Stupid Religious Tricks

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Talking Turkey

The Turkish publisher Erol Karaaslanmay may be sent to jail because of Dawkin's book "The God Delusion".

Not because he wrote the book himself, or because he endorsed it in any way - but because he translated and then published the book in Turkey - and in Turkey that is apparently a crime.

[link] A Turkish prosecutor has launched a probe into whether a book by best-selling atheist writer Richard Dawkins is an attack on religious values — a move that could lead to the prosecution of the book's Turkish publisher.

Publisher Erol Karaaslan said he would be questioned by an Istanbul prosecutor on Wednesday as part of the official investigation into Dawkins' book, "The God Delusion."

Karaaslan could face trial and up to one year in prison if the prosecutor concludes that the book "incites religious hatred" and insults religious values, Milliyet newspaper reported. Karaaslan is both the publisher and translator of the book.

As bad as the American system seems at times, it has the virtue of being the best system on the planet by a far margin thanks to our secular Constitution and the Bill Of Rights.

This could not happen here in America - unless those documents were gutted, and our system were overthrown and replaced by something else.

That is what we have to keep an eye on, and that is why I consider myself a libertarian. Our civil rights are too damned important, and are the basis of our society and of our government. Take those away and impose criminal penalties for something as abysmally stupid as "insulting religious values", and you have a fascist theocracy that punishes it's citizens for their thoughts.

Freedom means sometimes having to listen to opinions you don't agree with or like very much. Suck it up and get over it, then counter with your own opinion. Using the power of the government to silence your opposition is evil, no two ways about it.

I'm talking to you, Turkey.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Putting It Into Context

Here at UTI we have done this countless times before, but it is always very effective. I only had to change "atheist" into "Jew" twice, and one phrase "no evidence for the existence of God" into "no evidence that Jesus was the messiah."

What if Philip Pullman were a Jew? Would the book banning and movie hysteria make sense then? Would it be acceptable?

You decide.

[link] Board agrees to review British Jew's novels
Panel will evaluate literary, not religious, merits of Pullman book, educator says


November 23, 2007

After a complaint that The Golden Compass, a popular children's fantasy book, was written by a professed Jew, the Halton Catholic District School Board is taking the book off shelves in school libraries while it reviews its suitability for students.

But the religious opinions of award-winning British author Philip Pullman will not be an issue when the book is read and reviewed by a committee of 15 people, who will pass their assessment on to the board for a decision, said Rick MacDonald, the board superintendent of education in charge of curriculum.

"It is the book we look at, not the author," said Mr. MacDonald, who said the board has also removed the other two books in Mr. Pullman's trilogy, His Dark Materials, from the shelves while they are reviewed by board librarians.

The public attention to The Golden Compass, first published in 1996, has been heightened because a film starring Nicole Kidman based on the novel - the first book of the trilogy - is about to go into distribution.

Mr. Pullman's views on religion are no secret. He said, for instance, in a 2002 question-and-answer session with readers of the newspaper The Guardian, that he saw no evidence that Jesus was the messiah.

Queen's University English literature professor Shelley King said the issue of whether the board should take Mr. Pullman's books from the shelf came up yesterday with her third-year class, and she and her students agreed it is a difficult question.

"It depends whether you are more interested in doctrine or in literary excellence. If your choice of reading matter is doctrinally driven, and you are not interested in challenges to received doctrine, then by all means, Pullman is not the man you want kids reading," Dr. King said.

Gordon Davies, head of languages, arts and sciences at the school of continuing education at the University of Toronto, said the school board's action has to be put into context.

It is not asking that the book not be read, sold or lent by a public library, said Dr. Davies, an expert on Catholic education.

"All the school board is saying is that it has a responsibility to provide education within the Catholic faith," Dr. Davies said.

MandyU's picture

No, not Chuck Norris!!!

This might be old news to some of you, but I had no idea this was how Chuck Norris felt about bringing religion into the classroom. I'm mildly devastated. My brother conquered his fear of the ocean when he was younger by pretending he was Chuck Norris kicking the ocean's ass. That memory feels dirty now.

I guess I should be all that surprised when There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of animals Chuck Norris allows to live.

Jim Downey's picture

Buy God.

You've undoubtedly heard of this before:

"It's just so funny," she said. "All the desperation out there."

Hicks was chuckling to hear that the measure she recently took to help sell her house -- burying a statue of St. Joseph upside down in the front yard -- is a growing trend as sellers try to offset hopelessness invading housing markets across the nation.

Seen by many as the patron saint of home and family, St. Joseph's popularity is growing at religious goods stores and on the Internet -- among Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

Hilarious! Man, I don't know when I have laughed harder than upon hearing that people caught in financial difficulties turn in desperation to religious mumbo-jumbo for help. Good times, good times.


Brent Rasmussen's picture

"It's nice to win one, for a change"

Congrats, Dawn and Rob! Every win helps!

[link] U.S. District Court Judge Robert Gettleman blocked a northwest suburban school district from following the mandate, and he could extend the ban to schools statewide today. In his preliminary ruling, Gettleman found that the law was vague and questioned how teachers and school officials were supposed to follow it and how it was to be enforced.

The ruling is a victory for atheist Rob Sherman, who brought the lawsuit against Township High School District 214, where Sherman's daughter, Dawn, is a freshman at Buffalo Grove High School.

"It's state sponsorship of prayer," Sherman said.

"It's nice to win one, for a change," joked the activist, who is often in court battling for atheist causes.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

I'm All Out Of Blue Mud

[Lee Strobel] "We have a defensible faith that stands up to scrutiny and investigation," said Lee Strobel, a former atheist and author of the bestselling book The Case for Christ.

Hahahahahahah! Good one Lee, you zany, kooky nut!

*wipes eyes*

What's that? You were serious? Well, then I was serious about the nut thing too.

The title of the article above is "Militant Atheism Gives Rise to Christian Apologetics". It's a great example of how apologists twist things into something they are not. Atheists disagree with the silly conclusions that Christians have come to regarding an invisible, magical man in the sky. Apparently, disagreement with the status quo now equals being "militant". The last time I checked, none of the recent atheist authors has taken up arms, or started recruiting for an atheist militia bent on armed insurrection. The entire concept is laughable.

And yet they still do it. I wonder why that is?

I think that it is probably due to the inherent weakness of their "evidence", and on the fact that they do not have any new apologetic arguments. ALL of their stuff is re-hashed from apologetic arguments made time and time again over thousands of years by theists. The design argument, Pascal's wager, and anecdotes describing personal conversion experiences.

In other words, there's no "militant atheists" to "give rise" to anything at all. The fact of the matter is that there are merely a handful of atheist and secular authors, bloggers, and regular folks who refuse to drink the kool-aid. Our very refusal to kowtow to the majority religion, and solemnly rub blue mud into our belly buttons with the rest of the sheep when it is so incredibly, patently false, gets the natives all worked up into a righteous lather. So, they haul out the Big Book Of Apologetics™ and start paraphrasing.

This has been a successful strategy in the past, mainly because we didn't know a whole lot about how the world and the universe worked yet. Now that we know a little more, and are filling those god-shaped gaps faster and faster every day, it's really just an embarrassing bust for the apologists.

It's not going to work this time. We are not going to sit down and shut up. I think that we are right in the middle of crossing over the balance point from illiterate, superstitious animals, to conscious, self-aware, self-directing beings that can leave the primitive superstitions of our past - in the past where they belong.

It's about time.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Moment Of (*wink wink, nod nod, say no more*) Silence

If you glanced at this image of sixth-graders at Hinkley-Big Rock Middle School in suburban Chicago, would you immediately conclude that they are observing a government-mandated "moment of silence"?

Or, would you assume that they were bowing their heads in prayer?

Either way, it is a disturbing trend in our public schools. And don't let anyone feed the cock-and-bull about "silent reflection", blah, blah, blah. This is government approved and required prayer time. The supporters and legislators of laws and regulations like this are playing transparent, silly semantic games in order to avoid the law as set down in our Constitution. They are hurting our kids, and they are hurting America by weakening the separation of church and state.

Prayer in school is one thing when students pray on their own. I actually encourage that kind of prayer. I encourage my kids to take responsibility for their own philosophies. If they feel the need for 10-seconds-worth of quiet reflection, then I am sure that they can find ten seconds in their school day to do so. Same with prayer. If a kid wants to pray, they can pray. Find a quiet spot, bow your head, and pray. Simple.

Why do Christians want the government to mandate this quiet time at our public schools if not to bring their religion in?

And what exactly will happen to the first kid who starts making all sorts of crazy noises during the moment of silence, then claims that it is part of his religion to pray noisy prayers? Who is to say that a prayer must be silent? Why do only the silent-prayers get to pray during prayer time in school? Discrimination!

It's a silly thing to legislate on all levels. It is a pathetically transparent effort to return to the good-old theocratic days of mandatory bible readings and field trips to the Olde-Time Christian Tent Revival.

What do you all think?

Brent Rasmussen's picture

The Constitution Of The United States Of Betty

Betty Dowdell is a Christian apologist who lives out here in my neck of the woods. She's the author of "How to be a Christian Without Being Annoying", and is touted as a home-spun apologist who speaks in plain words for the average Christian. She claims that most Christians don't even know what the word "apologist" means, so, basically, she dumbs it down for them into easily-digested chunks.

How sweet.

This doesn't make her any less annoying, regardless of what her book is titled. She repeats so many of the same, old, tired arguments that it make me tired to think about even starting to address them all. Again. However, one article she wrote stood so far out there with the astonishing assertion below that I couldn't let it go - I had to address it. It's just, well, a bald-faced lie. I mean, most of the time apologists leave themselves some sort of "out" so that they can later claim that they didn't really mean what they said, and that us nasty church-state separation supporters are obviously quoting them out of context, or some such.

Please, I strongly encourage you to read her whole article. You'll agree that her statement below definitely means what it says, even in context with the rest of the article. Here, just check it out for yourself:

[Betty Dowdell] ...the Constitution specifically provides for a Christian chaplain for each branch of Congress.

Well then Betty, I guess you won't have any trouble pointing out the specific part of the Constitution that actually says this.

More below the fold...

Brent Rasmussen's picture

The Golden Compass - A Young Girl's Dilemma

Les over at SEB had some comments about the new movie made from the first novel in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy called "The Golden Compass".

So, I went to the movie site and checked out the trailer. It looks pretty good, actually!

Clicking through to a blog area, I read through some comments on a post there and came across this one by a commenter named "Angela" that just broke my heart:

[Angela] Chris…i don’t know what to do. ("Chris" is Chris Weitz, the movie's director. -Brent) i love all of the books and i really want to see the movie when it omes out, but my parents seem to have a problem with the books. when my stepmom saw the trailer, she told my dad that she had a problem with the books. i instantly told her that my sister and i had both read the books. Then began a three hour discussion on why spirit guides are a bad thing…especially when the daemens are pronounced deamons…we talked a lot about the compass too…how lyra is able to see the future and the truth in everything…well…the bible is how christians find their way…they think the books read into eastern mystisism and all that jazz. my dad’s a pastor and he doesn’t agree with the things that the books present to young individuals like myself. i explained to him that i see this series as pure fantesy, and that i dont actually believe the ideas presented in the books. As a christian, i do think that some of the things presented in these books contradicts what i believe, but i would never let them change what i believe. i guess it’s just really hard for me to think that i shouldn’t have read the books for that i shouldn’t see the movie. it will also be hard for me if im not allowed to see the movie because it is almost exactly how i pictured the character, and the whole setup in the books.

The poor thing. She's obviously a good kid who loves her parents - and also loves to read and use her imagination. It makes me sad that a parent would want to squash that, for any reason whatsoever.

What are your thoughts? Are you folks going to see the movie when it comes out?

Jim Downey's picture

The CA fires? Because God hates the homos.

Ah, yes. Via Pandagon, word that the horrendous fires in southern California which have displaced more than half a million people (and killed several) is due to the city of San Diego allowing gay marriage in spite of God's Law.

No, I'm not kidding. Here's the rant from one of the lovely, loving Christians, James Hartline:

They shook their fists at God and said, "We don't care what God says, we will issue our legal brief to support gay marriage in San Diego!" Then Mayor Jerry Sanders mocked the Christian vote and signed off on this rebellious legal document to support same-sex marriage.
And then the streets of La Jolla under the Mt. Soledad Cross began to cave in.

Jim Downey's picture

Happy Birthday!

Why is it that I want to tag every religion-related post with "Stupid Human Tricks"?


Anyway, Happy Birthday, everyone! According to your friendly neighborhood creationists, today is Earth's 6,010th Birthday! Yay!

The really sad part? 43% of your fellow Americans (assuming you're here - the rest of the world already knows how crazy we are) basically agreed, saying the following statement was true: That God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.

So, when do we get cake? I need something to buffer the bottle of vodka I just got to help me forget this...

Jim Downey

(Via MeFi.)

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Baylor University Prof.: Atheism Is The Enemy

Us poor, poor atheists. So lost, with no redeeming social value. Enemies to all that is good and true and right.

At least, that's what Dr. Roger Olson, a professor of theology in George W. Truett Theological Seminary at baylor University would like you to think.

Oh, he loves us individual, lost little atheists, but considers atheism to be "the enemy"

Well, golly, gee-whiz, Perfesser. You've got that whole "hate the sin, love the sinner" thing going on, don't you? That maker you feel all special and superior to us poor little atheists?

[Dr. Roger Olson] I feel sorry for atheists. They are so much in the minority in American society and they are bound to feel some marginalization if not persecution.

Christians should be the last people to persecute anyone -- including atheists. But that doesn't mean Christians have to accommodate atheism as they tolerate and love atheists.

We have to recognize atheists' full freedom to believe God does not exist, but we don't have to embrace atheism as a social good. In fact, I would argue that atheism has no redeeming social value.

Ah, the bigotry disguised as compassionate tough love. He's got that down to an art form. He's going to love us all into becoming good little Christian robots - whether we like it or not. Because he knows what's best for us, apparently, and we're just all deluded by Satan. You see, atheists don't really exist, according to Doc Olson.

[Dr. Roger Olson] But most atheists demonstrate their basic trust in the meaningfulness of reality by being outraged at evil and injustice, thereby demonstrating that atheism cannot be lived out consistently.

What makes something evil or unjust if nothing like God exists -- if nature is all there is? Only subjective choice either by an individual or a society. But that can change and it often does. Without God, the social prophet has no way out of relativism.

Baylor and universities like it exist to promote objective values and meaningful existence.

For them atheism is not benign, but the enemy -- even if atheists themselves are not.

Finally, let me repeat that I have nothing against atheists as persons and neither does Baylor University.

But in my opinion, they are people of character and virtue in spite of their philosophy of life -- not because of it.

People like this make me nervous. They posses an absolute fanatical certainty in this un-evidenced magical man in the sky, then they combine it with the pursuit of a selfish bit of societal acclaim for their faux-altruistic compassion towards the nasty, mislead atheists. This could lead eventually to rounding us up and herding us all into compassionate, loving "re-education centers" - for our own good, of course. Because we obviously can't be trusted to think for ourselves, according to people like Dr. Olson.

Semantic games aside, Dr. Olson, atheists and atheism aren't the enemy. Asserting that they are is adding to the problem, not helping it.

We don't want your pity, we don't want your twisted brand of selfish compassion, and we don't want your "some of my best friends are atheists" bullshit.

Tell you what - you start treating me like a fellow human, and I'll do the same. Sound fair to you?

Brent Rasmussen's picture

I Get Letters...

I set up the Carnival Of The Godless to accept submissions via the very handy service a while back. for the longest time I hand-processed the submissions every two weeks. The site does all of that for me now. (Kudos to them, by the way!)

However, my email address was out there for a long, long time, so I still get the occasional COTG submission sent to it. So, I set up a filter in Thunderbird to reply to these submission emails with a polite little response that basically asks them to please re-submit using the proper form URL over at

One submitter with the handle "owlafaye" sent me a bare submission. That is to say, it was just the text of the submission, not hosted anywhere. (If you'd like to read the full text of his submission - and you think your sanity can handle it - click here.) My Thunderbird filter replied with my polite auto-response, and I thought nothing of it - until this morning when I received yet another email from our intrepid submitter.

[owlafaye] Your submission form asks for a URL...haven't one on hand...pretty stupid requests piss me off.

Take it or leave it...also there is a bug that keeps your site on my computer and I can't get rid of it.

Get your shit together.

So, I replied to his little foot-stomping tantrum.

More below the fold...

Brent Rasmussen's picture

owlafaye's Wacky COTG Submission

Here it is, in all it's insane glory...

[owlafaye] Dearly Beloved in Christ
Whenever you see the number 666 it is a warning from God that at that very moment you are very vulnerable to an attack from the devil. Evil lies everywhere for the unwary.

You should immediately stop whatever you are doing and get down on your knees and pray for God's protection. By the way, it is legal to stop and pray wherever you are, don't let heathen mockery or laughter sway you.

I suggest when driving, that you watch license plates a lot closer than normal for the number 666 and combinations of 666 and in this way you will avoid frustrating traffic situations and possibly accidents. The anger and obscenities of other drivers are the devil in disguise and the number 666 in their license plates will help you spot them and avoid them. Don't hesitate, change lanes immediately, God will protect you.

666 is the sign of the devil...the Lord God does not allow him to wander invisible and has devised several methods to remind and caution us that he is present...666 is one of them. Another is if a crow watches you out of the corner of his eye. This has been known throughout history...crows are harbingers of deviltry. I guess you know that black cats are the "familiars" of demons and witches? Kill them whenever you get a chance. Don't worry, there are lots of cats.
If someone looks at you funny and rolls their eyes, this has nothing to do with a personal affront, that person has been having lustful thoughts and has been temporarily invaded by the devil...stop talking to them immediately.

Erections are considered a sign of the devil outside of the matrimonial bed. Cold showers help, also reading Reader's Digest is a known cure. You notice all the Reader's Digests in doctors offices? Take one when you leave, the doctor doesn't mind; that is what they are there for...erections.

Be very wary of bus drivers and streetcar drivers who drive excessively fast and hunch over their steering wheels in an aggressive manner...they are usually possessed and treat you arrogantly. Get off immediately...don't bother with the transfer, just pay a new fare. The transfer contains a message to the next driver. Throw it away.

You have to be careful in this day and age, especially with all this new computer can get more information on God's Firewalls and other software designed to protect you from the many demons that I am sure you have noticed, inhabit computers these days. Try

Be careful...your immortal soul is in danger of being lost forever to the powers of the devil.

I left something out, thank God I remembered. The "pretenders" to Christianity actually worship the Devil in have heard of "Black Masses" haven't you? We go to church, not to "mass" follow my line of thought? (Catholics?)

Good. I want to caution you however. You notice that Catholics have a lot of purple in their garments and tapestries of ceremony and in all their devil worshiping rituals? This is because the substance iodine was introduced into several brands of salt being marketed by direct order of the pope. It is a known cure for a disease that God afflicted Catholics with for not abiding by his dictates. Only Catholics get it. Don't buy iodized salt. Rock salt is OK, and "Road salt" by the 100 lb. bags is the cheapest of all. These companies are Christian and have resisted The Pope's efforts and edicts to add iodine. God bless them.

The power of salt has been known throughout the ages and that is why it is so prevalent in Biblical teachings. Salt will ward off the devil.

Carry a can of red spray paint and if you can do so, spray the number 666 on any Catholic property so that good Christians will be warned that they are in the presence of Devil worshipers.

Don't forget, iodine and purple are the potions and elixirs of color in the Devil's curses and ceremonies.



Jim Downey's picture

News roundup.

Three quick items from the last few days you might enjoy...

Talk about your "Magic Man in the Sky" category:

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia has come up with the world's first comprehensive guidebook for Muslims in space as its first astronaut prepares to go into orbit next week.

The book, entitled Guidelines for Performing Islamic Rites at the International Space Station, teaches the Muslim astronaut how to perform ablutions, determine the location of Mecca when praying, prayer times, and how to fast in space, the Star newspaper reported on Saturday.

"The reason we formulated guidelines for Muslims in space is because we wanted to ensure our astronaut could fully concentrate on his mission, without having to worry about how he should perform his religious obligations in space," Abdullah Md Zin, a minister for religious affairs, was quoted as saying.

But that book isn't nearly as good as this one, I bet:

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Ragnarok Approaches!

It's tough following the Old Religion in prison these days, apparently. The money quote:

[link] According to the suit, prison officials gave Smith a candle

By Odin's beard! Where are the Valkyries when you need them?

Jim Downey's picture

Being mean to old retired nuns.

Man, not even us members of the Evil Atheist Conspiracy would pull a stunt like this:

The three nuns living in a modest building on Nopal Street received an eviction notice last month ordering them to be out by Dec. 31. Earlier "would be acceptable as well," the letter said.

Among those being forced to move is Sister Angela Escalera, 69, who, diabetic and able to get around only with a walker, had hoped to live out her days in the Santa Barbara convent.

Gads! What horrible soulless Big Corporation would treat aged nuns this way? Who would be heartless enough to kick nuns out on the street after a lifetime of service to mankind?

Oh, yeah, it's the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. You know, the local arm of the Roman Catholic Church. Why would they do this?

Um, because they can? Because they thought they would pull this kind of a stunt in the hopes of generating donations from loyal Catholics?

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Sinners At The Hands Of A Silly God

Richard Carnes writes a bi-weekly column for the Vail Daily newspaper. This week he wrote a really good piece called "Atheist is not a four-letter word". Read it and you'll find the same points that we make here at UTI all the time.

[Richard Carnes] Atheist is not a four-letter word. Neither is it a euphemism for devil worshiper, totalitarian dictator, child molester or moral-free heathen who reads “Nietzsche for Dummies” for philosophical reference.

An atheist is simply a non-theist, meaning one who does not believe in the existence of gods.

I liked the article, but I had to respond to one of the Christian commenters on the story.

Not only does commenter "frelor" seem to completely mis-understand Richard Carnes' very clear prose, but he also has some pretty wacky ideas about atheism, how to raise good Christian robotschildren, and a masterful plan to out-breed the dreaded Muslim menace.

More below the fold...

Brent Rasmussen's picture

The Problem In A Nutshell

People in positions of authority who confuse their own, personal, wacky religious beliefs with the law of the land. For example, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

[link] We need to be very precise then, about what I said wearing my stars and being very conscious of it, and that is, very simply, that we should respect those who want to serve the nation but not through the law of the land, condone activity that, in my upbringing, is counter to God's law.

I would be very willing and able and supportive [to changes to the policy] to continue to allow the homosexual community to contribute to the nation without condoning what I believe to be activity — whether it to be heterosexual or homosexual — that in my upbringing is not right.

Key phrases: "in my upbringing" and "what I believe".

How does a man become a General, for goodness' sake, and not understand that his own quaint little personal beliefs mean exactly nothing when it comes to setting policy, or writing laws for the entire population of the United States - who may or may not share his upbringing?

This is the reason why the concept of the neutral, secular state is so important. Separation of church and state is the only thing keeping our country from becoming a Christian theocracy. This is evident in the way that Christian dominionists work so hard to marginalize the concept, in print, in person, and through legislation.

Don't allow the wall to fall, folks. Fight back.

Jim Downey's picture

All kinds of crazy.

OK, I'm on record as saying that I just don't 'get' pro sports and the fans who follow it. That's fine. But once in a while I come across something related to pro sports which just makes me scratch my head in complete and total bewilderment.

Like when I saw this comment over at PZ's place:

Meh, that's nothing. One NFL player believes that the word of God was revealed to him in football scores. Following devine revelation he has worked out that the tribulation is due 1 year from now. (and he ain't kiddin' folks)

Read it and weep,

The part the commentor is talking about is about a quarter of the way down a page which is full of all kinds of crazy, just after point #11. It reads in part:

(David: The revelation below is given to Ross Verba, a professional football player for the Detroit Lions, who has been a part of our online assembly for a couple of years. This will prove prophetic when compared with Steve’s revelation about the New York Jets above.)

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