Let’s make Donald Wildmon’s nightmare come true!

Via Brayton, I come across this awesome piece over at OneNewsNow, the “news” site of the fundamentalist hate group American “Family” Association. You know, the same people who had that hilarious editorial gaffe recently involving an Olympic track star.

Wildmon has his knickers in a twist over the upcoming Proposition 8 vote this November in California, in which the haters hope to make gay marriage illegal until, presumably, the end of time. If the Christians lose, Wildmon warns, well, down that slippery slope we fall!

“If the homosexuals are able to defeat the marriage amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, then the culture war is over and we’ve lost — and gradually, secularism will replace Christianity as the foundation of our society,” he adds.

The vote in California, Wildmon explains, will affect the entire nation. “California is a big dam, holding back the flood — and if you take down the dam in California, it’s going to flood 49 other states,” he illustrates. “It will destroy marriage as it has been known for thousands of years, and with that the cultural decline that normally would follow.”

You know, the homophobes constantly rail about how recognizing gay marriage will somehow destroy their own, sanctified straight marriages, but they never explain how. That they take this approach to the argument seems to say voluminous volumes about the insecurity they feel about their own personal situations in marriage. If any situation, including someone else’s marriage, could possibly threaten your own marriage, then your marriage is already a failure, and it’s everything to do with you, gang. How a bunch of folks absolutely none of these terrified, insecure Christians will ever meet personally could threaten them, simply by deciding to commit to one another in marriage while happening to be the same gender, is simply absurd to contemplate. Unless you contemplate it in the context of fundie fear, not reality.

As for secularism replacing Christianity in America, well, three cheers for that and it’s about time! Naturally, the Wildmons of the world will see nothing but the downfall of civilization in such an occurrence. But again, reality paints a different picture. Sure, a nation in which people enjoy happiness based on concepts like personal freedoms rather than the phantom “happiness” of religion’s pie in the sky promises, which merely mask a host of debilitating fears and neuroses, would certainly be hell on Earth to the AFA and their sheep. Read the comments attached to the OneNewsNow article to shake your head over the whirlpool of insecurities and phobias these poor people flounder in.

Ahoy, Californians! Get out there and give Prop. 8 a sound defeat this fall. Because I really really want to read Wildmon’s editorial the following day!


Addendum: Well, clearly it’s true that traditional marriage is always a paradise of connubial bliss where nothing ever goes wring and which never leads to a cultural decline of any kind. Or maybe, where the husband in this case is concerned, teh gayz made him do it after all…

Wednesday science-y goodness in Austin

CFI-Austin, along with Texas Citizens for Science and the UT Section of Integrative Biology, is sponsoring a trio of talks this evening to be held at UT’s Burdine Hall, room 108. I think I had some classes there back in the day. The general theme is “Science Education in Texas,” which, as you may well know, is under a cloud due to the ideological machinations of the arch-conservative State Board of Education and its young-earth-creationist dentist chairman, Dan McLeroy.

Admission is free and it all starts at 6:30. The speakers include the TCS’s own Steve Schafersman, on “How Will Texas Oppose Aggressive, Organized Creationism in Texas?”; Ed Brayton, author of the blog Dispatches from the Culture Wars, on the religious roots of ID (there’s also a Dispatches blog meetup for Ed at Stubb’s BBQ Thursday night at 7); and Josh Rosenau, NCSE staffer and author of the blog Thoughts from Kansas, on the evolution of the creationist movement.

I’m going to do my level best to attend. Hope lots of you can too. If you see me there, wave.


Addendum: Well, bummer, you won’t see me there. If any of our readers do attend, please post a report in the comments.

Chuck Colson responds (response #1)

Chuck Colson has posted a response to my critique of his book at the Zondervan blog. I haven’t read the whole thing in depth yet, but he seems to be polite and respectful, and take at least some of my points seriously. On cursory reading, he appears to have focused on my analysis of his prison group, with an impromptu lecture on how scientific studies are supposed to be done. This should be interesting.

Everyone is welcome to read the entry and comment right here, but I will repeat my request that you remain equally respectful and refrain from trash-talk. I’ll take your comments into consideration when I get around to my own reply. It looks like Chuck is not done yet, so I may not write another response until after he’s finished his reaction to me.

Thanks, Chuck and Mike, for getting back to me.

Hey, kids, guns! And Jesus! Find your faith!

Allow me to preface this by saying that I am not against gun ownership. But this sends a rather peculiar message, don’t you think?

An Oklahoma church canceled a controversial gun giveaway for teenagers at a weekend youth conference.

Windsor Hills Baptist had planned to give away a semiautomatic assault rifle until one of the event’s organizers was unable to attend.

The church’s youth pastor, Bob Ross, said it’s a way of trying to encourage young people to attend the event. The church expected hundreds of teenagers from as far away as Canada.

Wha? Gee, what about iPods or XBox360’s? Or do you not want kids playing those evil violent video games or listening to that godless rock ‘n roll or hip-hop? Yeah, an assault rifle is much better. It’s not like a teenager is likely to misuse that.

“I don’t want people thinking ‘My goodness, we’re putting a weapon in the hand of somebody that doesn’t respect it who are then going to go out and kill,’” said Ross. “That’s not at all what we’re trying to do.”

Perish the thought. It never crossed my mind.

Ross said the conference isn’t all about guns, but rather about teens finding faith.

Okay then, I feel better already! You know, when the Muslims give kids deadly weaponry at a religious function, I think they call it terrorism and it’s the kind of thing that makes the sphincters of priviliged white Oklahoman Christian conservatives completely lose their structural integrity. Well, maybe they’re just taking precautions for when Obama’s elected and he throws a huge party for all his Islamofascist friends on the White House lawn. Must be it.

I suppose if this weren’t all happening in the state that gave us the psychotic Sally Kern, it wouldn’t have such a shudder factor. I’d say, “Could be worse, could be Texas,” but I have a feeling this might be an old Texas tradition…

Wiseman’s TAM6 spoon-bending video

Richard Wiseman has posted the video of the spoon-bending stunt he performed at TAM6, with the assistance of 800 attendees in the crowd. It’s funny to watch it again, but nothing like being part of seeing it done live. For one thing, the video is fairly shaky, and the shots from different angles of the crowd don’t fully communicate that, yes, in fact, there are 800 people in that room, all doing a more-or-less synchronized spoon-bending trick with 800 pre-stressed spoons. (That’s a detail that’s already being commented upon over at YouTube. A lot of folks think the spoons would have to have been pre-cut, when in fact they were all simply pre-stressed, repeatedly bent until just ready to snap.)

So, while I don’t think the whole gag really plays on video as well as it could, it’s fun to watch. And for all you skeptics out there who’ve been unable to make TAM before, maybe it will prompt you to make a special effort to get there next year and join in the fun.

Say, where is that Chuck Colson guy, anyway?

I’m really not one to trash talk most of the time — I’ll leave that to Martin 😉 — or keep score. But I have to observe that it has been a bit over a month since I posted a message to Chuck Colson, and almost three weeks since my last correspondence with Mike, who wrote: “They have seen your post, so it is hopefully just a matter of scheduling time for Chuck to reply to it.”

I don’t want to keep pestering Mike, it’s certainly not his fault. It’s not that there’s any big hurry, I’m just wondering if he still intends to respond. I’m keeping an eye on the Zondervan blog on my feed reader, just in case anything pops up and I don’t hear about it. So far, no comment.

I sure hope this means that Chuck felt he had to devote a lot of time and attention so he could appropriately address the reply that I worked so hard on. If that’s what it means, then I’ll be flattered. Certainly I would never stoop to suggesting that he decided that this whole “talking to atheist bloggers” thing was a bad idea to begin with, or that he’d rather sweep my post under the rug than publicize it.

Update, 7/10: Mike writes that

We’re getting close to having a response from Chuck. I just received an email from his assistant today that he has responded and I should have something soon from him. Once I do I’ll get it posted on the Zondervan blog. I’ll email you again once I get it posted on the Zondervan blog, just so you know it’s up. Thanks much.

Aggressive Atheist Extremists

Maybe you’ve seen the PhillyCOR billboard recently? Floaty clouds on a blue sky, with the text “Don’t believe in god?” on top, and “You are not alone,” on the bottom. It’s an invitation to disenfranchised atheists to get in touch with local humanist, atheist, free-thought or secular organizations in their areas. And it’s as inoffensive a message as I’ve ever seen from any atheist group. No attack on religion. No invitation to anyone to reconsider their beliefs. Just a note to those who already don’t believe, who think they’re on their own, to encourage them and let them know there are like-minded people “out there” who would like to get to know them and offer them camaraderie and community involvement. PhillyCOR actually even works alongside religious organizations to support charitable endeavors.

So, here again we have the age-old question: Is there any way—at all—that an atheist can express his opinion that won’t be considered an attack on or offense to believers?

The answer, PhillyCOR has now made clear, is “no.”

In an interview with Fox News, Family Research Council’s own Peter Sprigg had this to say about the board:

“This billboard in Philadelphia seems to represent a trend—a new assertiveness, even aggressiveness on the part of atheists.”

You heard right. Putting up a billboard to let like-minded people know you exist—people who often think they are utterly alone—is “aggressive.” The billboard represents—is part of—a trend of “aggressiveness.” Am I to assume that Sprigg has never seen a Christian billboard before? He should come to Austin, where he would be able to see several in a five mile stretch in any direction. And they don’t just appeal to other Christians—they appeal to everyone to come to church, accept Jesus, believe in god, convert to Christianity. Would Sprigg label Christians as a “hyper aggressive” group, then? I’m guessing not—but to be consistent, he actually would have to. If atheists today are “aggressive,” I can’t see how Sprigg doesn’t consider Christians to be hovering over the edge of “dangerous.”

Further, this man who claims atheists are being “aggressive” has the following to add:

“Atheists are very vigorous in promoting the separation of church and state, but with the extreme way that they interpret that concept, you would basically eliminate every mention of god from the public square, and that would amount to the establishment of atheism.”

First of all, it’s not about eliminating the mention of anything from any “public square.” People in the public square, speaking as private citizens, can say whatever they like. It’s people and institutions that are in any way representatives of government that cannot, and should not, promote any religious perspective—including the existence or nonexistence of any god or gods. That’s a little different, and perhaps a subtlety that is lost on people like Sprigg—although, if I am to speak frankly, I don’t believe it’s lost on him at all. I believe it to be an intentional misrepresentation—a strawman—intended to rile religious masses, because Sprigg knows that an accurate representation would not be nearly as compelling and effective in attaining that goal.

Free advice: When someone misrepresents their case, always, always, always ask “why?”

And while I am on misrepresentations, another interesting fact that Sprigg seems to conveniently have misplaced, is that one of the most active entities promoting separation of church and state is a group headed by the Reverend Barry Lynn, who often speaks on behalf of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Since Sprigg’s group is so very interested in separation issues, I can’t imagine he is unaware of this. And yet, he promotes separation as an “atheist vs. theist” issue, in order to launch an unfounded attack on atheists and rally undeserved support to his own agenda to use the government, openly and unapologetically, to promote a worldview that just happens to align with conservative Christian religious ideologies.

Asking Sprigg to not use our government as a vehicle to push his religion onto others is somehow an “establishment of atheism.” I have pointed out before, but perhaps not at this blog, that asking that the government remove “under god” is in no way the equivalent of asking them to add “without a god” to the Pledge. Ensuring everyone, theists and atheists alike, is free from government sanctioned, promoted, or imposed religious ideology allows everyone, theists and atheists alike, the freedom to exercise their religion, or no religion, as they wish, by putting all religious ideologies on the same playing field—a field that is, and ever should be, found exclusively in the court of private practice.

The level of projection Sprigg employs is at least as bad as anything I have seen from any theist so far. He effortlessly scales the heights of hypocrisy as he accuses others of stepping out of line who are not, while he is guilty of absolutely all that he accuses. Ironically, even if atheists were guilty of all he accuses, they would be doing no more or less than their Sprigg-encouraged Christian counterparts, in so far as pushing their agenda via government and posting and promoting their ideology as far and wide as possible. So, how could Sprigg possibly criticize, even if atheists were guilty, without showing himself up as a raging hypocrite?

The real issue here is that Sprigg wants Christianity to enjoy special privilege and treatment from society, as well as from the government, without being able to actually explain why special status is merited. I would never advocate promoting atheism using the government. And yet, if I did, any criticism from Sprigg could be nothing less than stunning, as I’d be doing no more than he and his organization and religion are doing already (and have been doing for quite a long time).

It’s actually competition Sprigg fears—not competition from others asking government to endorse their religious views, too, but the competition that would exist if his own religious view was no longer allowed to use the government as a prop—if it had to exist, horror of horrors, on the same level upon which all other religious views and ideas are now safely relegated—far beneath his own. It isn’t that he thinks it’s wrong to empower and utilize the government to promote religious views at all. His actions illustrate that he very much supports using government to promote religious views and policies. They also illustrate, in no uncertain terms, that his real beef is that he wants his particular brand of religion to be the only one that gets to do it.

*puke*

From the odious Billy Graham:

Jesse Helms, my friend and long-time senator from my home state of North Carolina, was a man of consistent conviction to conservative ideals and courage to faithfully serve God and country based on principle, not popularity or politics.

In the tradition of Presidents Jefferson, Adams and Monroe — who also passed on July 4th — it is fitting that such a patriot who fought for free markets and free people would die on Independence Day. As we celebrate the birth of our nation, I thank God for the blessings we enjoy, which Senator Helms worked so hard to preserve…

From a comment following Graham’s disgraceful encomium: “Jesse Helms fought for FREE PEOPLE??? (emphasis mine) Would those be the white people who wanted to be FREE of having to associate with black people?” Uh huh. Seems fitting that a homophobic, racist piece of shit should be eulogized so fulsomely by an anti-Semitic piece of shit, eh?

Whoops, there goes our Cuss Rating.