A Charitable Argument

Last weekend, I was in Salt Lake City (and Las Vegas). This week, I’ll be in Nacogdoches.  Next week, I’ll be in Albuquerque. I don’t have a lot of time at the moment, but I did want to pass on a blurb from David Smalley, host of Dogma Debate on iHeartRadio.
To all those screaming to get Aron Ra back on Dogma Debate to face off with a Christian: I’ll make this deal with you. With only 6 days left, we are $884 away from reaching our $5,000 goal for Camp Quest. If we reach that goal, we beat Seth Andrews in this fundraiser! My promise is, if we reach that goal by Wednesday morning, or beat Seth before then, I’ll bring you on Dogma Debate this week, and give you 2 full 20-minute segments to face off with our in-studio guest, Blake, who claims to have evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
If your fans want you on Dogma Debate – let them prove it right here!
Well, doesn’t that sound like fun?  :-D

Secular Pro-Life Same Old Scare Tactics

If I were to tell you that a purportedly secular anti-abortion group was engaging in the very same fear mongering and harassment of abortion providers that the largely Christian dominated pro-life groups do; would you be surprised? The True Pooka’s final report on Secular Pro-Life’s tactics is posted.

In addition to the other tactics Pooka documented, the group is promoting a campaign against abortion providers in the guise of concern for the safety of women. According to Pooka, in addition to making stuff up about the safety of abortion to women…

The site also doubles as an intimidation tool to be used against doctors. It doesn’t matter what type of doctor you are, if you’re a family health doctor and abortion consists of 1% of your medical activities, they’ll label you an ABORTION DOCTOR and list your name next to numerous other doctors who secularprolife have judged to be unsafe doctors ( judgment passed using their hard earned degrees in Looking Shit Up On-Line from Internet University).

I know there are people reading this who are not at all surprised by the sliminess. I hope that they haven’t also grown, so calloused by this group and other anti-abortion groups’ relentless assault on the right to choose whether a person gives birth, that these tactics are working.

However, I don’t think this group’s presence at atheist conferences, a group that misrepresents both science and the truth, can be totally explained by its relentless tactics wearing people down.

How did it get past the smell detector?

The group’s members have the appearance of fresh faced kids. Ex-Christians like myself or people with well meaning anti-abortion friends may be mistaking what they are doing with the mistakes we made as Christians. In my Christian past, I have actually given diapers and my daughter’s bassinet to a Christian pregnancy counseling center in hopes of helping women, who wanted to give birth and keep the child.

Looking back on it now, I was misguided. These groups main function is to guilt women with ultrasounds of their fetuses. I remember the tour, and the center’s pride that they had received an ultrasound.

Would you be surprised to learn that the Secular Pro-Life website directs people with crisis pregnancies to Christian counseling centers? This is the picture posted on their resources page…

The group’s defines its secular mission thusly…

Secularism. SPL seeks to increase the inclusiveness of the overall pro-life movement by creating space for pro-life atheists, agnostics, humanists, and other secularists.

I don’t think directing the atheists, agnostics, etc. to a Christian pregnancy center agrees with their purported mission to create a safe space for them. Particularly if they survived spiritual abuse.

This group is not simply misguided. A former member of theirs glibly showed all of us including children in the audience a video of abortions during a debate with Matt Dillahunty. She most definitely had the fresh faced, well meaning look down, even when she showed us the video without batting an eye. She also argued that abortion should be criminalized and prosecuted as murder. Matt’s recent debate with an SPL member showed the same callous lack of regard for women. The Christian debater argued that a woman shouldn’t be allowed to abort a pregnancy that would cripple her.

I don’t ever remember being that inhumane and judgmental at the height of my Christian years, and there is difference between some misguided person that you know or the pro-lifer you may have been and SPL.

As of this moment,  Pooka and I plan on seeing them at The American Atheists Convention in Salt Lake City this weekend. We hope the information we provided helps people to make informed decisions. I can’t help picturing a Reed Warbler unwittingly nurturing an imposter Cuckoo chick.

 

Better Commandments

On April 26th, I’ll be at Stephen F Austin State College in Nacogdoches Texas, where I will be talking about the Damn Commandments. Imagine you’re the supreme being, and you’re going to provide the top ten rules for all of mankind, and that’s the best you could come up with?!

It occurred to me that I should present a list of better commandments than were given in Exodus. At the same time, I would not be so arrogant as to compose such a list myself. I have a few ideas, but they all sound like hippy slogans; others might think of something better.  So if you could include one guideline to be handed over to Bronze age Israelites, and passed down for all generations thereafter, how would your commandment read?

Westboro in my neighborhood

I normally sleep in as late as I want on a Sunday, especially when it’s cold and raining.  But today I went to a church conference.  South Garland Baptist Church was going to confront Westboro Baptist Church, and I wanted to be there.The Westboro troup showed up, but they weren’t very interesting, and I couldn’t get any good video.

WBC was supposed to picket First Baptist Church too, and that one was a lot busier. There were quite a few atheists there carrying their own placards, and there were some reporters there too. But WBC didn’t show to that one.

That was another missed opportunity for me.  I’ve heard it said that Westboro Baptist Church are the only Christian denomination who interprets scripture as literally as we atheists do. So I wanted to know how the WBC interprets Exodus 22:29 & 34:19.  I mean, God clarifies what he means in Numbers 3:13, and I think I’m reading it right, but I don’t think any Christian group, not even WBC would admit that one of God’s ten commandments requires that we perform human sacrifice, slaughtering our first-born children in God’s name.  I’m kicking myself that I didn’t ask about that when I had the chance.

Secular Pro-Life (Anti-choice) Claim: Planned Parenthood Cheats Donors

Apparently, Secular Pro-Life is so irked by Planned Parenthood that they are willing to make unfounded charges about what they do with donations. True Pooka investigates

Now that you’re done reading I’m going to show you a magic trick I call; “Proper research done without confirmation bias followed by conclusions drawn based on experience and not ignorance.”

Planned Parenthood issued a number of statements following the Komen incident. The following press release here gives a more thorough explanation of what they intended to do with the money as opposed to the rather vague “wildest dreams” quote linked by our secularprolife blogger (curiously, the blogger in question didn’t link to this more detailed summary of what Planned Parenthood had in mind).

Up until now, I haven’t seen anyone except Matt Dillahunty and Beth Presswood give SPL the healthy amount of skepticism it really needs. Especially if they are tabling at atheist conventions. More people need to know what they actually do, and you are not going to get that in passing at their table. Why does this group get a pass where another group that attempts to pawn off pseudoscience on the community does not?

 

Madness Mayhem HIV charity

I’m doing another charity telethon this weekend, Saturday / Sunday

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I’m really no good at these. If I knew how to talk people out of their money, I wouldn’t always be in the red like I am.  So what I need is for people who have money to wait until 5:00pm Sunday, when it’s my hour to host the show, and then jump onto the donation links.  That way it’ll look like I did a good job.

The Unbelievers

Next week, Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss will tour the US to personally host special screenings of ‘The Unbelievers’.

A few months ago, Krauss and I were having breakfast in Oklahoma City, and he was telling me about his new movie.  I remember remarking that when Dawkins and Krauss are in a movie, it’s produced in Hollywood, but almost every professional documentary film I’ve been in was released straight to YouTube. Of course that’s because he’s Professor Brilliant PhD, and I’m just some guy with a web cam.

But this is a unique idea, not just to show the film, but in a sense to premier it at different locations like a concert.  To have the world-famous physicist and the evolutionary zoologist presenting their own film -live in person in different venues; it’s a great idea.

There will be guest speakers at different points too. Depending on the site, it might be Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller. Filmmakers Gus Holwerda, and Luke Holwerda of Black Chalk Productions. These people will be available to take questions from the audience.

Scheduled appearance-screenings are:

– April 2, 2014, at 6:00 p.m.
The UC San Diego RIMAC
9500 Gilman Dr., La Jolla CA

– April 3, 2014, at 7:30 p.m.
The Cox Pavilion at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas
4505 S Maryland Pkwy, Las Vegas, NV 89154
Hosted by magician Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller

– April 7, 2014, at 7:00 p.m.
The Mershon Auditorium at The Ohio State University
1871 N. High Street, Columbus, OH

If you’re in range of any of these three venues, you can buy tickets here.  You can also get free the first chapter of Richard Dawkins’s autobiography, An Appetite for Wonder, by signing up for news from the Richard Dawkins Foundation’s fight for reason and science! See http://richarddawkins.net/.

This sort-of traveling show, as it were, promotes a movie which is itself about a road trip of sorts, with footage shot at various locations from Australia to New York.

Several celebrities appear in the film to support Dawkins and Krauss on their journey to promote reason and science, including Woody Allen, Stephen Hawking, Stephen Colbert, Cameron Diaz, Sarah Silverman, Bill Pullman, Werner Herzog, and Bill Maher.

Personally, what I found most exciting about the footage in the trailer were the scenes I remember, like from the Reason Rally in Washington DC and the Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne, because I’m happy to say I was there.

Courtney Caldwell and Sarah Moglia joining me to discuss secular anti-choice arguments withMSS

So I won’t be the “token woman” on this round of discussion on the Magic Sandwich Show.  Sarah Moglia has already weighed in on her opinion of secular arguments against abortion. Also Courtney Caldwell will be joining the discussion . I first became aware of her when she liveblogged the Wendy Davis filibuster.

Should be an interesting discussion on this topic with well informed women on the topic of reproductive rights. Hopefully we can persuade more people to get off the fence and support reproductive rights and reject irrational anti-choice arguments. This is not an easy discussion for most of us to have, and I hope it will be valuable.

[notice]Magic Sandwich Show at 2:00 PM CST[/notice]

 

 

Secular Pro-Life “Holocaust Baiting” Post 2

The second post looking at Secular Pro-Life’s tactics is up. I hope that informing the community about what they advocate will provide information about SPL for our community to make up their own minds. This series will show that the people at SPL aren’t critical thinkers and haven’t earned the title “freethinker.”

To that aim, the True Pooka, whose family was directly affected by the Holocaust, breaks down the numbers on SPL’s “Are You One in Six Million?” Campaign. The campaign is targeted at how many people they have calculated are secular and anti-choice.  The numbers include all of “The Nones”, including the religious but unchurched -the largest group. He also shows you how the campaign is borrowing persecution from the Holocaust.

What troubles me the most about this group tabling at conventions is that were they advocating another form of woo such as natural cancer cures or Intelligent Design; it would be apparent to an overwhelming number of attendees that they aren’t an acceptable ally. However, we have prominent secularists, stating that while they don’t agree with them that they are suitable allies.  The comments on secular arguments against choice are littered with this sentiment. For a comparison I have not seen an equal sentiment in our community that the creationists that are demanding equal airtime to Cosmos deserve a platform. To borrow a phrase, do we have to be so open minded that our brains fall out?

To remind you this group doesn’t work on anything else other than anti-choice.  It is troubling that it isn’t self evident that abortion rights are a strong secular position.

[notice] I will be on the Magic Sandwich Show tomorrow at 2:00 CST discussing the secular arguments against abortion, and I am confirming two fierce pro-choice feminists to join us. I will announce it once it is confirmed.[/notice]

Secular Pro-Life “Fetus Worshippers”?

Should we defend freethinking spaces from anti-choicers like Secular Pro-Life? I wanted more information on this organization as I have seen them at conventions.  Lucky for me, I know you-tuber True Pooka, who as he will tell you, shares the same concern. He has more experience investigating anti-choice groups than I do. He has shown me things I wouldn’t have seen; even though SPL hides them in plain sight. So I asked him to help me gather information in order to share it with our community. I don’t have faith in anything, but I trust in the people I have communed with at gatherings that they are an intelligent bunch, and can make up their own minds. So here is his first post in a series on what he found when looking at Secular Pro-Life…

We report, you decide, right?

This is his rationale for investigating SPL’s claims…

This is a topic that I’ve always found rather fascinating. I was raised in a strict Judaic upbringing so I’ve always considered the pro-life position on abortion law to represent a two-fold threat; a threat to not just the rights of women but to the right of my religious group of upbringing to practice their religious beliefs when it comes to abortion.
I was also once one of those young men who were placed in the unfortunate position of having to fight his way past protesters to help take a loved one to have a needed abortion, an abortion that she would die without. So I’ve always had a multi-faceted interest in the abortion issue and over the years have done a certain amount of study on the topic. I was genuinely curious because while I’ve heard quite a few arguments against abortion that claim to be secular in nature, as of yet none of those arguments that have been presented to me have been logically consistent. In fact the presentations of the majority of alleged secular arguments against abortion are distinctly religious in nature.

He will get to the meat of what he found this week in the next post.

Lucky for you, you can get a peek of what’s going on in their rationale because Matt Dillahunty is debating one of their openly Christian members this next week on March 25. His last debate with a former SPL member was more like debating someone, who argued like a Christian.

SPL has also taken umbrage at PZ, Greta, and Avicenna’s post on their blog.