Atheism Anecdotes

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Feel That Christian Love

Wow. This sure makes me feel better about having Christians in charge.

[link] Discussion over prayer at City Council meetings in Coatesville brought out some very ugly behavior.

One woman said she's even been threatened.

Council members recently approved a policy that would allow members to pray before their meeting technically begins.

But Margaret Downey, president of the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia, has been a very vocal opponent of the new policy.

The atheist said she has received two messages from a man who threatened to "make her life miserable."

Downey said she has contacted police and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Jim Downey's picture


So, when do you just keep your mouth shut, figure that discretion is the better course?

This comment in a thread below started me thinking about this. The critical passage:

Atheists have a great deal of familiarity when it comes to the nuts and bolts of living in a social environment. Part of this knowledge base concerns when to lay off and when to lay it on. We all know that different people have different levels of tolerance, different breaking points. In our families and circles of friends we apply this knowledge and indulge the eccentricities of those we depend upon and care for.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

The Cultural Infusion Of Belief

Stephen Caver makes a very good point about the insidious nature of religious indoctrination.

[Stephen Caver] Looking back, it's amazing how culture infuses a person with beliefs. I hardly had any religious schooling at all. The idea that there is a god wasn't particularly beaten into my head, but it was firmly there. I fear, even today, for those who do not have the freedom of their own thoughts. It shakes me to my bones.

I suggest reading the whole thing. It is a very good de-conversion story.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

COTG Featured On

Check it out - The Carnival Of The Godless is being featured at! Cool!

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Allowed To Be Offended

Oh, I get letters alright...

The following is from a big fan of UTI, David Funkhouse. David took it upon himself to send me the following email. I took it upon myself to respond to his email and share it with you. My comments are interspersed throughout.

David Funkhouser wrote:

yeah its pretty cool that christians are the only ones allowed to be offended by everyone else,

Do you need permission to be offended David? Do you believe that there is some sort of "U.S. Department Of Religious Offense" that "allows" certain religious groups to be offended?

That's got to be one of the silliest things I've ever read.

More below the fold...

Brent Rasmussen's picture

That's Just Not How He Rolls

If you haven't watched Mr. Deity yet, you're truly missing out on what I believe to be a sneak preview of the first hit television series from an atheist perspective. Brian Keith Dalton, the writer/director, is brilliant, as are the actors that he is using in his series of shorts.

In reference to Jim's rant below, I present to you a Mr. Deity Superbowl Extra: The Press Conference:

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Atheist In Massachusetts? Enjoy Your Prison Time

[link] The General Laws of Massachusetts




Chapter 272: Section 36. Blasphemy

Section 36. Whoever wilfully blasphemes the holy name of God by denying, cursing or contumeliously reproaching God, his creation, government or final judging of the world, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching or exposing to contempt and ridicule, the holy word of God contained in the holy scriptures shall be punished by imprisonment in jail for not more than one year or by a fine of not more than three hundred dollars, and may also be bound to good behavior.

C'mon Massachusetts! Let's see you throw a few Blasphemy Challenge participants in jail! I double-dog dare you!

Heh. "Contumeliously".

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Irony, Thy Name Is Newsbusters

Ok, so, let me get this straight. A couple of atheists, Brian Sapient and Kelly from the Blasphemy Challenge and the Rational Response Squad, get on ABC's Nightline and do quite well defending the atheist point of view. one of the key points made, was by Kelly:

[Kelly from the RRS] "It's actually OK to hate atheists," Kelly said. "We are like the last group that people overwhelmingly agree that it's OK to hate us, because there's an absurd caricature of atheism out there."

Scott Whitlock is a writer for the conservative online magazine called "Newsbusters". In his story, which exudes outrage over the fact that Nightline gave a couple of godless atheists 9 minutes of air time, he ends up subtlety demonstrating the very thing that Kelly was talking about.

But it's the reader's comments that really take the cake.

Subsailor599 Says:
February 1, 2007 - 15:06

Kelly better be right, where he spends eternity depends on it.

Mean Gene Dr. Love Says:
February 1, 2007 - 15:54

So true, Subsailor599...It is better to believe in God and be wrong than it is to deny the existense of God and be wrong. I'd rather be wrong during my lifetime, than to be wrong for eternity.

More below the fold...

Brent Rasmussen's picture

When Atheists Attack!

Paula Zahn of CNN did a story on a couple of atheist families who have been discriminated against and harassed for being atheists. The story was good, showing the frustration of the atheist families, and was sympathetic

After the story, Zahn has a segment of the show called the "open panel" where they invite a few panelists to discuss the story that was just shown. Since the story was about atheists being discriminated against, you'd think that Zahn would have invited an actual, you know, atheist to sit in on the panel.

Well, you'd be wrong.

Instead, she got three god-bothering nutjobs to - *blink blink* - discriminate against atheists, live on the air.

It's either very subtle, or very stupid on Zahn's part.

HUNTER: They [atheists] don't have a good - marketing. If they had hallmark cards, maybe they wouldn't feel so left out. We have Christmas cards. We have Kwanza cards now. Maybe they need to get some atheist cards and get that whole ball rolling so more people can get involved with what they're doing. I think they need to shut up and let people do what they do. No, I think they need to shut up about it. [Emphasis mine - Brent]

Nice. Not only does our marketing suck, but we should just shut the hell up about it anyway.

Sigh. This country makes me tired sometimes.

I have included a full transcript of the show below the fold.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Same As It Ever Was

Found via the latest Carnival of the Vanities - (which is being hosted at CotV birth-blog Silflay Hraka, oddly enough) - a very funny satirical future history posted at "Churchianity Today" that illustrates that we will probably always act like the social primates we are...

[link] January 2106: American Psychological Association’s yearly White Paper refers to belief in God as a “delusion”. Christian groups protest the “coming wave of persecution”; APA issues an official response that states, “Christian paranoia constitutes further evidence of pathology”.

January 2107: APA White Paper defines a new mental illness - Theistic Delusionary Disorder (“TDD”) – the belief that one can converse with “god” or spirits.

Jim Downey's picture

So, I wander into this nuclear reactor...

This morning's news that the NRC has declined to force nuclear power plants to take additional precautions to prevent the breach of a nuclear reactor's core by attack with a jetliner comes as little surprise, given the Bush administration's attitudes about actual security issues.

But, as always when I hear such news reports, I was taken back to a sunny spring morning some 30 years ago, when me and a couple of college buddies wandered into a nuclear reactor...

It was the weekend of St. Pats day, and we were at the University of Missouri - Rolla to party with a friend of ours who was an engineering student there. I think it was Friday morning, and our friend had some classes he had to attend, so myself and my two friends decided to just explore the campus a bit (we all attended schools elsewhere).

I had considered Rolla for school myself a few years previously, when I had been thinking of going into physics (a dream derailed by poor higher-math skills). So when we came across the research reactor building, I wanted to have a look.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Why Don't I Ever Get The Sanctimonious Christian Trolls Anymore?

I found a new blog today called "Atheist In A Minivan". It's written by an atheist woman who goes by the handle "Possummamma". Her daughter, (nick "Possum #1 on the blog), who is younger than 13 from what I gather, was asked to write a "pop essay" (like a "pop quiz") in her public school class right before Christmas.

Folks, you have to read this kid's essay. It's that good.

[link] What I want for Christmas, by Possum#1
There's a movie that's frequently shown in twenty-four hour blocks in which the main character, Ralphie, wants nothing but a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas. Ironically enough, he's asked to write an essay about his Christmas desire by a slightly shrewd teacher and told that he'll shoot his eye out. As I glance around this classroom, I see that many of my friends are feverishly pumping out manifestos dictating what gadgets and goodies they wish to find under their Christmas tree on the morning of December 25th. My mind, however, is reeling over the presumption that my public school teacher has addressed our classroom and assigned an essay in which she presumes that the entire lot of us are Christian or celebrate Christmas.

However, the real kicker comes in the form of one of the nastiest, most bigoted Baptist minister-trolls I have seen in a long, long time. "William", the ugly, vile troll in question, equates atheists to rapists, tells Possummomma that she is a bad mother - simply for being an atheist, and denounces anyone who steps up to defend Possummamma with hellfire and damnation.

Start reading here, and read the next three posts to here.

Those of you that think that the intolerant "fundy" Christian is just a stereotype, please read the posts above.

Possummamma, keep up the great work. Possum #1's essay was spectacular. And the ending of the saga was great as well. Possum #1, pushed by super-bigot Baptist minister William, declared herself an atheist due to his bigotry and angry irrationality.

Good for you Possum #1!

It's wackos like William who will be the first in line to piously and gleefully force all the atheists, non-Christians, and non-believers into the re-education centers if the Dominionists take over.

That is, until their own particular flavor of Christianity is deemed to be outside theocratic canon and they find themselves locked up for blasphemy and as "enemies of the faith".

Jim Downey's picture

We create the meaning.

I had lunch the other day with an old friend and fellow atheist. It’s ironic that we really only get to see one another during the Christmas period, when he is in town to visit family.

In the course of the wide-ranging conversation (we share many opinions, and differ just enough on some others to keep things lively), he mentioned that he thought that what my wife and I were doing in caring for her mom was praiseworthy.

I thanked him, and explained something I usually don’t tell people. I told him that some time back, when my wife and I were discussing such plans with her mom (back when she could do so, understanding the relevant issues), she indicated that she didn’t want to go to a nursing home, but wanted to stay in her home of 50+ years until she died. Nothing unusual in that - it is a common enough desire. But I felt that since she, herself, had cared for a child born with a significant disability (cerebral palsy) for over 40 years, she deserved to have her wish honored, insofar as we were able to do so.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

I'm Rolling My Eyes Right Now

Oh good! Sly Stallone has decided to become a preacher in his old age. How very wonderful for all of us little people that he's willing to "be subtle" about evangelizing Christianity in his next two movies.

I can hardly wait!

If you're rolling your eyes at the prospect of a 60-year-old Stallone playing an aging boxer, that's OK with him.

"I actually embrace that, and the rolling of their eyes (is) a 100 percent natural valid reaction. I rolled my eyes when I thought of it," Stallone said. "You can't judge anything until you see it. When you see the film, it's about actually being able to listen to your heart and not so much your mind, following the guidance of someone much more powerful than you: Jesus.

"In 'Rocky I,' the first person we saw was Jesus," he said, referring to an opening scene of the boxing club where there is a big mural of Jesus on a back wall.

And if a sixth "Rocky" movie isn't enough, there's "Rambo IV: Pearl of the Cobra" in the works.

"It's also a Christian movie," Stallone said. "Here's how it is. I believe that you can have a Christian theme but you can't hit it too heavy. You can't hit 'em over the head with a hammer. You have to be subtle about it."

Stallone described the plot to "Rambo IV," now in pre-production: "Rambo is a borderline atheist. He doesn't believe in anything anymore. His job is to bring a group of Christians upriver into a very hostile territory, and they're there to bring the word of God and medicine and dentistry to these natives. He has conversations with some of these Christians and he doesn't see it their way. They get captured, and ... he starts getting influenced by their faith in the face of such incredible odds.

"I think it may work," he added.

Will someone please hit me over the head with a hammer if I attempt to see either of these masterpieces? Heh. Rocky VI is actually getting pretty good reviews from what I've read, so I might put it in my Netflix queue in a few months.

The new Rambo movie - what was it? "Pearl Necklace of the Python"? "Rambo Comes Out Of The Closet"? I can't remember. In any case, it sounds like a real winner, boy howdy.

Rambo's a "borderline atheist", huh?

Whew! Good thing he wasn't an "admitted atheist"! You know what those godless killing machines are capable of! Those poor, persecuted Christian missionaries wouldn't stand a chance against a real atheist. They'd all become stew meat after the first debate on theodicy went south, I'll bet.

Might make for a more exciting movie that way though.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Santa's Clause

(Note: this post was written back in 2003. -Brent)

I have always tried to tell the truth to my children. That's not to say that there are times when I make the parental command decision to withhold information from my kids that I do not think that they can understand, or that I think will only serve to confuse them. All parents do that to a certain extent, I'm sure. It's part of raising kids and it comes from understanding how a human brain develops, and then using that knowledge to apply specific and selective choices towards your individual children because they are individuals.

What I have tried not to do is tell my children an outright lie.

However, many parents do not share my affinity for telling their darling little angels the truth. A case in point is Miss. Sandra Jolly of Miramar Florida. She became pretty upset when her six year old son D.J. told her that his teacher had told the entire class that Santa Claus was make believe.

Now, before you go galloping off in all directions please consider the facts:

  1. Santa Claus is make believe.
  2. The teacher, Geneta Codner, did not actually say that Santa Claus was make believe. What she did was ask questions that encouraged critical thinking about obviously false things - like a fat man sliding down a chimney, or reindeer flying.

Now, if Miss. Jolly wants her child's teachers to lie to him, that's her business. She should present the school with a list of magical make-believe beings that she wants her little D.J. lied to about. Maybe they'll institute a special class for children who's parents want them to be lied to. This special class can spend their day wide eyed with wonder at the absolutely truthful (*nudge, nudge, wink, wink*) stories of Santa Clause and His Elves, Angels, Flying Reindeer, Tooth Fairies, The Easter Walrus, Fairy Godparents, Binky The Magic Space Clown, Spongebob Squarepants, Jesus, Allah, The Great Pumpkin, Spiderman, and President Bush and his Magic Bullet.

Wouldn't that be special?

Personally I think the rest of the students would be better off without fuzzy-thinking imbeciles like that polluting the classroom. I'd like my children to learn critical thinking and to be, well, told the friggin' truth about the world around them.

Golly. I must be some sort of anti-Christmas freak, huh?

No, not really. I just think that it's perfectly okay to let your children know that make-belief beings are make-believe. I don't think that it blunts their enjoyment of the fantasy one iota - any more than you or me would have trouble enjoying a novel that we know without a doubt is fictional.

I let my kids figure out the whole Santa Claus thing for themselves. They ask me, "Is Santa Claus real?" I respond, "Do you think that Santa Clause is real?" If they answer "Yes", then I'll ask them why they think he's real. After they get old enough to consider their reasons for believing, they'll start to answer "No."

Is Christmas ruined for the Inscrutable household? Of course not. Christmas is a wonderful time of family, giving, good cheer, good food. You know, all of that stuff that makes Christmas real and fun.

No lies, and no "real" make believe beings needed.

Update: Well, apparently this is happening this year as well:

[link] A PRIMARY school sacked a woman teacher for telling heartbroken nine-year-olds there is no Father Christmas.

Parents were furious when tearful youngsters went home saying they had also been taught elves and fairies did not exist either.

The supply teacher, in her 30s, had her contract terminated after complaints to the head. Mum Amanda Piovesana, 30, said her daughter was shocked to be told: “You are old enough to know there is no Santa or fairies. If you ask your parents they will also say there is no such thing.”

Amanda said: “It’s taken away the magic.” The mum of another pupil at Boldmere Junior School in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, said: “Everyone is disgusted.” Head Diane Thomas-Wood confirmed: “We have followed up the matter with the agency.”

Nice. Musn't tell all the pathetic, fragile nine year olds the truth. Let's fire the honest teacher who refused to lie. It might break their little hearts and force them to accept the fact that Santa is a fictional character like Jesus. And that would be horrible! The horror of it!


Jim Downey's picture

Atheism on "All Things Considered".

This afternoon's "All Things Considered" had a longish piece on the 'new atheism'  Here's the lead from their website:

In response to the growing power of religious extremism, a small group of atheists has taken a new approach. Going on the offensive, they target the tolerant, with both reason - and ridicule. Brooke Gladstone, host of NPR's On the Media, reports.

It wasn't bad at all.  Lots of comments from Sam Harris, some good perspective on how atheists are stereotyped.  If you didn't get a chance to hear it when broadcast, the full audio should be available this evening, 7:30 EST.

Jim Downey

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Army Says Pat Tillman Is Worm Dirt - Deal With It, Grieving Parents!

American hero Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004. You'd think that the Army would want to find out exactly what happened, and discipline those who were responsible.

Well, you'd be wrong.

Instead, Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich has decided to blame everything on the Tillman family's atheism instead.

[link] Kauzlarich said he is confident the current probe will not result in criminal charges against the shooter or shooters. He said investigators would not still be examining the incident at all if it were not for Tillman's NFL celebrity — he walked away from a multimillion-dollar contract with the Arizona Cardinals when he enlisted — and the pressure brought to bear by Tillman's family on a number of Washington politicos.

"His parents continue to ask for it to be looked at," Kauzlarich said. "And that is really their prerogative. And if they have the right backing, the right powerful people in our government to continue to let it happen, then that is the case.

"But there [have] been numerous unfortunate cases of fratricide, and the parents have basically said, 'OK, it was an unfortunate accident.' And they let it go. So this is — I don't know, these people have a hard time letting it go. It may be because of their religious beliefs."

In a transcript of his interview with Brig. Gen. Gary Jones during a November 2004 investigation, Kauzlarich said he'd learned Kevin Tillman, Pat's brother and fellow Army Ranger who was a part of the battle the night Pat Tillman died, objected to the presence of a chaplain and the saying of prayers during a repatriation ceremony in Germany before his brother's body was returned to the United States.

Kauzlarich, now a battalion commanding officer at Fort Riley in Kansas, further suggested the Tillman family's unhappiness with the findings of past investigations might be because of the absence of a Christian faith in their lives.

In an interview with, Kauzlarich said: "When you die, I mean, there is supposedly a better life, right? Well, if you are an atheist and you don't believe in anything, if you die, what is there to go to? Nothing. You are worm dirt. So for their son to die for nothing, and now he is no more — that is pretty hard to get your head around that. So I don't know how an atheist thinks. I can only imagine that that would be pretty tough."

Asked by whether the Tillmans' religious beliefs are a factor in the ongoing investigation, Kauzlarich said, "I think so. There is not a whole lot of trust in the system or faith in the system [by the Tillmans]. So that is my personal opinion, knowing what I know."

Asked what might finally placate the family, Kauzlarich said, "You know what? I don't think anything will make them happy, quite honestly. I don't know. Maybe they want to see somebody's head on a platter. But will that really make them happy? No, because they can't bring their son back."

I think I'm going to vomit.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Pro Wrestling And The Atheist Ethicist

I've been a big fan of Alonzo Fyfe's essays and writing since I first read his stuff back on the Internet Infidels Discussion Board. His post yesterday is fascinating and well worth the read. Alonzo's trademarked crystal clear thinking is applied to the current concern in the atheist community about the 'New Atheists' or the 'Evangelical Atheists' like Dawkins and Harris. I heartily recommend that you read it.

[Alonzo Fyfe] When I listen to atheists discuss strategy, I tend to think about a group of abused children discussing the best way to avoid a beating. Because of the children’s concern, they quickly turn against any child who dares to do anything that might upset the abusive guardian. History has shown that, once the guardian is riled, all of the children are in danger. So, it becomes important to ‘punish’ those who rile the guardian to promote an aversion to doing so.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

"You Belong In Hell"

A 16 year old high school student from Kearny High School in New Jersey named Matthew LaClair was a little uncomfortable when his history teacher, David Paszkiewicz, talked more about the Christian heaven, hell and Jesus than he did about history.

Oh, did I mention that this is a public school? And that the history teacher Paszkiewicz is also a a Baptist preacher in their town?

[link] "I would never have suspected something like this went on in a public school," LaClair said yesterday.

He said Paszkiewicz told students that if they didn't accept Jesus, "you belong in Hell." He also dismissed as unscientific the theories of evolution and the "Big Bang."

Nice. Well, being a smart kid, Matthew realized that no one would believe him about the proselytizing and that it would probably come down to a case of "my word against yours".

So, he started recording Preacher/Teacher Paszkiewicz's public schoolroom religious rants on audio CDs.

[link] On Oct. 10 - a month after he first requested a meeting with the principal - LaClair met with Paszkiewicz, (Kearny High School Principal) Somma, and the head of social studies department.

At first Paszkiewicz denied he mixed in religion with his history lesson and the adults in the room appeared to be buying it, LaClair said. But then LaClair reached into his backpack and produced the CDs.

At that point Paszkiewicz remarked, according to LaClair, "Maybe you're an atheist. You caught the big Christian fish."

"I don't hate this man," LaClair said yesterday. "But if you're going to preach your religion in a public school ... and lying in a meeting about it, then I think he must have some problem he can't deal with in a public school."

More below the fold...

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