Jim Downey's picture

Cashing in on crazy.

I've heard of Frank Schaeffer, even heard him interviewed and read some short pieces by him. But this afternoon a friend sent me a link to an excerpt from his latest book, and now I'd like to pass it on to you.

Schaeffer talks about how the whole "Left Behind" industry is really nothing more than the latest version of the crazy right-wing religious crap his father helped to start in this country. Here's a bit:

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Word To My Mother

My mother is a great believer in forwarding emails of the Republican or Christian variety. I've seen most of them before, and generally I don't respond. Eh. My mom is awesome, but a little far right politically and religiously at this point in her life - and I'm too damned tired to start a war. Heh.

But when she forwarded this essay (quoted in it's entirety below the fold), and claimed it was written by our own curmudgeonly atheist Andy Rooney, I had to reply:

Hi Ma,

This was actually written by a sports writer by the name of Nick Gholson who worked for the "Times New Record" newspaper in Wichita Falls, Texas, back in 1999, NOT Andy Rooney. Andy Rooney is actually an atheist!

"Why am I an atheist? I ask you: Why is anybody not an atheist? Everyone starts out being an atheist. No one is born with belief in anything. Infants are atheists until they are indoctrinated. I resent anyone pushing their religion on me. I don't push my atheism on anybody else. Live and let live. Not many people practice that when it comes to religion." -Andy Rooney, Boston Globe, May 30, 1982.

"I am an atheist... I don't understand religion at all. I'm sure I'll offend a lot of people by saying this, but I think it's all nonsense." -Andy Rooney, from a speech at Tufts University, Nov. 18, 2004.


And as for agreeing with Gholson's essay below, obviously I don't. I think it's a pretty desperate argument to claim that "might makes right" like Gholson does here - especially in America! Adult Americans don't usually agree or use petty, childish, playground arguments like that. We usually stand up for the little guy, don't we? Defend those who need defending? We say, "I disagree with what you say, but I would die defending your right to say it!" Right??

Our Constitution and Bill of Rights are designed to counteract the sort of "tyranny of the majority" that Gholson is promoting, and to protect the rights of the minority from being trampled by all the frothing "Christian Nation" kooks in the majority who want to have MY kids pray to THEIR god in public schools paid for by my taxes. You can say your prayers any time you want - on the street corner, in church, in your home, heck, even at a football game! What you *can't* do is have public school officials lead *my* children in saying *your* prayers to *your* god, to the exclusion of all other religions, or non-religion - and then expect me to pay for the privilege!

Argh! It drives me nuts! :)

I love you Ma, and I'm really not trying to make you upset, but I think you're 180 degrees off-center on this issue. I hope you'll reconsider your position.

Much love,


Ugh. I hate writing to my family about this stuff. It's going to make the holidays interesting, in any case! :)

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Let's Peek At The Lodi City Council In 6 Months...

The Lodi City Council has apparently "found their backbone" and has voted unanimously to allow sectarian prayers before City Council meetings in direct opposition to threats of legal action against the City of Lodi by civil rights groups concerned over the clear violations against the U.S. Constitution's Establishment Clause.

So, let's look forward in time a few months. Lodi's City Council has been rolling along offering prayers in Jesus' name for a while now. They knew that this meant - in an abstract way of course - that they may at some point have to allow a non-Christian prayer before the start of the meeting. So, a Mormon Bishop is allowed to pray. Then, a Rabbi. Finally, after much deliberation, an Imam offers a prayer to Allah.

People are tense, but things go well, and the sky doesn't split apart, so they try their best to forget it ever happened, while simultaneously patting themselves on the back for their "tolerance".

Then things start to go awry.

A Raëlian Priest, or "Guide" basically forces his way to the front of the meeting, ranting about God knows what. The Master at Arms throws him out, and the City Council members all have a nervous chuckle.

A Wiccan applies to lead the Council in a skyclad ceremony. The Council members look it up and deny the application.

A Pastafarian wants to dress and talk like a pirate while holding a delicious plate of spaghetti. Denied.

A Jedi Knight wants to have everyone close the blast shield and try to "feel the force". Denied.

Suddenly, a rain of lawsuits alleging First Amendment violations descend onto the City. Religious persecution accusations are flying thick. The Council members decide that the very next wacky non-Christian nutball who applies to lead a prayer, they'll approve.

A Church of Satan Magister applies. They swallow, and approve the application.

The day comes, and all nervously await the Magister as he sweeps into the chambers. The lights dim, and with eerily glowing eyes he begins the blasphemous words for a Black Mass:

"Thou, thou who, in my capacity of Priest, I force, weather thou wilt or no, to descend into this host, to incarnate thyself into this bread Jesus, artisan of hoaxes, bandit of homages, robber of affection- hear! O lasting foulness of Bethlehem, we would have thee confess thy impudent cheats, thy inexplicable crimes!. We would drive deeper the nails into thy hands, press down the crown of thorns upon thy brow, and bring blood from the dry wounds.

Cursed Nazarene, abstractor of stupid parities, impotent king, fugitive god! O Infernal Satanic Majesty, condemn him to the pit, evermore to suffer in perpetual anguish. Bring Thy wrath upon him, O Prince of Darkness, King of Filth, Emperor of Putridity, Dark Lord Satan, hear our demands!"

Cue the lightning and fog machines and wolf howl special effects.

People freak the fuck out, cats and dogs start living together, chaos ensues, council members start raping goats right in the chambers, pregnant Christian ladies give birth to deformed monsters.

You know, the usual.

And atheists sit back and laugh. "Look," we'd say with a chuckle, "we fucking warned you morons about this six months ago! Now, grow the fuck up, stop breaking the law, and try following the Constitution. Make the council meetings secular, idiots, and pray in your own fucking church, and this won't happen ever again."

(Maybe not in those exact words... Heh.)

Jim Downey's picture

It's the Christian Crusader!

Time now for another great episode of the Christian Crusader in "Huntin' Ragheads!":

To that end, Mr. Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the Crusades.

Mr. Prince operated his companies in a manner that encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life. For example, Mr. Prince's executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to "lay Hajiis out on cardboard." Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as a sport or game. Mr. Prince's employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as "ragheads" or "hajiis."

OK, what the hell am I talking about? That the founder of The-mercenary-army-formerly-known-as-Blackwater (now called "Xe") was more 'dirty' than you may have suspected. From The Nation:

Jim Downey's picture

Aw, hell.


Murdered Doctor’s Abortion Clinic Shuttered

The Wichita abortion clinic run by a doctor who was shot and killed will remain closed permanently, his family said on Tuesday.

Dr. George R. Tiller’s clinic was one of the few in the country to provide abortions to women late in their pregnancies, and for decades, women had traveled there from all over the nation and from overseas. It was also the only remaining abortion clinic, even for first trimester abortions, in the Wichita region.

* * *

Even some abortion opponents, who had long devoted their efforts to closing down Dr. Tiller’s clinic, said they did not wish to see it happen under these circumstances. Last week, Troy Newman, the leader of Operation Rescue, had said that closing the clinic now would send a worrisome message. “Good God, do not close this abortion clinic for this reason,” he said in an interview with The New York Times. “Every kook in the world will get some notion.”

Jim Downey's picture

It just ain't fair!

Poor Alan Keyes, he is just so misunderstood and abused:

In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Not long after I received the forwarded link, I got a phone call from the lady who helps me keep my schedule. She reported that the controversial nature of my efforts at Notre Dame is already adversely affecting requests for speaking engagements, which is my main source of income for my family. It wouldn't be the first time that my commitment to the pro-life cause has had this effect. Some time ago, as a result of my efforts to promote better understanding of the importance of US support for Israel's existence, I was often invited to speak at fundraising events for Jewish organizations. But in my political efforts I gave unstinting priority to the defense of innocent life. Thanks to strong support for so-called abortion rights from some quarters in the Jewish community, as this priority became known it virtually eliminated such requests for speaking engagements.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Footprints On The Beach

Beliefnet columnist Rob Dreher is of the "what's the big deal?" and shrug your shoulders-variety of Christian conservative who believes that all of us folks that are concerned with the separation of church and state, and the civil rights inherent in the first amendment, should quit getting our panties in a wad.

[Rob Dreher] You might be able to say that the goal of secularism is to separate Christianity, particularly fundamentalist Christianity, from governance--but you'd have to prove, first, that fundamentalist Christianity is unduly entangled with governance. Aside from the matter of a few attempts to get either Intelligent Design or Creationism into government schools, though, or at least to remind students that the theory of evolution does not in any way prove the non-existence of God no matter how many times, or in how many ways, this is claimed, it's hard to see just where the excessive entanglement between Christianity and government might lie.

Putting aside the absolutely loopy insinuation that "secularists" make the claim that evolution somehow "proves the non-existence of God" (it doesn't - evolution says exactly ZERO about the Christian God), I would like to address Rob's paragraph here:

There is no logical secular reason to oppose the death penalty, for one example, after all; a true secularist could just as easily see such an act as a necessary operation to remove an unsatisfactory and destructive collection of self-aware human tissue from the body politic before the cancer of his lethiferous actions spreads to other self-aware tissue collections. But the new secular morality is taking some of its shape from the old Christian one, while rejecting other aspects of it--which means that it is not Christian morality in toto being rejected, just those elements of it which interfere with the secular vision.

There is no such animal as a "true secularist". Any more than there is a "True Christian(tm)". I call strawman.

And also, a "self-aware tissue collection"? Seriously? Does Dreher *truly* believe that these mythical "True Secularists(tm)" think of their fellow human beings in this way?

Now he's just being silly.

Because the right thing, in the new secular morality, will always be that thing which elevates the atomized individual and his choices in the sexual, biologically-manipulable, life and death arenas over any other thing. The manifesto was written, and it reads: "At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life." (Planned Parenthood vs. Casey).

That is the foundational truth upon which the new secular morality upon which the laws of our new national reality, devoid of "religion," will be based. And the reason the old Christian morality has to go is that it has rejected that insanely relativistic notion and the path to the nihilistic darkness to which it leads.

Gosh, it sure is fun to make up a parody of an entire group of people, then attribute wild and crazy motivations to them, thus making it easier to paint them as soulless freaks who are trying demoniacally to lead America down the "path to nihilistic darkness".

I mean, it's ever so much more interesting than, say, the truth. It certainly makes for a more interesting Beliefnet column - that is, if you can swallow the premise of a ravaging sub-human horde of baby-eating atheist liberals bent of the destruction of America.

So, what is the truth? The truth is that most folks are good people. They love their families and their friends. They celebrate Christmas. They give to charity. They consume, and in doing so, keep our capitalist economy chugging along. They vote for the guy they think will do the best job. They babysit their neighbor's kids, and carpool to work. They are concerned about the environment, but love their big V-8s and their ATVs. They hunt. They fish. They go to work, and bring home a paycheck for the family.

People are people. There are extremes, of course, but the vast middle-ground is filled with basically decent, friendly, good people. They are made up of all colors, and all political parties.

There is no sinister secular plot to supplant the "traditional Christian morality". Christian morality isn't "dissolving". That's just hogwash. Our HUMAN morality has developed and changed and - yes - evolved, throughout the history of our species. It will continue to evolve to meet the unique and changing conditions and needs of our societies. One does not "supplant" the other. "Morality" is all one big, homogeneous, changing, fluid set of guidelines that - through trial and error over hundreds of thousands of years, us humans have agreed-upon in order to make our societies work better.

Some "moral" things are almost always there; Don't murder. Don't rape. Protect women and children, etc. Other things come and go as needed by the species to better survive; Take more than one wife. Cannibalism is OK. Incest is OK if there aren't any other people around. Human sacrifice pleases the gods. Etc. All of these "sometimes" things have been "moral" at some point in our history. That fact that we generally don't consider them to be "moral" actually supports the idea that morality evolves and changes over time, according to it's "environment" (human society).

Please note that trying to stop this change, this evolution of morality, is akin to trying to stop the waves from washing away your footprints on the beach. Futile and childish.

Morality is an expression of our species-level human survival. It is not about a god, gods, God, godlet, goddess, or no-god.

So, Rob Dreher, great column and all - it was fun to read, and to pick apart. But ultimately it's nothing more than sound and fury, signifying nothing more that your own petulant denial of the nature of reality.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

It's A Free Country - Except For Those Dirty Atheists

Manitowoc County, Wisconsin County Board supervisor in charge of approving or disapproving requests for displays on county land, has settled the hoary old "separation of church and state" issue for good.

Apparently, us atheists don't exist, so we don't get equal time in Manitowoc County.

Screw the Constitution - County Board Supervisor Norbet Vogt has SPOKEN!

Norbert Vogt is a County Board supervisor on the Public Works Committee, which reviews requests to place items on county land. A sketch of the proposed display must accompany the written request.

He said he wouldn't have a problem with other faith communities — such as Jewish, Muslim, Buddhism — seeking to have a religious display at the courthouse. "It's a free country," Vogt said.

However, he would have a problem with atheists putting up a sign declaring, "There is no god."

Vogt said everybody realizes there is a Supreme Being, and it would be unacceptable to have a sign denying that reality.

Ziegelbauer said he thinks the Nativity scene "looks wonderful," though he is not involved in the approval process.

He said non-Christians, including atheists, could request display space, but said, after checking with Public Works Director Jeff Beyer, that none have.

Frackin' know-nothing, petty tinpot dictators. Local government seems to attract the type. Here's his contact page at the Manitowoc County website - you know, in case you'd like to express your opinion about his bigotry towards atheists.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

A Pig In A Poke

A Christian blogger is pretty upset that us godless atheists want - *gasp* - equal rights.

[link] We all know that Judeo-Christian values have been the core of our nation’s military since the Revolutionary War and that soldiers, for centuries, have relied on The Almighty for protection during peacetime and wartime. This is just another attempt by godless leftists to chip away at the very foundation of what makes America the land of the free: God. These people must be chomping at the bit for Barack Obama to take office so that they finally have a sympathetic ear - someone who shares their affinity for a godless America.

Any time I see the words “We all know…”, I check my wallet because someone is trying to sell me a pig in a poke.

I noticed that she filed this post under “Our Enemies”. Does she truly consider her fellow American citizens - who just happen to be godless - as her “enemies”?


If so, why? What the heck did we ever do to her? I mean, we are indeed trying to get her to follow the law and the Constitution - to respect our civil right not to be *forced* to attend a prayer function that we do not believe in. But other than that, what’s the problem? Don’t we have that right under the law and the Constitution’s Bill of Rights?

Doesn't she want to follow the law and the Constitution? Does she want to be an outlaw instead? Take over the government and force all of us uppity godless atheists into re-education camps? Have mandatory prayers, oh say five times a day? Blasphemy laws? Prison for “admitted atheists”? A return to McCarthyism? Purges? Theocracy? With her own personal flavor of theological lunacy at the helm?

What *exactly* is she getting at here?

Please forgive me, and everyone else in America who does not share her religion, if we say “no thanks”.

Let’s just stick to the Constitution, shall we? She is not “more equal” than anyone else. She needs to get over it.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

It All Makes Perfect Sense Now

Some folks are just plain crazy. Case in point: David Caldarola, author of an op-ed piece in the Chicago Daily Herald claims that the election is a religious war, between "the faithful" and the dreaded, nasty, soulless, baby-eating atheists.

And here all along I thought that this Presidential election was between John McCain and Barack Obama. Silly me!

[link] Liberalism is socialism-Communism-Marxism; all of which require atheism.


This is not an election between Obama and McCain. It's between atheists and the faithful.

So, according to David "Batshit Insane" Caldarola, this is how it works: Liberalism = socialism = communism = marxism = atheism. Obama is a liberal, therefore, ipso facto, Q.E.D., Barack Obama is an atheist bent on world domination, who wants to distribute your wealth to puppy grinding facilities all over North America.

It's all so very simple - when you're crazy.

Holey frakkin' Christ crackers. I'm no Einstein, but I will be so glad to have this election over with, and finally have a President whose IQ is higher than mine. That would be a nice change.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Second Atheist Soldier Files Suit

The MRFF helps another atheist soldier file a suit against the Defense Department:

[link] Spc. Dustin Chalker, who has served in Korea and Iraq, is the second soldier at the northeast Kansas post to file such a lawsuit. The New Mexico-based Military Religious Freedom Foundation joined Chalker as a plaintiff in his lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan.

Here's the PDF of the "Complaint For Injunctive Relief".

I wonder how long it will be before he receives his first drunken death threat from his fellow "good Christian" soldiers?

Brent Rasmussen's picture

The New Face Of American Theocracy

It is a truism that religious bigotry and the entitlement mentality of the wanna-be theocrat grow strong in our small community school boards. It's relatively easy to get elected to a school board as a trustee, and in a small town most folks think just like you do.

Imagine the surprise of the Wylie, TX School Board trustees when during a bond meeting, School board member Ralph James tried to begin the meeting with a recitation of with The Lord's Prayer. He had got out "Our Father..." when bond committee member Mikki Lewis stood up and said very loudly, "Excuse me?"

Mikki Lewis is Jewish. Her husband is a Catholic. Her father is an atheist, and his parent were orthodox Jews.

[link] wasn't on the agenda, and it surprised me," said Mrs. Lewis, a mother of two in the Wylie school district.

"I wasn't there to pray or practice my religion," she said.

Afterward the committee decided to have a "moment of silence" instead of a prayer. Mrs. Lewis then emailed the superintendent to discuss her protest. However, instead of a reply from the superintendent, she received a response from school board trustee Sue Nicklas - who does not seem to get the whole "U.S. Constitution, First Amendment" thing.

[link] "I must share with you first and formost [sic] that there are many people who are praying for you," Ms. Nicklas wrote. "In ten years as a trustee of the Wylie school board, you're the first parent to complain about a prayer, and the very first person in my 68 years that has ever had the audasity [sic] to interrupt God and one of His children in prayer."

Ms. Nicklas said Mrs. Lewis "doesn't set the agenda for meetings. We are elected by the people ... in the community."

Wylie is a Christian community, Ms. Nicklas said.

"You go with the culture and customs of the community," she said.

Uh, no.

You see Mrs. Grundy, that's not the way it works. Christianity isn't "more equal" than every other religion out there, and because of the First Amendment, U.S. citizens have a reasonable expectation that we won't be preached at by our elected officials. Quite frankly, no one gives a flying fudge sickle about your self-righteous proclamation about "many people praying for" Mrs. Lewis. Jesus! How arrogant can a person get, anyway?

Tell me the truth, Sue - is that part of your publicly elected secular job description as a Wylie ISD school board trustee? To organize voodoo chants against the unbelievers? I don't think so.

It isn't "audacity" that made Mrs. Lewis speak up after four years of cowed silence, Mrs. GrundyNicklas - it was a sense of outrage! A sense of injustice perpetrated by the bullying 400-lb gorilla of the Christian majority!

Here's a little secret I can let you in on, Sue: You don't get to be "more equal" than everyone else. You don't get to have the privilege of including your own personal wacky religious rituals in public meetings. Period. The end. Yes, yes, even if you have wink-wink, nod-nodded at it for 10 years. Just because you and your fellow Christian theocrats have been breaking the law for ten years does not magically make it legal.

Also, your tut-tutting at Mrs. Lewis was truly despicable. She is the one trying to get you to follow the law - YOU are the one breaking the law.

For the sake of our Constitution, I sincerely hope the citizens of your school district vote you out at the next election.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Jeff Mullin Feels Sorry For You

Jeff Mullin is a "Senior Writer" for the Enid, Oklahoma News & Eagle newspaper. A few years ago he wrote an article "poking fun" at atheists for having the unmitigated gall to suggest that traditional god-belief was exactly the same as belief in an Invisible Pink Unicorn (blessed be Her unseen curly mane.) He subsequently received a letter from an atheist who asked him what gave him the right to ridicule atheists for their lack of belief?

Nothing, apparently. He just likes to ridicule atheists. So, nice Christian guy that he is, he decided to do it again. This time in a column dripping with insincere pity for the poor, deluded atheists.

How very thoughtful of him.

More below the fold...

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Oh. Well, That's OK Then

Illinois state Rep. Monique Davis has apologized to Rob Sherman, who has graciously accepted her apology, for attempting to deny him his civil rights in a public hearing that he was invited to testify before last week.

Apparently it's OK to be a bigoted, unconstitutional, theocratic asshole if you're having a bad day.

Jim Downey's picture

Sex! Sex! Sex!

(This post is part of the Blog Against Theocracy Blogswarm.)

OK, now that I have your attention . . .

. . . let's talk about sex. Or, more accurately, how religious nuts want to control your sex life, your access to information about sex, and your sexual health - all through the government.

Theocracy, anyone?

Specifically, I want to talk about how some in the health-related professions think that they should have the "right" to deny you services or information if something about your sex life disagrees with their religious beliefs.

First off, here's a nice bit from Illinois:

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A group of pharmacists asked the Illinois Supreme Court on Tuesday to throw out a rule that forces them to dispense emergency contraception despite moral objections, claiming it amounts to illegal coercion.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Depressingly Familiar Bigotry

Ayesha N. Khan, legal director for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the AU have filed a lawsuit against the town of Greece, NY for it's unconstitutional practice of offering explicitly sectarian Christian prayers as an official part of their town meetings.

[link] Khan said that of 44 Greece meeting prayers reviewed by her group, only one was offered by a non-Christian. And, she said, the review showed that the vast majority of prayers delivered before meetings since 2004 were explicitly sectarian.

The U.S. Supreme Court has determined that governmental bodies may open their sessions with prayer, but only if the prayer is nonsectarian and does not reference a particular deity or the language and symbols specific to one religion.

The Americans United lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of Greece residents Linda Stephens and Susan Galloway, seeks to have the court declare that Greece's current practice violates the Constitution and issue an injunction prohibiting sectarian prayer before the board meetings.

The citizen's reactions are what concern me the most:

[link] Please understand that the real issue is getting publicity for people and their anti-Christian agenda. I attend Faith Temple Church in Brighton and this is no different from when they didn't want the new expanded Christian based church expanding in THEIR town. I appreciate that the Jewish and atheiest can come together for something! The funny thing is they're both nonbelievers in Christ. I get that, but when people around you are believers and they are in power please respect YOUR place. When I come to Brighton I understand MY place as a Christian male. You need to realize in Greece we don't accept atheism or Judaism as the guiding faith in our town. We have predominately Christian places of worship throughout the town. Respect it or leave it. I am sick of this crap, we aren't Holland or Londonistan or any other place where Christians are made to feel dirty for their religion, this is America! We were founded by a country of white protestant Christian males, and as such are guided by that. I didn't complain all the time I had to spend in SS class learning about the holocaust ad nauseam. I respect what happened and hope it never happens again, BUT I don't call the ACLU and complain my children have to learn it and I am offended or whatever. Find these women and find out what they're real problem is and lets solve it, but it isn't prayer.

In other words, "Sit down, shut up, and get to the back of the bus while your betters run this town, you filthy, second-class, non-Christian scum." And what's the deal with the scary "find these women and find out what their real problem is" threatening comment? Find them and what? Beat them until they acknowledge that Christians are more human then they are? Find them and terrorize their families? What a despicable thing to say.

This is a depressingly familiar refrain from bigoted Christians in our country who have no clue what the Constitution actually says, and who would seem to be arguing for a Christian theocracy in a "might makes right" or "majority rules" sense.

What they don't understand is the fact that our First Amendment concept of the separation of church and state protects them too. Tyranny of the majority should be a real and valid concern for all Americans, not just the minorities - because one day you too could become a minority.

Kudos to the AU for fighting this very important fight to save our civil liberties from the absolute morons who want to strip them away.

RickU's picture

Message to America: Mock all you like – Cruise is you

I've heard and seen much mockery focused on the Tom Cruise Scientology video over the past couple of days. (I apologize if that link no longer works, but the video has been on and off the net and that's the best link I can find at the time of this article.) The truth is, while I believe that atheists (especially agnostic atheists), in general, have a leg to stand on in this case, I don't think the rest of the godders, or innumerable other groups, do. Let's look at a few things that Cruise says.

Tom Cruise: ...I think it’s a privilege to call yourself a Scientologist, and it’s something that you have to earn because a Scientologist does... has the ability to create new and better realities and improve conditions. Being a Scientologist, you look at someone and know absolutely that you can help them.

"But that’s what drives me... I know that we have an opportunity to really help... effectively change people’s lives and I am dedicated to that. I am absolutely, uncompromisingly dedicated to that.

Replace the words “Scientologist” with the words Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Nazi, Feminist, Vegan, vegetarian, socialist, communist, capitalist, geek, Sikh, or even self help guru and you'll see what I mean. This statement, minus the maniacal laughter, could have come from any of the groups I listed and a whole lot more. Let's move on to the next set; shall we?
more below the fold

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Huck Aide Calls Romney Aide An Atheist

Romney's exclusion of secular and atheist Americans from his rose-colored vision of a happily religious "Stepford wives" America was despicable, to say the least. Now the Huckabee camp in the person of Huckabee aide Ed Rollins gets in on a little atheist-bashing action by using the term as an epithet against Romney aide Ron Kaufman on the Chris Matthews show Hardball. And they all have a laugh at how ridiculous it was to call Kaufman an atheist.

Hah hah hah! Chuckle chuckle, elbow in the ribs. Isn't it so silly to say that a top aide to one of the Presidential campaign's front-runner candidates is a dirty, stinking, filthy godless atheist? Why, what could be more far-fetched? Everyone knows that atheists can't be in powerful political positions!

Silly Ed Rollins - what a merry jokester you are!

Oh wait - I mean bigoted asshole. Yeah, that's what I meant.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Freedom Of Religion - And From It

Alicia Colon, writing an op-ed piece for the New York Daily Sun, is upset that in the city of New York, Christian nativity scenes are not given parity with other religious displays on public property.

I actually agree with her on this point. If this is indeed the case, then it is a wrongheaded and illegal move by the school board. The Constitution protects all faiths - even Christians - and non-faith. To say otherwise is simple ignorance.

[Alicia Colon] The tyranny of a small but vocal minority has completely warped this time of year into a season of litigation and constitutional confusion. Our own Department of Education, which bans Christian religious symbols in schools, needs to educate itself on exactly what the Constitution says about God and country.

Well, the Constitution doesn't say anything about God. It does say a lot about country though.

A City Council member, Tony Avella, has introduced a resolution granting parity to Christians so that crèches will be permitted alongside menorahs and the star and crescent in city schools. At present, the education department will not allow it, though there is no constitutional bar to this nativity display. At a press conference at City Hall this week, Mr. Avella and other community activists demanded equal justice, but the mere fact that this is an issue demonstrates how little is understood about the First Amendment, which does allow the "free exercise of religion."

First of all, there is no city resolution anywhere in America that can "grant" anyone a right that is already guaranteed by the Constitution. If Councilman Avella thinks that he has this kind of power, then he needs to re-think his place in the world. I mean, thanks a bunch for trying to help, Councilman, but there is no reason to act like a fool doing it.

I also have an issue with the way Miss Colon attempts to support her contention about the city excluding Christians. She tries to make the case that because the founders said "God" a lot, and because they wrote about God a lot, then Christians should be free to place their own religious displays alongside other religious displays on public property.

She also uses Newt Gingrich's achingly dominionist film "Rediscovering God in America" as an argument for her position.

The thing is that she doesn't need all that stuff. The Constitution, and the First Amendment already give Christians "parity" to use the public square.

The U.S. Constitution is the only legal founding document we have. Other documents have undeniable historical value, but they do not carry the force of law. There is no dispute - the Constitution is the basic foundation of the laws of our land. Everything that is America flows from the ideas and concepts embodied within it.

So, how many times do you think "God" mentioned in the Constitution? How about "Jesus" or "Christ"? What about "Creator", "Supreme Being", "Thor", "Big Magic Ju-Ju Guy", or "Santa Claus"?

If you said "zero", you are exactly right. The Constitution is a wholly secular document by design. Our Founding Fathers were wise men to craft it as such.

The First Amendment guarantees us our freedom of expression, religion, and press. Inherent in that freedom is the freedom to not believe. That is what us atheists call "freedom from religion", and apparently what Miss Colon is objecting to in the headline of her column.

The very best course our government can take in this is strict neutrality. This is what the First Amendment means. That way, individuals may practice or not practice, believe or not believe, with our government staying strictly neutral - neither hindering nor helping. This concept has been borne out by more than 200 years of wildly successful religions and religious growth in our country, and lately in the rise of atheist, agnostic, and other secular people's voices, organizations, blogs, writings, and political awareness. We have the freedom to be religious - whatever we want to be - or not religious. There is no other country like this on the planet, with this type of unbridled religious freedom. And it is due to the secular, neutral stance that our government (should) take - the secular, neutral stance spelled out in the First Amendment to our Constitution.

The obvious example - especially at this time of the year - of what this means in practical terms is that you cannot allow a Christian Nativity scene on public property without also allowing everyone else the same privilege.

The problem here is that in most cases like this, the Christian majority wants to be "more equal" than the rest of us. They have enjoyed special preference by virtue of being the majority for so long, that they now consider it their right.

In some isolated cases like the one above in New York, the pendulum swings too far in the other direction. This is also wrong.

Alicia, you don't need a lot of god-talk to make your point. Our secular Constitution does it for you just fine.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

The God Of The School Board

Florida State Board Of Education member Donna Callaway gets it so wrong that it's painful to read.

[link] Donna Callaway, a former middle school principal from Tallahassee, told the Florida Baptist Witness that evolution "should not be taught to the exclusion of other theories of origins of life."

She also said she hoped Christians would pray over the issue. "As a SBOE member, I want those prayers," Callaway said. "I want God to be part of this."

Evolution is not a "theory of origins of life", number one, and number two, the Christian God cannot, by law, "be a part of" the Florida State Board Of Education - unless you rescind the United States Constitution, or secede from the union.

But you've all heard this before, time and time again. It's been said, over and over, a thousand times or more. The facts are always the same; ignorant Christian creationist who does not understand what evolution is, or what science is gets elected to the school board. Then they convince other ignorant Christian creationists on the school board to "teach the (nonexistent) controversy" by reading the religious tracts put out by the Discovery Institute, WoTM, or Dr. Dino. Overworked civil-rights defenders like the ACLU and FFRF take the school board to court and win. Many indignant news stories and op-ed columns are written about the evil atheist plot to persecute innocent Christians by teaching science instead of Christian mythology in - ahem - science classes. Overwrought email chain letters get forwarded to everyone and their grandmother shouting about the nasty atheists and their evil plan to barbecue all the Christian children in the public school system for the crime of being Christian.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Things like this make me tired. It feels like we're bailing out a leaky boat with plastic beer cups. I mean, were doing something, going through the motions, making a lot of noise and fuss, but the reality of the situation is that the boat is filling up too fast. I fear that we are sinking, and that there is not a lot we can do to prevent it.

Still, we'll keep on bailing because what else can we do?

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