Black Atheists Matter.

In Charlotte NC. Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty.

In Charlotte NC. Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty.

Christianity has played a central role in African-American life from the late 18th century to the present. Black churches raised funds for fugitive slaves, served as schoolhouses, and provided space for political meetings and activities, among other functions. Leaders of black congregations such as Richard Allen or Daniel Payne were often leaders of the broader black community. The spiritual messages of redemption and justice appealed to a people who experienced the brutality of slavery and the indignities of Jim Crow segregation laws. However, while many black churches were radical advocates for political and economic equality, others remained conservative institutions that failed to challenge the status quo. This conservatism helped give rise to an increasingly vocal and influential group of African Americans ­– the new black atheists.

Who are the new black atheists and what is behind their recent growth? First, let’s briefly look at the ‘old’ black atheists.


With women leading the contemporary freethought movement, the politics of respectability and its sometimes anti-feminist tendencies are being undermined. As Hutchinson notes in her book Moral Combat (2011), ‘for many black atheist women, atheism’s appeal lies in its deconstruction of the bankrupt mores, values and ideologies that prop up patriarchy, sexism, heterosexism, racism, white supremacy, imperialism and economic injustice’.

Feminism is an essential part of the new black atheists’ humanism. New black atheists think that it is not enough to deny the existence of God, teach evolution in schools or fight for the separation of church and state. They want to bring worldly solutions to practical problems. Many have embraced Black Lives Matter (BLM), a secular movement that is notably unaffiliated with black religious institutions and ideology. In doing so, they believe they will improve the lot of blacks in particular but also promote a more just, democratic and less racist American society.

As the black atheist Sincere Kirabo posits of BLM: ‘There’s a social activist movement underway continuing the unfinished business of the Civil Rights movement era. Want to make a difference? What we need is grit and involvement in the struggle, not a tribe satisfied with the empty promises of scriptural white noise. Please, for the sake and love of our own futures: abandon your fabled white messiah. Wake up. We are our own salvation.’

Black atheists matter: how women freethinkers take on religion. An excellent essay by Christopher Cameron, highly recommended. As history shows, attempting to to go along with white colonial doctrine doesn’t further people, as a group, or as individuals. It doesn’t decrease bigotry, either, because you’ll never be white enough, even if you manage the christian enough part. You only ever be an “oh, they are okay for a _____ person.”

Naughty? Nice? So Confused!


The American Family Association and Liberty Counsel, bastions of Christian bigotry, have both released their Naughty or Nice lists of retailers, which is basically about whether or not chances are you might hear “Happy Christmas” rather than the oh so evil and awful “Happy Holidays”. Personally, I don’t care, and if I do get a “Merry Christmas” from someone, I happily respond with “A Merry Giftmas to you!”, which always receives an appreciate laugh and smile.

This self-righteous bullshit on the part of some Christians is beyond idiocy. Christians who actually live according to the bible don’t celebrate the blasphemous Winter celebration, as the bible says it’s right bad, that whole tree and decoration business, and it doesn’t have jack shit to do with Christ or Christianity. It really doesn’t take much effort to learn about the Church’s dubious history with the various Winter holidays, and their attempt to stomp out all those nasty festivals and rituals. It’s also very hypocritical, because the majority of Christians celebrate the same Xmas as everyone else, all wrapped up in the commercialism and crassness, but neither the AFA or Liberty Counsel is in the slightest abashed about putting out their list of retail stores, where people can go and toss out astonishing amounts of money on goods which have nothing to do with poor ol’ baby Jesus. It’s like Zoidberg Jesus in a group of Santa Clauses.


As Right Wing Watch notes, they can’t even agree on the naughty or nice list. Oh, the confusion!

For the second year in a row, the American Family Association and Liberty Counsel have released dueling “Naughty or Nice” lists designed to, as Liberty Counsel puts it, let Religious Right consumers know “which stores are censoring Christmas and which are openly celebrating it.”

Such efforts are vital, the AFA explained, because “there are secular forces in our country that hate Christmas because the word itself is a reminder of Jesus Christ. They want to eradicate anything that reminds Americans of Christianity. That is why it is important to remind governments and companies to keep the word Christmas alive.”

Right. So how many people are suddenly illuminated with thoughts of Jesus Christ when they hear the word Christmas? Or are the associations more likely to be trees, lights, gifts, decorations, family? Or perhaps frustration, debt, loss, loneliness, sadness, or despair? If you’re a Christian, be honest with yourself here. This is Christian puffery and hate at its finest – the mere idea of inclusion being so repugnant to so-called Christians. You’ll know them by their disdain and hate, not their love.

Unfortunately, AFA and Liberty Counsel can’t seem to agree upon which companies are “naughty” and which ones are “nice,” as several stores that are listed in one category by one group are listed in the other by the other group.

For instance, while Liberty Counsel declares that Barnes & Noble, Best Buy and Staples are all “nice,” the AFA declares that those same stores are all “naughty”:


Similarly, while AFA places Dick’s Sporting Goods and TJ Maxx on its “nice” list, Liberty Counsel has designated them as “naughty”:


Hopefully, next year AFA and Liberty Counsel can iron out this discrepancy so that conservative Christian consumers can know whether they stores they are patronizing are good, God-fearing businesses or evil misanthropes intent on subjecting Americans to the unimaginable horror of being wished a happy holiday.

Oh yes, the awful! Oh all the gods, the thought of being nice to all people! The horror! Christians, the very best reason to eschew Christmas. I’ll take Saturnalia instead.

Via RRW.

A Comment.

If you know who should be credited, please let me know.

If you know who should be credited, please let me know.

I wrote a comment on another blog yesterday, because I just could not take one more supposedly reasonable person making excuses for those poor, misunderstood people who voted for Trump. It’s making me queasy sick, and possibly leading to a genuine head ‘splosion. I know what the fuck is wrong with all those Trumpoids, but those busy doing nothing but bleating excuses? I’d like an answer, what in the fuck is wrong with you? If you are making excuses, you need to shut the fuck up, stat. Or, you know, you could grow a fucking spine and stand up to all your Trumpoid families and friends. Go ahead, be brave. I’ll wait.  Anyroad, here’s the comment:

The bottom line is that people, for whatever reasons, who perceive they were being done wrong, were promised they would have that metaphorical dog to kick to pieces: “you’ll be able to kick those brown people in the teeth! You’ll be able to knock immigrants on their ass!”

That’s what white people, who are always looking to blame someone else, wanted, and that’s what Trump promised them. It’s all ism: racism and sexism. White people are getting bolder by the second, proclaiming their need to preserve their race, by which they mean, “we need to be on top of the people pile again, with everything in it’s right and natural order, white is right!”*

Trump also promised white Christians the path to what they want the most: the ability to stomp on people, grind them to dust and blood, to offer up to their psychopathic god. “No more queers!” “No more abortion!” “No more contraception!” If you haven’t already read about all the legislation on these matters, paint yourself as a willfully ignorant dumbfuck. It’s happening, and it’s happening because that is what these people wanted. No way out of that.

It doesn’t make a damn bit of difference if you don’t think your relatives are horrible bigots, or your friend who voted for Trump really isn’t a bad sort, or whatthefuck ever excuse you have cooked up. Unless you’re going to argue they are brain damaged, and couldn’t really understand all the blatantly bigoted shit which spewed from Trump’s mouth non-stop, there are no excuses. NONE.

By attempting to excuse people, you’re just another witless cog in the normalisation machine, helping to normalise fascism and unspeakable crimes against people, all people. STOP DOING THAT.


P.S. Fuck every single one of you whiny, mealy-mouthed fuckers who just can’t stop whinging about how hard their “thanksgiving” is going to be: fuck your squeamish privilege, your entitlement, and your godsdamned arrogance.

Caveat: I am not talking about those who have already gone 100 rounds with family or friends; nor am I talking about those who are dependent on family, and have to make the tactical decision to be quiet in order to stay alive. I am talking about all the assholes who must defend all Trump voters because their family members or friends voted for him; I am talking about all the fucking assholes who have been whinging and wringing their hands over how awful their holiday is going to be, sitting at a table over laden with food, and having the unbearable task of stuffing their fucking faces and watching television.

We will be spending thankstealing at Standing Rock, with the other protectors, against an army of vicious thugs. A friend will celebrate unthanksgiving on Alcatraz. I know other people who will be busy helping others, the homeless, or refugees. If your only fucking problem is having to refrain from noisily sighing whilst dining with family, shut up and stop defending the indefensible.

* Why yes, I do know that Trump voters were not %100 percent white. Don’t even think of using that as an excuse. Don’t. The majority voters were white, and they drove that vote.

“Well, if that doesn’t curdle an atheist’s egg-nog I don’t know what will.”


As Democrats were reeling from last Tuesday’s election loss, a radio station in Wisconsin quietly replaced liberal talk with round-the-clock Christmas music.

Just hours after Donald Trump was declared the next president of the United States, Madison’s 92.1 WXXM-FM began pumping the yuletide tunes, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation released a statement to inform listeners that its atheist “Freethought Radio” broadcast had been “unceremoniously yanked off the air locally.”


But far-right evangelicals like Fox News radio host Todd Starnes celebrated the fact that atheists no longer had a platform in Madison.

“The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a motley crew of atheists, agnostics and free-thinkers just got a lump of coal in their Christmas stockings,” Starnes crowed in a Fox News column on Tuesday. “Well, if that doesn’t curdle an atheist’s egg-nog I don’t know what will.”

What. an. idiot.

Nielsen Audio ratings show that WXXM pulled the highest share of any liberal talk radio station in the U.S. during the summer of 2016.

Well, there’s a fine example of cutting off your nose to spite your face. I’m sure round the clock Xmas music, which can drive some people homicidal, will be sure to bring in those high ratings!

Via Raw Story.

Crucifixion’s A Doddle.


This is a real life detective story, stimulated by extraordinary happenings on the film set of ‘Monty Python’s Life of Brian’. The victim was Jesus Christ and the book slowly unravels who was the actual guilty party. You naturally assume that it was the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate! So we will reproduce here just four pages from the book that proves without a shadow of a doubt that Pilate was not, and could not have been involved in any way in the killing of Jesus Christ. Read and contemplate the full, astonishing implications of the irrefutable evidence that…

Jesus was still alive after Pontius Pilate left Judea.

You can read more at Julian Doyle’s site.

Empathy for White Conservatives? No.


Kali Holloway has an excellent article up at Raw Story: Stop asking me to empathize with the white working class. Here’s just a bit of it:

[…] Trump stoked racial hatred, but he didn’t invent it, so stop acting like he did because it makes you feel good. The irony of this whole thing is that Trump knew better than a lot of “good” white folks—even recognized as well as folks of color did—how much white power and supremacy means to white people. From day one, he bet that it would be enough to get him elected. He ran a brilliant campaign, in a country where a brilliant campaign can almost solely consist of telling white people they might not be on top forever. He called it. Credit where it’s due.

The only surprise to come out of this election is how many, and how quickly, white people want us to empathize with the people who voted against our humanity, our right to exist in this place. Even before the election, the Washington Post actually had the audacity to berate us for not crying for the white working class. In the days since Trump won, the number of articles urging everybody to be cool to Trump’s America, to understand what they are facing, to hear their grievances, has added insult to injury. Bernie Sanders issued a statement saying Trump “tapped into the anger of a declining middle class that is sick and tired of establishment economics, establishment politics and the establishment media.” I read it at least three times and couldn’t find the words “white supremacy” anywhere in it.

Please miss me with all this nonsense. I’m not even going to get into how this is based on an easily refutable economic lie, especially since others have already spent precious time they’ll never get back breaking this down. But even if it was true—and I am well aware of what’s plaguing the white working class, from substance abuse to suicide to a loss of manufacturing jobs—I refuse to take part in the endless privileging of white pain above all others. (Martin Gilens, who has studied this stuff going way back, notes that when the media face of poverty is white, this country suddenly gets a lot more compassionate.) Latinos and African Americans remain worse off than the white working class—which is still the “largest demographic bloc in the workforce”—by pretty much every measurable outcome, from home ownership to life expectancy. Where are these appeals for us when we protest or riot against the systemic inequality we live with? Where are all the calls to recognize and understand our anger?

For hundreds of years, white people have controlled everything in this country: the executive office, Congress, the Supreme Court, the criminal justice system, Wall Street, the lending institutions, the history textbook industry, the false narrative that America cares about liberty and justice for all. But I need to understand white feelings of marginalization because a black man was in the White House for eight years? Because political correctness—a general plea for white people not to be as awful as they have been in the past— asked that white people put more effort into being decent than they felt up to? Because white folks didn’t like that feeling when politicians aren’t singularly focused on the hard times and struggles of their communities? Audre Lorde said (I wonder if that woman ever got sick of being right), “oppressors always expect the oppressed to extend to them the understanding so lacking in themselves.” For a people who have shamed black folks for supposedly always wanting a hand out, for being a problem of the entitlement state, I have never seen people who so firmly believe they are owed something.

Let me pass along some advice black folks have been given for a long time: stop being so angry and seeing yourself as a victim, and try pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. That’s really all I have for you right now, this re-gifting of wisdom. […]

I’ll stand with Ms. Holloway here, and I stand by Iris, too. Over at Death to Squirrels, I said that my days of empathizing with cons of any stripe are over, and they are. White people have gone full court whiny now, wanting everyone to pat them on the head and say, yes, yes, you have it so bad, darling. No. Even liberal white people are getting in on the Whine Wagon. “But you have to be nice to them! They’re just misunderstood!” My response to that? The fuck I do, and the fuck they are.

Before I go on, the standard disclaimer: no, all white people aren’t awful. No, all white people aren’t unrepentant bigots. No, all white people are not willfully ignorant assholes. Yes, lots of white people get it.

This nonsense of “you must have empathy for them, you must!” needs to stop, right now. The people who voted Trump into the position of president-elect did so for specific reasons, but the primary one is exactly what Ms. Holloway said: power. White people are all about power, and they love their privilege. Of course they listened to a fucking gold-plated idiot who told them their power as Mighty Whitey was slipping. They’ve already felt that, and yep, they’ve been very upset about it, and grabbed onto Trump with a death grip in order to get firmly ensconced on top of the people pile once more. I have no idea why white liberals have latched onto the tone argument; Trumpoids have no interest in anyone being nice and understanding, they want obeisance and submission. They want to be what they always have been in this country – lords of the manor. They want to be able to spit, sneer, and be in a position of authoritative judgment of all others. White cons have no use whatsoever for white liberals, either, so that makes the tone argument even more inexplicable.

I’ll be 59 in a matter of days. I grew up in the ’60s and ’70s. Tumultuous times, rife with change, change for the better. There was such hope in the ’70s, people had such faith in the future. This is not what we were dreaming about. The 80s saw the serious rise of conservatism once again, especially Christian conservatism. I’ve been around for the whole thing, and decade by decade, cons have gotten worse, more extreme, more hateful, more spiteful, more poisonous. It’s not a surprise the white wall of conservative xianity took their one chance to power, nor is it surprising that white supremacists have wrapped themselves around Trump like a cloak. All that, I understand. I don’t like it at all, but I understand it.

What I don’t understand is this hand-wringing call for sympathy, tea and cookies. No. No, no, no. When have Christian Cons every had empathy for anyone except themselves? When have white supremacists ever had empathy for anyone except themselves? Christian Cons and white supremacists are evil people, perfectly willing commit themselves to evil to gain their goals. We’re dealing with one of those acts of evil right now. They did the proverbial deal with the devil in order to get closer to all the things they want, and what they want, more than anything, is to stomp people into submission, one way or another. They want to stomp all those feminist sluts into the ground, removing any sort of bodily autonomy, unless it happens to be their bodily autonomy on the line, natch. “No More Uppity” might as well be their battle cry, along with the requisite god, guns, and bible business.

I haven’t recovered quite yet, but to anyone who thinks that “you gotta be nice to them” is some sort of strategy or argument, I have one response: Fuck No.

Kali Holloway’s full article is here, highly recommended. Also recommended:

The White Wall of Christianity.


Religion was almost invisible during the presidential campaign, and yet it is the missing piece in understanding Mr. Trump’s victory. The Christian right worked largely under the national media’s radar this year, but it helped deliver the presidency to a thrice-married mogul who bragged about groping women and has been accused by multiple women of actually doing it.

They were willing to forgive Mr. Trump’s personal transgressions because he stoked their fears that a Hillary Clinton administration would take away their religious liberties, use their tax dollars to fund late-term abortions at home and abroad, and expand the rights of gay and transgender people, political analysts said. Mr. Trump warned at rallies and at conservative Christian gatherings that he alone was their last hope to protect them against a changing culture, using the refrain, “This is your last chance.”

Now that he has won, evangelical leaders say they are confident Mr. Trump will deliver on the political promises he made to them. These include appointing a conservative to the Supreme Court, defunding Planned Parenthood, protecting businesses that refuse to provide services for same-sex weddings and rescinding the mandate in the Affordable Care Act that requires insurance coverage for birth control.

And with Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, an evangelical with a record of legislating against abortion and same-sex marriage, as vice president, Christian leaders say they feel reassured they will have access to the White House and a seat at the table.

I wrote about this in a comment at Pharyngula, because all kinds of people have been writing some less than stellar pieces about rural white Americans. A lot of people attempting to parse rural America don’t live in it. I do. I’m in a very tiny town in nDakota. This is what I wrote in that comment:

I live rural. One thing you often hear from people is “oh, I don’t understand that stuff”, so they go with confirmation bias. This is very clear when it comes to something like climate change. The rest of it can simply be explained by good old conservatism, the preserving of the colonial, Christian, white status quo. A lot of people who live rural are older, conservative, and fearful. They don’t approve of women being able to obtain abortions; they still think single women having sex is scandalous, and they don’t think it’s okay for them to pay for their contraception. They understand healthcare, but are terrified of “creeping socialism”, so they are against ACA. They aren’t terribly keen on that feminism stuff, and anything queer they find very unsettling, set their lips in a straight line and shake their heads. Most won’t come out and say anything nasty, but the “that’s unnatural” vibe is very strong. They don’t think it’s okay for queer people to marry, and they are easily scared by propaganda about transgender people using a public lav.

It is true, to an extent, that rural farmers feel isolated and ignored, but that’s not why they voted for Trump. They aren’t so stupid as to not understand that a one percenter doesn’t give a shit about them, but they think he’ll keep the conservative status quo.

I’ll add to this that to a large extent, in rural areas, you have people who will simply buy, lock, stock, and barrel, whatever the hell they hear on Fox. It seldom bothers them that all those screaming pundits who are pandering to fear don’t actually believe what they spout, but are happy enough to get rich off all those who swallow the shit whole. There are more resources than ever, when it comes to finding out whether or not a fear is legitimate; it’s easier than ever to educate yourself and learn, but in spite of that, most older rural people stay very insular on the internet, too. They might email, they might have an account at Facebook, but to them, the rest of the ‘net is as bewildering and just as frightening as the ‘real’ world. They yearn for those imaginary good old days, they want their 1950s back, when people of colour knew their place and those uppity women were properly punished if they had sex.

Christians have a great capacity for hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance. In a matter of a few short decades, they’ve gone from denouncing politicians who couldn’t keep their pants zipped, and other activities they considered immoral. That doesn’t matter anymore. What matters now is the ends justifying the means. Oh, when a raging pundit gets caught with his pants around his ankles while swallowing fistfuls of illegal drugs? Eh, we should pray for the poor man. Bill Clinton gets a blow job? Pretty sure most people remember the conservative Christian outrage on that on. Trump is a sexual predator, a rapist, and a cheater, but white Christians don’t seem terribly concerned about that. Nor are they terribly concerned about the amount of boys who are grabbing girls by the crotch, claiming it’s okay because the Prez said so. Those Christian values are amazingly elastic, they expand and contract to either cover something unacceptable, or to exclude anything or anyone disapproved of by them.

As recently as five years ago, Christians were far more judgmental of politicians accused of transgressions in their personal lives. Now, in the era of Mr. Trump, there is more tolerance, especially among evangelicals, according to a study by Mr. Jones’s institute. The group often called “values voters” was not dissuaded by headlines about Mr. Trump sexually harassing women, lying, refusing to pay taxes or stiffing contractors.

“Trump has really changed their entire political ethic. It’s moved from a principled basis to more of a utilitarian ethic, where the ends justify the means,” Mr. Jones said.

The hypocrisy there is absolutely stunning, but Christians excel at justifying the most awful and evil actions. They are quite comfortable with evil, and being evil, because they always think it’s okay if they do it. It’s only wrong if those others do it. Yes, Christians have marched fascism into power, and like fascists before, they have all the justifications in the world why it’s the right thing to do. In order to get their way, in order to be in control of other people, they have joined arms with the very worst of white supremacists. As evil blossoms in this lost country, white Christians will continue to justify the flames even as they are being consumed by them.

Two sources here: Religious Right Believes Donald Trump Will Deliver on His Promises and The Rage of White, Christian America.

Recommended Reading: What happens in the US doesn’t stay in the US.

Jesus Dethroned by Memes.


After a reign lasting more than 2000 years, the King of the Judeans has been dethroned.

According to Google Trends, which tracks how often a particular term is searched for, “memes” officially overtook “jesus” earlier this year. The breakaway appears to have occurred in late August, but it wasn’t widely recognized until Tuesday, when Norwegian developer Dominik Salonen publicized his findings on Twitter.

Via Gizmodo. If Ray Comfort sees this, he’ll go apoplectic, seeing as he thinks there’s an atheist conspiracy to ruin the rating of his Atheist Delusion flick.

Oh, the fuckin’ irony.

pat-buchanan-250x141If I had a real life irony meter, I’d be dead from the massive explosion caused by Pat Buchanan. Pat is once more weeping salty tears over the marginalization and oppression of white men, and the dismal state of patriarchal control. If anyone reading has a shiny Acme™ Irony Meter, get rid of it, it will never take the strain.

Is the system rigged? Ask yourself.

For half a century, the U.S. Supreme Court has systematically de-Christianized and paganized American society and declared abortion and homosexual marriage constitutional rights.

Where did these unelected jurists get the right to impose their views and values upon us, and remake America in their own secularist image? Was that really the Court’s role in the Constitution?

Oh, come now, Pat. You were just fine with assholes like Scalia, who imposed their views and values on people, and in doing so, crushed more lives, liberties, and pursuits of happiness than you could shake a stick at. As someone who had an abortion, Pat, I’ll remind you of something: none. of. your. business. I’m thankful mine took place before the mega-assholes of morality decided to involve themselves. Health-wise, I was safe rather than bleeding to death in a room somewhere, and that termination allowed me to keep my sanity. Never been in the slightest way sorry for it, either. Just relieved. (And yes, I would have taken the risk of bleeding to death in a room somewhere, that’s how strongly I felt, and my reasons? My business.) Everyone allowed to marry? Yes, why not? In case you weren’t looking Pat, that fight took many years, mostly because of those unelected jurists who thought exactly the same way you do. You’re a toddler having a tantrum.

How did we wind up with an all-powerful judicial tyranny in a nation the Founding Fathers created as a democratic republic?

Hey, you started it. Liked it well enough when decisions were going your way.

There are more than 11 million illegal immigrants here, with millions more coming. Yet the government consistently refuses to enforce the immigration laws of the United States.

Yeah, about that…even the incredibly white-washed history texts in uStates could explain this one to you, Pat.

Why should those Americans whose ancestors created, fought, bled and died to preserve America not believe they and their children are being dispossessed of a country that was their patrimony — and without their consent?

Sigh. Fuckety fuck. Oh, you mean those Americans whose ancestors happened on Turtle Island, a place which had been long inhabited, who fought, raped, pillaged, and slaughtered everyone in sight in attempted genocide to steal “America” be dispossessed of a country they stole, without the consent of the inhabitants? Stealing is wrong, Pat. I was under the impression even Christians think so. Something about commandments and being all morally superior. As for your patrimony, oh, you can shove that one, Pat. Really deep.

When did the country vote to convert the America we grew up in into the Third World country our descendants will inherit in 2042?

Perhaps you should find a place you could legally acquire, and start setting up White Patriarchs Paradise. Then everyone could be happy. You could wage war on the sun, in order to preserve that wondrous pasty whiteness, proving for once and all the might of white.

In the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a Congressional majority voted to end discrimination against black folks. When did we vote to institute pervasive discrimination against white folks, especially white males, with affirmative action, quotas and racial set-asides? Even in blue states like California, affirmative action is routinely rejected in statewide ballots.

You make it sound like this happened because a bunch of old white dudes were sitting around one day, and decided to be all loving and stuff. That’s not quite what happened, Pat. There was a long and ferocious road to acknowledging people of colour as full human beings, and a whole lot of people died to make that happen. It was hardly trivial, and it was only a first step. We remain racist, with too many white people refusing to budge so much as a quarter step toward actual equality. You’re one of the assholes who thinks the Civil Rights Act fixed everything.

Yet it remains regime policy, embedded in the bureaucracy.

Oh, you’re one of those folks who buys into that “Obama Regime” noise. That’s not unexpected, with you being one of the old guard white men, wailing, gnashing your teeth, and lamenting your loss of absolute dominion over other people. You can’t be toppled soon enough, Pat.

Via Right Wing Watch.

Atheists Still Hated, Just Not Quite As Much As Muslims.

Crowds of atheists and other freethinkers assembled by the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool for the Reason Rally on June 4, 2016, in Washington, D.C. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks.

Crowds of atheists and other freethinkers assembled by the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool for the Reason Rally on June 4, 2016 in Washington, D.C. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks.

(RNS) Maybe atheists should just embrace it as a slogan: “Atheists: The group Americans love to hate.”

About 40 percent of Americans say atheists “do not at all agree” with their vision of America, according to a new study from sociologists at the University of Minnesota who compared Americans’ perceptions of minority faith and racial groups.

But the study marks a grimmer milestone — Americans’ disapproval of Muslims has jumped to 45.5 percent from just over 26 percent 10 years ago, the last time the question was asked.

And “nones” — those who say they have no religious affiliation, but may also have spiritual or religious beliefs — are also unpopular. This is significant because nones now make up one-third of the U.S. population.

The study found:

  • Almost half of those surveyed — 48.9 percent — said they would disapprove of their child marrying a Muslim, up from 33.5 percent in 2006.
  • The spiritual but not religious are mistrusted by 12 percent of Americans, while almost 40 percent of Americans say the rise of the “nones” is “not a good thing.”
  • Disapproval rates for several minority groups have grown — Jews, Latinos and Asian-Americans experienced 10-point jumps in disapproval, while recent immigrants, conservative Christians and African-Americans grew about 13 percent each.

The new study also attempts to find out why atheists are so reviled by what its authors call “dominant group members” — aka religious Americans. The findings pinpoint three things: Religious Americans associate atheists with “criminality,” materialism and “a lack of accountability.”

Considering how often various religions and religious people are shown to be engaged in criminal activities, such as child rape and fraud, it staggers me that we continue to be associated with criminality and a lack of accountability. As for accountability, what comes to mind are a string of public ‘confessions’ by high profile Christians, complete with crocodile tears, proclaiming their supposed regret for fraud, adultery, or whatever crime, and saying they are accountable to god. I don’t care about that, because being accountable to a god means absolutely nothing. I am not accountable to any god, I am not accountable to any fictional character. I am accountable to other people, human and not. That is what matters, taking responsibility for my own life, and every way that life affects or impacts others. Christians are quite willing to be utterly immoral, telling themselves that this, that or the other is ‘god’s will’. (I speak more of Christians, because the bulk of my exposure and experience is with one form of Christianity or another.) They often speak in the most appalling terms, and are openly hateful and bigoted. Yet, it’s the non-religious who remain blamed for all the ills.

Abrahamaic based religions are highly splintered, particularly so in the States, with a rather amazing amount of different flavours of Christianity. I really feel for all the Muslims who are now the focus of much hatred, because if there’s one thing I wish Christians at large would get through their collective thick skull, it’s that the religious belief is the same. Abrahamaic based, same basic beliefs, same god, same, same, same. Yes, interpretations are different, but the basic belief? The same.

The study’s authors — sociologists Penny Edgell, Douglas Hartmann, Evan Stewart and Joseph Gerteis — describe the jump in disapproval of Muslims as a major change and are focusing now on identifying reasons for it.

“Religion becomes a signal and a marker, an easy shorthand for Americans’ moral judgment,” Hartmann said. “But that is not the only thing going on with Muslims. It’s more complicated.”

But Hussein Rashid, an adjunct professor at Barnard College who frequently writes and consults about Islam in the U.S., said the jump in anti-Islamic sentiment the study pinpoints is reflected in the current political rhetoric.

“The data from this survey shows that there is an increasing pull away from the promise of America,” he said in an email. “In 10 years, people have a more negative perception of Muslims, Jews, gays, Latinos, and Blacks. As a new America is taking shape, with all its diversity, there is a reactionary response that wants a mythic America of everyone being exactly the same.”

The study has more bad news for atheists — despite a decade of organized effort from groups such as American Atheists, the Secular Coalition for America and Openly Secular to normalize nonbelief, Americans are not buying it — religious belief remains a measure of trustworthiness and belonging, the study found.

“Overall, we find no support for the idea that the increasing visibility of non-religious persons, groups, and movements in American life has reduced anti-atheist sentiment in any significant way,” the study’s authors write.


The study was written from data collected in 2014 from 2,500 participants. It was published in the current issue of Social Forces journal. The previous study was published in 2006 by three of the same authors.

Via Religion News Service.

Atheism: Monstrous Women.

FILE - This July 15, 1925 file photo shows attorney William Jennings Bryan, sitting center behind the microphone during a radio broadcast of the landmark trial of John Thomas Scopes in Dayton, Tenn. The controversial trial between religion and state determined how evolution would be taught in schools. Scopes, a high school biology teacher, was found guilty of teaching evolution and fined. The town hosts an annual festival, this year July 20-21, marking the anniversary of the famous trial about the teaching of evolution in public schools. (AP Photo, file)

FILE – This July 15, 1925 file photo shows attorney William Jennings Bryan, sitting center behind the microphone during a radio broadcast of the landmark trial of John Thomas Scopes in Dayton, Tenn. The controversial trial between religion and state determined how evolution would be taught in schools. Scopes, a high school biology teacher, was found guilty of teaching evolution and fined. The town hosts an annual festival, this year July 20-21, marking the anniversary of the famous trial about the teaching of evolution in public schools. (AP Photo, file)

The Atlantic’s Emma Green has an interview with Washington University in St. Louis professor Leigh Eric Schmidt about his book, Village Atheists. Unlike similar efforts, Schmidt doesn’t shy away from the white straight male problem of atheism, which has been present for always. This is in no way a modern problem, although I’d venture to say it’s gotten worse, in terms of virulence and open bigotry. And yes, of course strides have certainly been made when it comes to atheist women, but unfortunately, many of the obstacles remain stubbornly in place, held firmly down by white male atheists. The whole interview is very good, and I highly recommend clicking over to read it in its entirety. This post, I want to focus on women.

“Male atheists are bad. Women atheists are genuinely considered monsters.”

Green: Why has the movement traditionally been so masculine?

Schmidt: In the 19th century, there are more women in the church than men. So there is an association with churches and pious femininity and domesticity. Freethinkers see women as supporters of the church, and supporters of evangelical Protestant politics, whether it’s temperance or other moral-reform causes, so there’s an alienation that arises there. They’re fearful that if women have the right to vote, they’ll vote for Christian-inflected politics. They’re afraid: What’s this going to do? Is this really going to advance the cause of reason, the cause of science, if we give women the right to vote?

Green: You talk about the perceived oddness of “woman atheists.” How have the experiences of women who are atheists differed from those of men historically?

Schmidt: Because there was such an ideal of pious femininity—women are supposed to be pious, women are supposed to go to church—there was greater horror associated with a woman being an atheist than with a man being an atheist. Male atheists are bad. Women atheists are genuinely considered monsters.

So that puts a lot of pressure on somebody like Elmina Drake Slenker or other women atheists to say, “Being an atheist does not deprive me of these maternal ideals.” Slenker writes domestic fiction in which freethinking, atheist women are also incredible housekeepers and homemakers. She wants to make sure there is no conflict over 19th century ideals and atheism—and no man has to worry in the same way she has to worry.

She is also much more interested in rethinking the marriage relationship, birth control, and reproductive rights. That’s something a lot of the freethinkers and atheists—the men around her—want to avoid. They see the issue as too controversial; that’s not an issue they’re willing to engage.

But she’s willing to engage it. And that gets her arrested for obscenity.

Green: If someone weren’t necessarily familiar with her story, they might read that and think of a 1970s-style women’s liberation movement, dedicated to deconstructing sexuality, etc. But as you write, Slenker was actually a part of Alphaism—a movement that promoted only procreative sex in monogamous relationships.

It seems like there was a kinship between freethinker movements and some of the vice-control impulses of the Victorian era, including Alphaism, or perhaps something like the temperance movement. Why was it that outspoken, freethinking women like Slenker went in this direction with their programs of reform?

Schmidt: It tells us a lot about the incredible pressures she experiences as a woman who has come out as an atheist and someone who wants to explore issues around sexual physiology. She could be so radical on the question of God, but she has to assure everyone, “I’m really this pure woman. I’m really this virtuous, domesticated woman. I always put my family first. I’m not a libertine.” For her, it’s about an image of purity that she maintains publicly, which also comes in handy when you’re being tried for obscenity.

Not much has changed, unfortunately. Women still feel this need to reassure society at large that yes, they are still a woman, in spite of thinking for themselves, for believing they should have full rights, including that of bodily autonomy, and no, it does not make a woman evil to contemplate or have a pregnancy terminated. Nor is a woman evil for using contraception and engaging in a sex life. Women are constantly judged, on hundreds of metrics, every single day. Women are still seen as the keepers of morality, while men are seen as requiring the constant watchfulness of women, as they can’t really be counted on to be thinking, moral people.

Schmidt: There is an element of suspicion that’s so deep-seated. You see it in John Locke: You can’t trust the atheist. There’s nothing to bind them to society. There’s this chaos they represent: a sense that they can’t be held accountable, and that you can’t trust them.

This is more intense by magnitudes of order when it comes to women, and many more magnitudes if women are anywhere under the queer umbrella. We’re already considered to be highly untrustworthy – that’s part and parcel of the oldest stories, it’s the basis of major religions, and it’s part and parcel of history.*  When a woman declares atheism, that untrustworthiness hits an all time high. *Recommended Reading – Misogyny, The World’s Oldest Prejudice by Jack Holland:


Full article and interview is here.

Books, Wonderful Books.


I’ve recently read these three books by Nnedi Okorafor (and Binti, of course, but that was earlier.) Reading is a good occupation in between bouts of ‘not-quite-conscious’ periods of being concussed. It’s with relief and familiarity, laced with deep comfort that I sink into Ms. Okorafor’s books. As far as I know, I have no connection to any part of Africa, and while it can take time to get the rhythm of some works, such as Lagoon, it’s the indigenous mindset I sink into with ease. Like too many other people, I am beyond weary of stories with the same rapacious, colonial mindset, populated with the ever ubiquitous straight white males. Even authors who don’t mean to write in that mindset tend to slip into it, because we’ve all been trained that viewpoint is best, it’s good, it’s great, pat on the head, now sit down and be quiet. Ms. Okorafor’s protagonists are all too human, even when they aren’t quite human. They suffer with their flaws, and struggle to cope with them, as we all do. Her protagonists are often women, which is yet another comfort. I don’t have to struggle with often squirmy, unwelcome moments when a protagonist character is male, and does something cringe inducing and deeply embarrassing. This isn’t to say there aren’t such moments in these books, there are, because there are people like that all over the place, and we all have to deal with them. They are better in the background though, where we can’t always relegate them in real life.

These books coincided with my camp life, and a strong theme through all of them is the same one at the center of the protection going on here in Ndakota: Water Is Life. Aman Iman. Mni Wiconi. There’s a natural spirituality suffused throughout the books, and I find that familiar and comforting also, because it’s the spirituality of indigenous people all over the world. She understands the need to keep traditions alive, and the fight to remain community based while embracing the wider world. This leads me into contentious territory, but I don’t see a conflict, and I don’t see the need for one, either. People were having a good talk about these issues in this thread, and while I’ve had thoughts swirling about in my shaken brain, I haven’t felt the coherence needed to tackle it. I’ll complain yet again at what a remarkably lousy language English is when it comes to certain concepts. Even when it doesn’t suck, terms are so loaded with baggage that a great many people simply can’t move past the baggage to even try and understand.

I don’t believe in gods. I don’t believe in an afterlife. I believe in the physical world, I believe in the universe, and I believe in life. There’s plenty of room in that for spirituality, and without any need whatsoever to worship anything, or be a Crystal clear running rainbow unicorn summer rain star type of person. Atheists often bring up Carl Sagan, and he always struck me as a very spiritual person, who often spoke of the numinous, a word used in an attempt to get away from the overly laden ones, like sacred or divine. Sagan was science based, but he also lived a life in appreciation and awe of life, all life. He got it, he grokked what was important – the connection of all things, of all life; the importance of all life, and the need for responsibility, care, and respect. Indigenous people believe we are obligated to care for our earth, and it’s a responsibility which has always sat seriously albeit lightly on the shoulders of indigenous people. That responsibility has become a terrible burden ever since colonialism came into the picture, bearing down with a ruthless brutality and no respect at all, for anything. If anything, the colonial attitude and way of being has become increasingly rapacious, with care for nothing except money-filled pockets. Those of us without money-filled pockets find ourselves constantly bruised from being tossed about by marketing and the propaganda screech of always needing more, more, more, more. More and more people find themselves in living situations where they have none to little contact with nature in any way, and have no sense of community, either. There are whole generations now who don’t have the slightest idea of what a community is like. That came up a lot at camp. I met people from all over the U.S. who did not want to leave, as they had never experienced anything like the camp, the community which has grown there. They were blown away by how community works, and many people were fired up and determined to go back home and start building a community there. I saw people who had definitely felt they had been missing something, but didn’t know what. When they came to the camp, they found it – community. So, can you have a sense that’s there’s a hole in you somewhere? Yes, of course you can. Will being part of a community fix everything? Nope. It will sure as hells help though, and simply being part of something larger can help to heal much of what ails people. Being a bunch of communityists is good for our non-existent souls.

There’s every reason in the world to work on a spiritual connection to our earth. When you have that, when you understand that all life is sacred, important, and connected to you and all other life, respect happens. When you have respect, you have care, awareness, mindfulness. When you have respect, you have thankfulness. Thankfulness for the energy the sun provides, for the light and the warmth. Thankfulness for the water, which is life. Water to drink, water to bathe yourself, water to cook, water to create. Thankfulness for the air, and all the plants and trees which give us so very many gifts. Thankfulness for the earth, which provides us with a foundation, and the means to grow and nourish ourselves. Thankful for all the species we are related to and their gifts to us. When you have respect and gratitude, sustainability and care are built in. It’s part and parcel of your everyday beliefs and actions. When you have that spiritual connection, you understand that you need to give at least as much as you take. A balance must be kept. This does not mean you need to turn yourself into a credulous, babbling critter. It does mean you are aware of life, all life, and the connectedness and importance of that life. Indigenous people don’t find themselves afflicted with a sudden societal based mania to poison the land they live on to destroy dandelions, or decide to pour poison all over to get rid of groundhogs. That’s because there’s a deep understanding of how things work on our earth, and they aren’t removed or disconnected from it, the way many people are now. It’s not wrong to question these idiocies, like having to maintain a golf course lawn, or why anyone would want to do that in the first place. Allowing native plants to grow is good for many other beings, like all the pollen gatherers and transporters, who in turn, help to nourish our crops so we can feed ourselves. It’s one tiny chain among many which  maintains health in all of us.

Sometimes, sitting on the sidelines and listening to people talk (translation: reading along without commenting), I’m often bemused by the atheist voices I’m part of. Over the years, it’s been increasingly popular for atheists to adopt a dictionary only not in the least emotional stance. I’ll admit to being befuddled by that, because it seems a sterile isolation to confine oneself to, for no particular reason. If that really makes a person happy, okay. I have my doubts about that making anyone happy though. I’m an atheist who finds the dictionary only argument to be utterly idiotic, and it’s seriously not my thing. I want things to be better. I want people to be better. I want people to be content, more self sufficient, more thoughtful, more community based. I want people to care, and I want to effect change. That means changing myself, too. I don’t see the attraction in sitting around, sniffily denouncing this, that, and the other, while claiming not to give a damn about anything at all. I don’t see the point of that, either. There’s already enough resigned apathy afflicting people, and I don’t see any virtue in promoting that as a way of being. It’s not impossible or wrong to be spiritually connected as your way of life, your way of living.

I know this will get its fair share of sneers, disdain, and bad ‘jokes’. If that’s all you have in you, go for it. I have more inside myself, and I am not ashamed to care and expect others to care as well. I think it’s perfectly possible to be an atheist and to be spiritual as well.

I recommend reading Chief Arvol Looking Horse on the current situation we all face, the constant assaults on our earth, and the increasing destruction going on everywhere. I had the honour of listening to Chief Looking Horse at the camp several times. I first read the linked piece some time back on ICTMN, and wanted so much to share it, but I gave into fear because it is deeply spiritual, and all I could think about was mockery from those who would read, and I let that fear rule me. No more. This sickness must stop, and I must fulfill my responsibility to our earth. One of the lawyers currently working on the pipeline problem here and in Iowa has a good column up at ICTMN, which includes an excerpt from Bemidji Statement on Seventh Generation Guardianship:

“Who guards this web of life that nurtures and sustains us all?

Who watches out for the land, the sky, the fire, and the water?

Who watches out for our relatives that swim, fly, walk, or crawl?

Who watches out for the plants that are rooted in our Mother Earth?

Who watches out for the life-giving spirits that reside in the underworld?

Who tends the languages of the people and the land?

Who tends the children and the families?

Who tends the peacekeepers in our communities?


We tend the relationships.

We work to prevent harm.

We create the conditions for health and wholeness.

We teach the culture and we tell the stories.

We have the sacred right and obligation to protect the common wealth of our lands and the common health of our people and all our relations for this generation and seven generations to come. We are the Guardians for the Seventh Generation.”

For anyone who has missed the basics of what’s happening, Kyle Powys Whyte has an excellent article here.

God’s Not Dead, but Unwelcome at RNC.

A short while back, I posted about the FFRF billboard going up at the RNC.  The makers of the movie God’s Not Dead 2 wanted to put up an advert too, a rather large one:

What convention attendees won’t see is an even larger sign with a pro-religion message that would have advertised the DVD release of God’s Not Dead 2. That’s because, after two months of back-and-forth with the movie’s distributor, the billboard company, Orange Barrel Media, may have deemed the Christian-sounding messaging needlessly provocative.

The sign, which would have measured 32 feet by 60 feet, would have draped down one side of a large building in downtown Cleveland and was to feature a picture of Melissa Joan Hart, who plays a teacher in trouble for invoking scripture in the classroom. Alongside the image of the actress was the text: “I’d rather stand with God and be judged by the world than stand with the world and be judged by God.”


That is truly a monster sized ad. It’s even huuuuuuuuuuuge.

Orange Barrel told Pure Flix, the distributor, it didn’t like the “judged by God” message, calling it “too political” and “way too incendiary,” according to emails obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. On another occasion, insiders said the billboard company complained that even the title of the film was considered problematic.

Early on, Orange Barrel cited Republican National Committee rules barring “scandalous” signage, though Pure Flix argued that the RNC would have no problem with their message, especially since former GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is in the movie. In fact, the GOP has partnered with Pure Flix for a worship service the night prior to the start of the convention, followed by a screening of the movie (with food provided by Chick-fil-A).

No word right now on whether or not the ad will eventually find a home at the RNC, but the FFRF has another ad up:


Via Hollywood Reporter.