Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Indian witch hunts in 2014

It's unreal that this crap is going on in this day and age. We haven't advanced very
much.  86% of Americans are still hold superstitious beliefs of one variation or another and still bicker about who is right or wrong, but fortunately we have law enforcement that isn't corrupted by these superstitious/religious beliefs (in most states anyway). But in third world countries where ignorance and superstition is rampant, this is what the results are when Christian missionaries interject the Christian mythology and superstition with the superstitious beliefs of uneducated masses...violence and usually women and children are victimized most. 

 If it began like the others, the first sign that Saraswati Devi would be murdered was an accusation delivered to a shaman. Perhaps she had offended someone. Perhaps someone had fallen sick and had wondered why. Perhaps a community well had suddenly dried and someone needed blaming. Perhaps they chose her because Devi was lower caste, because she was a woman, and because they’d probably get away with it.  
The killers came for her on Saturday. Two of her sons tried to save her, but couldn’t and were beaten. Their punishment wouldn’t match Devi’s. Before the 14 villagers inflicted injuries so severe they would claim her life, they “forced her to consume human excreta,” police told the Hindustan Times.
Though shocking by nearly any standard, the murder was not unique. It was not even uncommon in pockets of rural India.
In places where superstition and vigilantism overlap and small rumors can turn deadly, nearly 2,100 people accused of witchcraft have been killed between 2000 and 2012, according to crime records gathered by the Indian newspaper Mint. Others placed the number at 2,500; others higher still. “Like the proverbial tip of a very deep iceberg, available data hides much of the reality of a problem that is deeply ingrained in society,” according to New Delhi-based Partners for Law in Development. “It is only the most gruesome cases that are reported — most cases of witch-hunting go unreported and unrecorded.”
It’s an issue that despite its prevalence is rarely covered outside of India, where it’s almost weekly newspaper fodder. Last week in Chandrapur, one man was lynched and his “woman accomplice thrashed by a mob for practicing black magic,” reported the Times of India, which said the man “was caught red-handed by the mob of over 500 villagers.” Another woman accused of witchcraft was grabbed by relatives carrying “traditional weapons” and beaten to death. Late last year, in Jharkhand, a 50-year-old woman and her daughter were hacked to death after they were accused of practicing witchcraft.
The forces driving the killings, which occur predominantly in Indian states with large tribal populations, are as much cultural as they are economic and caste-based, experts said. While the easiest explanation is that angered mobs confuse a sudden illness or crop failure with witchcraft and exact their revenge, it’s rarely that simple. Much more often, it isn’t superstition but gender and class discrimination. Those accused of sorcery often come from similar backgrounds: female, poor and of a low caste.
“Witch-hunting is essentially a legacy of violence against women in our society,” wrote Rakesh Singh of the Indian Social Institute. “For almost invariably, it is [low caste] women, who are branded as witches. By punishing those who are seen as vile and wild, oppressors perhaps want to send a not-so-subtle message to women: docility and domesticity get rewarded; anything else gets punished.”

Right or wrong, or tribal loyalty in the Middle East conflict? Choosing sides

The Gaza Conflict The conflict in the Middle East between Israel and the Palestinians have been going on for as long as I can remember. While some say it is a human rights issue with one side being bullied and ostracized by another, I have heard the counter arguments that the side we hear most sympathy about in the news media is that the other side simply doesn’t want the other to exist no matter how many concessions are given. Religion and tribalism are at the heated core of this conflict. As long as neither side gives, the fighting and killing and destruction goes on, and on, and on, and on. If Israel should throw in the towel and say they are out of there, have this little piece of crap land will that end the violence? No, it won’t when the other side wants Jews to not exist anywhere. Those who want Jews wiped off the face of the Earth will just follow them wherever they go. When looking at the situation overall, it seems that the reasons for the fighting are simple…both sides hate each other (though it appears one side hates the other a little bit more). The solutions are complicated and seems like a huge stalemate, in my opinion.

I do sympathize with the innocents being caught in the middle of all this violence, and my heart is grieved to see in the news media the many bloodied bodies of children lying in the streets. However, while it is reported that these photos in recent months are from the Palestinian victims of ruthless Israeli bombings, I read other reports that many of the photos of dead kids being exploited are actually of casualties in Syria and other war torn areas of the world. My heart is sad for the children and people who just want to live in peace and cannot because of the political stances of others who are in control of the power.
I ran across this recent article in Huffpost that does bring up several good points to consider before choosing sides…if we care to choose a side in the Middle East mess.

7 Things to Consider Before Choosing Sides in the Middle East Conflict

"1. Why is everything so much worse when there are Jews involved?

Over 700 people have died in Gaza as of this writing. Muslims have woken up around the world. But is it really because of the numbers?

Bashar al-Assad has killed over 180,000 Syrians, mostly Muslim, in two years — more than the number killed in Palestine in two decades. Thousands of Muslims in Iraq and Syria have been killed by ISIS in the last two months. Tens of thousands have been killed by the Taliban. Half a million black Muslims were killed by Arab Muslims in Sudan. The list goes on.

But Gaza makes Muslims around the world, both Sunni and Shia, speak up in a way they never do otherwise. Up-to-date death counts and horrific pictures of the mangled corpses of Gazan children flood their social media timelines every day. If it was just about the numbers, wouldn’t the other conflicts take precedence? What is it about then?

If I were Assad or ISIS right now, I’d be thanking God I’m not Jewish.

Amazingly, many of the graphic images of dead children attributed to Israeli bombardment that are circulating online are from Syria, based on a BBC report. Many of the pictures you’re seeing are of children killed by Assad, who is supported by Iran, which also funds Hezbollah and Hamas. What could be more exploitative of dead children than attributing the pictures of innocents killed by your own supporters to your enemy simply because you weren’t paying enough attention when your own were killing your own?

This doesn’t, by any means, excuse the recklessness, negligence, and sometimes outright cruelty of Israeli forces. But it clearly points to the likelihood that the Muslim world’s opposition to Israel isn’t just about the number of dead.

Here is a question for those who grew up in the Middle East and other Muslim-majority countries like I did: if Israel withdrew from the occupied territories tomorrow, all in one go — and went back to the 1967 borders — and gave the Palestinians East Jerusalem — do you honestly think Hamas wouldn’t find something else to pick a fight about? Do you honestly think that this has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that they are Jews? Do you recall what you watched and heard on public TV growing up in Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Egypt?

Yes, there’s an unfair and illegal occupation there, and yes, it’s a human rights disaster. But it is also true that much of the other side is deeply driven by anti-Semitism. Anyone who has lived in the Arab/Muslim world for more than a few years knows that. It isn’t always a clean, one-or-the-other blame split in these situations like your Chomskys and Greenwalds would have you believe. It’s both.
2. Why does everyone keep saying this is not a religious conflict?

There are three pervasive myths that are widely circulated about the “roots” of the Middle East conflict:

Myth 1: Judaism has nothing to do with Zionism.
Myth 2: Islam has nothing to do with Jihadism or anti-Semitism.
Myth 3: This conflict has nothing to do with religion.

To the “I oppose Zionism, not Judaism!” crowd, is it mere coincidence that this passage from the Old Testament (emphasis added) describes so accurately what’s happening today?
“I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the desert to the Euphrates River. I will give into your hands the people who live in the land, and you will drive them out before you. Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods.” – Exodus 23:31-32
Or this one?
“See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land the Lord swore he would give to your fathers — to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — and to their descendants after them.” – Deuteronomy 1:8
There’s more: Genesis 15:18-21, and Numbers 34 for more detail on the borders. Zionism is not the “politicization” or “distortion” of Judaism. It is the revival of it.

And to the “This is not about Islam, it’s about politics!” crowd, is this verse from the Quran (emphasis added) meaningless?
“O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you–then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people.” – Quran, 5:51
 What about the numerous verses and hadith quoted in Hamas’ charter? And the famous hadith of the Gharqad tree explicitly commanding Muslims to kill Jews?

Please tell me — in light of these passages written centuries and millennia before the creation of Israel or the occupation — how can anyone conclude that religion isn’t at the root of this, or at least a key driving factor? You may roll your eyes at these verses, but they are taken very seriously by many of the players in this conflict, on both sides. Shouldn’t they be acknowledged and addressed? When is the last time you heard a good rational, secular argument supporting settlement expansion in the West Bank?

Denying religion’s role seems to be a way to be able to criticize the politics while remaining apologetically “respectful” of people’s beliefs for fear of “offending” them. But is this apologism and “respect” for inhuman ideas worth the deaths of human beings?

People have all kinds of beliefs — from insisting the Earth is flat to denying the Holocaust. You may respect their right to hold these beliefs, but you’re not obligated to respect the beliefs themselves. It’s 2014, and religions don’t need to be “respected” any more than any other political ideology or philosophical thought system. Human beings have rights. Ideas don’t. The oft-cited politics/religion dichotomy in Abrahamic religions is false and misleading. All of the Abrahamic religions are inherently political.
3. Why would Israel deliberately want to kill civilians?

This is the single most important issue that gets everyone riled up, and rightfully so.
Again, there is no justification for innocent Gazans dying. And there’s no excuse for Israel’s negligence in incidents like the killing of four children on a Gazan beach. But let’s back up and think about this for a minute.

Why on Earth would Israel deliberately want to kill civilians?

When civilians die, Israel looks like a monster. It draws the ire of even its closest allies. Horrific images of injured and dead innocents flood the media. Ever-growing anti-Israel protests are held everywhere from Norway to New York. And the relatively low number of Israeli casualties (we’ll get to that in a bit) repeatedly draws allegations of a “disproportionate” response. Most importantly, civilian deaths help Hamas immensely.

How can any of this possibly ever be in Israel’s interest?

If Israel wanted to kill civilians, it is terrible at it. ISIS killed more civilians in two days (700 plus) than Israel has in two weeks. Imagine if ISIS or Hamas had Israel’s weapons, army, air force, US support, and nuclear arsenal. Their enemies would’ve been annihilated long ago. If Israel truly wanted to destroy Gaza, it could do so within a day, right from the air. Why carry out a more painful, expensive ground incursion that risks the lives of its soldiers?
4. Does Hamas really use its own civilians as human shields?

Ask Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas how he feels about Hamas’ tactics.
“What are you trying to achieve by sending rockets?” he asks. “I don’t like trading in Palestinian blood.”

It isn’t just speculation anymore that Hamas puts its civilians in the line of fire.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri plainly admitted on Gazan national TV that the human shield strategy has proven “very effective.”

The UN relief organization UNRWA issued a furious condemnation of Hamas after discovering hidden rockets in not one, but two children’s schools in Gaza last week.

Hamas fires thousands of rockets into Israel, rarely killing any civilians or causing any serious damage. It launches them from densely populated areas, including hospitals and schools.

Why launch rockets without causing any real damage to the other side, inviting great damage to your own people, then putting your own civilians in the line of fire when the response comes? Even when the IDF warns civilians to evacuate their homes before a strike, why does Hamas tell them to stay put?

Because Hamas knows its cause is helped when Gazans die. If there is one thing that helps Hamas most — one thing that gives it any legitimacy — it is dead civilians. Rockets in schools. Hamas exploits the deaths of its children to gain the world’s sympathy. It uses them as a weapon.
You don’t have to like what Israel is doing to abhor Hamas. Arguably, Israel and Fatah are morally equivalent. Both have a lot of right on their side. Hamas, on the other hand, doesn’t have a shred of it.
5. Why are people asking for Israel to end the “occupation” in Gaza?

Because they have short memories.

In 2005, Israel ended the occupation in Gaza. It pulled out every last Israeli soldier. It dismantled every last settlement. Many Israeli settlers who refused to leave were forcefully evicted from their homes, kicking and screaming.

This was a unilateral move by Israel, part of a disengagement plan intended to reduce friction between Israelis and Palestinians. It wasn’t perfect — Israel was still to control Gaza’s borders, coastline, and airspace — but considering the history of the region, it was a pretty significant first step.

After the evacuation, Israel opened up border crossings to facilitate commerce. The Palestinians were also given 3,000 greenhouses which had already been producing fruit and flowers for export for many years.

But Hamas chose not to invest in schools, trade, or infrastructure. Instead, it built an extensive network of tunnels to house thousands upon thousands of rockets and weapons, including newer, sophisticated ones from Iran and Syria. All the greenhouses were destroyed.

Hamas did not build any bomb shelters for its people. It did, however, build a few for its leaders to hide out in during airstrikes. Civilians are not given access to these shelters for precisely the same reason Hamas tells them to stay home when the bombs come.

Gaza was given a great opportunity in 2005 that Hamas squandered by transforming it into an anti-Israel weapons store instead of a thriving Palestinian state that, with time, may have served as a model for the future of the West Bank as well. If Fatah needed yet another reason to abhor Hamas, here it was.
6. Why are there so many more casualties in Gaza than in Israel?

The reason fewer Israeli civilians die is not because there are fewer rockets raining down on them. It’s because they are better protected by their government.

When Hamas’ missiles head towards Israel, sirens go off, the Iron Dome goes into effect, and civilians are rushed into bomb shelters. When Israeli missiles head towards Gaza, Hamas tells civilians to stay in their homes and face them.

While Israel’s government urges its civilians to get away from rockets targeted at them, Gaza’s government urges its civilians to get in front of missiles not targeted at them.

The popular explanation for this is that Hamas is poor and lacks the resources to protect its people like Israel does. The real reason, however, seems to have more to do with disordered priorities than deficient resources (see #5). This is about will, not ability. All those rockets, missiles, and tunnels aren’t cheap to build or acquire. But they are priorities. And it’s not like Palestinians don’t have a handful of oil-rich neighbors to help them the way Israel has the US.

The problem is, if civilian casualties in Gaza drop, Hamas loses the only weapon it has in its incredibly effective PR war. It is in Israel’s national interest to protect its civilians and minimize the deaths of those in Gaza. It is in Hamas’ interest to do exactly the opposite on both fronts.
7. If Hamas is so bad, why isn’t everyone pro-Israel in this conflict?

Because Israel’s flaws, while smaller in number, are massive in impact.

Many Israelis seem to have the same tribal mentality that their Palestinian counterparts do. They celebrate the bombing of Gaza the same way many Arabs celebrated 9/11. A UN report recently found that Israeli forces tortured Palestinian children and used them as human shields. They beat up teenagers. They are often reckless with their airstrikes. They have academics who explain how rape may be the only truly effective weapon against their enemy. And many of them callously and publicly revel in the deaths of innocent Palestinian children.

To be fair, these kinds of things do happen on both sides. They are an inevitable consequence of multiple generations raised to hate the other over the course of 65 plus years. To hold Israel up to a higher standard would mean approaching the Palestinians with the racism of lowered expectations.
However, if Israel holds itself to a higher standard like it claims — it needs to do much more to show it isn’t the same as the worst of its neighbors.

Israel is leading itself towards increasing international isolation and national suicide because of two things: 1. The occupation; and 2. Settlement expansion.

Settlement expansion is simply incomprehensible. No one really understands the point of it. Virtually every US administration — from Nixon to Bush to Obama — has unequivocally opposed it. There is no justification for it except a Biblical one (see #2), which makes it slightly more difficult to see Israel’s motives as purely secular.

The occupation is more complicated. The late Christopher Hitchens was right when he said this about Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories:
“In order for Israel to become part of the alliance against whatever we want to call it, religious barbarism, theocratic, possibly thermonuclear theocratic or nuclear theocratic aggression, it can’t, it’ll have to dispense with the occupation. It’s as simple as that.
It can be, you can think of it as a kind of European style, Western style country if you want, but it can’t govern other people against their will. It can’t continue to steal their land in the way that it does every day.And it’s unbelievably irresponsible of Israelis, knowing the position of the United States and its allies are in around the world, to continue to behave in this unconscionable way. And I’m afraid I know too much about the history of the conflict to think of Israel as just a tiny, little island surrounded by a sea of ravening wolves and so on. I mean, I know quite a lot about how that state was founded, and the amount of violence and dispossession that involved. And I’m a prisoner of that knowledge. I can’t un-know it.”
As seen with Gaza in 2005, unilateral disengagement is probably easier to talk about than actually carry out. But if it Israel doesn’t work harder towards a two-state (maybe three-state, thanks to Hamas) solution, it will eventually have to make that ugly choice between being a Jewish-majority state or a democracy.

It’s still too early to call Israel an apartheid state, but when John Kerry said Israel could end up as one in the future, he wasn’t completely off the mark. It’s simple math. There are only a limited number of ways a bi-national Jewish state with a non-Jewish majority population can retain its Jewish identity. And none of them are pretty."

After reading these seven questions, I have decided that for now, I am not choosing a side. This is a tribal-religious centered conflict as the author of this blog article states:

"Let’s face it, the land belongs to both of them now. Israel was carved out of Palestine for Jews with help from the British in the late 1940s just like my own birthplace of Pakistan was carved out of India for Muslims around the same time. The process was painful, and displaced millions in both instances. But it’s been almost 70 years. There are now at least two or three generations of Israelis who were born and raised in this land, to whom it really is a home, and who are often held accountable and made to pay for for historical atrocities that are no fault of their own. They are programmed to oppose “the other” just as Palestinian children are. At its very core, this is a tribal religious conflict that will never be resolved unless people stop choosing sides.

So you really don’t have to choose between being “pro-Israel” or “pro-Palestine.” If you support secularism, democracy, and a two-state solution — and you oppose Hamas, settlement expansion, and the occupation — you can be both.

If they keep asking you to pick a side after all of that, tell them you’re going with hummus."

Friday, July 25, 2014

"So blessed"

A phrase that I am hearing more and more in recent years is "I'm so blessed". These words, one similar ones implying that someone is so special they get preferred treatment over others. This shows up repeatedly in my Facebook newsfeed daily. "Look at my family, I'm so blessed", "I survived because of a team of forty doctors in the emergency room and surgery...but God has blessed me" while in another surgical suite, another person dies. These people either don't stop to THINK about the way their words come across about being so specially chosen for favors by an invisible god. A god who looks the other way when children die when neglectful parents leave them locked in hot cars to die a horrendous, torturous death. No god comes to "bless" them. A little child was recently beaten to death by his own mother and father, and no god came to "bless" him.

Don't people stop to think before they brag post about their "special blessings" that there are those reading those lovely comments with a broken heart, a loved one who is dying, a miscarriage, a lost home because of financial ruin, or a son or daughter just killed in Afghanistan. While we can appreciate the good things we have in life, treasure our families, be glad we have a roof over our head and be grateful and proud of a new job or promotion, there are others out there that the opposite has happened. I do not believe that I am more special than anyone else on this planet or deserve more than anyone else.

I became a grandmother earlier this year, and my granddaughter has brought me immeasurable joy, but to say that I am specially Am I very happy and love her very, very much, more than life itself? YES  But there are grandmothers out there who are losing their grandchildren to cancer and other terrible disease and accidents. Where are their "blessings"? Where are the "blessings" for the millions living in poverty that is not their faults? Where are the blessings of children abused at the hands of church leaders and those whom they trust? Where are the blessings for people wiped out in natural disasters while others survive to proclaim their "specialness". 

Life is random. Good things happen, and bad things happen to everyone. I've said this time and time again. There is NO GRAND PUPPETMASTER PULLING THE STRINGS OF BILLIONS OF PEOPLE. Life is what it is, and it is how we deal with it that matters...hopefully with grace and humbleness and not one of bragged self-perceived specialness.

I'm back

It's been a long while since I have been here to do any writing, but now I am back at it again. With the emergence of the ever-growing Facebook and fast-paced chit-chat, I got sucked into the social media realm forgetting what I loved to do, which is WRITE, actual COMPOSING full sentences and paragraphs on topics and current events that are important to me. New post coming shortly.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Pastor tells gay couples to die on their wedding day

This story was brought to my attention via Ray G, and it’s not the first time I have heard about a pastor preaching hate and death to the “infidel”.  We may joke and 

end religious bigotry

think this is all nonsense and assume their numbers are too small to even give the matter the time of day, but there are enough of these bible-based bigots to be a serious threat to the public.

From Right Wing Watch:

Pastor Kevin Swanson: Tell gay couples to die on their wedding day

Christian Right radio host Kevin Swanson says it is appropriate to attend a same-sex wedding but only as long as you hold up a sign calling for the happy couple to be put to death.
Taking a page from Gordon Klingenschmitt, who said that photographers should print “worthy of death” on photos of the wedding of a same-sex couple, Swanson said that guests can “attend the wedding and hold up the sign Leviticus 20:13 word for word: ‘If a man sleeps with a man as he sleeps with a woman the two of them have committed an abomination and they shall both be put to death.’ You could attend a wedding and hold up that sign.”
Bakeries, such as the Oregon cake shop that refused service to a gay couple, can do the same thing: “if you bake a cake for a homosexual wedding you can put Leviticus 20:13 on the cake.”
Swanson accused gay “fascists” of attacking the Oregon bakery, telling listeners “that the Nazi Party had their birth at a homosexual bar in Berlin…. This is what homosexuals do best and they will engage in their Pink Mafia effort to control and shut down businesses that do not cooperate with their agenda.”
Following a discussion of how same-sex weddings are “Neronic weddings” as they were developed by Nero, Swanson confessed that he finds it “mindboggling” why homosexuality is “outrageously popular” today.
This is the same kook that says the Colorado forest fires are “God’s Wrath”.  And we are worried about kooky Robertson when there are real haters out there promoting hate, bigotry and even violence and all justifying it with the verses they cherry pick from their mythology book. Will they start stoning their smart-mouthed women  and adulterers next like they do in areas of the Middle East? It’s in Leviticus so according to them an order from their imaginary Sky Boss.

If you do a Google search for this subject you will be shocked at all the churches and pastors preaching this sort of “justice” based on ONE passage in an ancient thousands of year-old text.

This guy in North Carolina doesn’t say to go out and shoot or hang homosexuals, but want to round them all up to die and not be allowed to “corrupt” society, forgetting that homosexuals are BORN that way and most of the time to STRAIGHT parents.

North Carolina Pastor Says Gay People Should Be “Detained in Camps” Until They Die

Although the majority of Americans now believe that gay and lesbian citizens should have the legal right to marry, homophobia obviously runs deep among many in this country. One of those raging homophobes is Pastor Charles Worley of the Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, North Carolina, who recently told his congregation that “the queers and the homosexuals” should be “detained in camps” and left to die.
 The full quote from his sermon:
I figured a way out to get rid of all the lesbians and queers. But it isn’t going to pass in Congress. Build a great, big, large fence — 150 or 100 mile long — put all the lesbians in there…Do the same thing for the queers and the homosexuals and have that fence electrified so they can’t get out…and you know what, in a few years, they’ll die out…do you know why? They can’t reproduce!
 The video is available in The Advocate.

Here is another one:

Kansas pastor says government should kill homosexuals

(CNN) – When a Christian pastor in North Carolina told his congregation on Mother’s Day that the way “to get rid of all the lesbians and queers” was to put them behind an electric fence and wait for them to die out because they couldn’t reproduce, hundreds of people demonstrated against him.
But the protests are not silencing other preachers who believe homosexuality is a sin condemned by the Bible.
Kansas pastor Curtis Knapp went even further Sunday, preaching that the government should kill homosexuals.
“They won’t, but they should,” he said, according to a recording of his sermon posted online.
Like the sermon from Charles Worley at Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, North Carolina, earlier this month, Knapp’s sermon drew an angry response.
His voice mail filled up with messages saying “things you don’t want your kids to hear,” he told CNN affiliate KTKA.
But he is not backing away from his comments.
“We punish pedophilia. We punish incest. We punish polygamy and various things. It’s only homosexuality that is lifted out as an exemption,” he said.
He cited the biblical verse Leviticus 20:13: “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act. They shall surely be put to death.”
But he said gay people had nothing to worry about from the government or from him.
Gay people have nothing to worry about? If I happened to be a gay person, I would be extremely worried that people with this sort of phobic, bigoted, and hateful attitude are directing their desire of vengeance towards me.

Idiot creationist blames humanism. . .

for Miley Cyrus’ twerking frenzy during her recent VMA performance. I know most of you are probably sick to death of the media attention given to this in light of what are attention should really be on…Syria.  (IMO I say we should avoid air strikes, feel free to discuss that instead in the comment thread if you choose to.)
I couldn’t watch the whole video. Comfort is just a dumbass, makes my brain hurt.

Creationist: Miley Cyrus twerking is ‘the fruit of humanism’

For you who would rather read than subject yourself to the video idiocy, here is the story:

Secular humanism is to blame — at least partially — for the gyrating gluteus maximus of Miley Cyrus, according to creationist Ray Comfort.
Tuesday on their Internet-based video show, Comfort and his colleagues discussed the former Disney child star’s raunchy performance at the MTV awards.
“She has prostituted herself in the most horrible public fashion and brought shame to [her father] and dishonor [to her mother], and what for? It’s just very sad,” Comfort said.
Comfort noted that an 88-year-old World War II veteran was recently beaten to death by two teens in Washington state. He said people had referred to the two teens as “victims” because of their troubled background.
“This is the fruit of humanism,” Comfort continued. “If you abandon the Scriptures and lose the fear of God you’re going to go to humanism and say that man isn’t sinful, he is basically good, and anyone who goes to that has gone off the rails of being good. But here, Miley Cyrus hasn’t had a bad background or a broken family, she has a sinful heart who has given herself to things that are sinful knowing that she will get applause from men.”
Maybe the problem Mr. Comfort isn’t “humanism” it is just BEING HUMAN and seeking attention, just as you are from your vain desire to be on television even if it means being a buffoon to a bunch of cretinists creationist Comfort worshipers.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Is this anything new we didn't already know???

 Have these people been living under a rock the past couple of decades?

“New Atheists”? Not really, just finally speaking up

More and more atheists are done with standing in the background, biting our tongues while giving religious folks the “respect” to proselytize, evangelize, preach, badger, and interject their beliefs into our secular schools and government (and even our personal space). The time has arrived when atheists are finally speaking up loudly and firmly — we have had enough! Sitting back and being polite has gotten us nowhere except in the mess we now find ourselves in the political realm (generally the Republicans, though the Democrats don’t have a chance without some form of sky daddy beliefs). Fundamentalist Christians are running rampant throughout our local, state and Federal government. Being “tolerant” has only encouraged the willfully ignorant to try and take over and attempt to turn this free nation into an intolerant theocracy where homophobia is rampant, where women do not have a say about their own health and sexual issues, and those who are not Christian are considered to be unpatriotic and a threat to “Christian values”.
As stated in Wikipedia:
“New Atheism is the name given to the ideas promoted by a collection of 21st-century atheist writers who have advocated the view that “religion should not simply be tolerated but should be countered, criticized, and exposed by rational argument wherever its influence arises.”
When an atheist speaks up, especially when she or he is making a point that a believer cannot provide adequate argument against, they go into persecution mode and start the name calling…”angry atheist” being one of the most common accusations. “You’re so angry, why are you so angry? What has happened in your life to make you so angry against God?”

And when we try to explain that it is THEIR intolerance and their pushiness and attempt to assimilate that we disagree with, the persecution mode kicks on in their brains and their ears close and they don’t want to hear anything that might put a seed of doubt into their “faith”.
It’s a free country…people can believe whatever they choose to believe. But when those beliefs are being forced upon others, when that faith causes discrimination and oppression of others, when that faith interferes with the principles this country was founded on and interferes with the freedoms and happiness of others, then those believers need to be put in their place. It’s time to say ENOUGH.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

We got scared. . .

This video is an excellent find by a new friend, Lee D. It is worth trying to get every believer we know to watch. There will be resistance, but it contains a powerful message as to the beliefs humans have held and why they cling to them. Fear…fear of each other, fear of death.

Take a stand against child abuse

 Most of you know the story about the NC pastor who encourages  parents to punch kids who show “effeminate” behavior and to crack their wrists and “butch” girls should be “reined in”.
American Atheist reports a protest against pastor Sean Harris tomorrow, May 6 in Fayetteville, NC.
Fayetteville, N.C. Police are expecting 500-600 people to attend our protest of the local pastor who told his congregation to ‘beat their gay kids.’ *shudder*
Are YOU too busy to take a stand against this monster? RSVP:
Are you too far away to attend? You can still help by sharing this and temporarily setting your facebook timeline cover photo to THIS picture:×3501.jpg
He is of course retracting what he had stated, but we know that he is just trying to save face in the media while still clinging to his bigoted beliefs. These people must be shown that we will not accept child abuse and discrimination in any way, shape or form.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Jedi Witnesses

Frank Zappa

If the leaders of the "religious right" can keep their followers believing that education and intellectualism are "evil", they will be better able to control their "flocks" of sheeple.

Monday, January 02, 2012

It's a MIracle!

Happy New Year!

First of all , I want to say Happy New Year  and hope that 2012 is a good one for each and every one of you. Thank you for coming here to read and for comments which contribute to our debates and discussions.

Another year is over, and a new one begins, and it is yet another election year with the Religious Wrong Right pushing even harder than ever to get control of the reins of White House.
From the halls of Congress, where the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly urged public schools to post “In God We Trust” displays in classrooms, to the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., that was attended by 3,000 fundamentalist Christian activists, the Religious Right’s influence loomed large.
Since 2012 is an election year, we expect the Religious Right to use this growing influence to wage an all-out war to shape the U.S. government into a body that will do its bidding.
Here are 10 of the biggest challenges, issues and concerns that Americans United is expecting to confront in the coming twelve months

Improper Involvement of Religion in the 2012 Elections
Religion has infiltrated the run-up to the 2012 elections on an unprecedented level. Virtually all of the Republican presidential candidates have spent considerable time courting votes from the Religious Right. Nearly all of the major contenders spoke at the Values Voter Summit, and most of those candidates also appeared at a forum in November focusing on “questions of the soul” that was held at a fundamentalist church in Iowa.
The Religious Right is also making a serious push to pick the Republican candidate for president. The Alliance Defense Fund held its annual “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” in October, an event designed to encourage churches to engage in illegal campaign intervention. Last year’s version featured a record number of participants, and activists assume that even more will join in fray in 2012. The Religious Right is also planning to hold voter turnout drives and distribute “voter guides” that pretend to be unbiased but are not.
Religious Right strategists dream of forging fundamentalist and evangelical churches into a disciplined voting bloc to effectively dominate the democratic process.
Sadly, the presidential campaign has already included expressions of religious bigotry. Influential Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress said in October that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is Mormon, is a member of a cult and cited his affiliation as a reason not to support his candidacy.
Critics have also questioned President Barack Obama’s status as a Christian, charging falsely that he is a Muslim or at best an opponent of the Christian faith.
Article VI of the U.S. Constitution forbids religious tests for public office, and church-state separationists regard attacks such as these as a violation of the spirit of that provision.
School Voucher Onslaught in the States and Congress
The Associated Press reported that 30 states explored voucher subsidies for religious and other private schools in 2011, and that number is expected to grow this year. These efforts have been driven by wealthy right-wing organizations, such as the Alliance for School Choice, which advocates for vouchers nationwide and is run by right-wing activist Betsy DeVos. Her organization and its allies provide vast resources and public relations expertise to push for school vouchers in many states.
DeVos has lots of help from the Religious Right and the Roman Catholic hierarchy because parochial schools and fundamentalist academies would be the primary beneficiary of “school choice” programs.
There is an especially sneaky attempt at voucher legislation underway in Florida, where a ballot initiative set to be considered in 2012 would allow the state to give taxpayer money to religious organizations.
Rabbi Merrill Shapiro, president of the Americans United Board of Trustees, is a plaintiff in a case filed by AU and its allies to get the initiative off the ballot. He and others involved in the litigation say the proposed constitutional amendment misleads voters about its true effects.
Voucher bills may come up on the federal level as well. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) railroaded a voucher program for the District of Columbia through Congress in March, so it’s clear Americans United will have to carefully monitor federal legislation as well in 2012.
The Catholic Bishops’ Crusade for ‘Religious Liberty’
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has launched a formidable new lobbying unit known as the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty. The committee claims to be defending religious liberty, but critics say it actually seeks to preserve taxpayer funding for church-affiliated agencies while maintaining overly broad exemptions from various laws.
A representative of this committee testified in October before the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution regarding the issue of religious liberty in America and made the case that Catholic-run organizations should be exempt from providing birth control or recognizing same-sex marriages but should still receive government contracts and funds. Republicans on the committee seemed willing to consider this position, but Democrats were very resistant to offering such broad religious exemptions and government money.
The Pew Research Center found that Catholic lobbying organizations are the most powerful among Washington religious lobbies as they comprise 19 percent of all faith lobbying. As a result, the Ad Hoc Committee will certainly be one to watch in 2012.
Improper Religious Proselytizing in Public Schools
Some elements of the Religious Right hate the public school system because it doesn’t allow them to indoctrinate students with their version of Christianity. As a result, they look to add prayer or other religious activities to the school schedule whenever they can.
In Missouri, for example, voters will face a religion amendment on the 2012 ballot that, if passed, would open the door for religious activities on any and all public property, including schools. The proposal is so open-ended that school children might have the right to refuse to do homework on religious grounds.
In Florida, a bill is advancing through the state legislature that would let local school boards allow students to offer prayers at school events. Originally the measure stated that the prayers must be non-sectarian but that language was removed. The legislation has been offered several times before and could pass, although AU’s Florida chapters, the ACLU and the Anti-Defamation League all oppose the measure.
Moreover, the Religious Right is always trying to stack public school curriculum and textbooks with religious material and going on creationism crusades, which observers expect will continue in 2012.
‘Faith-Based’ Funding and Hiring Bias
Despite pleas from Americans United and allies, President Obama has yet to act on his campaign promise to make major civil rights and civil liberties improvements to the Bush “faith-based” initiative. Speaking in Zanesville, Ohio, in 2008, he said, “If you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can’t discriminate against them – or against the people you hire – on the basis of their religion.”
Americans United has written to Obama asking him to keep his promise, but he has yet to do so. This issue is likely to remain an ongoing concern in 2012.
Related faith-based funding controversies are also likely. For example, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is considering a new rule allowing the use of taxpayer funds for the construction and repair of religious buildings overseas.
AU has submitted comments to USAID urging the agency to withdraw the proposed rule.
Government Promotion of Religious Symbols
In an election year, politicians often look for easy ways to show their religiosity and that has already begun at both the state and federal levels.
The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a resolution in November that reaffirmed “In God We Trust” as the official motto of the United States and encouraged its display in public schools and other public buildings. The action came even though, as Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) pointed out, no one had suggested that this is not the motto of the United States.
That same month, Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), introduced a bill that would order the Secretary of the Interior to add a Franklin Delano Roosevelt prayer to the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. Roosevelt offered that prayer on D-Day as the United States began the military operation that liberated Europe.
Another religious display issue has arisen in Montana, where a large statue of Jesus erected by the Knights of Columbus sits on national forest land. The U.S. Forest Service had planned to remove the statue, but is facing resistance not only from the Knights but also from U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), who wants to save it.
In Georgia, the state legislature will consider a bill that would require all vehicle license plates to be emblazoned with “In God We Trust” unless drivers pay extra to cover up the message.
As election season heats up this year, it is likely these types of efforts will only increase.
Attacks on Religious Minorities
The Religious Right says frequently that America is a Christian nation (despite ample evidence to the contrary), so anyone who doesn’t share that movement’s belief in its special brand of Christianity is often marginalized.
The best example of attempts by the Religious Right to marginalize minorities is anti-sharia legislation. In 2010, Oklahoma passed the so-called “Save Our State Amendment,” which bars enforcement of Islamic law. It received 70 percent of the vote.
Church-state experts note that the U.S. Constitution already bars government support for religion in most cases, so such legislation is unnecessary.
The law has been challenged in court on the grounds that it singles out Muslims for discrimination. Americans United filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case in May, and it is now before the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
While Oklahoma has taken one of the rashest stances in discriminating against Muslims, it is clear that many other elements of the Religious Right would like to see similar laws enforced nationwide and could make a push for that in 2012.
The Marriage War
The Religious Right, along with the Catholic hierarchy and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), are out to fashion state marriage policy so it reflects their doctrinal teachings. They are firmly committed to the idea that marriage is between one man and one woman only, and they are fighting in the courts, in the statehouses and in Congress to make sure the law continues to define marriage according to their theology.
The highest profile case is the challenge to California’s 2008 ban on same-sex marriage that is working its way through the federal court system. More than 40 states have already banned same-sex marriage, but the outcome of this case could set a precedent for reversing that trend. The Supreme Court may take up the issue in 2012.
There is also a referendum in the works in North Carolina that could be on the ballot in May and would, if passed, put a ban on gay marriage into the state constitution.
A referendum banning same-sex marriage is also on the November ballot in Minnesota.
‘Personhood’ Amendments Here, There and Everywhere
Multiple states have faced attacks from groups seeking to pass “personhood” amendments, and that trend looks to continue in 2012.
The latest state to consider one of these amendments is Mississippi, which voted it down in November. Had the measure passed, it would have declared fertilized eggs to be people, made abortion illegal in virtually all instances, including cases of rape and incest, and it would have banned some forms of birth control. So broad was the language of the amendment that women who miscarried could have been subjected to criminal investigations.
Keith Mason, co-founder of Personhood USA, which is a sponsor of these amendments, has said that his organization may attempt another shot at a Mississippi ballot initiative and that his organization is pushing for “personhood” amendments on the 2012 ballots in Ohio, Florida, Montana, Oregon, California and Nevada.
Religiously Based Censorship
The Religious Right is always on the lookout for books, movies, artwork and other aspects of culture to ban based on their religious convictions.
In late 2010, Speaker John Boehner and his allies called for the removal of an exhibit in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery after they learned that it contains a short video of a crucifix with ants crawling on it, as well as works of art with sexual themes. The museum bent to Boehner’s pressure and removed the video.
In Missouri last summer, a school district banned Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five and Sarah Oeckler’s Twenty Boy Summer because a local professor complained that the books advocate principles that are contrary to the Bible.
These are only a few of the issues we are expected to go up against in the coming year.  We can expect to see many similar efforts by the Religious Right in an attempt to get their way and more claims are made that a candidate’s god chose him or her to lead our nation.
AU Executive Director Barry W. Lynn said, “This could be a uniquely challenging year for Americans United, with political candidates claiming God’s endorsement and lawmakers poised to vote on all manner of unconstitutional affronts to the First Amendment.”
This election year, we must remain as vigilant more than ever and not take anything for granted.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Dumbell Nebula

M27: The Dumbbell Nebula
Image Credit & Copyright: Bill Snyder (Bill Snyder Photography)
Explanation: The first hint of what will become of our Sun was discovered inadvertently in 1764. At that time, Charles Messier was compiling a list of diffuse objects not to be confused with comets. The 27th object on Messier's list, now known as M27 or the Dumbbell Nebula, is a planetary nebula, the type of nebula our Sun will produce when nuclear fusion stops in its core. M27 is one of the brightest planetary nebulae on the sky, and can be seen toward the constellation of the Fox (Vulpecula) with binoculars. It takes light about 1000 years to reach us from M27, shown above in colors emitted by hydrogen and oxygen. Understanding the physics and significance of M27 was well beyond 18th century science. Even today, many things remain mysterious about bipolar planetary nebula like M27, including the physical mechanism that expels a low-mass star's gaseous outer-envelope, leaving an X-ray hot white dwarf.

In Memory of Christopher Hitchens

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Atlantis' Last Approach

Image Credit: ISS Expedition 28 Crew, NASA 
Explanation: For the last time, the US Space Shuttle has approached the International Space Station (ISS). Following a dramatic launch from Cape Canaveral last week that was witnessed by an estimated one million people, Space Shuttle Atlantis on STS-135 lifted a small crew to a welcome rendezvous three days ago with the orbiting station. Although NASA is discontinuing the aging shuttle fleet, NASA astronauts in the near future will be able to visit the ISS on Russian space flights. Pictured above, Atlantis rises toward the ISS with its cargo bay doors open, showing a gleaming metallic Raffaello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module. Over 200 kilometers below lie the cool blue waters of planet Earth. The much-anticipated last glide back to Earth for the Space Shuttle is currently scheduled for next Thursday, July 21.

Thousands of hate mail and death threats to atheists in one thread on Faux News

While some of these threats may just be trolls, there are many god botherers who really believe that atheists are deserving of being killed for our non-belief. I have seen people raised in rational, loving homes turn into gay-phobic, gun-toting, literal Bible-believing crazy ass lunatics who seem like they would love to shoot the people who refuse to have an imaginary friend called God. I have lost count of the number of posts and threads I have read which contain  these sentiments from those who call themselves “true Christians.”  Some “moderate” Christians in these threads point out that the violence promoters represent only a small minority of so-called Christians who make verbal death threats to non-believers and others who they deem (based on their ancient book of barbaric stories and fables) deserving of harsh punishments and death. But the moderates believe in the same book, and many believe in the same hell and that we are deserving of eternal torment as much as the fundamentalists do.

Here is the article that sparked a recent, very heated FB thread on Fox news' FB page:

FOX News Facebook Page on 9/11 Cross Generates Death Threats Against Atheists

FOX News readers on Facebook started going off after Blair Scott, Communications Director for American Atheists, appeared on America Live with Megyn Kelly. Blair reports that when he returned home from his local FOX station for the interview that his voice mail was full of messages and his inbox had almost 200 hateful messages. “I can always tell when someone from American Atheists is on FOX news, because my Inbox explodes with hate email,” said Blair.
We can talk about the issues about this, but our friend William Hamby has put it well over at the Examiner.
Moderators on FOX News’ Facebook page had been trying diligently to delete the violent threats, but not before they were screen-captured by a diligent American Atheists member named Robert Posey.
Here are the screen captures of the death threats and threat of violence posted against atheists. We have left their screen names in place. If you’re devoted enough to make the death threat then you should be devoted enough to have your name attached to your hatred. How many did FOX News delete before they could be captured? There are over 8,000 comments on their post related to Blair’s appearance on FOX News.
Fox News can hardly keep up with deleting the vitriol. Moderates state that they denounce the death threats and verbal or any violence against atheists and others, however, they still believe we are deserving of some sort of violent repercussions from their imaginary friend….for simply not believing in it/his/her existence. All believers in the God of Abraham learn from a young age that those who hold beliefs different from their own are somehow flawed, evil, to be pitied and “prayed for”. They are taught that there is a place of eternal torment and torture and suffering for us. And by believing such nonsense is one step away from supporting the folks who would have us killed and justified as some sort of “supreme justice”.

These threats are not to be shunned or taken lightly, especially in these times when there are so many “Tea Baggers” and fundamentalist nutjobs working hard to seize control of our democratic society and turn it into an oppressive, hateful, bigoted, unreasonable, theocracy. Just look at the “war” that is going on in our government as of right now. Call me a pessimist, but I have a bad feeling things will only get uglier before they get better.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fundie watch

While catching up with recent news in the atheist circuit, I found this article at The Daily Beast and it brings up a good point that Michelle Bachmann is an extreme “true believer” and that makes her very dangerous and her political clout should not be underestimated. While we may find much to laugh about with the likes of Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann, Palin we can assume safely that she is just plain ignorant of many things and her stupid comments are genuine. However, there is a difference with Bachmann…she knows exactly what she is saying and to whom she is saying it. And many people…too many of the radical Christian right love her.
Belief is the key to understanding Michele Bachmann, who announced her presidential candidacy during Monday’s Republican debate. Herimpressive performance, which catapulted her close to the front of the presidential pack, surprised some, who perhaps expected her to be as inarticulate as Sarah Palin, to whom she’s often compared. But in Minnesota, even those who don’t like her politics say she shouldn’t be underestimated. “The fact that she’s not a heavy lifter, the fact that she’s relatively unconcerned about the substance of legislation, does not mean that she’s not crafty, that she’s not intelligent and she’s not fast,” says former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson, a Republican. Her ideological radicalism should not be mistaken for stupidity.
On Monday, Bachmann didn’t talk a lot about her religion. She didn’t have to—she knows how to signal it in ways that go right over secular heads. In criticizing Obama’s Libya policy, for example, she said, “We are the head and not the tail.” The phrase comes from Deuteronomy 28:13: “The Lord will make you the head and not the tail.” As Rachel Tabachnick has reported, it’s often used in theocratic circles to explain why Christians have an obligation to rule.
Indeed, no other candidate in the race is so completely a product of the evangelical right as Bachmann; she could easily become the Christian conservative alternative to the comparatively moderate Mormon Mitt Romney. “Michele Bachmann’s a complete package,” says Ralph Reed, the former Christian Coalition wunderkind who now runs the Faith and Freedom Coalition. “She’s got charisma, she’s got an authentic faith testimony, she’s a proven fighter for conservative values, and she’s well known.” She’s also great at raising money—in the 2010 cycle, she amassed a record-breaking $13.2 million in donations.
And this incident reconstructed in the article shows just how devious she can be:
In April 2005, Pamela Arnold wanted to talk to her state senator, Michele Bachmann, who was then running for Congress. A 46-year-old who worked at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Arnold lived with her partner, the famed Arctic explorer Ann Bancroft, on a farm in Scandia, Minnesota. Bachmann was then leading the fight against gay marriage in the state. She’d recently been in the news for hiding in the bushes to observe a gay rights rally at the Capitol. So when members of the Scandia gay community decided to attend one of Bachmann’s constituent forums, Arnold, wanting to make herself visible to her representative, joined them.
A few dozen people showed up at the town hall for the April 9 event, and Bachmann greeted them warmly. But when, during the question and answer session, the topic turned to gay marriage, Bachmann ended the meeting 20 minutes early and rushed to the bathroom. Hoping to speak to her, Arnold and another middle-aged woman, a former nun, followed her. As Bachmann washed her hands and Arnold looked on, the ex-nun tried to talk to her about theology. Suddenly, after less than a minute, Bachmann let out a shriek. “Help!” she screamed. “Help! I’m being held against my will!”
Arnold, who is just over 5 feet tall, was stunned, and hurried to open the door. Bachmann bolted out and fled, crying, to an SUV outside. Then she called the police, saying, according to the police report, that she was “absolutely terrified and has never been that terrorized before as she had no idea what those two women were going to do to her.” The Washington County attorney, however, declined to press charges, writing in a memo, “It seems clear from the statements given by both women that they simply wanted to discuss certain issues further with Ms. Bachmann.”
This is a dangerous woman who appeals to a group of people who are a threat to our secular government,  human rights and freedoms, and anyone who does not adhere to “Christian values.” She is one for us to keep on our fundie watch list.