I voted today!

Go me!

This early voting thing is fantastic, especially if you want to beat the mobs on Election Day. Granted, I’ve read of long lines in some cities, which ought to be an indicator of just how high voter turnout will be this year, and which is hopefully an indicator of how many voters are motivated by a real “mad as hell and not going to take it any more” desire for change. In the past I’ve only ever voted on the day, and have stood in line for upwards of three hours. Today I just walked in, did my bit, and got out of there in about as much time as it takes to order lunch at Sonic. It was one of those head-smacking “What was I thinking?” moments, you might say.

Seriously, just do it now.

Wildmon is simply freaking!

Donald Wildmon, patriarch of the American “Family” Association, is really really upset that McCain/Palin are flailin’ in the polls, you betcha, and he’s sent out one of the AFA’s typically histrionic “Action Alert” e-mails in the hopes of rallying the Hate+Fear Brigade to save America from the scary libruls.

After the usual whining, blaming the ascent of Obama to obviously slanted reportage from the “liberal media” — as if they were the ones responsible for Palin’s inability to answer a direct question from a journalist with anything resembling a coherent sentence or displaying even passing knowledge of the topic at hand; as if they were the ones responsible for ramping up the hate rhetoric at recent McCain/Palin rallies, prompting those stalwart supporters of the far right to shout things like “Kill him [Obama, that is]!” within earshot of TV crews; as if they were the ones responsible for McCain’s failing to articulate any kind of platform to support the idea that his administration would be anything more than a continuance of the neocon string of disasters that Bush is leaving behind — Wildmon goes into full-on “end of days” Armageddon mode.

If the liberals win the upcoming election, America as we have known it will no longer exist. This country that we love, founded on Judeo-Christian values, will cease to exist and will be replaced by a secular state hostile to Christianity. This “city set on a hill” which our forefathers founded, will go dark. The damage will be deep and long lasting. It cannot be turned around in the next election, or the one after that, or by any election in the future. The damage will be permanent. That is why it is so important for you to vote and to encourage friends and family to vote. This is one election where your vote really counts.

Slippery slope much, Don? Well, this is all grist for the mill, after all. Getting people worked up into a lather of fear is fundamentalism’s stock in trade, and it’s a rhetorical tactic understood by many an ideological zealot in the political realm since time immemorial. Such as…

Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

No, I’m not Godwinning by bringing up Goering’s famous remarks about war. I’m merely pointing out that Wildmon’s principle here is the same. “We’re being attacked! [by evil secular libruls who want to take our Bibles away] Vote now, or we’ll be exposed to danger!” An appeal to fear, with no basis in reality, in order to get his followers to vote his way.

So yes, everyone should vote, and do it early. Because what Wildmon means when he talks about the “Christianity” he says is threatened is his own, particular brand of homophobic, xenophobic, anti-science, anti-progress, anti-equality arch-fundamentalism. It doesn’t even include liberal Christians, those millions of believers who don’t think that “get the fags!” was part of Jesus’s message. To Wildmon, those kinds of Christians doubtless hold pride of place on his “Not True Christians™” list.

So vote, all you secular liberals! And won’t Wildmon be surprised when, in a liberal secular America, religious freedom is allowed to flourish? Sure, there will be some things you aren’t allowed to do. Such as use the government to promote your beliefs over others, or to impose your beliefs as “alternative theories” in science classrooms. But prohibitions like that are all in keeping with supporting religious freedom. After all, if you make Christian prayer mandatory in public schools again, what does that mean for all those non-Christian students? The Jews, Hindus, Muslims, atheists, Wiccans and otherwise? (The typical AFA answer to that question, I suspect, would be “Screw ‘em, they’re going to hell anyway,” which is not exactly productive. But dealing with fundie ideologues rarely is.)

Anyway, those are examples of conditions our Constitution already covers. That’s another difference between secular liberals and fundie neocons. We respect the Constitution, while they only ever treat it like a list of technicalities to be gotten around.

America as Wildmon thinks he has known it — a thoroughly fascistic, totalitarian Christian theocracy — has never existed. And though the neocons have been doing all they can to bring it about over the last eight years, a vote for the sane ticket — the one Wildmon fears to the core of his pitiful, benighted little black heart — will ensure that America remains the country it was in truth founded to be.

So vote! After all, we all want to read the despair-laden blatherings that will issue from Wildmon’s pen on November 5, after Obama has won, don’t we?

Blog meme: My first day as an Atheist

Via Kafir Girl, I noticed that a new meme has sprung up ex nihilo.  My little ego is sensitive enough that, even though we haven’t been tagged yet, I ASSUME we will be soon enough.  May as well go ahead and save time by responding now.  Unfortunately, my answers are likely to be extremely boring, as you’re about to find out.

Can You Remember The Day That You Officially Became An Atheist?

Erm, yeah, I suppose that would be September 9, 1974, when I was born.  :)

However, I wasn’t a thoughtful atheist until I got challenged around the age of six.  I remember chatting with a school friend in Alabama, who couldn’t really wrap his mind around the concept — “Who created the universe, then?”  I didn’t have an answer.  I asked my dad the physicist, “Do we believe The Nothing created the universe?”  He was delighted to give me a kid-level rundown of what we know about cosmology, and I started thinking about the implications of my non-belief after that.

Do you remember the day you officially became an agnostic?

Not as dumb a question as you might think in my case.  The concept of an agnostic-atheist wasn’t really a notion in my mind until after some long discussions with fellow ACA members.  However, until college I possessed some of the arrogant certainty of youth.  Ironically, while theists warn their kids about the faith-destroying influence of academia, having to write and defend arguments in early classes really made me take the question of “What if you’re wrong?” seriously for the first time.

I tried some experimental prayer.  As George Carlin pointed out, it works about 50% of the time.  Unless, of course, you pray for something really specific and unlikely, and then it doesn’t work at all.  Nevertheless, I still don’t outright dismiss the question “What if you’re wrong,” and still keep an eye out for the possibility that additional evidence might pop up.  My dad thinks this is too soft a position.  It’s one of our few serious disagreements.

Did anger towards God or religion help cause you to be an atheist or agnostic?

Of course not, don’t be ridiculous.

Here is a good one: Were you agnostic towards ghosts, even after you became an atheist?

I can’t remember ever really taking the idea of ghosts seriously.  Interestingly, this is a position that is apt to get me called “closed minded” even by some people who you think would know better.

Do you want to be wrong?

I’ll be blunt: I’m not down with this whole “dying” thing.  There’s a song that used to play on the radio often, about only having a hundred years to live.  It was very wistful and I had to turn it off when it started, because it depressed the hell out of me.  As Woody Allen said, “I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying.”

Other than that, no.  Reality pwns religion.

I’m going to take the lazy way of forwarding this meme, because I don’t frequent many atheist blogs that aren’t already famous enough to have somebody else forward it.  However, Martin, Matt, Tracie, Don, and Jen can all add their answers in if they want to.

Besides that, I offer one fairly new atheist blog that nobody’s ever seen before: Tommy Holland, you’re it.  (The name is a pseudonym.  “Tommy” was a convert several years ago, I knew him when he was nominally Christian.)

ACA Publishes Voters’ Guide

The ACA has completed its 2008 Voters’ Guide project this week. The Voters’ Guide is meant to provide information to voters in Texas from state and national candidates on issues that atheists care about. We posed 23 statements to 482 candidates and asked their level of agreement or disagreement with the statements. We got 50 responses, which is better than we expected.

Here are some related links:

  • Our press release on the guide (a good introduction). This was sent out Wednesday.
  • The main Web page (if you forward a link, use this one).
  • The questions (my favorite is #3 concerning conflict of interest).
  • The results (there are a handful of different formats).

Our press release has caused a little buzz already:

We would appreciate help in spreading the word about this resource–especially to people in Texas. The questions should be of interest to many people besides just atheists. Also, if people see additional links about the effort, I’d appreciate knowing about them.

If you have any feedback on the effort, that would be helpful, too, though it’s too late to change most things. We will likely attempt this again in future elections.

Your messages for Possummomma

Several folks have left comments at the previous post, offering their well-wishes. But consider this an open comments thread where the idea is that you post a message directly to Possummomma herself, as if she were reading it (which she will, because I’m emailing her the link to this post). If her blogging has impacted you — and it’s impacted many of us — let her know.

Concern over Possummomma

Some folks may have noticed that Possummomma’s blog has been inaccessible for some days. I’ve been in touch with her via email, and can assure everyone that this is nothing to do with her or the family being in any kind of imminent physical danger. Yes, there is a situation in play involving some vile scumbag who threatened the lives of her kids, necessitating a panicked return from a camping trip that, as children, they should have had the right to enjoy without interference from theistic madness. But that fellow is currently facing criminal charges, the law is on it, and so that situation can be considered under control.

What has been going on involves a pattern of online harassment she’s been having to deal with, that is literally too bizarre to be described. Sorry not to be more specific than that, but I figure if she ever wants to come back online and spill the details (and she hasn’t wanted to so far, mainly so as not to seem as if she’s giving the people responsible any legitimacy, which I understand), that’s up to her. But she did want me to let everyone know that they are all, at the very least, safe.

I don’t know what it is about P-Momma, that’s she’s proved to be some kind of Internet maniac magnet. But I’ve assured her that there’s no reason for the current nonsense she’s been experiencing to cause her to quit blogging altogether, which she seemed resigned to in her last email to me. I’ve told her, hey, just go over to WordPress, start up again there. But don’t let assholes stifle your right to speech. Where would any of us be if we caved whenever people who can’t stand anyone different from them tried to intimidate us into silence? Sure, I know, with P-Momma’s health, and her concerns over the safety of her kids, it can be easy to find your energy wearing out after a while. But I support her, and I know her readers, a lot of whom also stop by here, support her too. There are a lot more decent folks out there on her side, than there are fools and madmen (and madwomen) with a desperate need to assuage the feelings of inadequacy their superstitions cannot compensate for by making life miserable for a mom and her little kids.


Addendum: Calladus has the most thorough accounting of what’s happened. Seriously, it’s frickin’ insane.

I get email…

I got an e-mail today from a young man who hasn’t written in months. The author e-mailed me many months ago, to tell us just how horrible we were. Here’s are a few snippets from his previous e-mails, with a short note on my response…and at the end I’ll include today’s e-mail – which won’t be getting a response:

“God speaks upon people like you in the great book. You people and yes i say you people are all logical and need everything handed to you. You expect God to hand you everything, i bet half you on this stupid committee are homosexual. Its a sick world we live in these days and you just make it even more sicker. The time will come for all of you, i bet if God was too strike down on earth as your reading this you would be crying to a precher in seconds. Now im not up with my religion but i do know that god gave us a life to live, all he wanted us to do is ask him to be our savior. Why would he give to us if we cant give back to him, think, thats probably why your lost now…Your selfish and want everything in front of you.”

I asked whether this e-mail was real, or Poe and noted how sad it made me. I addressed his points and got the following reply:

“I was searching the net to look at groups who are agaisnt homosexuals for my research and of course i come across you people. Sall you on Youtube and thought…how sick people are. You know damn well what great book im talking about and everything. Like i said before, you are the type who need to see it to believe it. I gaurantee most of youare gay i can tell by the videos i was watching. You point out every bad thing in the bible besides the good.”

He’s clearly obsessed with homosexuality and in his next e-mail, he continued his hate and told me his age…

“Confused and Lost…and homosexuals has a big role in this. I may not be the best at talking cause im only 14 but i know what i am talking about. All gays are going to hell no exceptions, just like you, and if you were to put my letter on the air you would have no logical reason to back anything up, only with more of your atheis questions. You cant take the truth, your weak minded, good luck in the after life.”

At this point, we exchanged a few e-mails where I tried to carefully and politely offer my thoughts on his questions. I was deeply saddened that a young mind had been so crippled by dogma and hatred and was concerned, given his age, that we might be dealing with the confusing awakenings of puberty. After answering a couple of questions about religion…his tone changed:

“Ok i have done my share of research about God. I apologize for my opening statement i email to you, all i wanted to do was get more people to believe in God before its too late. God loves each and one of us dearly, All i really want to say is MAY GOD BE WITH YOU”

A few more e-mails were exchanged when I received one from him that was far more thoughtful, covering the trials of human life, waiting for death, a lost soul trying to survive the trial, apologizing for any rude comments, begging me to “believe and ask for jesus to be your savior, and commit to being clean from sins.”

I ended the conversation shortly after this and won’t be replying. Several months have passed, and the following e-mail arrived in my inbox this morning. I see no reason to respond, or even comment on it here…

“PAIN and TORTURE. I have not forgotten about you my friend. Pain and Torture. As i keep researching atheist i realize, YOUR SCARED OF GOD. You know God, like no other point blank, for he is the Only God that exist. PAIN and TORTURE. You know his word automatically, its embeded into your brain. PAIN AND TORTURE. On youtube they have people saying I deny the exsistence of the Holy Spirit. PAIN AND TORTURE. Why is it that you hate on God so much, he has done nothing to you. PAIN AND TORUTRE. I mean if you want evidence go look in the mirror. PAIN AND TORTURE. I was told not to care for you, to hate people like you. PAIN AND TORTURE. But i realize that we were put here to help each other. PAIN AND TORTURE. But i realize you are full of stupidity, and will soon be full of regret if you dont change. PAIN AND TORTURE. What else can God do for you, let me guess show himself. PAIN AND TORTURE.

Enjoy this life, becasue if your going to be an athiest forever, your next one wont be so joyful. Lets just say there will be alot of NASHING OF THE TEETH. “