Monday, December 28, 2009

Loving the One You Fear: The Peculiar Christian Dilemma

Imagine, if you will, being devoted to and in love with someone who has committed mass murder and various atrocities throughout his life.

Imagine this individual set up a test for his earliest relatives knowing in advance they would fail and that he would punish their progeny for ever. He readily admits he killed his own son, and was psychotic enough to demand another man kill his only child as a test of the man’s fealty -- stopping him at the very last moment.

Consider that this person created a place of eternal pain and everlasting horror and has the power to commit you there if you don’t profess your love for him. Of course he says that you have free will to love him or not, but if you choose “not,” he’s going to send you to be tortured forever.

He demands that you to praise him for these things… regularly; he expects your worship of him and him alone; he wants you to eat his body and drink his blood in exchange for his benevolence.

What if this was your father, or husband, or boy friend. Could your love be genuine? Could you profess it freely and without intimidation? Would you acquiesce to his demands out of fear? Or would you try to find an out, an escape, a safe house, perhaps seek an Order of Protection?

The description above sounds like it could be the movie script for the next “Saw” sequel. But it’s much worse than a horror film. There are two-billion people to whom this being is not some fictional movie fiend but their much admired and beloved “Father who art in heaven” to whom they profess their undying love and devotion. Father!!???

Many abused and battered women have so little self esteem, so little confidence in themselves that they cling to their abuser and genuinely believe they love him. They will say -- “Oh, that was the old him…he’s changed now. Besides, it was my own misbehavior that provoked him and made him do these things. He promises me I’ll be rewarded eventually. It’s all good.” But all the while they know the possibility exists that if they slip they will be horribly killed, or continuously punished. The unpredictability of this demented thing adds another dimension of horror. It is their fear that cements their “love.” It’s a terrible fact of reality for some women. Society as a whole abhors and condemns it.

And yet, when that fiend, that bully, that psychopath is the imagined Supreme Being that has been thrust upon them since childhood, society says “This is good. How could you not want such a Father? Join me in my love born of fear.”

What a hideous dilemma and existence Christians submit to: indoctrinated to love something by fear of its power and wrath; and let it rule your life even when it doesn’t exist. When confronted with this reality they will deny their fear, even employing words like “respect” to define "God Fearing." But repression of the facts do not change them. To me that sounds like the definition of Hell on Earth.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Repost: What are atheist apologists afraid of?


Hemant Mehta happens to be one of my favorite atheists. I visit his blog “The Friendly Atheist” at least once a day religiously.

The other day he posted an article about a North Carolina atheist group who won the right to post a sign (see above) adjacent to a Christmas display on city property. You can read it more clearly here:

While most of his readership approved of the sign and commended the organization for it’s commitment to not acquiesce to this Christian need for implicit governmental endorsement by promoting their beliefs on public property; some of them were less than fully supportive. Here are some of those comments:
  • “… a lot of those ignorant people will react immediately with anger, not curious thoughtfulness, when they see this” ... “I’m still undecided on how I feel about this.”

  • “I like the message on the sign. However, since it mentions “mythological gods” in reference to Jesus, people will be utterly outraged.”

  • “… it sounds to me as though it’s saying “No stupid, Jesus isn’t the reason it gets cold in winter – that’s because of the axial tilt”, as if religious people are beyond understanding that (when in fact, it’s not what religious people are saying anyway)). I don’t like it at all.”

  • “I think the holiday displays should be inspirational and could do without the lesson.”
    “[atheist’s] confrontational messages can sometimes come across as being snippy or negative….”

Yes, some theists will react with anger. Yes, it implies Jesus is just one of many gods man has honored on Dec 25 and that they are all mythical. Yes, it clearly states Xmas was co-opted from pagan celebrations of the winter solstice. Yes, it could be interpreted as confrontational; and the mindless who intentionally deny history and object to realty may well be offended. So what?

And if Christians need to draw “inspiration” from illuminated plastic statues in a publicly owned arena, then their “faith” is pretty damn weak. I have no obligation to underwrite their inspiration. They can draw their inspiration from plastic religious displays on private property, thank you.

Exactly what are these ambivalent atheists so tentative about? Is documentable truth so painful that it must go on tip toe so as to avoid bruising the sensibilities of the deluded who demand their religion be given special governmental endorsement by singular placement on public property? Is a believer’s potential offense by the secular sign more valued and more worthy of respect and sensitivity than my offense at their religious intrusion on property I pay to support?

Do we really need to worry about appearing “snippy” to theists lest they might think ill of atheists and condemn us as immoral, unethical, godless communists unworthy to hold public office and seeking to destroy the country? Oh, wait… they already do that!

Sure, let the apologizing and accomodating atheists wring their hands over possibly offending the willfully ignorant with a truthful statement on the origin of the holiday season. Maybe when the annual Holocaust denier convention comes around the same weak kneed atheists should scorn any attempts to offset the haters' denial and ignorance with truth and reality, lest it injure the sensibilities of the anti-Semites.

I love that atheist group's sign. There should be one where ever religionists seek to use public property to promote their beliefs. No apologies necessary.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Reflections on an Atheist Christmas

As Christmas rapidly approaches I found myself straining to come up with an article that properly addresses the season from an atheist’s perspective; one that hasn’t been done to death.

It would be easy to drag out the usual atheist harangue about Christmas having been co-opted from pagan winter solstice rites; about the pagan roots of the Xmas tree and Yule log; about how the traveling to Bethlehem story to be counted in a census was nonsensical and antithetical to Roman logic…etc., etc. But, while all factually correct, rehasing all that would be as interesting as watching “Charlie Brown's Christmas” for the 45th time or worse, listening to "Alvin and the Chipmunks" while trapped in an elevator.

Instead, something I saw posted on Facebook by an atheist caught my attention. It said this: “Ugh, it’s Christmas, the most annoying time of year for an atheist.”

I pondered that for a few seconds and found myself in total disagreement. More than that I couldn’t even understand how anyone could be annoyed by Xmas …well, besides store salespeople, UPS drivers, postal workers, and JW’s who view the celebration of Xmas as an abomination. What is it about a gift giving holiday that could make an atheist “annoyed”?

My earliest memory of Xmas and the excitement it heralded was as a four year old. My parents were non-practicing Jews. Perhaps “Theist-Lite” would be a good descriptor. But they always celebrated a secular Xmas for the kids as well as giving us one gift a night for each of the eight nights of Hanukah.

My mother brought my brother and I to the department store Santa with our wish list. We didn’t have a Xmas tree (that was for the "goyim"), but we did hang stockings. I recall on that Xmas Eve my father called my brother and I to the window and pointed out a flashing red light in the sky telling us we’d better get to bed because that sure looked like Santa flying in over Long Island.

Early the next morning we dove into a pile of carefully wrapped gifts, new tricyles & bicycles, sleds, and stockings full of goodies. I don’t recall ever being disappointed. Years later I often wondered how my father, who was totally non-mechanical, was able to assemble toys without their falling apart on the first touch.

My wife and I continued that tradition with our sons. Naturally, being a Christian of sorts, my wife is really into the decorating thing, and gift overload. The boys were never disappointed. Setting up bikes and Darth Vader’s Death Star Command Post, slot car race tracks, etc., through the night I was always a bit stressed to meet a deadline, but it was a labor of love.

Naturally the best Christmas' then as now were the snow covered ones … White Christmas’. With ten inches already on the ground and more on the way we’ll be having a White Christmas with our sons and their better halves this year here in New Hampshire. On Christmas Eve afternoon we’ll go down to the town garage and partake of their annual Xmas party amid the lifts, tires, and tool boxes. Later that evening we’ll stop by the neighbors for drinks and finger food with the neighborhood.

And in the morning aside the wood stove, sipping coffee in our jammies, Mrs. Hump and I will relive our own childhoods vicariously through the kids as they open their gifts, tease each other, make a mess with the paper, all while the dogs run through it yapping and chewing on their own new toys.

Christmas by any other name is a day of family if you’re lucky enough to have one. It’s a time to share drinks and food with friends. To show your appreciation to your loved ones and people who do so much for us throughout the year. And to share what bounty you have with those less fortunate.

For this atheist and his family it’s never been about impossible man-gods, or mythical virgin births, or denying reality. Just the opposite -- it’s a celebration of family, friends, and snow covered childhood memories. Nothing is more real than that.

Have a safe and fun holiday everyone … whatever you name it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Oral Roberts Dead at 91— Obituary for an Iconic Shaman

Oral Roberts died today. Let me say right off that I will not be donning black, buying Mass cards, sitting Shiva, lighting candles or otherwise mourning the passing of this charlatan and purveyor of brain virus to the masses. Fact is, as far as I am concerned, Oral was 40 years late for his funeral.

This may sound a bit harsh, but I never claimed to be John Donne -- any man’s death does not necessarily diminish me.

Among the nation’s earliest Televangelists, Oral made a name for himself attracting an enormous following. Although a few years too late to be the inspiration for the ne’er-do-well false prophet evangelical minister in Sinclair Lewis’ Elmer Gantry, he well could have been.

Oral’s claim to fame is epic:
  • In the ‘30’s he was a traveling tent healer, who shouted abuse at the ill and crippled when they failed to respond to his healing touch.

  • In 1977 Roberts claimed to have had a vision from a 900-foot-tall Jesus who told him to build the City of Faith Medical and Reseacrh Center (a faith and medicine hybrid concept) and that the hospital would be a success. Built in 1980; it closed its doors in 1989. Giant Jesus lied.

  • In January 1987, during a fundraising drive, Roberts announced to a television audience that unless he raised $8 million by that March, God would "call him home"… i.e. “Gimme money or you’re going to kill me.” He sucked $9.1 million out of his fearful sheep.

  • Oral announced that through the Roberts ministry god had raised the dead. His son Richard claimed to have witnessed his father bringing a dead child back to life. The kid was never named.

  • He was forced to resign from the presidency of Oral Roberts University due to some funky business about the use of university funds for personal and political purposes.

[ Read all about his illustrious career here: ]

He was a pioneer of sorts, paving the way for the legions of despicable, bombastic, fanatical religious shaman -- con men, hypocrites and buffoons all. Men who have made it their life’s work to heap more ignorance upon the ignorant, fleece the gullible, make promises they could never keep, sell the snake oil of belief and earn millions doing it.

Perhaps hundreds of thousands of pious lemmings will mourn Roberts' passing. But not I. That’s not to say I wouldn’t want to honor him. Given the opportunity I would gladly pour a bottle of 18 year old Glenfiddich scotch over his grave ... as long as he doesn’t mind if it passes through my bladder first.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Youth Pastor Wanted: Gump was right "Stupid is as stupid does."

“Celebration Family Church is looking for a self-motivated leader with a passion for preschool and elementary age children …” “… Children’s Ministries Director will be responsible for overseeing leading and guiding Children's Ministry which focuses on infants – 8th grade. [Bold emphasis mine]

The above ad for a Youth Pastor position nearly knocked me on the floor (not the church sign… that’s fake). It reminded me of those funny headlines Jay Leno reads on his show, you know, the kind that make you say “What were they thinking???!!!”

Given the nationwide epidemic of clergy pedophilia, with a goodly number of Youth Ministers/Pastors among them, you’d think the folks at the Celebration Family Church might have used slightly different phraseology. But my guess is they are so unthinking that they are completely oblivious to the implications of a clergyman who has “… a passion for preschool and elementary age children.” Of course, I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt by assuming they are comatose or imbeciles. The alternative would be to suggest they are actually encouraging pedophiles to apply -- a front for NAMBLA.

Some irate Christian reading this will no doubt feel the need to defend this ironic and patently stupid ad’s wording. They will accuse me of being puerile at best, or a lascivious degenerate at worst. After all “passion” has many meanings of a nonsexual nature. But that’s just denial, something Christians are trained to do. The reality is clergy molestation has dominated the news for years. Just do a Google Images search for “Youth Pastor / Minister Molesters” and the crowded gallery of faces will disgust you. One would have had to have just hatched from an egg not to see the unfortunate inference in that ad’s wording and not be stunned by its insensitivity.

I would be remiss if I did not make an observation about the last sentence in the advertisement. Exactly what does a church person do with infants as it relates to “leading and guiding” them? Lead and guide them to what? When my sons were infants Mrs. Hump and I pretty much lead them to open their mouths for their “flying airplane” baby food spoon; and guided them not to use their feces for modeling clay. Somehow I don’t get the impression that food and feces is the focus of a Youth Ministry’s guidance.

Evidently the concept of “Get ‘em while their young and moldable” is a common theme for both pedophiles and religious indoctrinators ... both of which are criminal, or should be.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Crediting Chance and Self-Determination: Hump “Witnesses” for Reality

“[I] cannot comprehend [the things that happen in my life] being chance ... - if there is proof that these cannot be God [’s influence] or that He doesn't exist - I am willing to consider it.”

My Christian pen pal, a pastor’s wife, wrote the above after recapping for me some good results, predominantly financial, that came out of some recent unfortunate circumstances in her life. She credits God. My response to her follows -- slightly revised and extended.

Dear M,

I do not credit chance with everything in life. I do credit chance with some number of things. The fact is we influence our life, and whether we capitalize on those chance occurrences are often up to us. Let me give you an example.

I went to college and graduated with a BA in psychology, and a minor in religion. I had no idea what I was going to do when I graduated. So I went to campus interviews with every company that I could. I received offers mostly from insurance companies, and retail companies. I picked retail because my father was a retail executive all his life. I had no particular interest in retail management, but I had some idea what it was.

Neither fate, nor chance, nor the influence of the supernatural played any role. It was simply the fact that my BA in Psych qualified me for nothing more in the business world than an entry level position in management. The retail and insurance industries would take people with any BA degree and a mediocre 3.0+ GPA.

I was assigned to a really good manager, who taught me the ropes and was my mentor. But I brought with me an innate skill set: a sense of urgency, a forceful persona, an analytical bent, and a dreadful fear of failure. I excelled in my assignments. I was promoted often; given progressively greater responsibility; succeeded in most every challenge. My income rose proportionately and faster than many of the MBAs the company hired from better schools.

Chance played a role in who became my role model. Had I been assigned to a lesser manager -- uncaring, inept -- perhaps my advancement would have been slowed, maybe not.

My upbringing was responsible for my other qualities and attributes. Certainly had I not been raised by upper middle class, non-religious, educated parents who were achievement oriented and success driven, who taught me personal responsibility and self-reliance, it’s more than likely my business career would have been negatively influenced. Chance determined who my parents were, and what my socio-economic status was; I could not influence either.

I was successful enough that I could easily retire to our New Hampshire home at 55 years old and not have to work to support my wife and I. But it wasn't chance / luck that allowed me to retire early. I invested well. My education / understanding of human behavior served me well. I learned quickly. I established personal goals and targets. I worked long hours, often six days a week. I hired the best people. I shared my knowledge, developed people’s skills. I took certain risks and made innovative changes that cemented my credibility with the organization. I understood corporate politics, albeit, I was often a maverick. Based on a combination of chance, personal qualities and decision making grounded in logic and intellect, I was able to significantly influence if not entirely control my destiny,

I can account for how each and every stage of my development and business success was influenced by chance, or by my upbringing, or by my own initiative. Not a jot or tittle of supernatural influence is in play. I expect the result would have been the same had I gone into insurance, real estate, or manufacturing.

Perhaps you’d still credit all that to a higher power. I'd guess you’d protest that you need “proof to the contrary” that a higher power didn't influence who my parents were, or influence my business life and manage my career for some "greater purpose." In fact, I’d wager that as you read this, you are compelled to look at each detail and put it into surpernaturalistic interventional terms. I attribute that to your religious indoctrination, dependency, and a sense of helplessness that upbringing imparts.

I can't possibly prove that no supernatural influence exists, just as I can’t prove that leprechauns, alien abductions, ghosts, or Thor don't exist. You could not disprove that a being that resembles a squid isn't circling a far off star, if I made such a contention. No one can prove imaginary things don't exist, and why bother? It is futile and non-productive exercise. But not being able to disprove the imagined doesn't make these things real by default, or even suggest they are acting upon or influencing anything.

Some people dismiss chance, self-reliance, personal accountability, and the impact of life’s cumulative experiences, preferring to credit all outcomes to "powers" from the beyond. It brings to mind the ancients who attributed war, famine, and every other natural event to supernatural influences. Such people lack the confidence and self-respect to credit their achievements to their own positive attributes and luck; or acknowledge that their failures are due to chance, bad decisions, and/or their own inadequacies. It’s too clear, too personal, too simple, and too real. Their lot in life “must” be in the hands of something else, an unseen spirit -- an uncontrollable influence—anything but their own hands and chance.

I went to Vietnam after almost flunking out my first year at school. When I came home from Nam people said: "God must have been watching over you, it's a miracle you weren't killed." But they spoke from ignorance and superstition. The reality was that of all the people who served in Vietnam “only” (only is a horrible word here, but the only one that fits) 58,000 died out of the 2,100,000 who served. That’s less than 3.0% fatalities. My odds / chance of being killed were higher as an infantry-rifleman, but even then comparatively small at perhaps 7%- 11%.

God/gods had nothing to do with my survival. Miracles didn't save me, nor was it God’s will that killed the evangelical sitting across from me in the bunker who was so busy praying he forgot to keep his head down and reload and fire his rifle. To those theists who like to say "Well, God had a purpose for saving you." I respond “Then your ‘god’ must not believe in itself, since evidently its purpose was for me to help bring as many theists as possible to their senses.” an explanation every bit as rational as their postulation.

The "reason," "greater purpose" for that Christian kid and thousands like him dying, resides only in the imagination of religionists. The only "reason" is that some people die in war; nothing supernatural about it. Or as we used to say “defecation occurs.”

But, what can convince an indoctrinated believer that god / supernaturalism isn't an influence in everything they do, or that happens, or is done to them? Reason, logic, and analysis of influences -- cause and effect -- are replaced by "God did it" by those who accept supernaturalism over reality. That will change only through the evolution of thinking, and the extinction of myth dependency. It’s coming.

Yours in reason,

Saturday, December 5, 2009

"Where are all the people??": Young Earther's Classic Argument from Ignorance

One of the most inane arguments I ever heard for Young Earth Creationism is that the current population of the planet is just not large enough to support an old Earth “theory.”It's a fundamentalist apologetic predicated on the concept that if Man's appearance on Earth was very much older than the biblically calculated 6 -10,000 years the population of the planet would be monumentally larger than the 6.8 billion we currently have. Q.E.D the planet is only 6 – 10,000 yrs. old

The math, logic, and (no surprise here) understanding of birth rates/fertility as influenced by food availability, dramatic changes in human aging/longevity, infant/child mortality rates et al is so lacking as to be laughable. Just a little research would enlighten most people. Here are just a very few anecdotal statistics out of hundred of scientifically supported examples:
  • The average life span from the Neolithic age to medieval Europe averaged 18-25 years old.*

  • 75% of children born in London between 1730-1749 died before the age of five.

  • In Zurich a cemetery that was in use between the 9th and 12th centuries show that 50% of those interred had died before the age of 18.

  • In Britain, a 6th century cemetery at Cannington reflects 64% of its residents died before age 18.**

  • Child mortality in France, as late as the early 18th century, was 45% between the first and fifth years of age alone. ***

  • In the hunter gatherer societies of the Paleolithic age, fertility rates varied as food supplies increased or declined. Their reproductive spans were short, and it is estimated that 80% + of children died within the first 5 years. ****

Of course, none of this speaks to sub-Saharan populations whose child mortality rates even today are horrendous, never mind what they were tens of thousands of years ago. And never mind the wide spread famines and plagues, the latter of which accounted for the decimation of upwards of 50% Europe’s population in the 1300’s plague event alone. In fact it wasn’t until the early 20th century that the average life span reached 35-40 years old. Only in the past few decades did human life span reach an average of 65 years old.

Bottom line is that population growth is a brand new phenomena relatively speaking. Earth went from 1 billion people in 1750 to 6 billion in 2000, that’s a population growth of 5 billion ONLY in the past 250 years.

But all this is mind boggling and way too involved for your average Christian fundie. Besides, facts just makes their heads hurt. They “don’t need no ‘steenking’ facts,” or science, or forensic evidence. It’s enough to just toss out the statement “Where are all the people?” for the most backward sheep to baa in lemming like unison.

I've actually seen that fundie argument proffered three times. Each time I explained about the factors that impacted on population growth since homo sapiens appeared some 200,000 years ago. Two of the fundamentalists admitted they didn't know anything about those things nor cared about them. Of the two, only one had a high school education. They simply took it off a fundamentalist website and accepted it as "gospel." They likely still do.

The third proponent attempted to provide proof that "scientists and anthropologists" have confirmed this “not enough people” argument, stating and even those scientists were baffled as to why we have a population of "so few when there should be so many more." Naturally, these “scientists” accepted the Young Earth Creation myth as a result. It didn’t take long to find out the "scientists and anthropologists" were unaccredited and/or were YEC fundamentalists, who were employed by YEC fundamentalist foundations. No surprise there.

This is what passes for truths to those who will grasp at anything, distort and ignore volumes of corroborated historical research, and invent support for their unsupportable belief. And all along they know their accepting audience lacks the intellect and curiosity necessary to learn the truth about human development.

Whenever I hear this kind of idiocy I have to remind myself it's the 21st century…
for most of us.

**Europe after Rome: a new cultural history 500-1000 By Julia M. H. Smith, page 66
***Murder in Parisian streets: manufacturing crime and justice in the Popular By Thomas Cragin, page 245

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Mike Huckabee: Another “Good Christian” with Blood on His Hands

Mike Huckabee can kiss his presidential aspirations goodbye. Thank Dog! One less Creationist Supernaturalist God Fearing mental midget to compete for the Presidency.

When Southern Baptist preacher Huckabee was governor and head Creationist of Arkansas he commuted the sentences of 1,033 prisoners… twice as many as did his three predecessors combined! It was no secret that he was prone to reduce sentences of convicted felons who testified to having come to Jesus and seen the error of their criminal ways, thus appealing to Mike’s Christian values. One would be hard pressed to find many Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Wiccans, or atheists who benefited from Mike’s mercy.

Maurice Clemmons, the piece of human flotsam that executed those four police officers in Seattle last week, was a beneficiary of Mike Huckabee’s Christian mercy. He had written a letter to then Governor Huckabee attesting to his Christian beliefs and having turned around his life.

Bam! A felon with a long list of crimes on his record, and with a long sentence still to finish, was released with a stroke of Pastor Mike’s pen. The rest of the story is the sorry history we are reading about today.

Huckabee had also released a convicted rapist of a teen aged girl, who promptly committed murder after his release. It would be safe to assume that of the 1,033 good Christian prisoners whose sentences were commuted by Pastor-Governor Huckabee, some significant number went on to resume their murderous, raping, robbing Christian ways.

But Pastor Huckabee doesn’t want to own any of this. Why would he? It doesn’t speak well of his respect for the criminal justice system, his concern for the well being of his law abiding constituents, his rationality, or his ability to separate his faith from his duties as a public servant. In short, a typical religious fanatic whose lack of judgment, common sense and regard for reality wreaks havoc on society.

We already had eight years of one of those. Been there, done that. We don’t need another. Perhaps Mike can go back to ministering to the flock full time. He can start by telling the families of those police officers how their loved ones are in a better place and it was all God’s will.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

“Hey, Little Suzie is having a Tourette’s episode. Who’s up for an Exorcism??”

  • Oct. 22, 2009 an 18-year-old Virginia woman died during a Korean exorcism intended to evict demons or other spiritual entities.

  • October 2007 an exorcism in the Wellington, New Zealand suburb of Wainuiomata led to the death of a woman and the hospitalization of a teen.

  • July 29, 2007 Phoenix officers responding to a report of an exorcism on a three year old girl found her grandfather choking her and used stun guns to subdue the man, who later died, authorities said Sunday.

  • Jun 21, 2005 a Romanian priest and four nuns have been charged in the death of a reportedly schizophrenic nun who was crucified in an exorcism.

  • July 9, 2004 Milwaukee, Wis. preacher found guilty in eight year old boy's 2003 exorcism death.

  • March 2000 Emeryville, Calif. Five members of a small Christian religious group have been charged with the beating death of a 25-year-old Korean woman, who police say was killed during a [exorcism] ceremony to "cast out her demons."

And this is just the "advertised" craziness. The majority of the stories are below the surface, hidden away, sanctioned by the church, quietly practiced by the religiously devout and completely deluded. The power of Christ compels them it seems.

Exorcisms pre-date Christianity and were practiced by the ancient Jews. But they gave it up long ago. Christians just don’t seem to be able to break the habit. After all, what was sauce for their divine goose Jesus is sauce for the modern day Christian quack shaman. Let modern understanding of brain malfunction and psychiatric conditions and their treatments be damned! This is Satan’s handiwork and the religiously afflicted and mentally constipated aren’t going to stand by and watch Satan win THIS soul, no siree Bob !!

Not just your Old World Catholic great grandmother’s mumbo jumbo, exorcisms are also sanctioned and practiced by a variety of Protestant sects: Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, and Pentecostals… possibly others. There are also the do-it-yourself exorcists who jump into action at the first sign of a loved one’s demonic possession. Then there are the free lance exorcists anxious to ply their trade and cast out those little demons from those little devils. Hey, they’re just doin’ the Lard’s work.

What we don’t know, what the media never reports, are how many mentally challenged children and adults are subjected to this religiously inspired ritual madness, survive, and whose conditions are exacerbated by forced physical deprivation, the rattle shaking and incantations of these throwback practitioners of pre-scientific ancient ignorance.

Jesus Honking Christ people, it’s the 21st century and the civilized world, not the 6th century or the jungles of Borneo !!!

Like the dirty little secret of church suborned child molestation by priests and ministers, exorcism is not openly discussed among the clergy. Oh, they enjoy doing both those things, but best it be kept quiet, practiced discretely, behind closed doors… and only by those best endowed with special powers. I can imagine their whispering to the possessed patient “Don’t tell anyone, it’ll be our little secret, it won’t hurt too much … besides God wants me to do this.” Oops, wait… that’s the wrong chapter and verse.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving : Hump Takes a Holiday

As Thanksgiving rapidly approaches, Mrs. Hump is cracking the camel whip and keeping me hopping in preparation for my two sons’ holiday visit to the north country. So I am taking a brief hiatus and posting a chapter from my book to commemorate Thanksgiving Day. Enjoy.

On Thanksgiving Who Does an Atheist Thank?

There are many stories, real and embellished, which speak of the earliest settlers’ feasts of thanksgiving in the 17th century. In 1863 Lincoln proclaimed it an annual event “…as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” Uh-huh.

So, every fourth Thursday in November believers bow their heads, and presumably mumble some words of groveling thanks to their super being for allowing them to have their turkey, their homes, their jobs, their freedoms, their families, indeed everything that makes America good and life worth living. As an atheist I mumble not.

I have no need of a single day of praise to thank a magical being whose non-influence due to his non-existence has had no effect on anything for which I am grateful. Instead, I have many days of thanksgiving and many people to thank:

  • Every Election Day as I cast my vote, I thank our Founding Fathers for their bravery and foresight.

  • Every Veterans Day and Memorial Day I thank every fallen comrade and every vet who ever fought to acquire and retain our freedoms.

  • Every Columbus Day I am conscious of the courage of a great explorer.

  • Every Lincoln's Birthday and Martin Luther King Day I remember men whose words and deeds set people free.

  • Every Independence Day I reflect on those men and women who risked their lives, fortunes and sacred honor in order to bring this Great Experi­ment to fruition.

  • Every family birthday, every anniversary and each Thanksgiving Day I am thankful for my family; I thank them for being the people I love and who love me.

Yes, thanks are due, but not to some bogeyman, not to some mythical sky being, not to some imaginary thing that hovers above, or within, or about, or below. Thanks are due to genuine human beings; real men, women, and children past and present whose sacrifices, foresight, commitment, dedication and love made our country unique, and make our lives worthwhile. That’s who I’ll be thanking on Thanksgiving.

But, if you just can’t deal with reality, and must bow and grovel to some unseen god on Thanksgiving Day, may I recommend Gadura, the Hindu bird god. He’s as close to a turkey god as you can get.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Religion in the News: It's been a busy fortnight for the righteous

I don’t usually blog about the continuous flow of reports about pastors, priests, youth ministers, and their followers' predilection for criminality, perversion etc. Oh, I may reference it to make a point, or underscore a contention within a blog, but I don’t commonly just report on them; it’s too frequent and too widely reported in the media and on blogs.

But it’s hard to ignore the contribution theists have made to current events over the past 14 days. Top news stories included:

Yes, it’s been a busy two weeks for religionists here in America. One wonders where they find the time to pray, eat man-god flesh wafers and deny Evolution. If we looked world wide at the list of crimes, hypocrisy, perversity, and despicable hatred promulgated by the god fearing devout of all religions with god’s blessing, they would likely fill a dozen pages.

And what do the religionists say about their believer brethren who make the headlines? “Oh, they aren’t True Christians”; “Oh, he wasn’t practicing True Islam.”
As usual, it’s simple denial of reality; that's what they do best.

But, to be fair, and in full disclosure -- here is a list of crimes, hate, hypocrisy and perversion promulgated by those unethical, amoral godless American atheists, agnostics, and freethinkers and their disgusting foundations and organizations over the past two weeks:


And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Befuddled God (good thing he has so many interpreters)

Their God, it seems, is an inarticulate and confused old bastard who has to rely on his creations to figure out and explain exactly what his words mean and policies should be. Liken it to a ninety-eight year old senile CEO of a company who is kept locked in his office by the Board of Directors who translate his babble into whatever the Board wants it to mean to the share holders.

The evidence for this is overwhelming.

In a recent blog posting I referenced how some Christians believe that once they go to heaven the perks include being able to watch the suffering of those souls condemned to hell. I myself have been on the receiving end of this taunt by religious fanatics who anticipate with great glee this marvelous side benefit of heavenly residence.

The basis for this belief is their interpretation of Luke 16:19-31. In it a rich man in hell converses with and is seen by Abraham in heaven. It’s either interpreted as a parable or a “real” event depending on how intellectually messed up the fanatical theist happens to be … or what his sect leaders tell them.

But, a particularly moronic theist in a message group I frequent took issue with my reference to this interpretation. Evidently I made this all up. I was “wrong.” Never mind that he has had no interaction with any with those fundies who interpret Luke 16 in this way; he has even less understanding that biblical verse has been interpreted in different ways ever since the Church stopped making possession of the Bible and independent interpretation of it a capital offense.

The Reformation, which led to a multitude of breakaway Christian sects from the Catholic Church, was in response to disagreement with Catholic dogma and scriptural interpretation. Today there are some 2,800 different denominations and sects of Christianity. Not one of them interprets every chapter and verse the same way.

Some of these sects reject the Trinity, others reject the existence of a physical Hell. Some believe the ingestion of the wine and wafer is truly eating the body of Christ; others believe it is just symbolic. Some believe all those who never hear the “Word” and thus are unfamiliar with Jesus go to Hell for their ignorance; others believe they are saved. Some believe in the Rapture; others reject it. Some Rapture believers think the seven years of Tribulation happens before the Rapture; others that it happens after the Rapture. Some believe God literally dictated the Bible; others that it was inspired by God. Some believe in Universal Reconciliation; most believe it’s damnation to Hell for non-believers. Etc. All have scriptural “evidence” for their opposing viewpoints.

Heck, there is a world wide movement of Evangelicals who believe that Highway 35 that runs from Texas to Minnesota is “the Holy Highway” as described in Isaiah 35:8.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds if not thousands of other concepts and interpretations of “God’s Word” and his expectations that distinguish a Calvinist from a Lutheran, from a Methodist, from a Quaker, from a Shaker, from a Mennonite, from a Baptist, from a Santeria practitioner, from a Jehovah’s Witness, from a Mormon, from a Christadelphian, from a Kimbanguist, etc., etc. ad nauseam..

These sects and denominations can’t even all agree on the order of the Ten Commandments or its precise meaning.

So with all the confusion of the scripture, the inarticulate ranting and contradictions, what is a true believer and devout Christian to do? Simple -- make the words mean what is most expedient, in the best interest of the believer, or supports his agenda. Don’t wait around for God to unscramble and re-edit his indecipherable-open ended- babbling idiocy, he’s already had a few thousand years to do that and seems to have lost interest or capability. So his creations have to do it for him, in thousands of differing ways. Basically it’s a cluster fuck of self appointed God interpreters.

And if you don’t like any interpretations, branch off -- start your own sect based on what the Bible is REALLY saying. Have lots of wives; handle snakes; roll around on the floor babbling incoherently; kill gays; hole up in a compound and collect weaponry; or move to a jungle and feed your followers cyanide laced Kool Aide. It’s all good. The Bible tells them so

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Secular Flag Ceremony Co-Opted by Religionists: Is nothing "sacred" to these damnable theists?

I just read that during a Veteran’s Day service, being conducted by a Catholic church, they are going to recite “The Meaning of the Twelve Folds of Our Flag.” Having never heard of this I decided to do some investigation. Well, as I suspected, the worst was true.

It seems the traditional formal flag folding ceremony, which entails twelve folds of the flag culminating in a triangular shape with the just the stars showing, has been mysteriously imbued with religious significance, specifically Christianity.

Here is the recitation of “the meaning” of the twelve folds of the American flag:

  1. 1st fold of our American Flag is a symbol of life.
  2. 2nd fold is a symbol of our belief in the eternal life.
  3. 3rd fold is made in honor and remembrances of the Veterans who have departed their prospective ranks who gave a portion of their life for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world, not to have been in vain and shall never be forgotten.
  4. 4th fold represents our weaker nature; for as American citizens trusting in God, for it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in times of war for his divine guidance.
  5. 5th fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of the immortal Stephen Decatur, “Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right, but it is still our country, right or wrong”.
  6. 6th fold of our flag represents where our hearts lie – and it is with our hearts that we pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of American, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
  7. 7th fold is a tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through these same armed forces that our country is protected and our flag protected against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.
  8. 8th fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the Valley of the Shadow of Death, that we might see the light of the day, and this fold is made to honor a Mother, for whom it flies on Mother’s Day.
  9. 9th fold is a tribute to womanhood, for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion that the characters of men and who have made this country great have been molded.
  10. 10th fold is a tribute to fathers, for they too have given of their sons and daughters for the defense of our country since they were his first born.
  11. 11th fold of our Flag, for in the eyes of a Hebrew citizen, this represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies in their eyes the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.
  12. 12th and final fold, for in the eyes of a Christian Citizen, this represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies in their eyes God the Father, God the son and God the Holy Ghost.

One might ask:

“Where in the Flag Code is this religiously infused script written?” It isn’t.
“When did Congress sanction this religious interpretation of a simple traditional flag folding ceremony?” It didn’t.
“Is it a tradition going back to some earlier time?” Nope.
“Is the military using this religious script at any official ceremonies?” No.
“Would governmental sanction of such an interpretation be a violation of the First Amendment Establishment Clause? Yep.
“Would this be offensive to any non-Jewish/ non-Christian veteran who fought for that flag and served their country?” YOU’RE DAMN SKIPPY IT IS!

So how is it that this totally fabricated and unauthorized infusion of religiosity into a wholly secular ritual is magically appearing? I have no idea. It seems theists must infect everything with their idiocy.

But I’ll say this: If I’m ever at a ceremony where my service as a veteran is being recognized and honored, and someone whips that inane, insulting and fraudulent crap out and starts to read it, they better have an armed guard… for verily defecation will hit the fan.

On November 11, please remember the vets, especially the fallen. Be grateful for their service and sacrifice. But don’t pray for them, it just insults their memory and nothing is there to hear it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

November 5, 2009 Ft. Hood: Remember

"How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy… No stronger retrograde force exists in the world.”
-- Sir Winston Churchill; The River War, 1st edition, Vol. II, pages 248-50, London 1899

Monday, November 2, 2009

Theists -- How about just a little integrity?

I’ve recently been visiting a blog by an ex-pastor, now agnostic. He posts some good thought provoking stuff.

Recently he blogged about a friend, a believer, whose daughter joined a competing Christian denomination that has a theology she finds a bit extreme, causing a rift in their relationship. She asked the agnostic ex-pastor blogger to pray for her daughter to come to her senses and return to the fold or at least not to abandon her familial relationships in favor of this Christian “cult.” This presents an obvious dilemma to the blogger who no longer believes in a deity or prayer.

One of his readers posted this advice: "I’ve never seen any verifiable miracle answers to prayer, I would pray for her and her daughter simply because she asked me to. If she believes in prayer, then I would believe in it too for her sake. This is what friends do with or without all the theology."

I don’t know what to make of this. It seems the commenter is a self-described “Christ-Centric- Deist.” Presumably this means he holds Jesus in reverence but without imbuing him with god qualities while believing in a Creator of the universe who no longer is involved with his creations’ daily lives (Jefferson and Adams, and Franklin could be described similarly.) With an absent Creator, prayer is viewed as meaningless. But what ever his belief the statement has the unmistakable stench of religionist hypocrisy.

So let me ask: If a friend of yours practiced witchcraft that put faith in the sacrifice of a chicken, would you sacrifice a chicken on his behalf if he asked you to? And could you “believe” in its efficacy for his sake, because that is what friends do "with or without" sharing the same delusional theology?

If a friend was Pentecostal and asked you to pray over her dying child who could easily be saved by modern medicine, would you pray with her or convince her to take the child for medical help? If she refused, would you “accept her belief” or notify the authorities, even if it was painful for your friend?

How does practicing a superstitious ritual, with no scientific basis or evidence for efficacy, one that you do not imbue with credibility, genuinely benefit the person making the request? Doesn't doing that violate ones principles? Isn't it tantamount to hypocrisy / a deception? Doesn't it lend credence to / reinforce a superstition that has no validity but gives false hope of a positive result to the superstitiously afflicted?

Wouldn’t we be simply placating someone with a condescending gesture by masquerading as a like believer for their short term / immediate sense of relief and hope when we know it yields no possibility of real long term relief or resolution? Isn’t it saying: “Reality is ok for me, but you lack the ability to deal with reality; so I’ll come down to your level and pretend to make you feel better for the moment. Aren’t I magnanimous?”

Wouldn't a friend who is honest, has integrity, and is true to their own position say
"I can't deceive you and participate in a gratuitous ritual in which I hold no belief; I respect you too much for that. But I love you and will help you in real and meaningful ways."?

Religious belief is already based on an irrational lie. A real friend doesn’t heap one irrational lie on another… no matter how one tries to justify/rationalize it. Maybe this kind of deception of self and others is something theists have trained themselves to do. Frankly, I could never prostitute my intellect, integrity or honesty to legitimize a person’s feel good delusion.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pat Robertson's Halloween Horror!!!

Just when you thought Christians couldn't get any freekin crazier, Bam! Out comes this:

Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network Warns Americans of ‘Demonic’ Halloween Candy

WASHINGTON - October 29 - Put aside your fears of swine flu. TV preacher Pat Robertson's Web site has just issued a bulletin warning Americans of the real threat we face this season: Demons may be lurking in our Halloween candy.

In a column on the Christian Broadcasting Network's Web site, writer Kimberly Daniels asserts that "demons" sneak into bags of Halloween candy at grocery stores.

"[M]ost of the candy sold during this season has been dedicated and prayed over by witches," Daniels wrote. "I do not buy candy during the Halloween season. Curses are sent through the tricks and treats of the innocent whether they get it by going door to door or by purchasing it from the local grocery store. The demons cannot tell the difference." ....

"Halloween is much more than a holiday filled with fun and tricks or treats," she wrote. "It is a time for the gathering of evil that masquerades behind the fictitious characters of Dracula, werewolves, mummies and witches on brooms. The truth is that these demons that have been presented as scary cartoons actually exist. I have prayed for witches who are addicted to drinking blood and howling at the moon."

Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition and an influential player in American politics, has long opposed Halloween. As far back as 1982, he attacked the holiday as a "Satanic ritual" and said on the air, "I think we ought to close Halloween down."

CBN later produced a pamphlet titled "Hallowed or Harmful: Christian Perspective on Halloween." It asserted, "During Halloween, little children in particular are the weak ones." On Oct. 29, 2007, Robertson called Halloween a "festival of the devil" and added that celebrating the holiday is "a mistake for Christians."

The Christian Broadcasting Network took the story off their blog, but not before Google cached it and the news media reported it. I guess even they realized the story made them look crazier than a shithouse rat. Which as everyone knows, they are.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Danes MUST “Believe”… Oprah Demands It!

I caught a glimpse of Oprah’s show the other evening while waiting for the early news to come on. Let me be clear: I never watch Oprah or her spawn Dr. Phil. I’ll leave it at that, lest I inadvertently insult some of my beloved readers.

It seems Oprah was in Denmark for reasons I didn’t catch. The first thing I heard was her observation that practically everyone on the street was blond. Blond!?!? In Denmark?!?!? Sheesh … imagine that. [Aside: imagine going to Botswana and commenting on how there were an abundance of people with black hair.]

As she chatted with two tall, 30ish+, attractive and definitely blond women who seemed to be her unofficial tour guides, the subject turned to religion. The conversation went something like this [paraphrasing]:

Oprah: “What about religion? Are you religious, do you attend church?”
Blond A: “No, I am not religious. The churches around here are usually empty.”
Blond B: “I do not believe in God. Many here are non-believers.”
Oprah: “Well, maybe you believe in God but just don’t realize it?”
Blonds A&B: [Blank stare; awkward hesitation]
Blond A: [Feeling the need to throw Oprah a bone and trying not to cause her unnecessary embarrassment] “Maybe there is a higher power of some kind, who is to know.”

Oprah: “Maybe you are not religious but just spiritual?”
Blonds A&B: [ Blank Stare]
Blond B: “Maybe.”

Oprah: [Nods approvingly]

“Spiritual !?” Oh shit!

Mrs. Hump and I looked at each other with incredulity at this peculiar line of questioning. What exactly was that all about? Why was Oprah so insistent that two Danes (who openly reject religious superstition, as do the majority of the European Union most notably Denmark which is among the least religious countries on the planet) … must believe or may believe in God but are evidently too damn stupid to realize it?

Why was this so important to her that she twice attempted to eke out some confirmation of belief; contrive a convoluted connection to, or validation of, her own enslavement to superstition? I found this bizarre and yet so typical of the pomposity of Americans of faith. I’m sure the blond Danes found it quite strange. I just wish it had been me she was sermonizing to about believing: "No , you ignorant half-witted theist refugee from reality --- what part of 'I'm an ATHEIST' don't you understand!?"

It seems American Christians just can’t come to terms with the fact that the strangle hold that religion held on Europe for a thousand years has been broken. They don’t want to acknowledge it. Perhaps it’s because that reality looms like a specter of the inevitable they’d prefer not acknowledge. Perhaps it’s because delusion loves company.

Friday, October 23, 2009

If spiritualism / religion is good for you, how come it kills its adherents?

Well, it happened again. A flock of New Age spiritualist mind zombies seeking enlightenment go on a retreat of “self discovery,” where there are “powerful earth energies;” pay cash to their Guru leader; step into a “sweat lodge” and promptly keel over. Three die, many more are sickened.

According to survivor reports, people were feeling nauseous and passing out and wanted to leave. But the leader and self help Guru James Arthur Ray, self proclaimed “spiritual warrior” insisted they stay inside for their own inner strength.

In the post event hysteria Ray coordinates a communication between the dead followers and a “channeler,” who assured the survivors that the dead are happy where they are and didn’t want to come back. How comforting… and convenient. The survivors didn’t buy it. Finally.

It’s not like this is the first time in recent history that the willfully stupid seeking some “spiritual enlightenment” put their trust in a charismatic spiritual leader and been lead like lambs to slaughter.

  • Guyana – Jim Jones (Christian)

  • Waco - David Koresh (Christian)

  • Heavens Gate- Marshal Applewhite (Christ delusion nut)

  • Order of the Solar Tradition- Luc Jouret (Christian mixed nut)

Those religious sects, cults and spiritual groups , plus the murders of children / family members at God’s behest, have chalked up about 1,300 corpses so far. This latest debacle won’t be the last time either.

There is this thing about people who abandon self-reliance, reality, and common sense preferring to entrust their lives and money to someone who is on a “higher plane of consciousness,” or is in touch with his “inner spiritualism;” or who professes a special relationship with Jesus, in pursuit of something beyond reality. You’d think in this day and age they’d be a little more skeptical, a little less gullible and malleable. But they are Believers which by definition means gullibility and dependency.

  • When was the last time anyone heard of mass suicide at a meeting of non-believer National Academy of Science fellows at the behest of the head of the Academy?

  • Or an atheist organization drinking cyanide laced Kool Aide during a family outing?

  • Or MENSA members collectively subjecting themselves to life threatening conditions at the say so of a MENSA group leader?

Nope, Nada. It seems that being “spiritual” or “religious” is the prerequisite to being gently lulled into suicide by a shepherd.

What sets The Thinking apart from the Spiritually-Dependent-Religiously-Oriented-Dirt Nap- Candidates? ... Thinking!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Why do religious fanatics WANT to be hated? Here’s your answer.

Some years ago I participated in a religious debate chat room on MSN that had as a frequent visitor a patently insane fundamentalist Christian. I do not throw the term “insane” around lightly. An admitted schizophrenic, sexually abused as a child, she was and likely still is, suffering from schizophrenia induced hyper-religiosity. She called herself “TruthTeller,” a remarkably ironic tag.

This woman spoke with God, and God spoke to her. Literally. She spoke on and off in Old English, ala the King James Bible translation, spewing out verse, ranting about “gnashing of teeth,” “all knees will bend,” “He will come with a sword in his mouth,” etc., etc., condemning anyone to Hell, believers and non-believers alike, for failing to believe or interpret scripture as she saw it. Oh, she also claimed to despise religion, which of course meant she hated all other sects/denominations of Christianity except her own personal brand. No matter how often she was dismissed, thrown out, and derided as a troll and provocateur, she kept coming back. She thrived on the agitation she caused and abuse she received for it.

I’ve met this kind of internet troll on and off over the years. They have often been fodder for my blog, and occasionally provide me the inspiration to research various scriptural interpretations, and causes for aberrant extremist behaviors among believers.

Recently I came across another Christian who exhibits similar traits. The only Young Earth Hard Core Fundamentalist in a discussion group almost exclusively comprised of freethinkers, he seems obsessed with atheists and provoking outrage with inane and inflammatory declarations. Many of the things he says are so extreme, so completely outrageous, and so blatantly stupid that in all likelihood he doesn’t recognize that his dialogue does more to discredit Christianity than promote it… but that wouldn’t make a difference to him even if he was cognizant of it.

You see, what I have come to realize is that these troll-Christian-proselytizing-fanatics all have one thing in common: the desire to be hated. They want to be abused. They thrive on having insults thrown at them, their statements discredited, even being banned from a group or chat room. But why? What possible benefit comes from such a mindset? What is the impetus for this behavior? Well, here’s the answer:

“Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.” Luke 6: 22- 23 (NIV)

Understand how these internet fanatical trolls interpret this verse: by being the one gadfly of illogic & gross ignorance; by offering offensive and irrational statements, they incur the wrath of the thinking unsaved by provoking our insults, or by being “excluded,” banned / or dismissed. In this way they will be rewarded in heaven like a martyr. By inducing hatred and animosity they are seeking assurance of eternal salvation. They perceive Luke 6 to be encouraging this behavior.

One can imagine that Fred Phelps’ extremist actions and position on homosexuality isn’t simply based on what gays do behind closed doors being offensive to his God. After all, if God existed and wanted to end homosexuality, he could do so in a second. No, Fred is feathering his nest in heaven by being despised by every thinking person on the planet.

Intentionally provoking anger and discord isn’t what Luke had in mind. But to the unstable whack jobs whose only goal in life is to attain Heaven, whose greatest fear is to be “left behind,” this is all perfectly sensible. Annoying and pretty creepy, but then being an annoying creep IS in the best tradition of religious extremist delusion.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Anne Frank Had it Coming, Jesus said so.

Anne Frank was fifteen years old when the Nazis discovered her family’s hiding place in Amsterdam. She had been hiding behind a false wall, in cramped quarters, supplied rations by a sympathetic Christian family for two years before they were found and arrested in 1945.

They were all sent to death camps. Anne died seven months later in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany after having seen her sister die before her. Her crime was she was born and raised in the religion of her family. She was Jewish.

Anyone who has read the book or seen the movie “The Diary of Anne Frank” is familiar with the horrific existence this little girl had to endure before and up to her death. They may also recall that her writings exposed an innocents and goodness best personified by one line in her diary that she wrote while in hiding and living in fear dated July 1944. That one line read: “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart."

And this would be the end of the story of that girl whose fear and pain we could only imagine, but which was finally put to rest with her death; except according to Christian doctrine it doesn’t end there. Not by a long shot.

No. Christian doctrine is very clear, very succinct, and very definitive: The only way to the Father is through the Son. In other words, unless one believes in the divinity of Jesus before they die they cannot enter heaven and are cast into Hell with the rest of the damned. And there, according to Christian tradition, the inmates are tortured endlessly. They burn in a lake of fire. They are tormented by demons. This all lasts for an eternity with no hope of relief. According to Christianity this is where Anne Frank is now. Those in heaven are treated to live video feeds of the damned going through this eternal punishment --sort of a special reward for belief. **

One can imagine that according to this lovely Christian doctrine that in her off hours in Hell, Anne is rooming with Hitler, Pol Pot, the 9/11 terrorists, and every child molester and mass murder who failed to accept Jesus as his savior before the switch was pulled and electricity coursed through their bodies extinguishing their despicable lives.

And why? Why is that fifteen year old girl who suffered so much in life condemned to an after-life of never ending suffering? Her crime was she was born and raised in the religion of her family. She was Jewish.

Some liberal Christians will say they reject that doctrine; that they don’t buy into it; that God is a loving God and would never permit such a thing. But that’s because they are in denial, preferring not to stare directly into the face of an intolerant, fear mongering, threatening and intimidating doctrine that is at the very heart of Christianity.

The True Christians will shrug their shoulders and say “God gave her free will. It was her choice to accept or reject Jesus.” In other words, she could have abandoned the faith of her parents, her grand parents, her great grandparents, etc., and simply seen it as a false religion, and come over to Jesus. Failing to do so wasn’t God’s fault – “HE didn’t condemn her – she condemned herself.” Some of them actually believe what they are saying is reasonable and just. They don’t even give it a second thought. I mean heck, don’t blame God for the acts of this 15 year old Jewess Christ Killer.

Others mouth similar, albeit less vehement words, but you can tell they are simply toeing the Christian line, feeling uncomfortable with it. Some will even offer that she may have accepted Jesus while in the death camp and could be with Him now. But they know what they are doing. They know they are trying to make the unjust sound just; the unfair sound fair; an inexplicably intolerant and horrific doctrine seem not so bad. They are embarrassed by the very doctrine that they themselves embrace.

And so, according to Christian doctrine, this innocent Jewish girl, like so many millions of others like her, was victimized twice: first by an inhumane totalitarian state to which murder of the innocent was a right; and then victimized by a religious doctrine to which eternal torture of an innocent is her just desserts.

Yep, Anne Frank had it coming. Just ask a loving Christian, or their loving God.
** NOTE: Luke 16:19-31 is interpreted by some fundamentalists as evidence that souls in heaven can watch the torment of those in Hell.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Camel’s Coming Out Party

Ok, that title sounds wrong. Let me clarify.

My wife and I attended a small party with friends last Saturday night. Four other couples attended -- all believers. One couple were husband and wife pastors at two local churches with whom my wife is very friendly, having worked with them on a flood disaster recovery project a few years back.

We settled into the living room sipping champagne, chit chatting, and eating dessert when one woman said she had heard I published a book and was curious as to its subject. It was seconded by an “Oh, you’re an author? Yes, tell us about it.”

Echoing through my head is the old saying about never discussing religion or politics at a party. This holds especially true when surrounded by Christians whose predecessors were prone to meting out some pretty severe penalties for non-belief. But this is New Hampshire, not 17th century Salem, and not being shy to promote my book, after a nanosecond’s hesitation I did my thing.

“You mean to say you don’t believe in GOD … why not??” was offered by an incredulous young lady in her early thirties who it seems has never knowingly been in the presence of an admitted non-believer. I explained the lack of evidence for any God/s man has proffered, my preference toward acceptance of things as real that have a foundation in scientific validity, my lack of need for a non-physical supernatural dependency being a mature self-reliant human in charge of his own destiny, etc. etc.

Parrying with Pascal’s Wager she suggested “But wouldn’t you be better off believing just to be safe?” I explained who Blaise Pascal was and gave her the usual retorts that have blunted that argument so often and over so many years that few theists even bother to use Pascal anymore.

Another woman, in her mid-sixties jumped in “But how do you explain our existence if not for God.” Which lead me to Big Bang, the primordial soup, the Theory of Evolution … “But how could the Big Bang start, it had to have a start ... everything has a beginning.” When I said I didn’t know, no one does yet, although there are theories, she reverted to “Well, that’s where God comes in… He started it.”

This in turn led to the discussion of "if everything has a beginning then who created God?" Then into the “God of the Gaps,” with all of them agreeing that 500 years ago when man didn’t know what caused lightning to strike another sect’s church it was assumed “God did it.” When plague struck, “God’s wrath did it,” etc. Only the atheists did not default to “God” as an explanation, they simply said “we don’t know…yet.” But somehow I sensed my audience didn’t make the connection between those things and my saying “we don’t know what caused the Big Bang…yet.” Information overload perhaps.

None of them I surmised, save the husband and wife pastors, had read the bible. Thus were they disarmed by my references to chapter and verse to emphasize my contentions. Indeed the husband pastor agreed with most of my points, confirming some of the less charming and inexplicably cruel laws of Deuteronomy; the hideous 2Kings2 tale of the forty-two children being torn by bears; and the various verses that have been proven to be less than scientifically accurate.

It was a classic discussion between good believer folks who had minimal experience with debate, and just as little exposure to a secular, well read, religiously versed, person of reality. The discussion followed predictable patterns and themes -- after all, there’s not much new under the sun when it comes to theist think or defending the faith.

As the evening came to a close I handed out my book’s business cards with that charming camel’s picture on it to the delight of the guests. I sensed a good time was had by all, I know I had a ball. Just as we were kissing and shaking hands good-bye, that young lady gave me a hug and whispered “You know you’re going to Hell, don’t you?”

You can lead a believer to thinking but … well, you know the rest.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Order In the Natural World: “God did it!”

To some number of hard core Fundamentalist Christians it’s incomprehensible that a Creator isn’t directly in control of what the rest of us understand as natural forces and events.

This Christian I was debating (I use the term debate loosely) insisted that it's impossible for the "design" of the universe to have occurred randomly, it’s “too ordered” thus proof of God the Creator. So I asked, when sand or any granulated mineral falls out of a bucket, in a vacuum or unaffected by other forces, the random particles fall into a pile that form a cone every time. If randomness can't form an ordered design how does he explain that?

His childlike answer: The person emptying the bucket made it happen... thus the person was the cone's creator. Of course that natural physical forces cause the random falling particles to form into a well ordered and specific geometric shape was totally lost on him. The concept never even crossed his mind. He could not connect the hypothetical with the actual.

I tried to explain that the resulting cone would have been identical if it had been wind blown sand falling off a cliff into a protected gully; or a slow trickle of sand or highly mineralized water dripping from a cave ceiling -- that the man and the bucket wasn't the salient point at all. But it was lost on him. He couldn’t allow that reality to confuse his theistically motivated absolutist thinking.

Sends shivers up your spine just to realize these people actually walk and drive among us. Ron White said it best: “You can’t fix stupid.”

Thursday, October 1, 2009

“Atheism is a Product of Irrationality”

The above was the title of a recent Letter to the Editor that appeared in our local newspaper.

There has been something of a letter war going on by the very small number of religious extremists in New Hampshire, and the Freethinkers in our state. Barely a week goes by when something really inane isn’t posted by a religious whacko that naturally provokes a logical and measured response from the large number of god-less NH residents.

Here’s an extract from the latest offering by the religiously impaired:

“To me, atheism is not only a moral evil but a metaphysical evil because, as defined by Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), evil is the absence in nature of something that ought to be there; for example, it is a physical evil to have been born with only one eye.”

“Atheism is a mental evil because the mind does not have the rationality it ought to have. Abdicating all sense of balance, ratio, and proportionality, atheists are irrational because they deny that of which they have no clear idea.”

About as backward and topsy-turvy illogical babble as one could imagine. I just couldn’t just let it go. My response follows.

In Mr. Cervo's letter of Sept. 24 entitled "Atheism is a product of irrationality" he exposed the problem inherent in "theist think." Indeed, his letter is the quintessential example of the ills of avoidance of secular thought that seem to be the hallmark of the religiously afflicted.

Missing an eye is a "physical evil"? Atheism is a "metaphysical evil'? Lacking belief in supernaturalism is a "mental evil"? One can practically hear the screams of the heretics under the Inquisition's torture devises clanking away in Mr. Cervo's basement.

When the absence of delusion and gullibility and the acceptance of the scientific method and evidence are defined as irrationality; and when blind belief in supernaturalism born of the imagination of ancient pre-scientific cultists is considered rational, then we truly have not progressed far beyond the Dark Ages. It is the doctrine of a Bizarro World where “rational bad, irrational good; reality bad, unreality good.”

I wonder if Mr. Cervo 's concept of rationality includes not "suffer[ing] a witch to live" , attributing a two headed frog to Satan's handiwork and plague to God's wrath. That's the rationality religionists have embraced for thousands of years ... that’s what they call a "balanced" mind. It would be laughable if it were not so frightening in its implications.

And on it will go. A similar letter of nutty devotional apologetics will, no doubt, appear next week. It’s sort of like watching the movie “Groundhog Day,” although if groundhogs could talk, they’d likely make more sense than these crazies.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Christian Idol Worship: What ARE They Thinking?

A recent story posted to Fighting Ignorance message group about the erection (and I use that term intentionally) of some hideously giant cross along some interstate in Texas caused me no small amount of irritation.

What is it with these Christians who are devoid of sensitivity? What is it that prevents their brains from processing that erecting their giant religious symbol doesn’t represent their community, state, or nation; it doesn’t appease their God; it doesn’t put food in the mouths of the poor; it doesn’t cause instant conversions; and doesn’t end divisiveness or intolerance. In fact, it actually encourages the latter.

I am forever amazed that these zealous Christians have zero empathy, are unable to put themselves in the place of non-Christians, to understand how we feel when such a symbol is imposed on us. It’s a wholly good and wonderful thing to these Christians. They can’t fathom it being anything else.

But, just imagine their outcry if a giant 110 foot Islamic Crescent, Star of David, Wiccan Totem, statue of Buddha, or effigy of Brahma were erected along an interstate … illuminated no less. To these Christians that would be just unacceptable, damn un-American no doubt. I can imagine they would be moved to hysteria, if not violence.

Beyond that, there’s this: Isn’t their love of Christ suppose to be within their “hearts?” Isn’t it enough that he “lives within” them? Do they need to be reminded who they worship, lest they forget, by the sight of a gigantic grotesque execution device, or an overblown statue of their man-god for whom no physical description exists? What is with the idolatry that these fanatics seem to be so devoted? How does it differ from the glorification of statues of Zeus, Isis, Moloch, or Baal etc., that the pagans used to view as the symbol of their deity, if not its very essence?

Then there is the cost. Hundreds of thousands even millions have been invested in these monstrosities -- and for what? For the edification of the ministers who reap the publicity to bring more sheeple to their church? To teach those godless heathens, and Jews, and Muslims, and pagan peoples a thing or two about their death cult’s symbol? To stake their claim to their religion’s superior numbers and influence? Could no better use for that money be found?

Sure, people can do what they like on private property. They want to put a “Mary on the half Shell” next to their garden gnome, fine. They want to put a manger in their front yard next to their junk car up on cinder blocks, super. They want to paint a face of their imagined man-god on the side of their doublewide, go for it. But when it comes to imposing their grandiose oversized mega gargantuan death devises and imaginary man-god on the public use a little fricken discretion and humility.

I'd wager if their Jesus existed, and came to Earth, and saw these things glorified in his name, he’d have some really ugly flashbacks… then smite those hideous monuments. But since he doesn’t exist, I hope someone does it for him.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Lessons of the post Rapture pet rescue site. Who’d have thunk it?

What started out as a concept with some money making opportunity has turned out to be a remarkable educational experience.

Over the past ten weeks, since the site began, Brad and I have received two-thousand plus emails from atheists applauding Eternal Earth-Bound Pets as “genius, “brilliant,” and the funniest poke at fundies they have ever witnessed. Naturally, almost all of them want in on the action. We have demurred thus far and not taken on additional rescuers or expanded our area of coverage. One could have predicted this kind of response, but hardly in the numbers we have experienced.

Then there are the angry Christians who see this service offering one of three ways:

  • Fundie evangelicals who perceive this as an intentional ridicule of their sacred belief for which I am assured I will “burn in hell forever,” and who would no more entrust their pet to a godless atheist than they would a Korean restaurant owner. Some try their proselytizing act assuming the threat of hell would jog my intellect free from my brain.

  • Second, from non-Rapture believing Christians who are embarrassed by their Rapture believing brethren, and who assure me I will “burn in hell forever” for promulgating this misinterpretation of scripture. Sometimes their email is sprinkled with obscenities that one would think would prohibit their kissing Jesus or their Moms with their filthy mouths.

  • Third, from Christians who insist their pets will be beaming up to Jesus with them, and that my ignorance of this proves I am a “fool.” Naturally, this is inventive feel good doctrine which does not exist anywhere in scripture. But invariably they warn me I will be “burning in hell forever.”

As you can see they all share one common theme – the promise of an eternal camel BBQ in the netherworld.

But the letters that surprised me the most were from liberal moderate Christians who not only see humor in the details of the terms and conditions and contract language, but who actually congratulate us for our creativity and entrepreneurial endeavor -- going so far as to wish us luck on our business. And these aren’t just rare occurrences.

Last week I received an email from a lovely lady from Michigan, a believer whose husband happens to be a pastor. She made a suggestion about some of our contract language, and explained that she and her husband found the site very entertaining. Both hoped we were realizing some sales for our efforts. We exchanged emails, over a couple of days. I answered some questions about “belief” (or in the case of atheists the lack there of), my position of the creation of the universe, and the trials and tribulations of raising a two year old (she has one now, I had two over a quarter century ago.) She bought my book for her pastor husband today. I expect this to be the beginning of a long term pen pal relationship.

Early this week an email challenged our site’s statement that all our pet rescuers have blasphemed against the Holy Spirit in accordance with Mark 3:29. He asked me to explain exactly how I interpreted Mark 3:29 and how exactly we had blasphemed to ensure it being the “unforgivable sin” described in scripture. So, having not a lot to do other than watch bad TV, I gave him the scriptural interpretation of what made it the unforgivable sin of the Pharisees, followed by my modern day interpretation of how to blaspheme in order to make it applicable for non-Pharisee blasphemers.

He replied quickly, thanking me for my response, and congratulating me on my knowledge and interpretation of scripture. Turned out he is a retired Episcopal priest, bordering on something like agnostic. He wanted to make sure we weren’t just pulling the blasphemy guarantee out of our asses. He wished us luck on our business.

There have been many more like these -- friendly, charming, funny and supportive believers. To say I was surprised would be an understatement. I never would have expected such a divergence of perspective of what our offer meant to Christians; such diametrically opposed emotions emanating from people sharing the same religion; such a difference in temperament and tolerance.

I turned a year older on September 8. I am really old now, but not too old to be educated and pleasantly surprised.