Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Kids Know What’s Up

January 26, 2012

Twice yesterday I was blown away by the insight of young ladies who have an incredible grasp of the world around them.

13-year old schools you on slut shaming.

This is fantastic. I am awed that this incredible teenage girl not only grasps the problem of slut shaming, but that she so thoroughly and eloquently explains it in under four minutes.

Seen on Feministe

Boy-Girl Bear

My friend’s four-year old daughter has this to tell you about her bear:

Text reads: E’s bear’s name is Isabelle and he is “both a boy and a girl and he’s ok with you calling him he or she.” We are changing the world people! It’s so simple for kids to get why is it so hard for adults?!

Jesus vs. Doctor Who

January 24, 2012

Heh. A kickass atheist, nerdy, Doctor-loving coworker forwarded this to me. It’s copyright 2007, so I’m assuming it’s made the rounds in the past, but I’ve never seen it and it made me lulz lots, so I thought I’d pass it on.

Seen at Unholy Office. Original material in two posts from Home on the Strange.

 

Creepy Purity Bear is Creepy

January 20, 2012

Wait – first read the YouTube description of this video:

This is a student made video saying that the best way to stay sexually pure is to wait until marriage. Having one partner is the God-approved way to enjoy sex.

God must have forgotten to tell that to Newt. Bah dah dum! Okay, heeeeeere’s Purity Bear:

Did anyone else pick up on the fact that Eve tempted Adam, and not the other way around? And that good, chaste Adam turned away the seductress Eve (gently, kindly, but with manly firmness and moral conviction that she’s lacking. Heh…”manly firmness”).

The video’s description contains a promotion for the Liberty Counsel’s Day of Purity. DOP’s website “offers those who strive for sexual purity an opportunity to stand together in opposition to a culture of moral decline.” The website urges young people to “be a part of the ‘counter-coulture’ – – be politically incorrect.” Do it! Or, wait…don’t do it! Or purity bear will come and judge you while sadly watching you have immoral, out-of-wedlock sex.

This (the video, purity bear and the DOP)  is hilarious, infuriating and sad. Yes, waiting to have sex (however you define that) until you are in a committed marriage (whatever that means to you and your partner) is a great way to to stay “sexually pure” (whatever that means). It’s also not very realistic. This video is an example of how religious indoctrination makes teens feel guilty about their normal, biological, sexual urges. And it’s an example of how religion seems to have trouble speaking frankly about sex to children and teens. I mean, who takes sex advice from a teddy bear? What do they know about sex? Well, unless they’re zoo-bound grizzly bears; they have promiscuous sex all year round to fend off the boredom. Hey! Nice role model you chose there, Liberty Counsel!

But, whatever. All I know is I want Purity Bear. He does look cuddly. Plus, I could put him on my bedside table so he can watch when I have sex. Poor bear could probably use some good ol’ voyeurism after this stint.

Seen over at Joe.My.God

Sean Faircloth: Attack of the Theocrats

January 17, 2012

Atheists Talk radio show is interviewing politician and church-state separation activist Sean Faircloth this upcoming Sunday, January  22nd. Starting in 2009 Sean Faircloth was the Executive Director of the Secular Coalition of America, and in 2011 he became the Director of Strategy and Policy for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.

I’m hosting Atheists Talk this weekend, so in preparation and interest I have started reading his newest book, Attack of the Theocrats, and watching videos of his speeches. I think I’m going to connect with his message that secular activists need to focus first on the real human harm that results from religious privilege, and not get lost in symbolic battles that  stoke theistic ire and strengthen resistance to secular activism.

From Attack of the Theocrats:

…the secular movement suffers from a noble flaw. Secular people tend to have an almost religious faith in statistics and dry arguments and abstractions as the proper method by which to carry the day. This has made it difficult to connect with the broader American public, particularly when many of our battles emphasize symbols – and not the numerous religious laws that harm real people.

Secular Americans remain a sleeping giant, a huge demographic that has thus far failed to flex its own muscle, much less galvanize the general population. We ignore people suffering under religious privilege while shaking our fist at a slapped-together manger with a plastic baby Jesus in the town square at Christmas time. While symbols are meaningful and these particular symbols on public grounds do violate Madison’s Constitution, Secular Americans must do better to reach all Americans. We must explain the human story – the human harm and the outright abuse of our tax dollars that result from religious privileging in law.

In the video below Mr. Faircloth outlines for the audience a few of the cases from Attack of the Theocrats, and lists his proposals for how secular activists can direct our efforts to focus on religious privilege that is enshrined in laws, and which are causing real human harm and waste of tax dollars.

Video first seen at RDF.

Upcoming Show: Atheists Talk with David Silverman

November 12, 2011

Imma be on the radio again tomorrow! I’m actually pretty excited to sit in on this interview; we’re speaking with David Silverman, the current president of American Atheists. He’s going to talk about the upcoming Reason Rally in Washington D.C., which is an event that the Hubby and I are considering attending next March. From the Reason Rally website:

The intent is to unify, energize, and embolden secular people nationwide, while dispelling the negative opinions held by so much of American society… and having a damn good time doing it! It will be the largest secular event in world history. There will be music, comedy, great speakers, and lots of fun… and it’s free!

The three main goals of the rally are:

  • To encourage attendees (and those who can’t make it) to come out of the closet as an atheist, or at least a supporter of secular values.
  • To dispel stereotypes – there is no one “True Atheist” no matter what your pastor or parent may tell you. We will have non-theists from all political persuasions, ethnicities, genders, and backgrounds. We will show that there are atheists in every American demographic.
  • Legislative equality. We want to show the country that atheists can run for office and adequately represent theists, just as theists in office can represent atheists proudly and openly. We deserve a seat at the table just like theists, and we hope this rally can put our values in the radar of American voters, who may one day elect an atheist to public office.

The 2008 American Religious Identification Survey estimates that 12% of Americans identify as atheist or agnostic. According to google.com/publicdata there are 307,006,550 people in the United States. 12% of that is 36.8 million people who identify as atheist/agnostic.

That number sounds large, but it still seems pretty lonely being a non-believer when I’m outside of the internet or my close circle of friends. I feel a bit sad when I hear coworkers talking so freely about going to church on Sunday or going to a Bible study this or that evening, while I hesitate to share the exciting news that I’m a radio show host! because the next comment is “Really? For what?” And then there’s that sinking feeling when I realize that I’ve just shared a secular viewpoint that is not appreciated by the majority of people in the conversation. Also, there are the often innocently asked but ultimately silly or annoying or frustrating or laughable or offensive questions revolving around my atheism. Like the question I received from someone at work when I told them that I had visited Asissi, Italy. They looked confused and asked “But why? You’re an atheist. What did you do there?” 

I know a handful of people who think that they don’t know any atheists (hah!). Heck, I spoken to atheists who think they’re the only atheist they know!

If we can get a large enough number of people to the Reason Rally, not only do we have a fun time at a secular event with other non-theists, but we show the world that there are more of us around than they may think. We show them that people they know are atheists. We show them that we’re happy, healthy and not afraid or ashamed to tell the world that we don’t need a god to make us good, moral, upstanding human beings. We show them that we can know joy, exhilaration, peace and love without any sort of supernatural presence or interference. We show them that there is an entire group of us who are willing to fight to keep religion out of our government. And I imagine we’ll suprise the heck out of ourselves when we look around the mall that day and think…oh wow – there really are a lot of us!

So yeah.

Reason Rally. David Silverman. This Sunday, 9am on 950AM KTNF. You can listen to the show live or find us on iTunes under “Atheists Talk”.

Upcoming Show: Atheists Talk with Alex Rosenberg

October 27, 2011

I had (great intentions for conceiving and writing) an awesome post for yesterday, but instead spent most of the evening (you know, after cooking dinner, preparing lunch for today and eating dinner over some Mythbusters with the Hubby; I totally knew those breast implants weren’t going to expand at high pressures!) writing up my first-ever Atheists Talk radio program notes for the MN Atheists website! And then I had to muddle my way through navigating the website for the first time. I admit, there were a few frantic emails between me and the other administrators last night and this morning (frantic on my part, not theirs), and at least one header that included the plea “HALP!”. But I finally got all of the content in the right place and in a format that I’m almost happy with(dadgummed HTML!).

On Sunday we’re interviewing the American philosopher Dr. Alex Rosenberg about his new book, The Atheist’s Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life Without Illusions. I’m currently halfway through it and I’m enjoying his writing style. It’s a lot of science and deep reading, but every so often Rosenberg will slip in some completely unexpected humor and I’m reminded that, oh yeah – this is actually really fun stuff! 

I’ll be interested to hear the interview because there are a few things in the book that I’m not completely on board with, and I’m excited to hear Dr. Rosenberg expound on his ideas. This will only be my second time hosting, so I’m still allowed to be a little star-struck about our guests, right?

If you want to learn more about the upcoming radio interview on this Sunday October 30th at 9am (and see my shiny write-up!) visit mnatheists.org

The Way Things Used to Be

October 20, 2011

This one is going around teh Facebook today.

I like the reminder that we were not founded on Christian values as I’ve heard people put forth (e.g., “This country was founded on the Ten Commandments!“), and that our government documents used to reflect our shared secular values.

I’m not so much of a fan of the idea that we should adhere to the original values because they are the original values that were agreed upon around 200 years ago. As a progressive I understand that change is necessary as our interactions with and understanding of the world around us evolves. We should adhere to the secular values implied in the image below because only by keeping the divisive religious dogma of hundreds of different religious ideologies out of our government – the one thing that unites most of us in this country – can we live together in something that approaches harmony.

Text Reads:

Did you know?

The original Constitution of the United States that was ratified in 1789 had only one reference to religion: [Article 6] No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

The de facto motto of the United States, adopted as part of the Great Seal of the U.S. by an Act of Congress in 1782 was E. Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One). Congress changed it 174 years later (1956) to “In God We Trust.”

The original ‘Pledge of Allegiance’ was written in 1892 by Baptist Minister Francis Bellamy who DID NOT INCLUDE the words “Under God.” Those were added by Congress 62 years later (1954).

The U.S. didn’t issue Paper Currency until 1861, and ‘In God We Trust’ didn’t appear on it for 96 years (1957).

Just after the Red Scare in the 1950’s, CONGRESS CHANGED the Pledge of Allegiance and our Nation’s Motto over the FEAR of COMMUNISM.

In a time when fear is traded like a commodity, and the word SOCIALISM is being used to create the same fear as the old word COMMUNISM, let’s REMEMBER that our country was NOT founded on fear. NO, OUR NATION was founded out of HOPE for a better world where all people were EQUAL – that we were ONE from MANY.

Let’s not let fear change our nation’s great tradition & direction again.

I was on the radio!

October 16, 2011

A few months ago I was invited to do something new and exciting: I was asked if I wanted to be a radio host for MN Atheists radio show, Atheists Talk! I was very excited to be asked, but I didn’t want to put anything out here on the blog until all the details came together. Today they did.

Today I was the host for an interview with Dr. David Eller on his book Cruel Creeds, Virtuous Violence: Religious Violence Across Culture and History. It aired at 9am this morning on AM950 KTFN. You can listen to the interview here or on iTunes (the podcast is called “Atheists Talk”, and this is episode #137 “Exploring Religious Violence”). I won’t go into the details of the interview itself here, but it was interesting enough that I found it a little hard to stay focused on the technical side of things, instead of letting myself get completely engaged in the issues Dr. Eller was discussing.

Being the radio host was a neat experience. I read all of the intros and outros, kept an eye on the clock, introduced the guest and the interviewer, thanked the sponsors, and theoretically would have read any email questions or taken any phone calls for the guest, had that happened. There was a kick-butt radio engineer in studio who took care of the actual sound quality, getting Dr. Eller on the phone, turning the mics on and off, and other techy goodness. And aren’t we all grateful for that?

Hosting was a little nerve-wracking and I did mess up a few sections. I totally, utterly cut off Dr. Eller at two of the commercial breaks, but then the engineer came in and clued me in to how those were supposed to work (as opposed to how I had been doing them, lol). Going to commercial is a bit of a delicate dance between the interviewer, the interviewee and the host, but after messing it up twice we NAILED the third break. But then we ran out of time at the end. And I said “uh” quite a bit. And I missed an entire paragraph of script for one of the intros.

So, there’s room for improvement, but now I’ll be one of the regular hosts and I’ll have a chance to try it again! I’ll be alternating with Atheists Talk radio host (and the blogger behind Almost Diamonds) Stephanie Zvan most weeks. My next show is on Sunday October 30th at 9am. We’re scheduled to have Alex Rosenberg on to discuss his book The Atheist’s Guide to Reality.

Fun, huh?

State-Encouraged Church Attendance

September 26, 2011

I saw this over at the ever-brilliant, ever-sarcastic Cafe Witteveen:

It’s official. Even police know what people like me have been saying for years … church is equal to punishment.

If you break the law in Bay Minette, Alabama, you can either serve time in prison or in church … your choice.

I never expected anyone to validate that church is punishment. I hope they seat these prisoners away from any bibles. I wouldn’t want them getting any ideas about God-approved baby killing or raping the women in the pews around them if they read it.

Just sayin’.

Okay…so Cafe Witteveen is using sarcasm and humor to address the situation. I’m more feeling this right now:

From WKRG.com News:

Operation Restore Our Community or “ROC”…begins next week. The city judge will either let  misdemenor offenders work off their sentences in jail and pay a fine or go to church every Sunday for a year.

If offenders elect church, they’re allowed to pick the place of worship, but must check in weekly with the pastor and the police department. If the one-year church attendance program is completed successfully, the offender’s case will be dismissed.

Bay Minette Police Chief Mike Rowland says it costs his department about 75 bucks per inmate per day. Rowland says the ROC program will be cost-effective and could change the lives of many people heading down the wrong path.

So far, 56 churches in North Baldwin County are participating in ROC.

Rowland says the program is legal and doesn’t violate separation of church and state issues because it allows the offender to choose church or jail…and the church of their choice.

Let’s take this apart. Just a little. Just a slightly harder look at some of the implications and assumptions being made here.

Offenders have a choice.

Let’s see… you can either go to jail and pay a fine, or continue about your daily routine and devote an hour or two per every 168-hour week to going to church. How is this a reasonable choice? If the offender has a family to support, or a job, or is in school, or has no money to pay fines, or don’t want a permanent criminal record, there is no choice here. In the video above Chief Rowland says that if he would have to choose between going to jail and paying a hefty fine or just going to church he’d certainly select church. Really? I’m shocked!

This isn’t a violation of church and state.

I don’t know if this would legally be considered a church-state violation, but it seems to me to be walking a fine line. A judge is telling offenders that their only options are go to jail and have a permanent criminal record or go to church and have your case dismissed. Go do something that is really, really painful for a variety of reasons or go to church. The judge is determining that what these criminals need is religion to straighten out their lives. There are no secular options – no community service, no counseling programs – for citizens who do not believe in God.

But don’t worry, there are a lot of options for different churches in Bay Minette and the surrounding area – 109 of them. You’ve got yer Baptist, yer Catholic, yer Methodist, yer Assembly of God, yer Presbyterian, yer Episcopal, a few of them Lutherans, and about a gazillion different house of worship with the phrase “of Christ” in the name somewhere. Why they even have themselves a Temple…for the Pentacostals. I mean if you can’t find yourself a house of worship in that list…what’s that? What’s a synogogue? Hell no, they don’t got any of them mosques down here. That’s a New York problem.

 Church “could change the lives of many people heading down the wrong path.”

Church will save you. You will get some of those morals thingies that non-criminals have if you go to church. You need God to be a good person.

In the video above, Chief Rowland tells us that 30-day drug and alcohol programs don’t work…that longevity of treatment is the key. He assures us that “long-term programs do work”. So why not extend drug and alcohol programs…why not have mandated attendance at post-program meetings, something that may address an underlying addiction? Or…there’s a invisible guy in the clouds, I guess.

People who commit crimes don’t attend church. If they start going to church, they won’t commit any more crimes.

I’m guessing that some of these misdemeanor criminals are already going to church. So, what you’re telling the good people of Bay Minette Alabama is…if you’re going to church and you commit a crime, there’s no punishment. You just keep going to church. You have just made misdemeanors easier to commit, Bay Minette. Good job.

This “solution” is small-minded and I will be shocked if it curbs crime in Bay Minette, Alabama. But let me know how that works out for you.

Atheists Don’t Swear Oaths On Darwin.

July 22, 2011

I’m a fan of Mike Peter’s Mother Goose & Grimm comic strip. I’ve been reading the adventures of Grimmy, Atilla the Cat, Mom, Ralph and the many other side characters featured in Mother Goose & Grimm since I was a little girl too young to understand the jokes. Also, I agree with a lot of Mike Peter’s political cartoons and editorials.

But I was disappointed with yesterday’s MG&G.

The comic presents the idea that atheists worship Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection as Christians worship the bible. The joke isn’t funny because I would bet that a lot of people have this misconception about atheists. If it’s taken as truth, then it’s not really a joke. As one lovely gentleman from the comic’s online comments section wrote in response to a man who said the comic wasn’t funny to him:

As an atheist I am frustrated by the connection of my lack of belief in gods to evolution; while of course related, the two have little to do with each other. I learned about and accepted evolution over a decade before I embraced atheism (for a long time I was a fan of the idea that God created the process of evolution). This comic muddies the water about the relationship between atheism and evolution, and has the potential to negatively influence public understanding of the relationship between the two.

While it’s true that atheists can decline to swear on a bible, so can anyone. Before testifying, a person must assure the court that they will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Traditionally people swear to Almighty God because we have a little (teensy tiny) issue with Christian privilege in this country. In that situation one is swearing under pain and penalty of God’s judgement that they will not tell a lie. If you chose to not swear an oath to God, you may solemnly and sincerely affirm, under the pains and penalties of perjury, that you won’t fib to judge and jury.

On a side note, the portrayal of the atheist as a middle-aged white male feeds into the stereotype that all atheists are…middle-aged white men (with lots of crazy facial hair). Not true.

And one more point: “Atheist” can be a scary word, and being known as an atheist is a scary idea for some people. There are notions that atheists are god-denying (we are), creation-denying (that one too) trouble-makers (not all of us) who would refuse to swear an oath on a bible in court (a lot of us in some situations might) just to cause a stir (but not for that reason). But I think that it would take some courage to refuse to “place a hand on the bible” in front of a room full of strangers who are expecting you to do just that. Swearing before god might make you look more trustworthy to a judge or jury, while refusing to swear before god might make you look less so, and could have serious outcomes for your case. The comic isn’t funny because we might be brave enough to ask for a secular affirmation before testifying. Or we might not. It’s a tough position to be in.

Putting out a comic strip that is published in over 800 newspapers which 1)encourages public misunderstanding about the connection between atheism and evolution and 2)makes light of atheists who are in the difficult position of having to either swear an oath they don’t believe in or ask for a secular affirmation which might damage their case – isn’t funny, it’s potentially damaging, thoughtless and cruel.


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