Validating religious symbolism…with a poll

This is a cross in Middleboro, Massachusetts. It’s on public land in the town.


Would you believe that the people of the town stupidly looked at that and decided there was no conflict at all between a great big Christian symbol that says OBEY WORSHIP and secular government? None at all. Let’s just pretend that that is a secular message.

They have a poll, of course. It was apparently going very much the wrong way yesterday, but Cuttlefish has had his minions shredding it. I’m just coming along to administer the coup de grace.

What’s your take on the Middleboro cross?

It’s a religious symbol that has no place on public property 53%

It’s an appropriate expression of religious freedom 46%

A poll…by AXE? Really?

This was entirely predictable. Axe, the deodorant company with the really horrible sexist ads, is doing something admirable, sponsoring a contest to send people to a space camp in Florida. They’re doing it with a poll, unfortunately (please, people, just stop! Popularity contests are not measures of merit!), and the one woman in the Malaysian contest got a flood of sexist remarks — tampon jokes and that sort of thing. Apparently, having human physiology disqualifies you from being an astronaut. Clearly these arguments are being made by anti-human robots! Someone needs to point out that all of the contestants poop and pee and sweat and drool and sneeze, and some of them even ejaculate.

You know what to do. Vote (on Facebook, which means a lot of you won’t be able to). The backlash is already favoring Roshini Muniam (Rose), so I think you’ll be just adding the final fillip, but that’s OK.

Vote for the Axe-tronaut:

Adam 15198
Han 10950
Firdaus 28620
Rose 41217
Ishyhara Rio 26479

Obvious poll is obvious

A poll in Kentucky is asking…

Should state science education standards require the teaching of evolution?

Yes 60%

No 36%

I don’t know 3%

The answer is that if you want to be prepared to attend a good university, or it you want to be an informed citizen of the world, yes, you should be taught evolution in high school. If your dream job is selling popcorn for minimum wage at Ken Ham’s Ark Park* for the rest of your life, you’re probably OK without it.

*Note: Ark Park jobs currently don’t exist, and probably never will.

Mississippi madrasas…with a poll

The reminiscences of right-wing kooks are so very different from mine.

As a young child I remember very vividly reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and also morning prayer. When you talk about the “good old days” those are visions that come to my mind.  Of course those are things that have been taken away but Mississippi has decided otherwise.

I remember vividly how as a young child my school forced me to sit through the droll anecdotes of that old chucklehead, Paul Harvey. The first year I was just stupefied; gradually I came to despise that voice and its smug moralisms. For some reason, the public schools all thought the affected mannerisms of a conservative snake oil salesman were perfectly appropriate to blast at students every goddamned day.

Don’t get me started on the pledge of allegiance. I started out reciting that thing when I was very young, but got progressively annoyed at the very first line, once my vocabulary was good enough to know what the words meant: I’m pledging allegiance to a flag? WTF? I wasn’t even an atheist yet when I decided that was nonsense, and every morning I’d rise, put my hand on my heart (so I’d fit in), and say nothing. Then I stopped with the hand on the heart. Now I only rise because in the usual venues where this is done now, sitting would mean staring at the butt of the person in front of you.

Prayer would have been intolerable. Even before I was aware that I was an atheist, this business of pretending to talk to god made me very uncomfortable.

When I hear people babble about the “good old days” of school it always seems to be these memories of rote and ritual and reinforcement, stuff that is the antithesis of learning. Me? My magic school moments were learning about logarithms (seriously, mind blown), doing geometry with a compass and straightedge, algebra, and trigonometry.

So when some gomer tells me his vision of education was reciting the same words over and over, I’ve got him pegged already: he didn’t learn him nothin’.

Reliably, such people will continue to babble on, confirming my initial impression.

First and foremost though, why was the Pledge of Allegiance axed?  Because of the words “under God.” It’s based on our country and the fact that we are Americans who proudly belong to the United States of America.

When, exactly, was the pledge of allegiance “axed”? The last time I went to a school assembly they had us recite it (I didn’t). I’ve seen it done at sports events. As I said above, when I wasn’t even an atheist I found it objectionable for its tediousness and for the bizarre demand that we swear loyalty to a piece of cloth. Besides, the “under god” bit was tacked on during the Cold War and wasn’t even in the original version.

Having an open mind, I have always thought no matter what side of the fence you are on with the bible, “In God We Trust” is in everyone’s pocket; atheist or not.  Show me an atheist who doesn’t have at least a penny in his or her pocket.

From a penny to a $100 bill, “In God We Trust” is clearly marked on every unit of U.S.Currency.  If it’s good enough for our money, by golly it’s good enough for our schools.


Do we atheists have an alternative? If some form of currency valid in the US did not say “In god we trust”, would theists refuse to use it? Would carrying it in any way imply that you were an atheist?

This argument, stupid as it is, is actually rather interesting. Our constitution plainly states that the government may not establish any religion — yet here’s a Mississippi loudmouth declaring that “In god we trust” on money imposes a religious belief on its bearers. Thanks, guy, for declaring it unconstitutional!

So again, if it was deemed so bad for schools, why was it not removed from our currency? My point being, it should have never been removed in the first place, but some atheists want it removed from all currency.  We live in the United States of America and we base many of our principles on the Holy Bible.  If I moved to Japan I wouldn’t be complaining that my God was not being allowed in my child’s school and I sure wouldn’t complain about theirs.

Clearly, it should be removed from our currency, especially when it’s seen as an explicit endorsement of religion by the government. It’s also apparently damaging our educational system, since Mr Redneck here obviously had a substandard education, since he got through it all without comprehending the rudiments of logic and without learning any history. Sorry, bozo, but those religious phrases haven’t been removed, but were actually added in the 1950s; the founding principles of our country were not based on the Bible at all, but on the Enlightenment.

These guys always make me feel like a conservative. They harken back to the days of Joe McCarthy — they can’t see beyond the barrier of the Red Scare — while I fondly think it would be nice if we returned to the principles of Jefferson and Madison (sans the evil excuses for slavery, that is).

Anyway, what’s got the idiots in Mississippi fired up now? Their governor just signed a law requiring public schools to allow students to pray publicly over the morning intercom, and at various school events. You know, I evolved into an atheist gradually, only becoming aware of it in my teen years, but if they’d started my morning with some sanctimonious ass yammering godly nonsense at me every day, BAM, flaming militant atheist in kindergarten.

Of course they have a poll to go with their ignorant noise, and of course, since it’s Mississippi, you can predict exactly how it’s leaning.

Would you have an issue with allowing prayer back in your child’s school?

No 80.37%
Yes 18.87%
I don’t care either way 1%

A poll for the Irish gay folk

The Irish Constitutional Convention has decided in favor of gay marriage, but it is likely to be opened up to a referendum of the people next year. So we get a little poll, testing the waters.

How will you vote on gay marriage?

Against 48%
In favour 44%
Undecided 7%

I see the problem! They misspelled “favor”, so everyone is confused. I’ll help: in Ireland, voting “in favour” means you approve of gay marriage.

There. That should swing the voting around just right.

Big ol’ shameless liars with a poll for Jesus

Every once in a while, someone chastises me for calling someone a liar. It’s rude, they say, and you don’t know if they’re intending to utter a mistruth, so you can’t really call them “liars”.

Oh, fuck that noise. When you get patent phonies like the Christians of Evansville, you have to call it as it is: they’re lying. Lying, lying, lying. The West Side Christian Church is putting up 30 crosses on the public streets along the riverfront, and they’re going to have them decorated by their vacation bible school. How can the city get away with permitting this blatant violation of the separation of church and state? By LYING.

The Board of Public Works has jurisdiction under city ordinance to approve or reject such requests, Ziemer said.

“We told (the church) they could not have any writing of any kind of them,” Ziemer said of the crosses. “So they are statues. They might be a religious symbol to someone or they might be attractive statues to someone else.”

Oh, yeah? Just an “attractive statue”? Does this look like an “attractive statue” to anyone with half a brain?


This is the same kind of stunt Christians tried to pull with the 9/11 “cross” they want to install as a memorial. The same thing they did with the Soledad cross. Somehow we’re all supposed to pretend that their obvious religious symbol, erected by a church, used as a prop for religious instruction, is supposed to be a merely secular symbol. Lies. And within the context of their own religion, worse — it’s a denial of a symbol of their faith. It’s total cowardice and dishonesty.

Of course there’s a poll. And of course the majority of godflogging pudtuggers in that town are for it.

Should West Side Christian Church be allowed to put crosses along the riverfront?

Yes 55%
No 44%

I have an idea. Let’s cast a decorative bronze statue of my ass, and erect multiple copies of it on Evansville’s streets. To some, they might be an obnoxious symbol of my contempt, but they might be attractive statues to someone else.

Go frack this poll

The Ventura County Star has a poll up on hydraulic fracturing in California:

How concerned are you about fracking (hydraulic fracturing) in California?

  • I have little or no concern about it.
  • I’m concerned about its effects on water and the environment.
  • I’m concerned about a possible link to earthquakes.
  • I’m concerned that overregulation of it will kill jobs.

Fracking’s increasingly big news in California. My KCET colleague Char Miller has a good California fracking backgrounder here, but the short version is that the fossil fuel industry is eyeing the Monterey Shale, a Miocene marine sedimentary formation thought to hold as much as 15 billion barrels of oil. That’s twice what the Bakken holds in North Dakota. The stakes are high for the oil industry.

I’ve been informed by one of my geopals that the Western States Petroleum Association has quietly put the word out to its fanbase, asking them to swamp the poll. Right now votes of fracking opponents are about equal to those who either support fracking or don’t care, though the way the answers are phrased makes it look like opponents are well ahead.

I suspect there’s a diversity of opinion on fracking here. That’s fine. (Though those of you who disagree with me are wrong.) To its credit, the Star admits it’s a pointless exercise:

Note: This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

But the oil lobby does seize on spurious polls like this for PR spin purposes, so whatever your viewpoint, go add some noise to the signal.

An unconstitutional poll

A Republican legislator is trying to give religion yet another special privilege. He wants to insert a provision into a defense bill that says the federal government can ignore the first amendment when it comes to putting up monuments.

“This provision creates a foundation in federal law for emblems of belief on war memorials and monuments,” Hunter said Thursday. “Emblems of belief … should be protected.”

Oh, really? Why? So you can only honor those people who have the right beliefs? What happens when, say, someone puts up a memorial to the Muslims who died in New York?

Go vote on the poll.

Do you think the Federal government should protect historic "emblems of belief" like the Mount Soledad cross?

YES 74%

NO 25%