Atheistic Bigotry

Some surveys show that Atheists are among the most hated groups there is. The video below takes a look at that disdain (some would contend bigotry) and provides some insight and statistics on that subject including comparing Atheists to Theists in several different societal categories.

Take particular note of the makeup of the prison population especially if you, like most fundies, believe that Atheists are immoral, it might surprise you, and then again it might not…

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So Who Should Be More Embarrassed?

St Timothy’s Lutheran church in Charleston, WV, is making news after learning of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) convention vote to allow monogamous gays and lesbians to have larger roles in the church including serving as pastors.

Richard Mahan, pastor of the church first covered the “Lutheran” on his church’s sign and then delivered this message to his congregation, most of whom apparently agree with him.

“I asked that be done because I’m ashamed. I’m ashamed of what the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has done to a church I’ve loved for 40 years,” Pastor Richard Mahan told his congregation during last Sunday’s morning service. According to Christian Today news service, St. Timothy typically has 300 to 400 members in attendance each Sunday. So the minister used the sermon to teach his congregants about homosexuality, adding that “We welcome the sinner, but we do not welcome the sin.”

Since the ELCA vote specifically leaves the determination on whether to have gay leaders to each church and local synod, the question is who should be more embarrassed over their outward display of homophobia? The pastor, who one would think would know of tolerance, or his congregation that are basically sheeple in the larger flock?

Pastor, maybe you and your congregation should just convert to Catholicism, their gay priests are usually “on the QT” and must remain celibate either way (would not being able to be with the one you love anymore be a deal breaker Pastor Mahan?) so you won’t have to deal with those monogamous gays anymore. Plus I hear they are always looking for collection plate fillers to pay for pedophilia lawsuits members so you and your congregation should fit right in.

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Maybe They Should Have Kept Their Mouth Shut

Our neighbors to the Southeast, Iowa, have been going through an advertising campaign nightmare made better or worse depending on your perspective by Governor Chet Culver and some intolerant locals.

It all started simply enough when a small group from Iowa Atheists & Freethinkers (IAF) purchased the following ad to be run on transit buses in Des Moines.

Within days that seemingly innocuous ad was drawing the ire from some residents including Governor Chet Culver who feigned offense over the obvious, there are actually people in Iowa and elsewhere that don’t believe in god.

Gov. Chet Culver weighed in on the controversial Des Moines bus ad that has been yanked after multiple complaints.

“I was disturbed, personally, by the advertisement and I can understand why other Iowans were also disturbed by the message that it sent,” Culver said.

The question will likely become a legal battle, Culver said. He deferred questions of whether the group deserves the same free speech rights as Christian organizations to advertise on the buses to the Iowa Attorney General.

Culver also declined to answer if he would also have gotten off the bus had he been a rider, but noted that he would have been offended by the ad’s message.

I wonder how he feels about other obvious facts like the sun rises in the East?

Well anyways the faux outrage had the desired effect and the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority promptly yanked the advertisements several days after they went live using an equally ridiculous reason. Somehow the ads were put up by mistake and were never authorized to go live in the first place. End of story right?

Not exactly.

About this time, the small transit bus ad campaign initiated by an equally small group of maybe 125 people in Des Moines, Iowa became a mini national story gaining traction on blogs, Twitter, and news outlets. Also as predicted by Governor Culver, the ACLU got involved questioning the legality of pulling the ads which not only generated more publicity but ended up getting the ads re-instated.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) got involved in the conversation questioning the legality of the actions of DART. After a meeting between the transit authority and the atheist group, the ads went back up. Although IAF was asked to change their ad, they refused and the ads went back up as they were

So instead of a small unoffensive ad campaign proposed for the sides of transit buses running for a few weeks in the middle of nowhere and fading into obscurity, it ends up getting national attention and doubling the membership of the group responsible for the ads. All because a few people cannot deal with reality and allow others to exercise their 1st Amendment rights by keeping their collective mouths shut for the couple of weeks the ads were scheduled to run. As for the ad campaign’s success? I  would say “Mission Accomplished!”

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In The Name Of The Children

Shame on me update below

You really have to hand it to some folks. When they find something that offends their religious sensibilities, they often complain on the behalf of their children thereby hoping that society won’t catch on to their stupidity.  After all it is for the benefit of the children right?

The latest case in point involves a large sculpture at UC Berkeley of a DNA double helix which also just so happens to be somewhat close to an elementary school. That proximity to the school is just the opening the wingnuts needed.

Although DNA Sculpture has been on display in various public parks and playgrounds, Jenny Garrotte, Claremont Park PTA president, said she found it distasteful and verging on obscene, and e-mailed parents Wednesday morning, asking them to file complaints with Pegro and with Alameda County Code Enforcement.

“Everybody is entitled to their own opinion regarding what art is,” said Garrotte. “If this piece weren’t visible to passersby and available for children to play on, I would not have a problem with it.”

And (emphasis added)

“My daughter suggested that it was funny,” said John Copeland, whose 7-year-old daughter attends summer camp there. “She shouldn’t be talking to me about this. Now I’m forced to explain genetics to her, and why the Bible doesn’t say anything about it.”

Ok so the children must be having a problem with this unholy work of science mixed with art and generating a lot of questions/complaints for the faculty at the school right?

Still, Terence Lythma, a teacher in the school’s summer program, said he has not heard any of the children talking about the piece.

“It’s the parents who have been talking about it,” he said. “The children don’t really make an issue of it.”

Oh so it’s actually the parents that think DNA is offensive and not the children? Knock me over with a feather!

I think that maybe these parents should be attending elementary school alongside their children, they might learn something as I hear they have this new thing called science. Apparently schools now have a class teaching this science phenomenon and it covers that twisty looking thing called DNA which is not some unholy monstrosity that should be kept away from children.

Are we sure this story isn’t really from Texas?

UPDATE: Actually as Kristen so nicely mentions in the comments (nicer than she could have been by the way), this story is apparently satire based on this story about nude statues not in California or Texas, but in Florida. I’ve been punked by my own failure to pay enough attention to the source…Feel free to chastise me in the comments.

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Next Up For God's Wrath?

Fresh off their “successful” campaign to get Dr George Tiller’s abortion clinic closed, the fringe wing of the Christian right is moving on to their next project led by wingnut pastor Wiley Drake. Drake who openly admitted praying for Tiller’s death is now focusing his hateful prayers in the name of god towards Barack Obama.

A former Southern Baptist Convention officer who on June 2 called the death of abortion provider George Tiller an answer to prayer said later in the day he is also praying “imprecatory prayer” against President Obama.

Wiley Drake, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park, Calif., and former running mate of American Independent Party presidential candidate Alan Keyes, said June 2 on Fox News Radio he didn’t understand why people were upset with his comments

“Imprecatory prayer is agreeing with God, and if people don’t like that, they need to talk to God,” Drake syndicated talk-show host Alan Colmes. “God said it, I didn’t. I was just agreeing with God.”

Kind of puts a whole new spin on “Love thy enemies” doesn’t it…

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Secular Nations Less Warlike?

For some reason, it appears that nations that do not base their policies on the mythological beliefs of religion live a more peaceful existence. At least that seems to be the most logical conclusion based on the 2009 Global Peace Index results of most peaceful countries compared with the World Values Survey data listing percentages of population in each country that identify themselves with a certain religious belief or lack thereof.

Atheist nations are more peaceful

global-peace-index.png

Considering the large percentage of wars throughout history that were fought in the name of one religion or another including a few going on right now, these results shouldn’t be very suprising should they?

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I Guess Pigs Do Fly

I never thought I would see this but it appears that the face of religious homophobia, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, has decided that he and his ilk are politically helpless and has raised the white flag after the House passed the hate crimes bill that included protections for those “darn” gay people.

So why is he giving up?

Because those damn radical Liberals who for some reason think that no one should be discriminated against aren’t listening to him of course.

I’ve been on the air for 32 years and I’ve never seen a time quite like this. It just illustrates what happens when we don’t have what the Founding Fathers referred to as checks and balances, where the excesses of one party or one branch of government limit the reach of power hungry and self-serving people and keeps them form doing things that are harmful to the country. That’s the way the system was designed. We have 2 major political parties in this country, not one. And bipartisanship is a media creation that’s designed to promote one point of view instead of the debate that should occur. And that’s why media doesn’t talk about bipartisanship when conservatives are in power…

…[today] the radical left controls the executive branch through the president, and the Congress… and the Judiciary through the courts… now they control it all, including every department of government. As a result, the legislation that should shock the nation, if people were paying attention, is being rushed into law.

Wow, I wonder how bad he must feel realizing that the hate and intolerance he has believed in and preached most of his life is now slowly starting to fade from our society.

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Which Type Of Marriage Would That Be?

One of the topics this blog will focus on quite frequently, not because it affects me per se, but because of the intolerance from those that oppose it all in the name of their religion, is same sex marriage. With that in mind, I was doing some research for a topic concerning the neo-con’s contention that allowing gay to marry would somehow affect their marriage when I came across an article that defines marriage in the biblical sense, all 8 types!

1. The standard nuclear family: Genesis 2:24 describes how a man leaves his family of origin, joins with a woman, consummates the marriage and lives as a couple. There were quite a few differences between the customs and laws of contemporary North Americans and of ancient Israelites. In ancient Israel:
* Inter-faith marriages were theoretically forbidden. However, they were sometimes formed.
* Children of inter-faith marriages were considered illegitimate.
* Marriages were generally arranged by family or friends; they did not result from a gradually evolving, loving relationship that developed during a period of courtship.
* A bride who had been presented as a virgin and who could not be proven to be one was stoned to death by the men of her village. (Deuteronomy 22:13-21) There appears to have been no similar penalty for men who engaged in consensual pre-marital sexual activity.
2. Polygynous marriage: A man would leave his family of origin and join with his first wife. Then, as finances allowed, he would marry as many additional women as he desired. The new wives would join the man and his other wives in an already established household. Polygyny was practiced by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons, until the practice was suspended, a least temporarily, in the late 19th century. It is still practiced by separated fundamentalist Mormon groups which have left and been excommunicated from the main church.

There are many references to polygynous marriages in the Bible:
* Lamech, in Genesis 4:19, became the first known polygynist. He had two wives.
* Subsequent men in polygynous relationships included:
o Esau with 3 wives;
o Jacob: 2;
o Ashur: 2;
o Gideon: many;
o Elkanah: 2;
o David: many;
o Solomon had 700 wives of royal birth;
o Rehaboam: 3;
o Abijah: 14.
o Jehoram, Joash, Ahab, Jeholachin and Belshazzar also had multiple wives.
* From the historical record, it is known that Herod the Great (73 to 4 BCE) had nine wives.

We have been unable to find references to polyandrous marriages in the Bible — unions involving one woman and more than one man. It is unlikely that many existed because of the distinctly inferior status given to women; they were often treated as property in the Hebrew Scriptures.
3. Levirate Marriage: The name of this type of marriage is derived from the Latin word “levir,” which means “brother-in-law.” This involved a woman who was widowed without having borne a son. She would be required to leave her home, marry her brother-in-law, live with him, and engage in sexual relations. If there were feelings of attraction and love between the woman and her new husband, this arrangement could be quite agreeable to both. Otherwise, the woman would have to endure what was essentially serial rapes with her former brother-in-law as perpetrator. Their first-born son was considered to be sired by the deceased husband. In Genesis 38:6-10, Tamar’s husband Er was killed by God for unspecified sinful behavior. Er’s brother, Onan, was then required by custom to marry Tamar. Not wanting to have a child who would not be considered his, he engaged in an elementary (and quite unreliable) method of birth control: coitus interruptus. God appears to have given a very high priority to the levirate marriage obligation. Being very displeased with Onan’s behavior, God killed him as well. Ruth 4 reveals that a man would be required to enter into a levirate marriage not only with his late brother’s widow, but with a widow to whom he was the closest living relative.
4. A man, a woman and her property — a female slave: As described in Genesis 16, Sarah and Abram were infertile. Sarah owned Hagar, a female slave who apparently had been purchased earlier in Egypt. Because Hagar was Sarah’s property, she could dispose of her as she wished. Sarah gave Hagar to Abram as a type of wife, so that Abram would have an heir. Presumably, the arrangement to marry and engage in sexual activity was done without the consent of Hagar, who had such a low status in the society of the day that she was required to submit to what she probably felt were serial rapes by Abram. Hagar conceived and bore a son, Ishmael. This type of marriage had some points of similarity to polygamous marriage, as described above. However, Hagar’s status as a human slave in a plural marriage with two free individuals makes it sufficiently different to warrant separate treatment here.
5. A man, one or more wives, and some concubines: A man could keep numerous concubines, in addition to one or more wives. These women held an even lower status than a wife. As implied in Genesis 21:10, a concubine could be dismissed when no longer wanted. According to Smith’s Bible Dictionary, “A concubine would generally be either (1) a Hebrew girl bought…[from] her father; (2) a Gentile captive taken in war; (3) a foreign slave bought; or (4) a Canaanitish woman, bond or free.” 1 They would probably be brought into an already-established household. Abraham had two concubines; Gideon: at least 1; Nahor: 1; Jacob: 1; Eliphaz: 1; Gideon: 1; Caleb: 2; Manassah: 1; Saul: 1; David: at least 10; Rehoboam: 60; Solomon: 300!; an unidentified Levite: 1; Belshazzar: more than 1.
6. A male soldier and a female prisoner of war: Numbers 31:1-18 describes how the army of the ancient Israelites killed every adult Midianite male in battle. Moses then ordered the slaughter in cold blood of most of the captives, including all of the male children who numbered about 32,000. Only the lives of 32,000 women – all virgins — were spared. Some of the latter were given to the priests as slaves. Most were taken by the Israeli soldiers as captives of war. Deuteronomy 21:11-14 describes how each captive woman would shave her head, pare her nails, be left alone to mourn the loss of her families, friends, and freedom. After a full month had passed, they would be required to submit to their owners sexually, as a wife. It is conceivable that in a few cases, a love bond might have formed between the soldier and his captive(s). However, in most cases we can assume that the woman had to submit sexually against her will; that is, she was raped.
7. A male rapist and his victim: Deuteronomy 22:28-29 requires that a female virgin who is not engaged to be married and who has been raped must marry her attacker, no matter what her feelings were towards the rapist. A man could become married by simply sexually attacking a woman that appealed to him, and paying his father-in-law 50 shekels of silver. There is one disadvantage of this approach: he was not allowed to subsequently divorce her.
8. A male and female slave: Exodus 21:4 indicates that a slave owner could assign one of his female slaves to one of his male slaves as a wife. There is no indication that women were consulted during this type of transaction. The arrangement would probably involve rape in most cases. In the times of the Hebrew Scriptures, Israelite women who were sold into slavery by their fathers were slaves forever. Men, and women who became slaves by another route, were limited to serving as slaves for seven years. When a male slave left his owner, the marriage would normally be terminated; his wife would stay behind, with any children that she had. He could elect to stay a slave if he wished.

So when they complain that gay marriage would somehow affect the sanctity of marriage, which marriage are they referring to exactly?

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Tennessee Church Gunman Driven By Hatred Of Liberals?

If you somehow missed the news over the weekend, a deranged gunman opened fire in a Tennessee church killing 2 churchgoers during a children’s performance. Today more news is being released on the accused gunman including his possible motive for targeting the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in the first place.

Besides the obvious of being totally deranged, Jim D. Adkisson appears to have chosen this particular church because of their liberal views which included being advocates of gay rights and progressive social work.

“It appears that what brought him to this horrible event was his lack of being able to obtain a job, his frustration over that and his stated hatred of the liberal movement,” Owen said at a news conference.

Crooks and Liars goes a bit further in their description of Adkisson:

We will most likely learn more details in time, but the picture that’s developing is one of a typical, uninformed Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Wiener-Savage fan — an angry white male who has been brainwashed into thinking that everything wrong in America and around the world is the fault of the evil liberals.

I am sure that the above is a very over-simplified view but it does get you thinking because I am sure that it describes more than a few people you know or have met at one time or another. It also shows what can, and often does happen when someone lets that intolerance and hatred get the better of them.

UPDATE 7/28: Crooks and Liars might not have been too far off with their assessment after all. Here is Adkisson’s reading list per the Knoxville News Sentinel

Inside the house, officers found “Liberalism is a Mental Health Disorder” by radio talk show host Michael Savage, “Let Freedom Ring” by talk show host Sean Hannity, and “The O’Reilly Factor,” by television talk show host Bill O’Reilly.

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