Thursday, April 28, 2011

FFRF Out Campaign

The FFRF has called for atheists, agnostics, rationalists, brights and free thinkers of all sorts to come out of the closet!

"The Freedom From Religion Foundation is launching an online invitation to nonbelievers everywhere to “come out of the closet, to declare and share your nonbelief,” by participating in FFRF’s innovative online “virtual billboard” campaign.
FFRF, the largest atheist/agnostic association in the United States, debuted an “Out of the Closet” personalized public relations campaign last fall featuring real nonbelievers, their views and their faces on bus signs and billboards. The “Out of the Closet” campaign has visited Madison, Wis., is up now in the Raleigh-Durham Triangle area of North Carolina, and will launch in four new cities soon.
“Although we can’t put everyone on a real billboard, every nonbeliever can participate in this unique ‘cyberboard’ campaign,” explains Dan Barker, a former minister and author of Godless. He and Annie Laurie Gaylor direct the 16,500-member Madison, Wis.-based association, which also serves as a state/church watchdog.

Monday, April 25, 2011


I saw a quote earlier from Ezekiel 9 and decided to read a little bit about the passage. It seems Ezekial has visions from Yahweh. During Ezekiel 8, a figure of a man appears out of the hand of god. The figure was "like fire" from the waist down and appeared "as bright as glowing metal." The figure grabs Ezekiel by his hair and takes him to a place between heaven and hell where he sees the visions of god. Apparently, god is just jealous of all the other gods the people of Jerusalem are worshiping. The 'angel' takes Ezekiel to a whole in the wall where Ezekiel is to dig. A doorway shortly appears. When he looks through, he sees pictures on the wall of "crawling things and unclean animals and all the idols of Israel." [Ezekiel 8:10] 

Why did Yahweh create unclean animals? 
What is the purpose of creating life 
& demanding that human keep away?

Inside the room, 70 elders of Israel stood there burning incense, another one of god's pet peeves. Then, Ezekiel is given another vision where a lady is mourning the god Tammuz*. The 'angel' says, "Do you see this, son of man? You will see things that are even more detestable than this."

*According to wiki, Tammuz is the Sumerian god of food and vegetation. This is also the only place where Tammuz is mentioned in the Bible. 

Did the writers of the Bible see 
the worshiping of Tammuz as a problem 
in their local town?
Why would an all-powerful, the one & only God 
become so jealous of a non-existent one?
How did Yahweh's creation come to worship 
other gods before him?

Next, Ezekiel is shown a vision of 25 men praying with their backs to god's temple and their toward the East. Because they are "bowing down to the sun," god refuses to listen to them and instead says that he "will deal with them in anger." [Ezekiel 8:18] The 'angel' then calls forward 6 men, each carrying a weapon. Another man followed carrying a writing kit. God commands the writing man to go through "the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in [the city]." [Ezekiel 9:4] Then, god send the 6 men through Jerusalem to kill everyone without a mark. ...and now a word from god....

Follow him [the writer] through the city and kill, without showing pity or compassion. Slaughter the old men, the young men and women, the mothers and children, but do not touch anyone who has the mark.
Ezekiel cries out to the Lord and asks if he is "going to destroy the entire remnant of Israel in this outpouring of your wrath on Jerusalem?"

Of course he is! They have forsaken him and must now die without pity.

Following God's vicarious mass murder, Ezekiel has some imaginative visions of the cherubim and their lovely wings and what not flying back to the heavens.

Did this really happen? No, of course not. . . but could Ezekiel [or someone else] have had these visions? It is possible but now, we just send them to the mental institute.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

I found an interesting sermon...

"One of the arguments that the new breed of atheists 
often proclaim is that 
Religion is the cause of the bad things that people do."
 -Steven M. Conger

...while I was Googling today. Steven M. Conger, a Christian, expresses his view about the evils of religion. I'm assume he is presenting his case to the congregation of Ridge United Methodist Church. He begins by presenting a CNN study that says "America is a less Christian nation than it was 20 years ago" and that only 75% of Americans call themselves Christian, down from 86% in 1990. According to Mr. Conger, this loss of faith has stemmed from the political take-over by evangelical Christians and the child molestation cases of the "Catholic" church.
"The survey also found that "born-again" or "evangelical" Christianity is on the rise, while the percentage who belong to "mainline" congregations has fallen.The rise in evangelical Christianity is contributing to the rejection of religion altogether by some Americans, said Mark Silk of Trinity College. 'In the 1990s, it really sunk in on the American public generally that there was a long-lasting 'religious right' connected to a political party,and that turned a lot of people the other way," he said of the link between the Republican Party and groups such as the Moral Majority and Focus on the Family.'"

 He even admits to knowing that "many [people] who self identified as religious do not practice their faith." So, who really knows what the true numbers are. A few conversations between a person  of weaker "faith" and an educated atheist will probably have the person admitting to their religious agnosticism. By this I mean, that the person will admit to not really believing in to story of Noah's Ark or not really believing that Jesus rose from the dead. I've met self-described Christians who do not believe a hell, do not believe Jesus rose from the dead, agree that Bible is a bunch of pieced together bullshit, know that evolution is how it happened and so on and so on. . . I actually had a friend tell me that god was created during the big bang. Then, god made creatures on other sorts of planets and that he 'seeded'  Earth  and let evolution takes its course. He also believes that the Bible has been tampered with and mistranslated so much that it's identifiable from the original.  Yet, he identifies himself as a Christian. [He says it was the way he was raised. I tell him that he has made up his own god.]

...back to the Mr. Conger...

Dawkins and Harris receive a brief mention as "evangelical" atheists who say "the world would be a better place without religion." Evangelical? Really?

Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s. Its key commitments are:
  • The need for personal conversion (or being "born again")
  • Actively expressing and sharing the gospel
  • An emphasis on teachings that proclaim the saving death of the Son of God, Jesus Christ

I don't see how you could describe any atheist as evangelical. Most of us do not care if you practice your religion as long as you keep it out of everyone's public schools, government, and even our own homes. Yeah, I'm talking about you, Jehovah's Witnesses. Some atheists actively express their feelings but that's something you could say of any rights activists, including those who support gay marriage. I think points 3 & 4 are pointless to argue. 

Mr. Conger goes on to speak about some of the evil acts pursued in the name of religion. Although I think he leaves out some of the more grotesque moments in religious history, he does mention the oppression of Islamic women, American slavery, American women's right to vote, and American women being speakers of the church. He takes into account the pedophile priests, money scandals, and "gullible Christians" who have been taken advantage of. All of this while knowing that "people outside the church see that and lump [Christians] all together and think [they] are crazy!"

"What is the most common thing that people who are not religious say about Christians?
I hear it over and over again: CHRISTIANS ARE A BUNCH OF HYPOCRITES
And you know what?  They are right!
Of course we are ->that is why we come to church, to try to teach us and learn about the way of Jesus and how we need to do a better job in following."

He seems to understand that his religion is falling apart from the inside out...but yet, he rationalizes the situation by asking if we should "just get rid of religion because sometimes people miss use it?" He then takes a look at all the good things religion has done: started universities, helped with Katrina, Tsunami, Haiti, collected food and fed people, collected toys for the Salvation Army, and taken mission trips.

He fails to mention that atheists do all of these good things too and have never formed institutions that steal money, rape children, and wage wars.

He also says that Christians do all of these things because they want to help people. Yet moments before, he agrees that some Christians do good so they won't go to hell and will get a "ticket punched to heaven." He goes on with some silly Bono quote about god helping the rich and famous and still able to be a nurturing being to an HIV infected mother and child.

He ends his sermon by asking anyone, even those who don't believe, to come to their church and see all the 'good' they are doing. He is basically asking you to ignore all of the bad things behind church and only look at the good.

"Religion does so much good. Let's not throw out the baby with the bath water. Sure we have done, and will no doubt continue to do some bad things, but with the help of the way of Jesus we are trying to change."

 Then, here comes the guilt-trip finale. How would you feel if you had a tough time following in Jesus' footsteps because of circumstances in your life? What if someone wanted to kill your WHOLE family because you loved Jesus? Well, you don't have to because you live in a free country. Show your thankful by taking this challenge: 10 hours of working with poor or 1 week on a mission trip or you can pay for someone to do it for you!!

It seems to me that this wouldn't be doing good because you want to help people. It feels as if it is a punishment for being born into a decent family. Do this because god blessed you with a good home and other people have to suffer worse than you....?

In the end, Steven Cronger did nothing to help anyone on the fence about religion. I think he may have even encouraged some people to look outside the church. Though, I do sincerely hope that he learns something meaningful from his conversations with atheists.

Link to PDF

Friday, April 15, 2011

Letting my kid watch Veggie Tales

About a year ago, my daughter who was two at the time found Veggie Tales. Fruits and vegetables that tell stories from the Bible using modern twists, including Indiana Jones and The Princess and the Pea. It does mention god and Jesus throughout the entire show. One episode later and my daughter was hooked. She completely fell in love the cucumber. She calls him "Pickle".

A few months ago, Veggie Tales Live! came to my grandmother's "non-denominational" Christian church. She invited us to go and I said that would be awesome. I love any chance to hang out with my grandmother. This particular church is a mega-church. So, we walked into the auditorium's lobby. Immediately, Ivy runs toward the Veggie Tale booth with all of their stuffed animals and toys. She picks out a flashlight toy and a stuffed pickle. We sat down near the front and waited for the show. Most of the other little kids were sitting quietly as if this was a real church service. As the lights dim, men dressed as giant vegetables stumble onto the stage singing their opening song..

If you like to talk to tomatoes,
If a squash can make you smile,
If you like to waltz with potatoes,
Up and down the produce aisle...
Have we got a show for you!

Immediately, all of the kids just gasp in awe. My daughters eyes lit up and she couldn't believe she was seeing the real Pickle!  Before long, she was jumping in the middle of the isles and dancing her little heart out. Most of the other children were standing by their parents, not sure if they were allowed to move from their spot. Soon, they couldn't stand it and joined my daughter in the isles. They were all having a blast and it was nice to see my daughter getting the party started! In the end, it was a great show and a great way for my daughter to spend precious time with my grandmother.

Why, you may ask, would I let my kid watch something that I believe is utterly false? If asked, Ivy knows Pickle is just a cartoon. She'll also say the same of Elmo, the Iron Giant, and Woody from Toy Story. To be honest, I don't think she even gets the concept of god that is mentioned along the storyline. She sees veggies dancing around, sing songs, and being polite to everyone. I will say that it does teach good values and some of their songs are quite catchy. It leaves out all the gory stuff about hell but hey, it is a kid's show after all.

My daughter also watches science documentaries, The Blue Planet, Planet Earth ect ect... She loves them too. She's fascinated by monkeys and tigers. When asked, she knows these animals real. We can visit a zoo and see, and sometimes even interact, with the animals. She knows that these do exist in reality.

I don't want to keep my child in the dark about the Christian religion. The majority of my family would label themselves as Christians and she will begin to hear about the many religions as she gets older. So, what's the best way to introduce a three year old to religion? In it's basic form, a fairytale.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Raising Children

Raising a free-thinking child can be difficult in the southern United State. Fundamentalist Christians are everywhere, with their signs of hell and hatred. Most will shun you and your children once it is revealed you are not of the Christian faith. 

A few thoughts have been racing through my mind as I try to rehearse the conversations between my fundie family & I. I know there will be questions like, "How can you raise a child with morals? Morals come from God." Most of us know that this is not the case. Instead, our basic morality comes from within us. It is an innate survival skill passed along many generations. [I will assert here that pre-marital sex is not a moral dilemma but religious dogma.] 

The Golden Rule, "Treat others as you wish to treated." 

After rehearsing the conversations in my head, I decided to write it down. A mission statement, if you will, for my daughter.

"We are raising our daughter in a free thinking household. We are teaching her to think critically, not judgmentally. When it comes to doing the right or wrong thing, we look to our conscience and to the good of humanity. When it comes to history, we will teach her about how our forefathers passed on tales of mythical beings that lived in the stars and controlled the happenings of Earth.  We will show her the stories of different cultures and religions, including Zeus, Ra, Thor, Yahweh, and Allah. We will tell her that there are still people who worship these deities and they do so in a variety of ways. When we teach her about the Universe, we will look to science. When she is sick, we will turn to the science of medicine. We will not limit her knowledge because it goes against our own belief systems."

It is still a work in progress but hopefully it will help people see how a free-thinking household can benefit their child. Teaching open-mindedness can end the bigotry of the world. Teaching one religion, and only one, will only teach children to feel hatred [and in some cases, sorrow] toward other people. It is a closed minded way to view the world and I refuse to allow my daughter to take part in it.