FTBCon 3 panels

Tune in this weekend for hours of live panels featuring the bloggers of Freethought Blogs and numerous guests. Here are the panels I’ll be participating in:

Secular Cults

by Russell GlasserAdam LeeKaren StollznowVyckie D. Garrison and Angie Jackson

Not all cults are religious. Attributes of a cult include traits such as: unquestioning commitment to one or more leaders, who are considered unaccountable to any authorities; punishment of dissent; mind-altering practices such as meditation and chanting; and deceptive recruitment practices. Many organizations that are not overtly religious still exhibit many of these traits. In this panel we will discuss some examples of this phenomenon, such as the Amway and other multi-level businesses, the self-help movement, and some homeschooling organizations.

5:30pm to 7:00pm, Saturday 24th January


The True Version of the False: Can Atheists Argue Over the “True” Version of Religion?

by Dr. Richard CarrierRussell GlasserDan FinckeAlex Gabriel and Kaveh Mousavi

A debate about the issue of “true” religion: some atheists claim that we can say that some versions (like fundementalists) of a religion are the “true” version of those religions becuase of their relative consistency and loyalty to the scriptures, while other atheists bring different reasons to refute this, for example the subjective nature of the religion. This panel is a debate between the proponents of these two positions.

10:00am to 11:00am, Sunday 25th January

For the most recently updated full schedule, visit FTBcon.org.

5th Circuit Court of Appeals Hears Same-Sex Marriage Arguments

Have they lost their minds?

Yesterday, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments heard arguments on the legal challenges to same-sex marriage bans Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Some of the arguments were jaw-droppingly stupid. Article here.

According to a Texas state lawyer, the same-sex marriage ban is not meant to discriminate against same-sex couples but is it is instead designed to promote “responsible procreation.”

Wow. Let’s unpack that.

Apparently, the state is in the procreation business. Of all the places the government should intrude, the bedroom is perhaps the last. This is coming from the same Republican party that wants to get government out of nearly everything: gun licensing, regulation, taxes, etc. all in the name of “freedom.” When they paint themselves as champions of freedom, they lie. I know of very few Christians who claim to support “religious freedom” when it means allowing minority religions marry same-sex couples. Same-sex marriage bans are faith based initiatives and the majority religion is happy to trample on the rights of anyone who gets in the way.

The spin doctors must have thought up the phrase “responsible procreation.” They seem to be saying that turkey baster babies are “irresponsible procreation.” It doesn’t matter to them if the child produced is cared for and raised in a loving family. If it’s lesbians, it’s irresponsible. What about having a child in one of their “responsible” heterosexual marriages and then the couple putting the child up for adoption? Is that responsible? Is that what the state would like to promote? What about when a same-sex male couple adopts and raises that child same child? That’s bad, apparently. That family should remain unmarried and without family protections for the parents. The same Republican Party fueled by Christian crazy, has worked overtime to force women in the state who cannot afford a child to have one anyway. Family planning and sex education in the state have been sabotaged by the same bunch. Now that’s what “responsible procreation” must be!

If “responsible procreation” were my best argument for a case, I’d save face, pack it up, and just go home. Thankfully, members of the court challenged the insanity. With their questioning, they also poked holes in the idea that marriage is “for” procreation. That’s primarily a religious idea. Remember: religions try to control reproduction because there is no god who can make the next generation of gullible tithers necessary to keep them in business.

Even if the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decides favorably on same-sex marriage, the question will eventually be taken up by the US Supreme Court. Maybe this time, they’ll consider bans under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution’s equal protection clause. If that isn’t a slam dunk on this issue, I’ll be shocked.

Texas Right to Life demonstrates more of the fraud of Christianity

In today’s Austin Statesman, PolitiFact Texas fact checks a claim made by Texas Right to Life concerning an informal poll they did on the University of Texas campus. (Note: the article should appear later on the PolitiFact Texas web site.) Texas Right to Life made a claim that University of Texas Students “signed a petition seeking the legal right to abort newborn babies up to five-years-old.” Yes, that’s right: “aborting” infants, otherwise known as infanticide.

Sadly, Politifact Texas had to rate the lurid claim as half true. In their poll, Texas Right to Life approached students to “sign a petition,” concerning women’s rights and not being terribly honest about the true contents of the poll. Many student signed thinking it was about empowering women. The “poll” apparently involved exactly 30 students, 12 of whom were tricked into signing it. Those that understood the true nature of the poll where aghast. When asked later, one student was shocked at what she had signed. “Had I fully understood the actual position of the organizer was advancing, there is absolutely no way I ever would have signed the petition.”

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Embrace Your Inner Skeptic 7: Some advice on community building

This is the final section of the talk I gave at St. Charles Community College on December 2, 2014.

  1. Amazing news!
  2. Nobody loves a critic
  3. Why skepticism is healthy
  4. What about religion?
  5. Evaluating information in the internet age
  6. Is Skepticism Right For YOU?
  7. Some advice on community building
  8. Q&A

With all that in mind, I also want to say something about social awareness. Managing a group like the Secular Student Alliance is a big challenge. The Campus Crusade for Christ is a massive organization that represents one of the largest religions in the world. To many Christians, participating in a group like this can supposedly influence whether or not you will have eternal happiness. For clubs that promote skepticism and secularism, the rewards are much more abstract.

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