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"Under God"/"In God We Trust" petition

A petition has sprung out of The Pledge Project by Alonzo Fyfe, the Atheist Ethicist.

[link] Congress undermined American unity in 1954 when it added "Under God" to our Pledge of Allegiance and again in 1956 when it replaced our 175 year old national motto, E Pluribus Unum ("Out Of Many, One"), with "In God We Trust", thus demoting to an implied outsider status the agnostics, atheists, deists, polytheists and other citizens who do not ascribe to this theology. Ideological contention is a necessary and desired result of the freedoms that are the real source of our unity and strength. These laws, by claiming that our unity rests on disregarding the reality of such sincere individual disagreement, are self-defeating.

I urge you to click the link and sign the petition. It won't change anything, but it might make you feel better.

The Pledge Project got me thinking about much the same sort of thing last week. But instead of starting a petition, I created a venn diagram. (Because that's what I do.) I was going to do something with it, but then remembered how lazy I was, so I just saved it on my hard drive to never be opened again. But I dug it out, finished it and I present it now, for your enjoyment. (It may not seem like much, but that says a great deal about how interested, engaged and excited I am by the whole Pledge Project thing.)

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By sporkyy

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Miley Cyrus Helps FBI in World's Largest Pedophile Sting Operation

For Immediate Release
April 28, 2008
Washington D.C.
FBI National Press Office
(202) 324-3691

We at the FBI would like to thank Miley Cyrus, Vanity Fair and the internet for their help in executing the largest pedophile sting operation in the history of the world. So far we have caught 24.5 million pedophiles in America alone. The total number worldwide is well over 100 million.

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Possible atheism in unexpected places.

Following Jim's lead.

I wasted this morning playing World of Warcraft. I was leveling my Night Elf Warrior alt and enjoying the new quests they added to Dustwallow Marsh a few patches ago. (I've been meaning to level an alt just so I could defeat Tethyr. That guy scared me so bad the first time I saw him when I was running my main through Theramore.) I had misinterpreted a quest and swam to the wrong shipwreck in Tidefury Cove. I didn't find my quest objective, but I did find something interesting nonetheless.

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Self-described agnostics are hurting America?*

This post was prompted by the entry That Old Chestnut over at the SGU blog. I started typing a comment for the blog post, but it quickly expanded beyond the scope of just a comment.

I've given the atheism versus agnosticism issue a great deal of thought recently. I think I've hit upon several different problems that I believe cause this confusion: different definitions, different questions, real world applicability, social pressure and pronunciation (didn't expect that one, did you?).

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Atheist Humor is Something Wonderful

Something Truly Wonderful

I was just thinking to myself about the lack of good atheist humor out there.

[link]Dear Anonymous Atheist Complaint Box,
I have been attracted to this girl at my school for months. I finally convinced her to go out on a date with me and it was going really well. We started making out and she unbuttoned her sweather. What do I see dangling right above her bra? You guessed it. I told her she could walk home.

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Riddle me this.

Riddle me this. How do you divide people? Stick religion in where it doesn't belong.

Did you know that Texas has a pledge much like the national Pledge of Allegiance? Neither did I, and, I'm guessing anyone who didn't go through the Texas public school system. Apparently it is much like the national pledge. It's something school children routinely recite robotically but is otherwise mostly forgotten about. That is, until one day in the Texas state legislature state when someone decided it didn't have enough religion in it.

[link][Republican Texas state representative Debbie] Riddle filed a bill to take the Texas pledge and add, "one state under God."

The current Texas pledge:

[link]Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one and indivisible.

Reprentative Riddle's amended pledge from her bill. Now with 21% more added religion!

[link]Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God and indivisible.

Indivisible? Not for long it looks like.

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Religion Syle Book and monotheistic bias

I found a link to an online style guide for journalists who write on religious topics online. It sounded useful enough based on the copy on it's front page.

[link]Religion Newswriters’ Religion Stylebook is an easy-to-use, authoritative guide created for journalists who report on religion in the mainstream media. In it, you’ll find:

  • Entries on the major religions, denominations, and religious organizations that journalists encounter in daily reporting;
  • Preferred spellings, capitalizations, and usage guidelines for religious terms, along with definitions;
  • Accurate titles for religious leaders in different traditions;
  • Pronunciation guides;
  • Entries on terms used in stories on current topics in the news, including abortion, homosexuality, church/state issues and intelligent design;
  • Entries on religion terms that are not included in The Associated Press Stylebook. The Religion Stylebook generally follows AP style but includes many terms it does not cover.

Of course the first thing I did was check out the definition of atheism (and then agnosticism as an afterthought). The brevity of the definitions I saw scanning the site gave me hope as there is little opportunity to do any great violence to any given term. I had much hope that atheism would get a fair shake if for no other reason than that. Apparently I was wrong.

[link]agnostic: One who holds the view that it is impossible to know whether there is a God. Do not confuse with atheist.
....
atheist: A person who holds the view that God does not exist.

Atheists don't just not believe in a single "God", they don't believe in any gods! Agnostics can't specify a single "God" either as there is no way to count the number of gods they don't believe can be known to exist!

I had to seek remedy.

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The Mormon War on New Year's

[link] Provo and St. George will celebrate the new year with public parties Saturday to avoid conflicts with Mormon religious practice, which discourages Sunday revelry.

The War on New Year's is raging again this year. Apparently the Mormon party prevention police are out in full force once again. They have successfully forced at least two cities in Utah to change their New Year's celebrations to non-traditional days. This small change to placate fanatics totally destroys any meaning that the holiday had. Revelry and merriment on December 31st is traditional, but revelry and merriment on the day before? Outrageous! This minute alteration to the way it has generally been done before represents the most egregious assault on the very fabric of our humanity that this generation may ever see!

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Are religious oaths religious tests? Is every test about religion religious?

[link]When Kai Hagen (D) was sworn in as a new county commissioner recently, he declined to take an oath declaring a belief in the existence of God.

I thought religious tests were barred by the Constitution.

[link]The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

Is there really a difference between querying if someone holds certain religious convictions and seeing if someone is willing to take an oath affirming that they hold certain religious convictions?

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New survey indicates atheists finish second to last in presidential unelectability

I found this article that mostly focuses on the electability (or lack thereof) of Mormons. Since the survey was conducted by an outfit called Rasmussen Reports, that oughtn't to be too surprising. If you're wondering what chance a Mormon has running for president, I'll go ahead and quote it here.

Some 43 percent of Americans wouldn't even consider voting for a Mormon for president

That, of course, isn't why I'm posting this. Now the good news.

Some 61 percent of likely voters would not even consider voting for a Muslim presidential contender while 60 percent wouldn't vote for an atheist, the poll found.

Squee!

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My Proposed Resolution

Whereas, our forefathers of this great nation of the United States were white and used the principles thought of by white people as the founding principles of our nation; and

Whereas, as citizens of this great nation, we the white majority also wish to exercise our constitutional right to acknowledge our race and give thanks for the many gifts our race has provided; and

Whereas, as elected officials we should protect the majority's right to express their racist beliefs while showing respect for those of other races; and

Whereas, we wish to continue the wisdom imparted in the Constitution of the United States of America by the founding fathers; and

Whereas, we as elected officials recognize that a Master Race exists above and beyond the institutions of mankind:

Now, therefore, be it resolved by the members of the House of Representatives of the Ninety-third General Assembly, Second Regular Session, the Senate concurring therein, that we stand with the majority of our white constituents and exercise the common sense that voluntary white pride in schools and racist displays on public property are not a coalition of race and state, but rather the justified recognition of the positive role that white people have played in this great nation of ours, the United States of America.

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The benefits of theistic moral frameworks

This was originally a comment I left at the Exiled Preacher blog. I thought it might be good to make a blog post of my own based on it. I think the basics of the argument that since (at least certain kinds of) theism lead to more moral lives that it somehow counts as evidence that the supernatural parts (for which there is otherwise no evidence) are true as well.

I see many theists arguing that Christianity provides a moral framework that leads to better lives and atheism offers nothing. That’s an arguable point, until you examine the actual arguments which seem to drag in issues of the existence of God and Jesus.

Atheism isn’t the lack of a belief in the Christian moral framework (assuming they could ever agree on the particulars of one), it’s the lack of a belief in the existence of supreme beings. And before you try to say it is, it isn’t the lack of a belief in the use of moral frameworks to improve people’s lives either.

It’s like arguing that unicorns say people shouldn’t drink and drive. Aunicornism, the lack of a belief in unicorns, doesn’t offer anything. Thus unicorns are real.

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New Lines of IDC Research

I think it is wonderful that the President has decided to throw his support behind Intelligent Design Creationism. Endorsement from an intellectual of his calibre can only bring more acceptance and funding. Despite the good it brings, it truly saddens me twofold that it took the President himself to get the cabal of science to open their minds to new possibilities. In one way it's sad that the President had to take time himself to endorse expanding the education of our children. He does have more important things to worry about; there is a war on for heaven's sake! The other thing that saddens me is that I know that certain science fundamentalists (such as a certain university professor who live in Minnesota and has a blog) will not listen to their own President. Why do they hate their President? Why do they hate America? Don't they know we are in the middle of a war?

But, as time has shown, wartime is prime time for research and investigation. From jet aircraft to thermonuclear bombs, war is a real boon to science. So I figure now is the perfect time to open up new lines of IDC research. I want to go ahead and carve out my own niche in this new field before the hallowed halls of our universities are too full of researchers working tirelessly on the cutting edge making their own homestead in this brave new world. (Once we get rid of all the scientific fundamentalists, that is.)

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