Perhaps It’s Time to Renounce My Atheism and Worship Satan

I love it when Satanists see Christians behaving badly achieving freedom of religion and decide to twist their noses partake of said freedom (via Zingularity):

In a statement, the Satanic Temple said that it will use the Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby decision to exempt its believers from state-mandated informed consent laws that require women considering abortions to read pro-life material.

Informed consent or “right to know” laws state that women seeking elective abortions be provided with information about alternatives to the procedure, often couched in language that attempts to personify the fetus. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 35 states currently have informed consent laws, and of those, 33 require that the woman be told the gestational age of the fetus.

In some states, that information consists of pro-life propaganda that links abortion to a higher incidence of breast and ovarian cancers, or discusses “post-abortion syndrome,” a mental condition not recognized by any major medical or psychiatric organization.

Because the Satanic Temple bases its belief “regarding personal health…on the best scientific understanding of the world, regardless of the religious or political beliefs of others,” it claims that state-mandated information with no basis in scientific fact violates its “religious” beliefs.

I am almost tempted to get pregnant just so I can print out their handy religious-exemption letter, skip to the abortion doctor, and become a test case, laughing merrily as courts realize that Hobby Lobby protects far more religious beliefs than perhaps they dreamed. I need to form a closely held corporation first so that I can make it company policy that my employees are exempt from these stupid laws. Then I’ll need to move somewhere with those stupid anti-abortion laws. And convince this rather infertile body to conceive… crap. This could get complicated. Maybe I should leave it to the young ‘uns. Still: if you’re a woman of reproductive age in a conservative state, consider converting! It will be so much fun to watch people’s heads go asplodey when you stuff your sincerely-held religious beliefs up their noses.

And yes, I know Hobby Lobby applied to federal, not state, law. I know courts will twist themselves into pretzels to say why it’s different when Satanists (or Hindus, or Muslims, or pagans) want their slice of the religious freedom pie. But it’s a great way to force the law to either live up to the First Amendment or show themselves as hypocritical asshats who will be overturned by future, saner courts. It’s a beautiful means by which to show people what religious freedom really means. And it makes it much harder for theocrats to force their theocracy on the unwilling when they, in turn, find they’ve left themselves open for having a disliked sort of theocracy forced upon them. I’m behind the Satanic Temple in this effort all the way.

Besides, I’ve always had a soft spot for the ol’ Prince of Lies. I always wondered if he might not be the good guy after all. And, should you wish to consider some theological points with me, here are some memes to ponder.

Image shows a woodcut of Lucifer and other fallen angels. Caption says: "Educates first woman. Satan."I can get behind women’s education, and respect those who give knowledge to humanity. Already liking this Satan fellow.

Image is Neil Gaiman's Lucifer, holding a martini glass. Caption says, "Understands human nature. Doesn't judge you for being human."Which is ever so much better than making us human, then condemning us to an eternity in torment for being human.

Image shows thoughtful T-Rex. Caption says, "If Satan punishes evildoes, wouldn't that make him a good guy?"A fair point.

Image shows man made up to look like red devil. Cpation says, "I gave them metal. But they keep listening to shitty pop music."I listen to metal. I enjoy the gifts Satan gives. And pop music is often bloody awful… one might even say, evil…

Image shows Anton LaVey. Caption says, "Y'all motherfuckers need Satan."Well, my gosh. Cannot argue that. The argument is immaculate.

Image shows a cat's face with glowing eyes in a black background. Caption says, "Souls. I eets them." Why, living off of souls is even more Earth-friendly than veganism. I’m convinced! Satan is the good deity. All hail Satan!

What Recent Supreme Court Decisions Have Told Me About My Value as a Woman and a Human Being

I’ve learned so much from the Supreme Court over the last few years:

Corporations are totes people who have the right to put as much money where their mouth is as they want – well, they don’t technically have mouths, but they’re still American people who have every right to talk as much as those mere biological people they’re notorious for trodding upon.

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010) Limits on corporate and union political expenditures during election cycles violate the First Amendment. Corporations and labor unions can spend unlimited sums in support of or in opposition to candidates as long as the spending is independent of the candidates.

(Notice we hoi polloi are thrown a sop in the form of labor unions being able to spend unlimited sums – which would be nice, if it weren’t for the fact that corporations have been busy murdering unions for decades. Hey – does that count as first-degree murder? Because that means we should be able to imprison or execute them, then.)

Corporations and rich people have lots more freedom of speech than people who aren’t rich or corporations.

McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, 572 U.S. ___ (2014) Limits on the total amounts of money that individuals can donate to political campaigns during two-year election cycles violate the First Amendment.

Image shows Supreme Court portrait: the conservative justices have corporate logos on their robes. Caption says, "I don't always undermine the Constitution of the United States, but when I do, I make sure I get paid."

People who want to keep guns around in order to shoot other people (but not corporations, because while corporations can “speak,” they can’t actually bleed) are more important than people who would rather impose sensible limits on guns for the safety of total non-people (such as children outside of wombs).

McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 3025 (2010) The individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense is fully applicable to the states through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

People of color don’t need any protection from systemic racism. Nossir. Times have changed and there is no longer any such thing as, oh, say, corporations (which are Very Important People) and political parties (*coughRepublicancough*) discriminating against people whose skin is other than white. They certainly wouldn’t refuse to hire them or prevent them from voting!

Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, 572 U.S. ___ (2014) A Michigan state constitutional amendment that bans affirmative action does not violate the Equal Protection Clause.

Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. ___ (2013) Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which contains the coverage formula that determines which state and local jurisdictions are subjected to federal preclearance from the United States Department of Justice before implementing any changes to their voting laws or practices based on their histories of racial discrimination in voting, is unconstitutional because it no longer reflects current societal conditions.

Making everybody in government pray to Jesus doesn’t violate anyone’s free exercise of religion. Why wouldn’t Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists and atheists and pagans and all them other (totally fake) people love praying to Jesus? Their objections are silly and can definitely be ignored. Remember: being forced to pray to a god your religion or conscience tells you doesn’t exist is no big, even if your god is a jealous fucker who will cut you for paying lip service to someone else’s god.

Town of Greece v. Galloway, 572 U.S. ___ (2014) A town council’s practice of opening its sessions with a sectarian prayer does not violate the Establishment Clause.

We look forward to seeing the Court twist into pretzels to define why praying to Allah is totes a violation of the Establishment clause.*

The Court has given me to understand that women are definitely lesser people than corporations. Corporations have the right to force women and trans men who haven’t had surgery to pay for their own birth control, because a corporation can be totes religious just like a person, and private for-profit corporations are so pious that they, like churches, can impose their beliefs that women should be baby factories upon women, trans men, and other folks with a uterus. Uterus-having folks, however, have no right to impose their desire for appropriate healthcare upon the corporation providing health insurance as part of their compensation. No word yet on whether corporations must pay for the aspirin they’re telling ladies to keep between their knees as a substitute for effective birth control, but I’m sure they won’t have to if they classify all pills as birth control.

Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc, 573 U.S. ___ (2014) Closely held for-profit corporations have free exercise of religion under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Viagra, of course, will be provided to the menfolk with limp willies free of charge.

Image is an angry Captain Picard with his hand extended as if protesting. Caption says, "Hobby Lobby is not a church, it's a fucking crafts store."

But hey, isn’t it sweet that the Court’s enlightened enough to finally realize there’s no good reason for the federal government to say “I don’t” to same-sex marriage?

United States v. Windsor, 570 U.S. ___ (2013) Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines—for federal law purposes—the terms “marriage” and “spouse” to apply only to marriages between one man and one woman, is a deprivation of the equal liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. The federal government must recognize same-sex marriages that have been approved by the states.

Shorter Supremes: “We’re going to give corporations insane control over the political process, and gut all the laws protecting you from racist jackasses, and let Christians force their prayers and beliefs upon you even in government settings, and we don’t give a single shit about women’s reproductive rights because every fetus and potential fetus is sacred until it’s born, after which we don’t care if it gets shot, but hey, we’re not bigots – you can have all the same-sex weddings you want! Just, y’know, don’t expect us to tell corporations, which are completely religious people, that they can’t discriminate against you. Because it’s obvious we think they own you.”

Image shows Scalia. Caption reads, "Equality? Not founder's intent, lol."

For those who say elections don’t matter, I just want to point out one thing: the majority are all Reagan / George W. Bush appointees. The dissenters: Clinton and Obama. Just one less Bush term, and women might not have to put up with their employer forcing their religious views up their vagina. Had Obama lost, same-sex marriage would still be a distant dream rather than an impending reality. So fuck you if you’re one of those who was willing to risk McCain or Romney just to punish the Dems for not being progressive enough. Play those games with local and state elections where there’s less risk and more reward, people. Leave the ability to appoint Supreme Court justices in hands that aren’t bloody evil.

Image shows Voting Rights Act being signed. Caption says, "Undone by 5 justices. #whycourtsmatter"

And go read Greta Christina’s piece on this travesty. Get outraged. Get voting. Don’t ever let yourself believe elections don’t matter. The only thing that’s going to defeat all that corporate cash is a lot of good people willing to pull the right levers.

Image is a gray cat in a suit. Caption says, "Lawyer cat objects to everything."Boycott Hobby Lobby. Get involved with SafeAndSecular.org.

*I will soon be running for office as an ordained minister in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster – if you vote for me, I assure you each meeting will begin by invoking his saucy blessing upon our government business. Does anyone know where I can find meatballs that are halal, kosher, and don’t violate Hindu dietary laws?

Snippets about the landmark rulings filched from Wikipedia’s handy list.

The following memes were found by Ophelia, who has been blogging this case all day. Take them. Spread them. Annoy your Tea Party relatives with them.

Americans United meme. Text reads, "Apparently, the Supreme Court's HOBBY is acting as a LOBBY for the interests of corporations run by the religious right." Image is a 50s illustration of two women. Caption reads, "Face it, dear. Corporations have more rights than we do." Fight back at www.safeandsecular.org. Atheists.org meme: Image shows a Hobby Lobby store, with a Monopoly-style card over it that reads "Fake religious freedom. Get out of the law free. This card may be used to treat women as second-class citizens." Caption says, "A gift from the Supreme Court to religious extremists."  Elizabeth Warren quote: I cannot believe that we live in a world where would even [sic] CONSIDER letting some big corporation deny the women who work for it access to the basic medical tests, treatments or prescriptions that they need based on vague moral objections. The current Supreme Court has headed in a very scary direction.

New at Rosetta Stones: Links to the Geology Behind the Oso Mudslide Disaster

I’m still researching for a post on the slide that destroyed Oso, Washington and killed so many of its residents. In the meantime, I’ve collected links from the experts, who are doing an excellent job exploring the geology behind the catastrophe. I hope a lot of future town planners and other sorts who determine where and what to build are in the audience, and click, and think.

Aerial photo of Oso debris flow. There used to be a town down there. Image shows lumpy debris blocking the river. Courtesy Gov. Jay Inslee via Flickr. (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Aerial photo of Oso debris flow. There used to be a town down there. Courtesy Gov. Jay Inslee via Flickr. (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Taking Liberties: A Book We Need Right Now

So you may have noticed lately that the right-wing ratfuckers in state governments are busy trying to roll us back to the Dark Ages. Women aren’t people, they’re “hosts” to those precious babies that will be cherished so long as they’re in the womb; once they’re out, both host and infant will be despised as social parasites if they have the audacity to be unmarried and/or poor. Some jackass is trying to slip prayer into schools by forcing teachers to read congressional prayers. In my former home state of Arizona, the frothing fundies boiled over, and decided to give religious people the right to discriminate against gays, because apparently, refusing to let them patronize your business is an act of worship. Other states have jumped on that horrible bandwagon. And let’s not forget the Russia-envy they’ve got going on. They’ve got a stiffy for totalitarian shitlords who hate on the same groups they do.

Outraged? Good. Here’s a book that will help you channel that rage more productively: Robert Boston’s Taking Liberties: Why Religious Freedom Doesn’t Give You the Right to Tell Other People What to Do.

Taking Liberties Cover

This is the sort of book you pointedly give to the fuckwads in your family who insist their religious beliefs and practices be made mandatory for everyone, because freedom. It won’t scare them away by mentioning atheists right up front, either.

Robert Boston’s thesis is simple: “Religion is not the problem. Fundamentalist religion that seeks to merge with political power and impose its dogma on the unwilling is the problem. I have a big one with anyone who considers the raw power of government an appropriate vehicle for evangelism.”

Preach it, Brother Boston!

We see that religious freedom at this country’s founding meant government out of religion, full stop. Baptists were especially keen to separate church from state, with no room left for declaring this a Christian nation. These fire-and-brimstone Baptists were all about freedom, genuine freedom, of religion – and that included Jews, Muslims, polytheists, and atheists. They were better men than the ones preaching hate in the name of religion from the Statehouse floor these days.

Robert shows how court cases placed certain restrictions on religious practice, of necessity: “You have the right to believe whatever you want, but… your ability to act on those beliefs may be subject to certain restrictions.” And he boils the balance between faith and freedom to this: “Does the private choice of another person prevent you from attending the house of worship of your choice? Does it stop you from joining your co-religionists in prayer and worship? Does it require you to bow before an alien god?” No? Then cease being an overbearing asshat.

He highlights church interference in health care, education, civil rights, and politics. “In this country where the right of conscience is precious, all religious groups have the right to be heard – but none have the right to be obeyed.” Can I get a hell yes?

Robert boils it down to a power grab. These churches want our money, and our obedience, and if we want to remain the secular nation that’s always been a beacon of religious and political freedom in the world, we need to remove the theocrats from power. We need to oppose their agenda. Our fellow Americans need to realize that religious freedom does not mean that the people with the theocratic ideals and barbaric notions about women, LGBTQ folk, sex, science, and education get to have everything their way. Just because you’re religious doesn’t mean what you’re doing is right. And those 18th century clerics would be the first to fight the merging of government and church.

This book goes a long way toward ensuring we have the awareness and ability to stop and reverse this trend toward theocracy.

Keeping Up With the Creationists Vol. I Issue 5: Freedom to Impose Your Religion on Everyone Else

My, the religious right frothers have been busy lately. It’s not enough for them to reduce women to the status of walking incubators: now they’re trying to define religious freedom as the freedom to impose their bigotry on anyone they suspect might not use their genitals in the Fundamentalist-Approved Way™.

My old home state of Arizona certainly made a ginormous jackass of itself, passing a right-to-discriminate bill that would basically turn anyone they suspect of being homosexual, queer, transgender, or any other type of person they hate into an outcast. Businesses would have been allowed to turn anyone they wished away. This would have been a nightmare for everyone, but especially those poor folks living in one of Arizona’s middle-of-nowhere communities, where finding someone willing to serve you might require several hours’ worth of driving. Even some of the fuckwads pushing that bill realized after the fact that it might be a horrific mistake – one suspects they figured out their language was so broad that Good Christians™ like themselves would’ve found themselves targeted, too. Not to mention the impact it was having on business and tourism in the state. So Jan Brewer vetoed it. We won’t see its like again for, oh, I’d imagine at least a whole week. And Arizona’s just one of the worst offenders – there are plenty of states trying to turn the LGBTQ community into untouchables.

Image is a drawing of a waiter talking to a diner. Caption says, "Congratulations to gay Arizonans on still being allowed to eat where people hate you."

Let’s see what other ridiculous nonsense Christianists in government are trying to foist upon us.

Alabama’s trying to pass two noxious laws: one to require at least fifteen minutes’ worth of prayer in school every day (but it’s totes history because teachers will be reading prayers used in Congress, yo), and one to allow students to force their religion on others in class. A majority of the House Education Policy voted against it, which by the bizarre rules that govern Alabama’s statehouse, means the bill passed. Oy.

Alaska’s contemplating amending its constitution so that taxpayers can be forced to fund religious schools. Because having the state sponsor religion is in no way problematic, amirite? I’m pretty sure their constitution will be amended again roughly five minutes later, when they discover that this means Muslim schools can line up for a bucket or dozen from the taxpayer well.

As some states swing hard Christian right, some hard Christian right states are starting to consider that maybe, perhaps, looking like fundie fools and having legislation on the books that helps ensure kids get a sub-standard education isn’t such a terrific idea. Some of the more reasonable Louisiana legislators are putting forth an effort to not only repeal the mostly-dead-but-still-on-the-books law that the Supreme Court skewered in Edwards vs. Aguillard, but also get rid of that asinine Science Education Act that allowed Louisiana schools to teach creationism. It’s Louisiana, so I’ll only believe they’ll kill those laws dead when the laws are burning on the funeral pyre.

One of Oklahoma’s mis-education bills has died a quiet death. One left to slay.

Those who don’t believe that Young Earth Creationism has any real impact on the real world is invited to watch this Rachel Maddow segment, in which we see that YECs do terrible things to public safety and fill governments with dumbshits who believe oil is continuously created in exploitable quantities. Yes, their beliefs do real, measurable harm. Yes, absolutely, we should continue to fight those ideas and refuse to let them into our schools.

Additionally: No, creationism is not compatible with science. Really, not compatible.

Also: people listen to asswads like Tony Perkins, whose relationship with science can only be described as hostile and uncomprehending.

People who listen to asswads like Tony Perkins go on to poison their classrooms with videos by creationist felon Kent Hovind.

The Pope and the Jehovah’s Witnesses are equally deluded about a book spliced together from the writings of ancient goat herders and third-rate visionaries.

And this shit that they teach has a horrifying effect on children, up to and including persuading them that suicide is an awesome option, because then they’ll get to see their dead grandparents.

People can go on about how bloody great religion is, but I ain’t buying it. Especially when you’ve got pastors making it abundantly clear that “open-mindedness and inquiry are enemies of faith.”

Image is a man with his fingers in his ears and eyes screwed shut. Caption says, "Creationists. 'I'm right, you're wrong. La-la-la-la-la, I can't hear you!'"

So no, you’ll not easily persuade me this is a live-and-let-live situation. Their beliefs aren’t harmless, they’re not restricted to the private sphere, and they’re not just wrong, but dangerously wrong.

After that heavy note, it’s nice to be able to lighten things up a bit. Have you ever wondered just how absolutely awful ACE is? Even young-earth creationists think ACE is an affront to education.

Jonny Scaramanga has two great guest posts this week: there’s an interview with him wherein we learn some of the horrible details of his time in that awful ACE school. He also gives us the inside scoop on what that school, and others like it, teach about atheists. You’ll rage-laugh.

In case you were in any doubt, no, Copernicus was no friend to creationists. At all.

Remember all the sex scandals rocking the Christianist school world? Well, you’ll be amazed to learn that Christian conventions don’t need harassment policies like us icky atheists do because they’d never ever do anything inappropriate. Also, you’ll be astonished to discover that Christianist school leaders lie.

Haven’t had enough of a rage-laugh today? Here’s another: lessons you can learn from the extreme fundie Advanced Training Institute.

And, for those who love to get down in the weeds and play with data, here’s a preview of New Trends in Earth Science Outreach and Engagement. You’ve also got the Evolution in Science and Engineering Indicators 2014 and Climate in Science and Engineering Indicators to enjoy.

Finally, I hope you remember I’m not the only one fisking Christianist textbooks. Be sure to drop by Doktor Zoom’s to catch up on all the shenanigans going on in those Good Christian™ history books.

Oh, Sochi, No!

Good job, Russia. Arresting the first openly trans* legislator in Europe for waving a “Gay is OK” flag is fantastic PR. I’m sure all the people in the world who love to persecute LGBTQ people are salivating over you right now. Those of us who are actually decent human beings, on the other hand, aren’t at all impressed.

But, actually, thank you for showing your true colors. I’d prefer you actually treat LGBTQ people like people, with the right to live and love and share this planet with us without fear, but if you’re going to be bigoted assholes, own it. Do it by arresting a trans woman for waving an innocuous flag. Not just any trans woman, mind you, but go for broke and arrest a famous one. Make sure the world sits up and takes notice.

Photograph of Vladi in profile, holding a rainbow umbrella.

Vladi Luxuria. Photo by Stefano Bolognini via Wikimedia Commons.

But I have to ask: Doesn’t it just seem a little foolish to strut your bigoted stuff in front of an audience of millions?

But then, Sochi’s been rather foolish from the beginning. Every Olympics has its problems – it’s not easy to build what basically amounts to a city in a few years, and get it right. There’s so much involved that mistakes are inevitable. But Sochi’s something special.

RQ, who knows a lot more about modern Russia than I do, had this to say about the buildings and tracks: “They probably look good on paper, but the Russian reality is even worse than the Latvian one (purposely missed rivets, cheaper materials, etc., because when you take so much for yourself, you just can’t afford all the fancy-pants materials in their proper amounts!).” Which is rather terrifying, when you think of all the building codes meant for fire, seismic and other sorts of safeties that were probably roundly ignored. Here’s hoping there’s no major disasters in the closing days of the Olympics. But considering Russia’s record on human rights and their current enthusiasm for persecuting homosexual folk, I’m rooting for an endless stream of the following mostly-minor mishaps. I do love some egg on totalitarian face.

Speaking of, if you haven’t seen them already, do check out these posts on the disastrous state of unreadiness that greeted people arriving for the Olympics. Toxic facewater and missing floors and absent elevators attempting to swallow athletes whole, oh, my.

You know, I like the geology around Sochi quite a lot. But I wouldn’t give you a pint of piss for a trip to Russia.

Keeping Up With the Creationists Issue I, Vol. 4: College Sexual Assault Scandal Edition

I think we like to think that what happens inside of fundamentalist subcultures doesn’t really matter to the wider world. But there are people trapped, suffering, inside, and they need folks to pay attention, raise a fuss, shine a light so that they can achieve some measure of justice, and so that other people never become victims at all.

Bob Jones University needs a lot of public condemnation right now. They started out trying to appear they were doing the right thing, and hired an independent group to investigate the way they handle sexual assault reports on their campus. But when it became clear they wouldn’t be able to keep on keeping on as they have been, and whitewash the problems, they fired GRACE. Our own Libby Anne, who will always be ours although Patheos stole her, reports on their nefarious assholery, and there’s a scorching open letter to BJU you really shouldn’t miss. As for BJU trying to play the “Other people fired GRACE, too!” card, keep in mind the other fundie fuckwads who fired GRACE like to have tween girls who’ve been repeatedly sexually assaulted by 60 year-old men confess to adultery. For being assaulted. Yep.

Image is the Bob Jones University sign, with "School of Accountability Avoidance" added under the name.

There, I fixed your sign for you.

And you know Patrick Henry College, the place founded by the head of the Home School Legal Defense Association and meant to train homeschool kiddies how to infiltrate every aspect of our culture in order to turn it to their appalling version of God? Yeah, they’ve got a huge problem with sexual assault on their campus, too. You’ll be happy to know, though, it’s never the dude’s fault. It’s all those slutty-sluts who wear clothes that reveal a trace of collarbone and let themselves get drugged unconscious. We know this because the dean sez God will keep girls conscious to bear witness to the abuse against them if it’s really-real rape.

Excuse me while I go tamp down the overwhelming urge to raze Patrick Henry College to the ground, and send its faculty and staff to prison for life.

Let’s move on to the less rage-inducing stuff.

If you need a really good, righteous smackdown followed by a hilarious own goal, check out Jonny’s article in the New Statesman, and Christian Education Europe’s ridiculous response. I feel like asking that poor jackass representing CEE if he needs us to take up a collection to replace the rope he hung his organization with. I appreciate his so carefully proving Jonny’s point, though!

Did you know it was the Crystal Anniversary of the Wedge Document? For those of you who don’t know what that document is, it’s basically Intelligent Design’s cunning plan for overthrowing science. It’s all going great – except where Intelligent Design got smoked out as religion-not-science by the courts and how all that science they thought they would lead off with never happened because religion-not-science. On this anniversary, it pays to remember that these folks are dirty scheming rat-fuckers, and plan accordingly.

Speaking of scheming rat-fuckers, let’s see how they’re doing. Hmm. Not too good! South Dakota’s intelligent design bill got killed. So did Dickie Bell’s Virginia bill, which died of neglect. In South Carolina, a brief kerfluffle caused by a bloody ignorant senator has resolved with strong science standards being left in place – Senator Fair apparently learned that spouting creationist bullshit about Darwin in public makes you look like Ken Ham. Alas, the forces of enforced idiocy are still busy trying to undermine science education in Missouri and Oklahoma. You really need to read the statements by the bullshit artists advocating them: you can see where good Christian indoctrination leads.

The battle, then, continues to rage. And we aren’t going to win it by letting science guy’s debate ignoramuses. However, it can be helpful, and also cathartic, to thoroughly demolish their foolishness, as our own Avicenna has done to Todd Friel’s ridiculous bullshit. For added amusement, watch frothing fundie Rev. Mark Creech scream “BLASPHEMY!!!” at Pat Robertson. Who brought the popcorn this time?

And, finally, a critically important point: as noisy as they are, it’s not just fundie religion that’s got issues with evolution. The problem runs much, much deeper. Let’s not forget.

Keeping Up With the Creationists Vol. I Issue 2: Busy, Busy

My, but these creationist buggers are prolific. There’s a second let’s-fuck-up-science-education worming its way through the Missouri legislature right now. This one likes to make its intentions known by intentionally singling out evolution as “controversial.” That’s a mighty thin fig leaf you’ve got there, Mr. HB 1587.

Our own Ed Brayton has a nice synopsis of the silliness that is HB 1472, HB 1587′s elder sibling. Poor creationists, wanting to pull their kiddies out of school so they don’t hear about that awful evolution. Actually, I think this may end up being a good idea. Educational contraband, man. You know many of those kids will be curious about this Forbidden Knowledge. It’s kinda like when your parents don’t want to know about certain magazines…

South Dakota, engaged in a game of mine’s-bigger-than-yours, has introduced SB 112, which gives a giant fuck-you finger to the Supreme Court and Kitzmiller by stating, sans fig leaf, “[n]o school board or school administrator may prohibit a teacher in public or nonpublic school from providing instruction on intelligent design or other related topics.” I do hope they love throwing away millions of dollars in legal fees, because that’s precisely what they’ll do if this nonsense passes.

Catching up with our old friend Virgina HB 207: our own Callan Bentley has torn it to shreds. I’m going to unrepentantly filch the picture he made because it sums everything up nicely:

Image is a photo of Del. Bell, with a word bubble saying, "I'd like to make it much harder for Virginia students to be leaders in the science and tech workforce."

Callan Bentley would seem to be displeased with Del. Bell.

I’m not hip to the Virginia General Assembly lingo, but as far as I can tell, this atrocity is going to make it out of committee. If you live in VA, you might wish to give your delegate a ring-a-ding and howl in his or her ear until they promise to make it stop.

Those interested in the history of anti-science bills in Virginia are gently encouraged to go read Glenn Branch’s excellent exploration.

Now, just so as you can see the scope of the problem, I’m going to steal this map of American schools wot are officially teaching creationism. Mind you, this doesn’t show the ones where it’s not official but the teachers do it anyway.

Map of schools teaching creationism in these United States. Not just confined to the South, people. Image filched from PZ, who got it from Slate.

Map of schools teaching creationism in these United States. Not just confined to the South, people. Image filched from PZ, who got it from Slate.

Click here for a large version of this travesty, plus an article about how your hard-earned tax monies are getting poured in to schools that turn around and tell kids lies about science, thus ensuring that America’s future is full of people who are not just science illiterate, but think they know the Truth Scientists Don’t Want Us to Know.

Remember the school that told a little Buddhist kid he was stupid not to believe in God? Yeah. They are very interested in taking taxpayer money and pissing it away on legal fees: “The school system recognizes the rights of all students to exercise the religion of their choice and will defend the lawsuit vigorously.” The two halves of this statement do not make a whole, and when taken together, spell disaster for the school’s budget.

In other schools-wishing-to-spend-their-entire-budget-on-legal-fees news, Florida’s Orange County Public Schools is happy to let the Bible be distributed for free on its school grounds – but no other literature. This, alas for them, is a rather blatant violation of the separation of church and state, and considering a lawsuit regarding it is already in progress, is likely to be a quite expensive mistake.

On the homeschooling front, it seems there will be no possibility of live-and-let-live, even if we wanted to let homeschool parents teach their kiddies nothing but empty crap (or not at all), seeing as how they don’t even want to make it easier for public school kids to report abuse, violence, and potential massacres.

And, just in case you haven’t had enough bad news, Jonny’s put together a guide to Christian reform schools that will cause your brain to boil with rage.

Right. Now that you’re incandescent, let’s cool down with a little something nice: if Congress can stop acting like a bunch of spoiled brats 3/4 of the way through an 8 year tantrum over not getting to finish ruining the country, they could pass this Darwin Day resolution that would make Darwin Day all official-like. That would be lovely. I wish I could believe the Cons in Congress would let it happen…

And, to top you off: Doktor Zoom’s got yer Christianist cold war history right here.

Keeping Up With the Creationists, Vol. I, Issue 1: Ain’t Just Private Schools, Kids

Hello and welcome to what I hope will be a weekly feature, Keeping Up With the Creationists, in which we peruse some creationist news and remind ourselves that, no, alas, creationism isn’t dead. It’s not even sleeping. It’s wide-awake and kicking in not only Christian private and home schools, but in our very own public school systems.

Yes, public.

If you haven’t already, read Zack Kopplin’s eye-popping exposé of supposedly-secular charter schools busily teaching kids (using government monies, let’s not forget) “that the fossil record is ‘sketchy.’ That evolution is ‘dogma’ and an ‘unproved theory’ with no experimental basis. They will be told that leading scientists dispute the mechanisms of evolution and the age of the Earth.” This is bog-standard creationist crap. I’ll be filing an Open Records request of my own to see what they’re doing to the earth sciences, but as we can tell from what Zack’s uncovered, there’s a major problem there. Those who thought creationism was beat need to go have a re-think.

As if that wasn’t enough to make you pop an extra blood pressure pill or two, here’s another bit of outrageousness: Louisiana public schools are openly teaching creationism. And they’re belittling Buddhist kids to boot. This isn’t a rogue teacher, mind, this is an entire school, up to and including the superintendent, and they’ve got Jesus hanging over the door, just to ensure the kiddies know who their lord n’ master is. The public school kiddies.

Amanda Marcotte makes an excellent point in a post about this: “bullying is a weapon that the Christian right loves and does not want to give up.” Because they adore school situations like this:

Students are frequently led in prayer, and students are required to attend an annual “See You At The Pole” prayer event. Teachers routinely hand out Christian pamphlets that [father of the bullied child] Lane describes as featuring “[t]he entire New Testament of the Bible as well as cartoons that denounce evolution and trumpet the evils of birth control, premarital sex, rock music, alcohol, pornography, homosexuality, sorcery, and witchcraft.” Needless to say, when he told the superintendent about his concerns about his stepson being routinely bullied and humiliated for being Buddhist, the superintendent “was dismissive and told us that we live in the ‘Bible Belt’ and that this is just how things are.”

So yeah, no, creationism’s not the least bit dead, and Christianists are busy undermining public school education and ensuring kids who don’t believe right are made miserable. Because Jesus.

Image is a giraffe, looking as if it's pointing to a duck that's waddling away from it. The caption is "Shun! Shun the non-believer! Shuuuunnnnnn!!"

They’re busy in not one, not two, but three state legislatures, trying to get creationism in through the backdoor. It’s not even the end of January, and nearly 10% of our states have jackasses jacking up science education. Local elections matter, folks. So does political participation. If you live in Virginia, Oklahoma, or Missouri, raise merry hell with your elected officials. Remind the saner ones that what the fuckwads are trying with these bills is the same type of shitty legislation that got Louisiana in a position where teachers are teaching creationism with impunity.

For a good editorial on the Virginia situation, one that pertains to all three bills, see here. I can forgive the tongue-bath they gave Del. Bell at the end in light of the full-throated defense of science and evolution at the beginning.

Turning now to Christianist schools, we’ve got some excellent insider tales from students a student* suffering ACE. A student at Gospel Haven Academy woke up halfway through his sophomore year in high school to realize, horrified, he’d been “taught pseudoscience, revisionist history, [and] right-wing propaganda.” Wait until you see what they’ve done to music. *shudder*

One of our own is also stuck within an ACE school: Tyler is a 17 year-old atheist who has discovered the joys of debunking the dreck he’s being taught. This line will remain one of my favorites of all time: “If teaching God’s point of view requires you to teach blatant mistruths, maybe it’s time to rethink God’s point of view.” I want this on t-shirts. I’ll see if I can in touch, and work out a nice little arrangement for a line of clothing to feature this quote, plus a humorous picture, suitable for wearing to your next church school potluck.

PZ has an excellent post on “engaging silly beliefs in multiple ways” that I urge you to consider. Those interested in Noah’s Ark might like to know it’s actually round.

And, finally, get your Sunday fix of Christianist history with Doktor Zoom. Today, we learn some very interesting… um, facts (if you can call the fucked-up things Christianists believe about FDR, Hitler, and Japan “facts”)… about WWII. Such as:

As for the Nazis’ racism, well, that’s just the inevitable result of Darwinism (never mind that the Nazis banned Origin of Species, shhhhh):

Hitler combined Marxist-socialism with Darwin’s theory of evolution, proclaiming that the German people had evolved into a superior or master race. He called for a world war to kill off the weaker races (especially the Jews) and assure the “survival of the fittest” (the German people). Because many Germans believed the notion of evolution, they accepted Hitler’s ideas. Soon public hospitals began to practice euthanasia (killing the terminally ill, the mentally retarded, and those with physical handicaps) and abortion (killing unborn babies).

That’s all for this week. Join me for more creationist shenanigans next Sunday. I’m sure we won’t lack for material…

 

*Derp. As Jonny points out, they are the same kid.

Republicons Determined to Protect America From Menace of Health Care

Ah, yes, because the last government shutdown went sooo well for the GOP, it appears they want to try, try again. In case you didn’t care about science or kids with cancer or needy families or the economy or any of that rot, consider this: no Prelude to a Catastrophe until this is over. Nope. On account of the USGS being less important than the Cons’ determination to shut down the government over more people being able to buy health insurance. Which means photos of the Mount St. Helens eruption are unavailable.

Oh, and do keep in mind: Obamacare is up and thriving. So the Cons are basically trying to prevent something from happening that’s already happened.

They’re terrified, of course. Because once people get a taste of being able to visit a doctor AND afford to eat all at once, it will become clear to the vast majority of folks that this health care thing is sweet indeed, and that Cons have been lying to them about how horrible it all is, and they’ll remember how determined the Cons were to prevent them from getting affordable care, and suddenly the GOP’s voter pool will dry up faster than a shallow puddle in the Arizona desert in July. During a historic heatwave. Which we will also be seeing more of, courtesy of the Cons. Fantastic.

Anyway, should you happen to not believe that the Cons are this bloody evil, just incredibly stupid, keep in mind that even Michele Bachmann, who makes many of the most reality-challenged of the Cons look positively coherent in comparison, knows what the reality here is. What they’re selling to the ignorant masses is pure bullshit. They’re perfectly aware that their party is pooped if the hoodwinked manage to get a peek outside the blinders.

This, my darlings, is why people who opt to let Cons win in order to punish Democrats for not being Democrat enough infuriate me. Granted, it would be nice to push the Dems toward being actually progressive, rather than Republican Lite. However, comma, with an opposition party that, were it a person, would have been diagnosed as a psychopath and bundled off to prison for crimes against humanity long before now, there’s no fucking way I will play that sort of chicken. Don’t like it? Stop letting Cons win.

I do hope this shutdown gets the attention of all the fuckheads who’ve gone round thinking the Cons aren’t actively evil. It’s time to cut the tumor out of the body politic.Vote these douchenozzles out.

Those of you who would rather vote Republican have many fine choices. Don’t be deceived by the Ds after their names. Where the fuck did you think all the reasonable Republicans went? It sure as shit wasn’t the Bahamas.