Sunday, January 27, 2013

Arguing With An Atheist (Infographic)

If you're Christian & need help arguing with atheists, a helpful infographic has been created:

(Found via @FrenchAtheist)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The 113th Is The Most Religiously Diverse Congress Ever

Dwayne Leslie recently wrote about the 113th Congress and how religiously diverse it is.
... it is the most religiously diverse ever. How amazing that the first Hindu and first Buddhist ever elected to Congress achieved that status in the same election! Additionally, Dr. Raul Ruiz (CA-36) became just the fifth Seventh-day Adventist to be elected to Congress.
He writes about Congress now having a Hindu[1] and a Buddhist[2] as if it's a sign of incredible diversity.  He doesn't mention the 2 Muslims[3], the other Hindu[4], or the "none"[5].  But he did list a Seventh-day Adventist as part of the diversity without mentioning the fact that it's a type of Christian[6].  That may seem weird if you don't notice that he works for them[7].

So, if we remove the Christian he listed and add in the non-Christians he left out, we have 6 people[8].  Out of 535.  In other words, unless I've missed one, the 113th Congress is 99.08% Christian and the Senate is 99%, combining to be 99.07% Christian.  Even if I missed 10 non-Christians, it would still be 97.2% Christian.

Only in America, with the sense of entitlement many of our Christians have, can that be considered diversity worth celebrating.  I think we can do better.

(Thanks to @HuffPostRelig)

1.  Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI-2)
2.  Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI-1)
3.  Keith Ellison (D-MN-5)André Carson (D-IN-7)
4.  Mazie Hirono (D-HI), the only Senator listed here.
5.  Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ-9)
8.  All 6 are Democrats.  It's not unreasonable to think that is not a coincidence.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Zack Kopplin Gets It

When you see a stand you know needs to be taken, you have two options.  You can wait and hope someone does something.  Or you can do something yourself.  The first option is by far the easier one.  Doing something yourself is much harder, but it's also what gets results.

I would much rather not have to fight with religious people.  My preference would be to not counter protest anti-choice people[1].  I would rather not constantly fight for science to be taught in science class instead of Creationism.  It's exhausting.

But the alternative is letting them win.  The alternative is giving (more) power to people like Rick Santorum & Pat Robertson.  The alternative is letting terrible laws like the Louisiana Science Education Act stand.

Zack Kopplin chose to do something about it.  However, that wasn't his first choice.
No one was more surprised of his becoming a science advocate than Kopplin himself. In fact, after writing his English paper in 2008 — when he was just 14-years-old — he assumed that someone else would publicly take on the law. But no one did.
Now the law has a chance to be repealed, thanks in large part to Kopplin's efforts.  Like other young atheist activists, he stood up for what was right.  And like the others, Christians have tried to vilify him for it.
His efforts, needless to say, have not gone unnoticed — particularly by his opponents. He's been called the Anti-Christ, a stooge of "godless liberal college professors," and was even accused of causing Hurricane Katrina. Kopplin cooly brushes these incidents aside, saying they're just silly distractions.
They are indeed silly distractions.  It's meant to distract from the real issue, their blatant violations of the Constitution.  It's meant to intimidate us into silence.  Good for Kopplin for recognizing this and keeping up the good fight.

(Found via @rdfrs)

1.  They call themselves "Pro-Life", but we all know that's a canard, so I call them what they really are.  Anti-choice.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Some Commentary On A Chick Tract About D&D

I've mentioned before that I love Chick Tracts. They're hilarious. In a recent conversation about gaming, someone linked to one.  This is a perfect example of why I love these things.  It perfectly demonstrates how clueless these people are.

They have the roles reversed here.  A DM doesn't tell a player what they player is going to do.  The player tells the DM what they want to and the DM tells the player if it was successful.

"I declare her dead"?  The DM is a referee in the game, not a god.

Was Elfstar a Cleric or a Witch?  Make up your damn mind.

Do these people think magic is real?

Is she playing D&D alone?  

If she killed herself over a dead character in a game, she had problems way beyond anything D&D could affect, even if it were like these people seem to think it is.

I thought they had moved her growth out of the game?  If they're doing real magic, why are they still worried about their characters?  Plus, wasn't Elfstar a level 8 Cleric?  She was only 1 level away from being able bring Marcie back.

Wait, did D&D give Debbie/Elfstar a split personality?

Yeah, Debbie that's the best way to get out of a cult.  Join a new cult.

What's the lesson we're supposed to get from this comic?  What I get from it is that D&D can result in real world magical powers and if you're stupid enough to want to give that up, you can do so by talking to a guy with a creepy porn 'stache.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Bigotry Ain't Just For 'Murica

The UK is headed toward marriage equality.  So of course, religious people are freaking out.

Peter Saunders, of the The Coalition for Marriage[1], is claiming it would be an assault on civil liberties.
1.Teachers in state schools will be forced to endorse the new definition of marriage. Those that refuse could be disciplined or even dismissed. Such action would be legal.
2.Parents will ultimately have no legal right to withdraw their children from lessons which endorse the new definition of marriage across the curriculum. 
3.NHS/University/Armed forces chaplains could be lawfully fired by their employers if they express, even outside work time, the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman. 
4.Foster carers could be legally rejected by local authorities on the basis that they fail to embrace the new definition of marriage. 
5.Public sector workers could be demoted or dismissed for expressing support for marriage between one man and one woman. 
6.Registrars who have a conscientious objection to the new definition of marriage will be dismissed unless they are prepared to act against their beliefs. 
7.Churches/mosques/synagogues could ultimately be forced to perform same-sex weddings if a Government ban on such weddings in religious premises is overturned by the European courts. 
8.The Church of England may have to disestablish or face the prospect of court action because, as the established church, it must provide a wedding to any person who is legally eligible to get married. 
9.Faith-based charities could be banned from hiring public facilities if they refuse to endorse the new definition of marriage. 
10.Clergy who disagree with same-sex marriage, but who are in a denomination which has no such objection, could be taken to court if the Government allows religious same sex weddings. 
Every single one of these, besides being a crock of shit, boils down to them wanting to keep discriminating against gay people.  They hate gay people, so they think equal rights is an affront on their religious freedom.  In other words, British bigots are just as full of shit and self-entitled as American bigots.

Part of me feels better that it's not just my country with people this idiotic and hateful.  Another part of me is sad for the world that such hate is still so widespread.

Credit:  @lgbtcouk
1. Yup, England has hilariously named hate groups too.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

An Open Letter To Jamie

I just read your most recent post about your trip to Haiti, and I have few questions for you.  Some of it may seem snarky, but please do not take it that way, as that is not my intent.  I am just asking & saying what I feel should be asked & said.

Why did you bring make-up & jewelry on a trip to a place you knew was impoverished?

You spend a hundred words saying how much you wanted to give those poor people help in the form of material things and followed it up immediately with the statement that material things don't matter.  Do you see what I see there?

We’ll serve the poorest of the poor in Haiti, restoring homes and hope to people who lost both to the 2010 earthquake. Our team will also distribute food to the hungry, showing the people that the love of Jesus is real, and demonstrating his compassion.
I'm not clear on why the part I highlighted red is necessary.  You can't eat Jesus, no matter what the Catholics say.  I especially wonder about that part because as I scrolled up and read further into this blog, I saw plenty of talk about Jesus and God, but I found references to home restoration severely lacking.

What kind of home restoration did you do?  How much time did you spend working to improve their living conditions to the amount of time spent on the Vacation Bible School I saw mentioned repeatedly?

I've been atheist my whole life, but I was in a church youth group as a teen.  We did annual trips and called  them "mission trips", but we made zero attempts to convert or preach. We worked our asses off all year to pay for it. Then we spent a week fixing houses in impoverished areas.  I specifically remember spending a day in Tennessee Summer heat replacing the siding on the house of a sweet, elderly woman.  I also remember replacing her air conditioner.  I will never forget the smell of the meat that rotted in her freezer.

Someone probably mentioned God at some point on that trip.  Most of the group was Christian, after all.  But it was seldom enough that I barely noticed.  When we got back, the only pictures we had were of us working hard on the house.  The only Bibles we had with us were whatever personal Bibles people had with them.

I hope you treated your trip similarly to how the Christians I knew treated our trips.  Maybe the pictures of the home construction just haven't been posted yet.  I certainly hope that's the case.  I would love to see them.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Christian Gives Other Christian Due Criticism, Misses Point

As should be no surprise to anyone, after the Sandy Hook shooting, numerous religious leaders said offensive things in response. Among them were James Dobson and Mike Huckabee, who were then criticized by another Christian, Rev. Susan Russell.

Well, I don't have a radio show. But I have a blog. And I have news for Dr. Dobson: that God isn't irrelevant to me -- He is anathema to me. That God has nothing whatsoever to do with the God of love, justice and compassion who "came down at Christmas" incarnate in the Prince of Peace who became one of us in order to show us how to love one another.<

And if we let Dobson -- or Huckabee or Buchanan or any of the other followers of that hateful, hurtful, homophobic, judgmental God with an anger management problem -- speak for Christianity, then we fail to counter the toxic theology masquerading as the Good News of God in Christ and we fail to stand up, stand up for Jesus.

And we can do better than that. So let's do it. Seriously.
I'm torn here. One one hand, this is a case of a Christian actually advocating for good and criticizing the hateful Christians like Dobson & Huckabee. But on the other, it's Russell who has their religion wrong. Dobson and Huckabee are closer to the god of the Bible than she is.

Even while criticizing their hate, she still enables it by professing to believe in the god of the same book.  I'm all for calling out bigots for their bigotry. But to claim they're the ones misinterpreting the Bible is to be ignorant of what the book says.

This is why I prefer to criticize belief in that book overall, instead of pretending that it has any redeeming value.  Don't just make their god anathema.  Make their book anathema, as that's what they use to justify the hate.  The little good that is in that book can be achieved without the book.  Then, you get to take the good and not stone your children to death for being unruly.

Credit: @HuffPostRelig

Positive Approach In 2013

Teresa MacBain has shared a simple way to keep positive in the midst all the negative of the world.

I'm cynical enough to think it's cheesy.  But I'm aware enough of my cynicism to know that it could be a good thing for me.  I think I'll give a try and see what happens.

Credit:  @Teresamacbain