I am offended!

Another day, another outraged Christian. Parents in a Utah school district were horrified to discover a link on the district web page to an evil essay:

The new battle centers on a link on the district’s Web page that was quietly removed on Feb. 16. Titled “America: Republic or Democracy?” the link led directly to an essay by William P. Meyers, a California-based writer who heralds his belief that Jesus Christ is one in a long string of “historic vampires.”

I, too, am deeply offended. Meyers doesn’t know how to spell his own name, and everyone knows Jesus wasn’t a vampire — he was a zombie.

But here’s another weird thing: you can read the offensive essay, and what you’ll discover is that it says nothing about Jesus or vampires. It’s about the nature of the US government, which he explains is not a simple democracy, but a republic that evolved towards more democratic representation gradually, which is not a contentious issue at all, or shouldn’t be. It also points out something that is probably even more offensive to the purists who worship the founding fathers like a council of demigods: among the motives of the American revolution was a demand to protect the institution of slavery, and the desire of acquisitive land speculators to seize more native American land.

Uh-oh. Questioning the nobility of our forefathers? Trouble.

And then the essay concludes with another obvious, simple piece of reporting:

There are no longer any voter-qualification impediments to democracy in the United States. But many have noted that the will of the people has tended not to prevail, and that a majority of people eligible to vote are so discouraged that they do not vote. The main reason for this is the buying and selling of elections and politicians by the wealthier class of citizens and their special interest groups. A year or more before elections take place, the winner is decided by those who vote with dollars. But this is a defect in democracy, not a reason to abandon it. The answer is to cure the defect, not to attempt to destroy our representative democracy.

Hmm, I think I like this guy even if he does consistently misspell his name. Unfortunately, to constitutive conservatives like the yahoos in Utah, the message in the essay is…creeping socialism! And they get even more hysterical:

[Meyers] believes in anarchy, pagan worship and that Jesus was just a leader of a small cult and is a real vampire! He advocates radical socialism, limiting families to two children, abortion to term, homosexuality, worshipping the sun instead of a ‘dead Jesus,’ saying that Mary was just an unwed pregnant teenager, and many other socialist political views, just two clicks from the district’s home page. … All this was linked directly from Alpine School District’s Web site.

No, it wasn’t. It actually took a fair amount of digging to find out what the heck they’re talking about. Here is his position on abortion and birth control — it’s not at all inflammatory, and includes some simple common sense, like “It is not an appropriate role of government to try to boss people’s sex lives around.” He does not advocate sun worship, in fact proposes quite the opposite. The vampire story is an introduction to a book, and isn’t even on the same site.

If it weren’t for a howling mob of witchhunters trying to find cause to censor a short, simple essay on American history that they found offensive, I wouldn’t have found any of that. It is interesting that they don’t actually address any of the content of that one essay, but instead have to resort to mad, flailing character assassination to silence a simple explanation of historical facts that did not fit their deranged view of the world.

South Duh-kota, hang your head in shame

The South Dakota senate has been wrestling over an important resolution, HCR 1009. Here’s the original text. It will look rather familiar to anyone who has seen creationist bills roll through a legislature.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the House of Representatives of the Eighty-fifth Legislature of the State of South Dakota, the Senate concurring therein, that the South Dakota Legislature urges that instruction in the public schools relating to global warming include the following:

(1) That global warming is a scientific theory rather than a proven fact;

(2) That there are a variety of climatological, meteorological, astrological, thermological, cosmological, and ecological dynamics that can effect [sic] world weather phenomena and that the significance and interrelativity of these factors is largely speculative; and

(3) That the debate on global warming has subsumed political and philosophical viewpoints which have complicated and prejudiced the scientific investigation of global warming phenomena; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Legislature urges that all instruction on the theory of global warming be appropriate to the age and academic development of the student and to the prevailing classroom circumstances.

Notice the “just a theory” clause, and the “alternative theories” clause (which includes “astrological”! and “thermological,” whatever that is), and the “just an opinion” clause. That is one jaw-droppingly stupid resolution.

I wish it had been preserved in all its naked inanity, but somebody must have noticed how bad it was, and the resolution that passed has been amended. It’s still the same story, but the more obviously idiotic key words have been removed.

A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION, Calling for a balanced approach for instruction in the public schools relating to global climatic change.

WHEREAS, evidence relating to global climatic change is complex and subject to varying scientific interpretations; and

WHEREAS, there are a variety of climatological and meteorological dynamics that can affect world weather phenomena, and the significance and interrelativity of these factors remain unresolved; and

WHEREAS, the debate on global warming has subsumed political and philosophical viewpoints, which has complicated and prejudiced the scientific investigation of global climatic change phenomena:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the House of Representatives of the Eighty-fifth Legislature of the State of South Dakota, the Senate concurring therein, that the South Dakota Legislature urges that all instruction in the public schools relating to global climatic change be presented in a balanced and objective manner and be appropriate to the age and academic development of the student and to the prevailing classroom circumstances.”

They missed the irony of passing a political resolution protesting the politicization of a scientific issue, however. It’s still just a gang of conservative politicians trying to force equal consideration for discredited alternative nonsense in the public schools.

I’m still wondering if any South Dakota teachers will be presenting the astrological evidence against climate change in their classrooms, though.

Stop patting yourselves on the back over this study

Good grief. This ridiculous study is making the rounds of the atheist community, with its claim that liberals and atheists are smarter than conservatives and religious people. Look at the numbers!

Young adults who identify themselves as “not at all religious” have an average IQ of 103 during adolescence, while those who identify themselves as “very religious” have an average IQ of 97 during adolescence.

Seriously? Show me the error bars on those measurements. Show me the reliability of IQ as a measure of actual, you know, intelligence. Show me that a 6 point IQ difference matters at all in your interactions with other people, even if it were real. And then to claim that these differences are not only heritable, but evolutionarily significant…jebus, people, you can just glance at it and see that it is complete crap.

And then look at the source: Satoshi Kanazawa, the Fenimore Cooper of Sociobiology, the professional fantasist of Psychology Today. He’s like the poster boy for the stupidity and groundlessnessof freakishly fact-free evolutionary psychology. Just ignore anything with Kanazawa’s name on it.

Representing for Christ

A lot of people don’t like Lyndon Rush, the Christian zealot who also happens to be a bobsledder in the Olympics. I think he’s wonderful. It’s so helpful to have someone like him openly demonstrating that Christians are morons.*

You know there’s no atheist in a foxhole, right? There’s no atheist at the top of a bobsled run, either.

But there are atheists in the military. I don’t know about any specific godless organizations dedicated to the plight of unbelievers in bobsleds — bobsledding is a rather trivial issue to focus on, anyway — but there probably are some. They’re just smart enough to know it’s pointless to make a sport a place to issue a philosophical manifesto.

Oh, but wait…here’s why I love Rush as a paragon of Christian idiocy. There are no atheists in bobsleds, but there are atheists right there on his team. And Rush doesn’t even notice that he contradicts himself!

I’ve had atheists on my team and they have no problem talking to God before the run. Everybody likes it. Even the atheists, for instance, they like how it sets the tone. We all come together and I pray about things that they want, too. Maybe they’re not in a period of their life where they believe in God, I guess. I don’t know. I don’t really believe in atheists.

I marvel at that. It’s a miracle that the same person who has the awesome intelligence required to plummet down an icy track could babble so…he doesn’t believe in atheists, but atheists are on his team, and there are no atheists at the top of the bobsled run, and the atheists there like to hear him chatter about god. He is so self-unaware, so oblivious, so Gomer Pyle.

Guess what, Lyndon? The atheists don’t like to listen you preach your inanity, except in the mean-spirited sense of watching yet another dumb Christian proudly demonstrate what an ass he can be. They probably get together for beer after a run and tell Lyndon Rush stories, and laugh and laugh.

*I know they aren’t all morons — they just believe in incredibly stupid ideas. But you have to appreciated what great negative PR Lyndon Rush is for Christianity.

Canada is sharing in Christian shame

The Canadian government is planning to help a fundamentalist Christian group, Youth for Christ, to proselytize. They’ve offered to contribute several million dollars to the construction of a youth center in downtown Winnipeg, which sounds like a wonderful, useful idea…except for the fact that the group building it has this as their mission:

To impact every young person in Canada with the person, work and teachings of Jesus Christ and discipling them into the Church.

They also openly admit to their plans:

Sharing the person of Christ with every young person within our target group in Canada (5.4 million youth). This will require the development of new strategies, as well as strengthening existing efforts.

So, sure, anyone can come on down and freely use their skate park, their gym, their various services, and they don’t need to be Christian. It would be especially great if they aren’t Christian, because they will be met by a team of cheerful youth pastors who will tell them all about the glory of Jesus while they work out or play. That’s the whole purpose of the facility — not to provide a healthy recreational outlet for kids, but to corral the unconverted in one place for easy predation by a coven of kooks out to win over their minds.

Here’s another nice twist to the story, too.

Roughly one in 100 youths contacted by the organization — 17,010 out of 154,192 — “responded to the opportunity to become a Christian,” said the report, which identified “the aboriginal youth community” as a “prime area for development.”

It’s not just those cranky atheists who are outraged at the funneling of money into Christian evangelism — it’s an ethnic issue, and Youth for Christ knows it.

The Christian youth centre in a primarily aboriginal neighbourhood stirs up thoughts of historical assimilation, some First Nations leaders told councillors.

Nahanni Fontaine, director of justice for the Southern Chiefs Organization, an advocacy group for First Nations people in southern Manitoba, said giving public money to the project would be like contributing to the contemporary version of residential schools under the guise of helping youth.

“[We] saw religion used as an abusive and violating mechanism in which to assimilate aboriginal children into Euro-Canadian mainstream,” she said.

“Aboriginal people were assured that these sort of infringing practices and strategic policies would never occur again.”

Approving this proposal would just be sanctifying a “more contemporary form of the residential school experience,” Fontaine said.

That is serious stuff. People seem to have forgotten what we, Canada and the US, were doing a bit over a century ago: we were actively ripping children away from their native parents and boarding them up in schools where they were taught the White Man’s Ways, which usually involved religion in some way or another. My own university (which is celebrating its history this year) had its beginnings as a native American boarding school, run by an order of Catholic nuns. That’s not something to be proud of, but a stigma to be overcome. Why would Winnipeg want to be afflicted with a new racist black mark on their history?

Atheism book found in home linked to fire suspect!

Two suspects in a Texas church arson have been arrested. Unfortunately, guess what the most important fact in the presentation of the story is?

Investigators have seized books on demons and atheism as well as rifles and knives from in a home linked to one of the men charged with setting an east Texas church on fire and suspected in a string of similar blazes.

Jason Robert Bourque, 19, and Daniel George McAllister, 21, were arrested Sunday and charged with a single count of felony arson in the torching of the Dover Baptist Church near Tyler about 90 miles east of Dallas.

Right. Because atheists don’t believe in gods, but they do believe in demons. All this tells me is that these are a couple of confused young men…but if they’re setting fires, we already knew that.

Oh, wait…that report left something out. Here’s another one. I’ll just quote the paragraph that was buried near the end.

Jason Bourque’s family home in Lindale was also searched, yielding a small plastic bag of “suspected” marijuana seeds, more Skechers shoes, and three Bibles.

Ooops. One atheist book, one book about demonic possession, and three Bibles. Surely, that must be the most relevant datum, don’t you think?