RCimT: Midweek Religion Catch-up

A few religion-related, pre-Wednesday links to catch you up on.

145 evangelical, Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian leaders have signed a declaration promising civil disobedience against any laws that “could be used to compel their institutions to participate in abortions, or to bless or in any way recognize same-sex couples.” They even have the temerity to cite Martin Luther King Jr., because citing a black civil rights leader is a totally appropriate strategy when you’re trying to suppress women’s and homosexuals’ civil rights movements.

The Vatican plugs Twilight: New Moon, claiming it to be a “moral vacuum with a deviant message”. Um, isn’t it mostly about a sparkly fairy-vampire that refuses to bang a young girl because it would be immoral?

New proof that the Shroud of Turin is totally legit: it says so. Since that’s all the proof necessary to show the Bible is legit (you know, that it said so), the claim that the shroud says “Jesus the Nazarene” on it totally supercedes all the proof that it’s just a centuries old fraud made to dupe credulous faithful, and easily duplicable with simple techniques available to just about anyone even today.

What if Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett and Harris’ claim of being the Four Horsemen was real? I sort of have to take issue with Hitchens liberating a woman; that seems like a meta-joke and a rather low one at that, given Hitchens’ misogyny whenever he’s around Bill Maher for some reason.

I’ve talked about the Salvation Army in the past (in one of my first ever posts, in fact). Turns out there are a lot of good reasons not to do business with them, especially if you want to actually help others.

Kansas apparently has decided to “teach the controversy” — about the shape of the Earth. Okay, not really, it’s a parody, but Flat-Earthers have the same amount of evidence behind their hypothesis that Creationists do.

As though it were necessary, given the proliferation by theists of such articles as of late, here’s how to write an atheist hit-piece, by tearing down a very obvious example.

ReligionLulz asks a very pertinent question: if America’s such a “Christian Nation”, why all these fundie versions of popular sites?

FOX News prods the atheist billboard debate. And the coverage is totally fair and balanced… if you’re a theist, anyway. Always seems to be the case, doesn’t it?

And finally, the godless can quote the Bible too.

Forced morality

Fundamentalist Christians oftentimes attempt to legislate sexuality — from laws that state marriage is “between one man and one woman”, to laws against women getting abortions even in cases where the mother was raped, or where the baby has no chance of surviving and poses a health risk to the mother. They oftentimes attempt to legislate that their specific religion be established — demanding that they display religious iconography on public or government property without regard for the other religions that are being excluded in the process. They cry and moan that their children are not allowed to pull out their bibles in science class in an attempt to disrupt said class when the teachings run contrary to established religious dogma. They secure laws that allow insurance companies to pay out for their faith-healing nonsense. They get their churches exempt from taxation, then preach politics from the pulpit, sometimes even campaigning on specific issues using church collections.

When secularists (which group includes both god-believers and the godless alike, don’t forget) manage to make some headway in creating laws that establish that certain outgroups, like women, blacks, or homosexuals, are every bit as human and every bit as deserving of the rights afforded to others, for instance where the civil institution of marriage is concerned, the sturm und drang from the fundies nearly drowns out any rational discourse. Extremely well-funded campaigns spring up to insert the newly passed civil equality laws as ballot initiatives, generally worded such that, rather than being presented as a repeal of a civil rights law, the question posed is “do you want to PROTECT MARRIAGE by not letting the filthy gays have them too?” And in the event that these initiatives are recognized for what they are, the fundies have another tactic — complaining that the people on the side of civil liberties are out to “force morality” on them.

Take, for instance, our favorite troll. [Read more…]

Lobsters

lobster_2

Maine is famous for its lobster industry. They have yearly festivals, cooking contests, and huge intra-fishery wars, and the industry makes up a huge percentage of the state’s local income. The aggregate total of their fishing industry averaging 15% of their GDP (in 2007 being $48 billion), and lobster makes up a huge chunk of that industry, as 30% of all fishing landings. That means 4.5% of their GDP is directly lobster-related, and with 80% of America’s lobster coming from Maine, that’s a sizable industry with sizable influence.

It’s no wonder the bible-thumpers chose to go after gays instead, with estimates ranging from 1.5% (census self-identified) to 10% (extrapolated from potentially flawed data) of the population being homosexual. I mean, even if they were all fishermen, they wouldn’t make up any more than 0.5% of the GDP! They’re a much smaller lobby with much smaller monetary influence — and therefore much less money with which to fight back.

If gays married, this family would dissolve!  The father would start drinking, beat his kids, they'd divorce and the children put up for adoption!  ZOMG!!!

If gays married, this family would dissolve! The father would start drinking, beat his kids, they'd divorce and the children put up for adoption! ZOMG!!!

Maine had legalized gay marriage back in May, and thus far, nobody’s straight marriage suffered for it. But that never stops homophobic Christians from demanding that civil rights for a minority be put to a majority vote. We all know Christians are the majority and are the real power-brokers in the States, regardless of what they’ll tell you — that they’re the underdogs, that they’re put upon from all sides by the scary minorities. So it’s no surprise that when the religious demand that any civil rights law for a minority of people gets put to a vote by the majority, that the majority will turn out the vote and vote for “marriage = 1 man 1 woman” out of deference to their biblical teachings. I mean, Leviticus 18:22 says clearly:

Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. -KJV

It’s a good thing the religious are around to spend over $9 million on attacking civil rights “defending marriage”, outspending the grassroots No-on-1 campaign by a factor of at least 4. All this to the exclusion of any sort of organized religious effort attacking the gigantic and profitable lobster industry that is every bit as much abomination to the Christians’ sense of morality:

11:10 And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you:
11:11 They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination.
11:12 Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.
Leviticus 11:10-12

Just think of all those sinners making all that money off of abomination! You’d think they’d be a way bigger target than the otherwise harmless gays that just want to marry one another and promise themselves to lives of monogamy. Especially given all of Jesus’ teachings about how you can’t worship God and money at the same time!

Take heart though, my gay and lesbian friends — the homophobes are dying out, literally. They are becoming the aging majority, and where they are still the majority now, they only have a few more electoral cycles left. Soon the youth of today (who split pretty well 80/20 for “No on 1″) will be the majority, and they’ll be around for many many more electoral cycles than the religious assholes that have you subjugated right now.

Blag Hag beat me to this, as well as a number of others that realized the hypocrisy well before I did. Petursey also rails on the fact that the 53% Yes-on-1 outcome shows that 53% of the state’s voters are bigoted.

Christians specifically are fond of saying they are the most tolerant people, and especially much more tolerant than we heathens. Too bad they always vote against tolerance.

Some atheist readings

While I deal with a recalcitrant computer, here’s some interesting links for you to read.

DanJ follows up on the “moderate theist” vs “fundamentalist” schism as touched on in my last post, and asks a number of uncomfortable questions of them.

Ben Stein got EXPELLED from the New York Times for being involved with that shady credit report scam company. My heart bleeds.

Chuck Norris apparently hates atheists for trying to change the fundamental nature of America, since both the pledge and the motto contain “God” — oh wait, both of those were changed less than 60 years ago, during the Red Scare.

Richard Dawkins has an interview with John Mackay. Mackay is a fundamentalist who has made up a series of lies and has been able to espouse them without paying a shred of taxes on his income for 20 years. Zdenny shows up in the comments to miss the point. Hilarity ensues.

Good news, everyone! There’s no such thing as atheism or secularism! We’re all just idolators! No more need for great rifts and differing approaches, now we can all just worship a golden calf or something.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, a huge survey of nearly 6000 people (that’s one for every year the Earth has existed!!1) shows that atheists and other freethinkers are more satisfied with life than religious folks. It is also covered here, where the focus is on our bright shiny Colgate smiles.

Also, here’s a tiny taste of the crazy that is waiting to be sampled over at the Creation Museum.

Update: Last minute addition to the reading list, Lou FCD had also weighed in on the “moderate theist” thread, started over at Almost Diamonds, for which my “obstacles” post from yesterday was a direct continuation. If I had known at the time that he’d posted this, I definitely would have linked it directly, because it’s incredible. I absolutely adore posts that make their points by linking individual words to examples from history, there’s something fun about ctrl-clicking as you’re reading to open each link in a new tab. Reminds me a bit of an advent calendar, only with civil rights activism as your candy.

The obstacles in the atheist civil rights movement

To try to distill what everyone’s saying over at Almost Diamonds, where a post on how deferential atheists need to be in society today ended up spiraling out into a larger discussion (as such conversations are wont to do) on whether reasonable theists are getting caught in the crossfire, the problems here as I see them are fourfold. This was originally going to be a comment in that thread, but it grew to mammoth proportions so I figured I needed a larger stage for it.

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Mancow waterboarded, folds after 6 secs

Those conservative talk radio hosts are all hat and no cattle. They regularly claim waterboarding isn’t torture, that it’s “just getting a little wet”, or comparable to a “hazing”. Sean Hannity said he’d do it for charity to prove it wasn’t so bad, then backed down before honouring his commitment. Even Christopher Hitchens, right on religion but absolutely fucking wrong about anything related to the Iraq War, waterboarded himself to prove it wasn’t so bad and changed his tune.

This time around, Erich “Mancow” Muller offered himself to be waterboarded again to try to prove it’s not all that bad. And so, yet again another swaggering asshole comes off looking either like a crybaby, or retarded in his original assertions — for those of us on the side of reason and civil rights, win-win! At that, Mancow lasted less than half the “average” time it takes to break people (that being 14 seconds). Bear in mind this was controlled such that he knew he would have the power to say “hold, enough” — hell, he wasn’t even roughly dragged from his bed, stripped, strapped to the table and had the table tilted back, he just had a cloth and a pitcher of water — and he still couldn’t last the average, still called it torture after experiencing only a miniscule sliver of a fraction of what Cheney’s torture program has doled out over the past several years.

I hope people understand now that not only was waterboarding wholly unnecessary to perform on anyone involved in this War On a Particular Tactic, but also that it is torture, in violation of the Geneva Convention, and just plain fucking wrong. Remember, ALL of the information obtained from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed came from BEFORE being waterboarded, then they went on to waterboard him ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY THREE TIMES IN ONE MONTH. I’m sorely tempted to make use of the old Blink HTML tag for that last all-caps phrase. You got nothing from waterboarding him except to make a man feel the insufferable, insanity-inducing pain of dry-drowning very nearly two hundred times in one month. Not to mention possibly requiring resuscitation from the brink of death any number of those times!

And Mancow, one of your guys, couldn’t last six seconds.

So can you please just accept that waterboarding is fucking torture so we can move along to prosecuting your heroes for fucking war crimes?

Hat tip to Pickles via Twitter.

I seriously dislike a number of people you probably think are cool.

I’m starting to think I like riling up outrage. Too bad I’m not actually attracting much outrage thus far. So, here’s me taking another stab at it, by attacking three of the most venerated religious figures of all time.

Given the hypothetical situation that Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and the Dalai Lama are all drowning, and you only have time to save one of them, what would you do? Personally, I’d probably take a whiz on whoever was closest. That’s right — in my estimation, none of them would be worth saving, for various reasons.

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