That’s gotta hurt

Saw this a few days ago on Twitter and thought it was interesting.

When the Tea Party movement broke out, there was a big hullabaloo. Everybody was talking about it. It was all over Fox News. But strangely, there was no real substantive resistance to it. People said some uncomplimentary things about it, but the only real attention it got from “the powers that be” was when major media sent reporters to publicize (and hype) their gatherings. Even when people started bringing guns to Tea Party rallies, it only raised eyebrows and sparked a few discussions about the Second Amendment.

Occupy Wall Street, on the other hand, shows up with tents (and in some cases with brooms and shovels to clean up the “occupation” site)—and the police are all over them, tear gas is being used in Oakland, leading politicians are uniting to denounce them and major media outlets seem either to ignore them or to paint them as some kind of irrational rabble.

Who’s the real threat here? More importantly, who do the powers-that-be see as being a real challenge to the status quo? If I were a Tea Party member, I’d be feeling pretty used right now.


Those poor persecuted Christians

One Ann Gentry, in a letter to the editor, knows just what unbelievers should do about local officials injecting religion into government: the unbelievers should just go away and let Christians run things without interference.

If Jane Doe, who regularly attends Board of Supervisors meetings in Chatham is so deeply offended just because the Christians there pray in Jesus’ name, then why does she go there so often? Could it be because she is there to mainly cause trouble by splitting political hairs over religion?

Right, because anybody who suggests that Christians ought to obey the law is clearly a troublemaker.
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God is pro-choice

[Originally published Sept. 24, 2007]

According to CNN and AP, a Nebraska legislator’s lawsuit against God has produced a “miraculous” response.

LINCOLN, Nebraska (AP) – A legislator who filed a lawsuit against God has gotten something he might not have expected: a response.

State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha said he sued God last week to make a point about frivolous lawsuits.

One of two court filings from “God” came Wednesday under otherworldly circumstances, according to John Friend, clerk of the Douglas County District Court in Omaha.

“This one miraculously appeared on the counter. It just all of a sudden was here — poof!” Friend said.

What is particularly interesting about this mysterious filing is that it reveals a hitherto unsuspected side of God’s political viewpoints: He’s solidly pro-choice.

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I am a homophobe, the sequel

Wow, some great responses to yesterday’s post, I’m impressed. If you’ll bear with me for one more post, I’d like to respond to some of the common themes I’m hearing people express.

First of all, I want to emphasize that my point is self-control and civilization: homophobia, whatever its source, is a destructive and irrational prejudice, and we as free moral agents have both the ability and the responsibility to refuse to let it guide our actions. Even if the impulse comes to us “naturally,” without conscious choice, it still must fall in the class of baser impulses that civilized and moral persons ought to deny.

That’s my main point, and I don’t want subsequent discussion to dilute it. I’m an incurably curious person, though, and there’s a lot of intriguing material in the comments. I can’t resist probing the matter to see what else I can learn. I think the discussion might be a facilitated if I proceed from the provisional assumption that I’m right, and then you guys can take my points and either agree with them or rip them up as you see fit. Don’t be shy, I cut my Internet teeth on and alt.atheism, I can take it. I’ve learned a lot from getting beat up in the past. 🙂

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I am a homophobe

I must confess, I’m a homophobe. I would be creeped out if another guy fell in love with me (though to keep things in perspective, there’s a lot of people who would creep me out—male or female—if they got the hots for me). And I want to say that I don’t think there’s anything unnatural about being the way I am. But here’s the point: a lot of things are natural. It’s natural to want to take food and eat it when you’re hungry. It’s natural to want to punch someone when they make you really angry. It’s natural for members of almost any species to want to immediately mate with any attractive others they may encounter.

But the difference between civilized humanity and what we call the “lower forms” of life is that we don’t just let ourselves be ruled by instinctive, animalistic lusts and passions. We strive to be ruled by higher principles, by reason and morals and justice. If someone is eating a sandwich and we happen to be hungry, we don’t just grab their sandwich and start eating it ourselves. We don’t just punch people when we’re mad (or at least we recognize that it’s a failure on our part if we do lose our temper). We don’t just rape strangers we get the hots for. We’re not brutes.

Homophobia is an unreasoning, instinctive, sexual passion, the flip side of erotic desire. That’s why anti-gay laws are so immoral. They promote widespread indulgence in bestial impulses and carnal lusts, to the detriment of others who have done us no harm. Yes, homophobic feelings are instinctive and natural, just like rage and lust and unrestrained appetite. And that’s fine; you’re not an evil person for just having such feelings. But what makes us moral and ethical creatures—what makes us human—is our ability to rise above such harmful and selfish instincts, to work together to promote the tolerance and harmony that are the lifeblood of every healthy society.

So I am and shall ever be a homophobe. But I don’t need to act like one. As a civilized, reasonable and ethical person, I have that choice. And I choose to behave morally, for the benefit of those around me.


Catholics call for govt. suppression of religious freedom

Here’s an interesting development. Archbishop Timothy Broglio says that the federal government is not only allowed, but is required to dictate to certain clergy members precisely which religious ceremonies they are and are not allowed to perform.

The head of the U.S. Military Archdiocese says that a new set of rules, allowing chaplains to perform same-sex “marriages” on military property, seems to disregard federal law.

“The Pentagon’s new policy, as outlined in these two memos, appears to ignore the Defense of Marriage Act, which was signed into law 15 years ago and remains in effect,” said Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio in a Sept. 30 statement provided to CNA.

Did you catch that? There may be a conflict between religious conscience and government policy, and in such cases the Archbishop is clearly telling us that government dictates take precedence over the clergy member’s religious freedom.

We should mark that one down for future reference. [Read more…]

British atheists more involved than American atheists

Here is an interesting report about the effect of religion on volunteerism in Britain and the USA.

A new study released in Britain shows that atheists are just as likely to volunteer in the community as Christians. In the United States, however, religious people are three to four times as likely to volunteer, marking a stark difference of how religion affects public life in the two countries.

The report suggests that social ties may be a big reason for the American disparity. Here’s a quote from one of the authors of the study.

“The intense tie is not to the theology but in the emotional commitment to others in their small group,” Putnam, who is not a Christian, told the U.K.’s Guardian in 2007. “Most of these people are seeking meaning in their lives but they are also seeking friends. The small groups spend two hours a week together – doing the volleyball or the mountain biking and praying; they become your closest friends.”

That sounds plausible as far as it goes, but I think perhaps another reason for the disparity might be the relatively greater polarization that exists between the American believer versus the American atheist (or substitute conservative/liberal, Republican/Democrat, etc). Social relationships cut both ways, and to the extent that unbelievers are marginalized and excluded by society in general, they are correspondingly sidelined when there are opportunities to volunteer.

Fortunately, thanks to the New Atheists, a lot more unbelievers are standing up and dare I say exposing themselves as non-Christians, in a Christian-dominated society. That takes courage, especially if you’re going to be among the first to do so, but I think the seed has already been sown. British society is largely post-Christian, and I think the closer we come to follow that example, the more likely we are to show similar statistics in the realm of social participation (especially as conservatives become more and more hostile to organized social welfare).

And by the way, speaking of opportunities to volunteer, let me stick in another plug for Donors Choose. Come on, Americans, we can’t let the British atheists get all the good press! 😉

October Challenge

If there could ever be such a thing as a good religion, I think it would have to be based around three core principles: integrity, community, and purpose.

  • Integrity: being true to yourself and those around you.
  • Community: living with peace, tolerance, and charity towards those around you
  • Purpose: making life better for yourself and for those around you

That’s the philosophy/religion I call Alethianism, and it’s what I try to live by. But it’s not much good if it’s only just words. The reason I’m bringing it up now is that we’ve got a chance to act, a chance to make the world a better place for ourselves and those around us. The Freethought Bloggers have been discussing how we might get out and do some good in the world, and we’ve decided to take advantage of the Donors Choose program. If you’re not familiar with it, Donors Choose is a way teachers in financially-strapped schools can raise money to get them the things they need to get kids involved in learning, especially in poverty-stricken areas.

Please Donate.

As an added incentive, the Freethought Blogs are challenging other blogs to a contest to see who can raise the most cash. Should be fun.

(Once again, that link is Click now!)


Archbishop defies president, society

Bit late, but I wanted to comment on this one. According to, Archbishop Timothy Nolan (Grand Wizard head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops) is putting pressure on President Obama to try and stop his senseless rush towards tolerance and civil rights for gays.

Dolan said the bishops are especially upset that the administration and opponents of DOMA are framing their argument as a civil rights issue, which he said equates “opposition to redefining marriage with either intentional or willfully ignorant racial discrimination.”

Right, because framing is something that only conservatives are allowed to do, for example by pretending to “defend marriage” and by refusing to address gay marriage as anything other than an attempt to “redefine” it.

Why can’t Catholic archbishops tell the truth about what they hate and what they’re doing to try and stop it? Simple: the Church is using sex to sustain Christianity, and they’re scared to death of losing control of it. That’s why they always refer to THEIR definition of marriage as THE definition of marriage. As soon as there’s any competition for the Catholic definition of marriage, the Church loses an important competitive advantage. They’ve spent literally thousands of years training people to assume that the Church controls their access to sexual fulfillment, and that only the church can provide them with a legitimate outlet for their sexual desires, through the “sacrament” of marriage. Break this monopoly, and disaster ensues, because without the threat of sexual frustration, what’s left to draw people into the faith? The Holy Spirit? Gimme a break!

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The cure for free-floating anxiety

Writing for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, one Scott Stephens seems to have found the perfect remedy for free-floating anxiety: pin it all on atheism.

And so, without the guiding concept of a “Common Good” our social life is governed by the anomie of private interests, the inscrutable demands of “well-being” (which for us has come to mean little more than health, safety and pleasure) and the vicissitudes of mere fashion.

There are few things today more fashionable, more suited to our modern conceit, than atheism. In fact, far from being radical or heroically contrarian, the current version of atheism strikes me as the ultimate conformism.

Translation: now that the unbelievers are gaining influence in society, it’s time to try to make majority opinion sound like a bad thing—no matter what Christians may have said (and may still say) when they were the majority.

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