Tag Archives: Religion

Free speech for some but not for teachers in NC

The North Carolina senate has a bill before it which would punish teachers if they wear red clothes in their classrooms. Say WHAA!!??!!

Though not explicitly banning red clothes, a teacher wearing red to school might be seen as engaging in a “political activity”… There is a campaign in North Carolina, Wear Red 4 Ed (public education)

What has created “the notion that promoting public education has become a political statement.”?

What else but a well-funded campaign from the right. There is some justification for vouchers which allow public school students to attend private schools but there is also the reality that some folks see vouchers as a money-making proposition — and screw the kids.

h/t to Crooks&Liars

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GOP Debate Audience boos Birth Control Question

Debate Audience Boos Birth Control

Mitt Romney’s not ready to give up his status as frontrunner just yet. Romney denied that his health-care plan ever mandated contraception in a feisty exchange with Rick Santorum. Earlier, moderator John King raised the question of birth control—eliciting boos from the audience. Meanwhile, the candidates were frothing at the mouth. Newt Gingrich immediately lashed out at King, demanding why moderators never asked President Obama about his vote as an Illinois senator for “infanticide.” He then called Obama a baby killer and said he was more of an extremist than any of the GOP candidates. Romney chimed in to say there’s never been an administration in America more opposed to religious freedom. Santorum argued that teen sexuality should be a reason why contraception shouldn’t be free, and then shifted his focus to defunding Planned Parenthood and fractured families.

Seriously Newt – “infanticide”? Oooh, I know where he got that one. The question was about “birth control” – Don’t these clowns know that making contraception more readily available will result in less “infanticide” or as most rational folks say – abortions. Of course they know the facts but they are playing to the 27 percenters, otherwise known as the Republican “base”.

None of the candidates actually bothered to try and answer John King’s question and in fact used it as a basis for attacking the media (cheers from audience) and to kick off rants about “religious freedom” and the decline in moral values that they see as the reason for discontent in America.

Romney and the rest continue to rage on and on about Obama’s suppression of religious freedom. Doesn’t “religious freedom” include those who don’t hold to the same myths as the majority believe? Although some would think “religious freedom” means you can believe and worship and behave as you wish, as long as you cause no harm to others, there appears to be a large segment of the Republican base which sees it as them being allowed to impose their views on everyone else. When they can’t control society, they see it as “suppression” of their beliefs. When they don’t receive government support for their ideology (and xmas displays) they see an assault on religion.

Naturally, the theocrats have managed to reveal their true desires in a book promoted by Glenn Beck, who managed to drive the sales into best-seller numbers, The Five Thousand Year Leap. It is the arrogance engendered by their belief in the ‘rightness’ of their theology that is driving today’s assault not only on women but also on minority religious beliefs and atheists. Many, far too many, Americans believe stuff that just ain’t true and support those who promote such lies and fantasies. The end result of such twisted thinking was well described in the dystopias of Heinlein’s Revolt in 2100 and Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

more on the drive for xian control of America may be found in the books of Frank Schaeffer and Jeff Sharlet’s The Family

All religions are equally sublime to the ignorant, useful to the politician, and ridiculous to the philosopher. – Lucretius (94 BC – 49 BC)

Anti-abortion bills spark heated debate in Virginia

First saw this story on Rachel’s show last night, during which she had pics of reader-supplied vaginal probes, including this one:
Anti-abortion bills spark heated debate in Virginia

The Tuesday passage in Virginia of two of the strictest anti-abortion bills in the country has sparked fierce debate over abortion rights the battleground state, with Democrats decrying the acts as an unprecedented encroachment on women’s rights as Republicans push to move the legislation forward.

One bill, Republican Del. Bob Marshall’s House bill 1, would define personhood at conception and “provides that unborn children at every stage of development enjoy all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of the Commonwealth.” The second bill requires that women be required to undergo an ultrasound procedure prior to having an abortion.

Now here’s fun part

there are more than 25,000 references to the word “person” in the Virginia legislative code, and that applying all of the laws pertaining to “persons” to all existing fertilized eggs would inevitably become complicated.

She pointed to an example in which a couple undergoing in vitro fertilization successfully becomes pregnant without using as many eggs as were fertilized in the procedure. Those additional eggs would thus be considered “persons,” and the couple could use exploit those “persons” to get additional tax breaks, she argued.

The other bill requiring ultrasound examination before a woman can have an abortion has a rather dangerous, and shall we “intrusive”, requirement that the woman is not allowed to protest – “its requirement that some women undergo a transvaginal ultrasound probe”

The FBI defines rape as “Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object”

Virginian-Pilot editorial

Inserting something into the vagina of an unwilling woman is a violation in every sense of the word. But not to a majority of Virginia’s Senate.

This week, the Senate passed a bill, largely along party lines, that would require a woman seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound and wait as long as a day for the procedure.
(…)
This isn’t about whether abortion is right or wrong.

This is about the scope of government. Even those opposed to abortion should have qualms about the government mandating medical procedures and waiting periods.

Under any other circumstances, forcing an unwilling person to submit to a vaginal probing would be a violation beyond imagining. Requiring a doctor to commit such an act, especially when medically unnecessary, and to submit to an arbitrary waiting period, is to demand an abrogation of medical ethics, if not common decency.

Will those screaming about “government intrusion into our lives” when commenting on a silly mixup over a 4 year old’s lunch say the same thing about this Virginia LAW?

This is just one more example of the hypocrisy of so many on the right; a hypocrisy extending from the Tea Partiers shouting about socialised medicine while simultaneously screaming “Keep your government hands off my Medicare!”, from Catholic bishops complaining about paying for often medically necessary procedures while denying for years that they were covering up even more morally offensive acts in their own churches and schools, from ‘small government‘ activists who claim the feds are after your guns when their is a push for gun registration laws while complaining about the high crime rates in urban neighbourhoods, from sexually conflicted pols and preachers decrying the “attack on marriage” while simultaneously hiring rentboys to “carry their luggage”, and now to this state legislature controlled by “small government” types mandating something far more intrusive than contraception insurance.

It does seem to me that “intrusive government” is often defined as one that does something I don’t like, otherwise – as long as it affects only those “others”, its all cool with me. Like I wrote – hypocrisy.

 

I became an atheist for incredibly stupid reasons.

PZ Myers has been running a series of postings by his readers explaining why they became atheists.  My headline today comes from the most recent one posted by Sarah Otto Marxhausen

I became an atheist for incredibly stupid reasons. To be fair, I was ten years old.

As soon as I started reading well at about age four, my parents started throwing books at me. Anything I showed the slightest interest in, I was allowed to read, and I tore through everything. When I was nine, I was given a huge ton of books to call my own after a family friend died and everyone decided that a lot of his books were appropriate for me. It was the complete Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales, plus some of the Lang fairy books, plus a lot of books about mythology:Greek, Norse, etc.

I read them passionately; I still believe to this day that a lot of those fairy tales are really genuinely cool stories. My family is and was very religious — my father is a minister — and so I was also well-versed in Christian mythology. I slowly started realizing that the supernatural forces in the stories I was reading were gods just like the god I went to church every Sunday for. And, honestly, a lot of the things the Christian god did were nowhere near as awesome or interesting as the things the non-Christian gods did. And since they were all gods, and worshipping god was the important thing . . .

I took what to me was the most logical step, and made up my own religion. One with really fucking awesome gods. I don’t really want to describe it, because it’s really deeply embarrassing now, as are most “profound” decisions that you make when you’re ten years old. They were awesome at the time, okay?

Go and read the rest of the post on Free Thought Blogs

The World Reacts to Clinton’s Gay Rights Speech

The World Reacts to Clinton’s Gay Rights Speech – summation of articles from around the world

In the American rightie blogosphere, we find the usual reaction: claims that Secretary Clinton said something that she didn’t actually say.

The first time in over 60 years a United States President imposes a “gay rights” speech on the UN

and
Clinton Says Obama Wants Gay Rights Over Religious Freedom in Key Speech
and
Liberty Counsel, Family Research Council Enraged by Move to Consider Gay Rights in Foreign Aid

What far too many commenters on the tubez of the internets are failing to note is the actual bigotry and intolerance against gays in other nations which was the target of Secretary Clinton’s speech. She was not advocating for gay marriage or gay adoption or gay bars, rather she was focusing on the actual human crimes that are being perpetrated by far too many third world governments.

With the aid of various evangelical missionaries, particularly in Africa, local governments have been passing laws that demand the death penalty for gays, or if they are a bit more ‘tolerant’, just life imprisonment. The developed nations, particularly in Europe have been pushing for the decriminalisation of homosexuality for years, all while mostly American fundie ministers promote the death of gays. In the normal manner of such proselytisers, they say one thing at home and something else altogether different in the church halls of the third world countries.

Of course the right wing talking heads have done exactly the same thing as our reliably righties always do, and as “Good Hair” Perry did in his recent ad (the one with the Brokeback Mountain jacket) – attempt to conflate the civil struggle in the US for gay marriage and equal (not separate) rights for gays with the battle for saving the lives of gays in other, mostly poor, nations.

and before someone else says I’m excusing them – Yes, fundie Muslim clerics are advocating the same type of atrocities as the fundie Xian clerics. Religious interpretations have been used to justify crimes since the days we were painting shadows on cave walls. Take note of the following quote from some old guy

“To the common man religion is true, To the wise it is false, and to the rulers it is useful”
Lucius Annaeus Seneca 5BCE – 65CE

One Thing Americans Need – better history education

This post is a comment I made on another WordPress blog,
A Father’s Apocalypse
with a few edits to clarify the points I was trying to make.

Go and read the post there to understand what I have written here. My first clue as to the blogger’s take on things was found in his blogroll where he includes Glenn Beck, Drudge and David Barton.

The years leading up to the creation of the Constitution with the influence of the various churches upon the governance of the colonies were exactly why the men who wrote that document intended to keep religion, of any nature, out of the government, not out of civil society but certainly away from the halls of legislation.

Thomas Jefferson was justly proud of three actions he had undertaken during his political career, so proud of them that he had those three acts placed on his tombstone:

“Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and father of the University of Virginia.”

from Jefferson’s autobiography, writing about the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom

Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word “Jesus Christ,” so that it should read “a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion.” The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend within the mantle of its protection the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo and infidel of every denomination.

When Jefferson wrote, “priest-ridden people” he was not writing about the Roman Catholic Church as some revisionists would have you believe, but of all religions that demand the presence of a person with ‘special knowledge’ to lead any group of “believers”. Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Alexander von Humboldt (6 December 1813)

History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.

Explaining to John Adams as to why and how he came to create what we know today as the “Jefferson Bible”, Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Adams, on Christian scriptures (24 January 1814)

The whole history of these books is so defective and doubtful that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such tricks have been played with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain much doubt what parts of them are genuine. In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills.

Were the Founding Fathers as religious as David Barton and others would like you to believe? Certainly those who were lived closer to their time didn’t think so –

…the proceedings as published by Thompson, the secretary, show, that the question was gravely debated in Congress whether God should in the Constitution or not, and after solemn debate he was deliberately voted out of it: … the men whose arguments swayed to vote God out of the Constitution, to declare that there should be no religious test, and that Congress should make no law to establish religion, were atheists in principle; that among all our presidents from Washington downward, not one was professor of religion, at least not of more than unitarianism;

a quote from a sermon given by Rev. Bird Wilson in 1831, to be found in Discussion on the existence of God and the authenticity of the Bible by Origen Bacheler, pgs 230-231

Israel Preparing ‘Christmas Surprise’ for Iran?

Israel Preparing ‘Christmas Surprise’ for Iran

First Published: 11/10/2011, 10:24 AM

With an International Atomic Energy Agency report to be issued this week that will state, officials said Wednesday, that Iran is clearly working towards developing a nuclear weapons program, speculation has turned to possible military actions by Israel or other western countries to prevent Tehran from getting “the bomb.” On Thursday, the British Daily Mail newspaper said that an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities could come as soon as December 25, the day the Christian world celebrates Christmas.

Image

the only feasible route is the direct one over Iraq. Both Turkey and Saudi Arabia have well-equipped air forces and though neither nation is a big fan of Iran, I don’t think their governments could allow Israel to fly unimpeded thru their airspace – too many repercussions within their own populations. Allowing the Israelis to fly over Iraq would tell the world that the US approved the attack on a Muslim nation with untold potential consequences for any US troops still in Iraq at the time, never mind other US interests in that nation – you know – oil. That could be one reason for Israel to wait until all US forces have withdrawn from Iraq.

The fear-mongering begins, although not for the first time as one will note when they read the date the map posted here, was published.

Israel Preparing to Strike Iran
Posted on 4 December 2008

Oil price to hit $175-$200 if Israel attacks Iran: analysts
Please note the contrast between the headline, the first paragraph and the second paragraph

Oil prices could surge to $175-200 per barrel if Israel attacks Iran’s nuclear facilities, leading to the closure of an important oil route, according to market observers. Tensions between the two arch foes have escalated after the International Atomic Energy Agency reported it had ‘credible’ evidence of Tehran’s nuclear weapons plan.In a survey of oil traders, Washington D.C.-based Rapidan Group said that participants expected an $11 rise in the price of a barrel in the immediate aftermath of an Israeli attack.
(…)
“Iran is the most important latent threat in the oil market,” Robert McNally, head of the Rapidan Group, told Platts Energy last week, partly because previous threats against Iran over the years have not materialised, and also as Arab Spring has stolen the limelight from Iran during the past ten months.

McNally noted that oil traders would not have ignored the alleged-Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador had there been a Republican U.S. President, rather than Democrat Barack Obama, despite his hawkish stance on Iran.

Interesting comment about oil-traders ‘ignoring’ the alleged Iranian plot because the President is Barack Obama. One might read that as saying the oil traders are ignoring it because they know Obama is more competent and more capable of handling the situation than any Republican – otherwise, why ignore it? There could be other reasons as a Forbes article notes

At least for the time being, viewing higher oil prices through the prism of armed conflict with Iran is incorrect.

The reason for the rise in oil price is not the geography of Iran but the geography of Cushing, Oklahoma.
(…)
Cushing is the price settlement point for West Texas Intermediate Sweet Crude Oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). This price benchmark is used for oil in the United States.

As the production for Canadian oil sands has increased, Cushing has become a major choke point. Cushing has turned out to be a colossal error in oil infrastructure planning.

Will speculators drive up the price of oil in anticipation of an Israeli attack? Probably

Map came from one of those THE END TIMES ARE APPROACHING!!! websites of the type so loved by folks like preacher John Hagee and his ilk.