D. James Kennedy hangs it up

D. James Kennedy, famed theocratic evangelist and pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, has announced his retirement, having failed to recover sufficiently from the cardiac arrest he suffered last December to resume his preaching. Kennedy is one of the most influential, respected and powerful evangelicals in America, which should scare the shit out of you when you realize just what a dishonest, anti-intellectual weasel he really is.

Some years ago, I started reading Kennedy’s book Skeptics Answered, and posted the first part of my fisking of it to the ACA website. It’s still there, and reading it today, I don’t think I did a half-bad job, even if I never got around to completing it. Considering the poor quality of what I did read and critique, I’m not confident it would have gotten better anyway. Still, you can check it out if you like.

With Falwell mercifully gone, Kennedy and Graham ailing, and Robertson and Dobson hanging on, the old guard of septuagenarian evangelical superstars are on the way out. But sadly, their bad ideas have calcified in the public conscience. They leave behind an America thoroughly seeped in superstitious twaddle, distrustful and deceived about science, and ill-equipped for critical thinking and unable to judge new ideas, other than by how threatening they are to Christian dogma. It will take a lot of work to undo the damage, and I fear it won’t come soon enough for America to be surpassed in science, technology, and human rights by much of the rest of the world.


Update: 9/5: Kennedy discovered there was no Heaven today.

Jesus thinks you suck too, dude

Scumsucking dogkiller Michael Vick gave the usual on-camera “apology” today for his nefarious affiliation and support of interstate dogfighting, which involved directly participating in the killing of several dogs by drowning, electrocution, and strangling.

Anyone wanna guess what he said once he was sure cameras and mics were rolling?

Anyone?

Ah, okay, I’ll tell you.

“Through this situation I’ve found Jesus,” he added. He vowed to redeem himself, saying, “I have to.”

Huh. Typical. Religion to the rescue again!

Sad thing is, that little quote will mollify a lot of people.

Ugarit and the Bible

On a few past episodes we looked at some of the gods mentioned in the Old Testament. Among them, Asherah, Nehushtan, Ba’al, Yahweh, and El.

Many people are familiar with the texts found at Qumran, commonly known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, in the 1940s. But fewer people have heard of the Ugarit findings, which began to be unearthed in the late 1920s. Both discoveries greatly increased our knowledge and understanding of Biblical texts and also of the history surrounding the evolution of Judaism and Christianity.

The Dead Sea Scrolls impacted both the Old and New Testament interpretations, while the findings at Ugarit impacted only the Old Testament. These texts and architectural inscriptions predate the Hebrew settlement at Canaan, but interestingly, they mention some of the same gods that appear in the Hebrew religious writings, produced after the Hebrew contact with the Ugarit region. The most significant god mentioned is El. In one temple inscription he is said to be the father of Ba’al. In other mentions, he is even the father of Yaweh.

In the Old Testament, Ba’al is associated with the Canaanites. And he is described as the focus of their religious worship in those stories—while El is described as being another name for Yahweh, the Hebrew patron god. In reality, however, based on the discoveries at Ugarit (the land called Canaan in the Bible), El is clearly the father of the gods in much the same way that Zeus is the head of the gods on Olympus in Greek mythology. And Yaweh is not another name for El, but a separate deity. Like Zeus, El headed a pantheon. He was not only the father of mankind, but the leader of the Ugarit gods. His pantheon, in Ugarit, is called the Elohim (literally, the plural of El).

Using the book of Genesis as an example, the best scholarly estimates date it back to somewhere between 950 and 500 BC. It appears that the writings were composed in two styles, one style preferring to refer to god as El and the other using YHWH (or Yahweh). Eventually these texts came together into the form we have today, sometime around 450 BC. Just to give some perspective, the best documented time in the Ugarit history was between 1450 and 1200 BC.

According to many modern apologists, El is simply another name for god, or even a generic word for “god” used by the Hebrews; and Elohim is simply another form of El. However, Bible translators do translate Elohim as plural in some instances and do translate El to be a proper noun in some instances. Some apologists defend a wholly singular usage of Elohim by pointing to the inconsistency with which Elohim is used with singular verb forms; however, this does not rule out the very real (and likely) potential that as monotheism evolved out of polytheism, the Hebrew texts were adjusted to correct for this problem (as we discussed the evolution of the book of Genesis in the above paragraph). However, it does seem oddly coincidental—and difficult to overlook—that the Hebrews had significant contact with Canaan and then, some years afterward, wrote out a Hebrew religious mythology using a name for god that parallels the Ugarit mythology’s chief deity. It is also odd that Elohim appears in Ugarit texts as a clearly plural form of El, and then later in a sometimes confused singular/plural fashion in the Hebrew texts.

The important question becomes, then: Is there any reason beyond the contact with Canaan to view the Hebrew deity as being synonymous with the Canaanite god El? The answer is “yes.” There are parallels between the two gods. For example, if we look at more of the attributes of El in the Ugarit texts, we find that El had a consort, Asherah (who was also, occasionally, recorded as the consort to Yahweh). This would appear to distance the Hebrew El from the Ugarit El then, if there is no mention of the Hebrews combining El with Asherah. However, there is mention in the Hebrew texts that illustrates that Asherah was connected with El in the minds of the Hebrews as well as in their worship. Twice in Jeremiah (chapter 7 and chapter 44), she is referred to as the Queen of Heaven, and it is clearly indicated that the Hebrews were worshipping her in those instances. Also, in 2 Kings 18, it is noted that her objects of worship (the Asherah poles) were removed from the “high places” of worship to El/Yahweh.

There is no doubt that as the Hebrews moved from polytheism, into henotheism, and ultimately into monotheism, that they adjusted their religious practices accordingly. It is not surprising that the worship of Asherah was ultimately condemned, discouraged, and forbidden. But what can’t be ignored is the fact that the Hebrews did acknowledge Asherah. They did worship her. And they did associate her with El by placing her symbols in the same temples of worship. If Hebrews did not adopt the older Ugarit El, with which they were surely familiar, then it is very odd that Asherah also appears in their religious texts and worship.

I would never underestimate the apologist’s ability to find a perspective that can reinterpret this data to make it less problematic. However, the clear and simply explanation is this: The Hebrews interacted with Ugarit, adopted their pantheon, and their religion evolved, as all religions do through time, to become a uniquely Hebrew monotheism.

Further Reading:
http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9074104/Ugarit
[General information about Ugarit]

http://www.theology.edu/ugarbib.htm
[Describes similarities and parallels between Biblical texts and Ugarit texts]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genesis
[Describes the production of Genesis]

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05393a.htm
[Presents an apologetic case for the singular form of Elohim]

http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Names_of_G-d/Elohim/elohim.html
[Another apologetic case for the singular form of Elohim]

http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9009821/Asherah
[Identifies Asherah as El’s consort]

http://cc.usu.edu/~FATH6/bible.htm
[Information about Asherah]

http://www.religion.rutgers.edu/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=254&Itemid=188
[Asherah as the Queen of Heaven]

The messy world of free speech

From Florida comes this report of a Christian evangelist who’s had his TV show yanked off a local station because he can’t resist talking smack about Islam.

Earlier this month, officials from the Council on American Islamic Relations wrote a letter to the TV station’s owners asking for an investigation of the show it broadcasts, “Live Prayer with Bill Keller.”

In a May 2 broadcast, the televangelist said Islam was a “1,400-year-old lie from the pits of hell” and called the Prophet Mohammed a “murdering pedophile.” He also called the Koran a “book of fables and a book of lies.”

Well, I for one utterly agree with the last statement, though I would add that Keller’s Bible also qualifies. I’d have to reserve judgment on the second statement and would agree with the first half of the first statement, too. Someone else who I’m sure would largely agree with Keller would be atheist bestseller Sam Harris, who’s written that Islam is nothing less than the “enemy of civilization”. It’s sweet when we can all see eye to eye on something, isn’t it?

So, were local Muslims understandably offended? Sure they were. Should they have been allowed to protest the show, even to the point of having it taken off the air? Yes again. But did Keller have a Constitutionally protected right to voice his opinions of Islam, however offensive they were? Why, we’re back to yes. Welcome to the conflicted and messy world of free speech.

There are actually many layers to a situation such as this. One valid criticism one might make of Keller is that while he has a Constitutional right to spew invective about a competing religion, he does not (nor does anyone else) have a Constitutional right to a TV show, and members of any community as well as a television station itself have every right to drop something that they find appalling. Readers will note a similarity here to the recent firing of celebrity radio clod Don Imus for making racist wisecracks. It’s a tossup as to which situation is more offensive: Imus made a joke, though an egregiously juvenile and thoughtless one, while Keller was really being deliberately confrontational and insulting.

Should Imus have been fired? I’d have to waffle and say definitely maybe (a long suspension would have served fine; after all, the man’s been offending people on the air for 30 years now, so it’s not as if he hasn’t got a rep). Imus’s bad joke served no purpose but to insult a group of people who’d done nothing to deserve it (quite the opposite, in fact), and was in fact not an insult over anything they’d done at all, but over who they were and the color of their skin. There wasn’t, nor could there have been, any valid programming context to justify its utterance.

Should Keller have been similarly canned, though? I don’t think so. In this case, there’s no bones made about who the man is and what kind of program he’s got. The station which carried him had to have known he was an evangelical Christian, and thus he’d be spouting barbarian opinions on any number of subjects. And since when should anyone be taken aback that a program promoting one religion would, every now and again, knock the competition?

When people express strong opinions, someone will be offended. Period. The Atheist Experience offends a lot of Christians simply by existing at all. Dawkins criticizes faith and is labeled a bully and an “atheist fundamentalist” and a thought-cop and a bigot, though everything I’ve read of his is delivered in a tone that, while certainly confrontational and blunt, never merely seeks to insult people on a personal level. Christians, on their TV networks, say personally insulting things about atheists, liberals, homosexuals, and basically anyone who isn’t in their club with such reliability that you can practically set your watch by the frequency of Pat Robertson’s latest idiotic remark.

In a culture that supports free speech, offensive statements should be allowed, but expressly so they can be aired and then subject to criticism and debate. This is why I think the bad guys in this scenario here are neither Keller nor the Islamic group who got his show pulled, but the TV station itself, for not allowing the Islamic group a chance to counter Keller’s remarks. We all cringe with disgust when filth like Fred Phelps or the KKK announce they’re coming to town. But the value there is that when they do come, hundreds of people whose minds are not poisoned by religious bigotry and ignorance find themselves rallying together in counter-protest.

So I say yeah, Keller should be allowed to have a show if he can find a station that’ll take him on. And the Islamic citizens whom he offends should be able to rebut him publicly and encourage viewers not to watch his show and boycott his sponsors. And there should also be a nice, family atheist show on Florida TV as well, pointing out that both these folks are full of shit and offering rationalism as a better alternative to both. If anything in this modern world is aggressively Darwinian, it’s the marketplace of ideas. Let the bad ideas have free rein, if only so that better ideas can be aired to challenge and ultimately conquer them.


Okay, having said all that, I will anticipate and respond to a criticism I can already see some of our Christian readers making. Isn’t it hypocritical of me, they might say, as an atheist, for you to support free speech and the exchange of ideas when it comes to something like religious broadcasting, but not when it comes to giving equal time to intelligent design alongside evolution in science classrooms?

In short, no. Religious television shows and similar entertainment venues are forums in which people express opinions, even when they’re deluded people who think their opinions are facts. Science classrooms are different, because they are educational (not entertainment) venues in which facts, and not opinions, are to be discussed. If certain facts in science are controversial, then that itself is a fact and is free to be taught there. The reason right now for opposition to ID in classrooms is that the side promoting it hasn’t shored up sufficient facts for their challenge to evolution to be accepted as legit. If the ID camp devoted a fraction of the attention they devote to media dog-and-pony-shows and indignant press releases to actual scientific research programs, then they wouldn’t be currently denied the respect of academia that they seem to feel is their birthright. There’s no appropriate comparison between censoring opinions in the media and refusing to teach students things that aren’t supported by facts in our schools.

Tim Todd’s truthiness tosh targets teens

Okay, maybe that’s not great alliteration. Oh well. It’s early.

The most recent effluvia from the Americhristian Fascist Association is plugging evangelist Tim Todd’s The Truth for Youth comic-book Bible for teens, which Tim is offering to send a free copy of to any teen willing to give it to an “unsaved” classmate. Todd is, as you may have guessed, one of those extra-sleazy evangelical ambulance chasers who latched onto school-related tragedies like Columbine to promote his ministry. In the breathless words of the AFA email,

“The Truth for Youth” consists of the entire New Testament in the God’s Word version, along with powerful full color comics that are packed with “absolute truths” regarding issues young people are faced with, such as: Evolution, Sexual Purity, Homosexuality, Abortion, Pornography, Drugs, Drunkenness, Peer Pressure, School Violence and Secular Rock Music. God’s wonderful plan of salvation is incorporated into each of the stories.

Ironically appropriate that they place the words “absolute truths” into quotation marks, since, whenever Christians start prattling on about “absolute truths” about whatever evil secular subject is obsessing them, they’re almost certainly about to start lying out their flabby butts. The evolution material will be nothing but the usual idiotic creationist canards that have been lying in ruins for ages; the homosexuality material will be plain old hate; the stuff about “secular rock music” will fall on deaf ears.

In any case, it’s amusing that they think trying to go the Jack Chick route will be an effective tool to minister to teens, but the sad thing is it could well be. What I’d like to see is the NCSE or the Dawkins Foundation assemble a Basics of Evolution or The God Delusion for Youth, to make available to high school students for free as well. The best way to combat the propaganda of Christian “truth” is, of course, with true truth — you know, that which is supported by such tiresome things as scientific research, reason and evidence. Not that which is backed by just another narcisstic, money-grubbing fundagelical who believes he’s the appointed ambassador of the magic invisible universe-creating space pixie. For every copy of The Truth for Youth foisted on a poor unsuspecting student who ought to be learning facts instead, they could offer sensible, even witty counter-arguments to reveal Todd’s brainless misinformation for the self-serving, deceptive religious hucksterism it is. Heck, as a former comics industry professional of nine years’ experience, I’d even volunteer my time!

Liveblogging from the studio

Check it out. The access station has wireless coverage in the studio, and I have a new laptop for school. And here we are.

Weird coincidence today — Don’s on the show, and both Tracy and I independently decided to show up to spectate. This is the biggest collection of current “talent” that we’ve ever had in here, to my recollection.

Bonus: if any caller says something that needs to be verified today, I can Google it!

Honoring an atheist in a foxhole

One of religionists’ most egregious lies is that there are no atheists in foxholes. Tell this to the multitudes of unbelievers who are proud veterans of our armed forces. One of these, I learned today, passed away on August 9 at the ripe old age of 90. Hans Kasten was a genuine American hero, enduring unimaginable hardship at the hands of the Nazis in WWII. From the AA profile:

With his fluent knowledge of German, Hans Kasten was selected as a “chief man of confidence,” the Hauptvertrauensmann, to interpret the instructions to prisoner and do what he can on their behalf.

Kasten also became the focus of rage by his Nazi captors, in part because of his full German name, Johann Carl Frederick. He was considered “worse than a Jew,” a “traitor to the German race.”

Not to politicize this, but this sounds to me disturbingly reminiscent of the way right-wingers in this country have been quick to yell “Traitor!” at anyone who dares to question the policies of the Bush regime — er, administration.

One of his first orders from the SS overseers was to identify and sort out Americans who were or “looked” Jewish. Kasten refused. The German camp commander then ordered an assembly where all “Jews” were told to step forward. None of the POWs moved. Several accounts, including one written by Littell reveal what happened next:

“A German officer stood on a platform, with the guards all around us, their guns at the ready,” recalled Littell. “I can still hear these words from that infuriated officer: ‘Alle Juden, ein Schritt vorfwarts!’ (‘All Jews, one step forward!’) In view of Hans’s earlier instructions, nobody moved. Obviously, this was of his doing. So angered was the officer that he leaped off his platform, grabbed a gun from a guard, swung it like a baseball bat and slammed Hans across the chest. Hans flew backward and hit the ground, gasping. For a moment he couldn’t get back his breath…That’s when we found ourselves in the boxcars to further hell…”

That’s heroism. No gods required.

Proof that we are not a Christian nation

Ladies and gentlemen, may I please direct your attention to the public attention that Pastor Wiley Drake has received for his call to imprecatory prayer against Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Pastor Drake has urged his followers to call down the wrath of God on the AU leadership, as modeled in such Bible passages as Psalms 109, 55, 58, 68, 69, and 83. Let’s take a quick look at a few passages from these chapters:
“Let his days be few; and let another take his office.”
“Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell.”
” Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth: break out the great teeth of the young lions, O LORD.”

Now let’s consider a thought experiment. Suppose that prayer really worked. If Pastor Drake’s call to mass prayer were effective, then presumably within a short time, Reverend Barry Lynn and his supporters would be dead, their teeth broken, their children vagabonds, etc., etc. And all as a direct result of a specific action taken by this clown.

What we have here is premeditation with an intent to aid in violence and/or murder. Drake doesn’t intend to get his hands dirty by killing Barry Lynn himself, but he is invoking a prayer which he believes will indirectly lead to Lynn’s death. Well, that’s not cool in US law, and if people did believe in prayer, I imagine some of them would want Drake tried and locked up immediately.

But prayer doesn’t work. And everybody knows that damn well. Drake’s followers might be incited to commit violence against Barry Lynn — we sure hope not — but God never will. His prayer means nothing.

And so the justice system doesn’t need to give this a second thought, because Drake’s words are just covered as freedom of speech. They don’t have a prayer of actually achieving any physical results.

Although, of course, I’m sure that he’ll be only too happy to accept credit if Lynn should happen to meet with some kind of accident or illness at any time for the rest of his natural life.

Episode #512: Intolerance

I have gotten some requests for show notes on occasion. In response, I’m going to begin posting summary notes to the blog, so that when requests for notes come in, I can just point them here. Thanks, Martin.

The word “tolerance” has two very distinct meanings that can, but do not always, overlap. One is to respect others or their actions and beliefs. The other is to merely allow others to act and express their beliefs—regardless of whether or not I, personally, respect them, their beliefs or actions.

It is unreasonable to expect that no one will disagree with my opinions or ideas. In fact, there are many ideas that are so widely disrespected that they are almost universally disdained. The ideas expressed by Hitler or NAMBLA not only lack widespread acceptance; they are openly disparaged by the general population; and the actions they promote are legally prohibited. So, in either sense of the word, they are not “tolerated.” The ideas they espouse are not generally respected; and the actions they endorse are not allowed. No society exercises absolute tolerance by either definition. And expecting any belief, value or idea to be universally respected is simply unrealistic.

The goal in the United States—and I realize it’s not always achieved—is to allow the individual the right to believe and act freely insofar as his/her actions do not compromise the rights of fellow citizens. We value, in this country, the right of Freedom of Speech—aka Freedom of Expression. We all have the right to express our ideas and opinions to the extent we don’t violate someone else’s rights. Freedom of Speech can violate someone else’s rights when, for example, I seriously threaten to harm or kill someone for exercising a legal action or expressing an idea or opinion.

My right to say what’s on my mind is limited when it forcibly stops others from exercising legal actions or expressing ideas and opinions. In the public forum, I can disagree, disparage, ridicule, challenge, even insult; but I cannot try to silence the free expression of others. I must tolerate (allow) all expressions, in the sense that I must respect—not the expression itself, or even the person expressing it—but the right of other person to express. And that freedom extends to responses as well. In the real world, no idea, opinion or belief is universally respected or accepted. If I don’t want my ideas challenged, then I should carefully consider whether or not I want to express them in a public forum; because the public has a right to respond, and I need to respect that right, even if I disrespect the content of the responses I might receive.

In the show, I referenced the following:

http://www.powers-point.com/2006/10/intolerant-atheist.html
-Karen Powers

“I always like to point out to my many atheist friends that I have never tried to convert them or ridicule their beliefs, but have been on the receiving ends of dozens of rants against my belief system…something that feels a lot like the person is trying to “convert” me to their way of life (atheism) all the while accusing religious people of being intolerant.”

Here Karen equates attempts to convert with intolerance. First of all, an attempt at conversion does not impede Karen’s right to believe or act. No matter how badly someone wants Karen to do X or believe X, simply talking to her about X cannot force her to do either. She is correct, though, that it can show a level of disrespect for the beliefs she holds currently when someone tries to change her mind. Atheists understand this from dealing with apologists; just as Karen understands this from her atheist friends. But I’m free to respond that I disagree with them, as is Karen, and also to express why I disagree, as is Karen. I’m also free to not listen to them if I so choose, as is Karen. No harm, no foul.

Karen’s post was not the only one addressed, but it was representative of what is found when you look up “atheist intolerance” on the Internet. The main complaint is that atheists don’t publicly respect theists or theism. But, again, that’s the case with any belief—none are universally respected. I’m unsure, though, why that’s a problem. No one requires my stamp of approval in order to do or believe whatever they want. If I express that what someone else does or believes is silly or stupid, it has no impact whatsoever on their right or ability to continue to do or believe it. There is, in fact, no reason whatsoever for anyone to care what anyone else thinks about what they do or believe—if the assessment extends no further than a mere personal opinion.

Fortunately, with regard to atheists, most of the people I know in the community really don’t care what Christians “believe,” despite the fact we get weekly letters asking us why it bothers us so much that other people believe in god. It actually doesn’t bother most atheists that theists believe in god. What tends to bother atheists is when any particular religious group tries to impose it’s beliefs upon the rest of the population—either via legislation or via other means of policing public policy (legal or otherwise). When theists try to dictate my behavior so that it is in line with their theistic doctrines, this imposes on my individual rights and freedoms—granted to me by the Constitution. Constitutionally, I have as much right to choose my beliefs and actions as any other citizen in this country.

The show included numerous readings from theists who felt that atheists should not exercise their Freedom of Speech. Perhaps the best example was the transcript of a Paula Zahn Now! show:

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0701/31/pzn.01.html

In this episode, real venom was aimed at atheists and atheism. I don’t mind people aiming venom. Again, so long as they let others live their lives, I don’t care what they think or how vehemently they think it or express it. But a line is crossed when they begin telling others to “shut up.” Attempting to demand that others stop expressing ideas, opinions, and beliefs—is the beginning of intolerance. Criticize ideas however you like—but don’t tell others they need to stop exercising their Constitutional right of Freedom of Speech. Each of us has as much right to express our ideas as anyone else has to criticize them. I’m happy to dialogue—but “shut up” isn’t a dialogue. It’s an expressed wish to monologue publicly, without public challenge or response. And that’s the way to shut down public debate—which is simply hypocritical, cowardly and not in the best interest of maintaining a free and open society.

One particularly interesting statement made on the program was when Karen Hunter said, “Don’t impose upon my right to want to have prayer in schools, to want to say the pledge of allegiance…”

First of all, nobody can impose on anyone else’s right to “want” something. But as far as her right to actually have it—nobody has imposed on that, either. Anyone is legally allowed to pray and say the Pledge of Allegiance in any nondisruptive way, and I have yet to meet any atheist who opposes this. However, theists are not Constitutionally allowed to impose prayers upon nonadherents, and they are out of line to add narrow religious statements into a pledge that is intended to be used by the entire nation. This imposes a pledge to monotheism/religion upon all citizens who would like to also be able to say the Pledge to their nation. There is no reason the Pledge should not be accessible to all citizens equally. It should not apply only to those citizens who adhere to the idea of a monotheistic deity. Again, Karen’s right to express her beliefs should end where the right of others to express themselves begins. According to Karen, it’s perfectly acceptable for me to have to choose
between pledging loyalty to her religious beliefs and pledging loyalty to my country. But if no mention of god was contained in the Pledge, there would be no imposition to either theistic or atheistic Americans. That’s the difference. The insertion of the monotheistic god into the Pledge was a move in the 1950s that continues to alienate some very patriotic citizens in the U.S. to this day. And it is logical that a national Pledge should as much as possible unite, and not divide the citizenry.

I ended with a reading of several articles, all published in the last month, that gave examples of Christians being intolerant by attempting to disallow others to exercise legal actions or express beliefs. Examples included death threats to J.K. Rowling, threats of harm to a library for a summer program that included workshops on astrology, a bomb planted at a women’s clinic, a man who murdered another man because his victim was gay, attempted book bannings at a school library by one mother, an attempted ban on Sunday liquor sales, and a disruptive protest during a Hindu prayer before the U.S. Senate. There were more articles, but we didn’t have time to address them all.

While I acknowledged on the show that this behavior is not representative of the vast majority of Christians; it is fair to ask why, when this sort of religious thought-control and behavior-control intolerance is covered in the U.S. media, it appears to be almost exclusively attempted by Christian adherents? And why, if that is the case, are atheists the ones consistently labeled as “intolerant”—most often merely for legally exercising their Freedom of Speech by criticizing ideas with which they disagree?