Diversity supporters targeted for harassment, discrimination

A few days ago, I mentioned LambdaConf, a putatively inclusive software conference that accepted an open and aggressive racist as one of its speakers, on the grounds that reasonable people can disagree on whether racism is good or bad, and whether blacks make better slaves, and so on. In protest, a number of people signed the Statement on LambdaConf 2016, emphasizing their commitment to diversity and genuine inclusiveness. And now, that statement has been turned into a list of people to target for harassment.

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Be careful what you wish for

There’s a meme going around right now that reviews a bit of political history. Remember the impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton for sexual misconduct in the late 90’s? They were led by a Republican legislator who, at the time, was hiding a sexual affair. He was supposed to be replaced by another Republican who had to step down because he was having a sexual affair. The Republicans then elected a new Speaker of the House, who is currently under investigation because of suspicious payments he made to cover up alleged sexual molestation of boys.

The meme doesn’t explicitly call this out, but I think it’s worth mentioning that these are all men who were elected by conservative Christians trying to put God back in government. Separation of church and state isn’t some plot to try and marginalize Christians. It’s just that mingling politics and religion is a bad idea, and harms both the state and the church.

The Case of the Exploding Wedding Cake

A Michigan TV station is reporting that a local cake decorator is taking some heat after she backed out of a deal to decorate a cake for what she later discovered was a gay wedding.

A recent status update by Bake It U.P. Cakes explains that the business denied services to a same-sex couple after it was commissioned to decorate a cake for an upcoming wedding. The decorator was unaware it was for a same-sex couple, and as soon as she found out, the business backed out of the transaction. The post states, “This has nothing to do with the person, or the lifestyle they choose. This is about me not participating in the event… I have nothing against this person for their choice in lifestyle. If this person had come to me for any other occasion and needed a cake I would have gladly made one for him.”

Public response was immediate and negative.

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Tell, don’t ask

A while back, I came to a conclusion that seems (to me) quite profound: that religion is a live-action role-playing game, an adult version of the old “the floor is lava!” game some of us played when we were young. God, angels, demons, god-hating atheists, etc, are all non-player characters in this game, and prayer and superstition create the link between things in the real world and things as they exist in the mind of the believer. It’s degenerate play, in the sense that participants have lost the crucial ability to distinguish between the fantasy and the reality, but it’s still basically a game of pretend.

That’s kind of cool, and it explains a lot, but then I have to ask, “So what?” What good does it do us to understand this? If this is going to be more than just something that’s nice to know, we need some way to apply it to our interactions with religion. And I think one of those ways is that it tells us how we ought to discuss religion with believers.

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When to say no

If you’re not a software developer, you may have missed it, but there’s been a huge outcry recently in the world of functional programming, about a conference called LambdaConf. The problem is not the conference itself, but the fact that one of the papers selected for presentation turns out to be the work of a well-known racist whose online postings have argued that blacks are naturally suitable for slavery. In fact, this same person submitted a similar paper to an earlier conference called Strange Loop, who initially accepted it, and then rejected it after they found out who the author was. The LambdaConf organizers were familiar with that incident, and decided not to reject the speaker, on free speech grounds, as long as he agreed to abide by the conference Code of Conduct while in attendance.

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Fudge the facts and declare victory

You may have heard about the recent church/state clash in Colorado, where the Delta County high schools and middle schools were distributing Gideon Bibles to the students, and thus were required to also distribute “atheistic and satanic literature” provided by the Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers. And you may be wondering, how do you cope with such a clear violation of Christian privilege if you’re a die-hard believer and want only Christian literature distributed? Apparently, if you’re Charisma News, you respond like this:

Atheists Fuming Mad That School Won’t Allow Godless Campaign

And, as a little extra garnish, the article comes complete with a Flickr photo of “Atheists … upset at the school district’s censorship,” holding up signs that say atheist things—with the Washington Monument clearly visible in the background.

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Faith under pressure

I’ve been an atheist for a good while now, but for the first 40-some years of my life I was an old-fashioned American Christian. It’s where I developed my original sense of what kind of place the world was, and what the difference is between right and wrong. And I think that’s why part of me is continually astonished by the continual rabid lust Christians have for persecuting people who are different in harmless ways.

It’s as though all the civil rights advances of the past 80 years have been putting the Christian faith under more and more pressure by denying them an outlet for their desire to hurt people. And now, with a black guy in the White House, and gay couples being allowed the same privileges as heterosexual couples, believers have had enough.

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Allah Is Not Dead 2

CNSNews.com is reporting that a well-known actress is experience significant persecution ever since her latest film came out. Or at least, I think they’re reporting that. The headline very clearly states:

Melissa Joan Hart: ‘I’m Getting Grief for Playing the Good Christian Woman Who is Persecuted!’

Somehow, though, the article itself completely fails to mention any persecution actually being inflicted. In fact, it looks like carelessly dashed-off marketing material for the film. But I wonder how that ad copy would sound if we made just one small change in the premises?

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10 “Unanswerable” questions #9 and #10

This should about wrap up TodayChristian’s list of “unanswerable” questions, because we can do two questions in one post. Here’s question #9.

9.       What’s your view of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris?

That’s an easy one to answer: they’re all authors, they’ve written some interesting and controversial books, and they have their flaws as well as their strengths, same as anybody else. I like some of the things they’ve written, such as The God Delusion by Dawkins, and I’ve seen some of their ad hoc writings that suggest negative traits ranging from privileged sexism to outright irrational xenophobia and Islamophobia. But that’s about it.

I’m not sure why this is on the list of “10 Unanswerable Questions.” Does TodayChristian think these three modern writers invented atheism or something? Anyway, there’s not much more to say about #9, so let’s take the last question.

TodayChristian’s last “unanswerable” question is this:

10.   If there is no God, then why does every society have a religion?

A question like that invites the counter question: If there is a God, why does ever society have more than one religion? But let’s answer the question that was asked, below the fold.

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10 “Unanswerable” questions #8

TodayChristian’s Question #8, on the list of “unanswerable” questions, is a three-fer.

8.       What about miracles? What all the people who claim to have a connection with Jesus? What about those who claim to have seen saints or angels?

The answer for all three questions is the same, and unfortunately it’s a bit harsh. The explanation for all of the above questions is that people are gullible.

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