Blog Against Theocracy

Brent Rasmussen's picture

The Fragile Soap Bubble Of Faith

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.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Should Atheism Be A Thought Crime?

You would think that most would say that the proposed blasphemy law in Ireland is a bad idea.

Well, you would be wrong.

[link] In the interests of rationality and common sense, the legislation should go further and label atheism a thought crime.

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

Quod Erat Demonstratum

Crazy Morning Radio DJ™ Ichabod Caine - the radio guy who received the stolen atheist sign in Washington state - attempts to defend against it's statement that religion "...hardens hearts and enslaves minds."

However, all he manages to do is demonstrate his own hardened heart, and enslaved mind.

[link] "What struck me ... (about the sign) is that Christianity somehow 'hardens hearts and enslaves minds.' Really? I don't remember, 25 years ago, when I accepted the Lord, that it hardened my heart and it didn't enslave me," Caine said. "And so I thought, how could negative speech like that be allowed?"

Wow. In that one short paragraph, he actually managed to shoot himself in foot, while it was in his mouth. Impressive.

It's funny, Ichabod my main man, but I don't remember the part in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution that says, "Congress shall make no law [...] abridging the freedom of speech - except if it's negative speech as defined by a Crazy Morning Radio DJ™."

Brent Rasmussen's picture

President Palin's Acceptance Speech

Incredibly frightening satire from Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez over at AlterNet:

[link] So what else won’t change with me? I’ll tell ya. Freedom of religion won’t change either. You won’t find me settin’ restrictions on religion. It’s just gonna be a matter of learnin’ t’think about things a little different is all. We all know that there is really only one true religion and that’s why as governor of Alaska I made sure to add a Christian heritage holiday but did you see me do that for any of those other satan cults? No you did not and that’s because I know the difference, as a good a positive American, between religion and plain old superstition and crazy talk.

So you guys, I’m super happy to tell you today that you are finally free to be religious and that’s exactly what the founding fathers wanted when they wrote the USS Constitution out there in Pearl Harbor that time with the pilgrims and the Indians because they were Christians like me even if the liberals keep insisting they were Deists which also, is total crazy talk because there’s no such thing and never was as someone who believes in nature as God because God knows just like I know that nature is nothing more than his gift to us so that we can go huntin’ and drillin’ and drive around on ATVs. So you are free to pick the Christian church you wanna go to! Isn’t that awesome? There’s so many to choose from, it’s like when you go into the Target and you can’t decide which kind of disposable diaper to get. I’m all about choices.

For the first time in a long time we are on the brink of a political situation that could very easily become a death blow to this great American experiment of ours.

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross ." - Sinclair Lewis

Heinlein nailed it more than 50 years ago in the postscript to his "2nd American Revolution" collection called "Revolt In 2100", but apparently we didn't pay attention:

[R.A.H.] "As for the second notion, the idea that we could lose our freedom by succumbing to a wave of religious hysteria, I am sorry to say that I consider it possible. I hope that it is not probable. But there is a latent deep strain of religious fanaticism in this, our culture. It is rooted in our history and has broken out many times in the past. It is with us now; there has been a sharp rise in strongly evangelical sects in the country in recent years, some of which hold beliefs theocratic in the extreme, anti- intellectual, anti-scientific, and anti-libertarian."

"It is a truism that almost any sect, cult or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so. . . . The custodians of the True Faith cannot logically admit tolerance of heresy to be a virtue."

". . . Could any one sect obtain a working majority at the polls and take over the country? Perhaps not -- but a combination of the dynamic evangelist, television, enough money, and modern techniques of advertising and propaganda might make Billy Sunday's efforts look like a corner store compared to Sears Roebuck. Throw in a depression for good measure, promise a material heaven here on earth, add a dash of anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism, Anti-Negroism, and a good large dose of anti- furriners' in general and anti-intellectuals here at home and the result might be something quite frightening -- particularly when one recalls that our voting system is such that a minority distributed as pluralities in enough states can constitute a working majority in Washington."

". . . Impossible? Remember the Klan in the Twenties and how far it got without even a dynamic leader. . . The capacity of the human mind for swallowing nonsense and spewing it forth in violent and repressive action has never yet been plumbed."

Dang. I just got a little chill down my back there.

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

A Vote For Sarah Is A Vote For God

Jeffery Lord, former White House political director during the Reagan Administration, knows why you're all worried about Sarah Palin possibly getting elected. And it is not for the reasons you might think.

[Jeffery Lord] Make no mistake. The vociferous attacks on Sarah Palin -- on her views of abortion, family, work, the environment, science, the role of women and all the rest -- are about much, much more than they seem. A lot of them aren't even about Sarah Palin at all.

Their real target doesn't even have His name on the ballot.

You get that? Being opposed to electing Sarah Palin to the Vice Presidency of the United States, for any reason...

...really means that you are a dirty atheist who hates God.

Do you see how very logical that is? Gosh! I certainly don't want to be a dirty atheist, so I'd better vote for Sarahbear and old whatshisname - you know, war hero guy. Because I want to be a Real Man™ like the First Dude.

Anyone know where can get a good deal on Sarah Palin glasses and snow machines? Does WalMart sell both?

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

Are We A Christian Nation Or Not? The Candidates Sound Off

Who are you going to vote for?

[John McCain] "The Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation." "But I think the number one issue people should make [in the] selection of the President of the United States is, 'Will this person carry on in the Judeo Christian principled tradition that has made this nation the greatest experiment in the history of mankind?'"

[Barack Obama] "We are no longer a Christian nation. At least not "just". We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, and a Hindu nation, and a nation of non-believers."

Videos below the fold...

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Illinois State Rep. Thinks It's Dangerous For Kids To Know Atheism Exists

One of our favorite guys, Rob Sherman, testified before the Illinois House State Government Administration Committee on Wednesday related to Gov. Rod Blagojevich's proposed $1 million grant intended for Pilgrim Baptist Church, and was blindsided by wackjob theocrat Rep. Monique Davis who seems to think that atheists don't have any right to exist, and that we are "dangerous to children".

[link] Davis: I don’t know what you have against God, but some of us don’t have much against him. We look forward to him and his blessings. And it’s really a tragedy -- it’s tragic -- when a person who is engaged in anything related to God, they want to fight. They want to fight prayer in school.

I don’t see you (Sherman) fighting guns in school. You know?

I’m trying to understand the philosophy that you want to spread in the state of Illinois. This is the Land of Lincoln. This is the Land of Lincoln where people believe in God, where people believe in protecting their children.… What you have to spew and spread is extremely dangerous, it’s dangerous--

Sherman: What’s dangerous, ma’am?

Davis: It’s dangerous to the progression of this state. And it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists! Now you will go to court to fight kids to have the opportunity to be quiet for a minute. But damn if you’ll go to [court] to fight for them to keep guns out of their hands. I am fed up! Get out of that seat!

Sherman: Thank you for sharing your perspective with me, and I’m sure that if this matter does go to court---

Davis: You have no right to be here! We believe in something. You believe in destroying! You believe in destroying what this state was built upon.

You can listen to the whole sordid thing here.

(Tip of the ballcap to Twitter and Hemant!)

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Ordered To Pray

A Christian theocracy in our country? How can you say that? You civil libertarians are all crazy!

[link] Witnesses said the presiding judge, Covington County Circuit Judge M. Ashley McKathan, told some 100 people, including members of the Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church and other spectators and officials gathered for a conference regarding the church records case, to join hands in a circle as he prayed.

At one point, witnesses said, the judge fell to his knees.

Pfft. What's the big deal? A judge orders more than a hundred people in a state courtroom to gather in a prayer circle while he falls to his knees and prays. Who cares? What, are you some sort of atheist commie pinko?

carloco's picture

World Ordered New

Hello, I'm reeling with a lot of new ideas gathered from you people, and this is a rewrite of my first blog entry which basically sucked.

Here's one of the main reasons I came here.

My brain was altered by the Methodists' "dogmagicians" starting when I was almost 6 years old.

Before then, my agnostic dad kept religion out of my life and off my back, but my mother couldn't live with herself, let alone anyone else, so she split and I got moved into her parents' home and church.

Something has to give, when the people you love and trust tell you with a straight face that a guy was killed and then a few days later, he woke up and walked out of the tomb and flew up to heaven where he's been hanging out ever since, waiting for the big day.

So what exactly is it that gives?

Kids in the cult I was forced into get the dogma drill around 5 or 6, by which time they've begun to feel good about their ability to figure things out for themselves.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Huck's Theocracy

It's official. Huckabee wants to amend the Constitution to bring it into "God's standards".

[link] "[Some of my opponents] do not want to change the Constitution, but I believe it's a lot easier to change the constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God, and that's what we need to do is to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards," Huckabee said, referring to the need for a constitutional human life amendment and an amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

Huckabee often refers to the need to amend the constitution on these grounds, but he has never so specifically called for the Constitution to be brought within "God's standards," which are themselves debated amongst religious scholars. As a closing statement he asked the room of nearly 500 supporters to "pray and then work hard, and in that order," to help him secure a victory in Tuesday's GOP primary.

We are in deep trouble if this lunatic gets elected. Get out and vote, folks. Anyone is better than this guy. It absolutely floors me that in this day and age a Presidential candidate can make a statement like this - and be dead serious. This country is teetering on the brink, and will self-destruct if a religious fanatic like Huckabee is elected to the Presidency. It is up to us to stop it.

Damn. This scares the crap out of me.

(Video below the fold.)

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Baptists For Brownback 2008

Giving Landover Baptist a run for their money! Baptists For Brownback 2008!

[link] Today, in an America filled with adulterers and baby-killers, an even worse sinner casts a shadow over them all—the atheist. Yet atheists are difficult to spot. They hide their sinister cult behind masks of smiles, science and soft, pleasant voices. Your next door neighbor might be an atheist. You just can’t tell.

Imagine if it was simple to identify atheists and their tainted works. Would it not be grand? Think how much easier it would be to protect your children’s eyes, ears and souls from atheists’ influences if their websites, books, movies and yes, even their very clothes, were clearly labeled with a bright scarlet “A”.

Curses! Those godly folks have somehow conspired to place one of those scarlet "A"s on UTI as well! Now if I can only keep UTI from being listed on their Hellbound list... **shakes fist**

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Small Town Theocracy

Citizens of Hesperia, California, Mayor Rita Vogler knows what religion you should be - and by God, she's going to use your money to enforce it by fighting any church/state separation suit that gets filed against the city for installing a "In God We Trust" sign in the City Council chambers.

[link] "Obviously, I won't go crazy with taxpayer dollars, but I think it's time for cities and states and counties to stand up for who we are,"

So, Mayor Vogler wants to use *other people's* money to "stand up" for who SHE thinks "we are".

Well, golly! I always wanted a Mayor to tell me what religion I should be, and how to express myself religiously - you know, through the power of the government, using MY OWN MONEY.

I mean, goodness gracious! It takes all the worry out of it when all I have to do is follow the religion that the government tells me to follow, not to mention having to pay for the privilege!

You see, that is the essence of concept of the separation of church and state. THAT is where it crosses the line from simple acknowledgment to government endorsement.

Mayor Vogler, you have just told all of the non-Christian citizens in your city that they are second-class, not worthy of consideration, and beneath your contempt - except as cash machines to finance your little theocratic power trip.

Heheheh... Good luck with that!

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