Observations and inanities by a second-shift assistant supervisor in the Puppy-Grinding division of the Evil Atheist Conspiracy® (our motto: "Sure it's cruel, but think of the jobs!"), your host, Brent Rasmussen.
Stupid Religious Tricks
This will likely come as news to you all, I'm sure:
Religious people tend to use their own beliefs as a guide in thinking about what God believes, but are less constrained when reasoning about other people’s beliefs, according to new study published in the Nov. 30 early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Nicholas Epley, professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, led the research, which included a series of survey and neuroimaging studies to examine the extent to which people’s own beliefs guide their predictions about God’s beliefs. The findings of Epley and his co-authors at Australia’s Monash University and UChicago extend existing work in psychology showing that people are often egocentric when they infer other people’s beliefs.
* * *
Nice - there's now a website dedicated to making sure that all the places you shop use the proper gang signs:
Millions upon millions in our nation deeply value the great truths of Christmas and the holiday's inspiring place in American life and culture. We hope you will take a moment to "Stand for Christmas" by sharing feedback about your Christmas shopping experiences.
We're asking YOU to decide which retailers are "Christmas-friendly." They want your patronage and your gift-shopping dollars, but do they openly recognize Christmas?
Please post your rating and share your comments, which will go directly to retailers and appear on this site. Then, forward them to a friend!
Right, because the "Reason for the Season" is whether or not retailers flash the correct hand signals at the checkout counter.
Guess who is behind this glorification of the mighty dollar:
Now, through the magic of modern technology, you too can have your very own Camo Bible!!
This outdoor inspired edition of the New King James Version of the Bible comes in large print for easier reading with a ribbon bookmark and a handsome gift box. Bound in Mossy Oak® Break-Up® bonded leather with gilded-gold edging. Dimensions: 9.3'' x 6.7'' x 1.7''. 1728 pages
Yup. There I was, browsing through the latest holiday flyer from Bass Pro, and there it was: the Bible of My Dreams. How can I resist?
Yay! Religious fervor leads to five women being paraded through town, stripped, beaten:
Police say that people in Pattharghatia believe that certain women in their village are possessed by a "holy spirit" that can identify those who practise witchcraft.
"These women recently identified five women from the same village as being witches who practised witchcraft and brought miseries to the area," a police official said.
Soon, an unruly mob broke into their huts, dragged them out and started beating them up.
There's even video of it there on the BBC site. Worth watching, if you need to be reminded just how insane religion is.
Or, perhaps it isn't completely insane. Maybe there is another explanation:
Experts say superstitious beliefs are behind some of these attacks, but there are occasions when people - especially widows - are targeted for their land and property.
Who, me, cynical?
Liberal bias has become the single biggest distortion in modern Bible translations. There are three sources of errors in conveying biblical meaning:
* lack of precision in the original language, such as terms underdeveloped to convey new concepts of Christianity
* lack of precision in modern language
* translation bias in converting the original language to the modern one.
Of these three sources of errors, the last introduces the largest error, and the biggest component of that error is liberal bias. Large reductions in this error can be attained simply by retranslating the KJV into modern English.
As of 2009, there is no fully conservative translation of the Bible which satisfies the following ten guidelines:
What an amazing project. Because the bible isn't already enough of a fairy tale, these guys feel the need to rephrase it in a manner more suited to their politics. Howso? Well, it's right there on the site, but let me point to just one of the "ten guidelines":
OK, I'd seen references to this elsewhere, but not the actual video. Just in case you too happened to miss it, here it is:
. . . about how advertising your Love Canal home as Now 3% Less Toxic isn't going to send the right message to potential buyers:
Apparently the Vatican has finally decided that the best defense is a good offense. According to a bellicose statement issued Monday, the Catholic Church doesn't have a paedophilia problem, it has an ephebophilia problem, thankyouverymuch. Plus this:
The statement, read out by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's permanent observer to the UN, defended its record by claiming that "available research" showed that only 1.5%-5% of Catholic clergy were involved in child sex abuse.
He also quoted statistics from the Christian Scientist Monitor newspaper to show that most US churches being hit by child sex abuse allegations were Protestant and that sexual abuse within Jewish communities was common.
Only 1.5-5%! Not bad! And anyway, Protestants and Jews are doing it too. So there.
Not what you think.
Heard this Saturday morning on Weekend Edition, and about split a gut:
Rabbi Shea Hecht plucks a chicken off a truck parked behind a synagogue in Queens, N.Y., and demonstrates how to swing a chicken.
"You take it by the wing," says the white-haired Hecht, careful not to get the chicken's feathers or anything else on his black suit and tall black hat. "You put one wing over the other wing. See? It's very relaxed. And you swing it very softly over your head like this."
Hecht holds the bird, waves it three times above his head, and says the prayer of Kapparot (or Kapparos, depending on heritage). He prays that his sins will be transferred to the bird and he will escape the divine punishment that he deserves. The prayer is more than 1,000 years old, and countless Orthodox Jews will recite it in the days before Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement, which begins at sundown Sunday. Hecht says waving the chicken isn't the point of this ritual.
"It's OK if you are a Christian."
What is? Well, this:
LOUISVILLE — A mother is angry about a trip led by the head football coach at Breckinridge County High School. The coach took about 20 players on a school bus late last month to his church, where nearly half of them — including her son — were baptized.
Michelle Ammons said her 16-year-old son was baptized without her knowledge and consent, and she is upset that a public school bus was used to take players to a church service — and that the school district's superintendent was there and did not object.
* * *
But Superintendent Janet Meeks, who is a member of the church and witnessed the baptisms, said she thinks the trip was proper because attendance was not required, and another coach paid for the gas.
Meeks said parents weren't given permission slips to sign but knew the event would include a church service, if not specifically a baptism. She said eight or nine players came forward and were baptized.
Hey, remember the story of the nice Christian teacher who liked to impress the kiddies with the Power of the Lord by branding them with crosses?
Well, gee, guess what - the school district that used to employ him had to settle with one of the branded students:
MOUNT VERNON, Ohio—A Central Ohio school board has approved a $121,000 settlement with the family of a student who said his teacher burned the image of a cross on his arm.
School board members in Mount Vernon agreed Wednesday night to resolve a federal lawsuit by paying $5,500 to the boy and his family and $115,500 to their lawyers.
The family still has a similar suit pending against the eighth-grade teacher, John Freshwater.
So, we now know the cost: $121,000. Well, that and a small thing called the Separation of Church & State.
Oh, and just for extra fun: guess who else is suing the district? Yep:
the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s."
Seems like some Christians could stand to re-read their bible:
Two Florida school administrators face contempt charges and possible prison time for saying a prayer at a school luncheon.
Frank Lay, principal of Pace High School, and Athletic Director Robert Freeman are accused of violating a consent decree banning employees of Santa Rosa County schools from endorsing religion.
They face a non-jury trial September 17 before U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers. The statute under which they are charged carries a maximum penalty of up to six months in prison, subject to sentencing guidelines.
Of course, the folks at Liberty U, who are backing the accused, say that this is an infringement of their 1st Amendment rights:
Yeah, OK, I know I'm more cynical nowadays, but I think that even in my most charitable moods I would tend to see this as nothing more than a case of the Christian nuts being mercenary:
Citing a “serious budget shortfall” the conservative Christian group, Focus on the Family has been prompted to issue a special fundraising plea, and has also decided to hand over control of its contentious “Love Won Out” Ex-Gay program to another religious organization, a FotF spokesman said Tuesday.
Focus on the Family is looking at a $6 million short fall in its $138 million budget for this fiscal year- a budget larger than all national and regional gay-equality organizations combined.
From the Love Won Out website:
I'm sure you all remember this case:
WAUSAU, Wis. (AP) -- A central Wisconsin man charged with killing his daughter by praying instead of taking her to a doctor read from the Bible while testifying Thursday that he couldn't seek medical help without disobeying God.
"I can't do that because Biblically, I cannot find that is the way people are healed," Dale Neumann told the jury. "If I go to the doctor, I am putting the doctor before God. I am not believing what he said he would do."
So, either the bible is wrong, God lied, or He doesn't exist.
But your daughter is still dead.
From the same article:
Duane Blake is a Bishop in the Upland, CA 1st Ward of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons). He wrote a letter to the editor of the Bay Area's Contra-Costa Times, bemoaning the awful atheists trying to force all of the peaceful, persecuted Christians in America to "the religion of atheism" - by "removing God" from our government buildings, and from our society.
Notwithstanding the ludicrous notion that the absence of the word "GOD" equal "atheism" (Author's note: it doesn't. -Brent), and granting for the sake of argument the religionists assertions about this invisible god-thing, how the heck are us evil atheists supposed to "remove" a supposedly supreme magical being from anything - let alone an entire society? That doesn't make any sense even if we suspend our disbelief enough to look at it from their point of view! Preposterous!
The good Bishop says:
[link] In the great effort by many to remove God from our society they are, by default, forcing us into their belief system as an atheistic society.
There is just so much wrong here. I'll have to break it down into smaller chunks.
In the great effort by many to remove God from our society...
Where exactly is this "great effort" Bishop? Who are the "many" that you refer to? Yes, there are a few court cases a year where the Freedom From Religion Foundation, or the ACLU will sue a small city government, or a state government to stop what they believe to be gross violations of the United States constitution - specifically in reference to the establishment clause of the First Amendment.
But, "great effort"? "Many"? Please. You outnumber us nearly 9 to 1. Some of us try and address the worst civil rights and Constitutional violations in courts across the country. Yes, those cases get a lot of press because Christians are shocked - shocked I tell you! - that those uppity atheists would have the unmitigated gall to call them out for their bigotry and their dangerously theocratic, unconstitutional actions.
You also mention "removing God". This begs the question; which "God" are you referring to? Yours? Why does your particular flavor of magical man in the sky get such a prominent place on our buildings, our money, our Pledge of Allegiance, and in the speeches given by our politicians - despite the very clear concept of the separation of church and state being outlined in the First Amendment, then bolstered with 230 years of SCOTUS opinion and precedent?
...they are, by default, forcing us into their belief system as an atheistic society.
How does NOT engraving your deity's name on every new piece of masonry on government buildings at the taxpayers expense (many of whom are NOT CHRISTIAN) equal "forcing" citizens into "the religion of atheism"? How does NOT seeing "GOD" plastered all over everything strip you of your beliefs? Are your beliefs so weak that they must be constantly nurtured, and lovingly protected from criticism and - uh, absence on government buildings lest they dissapear in an instant like a soap bubble?
Goodness! What frail, delicate flowers you religious folks are! Your beliefs, so easily swept away by the cruel notion of government neutrality.
You know, the one outlined by our Constitution? The First Amendment? Heard of it before?
And just so you know, I could devote an entire post to that one stupidly willful misconception that religious folks LOVE to make. There is no excuse for an intelligent, grown adult human being to make a mistake of this nature. The phrase "religion of atheism" is something only an idiot, a religious conservative with a political axe to grind with atheists, or a very young child would say. Which are you Bishop? Let me guess.
In a discussion with a friend today, I got this comment:
At least I'm not one of those youth pastors running around hitting on kids. No kidding - google "Youth Pastor Watch" sometime.
Just a bit ago, out of curiosity, I did.
I don't know whether this was something that Dan Savage started, or just a term/tag that he picked up and has popularized, but most of the hits lead to stuff he's written. Not that it matters, because either way it is a real problem. Sadly, it comes as no real surprise that this is so much a problem that it supports such ongoing attention.
Now, I don't have kids. And in spite of what it may seem from my posting here, I don't really give that much attention to religion (I've found it is better for my blood pressure that way). So it's not like I follow this particular pathology. Maybe you don't either. But can you honestly say that you are in the slightest bit surprised that the situation is what it is?
That's the problem with religion: good in theory, problematic at best in practice. Except even the theory isn't good.
Hat tip to the Doc Dude.
. . . that all the good Christians who read this piece were just shaking their heads:
Abuja, Nigeria – In Nigeria recently, an angry mob demanded that police jail a goat. Vigilantes insisted the animal was a human car thief who transmogrified upon being apprehended. Nigerian law doesn't recognize magic, witchcraft, or voodoo. Yet, faced with an angry mob, police acquiesced, arresting the goat.
* * *
Not infrequently, police hear reports that a man claims someone cast a spell to capture his spirit. Tradition here holds that if you sleep in bed with your feet at the headboard, you are communing with witches. Criminals buy charms from witch doctors to become invisible and escape arrest. A hairdresser tells of a client of another customer who reported a snake in her house that turned into a young woman. When the girl was taken to a Pentecostal church service she turned back into a snake. The journalistic canon of having two independent sources to confirm a news story becomes irrelevant when an entire congregation insists "it really happened."
STANBUL (Reuters) – What happens when you put a Muslim imam, a Christian priest, a rabbi and a Buddhist monk in a room with 10 atheists?
Turkish television station Kanal T hopes the answer is a ratings success as it prepares to launch a gameshow where spiritual guides from the four faiths will seek to convert a group of non-believers.
The prize for converts will be a pilgrimage to a holy site of their chosen religion -- Mecca for Muslims, the Vatican for Christians, Jerusalem for Jews and Tibet for Buddhists.
Hmm . . . no, I can't see where someone would lie about being either an atheist to begin with, or about their "conversion", just to get a free trip out of the deal (not to mention the fame from being on TV). Nope, can't see that happening at all.
HT to ML for the story.
You know, this *almost* seems like a parody, but I recognize enough of the Westboro crowd in it to know that it is serious:
I'm not entirely sure what to make of this. I heard about it yesterday, but have been pondering.
The unmarried mother's story about giving birth to a child diagnosed as terminally ill in the womb hit a major nerve on the Internet.
Every night for the last two months, thousands of abortion opponents across the nation logged on to a blog run by the suburban Chicago woman who identified herself only as "B" or "April's Mom."
People said they prayed that God would save her pregnancy. They e-mailed her photos of their children dressed in pink, bought campaign T-shirts, shared tales of personal heartache and redemption, and sent letters and gifts to an Oak Lawn P.O. box in support.
As more and more people were drawn to her compelling tale, eager advertisers were lining up. And established parenting Web sites that oppose abortion were promoting her blog -- which included biblical quotes, anti-abortion messages and a soundtrack of inspirational Christian pop songs.
Except, of course as the headline indicates, it was all a hoax.