National Day of Prayer never had a prayer

Several more prominent blogs have already reported on this, arguably making its coverage here superfluous. But it’s just so hilarious that I couldn’t not remark upon it. In Washington D.C., no one bothered to turn up to the National Day of Prayer event on the Capitol lawn. They set up 600 folding chairs, and a podium with a huge PA system. But there were never any more than four seats occupied. The official spokesman for the International Bible Reading Association responded to this ultimate in flopdom by saying, cryptically, “This isn’t that kind of event.” What kind of event? The kind where people turn up at all, you mean, thereby making it an “event” in the first place? Then why set up 600 folding chairs?

Now comes the hilarious part. The aforementioned spokesman is one Jeff Gannon (real name James Guckert), best known for having the most unusual career trajectory in all Washington. Prior to finding his way into the White House press corps, where he was essentially a plant whose role was lobbing Democrat-bashing softball questions at Bush, he was offering his services for $200 an hour at, a gay online escort service. Now he’s the spokesman for the International Bible Reading Association? Truly, the Lord works in mysterious ways. But then, I suppose He can afford the 200 bucks.

Jeff Gannon before…

…and after.

You think Jeff let Bush have that one on the house?

Praise the Lord and pass the KY!

I’m sorry. That was pretty bad. Even for me.

PS: The article goes on to state that a counter-rally for the National Day of Reason held nearby by the Beltway Atheists drew only five people (one more than the NDOP crowd!), indicating that the whole thing is, to the general public, pretty much a non-event. Which I’m pleased to see. The more that the efforts of the theocrats are met with blanket indifference by the public at large, to the point where even protest actions are seen as utterly unnecessary, the happier we’ll all be. Nevertheless, our own Don Baker reports that the NDOR gathering in Austin went over rather well, so perhaps we can persuade him to blog about it for those who couldn’t attend.

To Christians, it’s “common sense” to shove religion down our throats

The latest blow against religious freedom and diversity and in favor of theocracy was struck here in Texas, when the House voted by an overwhelming margin (of course — they want to get re-elected, after all) to add “under God” to the Texas pledge.

First off, it’s news to me that there was a “Texas pledge”. I don’t recall reciting one when I was a student way back when, so this must be a new development in the last decade or so.

Mirroring the current trend among social conservatives to force unanimity of thought as regards religion upon schoolchildren everywhere, the House had precious view members with the integrity and character to speak up against this bill. Lon Burnam, a Fort Worth Democrat, floated the idea that this just might, you know, impinge on the individual religious freedoms of students.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, rejected that argument and said adding the words was simply “common sense.”

So there you have it. Suck it up, rationalists. It’s just “common sense” to go with the fundamentalist flow and shoehorn acknowledgment of an invisible magic being into a daily school activity. And now that that’s out of the way, this intelligent design stuff looks pretty nice, too, don’t it…

Here is Debbie Riddle’s contact information. Let her know, in polite but unflinching terms, how you as a Texas atheist feel about her bill. Tell her how proud you are that the legislature has done such a fine job of solving all of the state’s other pressing problems that they had sufficient free time to devote to Godding up the Texas pledge. And here is a choice quote, on another matter entirely, reflecting on Debbie’s loving, Christian nature.

  • “Where did this idea come from that everybody deserves free education, free medical care, free whatever? It comes from Moscow, from Russia. It comes straight out of the pit of hell. And it’s cleverly disguised as having a tender heart, [but] it’s ripping the heart out of this country.” Source.

Oh, this ought to be fun!

Ray Comfort, easily the lamest Christian apologist in the business this side of Jack Chick, is moist with excitement over an upcoming debate in which he claims he will prove, without recourse to the Bible, the existence of God. I wonder what it will be this time? A kumquat?

From a WorldNutDaily article:

“The network originally offered me only four minutes to present my case,” Comfort said. “After speaking with Kirk [Cameron, former Growing Pains and Left Behind series movie star] and conferring with the atheists, they settled on 13 minutes. I’m ecstatic. I can prove the existence of God in that amount of time.”

Well! There you have it. Ray Comfort will achieve in 13 minutes on ABC what no theologian or apologist or scientist or philosopher has done since the beginning of human civilization! I can’t wait! Sounds like must-see-TV to me.

Mark your calendars: May 9 at noon Central on

MST3K, please come back!

This is why we need you, Satellite of Love! Don’t let the floodtide of filth get me! – Perversion for Profit: 1965 anti-porn film.

Okay, everyone: comments challenge! Let’s see who can come up with the best MST-ed responses to this. Bonus points for actually using Crow and Servo in your riffing.

Dug up a little more info on our boy George Putnam. An intriguing data point about the little masterpiece we’re streaming here is that according to the Wikipedia entry, it was financed by Charles Keating, who would go down in ignominy in the 1989 savings and loan scandal. Putnam, amazingly, is still alive and working in his mid-90’s, and has a right-wing radio talk show.

Here also is Wikipedia’s interesting entry about the film.

And then enjoy this to see how much fun you can have with editing software.

No news, still, about would-be clinic bomber

We’re still having to wait a bit longer for anything tangible to be reported on the motives and desires of would-be Austin abortion clinic bomber Paul Ross Evans.

In the meantime, the Statesman has done one of those filler stories to whet the public appetite for information that actually contains no information, beyond the boilerplate interviews with people who knew him back in his hometown, who are, naturally, shocked by Ross’s arrest and describe him — as most crazies tend to be described — as “pleasant and polite.”

Fascinating how some of the worst crimes we see are committed by people who were just nice, quiet, ordinary guys who never seemed like they’d hurt a fly. You never hear them described thus: “Yeah, I always knew that son of a bitch was headed for trouble. The day he burned my house down and shot me in the stomach six times, I just had a feeling he’d get himself in serious trouble one day!”

So, nothing to see here, folks, except for this ironic and amusing comment from a Lufkin police sergeant: “We don’t really have extremist groups here. This is the heart of the Bible belt.” Ah yes, right you are.

We are hosting Carnival of the Godless on 5/13

Carnival of the Godless #66 will be hosted right here on May 13, and submissions have already started coming in. Atheist bloggers make your submissions here.

For those not in the know, blog carnivals are ways in which similarly themed blogs connect with and promote one another’s existence through collecting a “best of” list of posts, which all appear at one specific host blog for each “issue” of the carnival published. The hosts change out each time.

Isn’t it high time we had one of these in America?

From the news desk comes this remarkable story about 300,000 Turks rallying in that country in favor of secularism, in opposition to Islamist elements in the government who want to undo all the work of Ataturk and drag Turkey kicking and screaming back into medievalism. Three hundred thousand! About the only thing you can get Americans to do in those numbers are watch American Idol, or attend a megachurch.

Turkey is a borderline case. Its government is ostensibly secular, and yet radicalized religion is becoming more and more prominent. Turkey ranks as the only country to score lower than America when it comes to acceptance of evolution. Not long ago there was the disgraceful news that three employees of a Christian publishing company had been tied up and murdered by Islamists who didn’t want them in the neighborhood. My gift for stating the obvious reminds me that people killing other people over differences in belief in an imaginary being is not a recipe for a healthy society.

The citizens of Turkey are getting fed up, and are fighting back. In the words of one brave woman, “We don’t want a covered woman in Ataturk’s presidential palace. We want civilized, modern people there.” It’s a quote she’d doubtless be imprisoned or killed for if the country’s Islamist Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul ascends to the presidency. And unlike guys like Donald Wildmon or James Dobson in this country, the Turks seem to have twigged to the fact that democracy has much stronger ties to secularist societies than theocratic ones.

A rally for secularism. The very notion brings a tear to the eye. Isn’t it high time we had one here? I know a few years back, American Atheists sponsored the surprisingly successful Godless Americans March on Washington, which a contingent of folks from the ACA attended. But while a PAC grew out of that, there really ought to be another follow-up public event, doncha think? With Bush’s poll numbers down around 28, and the rest of the nation slowly waking up to the folly of the war, the corruption of the administration’s most avowedly “moral” members, the demise of the Intelligent Design movement in Dover, and other changes happening in America’s political landscape, a second GAMOW ought to really take off in the way the first one never dreamed of.

Church of the Obnoxious Cretins

Hit tip to Susan on the ACA list: Here’s an amusing story about an Ohio church that has brought its neighborhood together — in a flurry of noise complaints. Apparently they utilize a sound system cranked so loud that the windows in nearby houses rattle every Sunday morning. The reaction of the church to the notion that they’re disturbing the peace? Why, it’s the usual Christian dual-whine of “We’re being persecuted/Rules don’t apply to us!” Sayeth the Rev. Troy Sowell, “I’m not going to tell this congregation, ‘You’re being too loud.'” No, dude. It’s your sound system that’s too loud. But that’s okay. If you don’t want to tell your congregation there’s a problem, I’m sure the police will be happy to every time they write you up a citation. When most of what’s going into your collection plates is being sucked away by fines, maybe then you’ll get the message.

What creeps me out most, though, is the name of this church. “Christ the Warrior King”? And here I thought he was the Prince of Peace. The way religion fetishises war language, and just the very idea of war itself, is especially disturbing in light of the fact that every once in a while a member of the flock is entirely too happy to follow through on the concept, whether by crashing airplanes into buildings, or by simply leaving unexploded homemade bombs outside women’s clinics, some of which do explode.

So I’d say the noise isn’t the worst of it. It’s the usual barrage of sick brainwashing that’s going on inside, and the amplification is only making a blight on the community more apparent.