Graham on the bandwagon

According to an article on christianexaminer.com, Billy Graham’s son Franklin is eagerly jumping on the bandwagon of conservatives denouncing Obama for bringing up church history and reminding us that not all Muslims are terrorists.

Franklin Graham said former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani “has taken a lot of heat” for questioning whether President Obama loves America, and declined to weigh in on whether it was “true or not.” But Graham said what he did know is “the president defends Islam and chastises Christians, rebukes our allies and befriends our enemies, and fully supports gay marriages and abortion but denies the religious freedoms of those who don’t agree.”

Got to love that bit about not passing judgment on whether it’s really true or  not. Who cares about truth when there’s rabble to rouse, eh Frankie?

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Gospel Disproof #55: The God who could not count to three

One of the differences between a true story and a made-up story is that the made-up story is not consistent with anything that actually happened in the real world. In fact, that’s the essence of what it means to be a made up story. As a consequence of that difference, the made-up story has something else that the true story does not: spontaneous inventions.

For example, let’s consider the curious incident of the Messiah in the tomb.

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Why are lesbian moms so “scary”?

I’ve been thinking about that pediatrician who refused to care for the infant daughter of a lesbian couple, because there’s something a bit odd about it. The Old Testament prescribes the death penalty for two men having sex together, but is almost pointedly silent about two women. The apostle Paul says some rather nasty things about gays in general, including lesbians, but does not recommend any particular actions be taken against them. In fact, Paul is the one that explicitly commands Christians not to judge or condemn those outside the church at all.

Jesus, likewise, was famous for consorting with tax collectors and prostitutes and other “notorious sinners.” And there are many other examples we could find of the Bible recording, condoning, and even praising “saints” who have normal, everyday dealings with “sinners.” So where does this “divine mandate” come from that requires believers to withdraw and shield themselves from any kind of contact with homosexual couples?

I think it comes from fear.

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Suffer the little children…

The Washington Post is reporting the appalling story of a Michigan pediatrician who is refusing to care for a 4-month-old baby girl because her parents are lesbian.

“The first thing Dr. Karam said was, ‘I’ll be your doctor, I’ll be seeing you today because Dr. Roi decided this morning that she prayed on it and she won’t be able to care for Bay,’ ” Jami told WJBK. “Dr. Karam told us she didn’t even come to the office that morning because she didn’t want to see us.”

The doctor later apologized for not coming in to the office that day, but made no apologies for her bigotry.

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Anti-evolution bill nixed by lawmakers

Good news from South Dakota. As the Argus Leader reports:

Senate Bill 114 was killed last week. More accurately, it was deferred by the state senate’s education committee to the “41st legislative day,” which doesn’t exist.

Senate Bill 114 was another one of those stealth creationism bills designed to encourage public school teachers to introduce kids to Genesis under the guise of “questioning” evolution. And you have to love this bit:

Language in the bill is also similar to model legislation from a group that has created intelligent design curriculum for private and home school teachers. Representatives for the Washington-based Discovery Institute say they don’t support teaching intelligent design in public schools.

No, of course they don’t support teaching ID in the public schools. They just design the curriculum (and help craft laws like SB 114) to make it possible for someone else to support teaching ID in public schools. See, that way, when the school district gets sued for First Amendment violations, and loses, the Institute doesn’t bear any of the liability, and are free to move on to the next school district.

Gospel Disproof #54: The wages of sin

There’s an old saying (frequently attributed to Mark Twain) that goes something like this: “Tell the truth. It’s easier.” Or alternately, “Tell the truth, there’s less to remember.” The trouble with untruths is that they never quite line up with reality, which means you have to keep lying in order to cover up the discrepancies. And even then you still have problems. It’s just too darn hard to keep one lie from exposing another.

Take, for example, Romans 6:23: “The wages of sin is death.” According to the Bible, we’re all sinners, and that means we all deserve to die. But (the Gospel tells us) we can escape God’s judgment because Jesus paid the price for us, by dying in our place. His death pays the penalty for our sins, so now we can go to Heaven essentially for free. In fact, that’s the whole reason Jesus died in the first place: because he wanted us to go to Heaven, and that couldn’t happen unless there was a death to pay for our sins.

There’s just one little problem with this simple, appealing story. We still die. Believers die, unbelievers die, agnostics die, everybody dies. And that means everybody pays the price of sin anyway, even without Jesus’s help. So what do we need Jesus for?

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Court rejects “right-to-meddle” claim

WTAE News reports that a federal appeals court has rejected lower court rulings that granted Christian organizations a right to meddle in their employees’ personal medical coverage.

A federal appeals court has reversed lower-court victories by two western Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses and a private Christian college that challenged birth control coverage mandates as part of federal health care reforms.

The 3-0 ruling Wednesday by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel found that the reforms place “no substantial burden” on the religious groups and therefore don’t violate their First Amendment right to religious expression.

The organizations in question had argued that their religious convictions required them to deny their employees coverage for birth control or abortions. The law, however, allows them to opt out of the mandate to provide such coverage, in which case someone else would provide it. That didn’t satisfy the Christian organizations, however, because they wanted the power to ensure that nobody could provide their employees with coverage that was inconsistent with the organizations’ religious principles. In essence, they asserted that their religious freedom gave them the right to meddle in their employees’ private, personal medical care. Fortunately, the appeals court didn’t buy it.

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Ted Cruz supports — and opposes — a national marriage amendment

We’re used to politicians flip-flopping on the issues as public opinion shifts, but it takes real skill to flip to both positions simultaneously. According to advocate.com, however, Ted Cruz has managed to do exactly that. Faced with an impending Supreme Court decision that is likely to end marriage discrimination against gay couples, Cruz announced that he is absolutely opposed to having the federal government overrule state laws regarding marriage, while simultaneously supporting the idea of having the federal government overrule state laws regarding marriage.

“I’m a constitutionalist,” Cruz continued. “From the beginning of this country, marriage has been a question of the states, and we should not have the federal government, or unelected judges, setting aside the policy judgment of the elected legislatures and imposing their own instead.”

Cruz also confirmed to the D.C.-based LGBT outlet that he is still planning to introduce a federal constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage nationwide…

Ta-da! The amazing inverted double back flip with a front flip and a twist. So as long as the federal government is telling the states they must discriminate against gays, he’s for it, but if the federal government insists on justice and equality for gays, then he’s resolutely opposed. He believes states rights trumps the federal government while believing at the same time that the government should decide the issue for all 50 states. I’d give it an 8.4 out of ten. It’s a difficult move, and he did pull it off, but it still looks like shit no matter how you do it.

Good without God

I like the phrase “good without god(s),” because it reminds us that morality does not come from supernatural sources. But there’s a flip side to that: if we can be good without God, then we can also be evil without the devil, as has been horrifically demonstrated in the Chapel Hill shooting.

The thing is, atheism is just a fact, like the speed of light or the law of gravity. We don’t get any moral impetus from the fact that we obediently accelerate towards the center of the earth at about 32 feet per second squared. Knowing the correct value for the acceleration of gravity may give us a scientific advantage over people who don’t know, or who choose to believe in erroneous values. But that give us no moral advantage.

And it’s the same with atheism. Seeing the absence of the gods, understanding the superstitions and rationalizations that lead people to believe in beings that aren’t there, knowing the history of religion with its triumphs and tragedies—these are all simply observations. They’re not a source of moral guidance or motivation.

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Darwin was wrong (even though he was right)

In response to a recent proposal to have February 12 recognized nationally as “Darwin Day,” Ken Ham has issued a counter-call for that date to be hailed as “Darwin Was Wrong Day.” Ironically but perhaps not surprisingly, the AiG web site demonstrates that Darwin’s most famous contributions—natural selection and new species arising by descent with variation from common ancestors—are not only correct, but are necessary prerequisites even for creationist “biology.”

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