would seem to undermine existing civil rights law and open the door to legal discrimination on the basis of conservative Christian beliefs. I find that to be a scary prospect. Here's what Americans United says about what could happen if the court rules the wrong way on this one:Members of the LGBTQ community, single mothers, non-believers, non-Christians and a host of others could find themselves excluded from stores, shops and businesses because they don’t conform to the dictates of a business owner’s personal theology.In other words, many of us living in regions dominated by evangelical fundamentalist Christians could be adversely impacted. The common advice of just taking one's business elsewhere does not apply unless there are businesses available that are willing to serve us.Copyright © 2017 Atheist Revolution.

    Atheist Revolution / 6 d. 4 h. 15 min. ago more
  • Employment tribunal rules in favour sacked Jewish teacherEmployment tribunal rules in favour sacked Jewish teacher

    Zelda de Groen, 24, who lost her job in 2016 at a Jewish nursery school in London after school authorities found she was ‘living in sin’ with her boyfriend, has won her case of religious and sexual discrimination. An Employment Tribunal in Watford found the way she was treated by the ultra-Orthodox Gan Menachem Nursery in Hendon was “undoubtedly humiliating, degrading and offensive.” It dismissed the school’s claims that it was justified in firing her. The tribunal will hold an additional hearing at an undetermined date to discuss compensation. In her lawsuit, de Groen had asked for more than £19,000. De Groen grew up in a haredi Orthodox home in Stamford Hill in London, but left “after many years of significant discontent”. She moved in with her boyfriend Oz Waknin in April 2016. The couple married in July of this year. In May 2016, they were guests at a barbecue along with some school trustees and parents of pupils. During the event, it became known that the unmarried couple was living together. Some parents spoke to the school about their objections to de Groen’s living situation afterward. De Groen told the tribunal that school managers subjected her to a “humiliating” hourlong interview in which they said it was time for her to get married. She also described their tone as “threatening”. I was told that having kids outside of marriage is wrong and will not be tolerated. Their comments, and the personal nature of the meeting, were humiliating. De Groen told the tribunal that the nursery told her one solution to the issue would be for her to lie about her living situation. Two days after the meeting, de Groen asked her managers for an apology but instead was given a letter notifying her of disciplinary proceedings. She was fired a month later. According to this report, Employment Judge Andrew Clarke said that there was “no dispute” that many Orthodox Jews regarded cohabitation before marriage as contrary to the faith. But the nursery, which follows Lubavitch teachings, had not shown there was any occupational requirement by teachers to observe such standards, it found. Moreover, Gan Menachem’s case was that: It was not concerned with her private life, all that it wanted was the appearance of compliance. The tribunal noted she was regarded as “a very good teacher” by Gan Menachem, and that a man would not have been treated in the same way.

    The Freethinker / 6 d. 7 h. 19 min. ago more
  • Please Ban My BooksPlease Ban My Books

    Banning a book makes me much more likely to read it.

    Daylight Atheism / 6 d. 7 h. 55 min. ago
  • Surfing Girls Enrage Muslims in BangladeshSurfing Girls Enrage Muslims in Bangladesh

    There's an awful lot about Islam that I don't understand. It is not one of the religions I've studied extensively, and so it is important for me to acknowledge the many gaps in my knowledge of Islam. One of the specific questions that seems to come up for me recurrently is how (or if) Islam can be considered apart from the culture in which it resides. When I encounter a specific belief or practice, it is often difficult for me to determine whether it derives primarily from Islam or primarily from other cultural traditions in a country or region of the world.I recently saw a brief bit of reporting from the PBS News Hour on a girls' surfing competition in Bangladesh, a predominately Muslim country. It was interesting, and it had not previously occurred to me just how brave these young girls have to be to do something as simple as surfing. Why would I say they have to be brave to surf? Evidently, conservative Muslims in the town hosting the competition were upset by the mere sight of girls in the water. From the transcript:Watching girls surf is a rare sight in this predominantly Muslim country of 160 million. The surfers are mainly men, and most of the people here say it bothers them to see girls in the water.It bothers most of the residents of this town to see girls in the water? Why? The answer, best I can tell, appears to be Islam. In fact, some of the local conservative Muslims have been bothered to the point that they've threatened the girls.The part of the story that caught my attention was when the on-the-scene reporter interviewed an imam from a local madrassa. When asked what he thought about girls and women surfing, here's what he had to say:The issue of girls surfing, to me, isn’t a good thing. Girls are meant to be covered, so that boys can’t see them. Girls have been told to stay out of boys’ sight. Girls are respectful beings, and they have been asked to stay hidden. So, if girls are surfing and go into the ocean, then a lot of people can see them. And that’s a sin. It’s not good.Girls are meant to be covered so boys can't see them? Why is that necessary? Would it be the end of the world is a Muslim boy noticed a Muslim girl? Do Muslim boys and men have so little ability to control themselves that the sight of a girl's body might lead them to do something inappropriate? Is this why we see Muslim women in some countries wearing clothing that appears to be designed to hide as much of their bodies as possible? What does it say about Muslim boys and men that they would have so little self-control?The imam went on to explain the role of women in Islam by noting, "God has created women to be respected and to be at the disposal of men. This is the main theory of Islam." Wow! How respected can a woman be while simultaneously being "at the disposal of men?" That doesn't sound like respect as much as it sounds like control.From what I can tell here, the notion of an uncovered girl or woman being "a sin" is more about Islam than anything specific to the culture of Bangladesh that we would not expect to find in other predominately Mulsim countries. It appears to have much to do with the high value placed on modesty. It also seems that there are concerns that the sight of a girl in a swimsuit might lead Muslim boys and/or men to experience feelings of sexual attraction.Are Muslim boys and men unable to deal with feelings of sexual attraction appropriately? What does this say about them? Do they accept so little responsibility for themselves that the only way to cope with such feelings is to prevent them by restricting the freedom of girls and women?amzn_assoc_tracking_id = "atheistrevolu-20"; amzn_assoc_ad_mode = "manual"; amzn_assoc_ad_type = "smart"; amzn_assoc_marketplace = "amazon"; amzn_assoc_region = "US"; amzn_assoc_design = "enhanced_links"; amzn_assoc_asins = "0743289692"; amzn_assoc_placement = "adunit"; amzn_assoc_linkid = "f1d57122e018436e188fce9f6ff05fc7"; Copyright © 2017 Atheist Revolution.

    Atheist Revolution / 6 d. 8 h. 48 min. ago more
  • Bathing in a Sonic Ocean of DogmaBathing in a Sonic Ocean of Dogma

    Live Christmas Music at the Americana in Glendale, California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)This post was originally written in 2006. In 2017, it was edited for clarity and to remove an outdated link. This time of year, it is easy to feel bombarded by all things Christmas the moment one leaves one's house. Mine is one of the few houses on my street with no Christmas decorations. A few doors down, a neighbor has a full nativity scene in the front yard. Downtown, I encounter "official" Christmas decorations purchased with government funds. Every store I enter features decorations and music. Ah, that Christmas music. Song after song about Jesus and his divinity, with occasional mentions of Santa Claus for the kiddies.Andrew Bernardin at A Daily Dose of Doubt (update: link no longer active) asks whether he is the only one offended by what he describes as an "involuntary audio bath in dogma." No Andrew, you are certainly not alone. I'm not sure if "offended" is the best label for how I feel. For me, being offended generally includes some element of surprise (i.e., I can't believe they are doing such and such). In this situation, I don't have this reaction. I have come to expect the pervasive noise pollution each December. So what terms would I use to describe my reaction? I'm probably somewhere between "annoyed" and "disgusted" (depending on the level of blatant Jesus content) when encountering this celebration of superstition.Andrew does an excellent job of describing his thought process when the music strikes his ears. For example, he tries to reassure himself that the Jesus music comes from an understandable human desire to celebrate tradition.I attempted to temper my feelings of having my ears and beliefs violated with this line of reasoning: It's just folk music. They're telling stories about folk heroes.Andrew then remembers that lives have been ruined - even lost - for the crime of not believing in the phenomena described by these songs. He realizes that many people today think less of him for not believing in them himself.Like Andrew, I would prefer that all the Christ stuff be kept out of the public sphere, whether it is December or any other month. I recognize that this is an unrealistic expectation. When a business chooses to play this music, they are catering to the majority of their employees and shoppers. As long as their competitors are doing the same, I'm not sure anybody can question the soundness of this decision. However, by catering to the wishes of the Christian majority, they run the risk of alienating non-believers and non-Christian believers. I do not do much retail shopping, and that does not typically change in December. Other than trips to the grocery store, home improvement stores, and a few less frequent outings, I'm usually able to meet my minimal shopping needs online. Much like Andrew, I try to avoid the businesses that can be counted on to play the most Jesus-centric music this time of year. If I wanted to go to church, I would do so. I'd prefer to shop without being bombarded by religious nonsense. What I hadn't considered until reading Andrew's post was going the next step and letting the businesses I avoid know why they are losing my business. It isn't a bad idea.Copyright © 2017 Atheist Revolution.

    Atheist Revolution / 7 d. 20 h. 39 min. ago more
  • Evangelical Christianity’s Culture of Sexual AbuseEvangelical Christianity’s Culture of Sexual Abuse

    It's a disservice to the truth to treat Roy Moore's case as if it were an isolated anomaly.

    Daylight Atheism / 8 d. 3 h. 42 min. ago
  • Meet An Atheist, Brittany Wilcox ArnoldMeet An Atheist, Brittany Wilcox Arnold

    By Brittany Wilcox Arnold Meet An Atheist I’m an atheist living in Wisconsin, there aren’t too many of us in the up here, but I still love northern life. Most folks are nice until you say you’re an atheist and then they ignore you or cut you out, which has happened with friends and family. I’ve been blocked by numerous relatives and in laws who won’t even acknowledge my existence anymore. I had one of my cousins completely cut me off after the whole transgender bathroom ordeal, and in-law who did the same, especially after I told her that I’d trust my transgender friends in the bathroom with my son before a Catholic priest, and another in law that never said a word to me before she knew me because I got pregnant before my husband and I got married. My immediate family isn’t like that; my mother is pagan and both my sisters are agnostic. My home was never super religious growing up, thankfully. My path to atheism began after I was told by a youth group leader at a friend’s church that a Buddhist monk that never hurt anyone wouldn’t go to heaven. I was 13. I studied religions, found myself really enjoying Buddhist principals, and leaning away from divinity of any sort. I studied psychology but all my philosophy professors told me that’s what I should do, my response was always “but I’m already awesome at bullshitting people”. I enjoy social sciences, people are fascinating to me, especially when it comes to language. I am a mother to a little dude, who knew all his planets by the age of 2.5 and learned his ABC’s in relation to space terms. His first two word phrase was “Star Wars”. We also have two dogs and two cats and a dragon eel. It’s a busy home. I’m currently working with my younger of two dogs to become a therapy dog. For work, I work at a spa, which comes with free massages, so that’s excellent. In life, my true passion is animals, I volunteer and have worked at our local shelter. I plan on starting a dog rescue focused on vets getting animals as soon as we pay off our house and get our dream farm. I love science and space and things that make me question life. I read mainly nonfiction books about language and the Smithsonian. Those are my favorite. We do watch quite a bit of TV, in which case I enjoy The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Godless, and of course Star Trek, Stargate, and damn near everything with space. And every year I attend a big steampunk convention called TeslaCon because I love cosplay and being a nerd.We also love going hiking and exploring the beauty Wisconsin and Upper Michigan have to offer. We are also known to host some fantastic parties and for drinking some good wine and beer. By the way: GO PACK GO! The post Meet An Atheist, Brittany Wilcox Arnold appeared first on Atheist Alliance of America.

    Atheist Alliance of America / 9 d. 3 h. 33 min. ago more
  • Why Christian Extremism Seems Milder Than Islamic ExtremismWhy Christian Extremism Seems Milder Than Islamic Extremism

    Suppose we discovered a previously unknown island roughly the size of Puerto Rico that was uninhabited and unclaimed by any country. Now suppose that we placed the following people in charge of this island and gave them absolute authority to create any form of government they desired without having to adhere to the laws of any other country: Pat Robertson, Ray Comfort, Ken Ham, Louie Gohmert, Roy Moore, Michele Bachmann, Mike Pence, and...well, I think you get the idea. If I've left any of your personal favorites off the list, feel free to add them. The specific personalities aren't terribly important here.Now that we've got this island with these people running the show, what sort of government do you suppose they would set up? A Christian theocracy, of course! Remember, they are not beholden to the laws of any other country. They don't have to worry about the U.S. Constitution; they are free to draft their own set of laws. Unless all of them have been lying to us this entire time about what they want to see here in the U.S., I think we'd have to predict that a Christian theocracy is exactly what they'd set up.With their new Christian theocracy in place, I imagine they'd successfully recruit many evangelical fundamentalist Christians currently residing in the U.S. to relocate to their island. After all, they'd be able to give these Christians everything they say they want. Abortion would be a criminal offense, women would have to be subservient to men, anyone afflicted with "teh gay" would likely be put to death, and the failure to respond in kind when someone wished one "Merry Christmas" would lead to a public flogging. It would be a Christian extremist paradise!"But don't you think Islam is far worse than Christianity?" is a question I hear at least a couple times a week. Yes, yes I do. I think that contemporary Islam as it is practiced in theocratic societies is far worse than contemporary Christianity as it is practiced in democratic societies. This should come as no surprise. The Islam one finds in theocracies has not had the same moderating effect of secularism and Enlightenment values that have helped to reign in the Christianity we find in democracies. We don't have true Christian theocracies today, but we do have true Islamic theocracies.If we wanted to see Christianity become as bad as Islam, all we'd need to do is lift the restraints imposed by secular democratic societies and create a scenario like what I described above. Give Christian extremists absolute power to inflict their will on the rest of us, and I suspect we'd be hard-pressed to argue that the result would be any better than what we see in modern Islamic theocracies. Given such unchecked power, I see little reason to think that Pat Robertson or Mike Pence would be much better than an Iranian Ayatollah.Copyright © 2017 Atheist Revolution.

    Atheist Revolution / 9 d. 5 h. 36 min. ago more
  • Most White Evangelical Christians Do Not Believe Trump Committed Crime in Russian Election MeddlingMost White Evangelical Christians Do Not Believe Trump Committed Crime in Russian Election Meddling

    According to an article by Eugene Scott in The Washington Post, the results of a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll show that 37% of white Catholics in the U.S. do not approve of Mueller's Russia investigation. Scott notes,But despite the expanding probe, 59 percent of white Catholics — a group that Trump won in the 2016 election — don't believe that the president committed a crime in connection with possible Russian attempt to influence the election.So, 37% of Catholics disapprove of the investigation, and 59% do not believe Trump committed any sort of crime with regard to Russian meddling in our election. It sounds like a lot of Catholics are still willing to defend the man they elected president.Sadly, Catholics are not the only group who is sticking with Trump. They do not even appear to be the largest religious group to do so. Scott says that 79% of white evangelical Christians do not believe that Trump committed a crime.It sounds to me like large numbers of Catholics and evangelical Christians, most of whom voted for Trump, have decided to stand by him no matter what. I think it might be helpful to remember this as we pile on the Christians in Alabama who are standing by Roy Moore no matter what. Alabama may be backward in many ways, but their Christians seem fairly typical in at least this respect.Copyright © 2017 Atheist Revolution.

    Atheist Revolution / 10 d. 2 h. 30 min. ago more
  • Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Some Initial ThoughtsSexual Harassment in the Workplace: Some Initial Thoughts

    Ever since the reports of high-profile men sexually harassing and/or sexually assaulting women in the workplace (e.g., Harvey Weinstein, Bill O'Reilly, Al Franken, Matt Lauer, Donald Trump) hit the news, I've been trying to figure out how to address the subject. And once the floodgates opened to the point where it seemed like we were hearing about a new case at least daily, determining where to start became even more difficult. And then there were the #MeToo and #ChurchToo hashtags, reminding us that this appalling behavior is far more common than we'd like to admit and not limited to powerful men. I recognized that this subject was going to require more than one post, and I decided to start with something simple.I admire the women (and men) who have been coming forward with their stories of sexual harassment and/or assault. I know this is not easy, but I think their efforts are going to prove to be beneficial. As unpleasant as all of this is, it is forcing us to recognize a serious problem and work toward solutions. We are talking about sexual harassment and assault in the workplace in meaningful ways, and it is beginning to feel like the dirty not-so-secret secret is finally out in the open.When it comes to how we deal with the accused, I think it is important to preserve due process and avoid the vigilantism that outraged Internet mobs so often demand. I will continue to oppose calling for anyone's head on Twitter or the "listen and believe" mantra that equates accusation with guilt. At the same time, I believe that the reports we have been hearing should be taken seriously and that the overwhelming majority of them are truthful. This is where nuance is needed. Those who insist that we must believe everything or believe nothing are presenting us with a false choice.But I don't really want to talk about the accused perpetrators in this post. I imagine that will be the focus of other posts. For now, I'd rather keep the focus on those who have been subjected to sexual harassment and/or assault in their workplaces. And I'd just like to state the obvious here: these people deserve far better than this. Nobody deserves to be sexually harassed or assaulted while they are trying to do their job. This behavior is unacceptable. Those who are subjected to it need to be aware of their options for ending it, and the rest of us need to support them and the mechanisms designed to protect them.I've known plenty of people, mostly women, who have faced sexual harassment on the job. Some of it was fairly minor and dealt with easily. A male co-worker made an unwelcome sexual advance, was told it was unwelcome, apologized, and never did it again. Plenty of other instances were not so minor and not easily resolved. Perhaps the male co-worker does not stop but continues a pattern of repeated sexual advances long after being told clearly that they are unwelcome. Or perhaps he decides to punish the woman for rejecting his advances by attempting to harm her reputation with their co-workers. Sometimes the man in question is a boss or supervisor, and sometimes he's a peer.What stands out to me about every single instance of sexual harassment I've heard about is that it makes the target uncomfortable. These situations are rarely easy to deal with, and so we end up with someone who is made uncomfortable to the point where she (or he) may have difficulty performing at work. This stuff leads to stress, sleeplessness, fear, uncertainty, and so on. All this is just the tip of the iceberg, but it is still important to recognize what this feels like because it should help us remember that nobody deserves it.Copyright © 2017 Atheist Revolution.

    Atheist Revolution / 10 d. 7 h. 49 min. ago more
  • The Fountainhead: Bodice-Ripper, Part 2The Fountainhead: Bodice-Ripper, Part 2

    Rand's fans, like Rand herself, have overlaid the rape scene with their idea of what they want to be there rather than what's actually there.

    Daylight Atheism / 11 d. 7 h. 55 min. ago
  • A Political Litmus Test to ConsiderA Political Litmus Test to Consider

    Litmus in hydrochloric acid colores red. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)I think we all know what a litmus test is, but since I am going to refer to the use of a litmus test in a particular context, I'll go ahead and spell it out. Imagine a political candidate with whom you agree on every issue that matters to you. This is your ideal candidate because he or she shares your views and your priorities. This is someone who is going to do his or her best to represent you. Wouldn't that be a nice change?Now imagine that there is one exception, a single issue where you and this otherwise ideal candidate do not see eye-to-eye. A political litmus test would mean that if this one issue was sufficiently important to you, you would not vote for this candidate even though he or she was ideal in every other respect.Many people have political litmus tests. One common one on the left involves support for reproductive rights for women. Over the years, I have heard many people on the left say that there is no way they would vote for an anti-choice candidate even if that candidate agreed with them on everything else. A more recent one on the left might be perceived support for big corporations and/or Wall St. Opposition to taxes and support for gun rights are among the more common ones on the right. Again, I have heard many people on the right say that there is no way they would vote for a candidate who was not willing to make an anti-tax pledge or who might go along with any form of gun control. The point is that many voters have political litmus tests, single issues on which they would refuse to support otherwise ideal candidates.I'm not here to argue that political litmus tests are good or bad. I have little difficulty understanding why people use them even though I think they may have downsides. In fact, I'd like to suggest a very specific sort of political litmus test for your consideration. I have little problem voting for political candidates who are religious believers. I'd never reject an otherwise ideal candidate merely because he or she was a religious believer. In fact, I wouldn't necessarily reject a political candidate merely because he or she was a religious fundamentalist. I would, however, absolutely reject an otherwise ideal political candidate who was a religious fundamentalist who embraced "end times" theology.That is, I would support a political litmus test involving a genuine religious belief that the end of the world was coming in the next few years. Someone who does not believe we have a future should not have any political influence. I could not trust such a person to govern with our best interests in mind. There would be no reason for such a person to have a long-term outlook, and I think that would be a serious liability.I do not think that this particular litmus test should be limited to atheists; I think that any religious believer who is not absolutely convinced that the world will end in his or her life should give it serious consideration as well. Most of the religious believers I know do not think the world is going to end anytime soon. Most think that their children and grandchildren will have the opportunity to grow up, and most would prefer that there is a pleasant future awaiting them. They too have an interest in preventing the "end times" crowd from getting into office.When we evaluate political candidates who are religious believers, I think it is well worth our while to inquire about what they believe. If we learn that they are anticipating the apocalypse within our lifetimes, I think we should not only refuse to vote for them but actively oppose them. The alternative is too dangerous.Copyright © 2017 Atheist Revolution.

    Atheist Revolution / 12 d. 9 h. 48 min. ago more
  • Letter-Writing Wednesday: Don’t Normalize NazisLetter-Writing Wednesday: Don’t Normalize Nazis

    [A copy of this letter was sent to letters@nytimes.com.] To the Editor: I was appalled to read, in the New York Times of all places, a story whose message appears to be that Nazis are ordinary people just like you and me. The piece consists of a soft-focus profile of a white nationalist man in […]

    Daylight Atheism / 13 d. 3 h. 25 min. ago
  • I'll be offline for a Week to Ten DaysI'll be offline for a Week to Ten Days

    But I will be back.

    Atheism Analyzed / 13 d. 21 h. 8 min. ago
  • What Does This Post Have To Do With Atheism?What Does This Post Have To Do With Atheism?

    Q: What does this post have to do with atheism?If you are asking this question about a post you've encountered on Atheist Revolution, the answer is very likely "nothing." I've been writing about atheism and many related topics (e.g., the separation of church and state, skepticism, religion, freethought) here since 2005. As you will see from the topic cloud in the right sidebar, topics like these that are at least somewhat related to atheism have received the most attention. You'll also see that I do write about topics with little to do with atheism. Rest assured, I am aware that I am doing this. It is very much intentional.Sometimes, writing about unrelated topics is a strategic choice on my part and has to do with experimenting with various SEO-based approaches aimed at attracting the sort of visitors who don't regularly visit atheist blogs (i.e., most people). But most of the time, I write about other topics because I like variety and have many interests besides atheism. I find that many of my favorite posts on other atheist blogs are those that address topics outside of atheism, and I've always tried to write the sort of stuff I enjoy reading elsewhere.I think that most people who understand atheism will probably agree that it is a fairly small topic. I have been writing about it since 2005, and there is only so much I can say about it. The puzzle shouldn't be why I write about other topics but how I can still manage to find anything to say about atheism I haven't said previously! Having said that, I have not abandoned atheism as a topic. I continue to write about atheism and related topics because they continue to be relevant.If it really bothers you that I sometimes write about things unrelated to atheism, I suggest you consider doing what I did in 2005 and start a new atheist blog. At that time, I felt like there was something missing and decided to add my voice to the mix. We could certainly use more atheist blogs, as many have closed or gone inactive over the years. You could keep yours entirely focused on atheism if you wanted. I'd be happy to check it out once you get it up and running. Of course, you could just do what most people do when reading blogs and skip over the posts you aren't interested in. I find that this usually works well.Copyright © 2017 Atheist Revolution.

    Atheist Revolution / 14 d. 9 h. 45 min. ago more
  • #MeToo and the Atheist Community#MeToo and the Atheist Community

    It's disappointing and enraging to see how many men, including many allegedly feminist men, stand revealed as creeps and hypocrites.

    Daylight Atheism / 15 d. 5 h. 5 min. ago
  • The Social Media SewerThe Social Media Sewer

    One of the best things about the sewer that is today's social media is that one can choose not to play in it. I realize this probably sounds flippant, but I'm serious. When what one encounters on Facebook, Twitter, or wherever else leads one to feel hopeless about the state of humanity, it might be time to take a break from social media. And if one eventually reaches the point of concluding that whatever benefits are to be gained from using social media are not worth the costs, one can even choose to opt out entirely.I mention this because I think it is easy to forget that we have these options. I know plenty of people who have explored various social media platforms, decided that they held little appeal or that the bad outweighed the good, and have not used them since. I know others who were once heavy users of various social media platforms until they burned out or became disillusioned. They cite different reasons, but a common theme involves the irrationality and tribalism they encountered on social media. When I recently asked a friend why she abandoned Facebook, she replied, "It's nothing but people yelling at each other, and I don't see the appeal of that."As for me, I think I've finally found a strategy with which I'm comfortable for the time being. I try to be selective about who I friend/follow, connecting with those who contribute something of value (even if I disagree with much of what they have to say). I'm quick to unfollow/unfriend people once they begin calling others names. It doesn't matter whether it is directed at me; behavior like that is not something I want to support. I also take breaks from social media when I find myself feeling disgusted at much of what passes for discourse these days.When it comes to social media, the most important lesson I've learned so far is a simple one: I am responsible for what I decide to put up with online. If I don't like what I encounter, it is up to me to do something about it.amzn_assoc_tracking_id = "atheistrevolu-20"; amzn_assoc_ad_mode = "manual"; amzn_assoc_ad_type = "smart"; amzn_assoc_marketplace = "amazon"; amzn_assoc_region = "US"; amzn_assoc_design = "enhanced_links"; amzn_assoc_asins = "150113244X"; amzn_assoc_placement = "adunit"; amzn_assoc_linkid = "bc3a28fc511b5fd14e347edf0c5a99bb"; Copyright © 2017 Atheist Revolution.

    Atheist Revolution / 16 d. 7 h. 50 min. ago more
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  • Prayer in College ClassroomsPrayer in College Classrooms

    Mary Magdalene, in a dramatic 19th-century popular image of penitence painted by Ary Scheffer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)An early version of this post appeared at Atheist Revolution back in 2005. It has been revised and expanded.We hear an awful lot about the dire consequences of not allowing prayer in school from Christians who must not realize that prayer in school is alive and well. There has been prayer in school as long as there have been schools. Unless religious believers stop attending school, I think we can be confident that there will continue to be prayer in school. And there's nothing wrong with that.At three different universities (two state universities and one private liberal arts school), I have witnessed college students praying during class. Despite claims from conservative Christians about liberal college professors attempting to destroy the faith of their precious children, the reality is that prayer thrives in these environments.I have observed college students praying in many contexts (e.g., prayer meetings in the dorms, religious functions on campus, before meals in the dining hall), but the most common one seems to take place in a classroom right before an examination. It typically happens while the professor is preparing to distribute exams to the class. And I have yet to see any praying student face any negative consequences for praying.Most of the pre-exam prayers I have witnessed are silent. I inferred that prayer was taking place from the bowing of the head, the position of the hands, and the mouthing of "amen" at the end. Other times, the prayers were at least partially audible. Much less common were the few instances I have seen in which the prayers were entirely audible and delivered in a histrionic manner so that other students and the professor could easily hear what was being said. The students who did not pray (which was the majority in every case) either ignored the praying student(s) or seemed mildly amused by them. I think it would be safe to say that some seemed to regard it as silly as I did, but nobody ever objected. Nobody ever said "You can't do that here" or anything of the sort.I have seen students praying before an exam often enough that I am not surprised by it. It barely gets my attention unless it is loud enough to be disruptive. And in those cases, I marvel at the arrogance that would lead someone to believe one of their gods would intervene by helping them do better on an exam while ignoring so many of the daily atrocities others endure.Copyright © 2017 Atheist Revolution.

    Atheist Revolution / 18 d. 1 h. 12 min. ago more
  • The Fountainhead: Bodice-Ripper, Part 1The Fountainhead: Bodice-Ripper, Part 1

    The most infamously misogynist scene in all of Ayn Rand's work.

    Daylight Atheism / 18 d. 3 h. 32 min. ago
  • Coming Soon: MetaComing Soon: Meta

    I wrote in September about the forthcoming publication of my book with Andrew Murtagh, Meta: On God, the Big Questions, and the Just City (An Uncommon Exchange). Today, I have a further announcement: I’m pleased to unveil the cover art! If you’d like to read my original posts with Andrew, they’re here – but the […]

    Daylight Atheism / 20 d. 7 h. 55 min. ago
  • An Open Letter to ChristianityAn Open Letter to Christianity

    By Carolyn Lueders Burica Staff Writer   Dear Christianity: Well,  you’ve lost another one here. After years of believing in God, going to church, taking communion, and all the other things that revolve around Christianity, I’m giving up. I’m done. I was raised a Catholic, but am now in recovery. In fact, I’m an atheist now. And yes, I’m sure many of you Christians out there might respond: “Well, I hate Catholics too, so don’t give up ALL Christian religions just because you hate the Catholics. That’s not fair to God and Jesus, right?” That right there is the crux of the issue: the absolute refusal to accept the possibility that “God” may actually NOT exist. You seem to insist on it, and use the bible as your back up proof/evidence. But this is my response: the bible is NOT proof of the existence of God. Just because it is written down does not make it so. If that were the case, I’d write a short story that says I’m rich. Then I’ll show it to people when I go to purchase that really expensive car I’ve always dreamed of but could never afford: “Hey, it’s written down, so it must be true, right?” I have a challenge for all Christians who read the bible regularly (I have never read beyond the Old Testament – something I’ll get to in a second). Are you ready for the challenge? Here goes: Find a verse (or two, if you want) in the bible you do not agree with and/or support. Draw a line through it as though you wish it were removed from the bible permanently. Women, is it something you read about how you’re supposed to be subservient to your man? Colossians 3:18 How he should be allowed to beat you if you misbehave? Beat your children? Proverbs 23: 13-14 (Because, it’s in there, you know). Men, are you a Christian with a tattoo? You might want to read Leviticus 19:28 then – because that’s what the bible recommends. No marking of the skin, no tattoos. Have you found the words or sentences you don’t agree with? Good! Now ask yourself: If the bible has imperfect wording, how can it be the word of God, who is – according to you, perfect? Perfect people don’t write imperfect words. If you fail to see the logic here, then perhaps I can offer another challenge: If you really do want to live your life according to the bible, then you must also do what it tells you to do in the Old Testament too, right? Let me list a few of the immoral acts mentioned in the Old Testament: Incest Raping of slave women Polygamy War Slaughtering of innocents Adultery It appears as though the god of the Old Testament was pretty revengeful, and a complete megalomaniac. Sure you want that for a leader? Ah, but it’s really only the NEW Testament you read and learn from, right? If I remember, Jesus took the general stories of the Old Testament and used them as teaching tools for his followers. Since I never read the New Testament, this is where it gets cloudy for me, and I can’t speak to it, to be fair. And nor do I want a bunch of bible scripture thrown out at me – remember, if you scratched out at least a line of text or two, that renders the bible “imperfect”. If you believe the entire thing to be true, word by word by word, then you better start living the biblical life, and not get upset when you start getting beaten (women) or your husband comes home with numerous wives because “the bible said I could and it is THE word of God”. Right? But, I have read the Old Testament. I even taught the Old Testament to children. And, believe it or not, they were more curious and critical of the content. They wanted to know how people could live hundreds of years. They asked me how brothers and sisters could legally marry and how can a man marry his wife AND get a slave girl pregnant at the same time? How could someone be so willing to chop his child in half? They were all very good questions, in my opinion. And, to be honest, I wasn’t able to explain away the behavior. All I was allowed to say was, “that’s just how it is stated in the bible – go ask your parents if you have further questions about morality”. And this is why I no longer care for religion or care about what the bible says. It doesn’t teach people to think, to wonder, to use logic and question the how, what, where, when, and why of the world. All it does is tell them WHAT to think, and HOW to act. That’s not education, that’s indoctrination. If I wanted that, I’d move to North Korea. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); The post An Open Letter to Christianity appeared first on Atheist Alliance of America.

    Atheist Alliance of America / 27 d. 3 h. 12 min. ago more
  • Skip the Boy Scouts Christmas TreeSkip the Boy Scouts Christmas Tree

    Over at Laughing in Disbelief, Andrew Hall had a great idea. During the "war on Christmas" season, he's ending every post with the following reminder:*Hey, thanks for reading! From now until Christmas I’m ending every one of my posts on Laughing in Disbelief with a reminder not to buy your holiday/Christmas/Yule tree from the Boys Scouts of America. They refuse to allow out of the closet atheists to be part of their organization. I wouldn’t give money to a scouting organization who didn’t let Jews or blacks in. Why would I give them my cash if they are bigots towards my own children?Love it! Until the Boy Scouts of America decides to change their policy on prohibiting open atheists from joining, I'm not sure why anyone opposed to anti-atheist bigotry would want to support them.Andrew's idea makes me want to do something similar, so I'm tempted to end every post with my own reminder:Real Christians do not have Christmas trees (Jeremiah 10:1-25 NIV).I won't actually end every post with this because that would mean I'd have to remember to do so. And besides, and I'm not sure I really care enough to bother. Christians are welcome to keep ignoring their "holy" book. Andrew has the better idea.Copyright © 2017 Atheist Revolution.

    Atheistrev.com / 30 d. 7 h. 39 min. ago more
  • The Damage of Shaming OthersThe Damage of Shaming Others

    By Carolyn Lueders Burica Staff Writer   Whenever I need a quick pick-me-up, I head over to http://www.dogshaming.com to look at the humorous pictures of dogs caught in shameful situations. Being a dog owner myself, I can relate to a lot of the pictures. Nothing says “I’m a beagle, I had to do it” better than a picture of one in a near coma from having eaten an entire ham — while the remaining evidence is still on the dinner table, resting in the background. I’ve been there. I just wasn’t able to catch Lilly in the act. She’s sneaky that way. But, fortunately for dogs, their short-attention spans and the apparent lack of a guilty conscience keeps them from feeling shame for any longer than, say, the time it takes them to lift their hanging heads and look at you with liquid pools of love as if to say, “I wuvs you, mommy. You wuvs me too?” I fall for this every time. However, with humans, shame comes with a much heftier price — which can last long after the shameful incident has occurred. And that’s what this post is about. When I was nineteen, I got pregnant. I was unmarried, a freshman in college, and completely terrified. I had been raised in the Catholic church, so I was expected to be the “perfect little Catholic girl” and remain virginal until my wedding day. I was also never given the “big talk” by my mom, because her generation of mothers “didn’t talk about sex”. At least not to me anyways. Needless to say, the boy I lost my virginity to was the same boy who helped me get pregnant. So much for remaining abstinent. It’s also important to add here that, unlike some of my older siblings, I never went to Catholic school as a kid. Unlike Catholic school sex education (which, by the way is woefully inadequate and borders on ridiculous — I know, I had to teach it), I did get the full course of ‘This is where babies come from and here’s how not to let that happen to you.” I wasn’t completely in the dark about sex. I just grew up hearing “Abstinence and natural planning is the only acceptable practice for Catholics. Birth control is WRONG.” over and over again. When I officially found out I was pregnant, I knew three things right away: 1) abortion was out of the question, 2) I am not prepared financially or emotionally to raise this child and 3) the child deserves a stable home with a mother and a father, and that wasn’t something I could give him. (it was a boy). I ended up surrendering my son for adoption. However, despite knowing that I handled my mistake the best way I could at the time, I have recently come to realize how horribly mishandled I was during this time by my parents–more so by my mom than my dad. I cannot blame my mom for what she did and how she treated me – she was only going on the doctrine of the Catholic church and  how it feels about birth control (absolutely NOT), abortion (eternal damnation if you so much as even think about it) and pre-marital sex (yet another sin so evil *insert eye roll and heavy sarcasm here* if any teacher in any diocese is caught having it they will immediately lose their job). My mom was horrified of the shame I had brought on to her, the family and, most importantly it seemed, the Catholic church. I felt like the “spiritually soiled girl,” destined for eternal damnation. I was certain I could never get married wearing the white dress, or take communion without confession first (another thing she wanted me to do), and all the other forms of penance and emotional flogging I had to do in order to get back in “God’s good graces.” In an effort to keep the family safe from my obvious disgrace, I was sent off to live with a woman I didn’t know until the baby was born and I could come home again and resume my life as an “unblemished, pure Catholic girl.” I, however, had to continue on with my life as if I had no worries or stressors on me. Instead of much-needed counseling, I was told to go back to “leading as normal a life as possible.” And forget about everything I just went through. And, by the way, remain silent about it for the rest of my life. I enrolled at a community college, bought a cheap gold band to wear as a wedding ring for my non-existent husband who was in active duty in the Marines (part of the growing series of lies I had to tell everyone so as not to blow the cover off my family’s shame). Lie upon lie was told to friends of the family: she went to live in California, to live with her big brother and attend college out there because it’s free– was the mega lie my mom told her teacher friends. The guilt and shame were poured on thick. My mom  laid the ultimate guilt trip on me when she insisted I not tell my older sisters I was pregnant — because, according to her Catholic point of view–my non-Catholic sisters would just judge and berate me and call me horribly irresponsible. The irony is startling. Incidentally, I never did tell either of them until recently — 30+ years after this all happened. And, unlike what I had been told and feared would happen, neither one of them cast a single stone of judgment in my direction. In fact, both admitted they were saddened to hear that I “couldn’t come to them freely” with this news. They were angry at my mom, though, for letting her Catholicism plant false ideas into my head. Again, that good ol’ Catholic guilt was at work. Once the baby was born and adopted out, I was told “Okay, that’s over. Time to move on with your life. We’ll never speak of this again. Promise?” Sadly, after all of this trauma and what can only be called “emotional abuse,” I agreed. It took ten years before I could even talk about the incident to anyone. I was afraid of being shamed and judged all over again. It took the death of both of my parents to allow myself the opportunity to grieve over the loss. It took the help of a great therapist to help me recognize and process the enormous, near-crippling shame I have been feeling since that day in the doctor’s office almost thirty-one years ago. It will take courage, strength and confidence to forgive myself for allowing it to happen in the first place. That’s the hardest part. Now for the “lesson learned” in all of this. And I hope this message reaches as many religious folks as possible who have found themselves on the precipice of their child’s poor choice(s). Never, ever shame your child for their mistakes. Yes, you can tell them you are disappointed, angry, upset, or whatever adjective seems to fit your mood. But, how  you treat them after you share your feelings can and will have lifelong effects. Kick them out because they’re gay and it goes against your religion? Devastating. Kick them out because she got pregnant and it goes against your religion? Devastating. Telling them they are destined for hell because they made a single, poor choice that doesn’t align with your beliefs? ABSOLUTELY, 100% DEVASTATING. It has taken me thirty-one years to deal with the emotional abuse that has permeated my life and has caused many problems for me. I feel if my situation had been handled without the religious judgment and condemnation but instead with more love, patience and compassion, I would be even better than I am today. If you wish to shame someone, then try shaming a dog. They don’t seem to care enough about your opinion to suffer any permanent effects. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); The post The Damage of Shaming Others appeared first on Atheist Alliance of America.

    Atheist Alliance of America / 40 d. 17 h. 50 min. ago more
  • Is free-will an illusion?Is free-will an illusion?

    Question by MoralPhilosopher23 on 08/26/12 12:57 PM Replies: 2,646 Views: 93,984Forums: Philosophy, Free Will, Atheism, Philosophy Of Religion, FreewillLast Post by cicerone imposter on 11/01/17 1:49 PM

    able2know - Atheism / 41 d. 7 h. 36 min. ago
  • Coming Out AtheistComing Out Atheist

    By Carolyn Lueders Burica Staff Writer  I spend a lot of time on Twitter and Facebook, perusing the following hashtags: #catholic #religion and #atheist. Why? Because I enjoy learning what’s going on in people’s heads and disseminating these blurbs between what is just opinion and what is fact. Right now, in the game of logic, fact and reason, the #atheists are winning hands-down. What saddens me is the idea that atheists need to “come out” of the closet and profess their non beliefs. This is comparable to homosexuals needing to remain silent about who they are, out of fear or threat of ridicule, violence and discrimination. I’ve been struggling with this topic for years and have always deferred my true feelings based on the need to “belong” to some group. Admittedly, I had seen atheism as something only angry, agitated, cynical people belonged to. Listening to my brother curse the Catholic church for its horrifying antics (before I investigated his claims and found them to be truthful and honestly deserved) I certainly wasn’t one of those people, therefore I certainly couldn’t call myself atheist…or could I? After reading and learning as  much as I can about atheism, and what it is/is not, I have realized that it puts my true, authentic thoughts and feelings into something concrete. And everything that I thought about atheists was completely wrong. Ever since I started having short little Facebook and tweet chats with some very smart people, I’ve realized how much more alive, deliberate, nonjudgmental, accepting and happy atheists tend to be. And those things are exactly what I am looking for in my life. I am an atheist. I do not believe in the existence of God or Satan. I do not believe in the afterlife reward of heaven, or the punishment of hell. I do not believe Jesus died, then came back to life three days later. I do not believe in the bible. I believe in science. I believe in evolution. I believe that this life is the only life we get and it should be lived to the fullest, without fear of punishment after we’re dead. I believe in treating ALL others with respect, dignity and acceptance of who they are. I believe in being a moral person, and that morality is based on genuine human behavior, not coming from an imaginary being or a 2,000 year old book of myths, which promotes rape, genocide, misogyny, incest, infanticide, and so many other abhorrent, immoral things. I believe in letting others believe what they want, regardless of whether I agree or not. Lastly, I want to reach out to all the atheists who have helped me find myself during this journey: my sister, my now-deceased brother and my many, new Facebook and Twitter friends who have made me feel comfortable in expressing my true self. Thank you for helping me gain clarity! –Carolyn B. Carolyn is a new member of the Atheism Alliance and brings her writing talents to our group, where she will be regularly posting here. A series of personal, traumatic life events several years ago forced her to re-evaluate her religious beliefs, which were centered around the Catholic church. She has since abandoned all organized religious dogma and instead chooses to embrace science, the universe and freedom from religion. Carolyn lives somewhere in the Midwest, with her husband, two children, a fat, happy beagle and a temperamental cat. Her favorite philosophical belief is: “We are all made from stardust. Once we die, we will be released back into the universe as energy, and may some day end up on another planet, in another galaxy, riding time until our energy is used by someone or something else. That’s a lot more romantic than being stuck in a boring place, or a fiery pit, for all of eternity, isn’t it?”     (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); The post Coming Out Atheist appeared first on Atheist Alliance of America.

    Atheist Alliance of America / 51 d. 8 h. 36 min. ago more
  • The Religious Right Is Selling Its SoulThe Religious Right Is Selling Its Soul

    How far are the leaders of the religious right are willing to go in their support of President Trump?

    Huffingtonpost.com / 55 d. 0 h. 44 min. ago
  • “You’ll Be Hearing ‘Merry Christmas’ A Lot More This Year”“You’ll Be Hearing ‘Merry Christmas’ A Lot More This Year”

    “We’re getting near that beautiful Christmas season that people don’t talk about anymore. They don’t use the word ‘Christmas’ because it’s not politically correct,” he said, explaining that politically correct culture has made it difficult to celebrate the holiday. “You go to department stores, and they’ll say ‘Happy New Year,’ or they’ll say other things, and it’ll be red — they’ll have it painted — but they don’t say — Well, guess what? We’re saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again.” I’m saying “Merry Christmas”! It’s so wonderful to hear! Thanks to Trump, I get to say it, Which I hadn’t, since… last year. Yes, I’m saying Merry Christmas It’s the phrase that I adore (Which is why, last year, I said it– And, well, every year before) I’ll be saying Merry Christmas For as long as I have voice Ah, but this year, thanks to Donald I’m not saying it by choice I’ll be saying Merry Christmas Both to strangers and to friends Cos the government is listening Till the Christmas season ends Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas without fail! Just remember, tis the season To be keeping out of jail! Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas every day! I hope I get my Christmas wish… And Trump just goes away.

    The Digital Cuttlefish / 59 d. 5 h. 21 min. ago more
  • Critical thinking on the existence of GodCritical thinking on the existence of God

    Discussion by Susmariosep on 11/24/15 7:07 PM Replies: 441 Views: 19,290Forums: Religion, Philosophy, God, Atheism, AtheistsLast Post by Susmariosep on 10/11/17 2:11 PM

    able2know - Atheism / 62 d. 7 h. 14 min. ago
  • Still Here, Sorta.Still Here, Sorta.

    So it turns out that today is the 10th anniversary of this blog. The very first post was just the collected comments from Pharyngula that I had contributed for Cephalopod Awareness Week (or whatever it was called). I’d repost my favorite verse here, except that I don’t know what my favorite one is. I did, just a month or so ago, finally tell my (adult) kids about this place, and it rather astonished me to be able to report that my verses have been used at weddings and funerals, in valentines and Christmas cards, and in an English class in India. They’ve been turned into songs and videos, and have been stolen for posters. It’s been a heck of a ride. So if you are a long time reader, thank you so much for sharing a decade with me. If you are new or relatively new, you can follow the link and binge-read the entire thing. Or not. And if you like, you can let me know *your* favorite(s) in the comments, so maybe I can eventually figure out my own.

    The Digital Cuttlefish / 63 d. 3 h. ago more
  • Roy Moore Is A Threat To Religious LibertyRoy Moore Is A Threat To Religious Liberty

      On his Senate campaign website, Roy Moore says, “Religious liberty is the civil rights issue of our time.” But when Roy

    Huffingtonpost.com / 72 d. 2 h. 15 min. ago
  • A Brief Primer On Progressive ChristianityA Brief Primer On Progressive Christianity

    A church member met with me recently to discuss her worries about her teenage son leaving behind his Christian faith. “He’s

    Huffingtonpost.com / 83 d. 6 h. 31 min. ago
  • A Scary Number Of Americans Don't Think Muslims Or Atheists Have Constitutional RightsA Scary Number Of Americans Don't Think Muslims Or Atheists Have Constitutional Rights

    Let's get the facts straight.

    Huffingtonpost.com / 85 d. 0 h. 59 min. ago
  • AtheismAtheism

    Discussion by littlek on 02/06/10 2:23 PM Replies: 13,315 Views: 460,847Forums: Atheism, Atheists, Religion, Reality, Without BeliefLast Post by BillW on 09/17/17 10:07 PM

    able2know - Atheism / 85 d. 23 h. 18 min. ago
  • The tolerant atheistThe tolerant atheist

    Discussion by Tuna on 11/10/15 8:51 PM Replies: 559 Views: 14,527Forums: Atheism, Religion, ToleranceLast Post by Susmariosep on 09/05/17 10:59 AM

    able2know - Atheism / 98 d. 10 h. 26 min. ago
  • Jerry Brown – Fear of the Lord or the Here and Now?Jerry Brown – Fear of the Lord or the Here and Now?

    On Sunday, 10 December, 2017, CBS News 60 Minutes interviewed California governor Jerry Brown.  This interview, while dealing with multiple subjects, led off with Brown’s strong disagreement with President Trump regarding climate change.  Brown’s attitude, considering the current spate of wildfires ravaging his state, and the correlation to causes associated with climate change, is fully understandable.  “Nature is not a political game,” the governor correctly asserts early on, but then he followed with this statement: I don’t think President Trump has a fear of the Lord, the fear of the wrath of God, which leads one to more humility… Later in the report, we learn that Jerry Brown was once a Jesuit seminarian, which is clearly a strong portion of where such a “fear of god” might originate.  The problem is that: Expecting Donald Trump to have a fear of much of anything, let along some form of supreme being is likely overreaching, and It doesn’t take a fear of god to have a proper apprehension for the current environmental state of our planet.  That said, the following was just submitted to CBS News’ feedback site: While I appreciate your 60 Minutes interview with Jerry Brown, his candor and passion for his state and its current plight, his suggestion that President Trump lacks the fear of some supernatural being and that such might put him in better touch with this planet’s current ecological state was problematic and misleading.  As a conscientious citizen, I want to act in a fashion which furthers my own desires, but not at the expense of the planet I reside on.  Further, as a graduate engineer, I recognize that the research is in, and that anthropogenic climate change is a fact, albeit a fact that is contested outside of the scientific community, and usually among those who have short-term financial gains in play.  Finally, as an atheist, I see no god involved but do perceive the actions and consequences humankind has had on our home and the pressing need for correction.I would suggest to Governor Brown that fear of a deity that repeatedly fails to show itself is less persuasive to those like Trump than the recognition that our planet’s future is in question, that his children and mine will be the inheritors of our action or lack thereof.

    AtheistNexus.org more
  • On TruthOn Truth

    I've been gone for a while searching for experiences to enlighten myself in search of answers. My wife and I went to Jerusalem, Eygpt, and Tunisia. Talking with the people was exciting and at the same time sad. We have it so good in the United States. On Truth The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones." Act 3, scene ii of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare In searching for the truth be careful which rocks are turned, what closets are opened and to be careful of awakening any dogs in a slumber; and, if possible remember that truth has no hidden agendas or magnetic preferences. That is to say, be careful, because often what one finds in their search is a truth better left unvisited or unsaid, as truth wears many cloaks and can be found almost anywhere. It is hidden in the cold depths of a killer’s heart, as well as, in the first breaths of a newborn child. It is found amongst the privileged class just as it is found among the poor whose only goal is survival. Understand that truth is a duality; yet, with no difference. If there is any it is the difference between water and ice; molecularly they are the same but ice makes a much tougher reality. Clearly, the truth is sometimes both a thing of beauty; hiding the misshapen monstrosity of reality; for when the truth is close to home it is ugly and hideous, but nonetheless, it is the truth. It is the same truth that is beautiful to those viewing it from a more pleasant perspective. If there is anything sad about the truth, it is that within our hearts we know it to be so, but the vain artifice of society and egotism makes us blind to its light. Most have no need to be persuaded of the truth. The truth provides its own persuasion in reality. It needs no one to carry its banner, to glorify its name or bow before it. The truth is the truth--nothing more and nothing less. It is unchanging. It is written about but nowhere is it written except in reality's slate. Though many seek it, it has no favorite, no chosen few and no preferred state. The truth is a quest or journey from fear and ignorance to understanding and reality. Truth is an intangible reality that must be grasped with the mind as well as the hands; and, that is why the search for truth is an unending quest. Because of mental or physical exhaustion the temptation is to surrender to comforting dogma and rhetoric which in some form asks for the willing suspension of disbelief as fiction does. To lie to oneself is the greatest lie because it is just as difficult to see through stone as it is to see the truth. Without truth, there is nothing but superstition, fantasy, and irrational thinking. To discard the truth is to accept immaturity and irresponsibility as a way of life. The hallmark of adult behavior is accepting responsibility and understanding the necessity of making decisions based on reality. In deciding we must override emotionalism to make an informed choice, fully appreciating there is a chance for failure, but also realizing that is part of being an adult—understanding and accepting there are no guarantees. In overriding irrationality and superstition, we open the door to honest inquiry and understanding. The truth demands an objective view that encourages thinking, rational thought and even debate and disagreement. The search for truth is open to a diversity of views and opinions, which only serve to enrich the possibility of enlightenment. Along the path to truth, it is easy to become sure that one has found it or that we somehow are more enlightened than those who choose not to search. This is a constant danger in the search for the truth, the constant possibility that we may have come to believe we have found the truth and that those who have not followed our path are less worthy by virtue of their failure to do so. It is this residence on the road to truth that brings slaughter and war. This truth is closed and that makes it no truth, for the truth is always open and the pathway never ends—it just enlightens. Unfortunately, the yearning for guarantees guides people to irrational thinking and the false reassurances of supernatural phenomena and an over-reliance on emotionalism. When the search for truth ends with the acceptance of superstition and fantasy; the doors of tolerance close and the tyranny of absolutism begins. The doors to inquiry, debate, and experimentation close. The window slams on the fingers of forbearance and compassion and opens to hatred, extremism, and narrow-mindedness. There are no boundaries in the search for truth for it requires none. It has no need of protection for it is the same today as yesterday and invites inquiry, debate and research because it will not change. Those who have discovered the truth live in prisons of their own making. They have no need to go outside into the freshness of the morning air and the warmth of the rising sun because they have closed off the remainder of the world as nonexistent. This self-limitation is a selfish nihilism that ignores the realities of the world for the soothing balm of self-imposed ignorance. They protest too much the search for the truth and it is that protest that reveals that their answer is incorrect--they have merely decided to look no further, which is arrogant, ignorant and self-fulfilling. Beware the person who has found the truth. It is that same person who will kill you in the name of that truth. For those who have found the truth, life functions in black and white with no room for subtle nuances or exceptions. Anyone claiming that they have the truth is a lair. They seek only to end your quest because their control and authority depend upon others accepting things as they are and leaving questions unanswered. Inspirational differentiators are determined by where they occur and the source of that inspiration. The only difference between a man who joins a lynch mob and one who joins the ministry is their location. Despite political and moralistic propaganda, despite outright lies and mistruths; one cannot find truth without first looking for it and there is the rub. Only through disciplined effort can the truth ever be discovered. There is no substitute for the truth. Nevertheless, the search for the truth must go on; and, though the path is perilous and that there is no gratitude for those who strip away comfortable myths and causes other to think. Since the beginning of time, men and women have searched for the truth and come up with interpretations that have suited their needs at the time. This is not to say that their quests were not noble or their results worthwhile. On the contrary, the idea of searching for the truth indicates a pursuit of a higher and fuller understanding of life and a healthy skepticism regarding what stands for truth. Truth has a reputation as a healer of wounds, a soother of troubled minds and a provider of purpose for the individual, as well as all of mankind, collectively. In essence, the ultimate goal of the search for truth is to understand the meaning of life. Thinkers of all sorts have put varieties of interpretations forth; and, still, the search for truth continues. The search for the truth is not for all because it is tiring and often confusing, uncertain and indefinite and unrelenting in its depth, but it is also exhilarating and wonderful for those who are unafraid to let reason and logic find their way. The search for the truth is for those unafraid of what they might find. It is not for those who seek comfort in life. It is for those who seek to know life and all of its intricacies, mysteries and commonness. Truth's prize is in the search. Its benefit lies in removing blindness from searching minds and allowing the clear sight of things. Sadly, the need for an examined life has been replaced with convenient catechisms that encourage shallow thought, narrow ideologies and small focus. Nevertheless, truth and death are absolutes. Never is truth anything but the truth. It is immutable. It is on-going. It is permanent. What was true yesterday is true today and will be true tomorrow into infinity. Mountains will become beaches beneath our feet and the oceans will evaporate before the truth changes. That has been its attraction over the ages. Its immutability and steadfastness captures that part of the psyche that longs to know things. Truth is salve to the inquisitive mind. Often, truth appears a chameleon, changing steadily in the eyes, yet, remaining unchanged because for today's truth is the same as yesterday's, only the perspective and viewer ever change. Truth, like a bullet fired blindly, is no respecter of rank, privilege, religion, philosophy or emotion. Although it is a neutral force, it can destroy used improperly or without forethought. It can be a cold-blooded killer wrapped in the artifice of royalty waiting to burst unsuspecting bubbles of belief with cold precision. There is no doubt of its duality as it is at once beautiful and hideous. This doubleness lies within the viewer, for by itself, truth is pure, untainted and universally clarifying. Only to those whom it does not serve is truth an enemy. Nevertheless, truth is a judge without mercy. It cares little for our sorrow and pain. It is as unfeeling and cold as the dead and yet; it is alive and offers solace to those whom falsehood has driven to the ground. At its most noble truth cuts a mighty swath laying insincerity and pretension bare to the bone. As an avenger of righteousness, it is a weapon for the weak and the scourge of the abusers of men. It is no discerner of person. It does not care about tender feelings and misplaced belief. Truth is not patient. For the unprepared or the unsuspecting it is a fist to the face or a slug in the gut. It gives no warning. There is no count to three. Even for those seeking the truth it is sometimes an unwelcome and unwanted guest especially when it does not reinforce or buttress preconceived ideas and thoughts. There is no reward for truth unless those giving rewards recognize its value. However, the messenger of the truth is just as likely to be chastised as a liar. In such cases, one makes a conscious decision not to see, therefore, they are blind. By itself, truth is pure, untainted, and universally clarifying, but not to those who refuse to see. Still, the search for truth continues. Truth is its own reward.

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  • Republicans Hate Social Security and MedicareRepublicans Hate Social Security and Medicare

    If there’s one person out there who didn’t get the memo over 10 years ago that privatizing medicare and social security was high on the republican agenda, I’d like to have them tested for dementia. The repubs have never made a secret of this. Ultimately, what they want is to gut the two, gamble with the money until we end up with another crash and then orchestrate a massive transfer of wealth once again. i hope you remember who made out really well from the crash of 2008. It wasn't me. Was it you? I don’t understand most Americans. Report after report tells us that roughly 75% of all Americans from all socio economic brackets have little to no money saved and almost no true net value if you subtract their debt. The odds of anyone I know being able to survive to a ripe old on their savings alone is so low as to almost be non existent. Yet, they gamble with their future in a shockingly careless fashion when it comes to these two much needed programs either by voting republican or third party. Here's the percentage of savings that people on average have amassed according to a financial article published in June of 2017: $0 saved: 39 percent Less than $1,000 saved: 18 percent $1,000 to $4,999 saved: 12 percent $5,000 to $9,999 saved: 6 percent $10,000 or more saved: 25 percent This article did not mention the debt percentages, however.  Frankly, most people I know regardless of their savings, if they have any at all, would be worth 0% if they had to subtract their debt from their total net worth. In fact, they would be living in the red with no net value whatsoever. And, that has nothing to do with the socio economic brackets. The more people make, the more they spend, so whether they save or not, their debt puts them in the red every single damn time.  The idea that the 75% or even the biggest portion of the 25% has enough money saved to live on until they reach their 90s or beyond is ludicrous. No one that I know has the means to do this. And, even if there are those among the 25% who could live off their savings well into old age, if they get sick, bankruptcy is right around the corner. In America, most would have to make a choice between treatment (bankruptcy) or dying. According to current reports: more people are saddled with student debt than ever before credit card debt has reached an all-time high More people over 60 are taking on debt than in the past many people are struggling with high car payments stretched over long payment plans.  I’m quite weary of people’s foolish shenanigans. I once told a friend who’s husband is stubbornly conservative to ask him to show her how he plans to save a million dollars between now and retirement. They’re both 50 years old, so the days and nights of cold winters and barren tables are closing in upon them. I told her to keep after him to prove what he plans to do because I’m 99% sure that short of winning the lottery, he can’t deliver the goods. (Sigh) He's just another big-talking-male-baby boomer who hasn't reaped the benefits from the economic plan that he promotes and if he keeps voting republican, one day, he'll be opening that can of cat food for him and little wifey to share.  I happen to think, he'll deserve it, too, but then I'm a bleeding heart liberal and so I still hope to avoid such a horrendous social outcome.

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  • Life In Spite Of EverythingLife In Spite Of Everything

    As I awoke this morning, my first thoughts were of the Republican budget which was passed last night and our country's powerful plutocracy. If there has ever been a true representation by the people, which is highly questionable, we certainly have no voice any longer. I must admit that I felt deeply anxious. Anxiety is rife in our society these days and I had to remind myself not to join the feeding frenzy of fear, anger and despair. Why? Because that's the only thing that I might have a bit of control over, my own response to traumatic events. So, I decided to spend a little extra time in bed relaxing while making mental notes of what I've survived in life thus far. I was raised in a religious cult. I escaped. I managed to put myself through college twice. I worked as a teacher and then a principal until retirement. None of the above was easy without parental support, but I managed somehow. Then I added a few more things to my list: My husband lost numerous jobs to global outsourcing. For several decades we lived close to the poverty line We built our own house In order to get ahead, we were a two income household Unlike my mom and mother-in-law I HAD to work We were the youth of the Vietnam War era We were aware that many our age died for a losing cause Society was explosive and divided I had no support from my family We married way too young Somehow we stayed together and raised our family Unlike our parents, we sacrificed to help put our kids through college We pinched pennies,  saved money and eventually were able to live debt free We retired There was a lot of uncertainty in the world back then and the average Joe was generally ignorant of the possible consequences of their own actions. We didn't live in the age of information, so we often didn't even know which questions to ask. Most of my life has been in spite of: lack of family support lack of money lack of knowledge lack of opportunity lack of support for and faith in the middle class lack of equality lack of experience lack of progress And, do our children have it any better? Or has my generation sold their future to the highest bidder? Im afraid we have been quite careless at the very least. So why would I be surprised that what we have to offer our children today is still lacking in so much? We've made technological advances but socially we're still struggling. I will remind my children to pay attention. I will make sure that they know that even though they have the undying support of their mother and father, they will need to use the increasing knowledge available today to their personal advantage. I will hope for the best but prepare for the worst. I will go into old age determined to have the intestinal fortitude to continue to live my life to the best of my ability IN SPITE of almost everything. Things don't look hopeful at the moment, but it never has if I'm to be totally honest with myself. It's always been a struggle to be a human being in a world of primordial instincts predicated on fear, anxiety and anger.  Yet, here I am. Still kicking. Still learning. Still trying to find a way around, through, over or under the heaps and heaps of problems facing me and you, and you and you. I eventually hauled my ass out of bed this morning. And, like I tend to do, I turned to writing. That's how I do things. That's how I cope. That's how I sort through the shit. And after writing this article which helped to clear my head a bit, I'm here to tell you that in spite of it all ..... I've got this! So, bring it on. I ain't through yet.

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  • Off With Their Heads!Off With Their Heads!

    Have we merely become a wealthier version of the banana republics we use to laugh about? Typically, a banana republic consists of social classes that include a huge but poor working class and a smaller ruling-class plutocracy, composed of the business, political and military elites. Christopher Hitchens wrote: "The chief principle of banana-ism is that of kleptocracy, whereby those in positions of influence use their time in office to maximize their own gains, always ensuring that any shortfall is made up by those unfortunates whose daily life involves earning money rather than making it." And, as Hitchens also pointed out, there is absolutely no accountability for these thieves. Remember the crash of 2008? Ordinary people lost it all, but not the thieves. They were rewarded and went on to make an unprecedented amount of wealth in the years to follow. Ain't that a bitch?  Does this have a familiar ring to it? As I write these words, attempts are being made to retool the entire tax system. We must ask ourselves, what do they want to accomplish? To rob from the poor and middle classes? Who will they give the spoils to after that? The wealthy, the corporations, the elite thieves who have no accountability, of course. I am preparing myself for the worst and hoping for the best. I have relatives who voted for this current administration. I have neighbors in my conservative, bible thumping state of Indiana who have prayed for this mess. I even have fellow progressives who voted third party in an attempt to prove their moral superiority who now have nothing to offer as we all sit and watch everything go up in flames. If this isn't a banana republic, I don't know what is ...  Americans are a stubborn lot. I have many friends that at last have begun to realize which side their bread is buttered on. (sigh) Friends who use to confuse socialism with communism and had no idea that they were already benefiting from a social democracy. I know they were raised to think this way and so I guess it had to take a long time for them to begin to see the light, but man, oh, man, am I tired of waiting, and waiting and waiting on the rest of the working class to wake up and demand, "Off with their heads!"

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  • Fundamentalism by Proxy and the Guilting of the GodlyFundamentalism by Proxy and the Guilting of the Godly

    Fundamentalism by Proxy and the Guilting of the Godly A general suspicion of religion comes to mind easily enough. Hell, even religious people frequently exhibit this suspicion (tempered as it is with whatever thoughts they’ve assembled into their own beliefs). There is something about the whole range of religious beliefs as such that invites a degree of doubt, even contempt. It would be easy to believe religion could be refuted. Easy. Just like nailing jelly to a wall. Moere here... https://northierthanthou.com/2017/11/09/fundamentalism-by-proxy-and-the-guilting-of-the-godly/

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  • The steps a person needs to take to be ReligiousThe steps a person needs to take to be Religious

    1. First, choose your parents. At least one of them should be religious. If you say it is impossible to choose parents, then wish for dame luck to favour you with religious parents.You should also love your parents and be obedient to them. It now becomes easy to believe in gods, because you love your parents and your parents told you that there are Gods. 2. Next, understand that believing in Gods in the absence of evidence is especially noble. What is the big deal in believing in something with evidence. Any moron can do that. 3. Then, realize that the human ability to believe in Gods in the absence of evidence might itself constitute evidence for the existence of Gods. This is not a sign of our gullibility or naivety but a sign that a 'God Gene' has been implanted by the gods in our neural circuits. 4. Now consider any need for further evidence (both in yourself and in others) to be spiritually unhealthy, or a corruption of the intellect. Refer to steps 2-4 as acts of “faith”. Faith need not depend on facts. 5. Once you become an ardent believer, there are so many pay-offs which reinforce your faith, like Protection in this life from adversities & frustrations, happy afterlife in heaven & ultimate justice for you in heaven despite the earthly injustices you faced. All these makes your life purposeful & meaningful. 6. If exposed to alternate ways of making sense of this universe, viz., atheism & secular humanism, you get disturbed by its conclusions of death & oblivion thereafter and the lack of evidence for the existence of gods. You are reluctant to give up your security blanket of 'certitude' provided by your religion. 7. You go back to 2 in the recursive loop to reassure yourself of your righteousness: "Understand that believing in Gods in the absence of evidence is especially noble". This is the default status of most human beings trapped in such a recursive loop. It is easier to believe in Gods and get on with the chores and rigmaroles of life. Who has the time or patience to dispute it. Getting out of this trap But to become an autonomous, free thinking and compassionate human being without god, you may have to unlearn a lot of concepts learned in our formative years and then learn new ideas based on real science, logic and critical reasoning, which to say the least, is hard work. The problem is, barring a few freaks, who likes hard work?

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  • Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)

    In the delivery of voice communications and multimedia sessions, various technologies are utilized. Under this case, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is one of the common technologies that are utilized in the execution of this particular task. The technology operates on a basic principle of converting analog voice signals into digital data that become easier to be transmitted via a network. The technology utilizes phones as a physical device that is installed on a system. Additionally, the technology can also utilize a software program that is installed on a computer that uses microphones and speakers for digital conversion. In the current century, most individuals have already interacted with various kinds of VoIP technologies. For example, Skype is one of the common VoIP technologies that is used by millions of people across the world. Importantly, VoIP technologies are vital in small and large business enterprise, like in Essays.Solutions and government. In initiating VoIP communications calls, Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is used as a standard measure. The call initially commences with the initiator dialing a predetermined number that sends an invite to the designated proxy server. In this case, the proxy server is also termed as a gatekeeper. Once the proxy server receives the invitation request, it relays trying a response to the caller to stop the transmission to further multiple invites. At this juncture, the gatekeeper now commences searching for the address of the receiver it had relayed the invitation requests. The moment the invite is received, there is the generation of a ringing response that is communicated back to the initiator of the call. Afterward, the initiator sends an acknowledgment packet to the receiver. During this duration, a session is established, and both phones begin to communicate directly with both receivers on either end. Once the call reaches to an end, BYE request is sent to terminate the VoIP session where the call termination can occur at any end. Once the BYE request has received the party that receives it initiates a follow up by sending an OK response. However, in some cases, some systems are designed to update the proxy server with the status of the call via the session tracking response and process. In the current times of technology revolution, VoIP technology has become very popular because of affordability. The fair prices are influenced by a variety of ways that encompass; Lower calling rates Single network requirements Minimal maintenance Greater functionality However, since VoIP is sent over internet protocol (IP), it is possible to bypass hefty calling rates that are provided by a typical telephone services corporation for long distance and international calls. The fact that VoIP can be piggybacked on existing network equipment no additional hardware is required for completion of the task. Importantly, the VoIP technology can be cheaper in the instance when the user is utilizing a computer as a softphone. Under this case, the VoIP shares the same equipment and cabling as the computer traffic thereby reducing maintenance cost as single equipment is used. The technology is reflected by the current phones that are being manufactured in the 21st century.

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  • Sexual Rules in the Power GameSexual Rules in the Power Game

    Why are there so many cases of sexual misconduct? What is causing this surge of revelations? Why is everyone so shocked and surprised? Those were always the rules to the game. You knew it. I knew it. Our parents knew it. The presidents down through the ages knew it. The preachers and priests knew it. By the time we were twelve years old, maybe younger, we ALL knew it.  Men were given permission by our culture to play around, to take whatever the market would bear, to enjoy their sexuality however and whenever they could. And, if the man had power and money, he was given even more leeway. Oh, was he ever. Women on the other hand, were assigned the role of sexual gatekeeper with harsh consequences for expressing their sexual desires, lots of rules for how and when it was permissible and ultimately loads of responsibility as birth was usually a natural outcome. Women had no power, no income, no rights and little autonomy. Everyone knew those were the rules to the game. EVERYONE. So, we played by them. And, there were winners and there were losers. Then, as is sometimes the case, the balance of power shifted ever so slightly, inch by inch, until one day people started to talk about those rules, challenge the cultural expectations and confront the socially acceptable behaviors. Suddenly, many of the behaviors that most people simply took for granted appeared rather grim when exposed to the stark light of day. We thought about our daughters, our mothers, our brothers and fathers and we wondered if they, too, had been victims or victimizers of such a vast social conspiracy to keep the power brokers forever in a secure place. Women began to wonder why they had chosen the biggest power brokers and made them kings or fathers of their children when their were better, more empathetic, options available to them. We all wondered — how did it come to this. How? It's so hard, almost impossible, for people to live their lives any differently than the pack. Most of us never even question why we do the things we do. Our world view was handed to us at birth and we grew up thinking that this was life. So, thousands and thousands and thousands of people get up every morning and go about their business of living the same way that everyone else around them is living, practically carbon copies of one designated and fully approved model.   Every time, however, we do something, anything, just because that's the way we were told it should be done, we've allowed ourselves to be robbed of our freedom. It's that simple and that hard. And, let me tell you, if you choose to do it differently, people will squirm when they're around you. Deviate ever so slightly from the approved cultural path and you're immediately suspect. Speak out against something that no one is willing to confront and you'll be ostracized and told to be quiet. It's lonely being different from the pack. It can even get you killed. Try questioning a beloved cultural belief. Try it and see what happens. Someone has to start. They are the brave ones. The rest will keep doing what the pack is doing for generations to come until one of the few brave ones speaks out. The masses will stand by and merely watch the rare brave ones but remain silent until there's enough momentum to make them feel like it's safe enough to take the risk of joining the cause. That's why it takes sooooooooooo fucking long to change things. The heroes are often a lone voice crying in the wilderness while everybody else is pretending that everything is just fine. Thus, corruption of power becomes privilege for some and strips others of any true freedom or personal autonomy. And, we can count on it playing out like this every time. It's that predictable. Whether we're talking about gay rights, women's rights, children's rights or animal rights, it's all the same. Society tells us how to behave within the cultural limitations it sets for each group and then we're raised to be compliant and accommodating.  So I ask again. Why is everyone acting so damn surprised? Please stop pretending to be shocked by all of these sexually aggressive revelations, because unless you were born in an entirely different culture with entirely different expectations, you always knew these were our rules. Admit it! I'm a myth buster. My recent published book -  Have We Been Screwed? Trading Freedom for Fairy Tales - can be purchased on Amazon.  http://amzn.to/2wDEabD

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  • The Future of the world is in our handsThe Future of the world is in our hands

    Sreeni: Prof. Kumar, What could be the mission of Atheism & Secular Humanism? Me: Well, if Atheism is the first step taken by someone, Secular Humanism is the 1000 steps thereafter that one has to take. Atheism has no mission besides declaring one’s non-belief in celestial beings. But Secular humanism is Atheism+ & does not believe that man’s mission on earth is merely to love and glorify illusory gods, but it does believe in living this life so that when you pass on, the world will be better for your having lived. Sreeni: This is such a worthy mission. Why not we evangelize it everywhere? Me: Debating about the existence or non-existence of gods with the believers is useless, since they have the calcified & ossified attitudes of Complacency, Certitude & Dogmatism. It requires the diametrically opposite attitudes of Inquisitiveness, Skepticism & Tentativeness to appreciate the discoveries of modern day sciences. Why try to reason someone out of opinions they never reasoned themselves into? They were brainwashed by their elders and one can’t choose one’s parents. Period. Sreeni: Why are even the educated intelligentsia unwilling to consider deconverting to atheism & Secular Humanism? Me: It’s a Double Whammy, a situation when two unpleasant things happen at almost the same time. One one hand you have the INTELLECTUAL STRESS. To be a Secular Humanist you have to put in a lot of effort to become an autodidact in Astrophysical Cosmology, Evolutionary Biology, Anthropology, Evolutionary Psychology, Comparative Religion, Ethics & Axiology (Value clarification). The average individual would have finished his/her academic & professional studies long time ago convinced that there is not much else to learn to earn one’s livelihood & get on with life. He/She would have arrived at a sense of closure on Learning. At this juncture asking them to study these unfamiliar subjects would be asking too much. It is needless to say a very unpleasant thing and creates unwanted Intellectual stress. On the other hand you have the PERSONAL NEEDS, the psychological needs & the Social needs. Psychological Needs: In order to commit oneself to Secular Humanism, you have to forego the illusion of a sky daddy/mom and the safety net of comfort & solace when facing the inevitable frustrations in life. Social Needs: Also you might have to face social ostracism and sacrifice the benefits of community & a sense of belongingness to a religious group. Frustration of Personal needs is another very unpleasant thing. So it is a DOUBLE WHAMMY! Not many people have the courage & resourcefulness to face this kind of eventuality and so they backslide into their default status, sucking on the pacifier of blind faith. Sreeni: How can we then expect progress when Imams, Mullahs, Priests, Popes, Pastors, Rabbis, Gurus & Swamis continue to create Xenophobia & instigate their flocks to fight & destroy those with a different faith? Me: Well, all revolutions have been initiated by one person or a handful of people who passionately believe in it. One M.K.Gandhi, One Martin Luther King Jr, One Nelson Mandela, One Malala Yousaf zai were enough, weren’t they? It is not necessary that the entire human population is simultaneously converted to non-belief. That could also be dangerous, since there are quite a lot of deranged psychotics & sociopaths who will take advantage of the absence of Invigilators to go berserk and cause mayhem. Let the great unwashed continue to think that gods exist. It is good for social control. But we need only a few Secular Humanists dispersed throughout the world to convince the intellectuals & leaders of nations that mankind is all alone, death is final, there is no afterlife and people across the borders will have to cooperate & collaborate with one another to usher in a new paradigm, a new reality, a Heaven on earth.  

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  • The Atheist Pig's Take on Mass ShootingsThe Atheist Pig's Take on Mass Shootings

    Is this the new normal?  Over 500 mass shootings in the past year, more in the past decade possibly than in all the 20th century.  The trend gives no appearance of abating, indeed, quite the opposite.  Frequently, gun sales surge in the wake of the more publicly reported shootings, owing to the mistaken impression by the gun lovers of the US that maybe, just maybe, THIS TIME the government will clamp down ... and yet they don't.  The push to regulate the bump stocks which were used in the Las Vegas slaughter (I really can't call it anything else) has stalled in Congress with no sign of further progress.  Names like Columbine and Aurora and Pulse are being added to the roster, sometimes on a daily basis.  Meanwhile in the rest of the world, such incidents are all but unheard of.It's gotten to the point where our buddy Winston, The Atheist Pig, has had his fill of the whole business.  Unlike too many others, he has a clear vision of current events and actually understands why nothing is being done about them.  No, he's not indifferent, just disgusted, or so I suspect, and the ongoing banal tattoo about "thoughts and prayers" only emphasizes the stupidity of the whole situation in his eyes ... and mine, too, for that matter.Winston recently had an exchange with a coworker about it, and he sums up the whole mess in four panels far better than I've heard in some news broadcasts.  I offer it here for your edification.

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  • Dawn Wouldn't ExistDawn Wouldn't Exist

    Dawn Wouldn’t Exist As a lifelong night person, morning to me is a four letter word. I hate mornings & prefer to avoid anything before 10:00 a.m., which is plenty early enough for my comfort level. Over the last several months, I've had to have tests, see doctors, see specialists, & have hip replacement. Many of these appointments were also out of town, which naturally has transportation in the....you guessed it....mornings. Now, what could possibly be the issue with some of these things happening in the afternoon? Of course where doctors are concerned, I guess it would interfere with their golf game, but you'd think once in awhile, since we basically pay their wages, they could accommodate our personal hours. I can't explain the transportation people. Sooooooo, if it wasn't for the medical people, & transportation staff, the dawn wouldn't be cracked, & therefore wouldn't exist!. That's my story, & I'm sticking to it!

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  • America Doesn't Fix Things Any MoreAmerica Doesn't Fix Things Any More

    Mass shootings can happen anywhere, but they are only a matter of routine in the United States.  Oddly, I've encountered many Americans who seem resigned to this fact of life in our country. They have no suggestions to remedy the situation except the occasional call for more guns. Americans, however, already have more guns than any other nation. So if that were the key, it stands to reason that we should have less bloody massacres.  What's frustrating to me is that as soon as we experience another blood bath in yet another venue in yet another town in America, we obsess for a period of time, run endless detailed news stories about the atrocities and then gradually go back to our regular routine of eating and drinking and pissing and sleeping until the next blood soaked event happens.  Because they are soooooo common place now, the time between the event and getting back to our routine is becoming shorter and shorter. How long can we sustain that feeling of powerlessness and horror? It's too much for our psyches to bear. So we start to become desensitized, a natural protective measure our good old brains employ to protect us from a nervous breakdown.  But the real ball breaker in this gory fiasco is that in light of a rising body count, we still do nothing. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. That fact alone makes us feel a kind of collective impotence deep down in our solar plexus which slowly but surely decreases our sense of well being and increases our general anxiety as a nation. We can't fix this and it's killing us.  The very soul of the nation is succumbing to a feeling of utter hopelessness. Without hope, life becomes a very grim prospect. We don't fix things any more. Not weekly mass murders and carnage or anything else for that matter. We've become a nation of can't dos. We're impotent. We spin our wheels and shout obscenities at one another even as we lock our doors and wait for the next attack, but the enemy is us and we can't fix us. I'm a myth buster. My recent published book -  Have We Been Screwed? Trading Freedom for Fairy Tales - can be purchased on Amazon.  http://amzn.to/2wDEabD

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  • Atheism is EmpoweringAtheism is Empowering

    Sreeni: When someone declares “There are no gods”, others regard this as an expletive of a highly depressed person. When people hear or say this, it is often associated with nothing going right in the life of the person proclaiming it, or it is heard being said after a tragedy occurs. Me: Yes that happens but these four words do not need to be linked to a fatalistic or bleak outlook but instead can be reassuring, refreshing & empowering. Sreeni: Empowering? Me: Yes indeed so. The process of becoming an atheist is like when your dad is teaching you to ride a bike without training wheels when you were just a kid. He begins by holding fast to the back of your bike and before you start to pedal you tell him, beg & plead with him not to let go. He says Ok. Thus reassured, you start and you go a fair distance and before you know it, your dad is far behind you and he is telling you proudly, “I let go a long time ago. You are doing it yourself. Keep it up. I bet you will compete & win in a cycle race pretty soon”. Sreeni: I know the feeling. In my own case, at first I got scared for a second, then I realized that I need not be and the next second I was exhilarated and felt on top of the world, as it were! Me: Exactly. The process of becoming an atheist is like that. You discover that you are capable & you can do it yourself. There is no need for a paternal father-figure holding onto you, protecting you with his outstretched hand. You realize that you are fully capable of succeeding on your own. You realize that you rise & fall based on your own merit and you need not give someone else the credit for your accomplishments. They are a direct result of your own thoughts, ability & actions. It’s one of the most freeing & beautiful feelings you can experience! Sreeni: Now I get it. Becoming an atheist is like riding a bike by yourself. Me: Exactly. While starting to ride a bike you need empathy & compassion for the pedestrians and courage to take a few falls. Similarly for becoming an atheist, you need 2 things: empathy & compassion for people who are religious because they are not able to outgrow their childhood indoctrination, and two types of courage. Courage to face possible ostracism from family & friends & courage to transform oneself into an autonomous, self-reliant & self-respecting but none-the-less compassionate human being by forfeiting the illusion of a sky dad/mom & the safety net of comfort & solace when facing the inevitable frustrations in life. Just like in biking you started off from a position of dependence but ultimately ended up in independence, in respect of your deconversion, you started off with an attitude of dependence on gods for protection, for an eternal life & for ultimate justice, then you became science-savvy, lost your faith & discovered the dignity & fascination of autonomy. End NoteBut if you do become an atheist & a Secular humanist, consider it a privilege & a responsibility. It is not a matter of gaining freedom to do whatever you want with impunity. You need to be a far better human being than the average religious person. A religious person does good because of the Carrot-and-Stick, wanting to have the carrot of heaven & wanting to avoid the stick of divine fury but a Secular humanist does good for mere goodness sake, just because it is the proper thing to do for a bipedal & trousered ape with a brain exceeding one litre capacity.

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    NYT - Atheism
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    NYT - Atheism
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    NYT - Atheism
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    NYT - Atheism
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    NYT - Atheism
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    NYT - Atheism