Pharyngula

Good ol’ Christian tolerance

This is amusing in so many ways to an atheist. Christian activists tried to disrupt a Hindu prayer in the Senate.

It’s absurd but so typical of Christian extremists that they would freak out at the imposition of a prayer that does not reflect their beliefs — welcome to my world, guys. We learn from an early age that the appropriate response is just to wait it out and not participate … and that any protests have to be made at an appropriate opportunity.

I’ll also point out that while everyone is pissed at the crazy Christians, the Hindu prayer is a rather vapid bit of meaningless nonsense, too…something about a transcendental glory living in the soul of the heavens, bla bla bla. The only part I liked was the request to lead us from the unreal to the real, which is exactly what I say all the time. Only I don’t address it to an unreal superman living in hearts.

Anyway, the only fair response to all this is simply to stop the magic incantations to any deity in our government. Let the senators who feel a need say a quiet prayer on their own, without dragging everyone into their personal superstition. And let’s chide any senators who complain about that for the weakness of their faith, that they can’t even pray without someone at the front of the room to help them out.

Comments

  1. #1 JohnW
    July 13, 2007

    Maybe those senators and christians should all learn to read that damn book they keep babbling on about:

    Mathew 6:5-15 And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not
    be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. “This, then, is how you should pray:

    (Followed by the ‘Lord’s Prayer).

    Seems like a pretty simple instruction to follow, if you ask me.

  2. #2 G. Tingey
    July 13, 2007

    Erm – WHY is there a prayer of any sort in the US Senate?

    I understood that your constitution forbade any establishment of religion.

    Couls someone please explain?
    Particularly as the xtian loonies were also violating that constitutional dictum, were they not?

  3. #3 possummomma
    July 13, 2007

    I, um…*cough* nominated you to go open the Senate on behalf of atheists. I hope you’ll hire me as the speech writer. :)

  4. #4 Brian W.
    July 13, 2007

    “Couls someone please explain?”

    They were violating the constitution. That’s the explanation.

  5. #5 David Marjanovi?
    July 13, 2007

    Erm – WHY is there a prayer of any sort in the US Senate?

    That falls under “very good question”. Parliament sessions are never opened with a prayer anywhere else in the First World, AFAIK.

  6. #6 David Marjanovi?
    July 13, 2007

    Erm – WHY is there a prayer of any sort in the US Senate?

    That falls under “very good question”. Parliament sessions are never opened with a prayer anywhere else in the First World, AFAIK.

  7. #7 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    July 13, 2007

    I don’t know why this reminds of the fundamentalist who now refuses to go to football games at the University of Hawaii because they open some of their games with a prayer to the native’s Hawaiian gods. He had come to the conclusion that there shouldn’t be opening prayers at football games.

    I say bring in the Scientologists, the Wiccans, Shintoists, Asatru’s and Buddhists and all the host of multi-theistic religions to do the invocation, so that the fundamentalists in the Senate finally decide it is ridiculous to open a secular government legislative session with prayer that “offends” some people.

    I wish I knew for sure what the protestors were charged with; I sincerely doubt they were held because they are defenders of the faith on the order of Saul of Tarsus. I would guess they were held for disrupting a public proceeding, and if my mother were there they would get a dressing down for being rude and naughty.

    I did find this article from an Indian news site. I find the quotes from members of the American Family Association illuminating, if not dangerously ironic:

    According to the AFA’s action alert, “In Hindu, you have not one God, but many, many, many, many, many gods. And certainly that was never in the minds of those who did the Constitution, the Declaration (of Independence) when they talked about Creator — that’s not one that fits here because we don’t know which creator we’re talking about within the Hindu religion.”

    Quoting David Barton, whom it described as a Christian historian, the AFA questioned the “motivation of Senate leaders,” to invite a Hindu chaplain to deliver the opening prayer, “given that Hindus are a tiny constituency of the American public.”

    Barton said, “This is not a religion that has produced great things in the world. You look at India, you look at Nepal — there’s persecution going in both of those countries that is gendered by the religious belief that is present there, and Hindus dominate in both of those countries.”

    He however, acknowledged that there was nothing unconstitutional with “a Hindu prayer in the Senate,” but wondered about the political side of it. “One definitely wonders about the pragmatic side of it,” Barton said, and asked, “What is the message, and why is the message needed? And will it actually communicate anything other than engender with folks like me a lot of questions.”

    Barton complained that he knows of at least seven cases where Christians have lost their bid “to express their own faith in a public prayer.” (emphasis mine)

    Why, indeed, is the message needed?

  8. #8 Rob Knop
    July 13, 2007

    Anyway, the only fair response to all this is simply to stop the magic incantations to any deity in our government. Let the senators who feel a need say a quiet prayer on their own, without dragging everyone into their personal superstition.

    I can get behind that.

    -Rob

  9. #9 The Uppity Atheist
    July 13, 2007

    From the Guardian:

    The group said in a statement:The Senate was opened with a Hindu prayer placing the false god of Hinduism on a level playing field with the one true god, Jesus Christ. This would never have been allowed by our Founding Fathers.”

    At least they are right about one thing, the Founding Fathers believed in Freedom of (and from) religion, ESPECIALLY in politics.

    Police identified the protesters as Ante and Katherine Pavkovic and their daughter Kristen, members of a Christian organisation called Operation Save America/Operation Rescue.

    I’m shocked.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,2125680,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=12

  10. #10 Bob
    July 13, 2007

    Awww, bunch of WATBs.

    “Erm – WHY is there a prayer of any sort in the US Senate?”

    Tradition. So valuable, those religious traditions. Stonings, genocide, ostracization, genital mutilation bla bla bla.

  11. #11 sailor
    July 13, 2007

    We should definitely encourage hinduism. They have many gods to choose from. Xtians just have one mean-spirited tired old god, unless you are catholic in which case you have lots of minor gods in the form of saints you can grovel to, as catholics realize the futility of dealing directly with the one-mean-spiritied-vengefull-one. It has to be said too, they keep kicking out old ones and creating new ones, which keeps things fresh and the medallion makers in business.

  12. #12 Zeno
    July 13, 2007

    Way back in the 1960s or 70s, when I was in college, a member of the California state senate nominated a Buddhist to be chaplain of that house of the legislature. Of course, there was a huge outcry from Christians, who were furious at the loss of their monopoly on the position. They tried to force the Buddhist’s removal (all in the name of Christian charity, of course). The state senator in question wrote an essay in 1976 on religious freedom in which he recounted part of that story; the essay has since been dug up and posted on-line for the edification of the curious. [Link]

  13. #13 llewelly
    July 13, 2007

    Erm – WHY is there a prayer of any sort in the US Senate?
    I understood that your constitution forbade any establishment of religion.

    The pro-prayer activists do not usually read the US constitution. On those rare occasions when they do read parts of it, they always interpret those parts to agree with their pre-existing opinions, no matter how contorted and ridiculous that interpretation is. In other words, they treat the US constitution much like they treat their own bible – but with less respect.

  14. #14 386sx
    July 13, 2007

    “One definitely wonders about the pragmatic side of it,” Barton said, and asked, “What is the message, and why is the message needed? And will it actually communicate anything other than engender with folks like me a lot of questions.”

    I dunno. I guess the message is that Hindus are allowed to do stuff too? Ooh noooo, folks like Mr. Barton are engendered with questions now. Ooohhh nooeees.

  15. #15 Brendan S
    July 13, 2007

    You know, I don’t agree with the protesters, but I at least respect them. At least they’re up front, honest, and direct about their purpose. “We don’t like their god, we like our God.” It’s refreshing to see a Xian group with that direct a message.

    I still think they are wrong, but at least they are honest.

  16. #16 Bob
    July 13, 2007

    They aren’t that honest. The USA is not a christer nation, and the Founders probably wouldn’t care that a Hindu gave a nebulous prayer – which he apparently didn’t even commit to memory.

  17. #17 truth machine
    July 13, 2007

    Erm – WHY is there a prayer of any sort in the US Senate?

    During the Constitutional Convention, there was a 16 day deadlock over the power of small vs. large states (which was eventually resolved by the “great compromise” of two legislative houses). Ben Franklin, worried that the deadlock would never be resolved, introduced a motion to say a prayer asking for God’s guidance; the motion was never voted on, and no prayer was said.

    So, by uniquely American logic, there is now prayer in Congress.

  18. #18 Nan
    July 13, 2007

    According to the Washington Post the protestors were charged with “distrupting Congress,” a misdeamnor offense.

  19. #19 Scotty B
    July 13, 2007

    PZ: “The only part I liked was the request to lead us from the unreal to the real, which is exactly what I say all the time.”

    Geez, maybe we should all start praying to you, PZ. (It would be just as effective, right?)

    ;)

  20. #20 JAW
    July 13, 2007

    I agree that the Senate doesn’t need an opening prayer in the first place, but . . .

    . . . it strikes me as strange but typical that the idea of diversity is to bring in a Hindu guest chaplain who gives lip service to monotheism by referring to “THE deity supreme”! The information on Hinduism classes (given by that same guest chaplain, Rajan Zed) at the India Association of Northern Nevada, says:

    “Hinduism-comprised of 330 million gods-has no founder, no single authoritative figure, no single deity worshipped by all, no single prophet or holy book.”

    http://www.northernnevadaindia.com/IA_articles.php

  21. #21 Zeno
    July 13, 2007

    David Barton and his crew of historical revisionists are throroughly refuted in Chris Rodda’s Liars for Jesus. She documents how time and again Christian apologists have distorted the historical record to make it appear that the U.S. is a “Christian nation”. She cites original documents in detail to demonstrate how misleading (or dishonest?) Barton’s writings are. Her book deserves to be better known. [Link]

  22. #22 DaveX
    July 13, 2007

    It’s totally alien to see things like this– or at least to try to imagine it from a religious person’s point of view. I wonder about how hopped-up this Indian fellow probably was, getting to get all dressed for his big day on TV and in the Senate… he probably spent a lot of time making sure everything was just so, and got all stressed-out at his kids or something “where the heck is my scarf? I can’t find it and I have to go lead a prayer before the senate and I can’t find– oh. here it is.”

    And then on the other hand, you’ve got these folks who… what? Are so up-to-date on their C-SPAN that they already knew a Hindu guy was going to be leading prayer. So they spent all night long, huddled around a bucket of KFC, holding this bitch session until dawn, where it might have finally been decided to “really DO something”… probably “for the kids,” or whatever, and off they went!

    And I’m imagining these Christian bozos just waiting for their moment to interrupt this guy, and I’m imagining him being all nervous, and getting that nervous tunnel-vision you get when you’re in the spotlight…

    And then it all goes south. Christians end up being questioned for the next 5 hours in the Senate brig by an over-zealous security officer, and the Indian guy probably rushes his prayer, forgetting some important line in the middle, which he wife will console him– “don’t worry honey, they didn’t even notice, you did GREAT.”

    At least that’s how I guess it all went down. For me, it’s just a lot of QUACK QUACK QUACK– hard to believe so much effort gets put into this nonsense. Like I said, totally alien.

  23. #23 Kat
    July 13, 2007

    [quote]David Marjanovi?: Parliament sessions are never opened with a prayer anywhere else in the First World, AFAIK.[/quote]

    Try The UK – House of Commons and House of Lords. In our case though, it’s more antiquated custom than any real religious significance.

    http://www.parliament.uk/about/how/business/prayers.cfm

  24. #24 Bob
    July 13, 2007

    DaveX, you reminded me of Marsw Attacks – aliens chanting ACK! ACKACKACK! ACKACK!

  25. #25 Caledonian
    July 13, 2007

    Re: the online essay by the person who nominated a Buddhist to be Senate Chaplain:

    Problem is, people have found that not all the roads lead to the same destination. And there isn’t a San Francisco after all.

    So where does that leave you?

  26. #26 The Uppity Atheist
    July 13, 2007

    #14:

    It’s refreshing to see a Xian group with that direct a message.

    “Refreshing” is not a word I would use to describe Operation Rescue extremists.

    And don’t even get me started about their “direct message(s)”.

    You may like the idea of living in a theocracy but I don’t.
    And make no mistake, when they talk about “saving America”, that’s exactly what these christianists have in mind.

  27. #27 Phoenix Woman
    July 13, 2007

    JohnW @ #1: Wow, you rock. That was the first thing I thought of when I read this! Verily, the dingbat disruptors have had their reward for their actions.

    I really do like it when the Fundies just let their “compassionate conservative” masks slip and show everyone what they’re really about. Nice way to win friends and influence people!

  28. #28 Zeno
    July 13, 2007

    It turns out that the author of Liars for Jesus and the state senator who nominated a Buddhist chaplain have the same last name. For those who asked: I have no idea if they’re related to each other.

  29. #29 vjack
    July 13, 2007

    Trackback: http://tinyurl.com/27pzjj

    I cannot get trackback links on any of the ScienceBlogs sites to work. I’ve contacted them repeatedly with no luck.

  30. #30 raven
    July 13, 2007

    The fundies are so cute when they are mad. What do you think they will do when a Wiccan preistess gets up to say the prayer some day?

    Druids, Raelians, Scientologists, Moonies, Heaven Gaters, so many religions so little time. LOL

  31. #31 Masklinn
    July 13, 2007

    They were violating the constitution. That’s the explanation.

    No they weren’t, The First states that:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

    seems the senate opens with a prayer as a matter of custom and personal appreciation from the senators, but invites speakers from many religions for this prayer (such as this Hindu priest), they don’t pass laws, they don’t really favor or suggest one religion over the others, I see no problem with that. It’s as problematic as students praying to themselves in an empty classroom: not at all.

    Apart from the fact that it means they’re religious of course, which is another matter, but an opening prayer in the senate seems perfectly legal to me.

  32. #32 The Countess
    July 13, 2007

    I want to see a voudou incantation in front of Congress. Kill a chicken, splash its blood around Congress, invoke Elegua… and they can light those cool saint candles.

  33. #33 NC Paul
    July 13, 2007

    @#19: Some Hindus believe that all the gods are just manifestations of a single overgod or Cosmic Spirit, Brahman. (Apologies to PZ for nasty Wikipedia link.)

    Hinduism doesn’t have a central authority to enforce orthodoxy, but seems to have snowballed a myriad local variant mythos into one big stickle-brick doctrine that often contradicts itself (like some other religions one could mention).

  34. #34 obscurifer
    July 13, 2007

    It has to be said too, they keep kicking out old ones and creating new ones, which keeps things fresh and the medallion makers in business.

    Plus, once you sell all of the relics of one, you need another revenue stream.

  35. #35 aiabx
    July 13, 2007

    So why do any of them need to pray in the first place? Doesn’t their god already know what they want, and how sincerely they want it? Isn’t that the point of omniscience?

  36. #36 386sx
    July 13, 2007

    So why do any of them need to pray in the first place? Doesn’t their god already know what they want, and how sincerely they want it? Isn’t that the point of omniscience?

    Because it makes them feel like they can cause something to happen with their thoughts. It’s just superstition. If they just let their god sit around and just do it’s thing then they wouldn’t have the pleasure of feeling as though they can make their god do stuff, despite all the (hypocritical) lip service they pay to the omniscience thing.

  37. #37 MAJeff
    July 13, 2007

    Maybe Barton and the like should take Reverend Lovejoy’s approach:

    Marge: “Thanks for doing this, Reverend Lovejoy. I know you’ve never done a Hindu wedding before.”

    Lovejoy: “Well, Christ is Christ.”

  38. #38 Bob
    July 13, 2007

    “Plus, once you sell all of the relics of one, you need another revenue stream.”

    Hey kids, collect them all!!

  39. #39 Heather
    July 13, 2007

    Wouldn’t it be neat if the church could swing a deal with McDonalds? Put a different saint toy in the happy meal every week – heck, that’s a promo that could keep going for YEARS!

    It amazes me how many relics there are floating around. Just how many foreskins did Jesus actually have? And if you put together all the pieces of the true cross, could you build an Ark?

  40. #40 Epistaxis
    July 13, 2007

    They were violating the constitution. That’s the explanation.

    No they weren’t

    Lemon v. Kurtzman is a major Supreme Court decision in that area. It said that any legislation has to pass a three-pronged test (the “Lemon test”) in order to fit with the Establishment Clause and be constitutional:

    1. The government’s action must have a legitimate secular purpose;
    2. The government’s action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion;
    3. The government’s action must not result in an “excessive government entanglement” with religion.

    Employing a congressional chaplain, or even inviting a guest volunteer, fails on all three counts.

    Perhaps one reason congressional chaplaincies haven’t been found unconstitutional is that they’re not actually laws, just traditions. The House Chaplain’s website cites only Article I, Section 2: “The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers.” Nothing there specifically names a chaplain among the officers, so the Constitution itself is not unconstitutional (!).

    Meanwhile, the Senate chaplain is a little bolder:

    Throughout the years, the United States Senate has honored the historic separation of Church and State, but not the separation of God and State. … During the past two hundred and seven years, all sessions of the Senate have been opened with prayer, strongly affirming the Senate’s faith in God as Sovereign Lord of our Nation.

  41. #41 Molly, NYC
    July 13, 2007

    Uppity Atheist – Nice clip, but read more:

    Police identified the protesters as Ante and Katherine Pavkovic and their daughter Kristen, members of a Christian organization called Operation Save America/Operation Rescue. . . . Reverend Flip Benham, the leader of the group . . .

    The “leader of the group” thought it was just swell that the Pavkovics got arrested, but (needless to say) had better things to do than join them.

    He’s the religious equivalent of a chickenhawk.

  42. #42 Chris
    July 13, 2007

    that’s not one that fits here because we don’t know which creator we’re talking about within the Hindu religion.

    They don’t know much about Hinduism, then, do they? (I know, real shock there.) I mean, I don’t know *that* much about Hinduism, but even I know that although it does have many gods, Brahma is specifically identified as the Creator; other gods have other responsibilities.

    What do you think they will do when a Wiccan priestess gets up to say the prayer some day?

    Murder her, probably. I wish that was a joke, but it’s not.

  43. #43 MartinDH
    July 13, 2007
    What do you think they will do when a Wiccan priestess gets up to say the prayer some day?

    Murder her, probably. I wish that was a joke, but it’s not.

    She’s a witch! Burn her! Burn her! …but only if she floats :)

    M

  44. #44 Dahan
    July 13, 2007

    Aiabx,

    Well, you see, their god isn’t REALLY omniscient. He can’t, for instance, create something so heavy that he couldn’t lift it. Knowing what his little darlings want (because he gave them free will) is just one of those things he can’t do without help. It’s all very simple to understand if you just shove an icepick above your eyeballs and go with the flow(not advocating this of course, but it seems to work with some people).

  45. #45 John Danley
    July 13, 2007

    Like a fuckin’ Norman Rockwell painting. Prayer n’ shit.

  46. #46 Dahan
    July 13, 2007

    Sorry, forgot to make the move from omniscient to omnipotent in the last comment. Damn, oh well. Still holds true.

  47. #47 bernarda
    July 13, 2007

    Hinduism is total crap, like all other religions. Here is an archive page of a Hindu group active in California.

    http://web.archive.org/web/20030803191007/http://thevedicfoundation.org/communities/do_you_know.htm

    A couple of beliefs:

    Indian Civilization has unceasingly existed for 1,972 million years ago as the fully developed Ganges civilization

    Sanskrit has been in its perfect state since its origin millions of years ago

    Hindu religion was first revealed 111.52 trillion years ago

    Is that enough for you? This is from archives because apparently these nutcases found out it was very good for their image and changed their discourse.

    Heaven forbid that you be born a Dalik, i.e. untouchable.

  48. #48 Kristine
    July 13, 2007

    Well! We’ve come a long way since the days when Caesar was stabbed on the senate floor for striving to be emperor of the republic, huh? (Hmmm…no, I’d better not say it.)

    Rajan Zed should have invoked Kali. But I say, why limit Senate prayers to current religions? Offer up sacrifices to Athena or Serapis. Burn some incense for Anubis, I always liked him. Plus, the Senate could use a few Vedic statues in complex sexual positions, especially since Madame is opening her little black book and the first lamb to slaughter is a Louisiana Repube Senator whose wife claimed that she would act like Lorena Bobbit, with the implication that Hillary should have, if her husband ever acted like Bill Clinton! (Mrs. Vitter, you made a promise, and we’re waiting.)

    As for me, I think every Senate session should be opened with an interpretive dance. Then the religious and I can have a shimmy-off. Et tu, booteh?

  49. #49 Bob L
    July 13, 2007

    If I had to lead the opening Senate prayer how would I do it?

    “Oh Invisible Sky King, that these people tell me exists but frankly I think they are yanking my chain, With your’ magical powers witness us assembled here together correctly performing the required ritual. With this ritual we ask you Invisible Sky King to ward off and invisible bad men from spreading dissent among us and other such improbable and absurd things. So do we all buy into this collective nonsense, so do we all insist it is the truth no matter how unbelievable it sounds or how utter disproved it becomes.”

    I suppose I will never be asked to lead the opening prayer.

  50. #50 Kristine
    July 13, 2007

    Too early, MartinDH – okay, now. ;-)

  51. #51 RamblinDude
    July 13, 2007

    You know, I don’t agree with the protesters, but I at least respect them. At least they’re up front, honest, and direct about their purpose. “We don’t like their god, we like our God.” It’s refreshing to see a Xian group with that direct a message.

    I still think they are wrong, but at least they are honest.

    If they were honest they wouldn’t have gone all militant batshit insane in the first place.

    I see a great deal of aggressive, headstrong energy here in these fanatics, but no honesty.

  52. #52 Kseniya
    July 13, 2007

    Dang. I should have known this would come up as a separate thread. X-posted from the “mean and picking on me” thread:

    This isn’t the first time a Hindu invocation in Congress has caused a stir. A Hindu invocation was delivered before the House of Representatives on September 14, 2001. Americans United reports:

    The Family Research Council, the most powerful lobbying organization of the religious right, spoke strongly against religious pluralism when a Hindu priest offered an invocation for Congress. They wrote:

    “(W)hile it is true that the United States of America was founded on the sacred principle of religious freedom for all, that liberty was never intended to exalt other religions to the level that Christianity holds in our country’s heritage.”

    “Our Founders expected that Christianity — and no other religion — would receive support from the government as long as that support did not violate peoples’ consciences and their right to worship. They would have found utterly incredible the idea that all religions, including paganism, be treated with equal deference.”

    Utterly incredible, indeed. Can we file this under “Not Even Wrong”?

    The FRC speaks out on today’s Hindu invocation in the Senate: Prayer to Whom?

    I have to wonder if the Franklin quote in today’s FRC piece is one of David Barton’s fabrications. A quick Google reveals that that passage is attributed to Franklin. And Washington. And John Adams. Many of the Franklin attributions cite Barton as a reference, generally via WallBuilders. (Oh, and look who else has apparently leaned heavily on WallBuilders as a reference. Heh.) However, I can’t find the passage in Rob Boston’s list of Barton’s questionable quotes.

  53. #53 RamblinDude
    July 13, 2007

    As for me, I think every Senate session should be opened with an interpretive dance.

    LOL!

    Naw, there would still be a bunch of arguing over whether to allow the Hindus to participate.

  54. #54 bullfighter
    July 13, 2007

    I mostly agree with PZ’s conclusions, and I think the hecklers legitimately exercised their First Amendment rights. They just need to shut up when non-Christians do the same.

    http://gnashq.blogspot.com/2007/07/horror-false-god-in-senate.html

    What they disrupted was not a legitimate part of Senate business, so I don’t think they should be charged.

  55. #55 Kseniya
    July 13, 2007

    (reviewing thread)

    Ah, Zeno! It pleases me to see that Barton’s name came up before I got here. The Myth of Separation is a sore spot with me. Lying for Jesus, indeed.

    Yet somehow Barton is not well-known outside of xtian dominionist/revisionist right-wing GOP circles. This is unfortunate, because his influence is not insignificant. Barton was employed by the RNC in 2004 as a political consultant. As reported by Deborah Caldwell on beliefnet.org back in ’04, Barton “has been traveling the country for a year–speaking at about 300 RNC-sponsored lunches for local evangelical pastors. During the lunches, he presents a slide show of American monuments, discusses his view of America’s Christian heritage — and tells pastors that they are allowed to endorse political candidates from the pulpit.”

  56. #56 lobsterlily
    July 13, 2007

    Maybe the Senate was trying to be multicultural, not religious – could be considered in a positive manner. The Xtians, though – no positivity there.

  57. #57 RamblinDude
    July 13, 2007

    That supposed Franklin quote bothered me, too. This is the same man who said these things…

    “The way to see by Faith is to shut the eye of Reason. “[Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard, 1758]

    And this: “I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life I absented myself from Christian assemblies.” [Benjamin Franklin, in _Toward The Mystery_]

    And had this said about him: “It is much to be lamented that a man of Franklin’s general good character and great influence should have been an unbeliever in Christianity, and also have done as much as he did to make others unbelievers” [Priestley’s Autobiography, p. 60, on Benjamin Franklin]

    Really?

  58. #58 Kseniya
    July 13, 2007

    RambDude: Yeah. People change, though. Perhaps Ben at 81 was looking into the void with a bit more apprehension about the possibile outcomes. :-)

    Still, Barton’s fabrications are insidious and ubiquitous. Consider the following:

    “We have staked the whole future of American civilization not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments.” – James Madison

    Even Barton now admits the quote is “questionable” but it’s propagating around the Web as truth. Many people now believe Madison was a staunch supporter of founding the United States as a Christian Nation, and cite that quotation as evidence. They want to believe it so they do. Unquestioningly.

    Of course, the primary reason they want to believe it is that it indirectly supports their belief in the unfailing accuracy of an oft-translated and heavily-edited 1900-year-old transcription of a 100-year-old oral tradition…

  59. #59 Daisy
    July 13, 2007

    No prayer is “meaningless nonsense”, just as no blog entry or conversation is “meaningless nonsense” to the people involved. It is this kind of arrogance that the right wing LOVES to exploit.

    Every time a lefty atheist puts down religious believers, Bush gets another undeserved vote and another collection plate is passed. You and Ingrid Newkirk deserve each other.

    Chalk me up as one (lefty) Christian who believes the Hindu prayer is the beginning of a positive trend. Time to share, folks. Ain’t no thang.

  60. #60 Bob
    July 13, 2007

    Daisy, you are completely wrong. See, your blog comment created this real actual comment back, from a real human being. Your prayers float around in your head, or temporarily disturb the air. After which nothing happens. No response, no wish fulfillment, nothing. Besides, for every prayer a lefty christer makes, it is equally countered by a righty christer prayer, to the same invisible skypappy.

    Grow up and quit believing in the tooth fairy.

  61. #61 Hal
    July 13, 2007

    Speaking of Christian extremists and their schizophrenia toward lumping and splitting (Lump with me. I’ll split with you if you don’t.):
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,2125395,00.html

    The comments are especially good.

  62. #62 Kseniya
    July 13, 2007

    The Hindu prayer is the beginning of a positive trend. Times to share

    I agree with that, but I suspect you’re speaking to the wrong crowd, particulary if you choose to invoke Newkirk. The people of Operation Save America desperately need to hear your message.

  63. #63 Daisy
    July 13, 2007

    Daisy, you are completely wrong. See, your blog comment created this real actual comment back, from a real human being. Your prayers float around in your head, or temporarily disturb the air.

    Like songs or poems? Okay, I’m fine with that.

    Mozart’s Requiem Mass is also prayers, as is Jimi Hendrix’s THE WIND CRIED MARY, the Grateful Dead’s ST STEPHEN or the poetry of Wallace Stevens or Walt Whitman.

    If you can’t hear that, sorry. Take my word for it, then.

    After which nothing happens. No response, no wish fulfillment, nothing.

    See above.

    I enjoy it and it makes me feel wonderful, and that IS something. Although I understand that it is not important to you how I feel, or how most believers feel. (That’s the arrogance part.)

    You want to show me the light, just like the rightwing fundies want to show me the light. Honestly, I can’t tell either of you apart without a scorecard. ;)

    Besides, for every prayer a lefty christer makes, it is equally countered by a righty christer prayer, to the same invisible skypappy.

    That sounds like a totally unscientific statement. Can you prove it?

    Grow up and quit believing in the tooth fairy.

    Why?

  64. #64 Anton Mates
    July 13, 2007

    No prayer is “meaningless nonsense”, just as no blog entry or conversation is “meaningless nonsense” to the people involved.

    A prayer is not a conversation; it’s a monologue. And a blog entry can certainly be nonsense, just like the lyrics to a song or a conversation for that matter. One can use words to evoke a particular feeling, without conveying any particular actual meaning.

    Every time a lefty atheist puts down religious believers, Bush gets another undeserved vote and another collection plate is passed.

    Evidence?

  65. #65 raven
    July 13, 2007

    What is funny and ironic in a pathetic way, this country was founded and settled in part by people fleeing Europe to avoid RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION AND BE FREE TO WORSHIP The Flying Spaghetti Monster god any way they wanted.

    The cultists rewriting of history is another in their constant stream of lies.
    The fundies have an excuse, that voluntary ignorance thing. But most must remember the story of the Pilgrims-Mayflower, and the Puritans. Since then, other persecuted groups have immigrated to escape one disaster or another.

    The wingnuts are either unaware of US core values and history or they don’t care because they don’t like them.

  66. #66 Daisy
    July 13, 2007

    Kseniya, I am pissed at Newkirk right now for trashing Michael Moore. Remember the old joke about the formation of the leftist firing squad? (A circle) I think it’s time to band together, not trash each other. So, I reacted.

    Here in the south, I am treated to constant right-wing drivel about the atheists who have no respect for us and want to make sure Christians have no cultural influence. This line is especially effective with the teenagers who don’t know any better yet.

    I just wish all of you wouldn’t pile on. Probably too much to ask.

  67. #67 Kseniya
    July 13, 2007

    Daisy,

    That sounds like a totally unscientific statement.

    True enough. But so does this: “Every time a lefty atheist puts down religious believers, Bush gets another undeserved vote…”

    If you demand proof of Bob, you must also please produce a list of voters (or statistics that effectively summarize the list) who were going to vote for Gore or Kerry but changed their minds because a lefty atheist put down religious believers. Thank you.

    St. Stephen

    Ooh. I like that one. Is that a prayer? Really? I thought it was just a song lyric. I guess I should consult the annotated Dead lyric site, eh? Well, later. I’ve got a wedding to go to. Peace.

  68. #68 Daisy
    July 13, 2007

    Every time a lefty atheist puts down religious believers, Bush gets another undeserved vote and another collection plate is passed.

    Warning, it’s awful:

    http://christianexodus.org/

    Right in my backyard, people! I mean, RIGHT in my backyard.

    Yes, I do stealth and spy on them, or rather, their churches. They say stuff like this. They read from blogs in Sunday School.

  69. #69 tony
    July 13, 2007

    Daisy: You’re confusing ‘enjoyment’ of art, with prayer….

    I love good music…. and I have to admit to enjoying Mozart’s & Bach’s religious music… I love the ‘feel’ of good gospel music (who was it said that ‘jesus got all the good songs’?)

    I just don’t think that you & I understand the same thing…

    When you hear those pieces of music – you hear a call to the sky fairy. When I hear them – I hear music.

    And the same goes for poetry, prose, and other art forms.

    I’m not saying that you should stop believing in *your* interpretation. Just don’t impose it on me.

    Unfortunately *that* is the impositional mindset of every evangelical proselytizer in the world today.

    Have *you* been saved? I’m not, and don’t want to be, thank you *very* much!

  70. #70 Kseniya
    July 13, 2007

    Kseniya, I am pissed at Newkirk right now for trashing Michael Moore. Remember the old joke about the formation of the leftist firing squad? (A circle) I think it’s time to band together, not trash each other. So, I reacted.

    Ah! I see. I think. (I know nothing about the Moore-trashing to which you refer. I’ll try to catch up, later.)

    Given Newkirk’s history of pulling stunts, I figured the group that “deserved” her the most was Operation Save America, not Pharyngula.

    Anyway. Gotta go. But not before I quote-mine myself:

    “I think… I know nothing.” ~ Kseniya, 2007

  71. #71 Daisy
    July 13, 2007

    Let me expand my statement, so that it is more explanatory:

    HOSTILE atheists (e.g. NOT Stephen Jay Gould, more like Christopher Hitchens) are used by the wingnuts to shore up support for their cultural influence. Michael Medved (not a Christian, I realize, but great example) has catalogued this kind of thing and made a living from it in his book Hollywood vs. America.

    The argument to the working class religious people goes like so: The atheist liberals hate you and think you are stupid! They make fun of your beliefs! (as you are all doing in this thread) We speak for you, we’re your friends and we’ll stick up for you! THEY DON’T! As the Temptations put it, vote for me and I’ll set you free!!!!

    And it’s been working wonderfully. That’s how someone can get a rock-bottom approval rating and still be in charge. (my opinion of course)

    I would hope that all of you would SUPPORT liberal and leftist Christians (and people of other faith traditions) and their/our attempts to liberalize from within. I believe we are in the best position to deal with the pernicious Christians, if we have back-up. Attack mode is totally the wrong way; the fundie preachers live for it. They LOVE it.

    Why are you giving them exactly what they want?

  72. #72 flame821
    July 13, 2007

    I enjoy it and it makes me feel wonderful, and that IS something. Although I understand that it is not important to you how I feel, or how most believers feel. (That’s the arrogance part.)

    No, the arrogance part is when practitioners of certain beliefs or traditions feel the need to FORCE their beliefs onto others. It becomes ESPECIALLY arrogant when they ridicule the beliefs and traditions of OTHERS while insisting that their way and ONLY THEIR way is the right/true/perfect way.

  73. #73 Bob
    July 13, 2007

    I’m sorry, Daisy, I ASSumed that you expect something from your prayers, more than good feelings. If all you expect is warm cuddly feelings inside, bravo. Because that’s the most you can get, and is to me an unfamiliar stance for prayer defenders.

    I am not showing you any light. I note that it is dark, yet you claim there IS a light. The only differences among your fellow religios is the claimed color of light. It’s still dark, despite all those claims of light. Yet religions will murder each other because the color of light is different. Peace, love, and understanding, eh?

    You are correct with my unscientific statement. As a self-proclaimed “Christian” you are very accustomed to accepting, without question, all sorts of unscientific statements. Can you explain why you need evidence for my unsensational assertion? It’s not like I claimed some guy rose from death now, did I? ;)

    Perhaps I am arrogant, but much less so than any public prayerer – do they care of my feelings? So we are supposed to sit back and enjoy it? That’s BS. Religion intrudes on my life up, down, left, right, inside, outside, and every other dimension. So like most polite atheists, I say nothing and try to be patient. I’m getting pretty sick of that. Just today, WAPO editorial claims I cannot have morals. Arrogant much?

    I will not argue against your right to indulge yourself whatever fantasies make you feel wonderful. Just keep them personal. I will argue against anyone who thinks this is a christer nation, or proseletyzes me.

    And last, because it’s your parents trading coin for teeth, that’s why. All gods die, because we learn facts. God is another way of saying “I don’t know”. When we learn, and we do know, that god dies. Witness sun gods, moon gods, water gods, earthquake gods, volcano gods, harvest gods, bla bla bla.

    Now the reason I am riled up has nothing to do with your tolerance remarks. If the Senate must have some invocation, they should spread the wealth. It’s your note that prayer is not meaningless nonsense. How meaningful is prayer? What does it actually accomplish? Right, a warm fuzzy. So great, booze, drugs, meditation, long walks on the beach are then equally meaningful and effective as prayer.

    Now I must go. It’s my turn to bring the beverages (puppies’ blood) to the Evil Atheist Conspiracy picnic.

  74. #74 Daisy
    July 13, 2007

    Daisy: You’re confusing ‘enjoyment’ of art, with prayer….

    No, you are.

    See how easy that was. :)

    I love good music…. and I have to admit to enjoying Mozart’s & Bach’s religious music… I love the ‘feel’ of good gospel music (who was it said that ‘jesus got all the good songs’?)

    Where do you think that “feeling” or spirit (root word of INSPIRATION) came from? Exactly where in the brain is it located? WHY did Jesus get all the good songs?

    What would the authors of the music and poetry say?

    I just don’t think that you & I understand the same thing…

    And why can’t we agree to disagree, non-overlapping magisteria and all that good stuff?

    I am not into convincing you. I AM into you respecting me as an equal.

    When you hear those pieces of music – you hear a call to the sky fairy. When I hear them – I hear music.

    That’s nice. Go on with your bad self.

    And I wouldn’t refer to it as a “call to” but rather, “expression of.”

    You hear nothing of the transcendent, in that music? I daresay, you are missing the core of it, in that case.

    And the same goes for poetry, prose, and other art forms.

    See above.

    I’m not saying that you should stop believing in *your* interpretation. Just don’t impose it on me.

    Unfortunately *that* is the impositional mindset of every evangelical proselytizer in the world today.

    That wouldn’t be me, I am not evangelical.

    There are also moderates, liberals and leftists in EVERY religious tradition, and there always have been.

    Have *you* been saved? I’m not, and don’t want to be, thank you *very* much!

    Saved from what?

  75. #75 Bob
    July 13, 2007

    “I would hope that all of you would SUPPORT liberal and leftist Christians (and people of other faith traditions) and their/our attempts to liberalize from within. I believe we are in the best position to deal with the pernicious Christians, if we have back-up. Attack mode is totally the wrong way; the fundie preachers live for it. They LOVE it.”

    Your described approach is a recipe for loss. This is the same approach Kerry took when he got swiftboated. If you are a lefty christer, you can’t quietly and from within change the religious reich. The right wingers steamrolled Kerry, and he sat there all kind and polite, and it got him jack, maybe less. I know there are some christians that recognize how anti-christian the fundie frothers are. But if you don’t show up in the public square, and say how screwed up they are, you might as well stay home and pray that they stop being so mean. If you get out there and get in their face, and tell the world what liars they are, I will support you. But I’m sure that approach is too Hitchensy.

  76. #76 Daisy
    July 13, 2007

    I’m sorry, Daisy, I ASSumed that you expect something from your prayers, more than good feelings. If all you expect is warm cuddly feelings inside, bravo. Because that’s the most you can get, and is to me an unfamiliar stance for prayer defenders.

    You might look up the Carmelites and St Teresa of Avila. It is known in the Catholic tradition as “contemplative prayer.” (Also, the Benedictines, Trappists and Cistercians.)

    I am not showing you any light. I note that it is dark, yet you claim there IS a light. The only differences among your fellow religios is the claimed color of light. It’s still dark, despite all those claims of light. Yet religions will murder each other because the color of light is different. Peace, love, and understanding, eh?

    And 3 of the 5 biggest mass murderers in history were atheists, too. So? Do you really wanna go there? Judging people, in the Hopi phrase, by the sins of their fathers?

    I can do it too, but what would that solve?

    You are correct with my unscientific statement. As a self-proclaimed “Christian” you are very accustomed to accepting, without question, all sorts of unscientific statements. Can you explain why you need evidence for my unsensational assertion?

    I was being sarcastic.

    It’s not like I claimed some guy rose from death now, did I? ;)

    Perhaps I am arrogant, but much less so than any public prayerer – do they care of my feelings?

    I don’t know what they think, but of course I do, that is why I am talking to you.

    So we are supposed to sit back and enjoy it?

    Enjoy what?

    That’s BS. Religion intrudes on my life up, down, left, right, inside, outside, and every other dimension.

    How?

    I take it that you would exterminate all references to religion in public life? (Didn’t the mass murderers I listed above already try that?)

    Would you not allow references to God on TV, radio, movies, or what?

    So like most polite atheists, I say nothing and try to be patient. I’m getting pretty sick of that. Just today, WAPO editorial claims I cannot have morals. Arrogant much?

    Certainly, I agree that is an arrogant statement.

    I will not argue against your right to indulge yourself whatever fantasies make you feel wonderful. Just keep them personal.

    Does this mean you would also outlaw any art, songs, etc that mention religious faith?

    How far does your “keeping it personal” injunction go?

    And yeah, everything I have just asked you is out of the wingnut fundie playbook.

    It’s like they invented you, you realize?

    I will argue against anyone who thinks this is a christer nation, or proseletyzes me.

    And that is your right.

    And last, because it’s your parents trading coin for teeth, that’s why.

    Both of MY parents were agnostic, so you don’t mean me, I don’t think. ;)

    All gods die, because we learn facts. God is another way of saying “I don’t know”. When we learn, and we do know, that god dies. Witness sun gods, moon gods, water gods, earthquake gods, volcano gods, harvest gods, bla bla bla.

    Sorry, I disagree. And why would we want the gods to die? They are all wonderful. I suppose you would take away my Tarot deck, too?

    You folks ain’t no fun. :(

    Now the reason I am riled up has nothing to do with your tolerance remarks. If the Senate must have some invocation, they should spread the wealth. It’s your note that prayer is not meaningless nonsense. How meaningful is prayer? What does it actually accomplish? Right, a warm fuzzy. So great, booze, drugs, meditation, long walks on the beach are then equally meaningful and effective as prayer.

    I think the case could certainly be made. Why?

    Now I must go. It’s my turn to bring the beverages (puppies’ blood) to the Evil Atheist Conspiracy picnic.

    Which breed of puppies? :P Not the dachshunds!

  77. #77 Bob
    July 13, 2007

    Keep your tarot deck, I have my one of my own. But I will never claim it does anything. Its greatest significance is that it is the source of modern playing cards. What you do in the privacy of your own home is generally none of my business now, is it?

    ALWAYS dachshunds. So sweeeeet, especially fresh.

  78. #78 Daisy
    July 13, 2007

    Your described approach is a recipe for loss. This is the same approach Kerry took when he got swiftboated. If you are a lefty christer, you can’t quietly and from within change the religious reich.

    Ever met a woman minister or a gay bishop? How do you think that happened?

    Have you ever heard of the 1964 Civil Rights Act?

    Ever heard of Jesuit Refugee Services or the Salvation Army? I think the people in Rwanda and/or New Orleans might well disagree with your assessment.

    The right wingers steamrolled Kerry, and he sat there all kind and polite, and it got him jack, maybe less.

    I don’t like Kerry. I am further left than that. I flipped a coin and voted for him though (it was between him and the Green Party). IMHO, he’d have lost anyway, with his total lack of personality. He made Al Gore look like Bill Clinton!

    I know there are some christians that recognize how anti-christian the fundie frothers are. But if you don’t show up in the public square, and say how screwed up they are, you might as well stay home and pray that they stop being so mean. If you get out there and get in their face, and tell the world what liars they are, I will support you. But I’m sure that approach is too Hitchensy.

    The problem with that approach, historically, is that it has been distilled to denominational differences–which IS often accurate. So, you get all bogged down in dogmatic arguments, and I am not interested in their dogma. (But dayum, they DO love their dogma.)

    That’s why I say we need BACK UP. They have the libertarian agnostic right-wing back-up, people like Cheney and the neocons who don’t care about religion and don’t even pretend to. Nonetheless, they back up the fundie base–they send out Irving Krystal redux. We need YOU GUYS to back us up, but you refuse to do it.

    That’s why they won and we lost. And yeah, MY opinion.

    I am arguably in the most conservative and religious county in the entire USA, and I know what I’m talking about. I have dealt with these people up close and personal, and got myself fired by one of them 6 years ago for shooting my mouth off in just this fashion.

  79. #79 Daisy
    July 13, 2007

    Bob, could you answer the other questions I asked?

    Would you outlaw all references to religion in public life? How far does “keep it to yourself” go, exactly?

  80. #80 Daisy
    July 13, 2007

    I misspelled Irving Kristol. Sorry.

    Obviously, some kind of Freudian slip. :P

  81. #81 AlanWCan
    July 13, 2007

    This would never have been allowed by our Founding Fathers

    Funny I didn’t hear about them protesting any of the other things your founding fathers wouldn’t have allowed: warrantless spying on citizens, suspension of habeus corpus, voter suppression, torture, blatant cronyism, huge stone sculptures of 10 commandments in Alabama courtrooms, did I mention torture?, the waging of wars against sovereign nations, Walter Reed outpatient treatment, political meddling in US attorneys, indefinite detention, SWIFT surveillance of financial transactions, Black prisons, extraordinary rendition, Tax cuts for the rich, blatant overuse of signing statements, Unilateral executive doctrine, banning photographs of coffins of killed American soldiers….oh and yelling “no Lord but Jesus Christ!” “there’s only one true God!” in the bloody senate building while we’re at it.

  82. #82 bernarda
    July 13, 2007

    The conversation has once again gone on to the xian morons. But there are also about a billion Hindu morons.

    This Hindu guy was your usual ignorant religious twerp. He should never have been invited.

    Daisy, “There are also moderates, liberals and leftists in EVERY religious tradition, and there always have been.”

    Oh yeah? So-called “moderates” etc. are only enablers for the “radicals”. Ambrose Bierce,I think, said to the effect that religious tolerance is sign of lack of belief.

  83. #83 Brownian
    July 13, 2007

    How meaningful is prayer? What does it actually accomplish? Right, a warm fuzzy. So great, booze, drugs, meditation, long walks on the beach are then equally meaningful and effective as prayer.

    I think the case could certainly be made. Why?

    The reason someone might make the case is that booze, drugs, meditation, and long walks on the beach don’t invoke any gods who have zero non-hearsay evidence for their existence, and yet have the same effects as prayers to gods have zero non-hearsay evidence for their existence.

    Why is this a relevant comparison? Because most gods who have zero non-hearsay evidence for their existence also claim through hearsay that:
    a) they do intercede in this world at the request of their followers; and
    b) they have zero tolerance for other people’s gods.

    It’s great to wax poetic about some future halcyon days where believers of all faiths will sit around in a kumbaya circle and share in the great mystery of faith, but realistically, every one of those believers believes in at least one god who doens’t want to share the spotlight.

    And if those believers truly believe in their exclusive gods and believe those gods want to obey their will, well then….

  84. #84 Daisy
    July 13, 2007

    I’m sorry you think I’m a moron, Bernarda. But good example of the blanket prejudice I am talking about. I’d certainly never call YOU a moron; I don’t even know you.

    I’ll go, sorry.

  85. #85 Brownian
    July 13, 2007

    But you do think we’re mistaken to not believe in your god, don’t you Daisy?

    I mean, Thou Shalt Not Have Any Gods Before Me and all that? If you’re right about your god, well, that’s what he says.

    Seriously, isn’t any belief in a deity (especially one who claims he is the only one) a blanket suggestion that all non-believers are wrong?

    And theists call us arrogant.

  86. #86 Bob
    July 13, 2007

    I would not ban religion. I would hope that people become more educated and can free themselves from superstition. I know plenty of people get comfort from their religions, including some very close family members of mine. These things are fine. Freedom of association, freedom of thought, those are great, and I wouldn’t want to encroach on anyone’s rights. Similarly, I don’t want my rights encroached.

    You do not want me to shout that religios are stupid. I do not want religios pushing their product on me. It is beyond insulting that religios assert immorality as a feature of non-belief, or that you must join their club to be “saved”. I’ll take the laissez-faire UN Declaration of Humjan Rights:

    Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance.

    If you are in such a bible thumping locale, you should know how religion imposes. In my county, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a church. From LDSers resisting my direction to leave my property to town councils insisting on opening prayers, pre-game “invocations” at HS football games, it goes on and on. Perhaps you don’t notice how pervasive it is, because you accept it. It’s also very intolerant of non-believers.

  87. #87 tony
    July 13, 2007

    Daisy

    Don;t go…. at least until you help us understand the difference you want us to understand….

    You say you are ‘way left’ and religious. Fine. We respect that. be yourself.

    However — DON’T conflate respect with agreement. You’ll never get that, when your premise is based on wingnut philosophy that demands the existance of a sky fairy somewhere in the mix.

    What you hear in music as ‘transcendent’ I hear as simply damn good music, as opposed to damn bad music. I presume from this that you get the same rush from *every* prayer or *spiritual* music…. if so, you have obviously not listened to what passes for ‘christian rock’ (in many cases – it’s so not good, it’s not even bad (to misquote Pauli!))

    I get a neuro-chemical rush from all things that I enjoy greatly — good music, good art, good food, a great joke, cuddles with my kids, sex with my wife.

    You may need the intercession of a god to feel good about those things – I don’t. I just need me, my family, my friends, and real creators!

  88. #88 Daisy
    July 13, 2007

    But you do think we’re mistaken to not believe in your god, don’t you Daisy?

    That’s a good question. Meister Eckhart would ask what form the unbelief takes; he thought it really didn’t exist. But then, he got excommunicated didn’t he? :P

    Speaking of Hinduism, they would ask: what is the result of your unbelief in the world? As I said in my post above, it is possible that some forms of unbelief actually cause more BELIEF.

    Also, I would refer you to Karl Rahner on THE ANONYMOUS CHRISTIAN, a concept I personally adhere to.

    I can also riff very well on Kierkegaard. ;)

    Seriously, isn’t any belief in a deity (especially one who claims he is the only one) a blanket suggestion that all non-believers are wrong?

    This would be Simone Weil territory, whom I do NOT riff well on.

    In short, of course not. This is a Western/dualistic bias derived from Manichaeism, that you imbibed with your mama’s milk. This philosophical bent has totally drowned out everything else within Western Christianity, although some mystics like Bede Griffiths and the early Desert Fathers posited other ways. (In the Muslim tradition, the Sufis.)

    And that’s my other problem with “keep religion to yourself”–if we could teach these ideas in PUBLIC SCHOOLS (yes! I said public schools!), we might be able to counter some of their exclusivist bullshit.

    But you don’t want to do that, as I said, NO BACK UP.

  89. #89 Steve_C
    July 13, 2007

    Yeah yeah superstitions are FABULOUS! People who believe in gods are so much better than those cranky rational people.

    3 cheers for spirituality!!! Yeah!

    Barf.

  90. #90 Daisy
    July 13, 2007

    if so, you have obviously not listened to what passes for ‘christian rock’

    HAHAHA! I sure have! Yeah, sucks big time. The “Lifeteen Mass” in these parts has a buncha tie-dyed kids singing “We do, we do, we dooooooo belieeeeeeve!” (to a backbeat!) and yeah, okay, so do I… yet I want to hang myself every time I hear it.

    I confess to an everlasting fondness for the Doobie Brothers’ JESUS IS JUST ALL RIGHT, okay? :D

    Tony, I totally realize respect does not demand agreement; my spouse and I have managed to agree to disagree about all kinds of things, religion included. That’s how I know it can be done; I’ve been married almost 20 years.

    I will be back this evening to check on this thread, so no, I ain’t leaving totally. I must go service the real god, RETAIL. Capitalism waits for no man/woman!

    “Every commodity you produce is a piece of your own death!”–that guy in SLACKER.

  91. #91 arensb
    July 13, 2007

    NC Paul:

    Hinduism doesn’t have a central authority to enforce orthodoxy, but seems to have snowballed a myriad local variant mythos into one big stickle-brick doctrine

    Sounds a bit like Katamari Damacy.

  92. #92 tony
    July 13, 2007

    Daisy

    WTF???

    I think you’ve been swallowing something other than sweet tea….

    Let’s reprise the Q&A so far….

    But you do think we’re mistaken to not believe in your god…?

    That’s a good question. Meister Eckhart would ask what form the unbelief takes; he thought it really didn’t exist. But then, he got excommunicated didn’t he? :P

    Speaking of Hinduism, they would ask: what is the result of your unbelief in the world? As I said in my post above, it is possible that some forms of unbelief actually cause more BELIEF.

    Also, I would refer you to Karl Rahner on THE ANONYMOUS CHRISTIAN, a concept I personally adhere to.

    I can also riff very well on Kierkegaard. ;)

    So…. (1) quoting (without citation) without answering the question; (s) moving the q/a to hindu beliefs (not yours); (3) another reference to a book (without ditation) and (4) a reference to your prowess discussing Kierkegaard.

    Still no answer, then: Are [we] mistaken to not believe in your god?

    Next Question…

    …isn’t any belief in a deity (especially one who claims he is the only one) a blanket suggestion that all non-believers are wrong?

    This would be Simone Weil territory, whom I do NOT riff well on.

    In short, of course not. This is a Western/dualistic bias derived from Manichaeism, that you imbibed with your mama’s milk. This philosophical bent has totally drowned out everything else within Western Christianity, although some mystics like Bede Griffiths and the early Desert Fathers posited other ways. (In the Muslim tradition, the Sufis.)

    Whoa! An actual answer this time… although I don;t think you’d graduate seminary with your answer….

    Christianity is fundamentally dualistic. Other than fucking around with theft of images and apocrypha from other religions (largely by the HRE in it’s heyday) your religion is very simply. There is only one god, and that god is jehovah… or haven’t you read your book. Belief in Jehovah is a pre-requsite for being one of the chosen…. denial of Jehovah means hell. nothing else. Where is that not dualistic?

  93. #93 tony
    July 13, 2007

    Daisy:

    One last question:

    Do you believe in original sin?

    I know that that was one of the ‘troublesome doctrinal issues’ that many of your non-manichean ‘Christians’ sought an answer to… (to paraphrase: If a child is born to a family who have never known Christ, and that child dies soon after having no experience of the world nor opportunity for volition – and obviously without benefit of baptism in Christ – is the child condemned to hell?)

    So far as I know (and that’s less than I’d like)…
    The fundamentalist response would be ‘yes, of course’.
    The biblical response would be ‘yes, of course’.
    The roman catholic response would be (I think) ‘purgatory’.

    The hindu response would be ‘???’
    The moslem response would be ‘???’

    What is your response?

  94. #94 Brownian
    July 13, 2007

    Daisy, like Tony, I found your answers to be evasive.

    To answer the question you posed: what is the result of your unbelief in the world?

    I will quote the ‘About me’ portion of the blog by Reed Braden, the boy who got in trouble for lending a high school chum his copy of The God Delusion:

    My name is Reed. I am an 18-year-old Atheist living in the Bible Belt of The United States of Jesusland. Up until November 2006, I believed every word of the Bible. I led a depressing life as a homosexual who thought he was destined for Hell. You wouldn’t think it would, but Atheism made me a happier and more fulfilled person than I ever was. Atheism has made me free to be who I am. If I can share that joy with just one other person, I have done my job.

    He may not be Kierkegaard, but he’s alive and open to discussion, and he can state plainly the result of his unbelief.

  95. #95 Bronze Dog
    July 13, 2007

    I saw “non-overlapping magisteria” somewhere.

    I know what that means.

  96. #96 ArtK
    July 13, 2007

    Raven (in #63):

    What is funny and ironic in a pathetic way, this country was founded and settled in part by people fleeing Europe to avoid RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION AND BE FREE TO WORSHIP The Flying Spaghetti Monster god any way they wanted.

    True, but they weren’t particularly interested in letting other people worship they way that they wanted. The early colonists were quite happy to persecute anyone who didn’t believe the colonist’s way, despite having come from a position of being persecuted themselves.

    Family history: I had an ancestor, a CofE minister who kept getting himself run out of town in Massachussets and Rhode Island because he wanted to worship his way, not theirs.

    Look at the many waves of immigrants to the US who immediately turned around and became “nativists,” trying to prevent further immigration.

  97. #97 tony
    July 13, 2007

    Brownian: thanks for the quote. Reed is obviously stronger than I was at that age. All power to him!

    Daisy: I’ll go with Brownian, and add my own answer to the question: what is the result of your unbelief in the world?

    I was raised a Catholic, and discovered myself to be increasingly dissatisfied by dogma and catechism as answers to all things.

    As a catholic I was wracked with guilt, and constantly worried. I had zero confidence in myself. I had zero confidence in my abilities. (if god gave them to me, he could easily take them away!)

    As I grew older, I realised the stupidity of that viewpoint. I broke with the religion, tentatively at first by declaring myself agnostic, and then fully in my early twenties as a fully fledged athiest.

    Since then I have gradually grown into myself. I am still wracked by unreasoning ‘catholic guilt’ from time to time… I still (in my forties) have to stop myself feeling guilty for the successes that I *personally* have achieved.

    But with my atheism has come confidence in myself and my own abilities. I work hard. I am honest, and ethical. I’m trusted by my friends, my colleagues and my clients.

    I have achieved this myself (no help from god, but lots of help from friends and family). My friends, colleagues and clients gain the benefits.

    Without my atheism, I know I would be in a very different place, and teh world would be immesurable different.

    I would never have left Scotland. I would never have met my wife. I would not have the career I now have. I can say this with certainty, because the guilt-ridden theist and agnostic that I was… was a college drop-out with no prospects, and no hope for any. I went to college at 17, and left at 18. Returned at 19 and finally dropped out at 21. Guilt and self-doubt are not useful when trying to learn, and certainly not when trying to pass exams.

    It took me another couple of years to really remove god from the equation, and rely instead on myself. When I did so, I discovered I had many skills, I was valuable, I was worthwhile. for myself.

    I’m happy as me.
    My friends and family are happy I’m me.

    god plays no part in my life, nor the life of my own family. and we like it that way!

    BTW: We also live in the south, just north of Atlanta. My colleagues want me to join their prayer groups. They want to save me. I simply tell them all that I’ve already been saved… by myself!

  98. #98 RamblinDude
    July 13, 2007

    Daisy: I appreciate your ‘can’t we all just get along’ sentiments but I am reading into your comments a bit of naiveté as to what we so called ‘new atheists’ are about–the reason for our aggressive stance against the fundies and their agenda.

    We love science; we love reason and exploration and figuring out how the world actually works. But there has been a concerted attack on reason, on science, that has become coordinated and insistent. We were supposed to have flying cars and rocket ships to Mars in the 21st century, and, instead, we have religious fanatics flying planes into buildings and bombing fertility clinics, the fundies are sabotaging the scientific method with creationism and other anti scientific God-did-it nonsense, and the leader of the free world is pushing us into Armageddon so that he and millions of others can get their worship-orgasm.

    The disease of mythology seems to be unrelenting and it behooves us nothing to simply ‘be tolerant’ and watch the world, especially this country, backslide into the dark ages.
    Technology in the near future is going to allow us to kill in ways undreamt of, and if we don’t address and try to understand the mechanics of irrationalism, fanaticism, subservience and subjugation, then it may become too late to do anything about it.

    That said, I agree, (as do many here) that getting the Christian fundamentalist to grit their teeth and hold hands with those ‘false-god worshipping, heathen foreigners’, in opening ceremonies at the senate, is a step in the right direction. (Baby steps.) But it just seems that we are running out of time. We have to say in a loud clear voice, “Enough is enough.”

  99. #99 Kagehi
    July 13, 2007

    You know Daisy, I understand that military logic and statistics are hard things to get, but I am quite tired of the whole BS about how 3 of the 5 biggest mass murderers where atheist, when that is *solely* based on body counts that can be directly attributed to the efficiency of their military and weapons. Without those, they wouldn’t be any different than any other mass murderer in history. I would say its real unfortunate that atheism arose in a time when megalomania and advanced military weapons both became prominent, but much of science and the biology of the mind where still in a state of being little better than Alchemy. Its a bad combination when you take someone that thinks they have a utopia, understands nothing about anything, then hand them the means to march troops and weapons over vast areas of the world, in order to form those imaginary utopias. But seriously. Mao can *only* be considered worse than the first emperor of China in that he had more ways to kill people and more people to kill. Same with all the rest of them. Some groups have, throughout history, been as bad, and even worse, but didn’t have the resources, the influence, the grand ideologies or the weaponry to do it. But, its a whole hell of a lot easier to only look at fracking body counts when determining who did what and how bad it was, right?

    As for music.. I find it damn funny that when my niece was over at the 4th., she had some music from some French performers or something. It *sounds* religious, with layered voices in a chorus, harps, etc., as long as you don’t know the words. According to her, the actual lyrics are… quite adult. lol The irony being, I rather doubt *anyone*, unless they knew French, would know the difference if you played it in a church in the US, or even before the Senate. In fact, the most likely reaction would be to assume it was religious, call it wonderful, then a few days later, when someone pointed out what the lyrics actually where… lol

    Point being, the only reason you don’t hear music like that for everything from science to orgies is *because* the church pretty much 100% completely co-opted music production, or at least heavily leaned on anyone making stuff they didn’t approve, for most of the last 2000 years or more, with only the rare “gaps” in history, where their power wained enough that someone could write something else. And even then, some types where so strongly tied to the idea of religion that its only today that you are likely to see someone making non-religious works based on certain styles.

    Point being, maybe making you feel good isn’t a legitimate reason to defend something whose historical purpose has been to prevent people from thinking, forcing conformity, and bolstering belief in mythology. All of which was, unfortunately for the fundies, a whole hell of a lot easier when all you had to pray for was the sex of your newborn child, good crops, rain, vague good luck, or a good year at the markets, instead of more tangible and far less cyclic, like praying that you win a million dollars or that your car, which you haven’t taken in for a checkup for 5 years, won’t cease a piston when you start it in the morning. When its stuff you can’t control, and will happen anyway, priests look real smart when telling people to pray for it. When it starts to become a case of things we *know* are non-repeatable, are under someone else’s control, don’t work by magic, etc… All you are left with is, “It feels good!”. Well, some people say smoking, sniffing glue, or gambling every dime they have away in Las Vegas, makes them “feel good”, among lots of other things. So.. Defend the practice, if its harmless. Stop defending the cardboard box it came in, like you are some odd person that thinks that the value of your new unversal TV remote will go up if you keep the packaging, as though it was a Star Wars figurine, or something. The only people that, quite frankly, think keeping the packaging in this case makes it “valuable”, are not people you want, by your own statements, to be associated with. Yet, you opt to keep that association, because you like the box your prayer comes in? Forgive me for finding that quite.. silly.

  100. #100 RamblinDude
    July 13, 2007

    Tony: “I simply tell them all that I’ve already been saved… by myself!”

    Indeed.

  101. #101 tony
    July 13, 2007

    Kagahi: 100% agreement. Great post.

    Daisy: Hope you enjoyed your shopping, and the rest of the posts. Looking forward to your comments.

  102. #102 Rey Fox
    July 13, 2007

    “I am arguably in the most conservative and religious county in the entire USA, and I know what I’m talking about.”

    Madison, Idaho?

    I won’t join the religious discussion, since I think it is rather reactionary and tangential to Daisy’s original point, which is that the “angry atheists” just make more people vote for Bush and The Right.

    Most of us disagree, and for a number of reasons. One is that atheists have been, by and large, silent for a long time, and it hasn’t done them much good. The time has come to denounce the excesses of religion and do it loudly. I see value in the two-pronged approach of “nice” atheists and “angry” atheists. Much of our message is going to ruffle some feathers, but it has to be said, just so that people can hear it and maybe not be so knee-jerk shocked in the future when “normal” folks can say things like “It doesn’t matter what some religious folks think of such-and-such law/policy/scientific finding, religion doesn’t matter here.” Like how “normal” folks can say things like “He’s gay, and that’s cool with me” today. It’s kind of hard to have two prongs though, when one of them is telling the other to sit down and shut up lest they offend anyone.

    Who the “nice guys” are depend on what you consider the ultimate goal to be: Weaning the people of this planet off religion (which I’m sure you wouldn’t care for), or just purging the societally undesirable aspects of religion from religion or from the public arena. Nevertheless, the “angry” atheists are needed to at least shock people out of complacency and pull the “center” away from the kooks on the other side.

  103. #103 Rey Fox
    July 13, 2007

    “Madison, Idaho?”

    Actually, now I remember you mentioning Christian Exodus, so I could guess you’re in SC, but I sort of thought they’d only convinced 12 people to move so far.

  104. #104 saurabh
    July 13, 2007

    As a born-and-raised Hindu, I’d just like to say to the dozens of commentators on this page: thanks for demonstrating that atheists, too, are capable of the same five-minute expertise and casual bigotry towards Hindus that the likes of the AFA and other religious zealots demonstrate.

  105. #105 Brownian
    July 13, 2007

    Saurabh, there were a total of two anti-hinduism comments on this blog. All other comments regarding hinduism were either descriptive or quoting somebody else.

  106. #106 Kagehi
    July 13, 2007

    And also Saurabh. I really don’t have much problem with some of the concepts in Hinduism, which as long as you ignore some of the insane BS in the Vedic texts, is borderline agnostic and not anti-science. The problem being that, right now, there is a new upsurge in India of the Vedic literalists, just like the Biblical literalists over here, and real science institutions are being shut out, or shut down, while wacko groups are being founded to study Alchemy and discover how to make magic spears that shoot lightning, and other similarly stupid BS they call “Vedic Science”. Its just Christian Science, with the different mythology and different magic fairies.

    Sorry, but while I think, among those that recognize the Vedic and other texts to be just stories and who are thus a hairs width from being atheists themselves, are not a danger to rational thought, the current trend in India doesn’t help to engender some wonderous gasp of surprise at the rationality or logic of Hindu followers, any more than ID brings a chorus of glorious cries of joy because it claims to involve some sort of science.

    The first and last bastion of every person of faith always seems to be, “Well, despite those rare cases I admit wackos are involved, the real problem is that you just don’t ‘understand’ my faith.” The real problem though is, this is making an assumption about the knowledge someone else has, which isn’t in evidence, and I am sure *some* of the people here *have* read quite a bit of your religious texts. Brahman is not Brahman, and by the same token, religion is not truth, no matter what religion is making the claim that they are one and the same.

  107. #107 bgm
    July 13, 2007

    BUMBLING FAITHHEADS FIGHTING ON-F.U,THE WHOLE WORLD-FOR REST OF US

  108. #108 PFunk
    July 13, 2007

    “The problem being that, right now, there is a new upsurge in India of the Vedic literalists, just like the Biblical literalists over here, and real science institutions are being shut out, or shut down, while wacko groups are being founded to study Alchemy and discover how to make magic spears that shoot lightning, and other similarly stupid BS they call “Vedic Science”. Its just Christian Science, with the different mythology and different magic fairies.”

    Wow, India has those kind of idiots, too. Colour me surprised.

    I see a lot of angry atheists on here, and I’m getting a vibe of “hurr invisible sky fairy ur stupid LOL” which, as a fellow atheist, I find unhelpful. Quite frankly, we don’t have the numbers to take on the extremists ourselves and win. We must ally ourselves with the Christian Left if we hope to rid government of these kind of a$$holes.

    As to the actual article, it was satisfying seeing Christians get a taste of their own medicine for a change.

  109. #109 Caledonian
    July 13, 2007

    saurabh has it wrong – we’re not prejudiced against Hindus.

    It’s just that we loathe and mock stupid people, so it’s no surprise that he felt more than a little hostility upon reading the thread.

  110. #110 Karl Rove II
    July 13, 2007

    “..and tells pastors that they are allowed to endorse political candidates from the pulpit.”

    They are allowed to do that, as long as they don’t mind losing their tax exempt status…they want to play the political game, then they gotta pay the price.

    Tax the FUCK out of the churches!
    — Frank Zappa

  111. #111 Spooky
    July 13, 2007

    “Plus, once you sell all of the relics of one, you need another revenue stream.”

    Hey kids, collect them all!!

    Saint Pikachu I choose YOU!

  112. #112 RamblinDude
    July 13, 2007

    saurabh has it wrong – we’re not prejudiced against Hindus.

    It’s just that we loathe and mock stupid people, so it’s no surprise that he felt more than a little hostility upon reading the thread.

    Posted by: Caledonian

    LOL!

    Saurabh, you’ve got to be pretty thick skinned to hang around here.

  113. #113 solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short
    July 13, 2007

    Boy, the “angry” modifier sure does seem to have caught on. It’s almost as though people just unthinkingly parrot talking points that were conceived as a way of discrediting opponents without addressing the issue. Or something.

  114. #114 Bob
    July 13, 2007

    So what’s wrong with anger? Anger is a valid emotion, and everyone has a right to feel and express it. Personal insults are different. But that’s probably an unthinking parroting of someone else’s talking point.

  115. #115 Caledonian
    July 13, 2007

    Just to be clear:

    I consider Hinduism to be an ancient faith that has produced great works of literature, architecture, song, and ritual, that has influenced India throughout all its millenia of high culture, and is as worthy of just as much respectful treatment and consideration as every other form of superstitious nonsense.

    I, for one, welcome the addition of a Hindu person of faith to the thoughtless trampling of our highest principles that our Senate engages in, and am certain that this Hindu prayer will bring just as much honor and integrity to Congress as all the previous Christian prayers have.

  116. #116 ike
    July 13, 2007

    I think an american once said I have become death.

  117. #117 solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short
    July 13, 2007

    Hey, Bob, y’know what’s fun? Getting your feathers ruffled by, and then overreacting to, something you missed the point of. Oh, but I see you’re way ahead of me.

    Not that I fault you for not “getting” the pointless dreck I see fit to clog the tubes up with, but jeez, dude.

    My point was that religion’s apologists throw the term “angry atheists” around the way conservos do with “Bush Derangement Syndrome.” Or better yet, “unhinged”–you hear that one thrown at liberals all the time. In every case, they’re trying to pre-empt the argument on a visceral level, by painting a verbal picture of us frothing at the mouth and pinwheeling our arms. Plus they’re implying that these are pre-existing character flaws instead of legit outrage.

    And most atheists are perfectly content day-to-day, it’s just that we don’t have cause to self-identify unless we’re responding to something like, oh, I don’t know, let’s say an op-ed in the Washington Post by a Bush speechwriter about how we’re evil because there’s no downside to it for us. So yes, when we’re actively engaged with our own atheism, we’re usually pissed off. It’s not like, wow, what a beautiful sunset, I’m so glad there’s not some kind of anthropomorphic intelligence behind it.

    Anyway, sorry you thought I was accusing you of something or whatever. I meant to be a dick to somebody else.

  118. #118 RamblinDude
    July 13, 2007

    Upon detonating the first atomic bomb, its creator quoted the Bhagavad Gita saying “I have become Death.” J. Robert Openheimer

    Oh God! The Hindus have Armageddon and a creepy death cult, too? No wonder they want to help us pray. You’d think Christians would embrace them as brothers.

  119. #119 cyan
    July 13, 2007

    From talking with neighbors & coworkers, it appears that this event was not reported on the NBC, ABC, or CBS news broadcasts. Looking at their websites, only CBS has a story from the AP written.

    That is incomprehensible to me, because I consider this situation so outrageous that this morning I wrote to my two senators and one representative to send me the name of the person or persons in the government in charge of deciding who the prayer-leader is each time, so that I can contact them & request that a person from a different religion is chosen each time: that it is unethical for a leader from one religion always or mostly do it, as the US has myriad religions.

    What I did not say is:
    The fundies make a big impact on their congresspeople by constantly contacting them. Lets do the same.

    Is it true that there is a Senate chaplain? If so, is he funded by tax dollars? That is infuriating!

  120. #120 Daisy
    July 13, 2007

    #91–So…. (1) quoting (without citation) without answering the question;

    Sorry, I thought that was an answer. Citation from Meister Eckhart is from ON THE SOUL’S RETURN TO GOD, exact page-citation would depend on Latin, German or English. I don’t have them right in front of me.

    (s) moving the q/a to hindu beliefs (not yours);

    Why do you say that? Actually, I share many beliefs with Hindus. Why do you think I mentioned them? Citation would be the Bhagavad Gita.

    (3) another reference to a book (without ditation)
    Kierkegaard, The Gospel of Suffering and Karl Rahner’s essay The Anonymous Christian, which has been printed in a variety of publications.

    and (4) a reference to your prowess discussing Kierkegaard.

    Was a joke. Sorry if it wasn’t funny.

    Still no answer, then: Are [we] mistaken to not believe in your god?

    I wouldn’t use that word, no.

    Christianity is fundamentally dualistic.

    And as I said, I disagree. I cited my sources. You obviously have your mind made up, though, so further discussion on the issue is pointless.

    #92–Daisy:
    One last question:
    Do you believe in original sin?
    I know that that was one of the ‘troublesome doctrinal issues’ that many of your non-manichean ‘Christians’ sought an answer to… (to paraphrase: If a child is born to a family who have never known Christ, and that child dies soon after having no experience of the world nor opportunity for volition – and obviously without benefit of baptism in Christ – is the child condemned to hell?)
    So far as I know (and that’s less than I’d like)…
    The fundamentalist response would be ‘yes, of course’.
    The biblical response would be ‘yes, of course’.
    The roman catholic response would be (I think) ‘purgatory’.
    The hindu response would be ‘???’
    The moslem response would be ‘???’
    What is your response?

    I do believe in original sin, which I classify as our “animal nature” or id. I have no idea who is “condemned to hell” and do not go around hypothesizing about that. It simply isn’t my job. That is God’s job.

    Yes, I also believe in purgatory and entertain the idea of reincarnation as a workable version of that.

    #96– To answer the question you posed: what is the result of your unbelief in the world?

    Tony, the Bhagavad Gita teaches that there are three modes of being (obviously the precursor to the Trinity, and where ours derives from), and that all actions can be classified this way, roughly speaking (not using the Sanskrit here), passion, goodness, and ignorance. Any act must be examined according to the motives, as Thomas Aquinas also said. This is why we have jury trials, to judge the guilt of a person beyond simple “facts.”

    For example, stealing $5 is very different depending on who you are. For a rich person to steal from a poor one, is far more sinful than the opposite. We can look at the results and see the levels of harm imposed. To steal $5 from Bill Gates is practically negligible and he might not even notice. To steal from a family in Mauritius who makes only $5 a month, then, is to do serious harm and would likely mean great hardship or even starvation. Same act, but very different outcomes, and surrounding circumstances is how I would personally determine the gravity of sin in a given situation.

    In terms of unbelief, we can see that some types of unbelief/nonbelief are pernicious and violently imposed on others (Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot) and some schools of nonbelief lead to free inquiry and mind expansion, which would be positive. I don’t know you personally, and so could not answer the question about whether your nonbelief is expressed morally. In my own life, my nonbelief was expressed in what I feel were immoral ways, in that I hurt other people and caused harm.

    #98– You know Daisy, I understand that military logic and statistics are hard things to get, but I am quite tired of the whole BS about how 3 of the 5 biggest mass murderers where atheist, when that is *solely* based on body counts that can be directly attributed to the efficiency of their military and weapons. Without those, they wouldn’t be any different than any other mass murderer in history.

    Starving people in Gulags had nothing to do with the military. All they had to do was fence them in and stop feeding them, just like at Andersonville. It didn’t take anything fancy. That’s at least half of the body count right there.

    Similarly, much of the Khmer Rouge had already run out of ammunition by the time most of the people starved. Many were simply beaten to death or beheaded. (Citation: National Lawyers Guild presentation on War Crimes of the Khmer Rouge, one of those slide presentations you never forget.)

    The irony being, I rather doubt *anyone*, unless they knew French, would know the difference if you played it in a church in the US, or even before the Senate. In fact, the most likely reaction would be to assume it was religious, call it wonderful, then a few days later, when someone pointed out what the lyrics actually where… lol

    This was the plot of a pretty neat science fiction novel titled THE SPARROW by Maria Doria Russell, which you might enjoy. Beware of Jesuit characters. ;)

    Yet, you opt to keep that association, because you like the box your prayer comes in? Forgive me for finding that quite.. silly.

    Yes, I realize you find me a moron, silly, etc. You proudly “mock and loathe stupid people.” (#108) Point taken. Really, you all don’t have to keep repeating it ad infinitum. I get it.

    All you are left with is, “It feels good!”

    How about: some of us could not live without it, or that some of us would likely have no morals otherwise? Does this matter to you? If being “correct” is the only thing that matters, I guess it won’t.

    #100–Daisy: Hope you enjoyed your shopping, and the rest of the posts. Looking forward to your comments.

    I wasn’t shopping, I was working. I’m very tired, so sorry if my answers lack cohesion.

    #101– Madison, Idaho?
    Actually, now I remember you mentioning Christian Exodus, so I could guess you’re in SC, but I sort of thought they’d only convinced 12 people to move so far.

    I live in the shadow of Bob Jones University, which has lots more than 12 people. And it’s the alumni and faculty that are the real pain in the ass.

    #107 – Pfunk, are you a fan of George Clinton or Rick James or both? :) Thanks for your comment. I really appreciate it and of course, I agree.

    #116 -I meant to be a dick to somebody else.

    I am sorry I offended you so much. That was not my intention.

    If the goal of the majority here, as stated, is to destroy religion and “mythology” (didn’t realize that was on the hitlist, too!), you create an “us vs. them” situation I do not desire in any way, or find at all constructive. Are you agreed that this is the desired goal? Are you all in agreement that scientific and rationality can not co-exist with religious belief?

    Bob replied to my question, but I’ll ask the rest of you: what would be the penalty for publicly-stated belief in “mythology”, in your brave new world of the future? Forced electroshock and drugs? It’s been tried.

    Would you propose to fire a scientist who confessed belief in God? Or would such a person not really be a scientist, in your view? What other occupations would you say are unsuitable for religious believers? Would you make atheism a requirement for certain occupations or for citizenship?

  121. #121 Zeno
    July 14, 2007

    obscurifier: Plus, once you sell all of the relics of one, you need another revenue stream.

    Not to worry! The relics never run out. There are enough sacred splinters of the “true cross” out there to rebuild Noah’s ark according to the specifications in Genesis. The foreskin of Jesus himself (he was dutifully circumcized on the eighth day in accordance with Jewish practice) is enshrined in multiple reliquaries, suggesting either a series of serious mistakes or a remarkably blessed savior.

    Want relics? Snatch up all you like! We’ll make more.

  122. #122 Scholar
    July 14, 2007

    This is the best thing since Tofu. I will take a #6, a #12, and I raise you a #21. Still reading though, don’t feel left out if you did not get selected.

  123. #123 Uber
    July 14, 2007

    we can see that some types of unbelief/nonbelief are pernicious and violently imposed on others (Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot) and some schools of nonbelief lead to free inquiry and mind expansion,

    No, I can’t believe with all the information on the net people still babble this out. Nonbelief is just that, non belief. It has no dogma no ideas in and of itself. It’s equivalent to saying not believing in Santa makes you do bad.

    I don’t know you personally, and so could not answer the question about whether your nonbelief is expressed morally. In my own life, my nonbelief was expressed in what I feel were immoral ways, in that I hurt other people and caused harm.

    Lady, I’ll take you at your word here. It is rather sad that just not believing in superstition made you hurt people and do harm. Are you saying you have not hurt anyone or caused any harm not that you are superstitious? Are all superstitious people like this? No. It has nothing to do with the religious belief nor does your current state. You simply choose to be a better person.

  124. #124 Daisy
    July 14, 2007

    Scholar, I’m sorry, I just had so many people to reply to, I thought that might be an easier way to do it. My apologies for stylistic improprieties. If it’s not cool to reply by numbers, I promise not to do it again.

    As I said, I just got off work, it’s late, kind of fuzzy. :(

  125. #125 Daisy
    July 14, 2007

    No, I can’t believe with all the information on the net people still babble this out. Nonbelief is just that, non belief. It has no dogma no ideas in and of itself. It’s equivalent to saying not believing in Santa makes you do bad.

    Bertrand Russell had lots of ideas, as I recall. I was talking about people like him.

    Lady, I’ll take you at your word here.

    “Lady”????

    It is rather sad that just not believing in superstition made you hurt people and do harm.

    I don’t recall using the word “superstition”–so I did not say that at all.

    Are you saying you have not hurt anyone or caused any harm not that you are superstitious?

    Again, I haven’t used that word. You have, as a judgment against me.

    So, no way to reply, is there?

    Are all superstitious people like this? No. It has nothing to do with the religious belief nor does your current state. You simply choose to be a better person.

    Perhaps I am not as naturally good as you are. Perhaps I need more than you do.

    What do you propose to do with all the weak, stupid, silly people like me? I mean that very seriously.

  126. #126 Uber
    July 14, 2007

    Bertrand Russell had lots of ideas, as I recall. I was talking about people like him

    Then you should also recall they where his ideas and his ideas alone. They where not the dogma of disbelief and you could think another way and still have no belief in Santa.

    No belief is just that- no belief.

    I don’t recall using the word “superstition”–so I did not say that at all.

    Superstition/religion/belief in fairies whatever. If Ihave mistaken you saying you had belief in any of the above for the context of this discussion my apologies.

    Perhaps I am not as naturally good as you are. Perhaps I need more than you do.

    What do you propose to do with all the weak, stupid, silly people like me? I mean that very seriously

    Well at least your honest in the discussion and I respect that as far as it goes. Frankly I think your problem is your assumption. I don’t think your weak or stupid-silly perhaps I think you are human. It is impossible to go through this world and not hurt or be hurt by another. In many ways this isn’t all bad as it helps shape us.

    It seems to me that how a person behaves has more to do with simply understanding how the other person feels if the situation where reversed. Empathy. That along with good parents who provide a moral structure from such a base normally produces pretty good people.

    I know many people rely on superstition in one form or another but really is it necessary? The majority no little about their given religion, it varies from culture to culture and family to family. It is also equally clear bypoll after poll that it doesn’t affect behaviour for the positive in relation to people who lack said belief.

    So to answer your question, I guess I don’t know. It just seems axiomic to me that causing something or someone to suffer is wrong. I don’t think many normal people have a tough time with this idea.

  127. #127 Ichthyic
    July 14, 2007

    The foreskin of Jesus himself (he was dutifully circumcized on the eighth day in accordance with Jewish practice) is enshrined in multiple reliquaries, suggesting either a series of serious mistakes or a remarkably blessed savior.

    naww, he just kept resurrecting it.

    how do you think they paid for all the food and lodging for a group of 13 all the time?

    *snip*

    he would have made a mint making them into keychains these days.

  128. #128 Sternlieber
    July 14, 2007

    As a (lapsed) Hindu, I wish to comment on the entire (thoroughly laughable at least) matter.
    In Hinduism,many prayers don’t refer to any of our
    “pagan” Gods. They refer to a Supreme,formless Deity,the Bramhan(pronounced bruh-mhu-n). So, there’s simply no question of praying to “idols”, or any of our 3.3 million gods.
    Secondly, I think that the prayers were quoted from the Bhagwad Gita, which is a strictly monotheist book.The verses were more about universal goodwill,weren’t they ?
    For PZ Myers :
    Did you know that Hinduism also allows atheists like Charwaka in the religion ?

  129. #129 Ira Fews
    July 14, 2007

    “Matthew 6:5-15 And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth

    Jesus says “I tell you the truth” quite often the New Testament, at least in the NIV. Big fuckin’ deal, I say. He’s not to be trusted; he was wrong about coming back to Earth within his followers’ lifetimes and hewas wrong about being a god, as anyone making such a claim would be. Whether he was lying or deluded is immaterial; he was certainly not telling the truth a fair amount of the time he opened his mouth. Fitting that so many U.S. politicans insist on praying to his erring ass.

  130. #130 Kagehi
    July 14, 2007

    Starving people in Gulags had nothing to do with the military.

    So, starving people outside of Gulags, like religious people are doing in Africa is OK, but not in them? Yeah, yeah. Not the same thing somehow. Meaningless though, since without the weapons and military in the first place, you can’t shove millions of people into camps to kill them. Whether or not they had bullets left by then or not is irrelevant, since at that point any ability or will to resist would have been lost, and those things **wouldn’t** have been lost without the overwhelming force and numbers used to shove people into the Gulags in the first place. Try again.

    As for my hating stupid people. Don’t put words in my mouth. I don’t hate stupid people, I pity them. And the fact that you quote someone else in order to undermine one of **my** statements, just shows how much you deserve that pity. But, by the same token, you can pity someone for their ignorance, their lack of logic, their unwillingness to deal with reality, but in the end, you have to make a choice as to if pitty also means accepting their failures or the danger their viewpoints represent, or you make it quite clear that such viewpoints are counter productive to progress. Note that we talk about, “making things clear”, while the side you think we need to kiss the ass of, usually start with that, then escalate to, “making people see”, then, “putting a stop to wrong ideas”, and finally, “forcing people to shut up”. Sure, you might find some people joking about that, as a reflection of how the other side things, but such escalation from anger to hate and finally violence is abhorent to us. People like you claim it is, yet, its ***always*** the tactic religious people invariably default to once they have gone through all the stages of convincing, arguing, lying, fabricating, condemning, demonizing, etc.

    Don’t blame us for what even left wing religious people sometimes let themselves be dragged into doing for the greater good of God. Oh, and just to be real clear, I wasn’t one of the people condemning Hinduism in its entirety. As I said, but you apparently failed to read, Hinduism in its “purist” form, devoid of western assumptions about the infallibility of its works, the truth of events, etc., all of which it **itself** denies as literal and factual, the only difference between Hinduism and Humanist Secularism is that the later says, “Well, its nice that you acknowledge that Brahman isn’t Brahman, but how then do you know there is a Brahman to not be?” That’s it. That is Hinduism stripped of all the nutty literalism, which Hinduism itself says **cannot** be taken literally, since if the religion is contradicted by reality, reality wins. Christianity says the 180 degrees opposite, so I don’t comprehend how you can possibly, short of failing to read Hindu texts any better than Christians read their Bibles (which is to say, only reading the stuff they want to be true from it), you can equate the two.

    One embraces rationality, on the premise that its not possible for reality to appose faith, without faith being wrong, the other that reality must be wrong, if it contradicts an article of faith. Worse, Hinduism all but declares ***all*** definitions of God, including its own as **automatically** invalid, since nothing can claim to be, appear to be, act like, or otherwise seem to be Brahman, and actually **be** Brahman. All such things would either merely be a aspect of the real thing, if real, or delusions, or both.

    How about: some of us could not live without it, or that some of us would likely have no morals otherwise?

    Then I fear for the safety of those that are like this, and for humanity, if this is all that is keeping them in check. I would also, if I a) thought it would do any good or b) wasn’t itself an immoral act, slap the parents for doing such a piss poor job of teaching those people morals in the first place. Its also a damn stupid excuse. Its like some lunatic arguing that since he kept all his children strapped from birth in wheel chairs, and they never learned to walk, he couldn’t see how not tying any other kids he has in the future to wheel chairs, because obviously teaching them how to roll around on them worked for all the others and not everyone can walk. Umm. Maybe, but what percentage is that? The only people that ***need*** religion for morals are people that are biologically or socially **incapable** of functioning without that control, and I would argue that the number of people that fall into the former category is probably about the same as the number of people that are born without legs or lose them early in life. For anyone else, strapping them to a wheel chair would be “abuse”. For some reason you think that taking millions of kids that are 100% capable of learning morals without the fiction of religion and strapping them to the moral equivalent of a wheel chair **isn’t**? You make me weep at the incomprehensible horror of such a claim. And the only people I pity more than you is the endless line of people that will have to learn this warped idea of where morals come from and how to be good people.

    And, one last point. We are not interested in destroying religion. Fools invent new ones all the time. We would just like to see the level of special favoritism given to them dropped by a few orders of magnitude, so that just because some fool invented it 2,000 years ago and was named something Jewish, doesn’t mean that its somehow any more useful, truthful, accurate, beneficial or less dangerous if the most insane elements are pandered to and gain power, than if it was invented less than a half century ago and the guys name was L. Ron Hubbard. If someone wants to believe that praying to a God will get them some place, then fine. He can even have a special club for it. But what we object to is someone inventing, “The club of how my lucky rabbits foot helps me win at slots”, and 2,000 years later have some idiot in what ever version of the Congress exists then objecting, not because some moron is opening with a prayer to lucky rabbits feet, but because the opening prayer is by the rival cult of, “Not changing my socks *ever* brings me good luck.” I don’t care if you buy some island and open a park dedicated to showing how Brahman is really Jesus, as long as you a) don’t expect me to not laugh my ass off, or b) immediately start telling people who have the wrong faith that they can’t visit, pushing for Chemistry to be replaced with Alchemy, and pressuring church groups to get a bill passed requiring everyone to learn tantric sex, how ever more sane that **might** be than the current idiot sex ed strategy Bush and Co. are fumbling around with, or how little I might personally object to some of it. Stay in your own damn sandbox, instead of claiming that everyone else’s sandboxes, including the beach the boxes where build on, and everything used to make them, even when provably otherwise, all belong to your king of the local sand pile. You kick over our sand castles, you damn well better have a more useful defense than, “Wait! It wasn’t us, it was the guy over there in the corner of our sand pile, we just stood there and watched, so it can’t be *our* fault!”

    Oh, and as others have said. Lack of belief in mythology, gods, etc., says jack about what someone believes otherwise. Just like belief in creationism doesn’t preclude people like Behe and Egnor from having such completely different versions of it that if they where not so busy shooting blanks at us, they would be shooting at each other. In other words, just as non-belief doesn’t say a damn thing about anything else, neither does belief, outside of those ideas that either one defines. I don’t believe in Gods because there isn’t any damn reason to believe in them. I don’t believe in the ability of religion to do a damn thing for anyone because no two people share the same religion, and I have seen just about everyone on the spectrum. The only thing that seems to change is the “number” of loony things they believe in along side it. The problem is, the idea itself is loony, so you can’t go any place but down hill from there, no matter how sane you are otherwise. Some are agnostic but hold onto it because they are hedging bets, or can’t imagine not holding on. Some are basically atheists, but just haven’t given up on the idea that something “might be out there.” Some reject 90% of all of it, but hold to the idea that God is really out there and somehow knows what is going on and directs it. And so on. The farther from, “Maybe”, towards, “Is and does”, a person gets, the more likely they are to be bigots, because religions says they should be, think that certain symbols and ideas and inherently evil, because religion says so, think that certain behaviors are automatically wrong, solely because religion says so, and so on, and so on. The farther they get from uncertainty, to certainty, the less of the real world they see, the less questions they ask about it, the less knowledge they gain from what they do see, and the more inflexible and irrational they get. The more deeply someone ties themselves to any religion the more rigid and brittle their thinking gets. Which is why the worst you see a non-religious intellectual do is protest loudly about someone else’s stupidity. That is the *best* some religious people are capable of, while their worst is going fracking postal, when reality so drastically intrudes on what they thing the world “should” look like that they can’t reconcile the difference without trying to destroy what has offended them.

    When any one of us gets to that stage, then you can start claiming we want to “destroy” religion, rather than just.. neuter or maybe declaw it…

  131. #131 Daisy
    July 14, 2007

    I can take a hint. Shalom and Adios!

  132. #132 JohnnieCanuck, FCD
    July 14, 2007

    Ahh, the secret atheist conspiracy to make religion illegal and eat the baptised babies. Projection is so revealing, or is it just raining hyperbolic straw men all of a sudden?

    History records that some Atheists have committed huge atrocities. To the best of my knowledge, none of them did so because of their Atheism. Correlation is not causation.

    One of the reasons a revolutionary would attack a religion is because of the interwoven mutual support between, e.g. the Czar and the Russian Church. Sometimes revolutionaries supplant only the secular leaders and are satisfied to share power with the same old religion. Other times, in other places, nothing will do but to substitute a new state religion to share with.

    The Communists chose not to share power at all. They saw the wealthy Church as a parasite of the workers, in partnership with the weathy owners, noble and otherwise. No surprise, all they ended up doing was reserving all the power and the wealth (what was left of it) to the Party, not the people.

    It was not a denial of the supernatural that motivated Communists to starve people in the Ukraine or in the gulags. It was a combination of ideology and a power grab with ruthless suppression of any opposition.

    Since when do the middle of the road religionists need the help of Atheists to counter the evil done by evangelicals and fundamentalists? The moderates must outnumber us 10 to 1 in the US, the country of concern here.

    What thanks exactly, would we get if we were to ally ourselves with religious moderates? It would of course be necessary, as allies, to censor ourselves so as to refrain from hurting the feelings of the good guys. I really would be surprised if that were all it took to lose our social pariah status.

    Really all this amounts to is telling uppity atheists that they will get equality sooner if they would only stop rocking the boat.

  133. #133 RamblinDude
    July 14, 2007

    Kagehi: Well spoken.

  134. #134 JohnnieCanuck, FCD
    July 14, 2007

    Leave now and you may not yet be well informed enough to shed your delusions. Lurk awhile and see what you can learn.

  135. #135 RamblinDude
    July 14, 2007

    naww, he just kept resurrecting it.

    LOL!

    Daisy: If the goal of the majority here, as stated, is to destroy religion and “mythology” (didn’t realize that was on the hitlist, too!), you create an “us vs. them” situation I do not desire in any way, or find at all constructive. Are you agreed that this is the desired goal? Are you all in agreement that scientific and rationality can not co-exist with religious belief?

    Lady, mythology taken seriously IS religion. They are one and the same. And as kagehi pointed out, NO, we don’t want to rip religious beliefs out of people’s hands and outlaw them. You can’t kill religion, you can’t legislate imagination and belief in concepts. Religion-mythology has to die of old age, it has to whither from abandonment and neglect. It has to be left behind to starve to death. People must want to give it up or it isn’t going to go away.

    We are trying to point out the absurdity of continuing humanity’s senseless tradition of irrational, uncritical thinking, of make-believe fairy tale preoccupations that interfere with people’s intelligence.

    Phil Plait said, “Uncritical thinking is tearing this world apart.” He’s right, it is.

  136. #136 Bob
    July 14, 2007

    “Religion” is the preposterous superstition of the conquerors.

    “Mythology” is the sacred truths of the conquered.

    Same same.

    PS #116 – I realized my misinterpretation of ambiguity shortly after clicking “post”. D’OH!

    PPS – Stalin was at the least a paranoiac. His insane actions have nothing to do with his hobby of not collecting stamps.

  137. #137 bernarda
    July 14, 2007

    #103 Saurabh, “As a born-and-raised Hindu, I’d just like to say to the dozens of commentators on this page: thanks for demonstrating that atheists, too, are capable of the same five-minute expertise and casual bigotry towards Hindus that the likes of the AFA and other religious zealots demonstrate.

    Why don’t you respond to the points I made in #46? Being born to in a Hindu family is not your fault, but that doesn’t make you a “born” Hindu. If you continue to believe the Hindu superstition, then you become one.

    How do you defend the treatment of Dalits in Hindu mythology and traditions? It is not bigotry to point out that Hinduism is crap. But most Hindus seem to be very bigoted against an arbitrarily defined group.

    from wiki,

    “Traditionally, Dalits were not allowed to let their shadows fall upon a non-Dalit caste member and they were required to sweep the ground where they walk to remove the ‘contamination’ of their footfalls. Dalits were forbidden to worship in temples or draw water from the same wells as caste Hindus, and they usually lived in segregated neighborhoods outside the main village. However, there have been cases of upper caste Hindus warming to the Dalits and Hindu priests, demoted to outcaste ranks, who continued practising the religion.”

    Today,

    “n urban areas and most villages the old concepts of a rigid caste system and untouchability usually no longer exist, though most Indians still voluntarily hold on to their caste origins, which is intended to reflect that their ancestors belonged to their castes with a sense of pride in the duties and responsibilities as required by the caste rules. In matrimonial matters, whether the wed couple is Dalit or non-Dalit, caste identity is a practical near-must. This is, however, ignored by inter-caste couples, who marry ignoring castes but due to an attraction on the basis of education or economic status, of either or both members of the couple.

    While the Indian Constitution has duly made special provisions for the social and economic uplift of the Dalits, comprising the so-called scheduled castes and tribes in order to enable them to achieve upward social mobility, these concessions are limited to only those Dalits who remain Hindu. There is a demand among the Dalits who have converted to other religions that the statutory benefits should be extended to them as well as social relief to “overcome” historical injustices.”

    Funny there is no mention of those who might “deconvert” and become atheists. Here is another example of why religion must be completely separated from government.

    –To Daisy, sorry about the pleonasm “xian morons”.

  138. #138 Anton Mates
    July 14, 2007

    In terms of unbelief, we can see that some types of unbelief/nonbelief are pernicious and violently imposed on others (Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot) and some schools of nonbelief lead to free inquiry and mind expansion, which would be positive.

    “Schools of nonbelief?” That’s like describing most religions as “schools of non-Christianity.”

    Stalinism and Maoism were belief systems. I would call them non-theistic religions, just like Scientology, Raelianism and some forms of Buddhism; they made unverifiable factual statements and morally condemned those who did not agree. (Even the non-theistic part is debatable in the case of Mao; he encouraged a personality cult that basically made him a god on earth, capable of working literal miracles. People confessed their sins to his icons on a daily basis. Contemplating his words would help your crops grow and your patients heal.)

    Their attacks on traditional faiths simply show the typical intolerance of a religion toward its competitors.

  139. #139 David Marjanovi?
    July 14, 2007

    Attack mode is totally the wrong way; the fundie preachers live for it.

    And if nobody were in attack mode, the fundie preachers would simply make it up. They began doing that long ago.

    I also think you’re mistaken about the reason Kerry supposedly lost. J. Kenneth Blackwell, for example, was both the head of the Bush “re”election campaign in Ohio and responsible for the counting of the votes of Ohio. “Counting”? The votes from the different districts were added up in a computer on his desk in his office. Next, we have phenomena like administrators not understanding how new voting machines worked and resetting them after each vote by unknowingly deleting all previous votes… precincts with extremely low turnout, and precincts with about 100 % turnout, some of them even above that… and the exit polls, which are accurate to within 0.1 % everywhere in the world except in carefully selected parts of the USA… No, Kerry’s apparent belief that he should the swiftboat lies like a gentleman clearly did not help, but it was not enough to make him lose.

    But back to your surprisingly anxious question.

    What do you propose to do with all the weak, stupid, silly people like me? I mean that very seriously.

    Have a look around yourself, at the godless cesspool that is most of Europe.

    My freedom ends where yours begins, and vice versa. That’s it. That’s all. I’m perfectly fine with the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution, though, from outside, I find its implementation (like senate chaplains) quite bizarre in some cases.

    So to answer your question, I guess I don’t know. It just seems axiom[at]ic to me that causing something or someone to suffer is wrong. I don’t think many normal people have a tough time with this idea.

    It’s innate. Reciprocal altruism isn’t even limited to humans. It can be selected for, as in… natural selection.

    If you need to think about it consciously, think about your long-term self-interest. :-)

    Even the non-theistic part is debatable in the case of Mao; he encouraged a personality cult that basically made him a god on earth, capable of working literal miracles. People confessed their sins to his icons on a daily basis. Contemplating his words would help your crops grow and your patients heal.

    I was told by my Chinese teacher that the tradition of turning larger-than-life figures into gods continues: some worship Mao in temples, sacrificing oranges and the like. (I suppose Chinese gods are not automatically supposed to be omnibenevolent.)

    I’ve also watched a documentation on “Stalin, the Red God”. It showed, among other things, a Soviet painting where it takes very little imagination to interpret Lenin as the Father, Stalin as the Son, and the sunbeams falling on both as the Spirit.

    On the morbid-humoristic side, we have a book from the early 1990s here, called (in Slovak) the “Bible for communists and party-less”. It takes Bible stories and replaces the protagonists with figures from communist hagiography. Example: Marx the Lord tells Stalin to sacrifice his sons. And Stalin sacrifices and sacrifices and cannot stop sacrificing…

  140. #140 David Marjanovi?
    July 14, 2007

    Attack mode is totally the wrong way; the fundie preachers live for it.

    And if nobody were in attack mode, the fundie preachers would simply make it up. They began doing that long ago.

    I also think you’re mistaken about the reason Kerry supposedly lost. J. Kenneth Blackwell, for example, was both the head of the Bush “re”election campaign in Ohio and responsible for the counting of the votes of Ohio. “Counting”? The votes from the different districts were added up in a computer on his desk in his office. Next, we have phenomena like administrators not understanding how new voting machines worked and resetting them after each vote by unknowingly deleting all previous votes… precincts with extremely low turnout, and precincts with about 100 % turnout, some of them even above that… and the exit polls, which are accurate to within 0.1 % everywhere in the world except in carefully selected parts of the USA… No, Kerry’s apparent belief that he should the swiftboat lies like a gentleman clearly did not help, but it was not enough to make him lose.

    But back to your surprisingly anxious question.

    What do you propose to do with all the weak, stupid, silly people like me? I mean that very seriously.

    Have a look around yourself, at the godless cesspool that is most of Europe.

    My freedom ends where yours begins, and vice versa. That’s it. That’s all. I’m perfectly fine with the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution, though, from outside, I find its implementation (like senate chaplains) quite bizarre in some cases.

    So to answer your question, I guess I don’t know. It just seems axiom[at]ic to me that causing something or someone to suffer is wrong. I don’t think many normal people have a tough time with this idea.

    It’s innate. Reciprocal altruism isn’t even limited to humans. It can be selected for, as in… natural selection.

    If you need to think about it consciously, think about your long-term self-interest. :-)

    Even the non-theistic part is debatable in the case of Mao; he encouraged a personality cult that basically made him a god on earth, capable of working literal miracles. People confessed their sins to his icons on a daily basis. Contemplating his words would help your crops grow and your patients heal.

    I was told by my Chinese teacher that the tradition of turning larger-than-life figures into gods continues: some worship Mao in temples, sacrificing oranges and the like. (I suppose Chinese gods are not automatically supposed to be omnibenevolent.)

    I’ve also watched a documentation on “Stalin, the Red God”. It showed, among other things, a Soviet painting where it takes very little imagination to interpret Lenin as the Father, Stalin as the Son, and the sunbeams falling on both as the Spirit.

    On the morbid-humoristic side, we have a book from the early 1990s here, called (in Slovak) the “Bible for communists and party-less”. It takes Bible stories and replaces the protagonists with figures from communist hagiography. Example: Marx the Lord tells Stalin to sacrifice his sons. And Stalin sacrifices and sacrifices and cannot stop sacrificing…

  141. #141 Vasu Murti
    July 14, 2007

    Having grown up in this country as a member of a religious minority (a practicing Hindu), I believe in a secular society that is neutral towards all forms of religious expression, and I don’t believe the founding fathers intended America to be a “Christian nation.”

    A few years ago, on one of his broadcasts, TV preacher Pat Robertson was quoted as saying, “We want a secular constitution, we want to make sure religious minorities are protected…” But he wasn’t talking about the United States–he was talking about Afghanistan…where Christians are a minority!

    Consider the problem of school prayer:

    In the October 2006 issue of Church & State, the periodical put out by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Gary B. Christenot, an evangelical Christian writes about his experience on the Hawaiian island of Wahiawa, where Christians are a minority “in this little village that was populated predominantly by people of Japanese and Chinese ancestry. Rather than a church on every corner, as is common in the continental 48 states, Wahiawa had a Shinto or Buddhist shrine on every corner.”

    Christenot notes that prayers before a high school football game were led “not by a Protestant minister or a Catholic priest, but a Buddhist priest who proceeded to offer up prayers and intonations to god-head figures that our tradition held to be pagan.”

    He concludes: “I would say in love to my Christian brothers and sisters: Before you yearn for the imposition of prayer and similar rituals in your public schools, you might consider attending a football game at Wahiawa High School. Because unless you’re ready to endure the unwilling exposure of yourself and your children to those beliefs and practices that your own faith forswears, you have no right to insist that others sit in silence and complicity while you do the same to them.

    “I, for one, sleep better at night knowing that because Judeo-Christian prayers are not being offered at my children’s schools, I don’t have to worry about them being confronted with Buddhist, Shinto, Wiccan, Satanic or any other prayer ritual I might find offensive.”

    A Roman Catholic priest, Reverend David K. O’Rourke, said, “Every religious group in the United States is a minority group. Some may be unhappy with this status and wish they had official standing. I am not unhappy with it. The Catholic Church, the largest of these minorities, has prospered greatly in this country where we separate church and state.”

    According to journalist Rob Boston of Americans United for Separation of Church and State: “We have a vibrant, multifaith religious society that, with the exception of a few fundamentalist Muslim states, is admired all over the globe. We have a degree of interfaith harmony unmatched in the world. Our government is legally secular, but our culture accommodates and welcomes a variety of religious voices. New faiths take root here without fear…

    “Americans remain greatly interested in religion and things spiritual–unlike their counterparts in Western Europe, where religion is often state subsidized but of little interest to most people….Children are no longer forced to pray in school or read from religious texts against their will, yet they are free to engage in truly voluntary religious worship whenever they feel the need. The important task of imparting religious and philosophical training to youngsters is left where it always belonged–with each child’s parents or guardians…Some European nations have passed so-called anticult laws aimed at curbing the rights of unpopular new religions. Such laws would not be acceptable in the United States or permitted under the First Amendment.”

    Isaac Kramnick, professor of government at Cornell University writes: “In 1787 when the framers excluded all mention of God from the Constitution, they were widely denounced as immoral and the document was denounced as godless, which is precisely what it is.”

    Opponents of the Constitution challenged ratifying conventions in nearly every state, calling attention to Article VI, Section 3: “No religious test shall be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

    An anti-federalist in North Carolina wrote: “The exclusion of religious tests is by many thought dangerous and impolitic. Pagans, Deists and Mohammedans might obtain office among us.” Amos Singletary of Massachussetts, one of the most outspoken critics of the Constitution, said that he “hoped to see Christians (in power), yet by the Constitution, a papist or an infidel was as eligible as they.”

    Luther Martin, a Maryland delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 wrote that “there were some members so unfashionable as to think that a belief in the existence of a Deity, and of a state of future rewards and punishments would be some security for the good conduct of our rulers, and that in a Christian country, it would be at least decent to hold out some distinction between the professors of Christianity and downright infidelity or paganism.” Martin’s report shows that a “Christian nation” faction had its say during the convention, and that its views were soundly rejected.

    The United States Constitution is a completely secular political document. It begins “We the people,” and contains no mention of “God,” “Jesus,” or “Christianity.” Its only references to religion are exclusionary, such as the “no religious test” clause (Article VI), and “Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” (First Amendment)

    The presidential oath of office, the only oath detailed in the Constitution, does not contain the phrase “so help me God” or any requirement to swear on a Bible (Article II, Section 1). The words “under God” did not appear in the Pledge of Allegiance until 1954, when Congress, under McCarthyism, inserted them. Similarly, “In God we Trust” was absent from paper currency before 1956, though it did appear on some coins since 1864.

    The original U.S. motto, written by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson, is “E Pluribus Unum” (“Of Many, One”) celebrating plurality and diversity. In 1797, America made a treaty with Tripoli, declaring that “the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” This reassurance to Islam was written under Washington’s presidency and approved by the Senate under John Adams.

    We are not governed by the Declaration of Independence. Its purpose was to “dissolve the political bonds,” not to set up a religious nation. Its authority was based upon the idea that “governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” which is contrary to the biblical concept of rule by divine authority. The Declaration deals with laws, taxation, representation, war, immigration, etc., and doesn’t discuss religion at all. The references to “Nature’s God,” “Creator,” and “Divine Providence” in the Declaration do not endorse Christianity. Its author, Thomas Jefferson, was a Deist, opposed to Christianity and the supernatural.

    “Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern, which have come under my observation, none appear to me so pure as that of Jesus,” wrote Thomas Jefferson. However, Jefferson admitted, “In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man and that other parts are the fabric of very inferior minds…” According to Isaac Kramnick, “It was Thomas Jefferson who established the separation of church and state. Jefferson was deeply suspicious of religion and of clergy wielding political power.”

    Jefferson helped create the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1786, incurring the wrath of Christians by his fervent defense of toleration of atheists: “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts as are only injurious to others. But it does no injury for my neighbor to say there are 20 gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

    Jefferson advocated a “wall of separation” between church and state not to protect the church from government intrusion, but to preserve the freedom of the people: “I consider the doctrines of Jesus as delivered by himself to contain the outlines of the sublimest morality that has ever been taught;” he observed, “but I hold in the most profound detestation and execration the corruptions of it which have been invested by priestcraft and established by kingcraft, constituting a conspiracy of church and state against the civil and religious liberties of mankind.”

    Jefferson and the founding fathers were products of the Age of Enlightenment. Their world view was based upon Deism, secularism, and rationalism. “The priests of the different religious sects dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of daylight,” wrote Jefferson. “The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his Father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter…we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away all this scaffolding…”

    As late as 1820, Jefferson was convinced everyone in the United States would die a Unitarian. Jefferson, Madison and Paine’s writings indicate that America was never intended to be a Christian theocracy. “I have sworn upon the altar of God,” wrote Jefferson, “eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

    In his 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists, Jefferson wrote: “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”

    As president, Jefferson put his “wall of separation” theory into practice. He refused to issue proclamations calling for days of prayer and fasting, insisting that they would violate the First Amendment. As early as 1779, Jefferson proposed a bill before the Virginia legislature that would have established a series of elementary schools to teach the basics–reading, writing, and arithmetic. Jefferson even suggested that “no religious reading, instruction, or exercise shall be prescribed or practiced, inconsistent with the tenets of any religious sect or denomination.” Jefferson did not regard public schools as the proper agent to form children’s religious views.

    As president, James Madison also put his separationist philosophy into action. He vetoed two bills he believed would violate church-state separation. The first was an act incorporating the Episcopal Church in the District of Columbia that gave the church the authority to care for the poor. The second was a proposed land grant to a Baptist church in Mississippi. Had Madison, the father of the Constitution, believed that all the First Amendment was intended to do was bar setting up a state church, he would have approved these bills. Instead, he vetoed both, and in his veto messages to Congress explicitly stated that he was rejecting the bills because they violated the First Amendment.

    Later in his life, James Madison came out against state-paid chaplains, writing, “The establishment of the chaplainship to Congress is a palpable violation of equal rights, as well as of Constitutional principles.” He also concluded that his calling for days of prayer and fasting during his presidency had been unconstitutional.

    In an 1819 letter to Robert Walsh, Madison wrote, “the number, the industry and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the state.” In an undated essay called the “Detached Memoranda,” written in the early 1800s, Madison wrote, “Strongly guarded…is the separation between Religion and Government in the Constitution of the United States.”

    In 1833 Madison responded to a letter sent to him by Jasper Adams. Adams had written a pamphlet titled “The Relations of Christianity to Civil Government in the United States,” which tried to prove that the United States was founded as a Christian nation. Madison wrote back, “In the papal system, government and religion are in a manner consolidated, and that is found to be the worst of government.”

    Madison, like Jefferson, was confident that separation of church and state would protect both the institutions of government and religion. Late in his life, Madison wrote to a Lutheran minister about this, declaring, “A due distinction…between what is due to Caesar and what is due to God, best promotes the discharge of both obligations…A mutual independence is found most friendly to practical religion, to social harmony, and to political prosperity.”

    By the early part of the 19th century, a general understanding existed that the government should not promote religion, or favor one religion over another. In 1825, Congress passed legislation requiring post offices to handle mail on Sundays. Many people protested, arguing that this violated the Christian Sabbath. Congress debated the matter for a few years before deciding in 1829 to retain Sunday mail handling. Senator Richard Johnson of Kentucky wrote that the government had no business favoring Sunday as a state-mandated day of rest:

    “It is not the legitimate province of the Legislature to determine what religion is true, or what is false,” Johnson observed. “Our Government is a civil and not a religious institution. Our Constitution recognizes in every person the right to choose his own religion, and to enjoy it freely, without molestation. Whatever may be the religious sentiments of citizens, and however variant, they are alike entitled to protection from the Government, so long as they do not invade the rights of others.”

    America was founded on the premise of religious freedom. This remains one of its greatest strengths.

  142. #142 Daisy
    July 14, 2007

    Leave now and you may not yet be well informed enough to shed your delusions. Lurk awhile and see what you can learn.

    Certainly, I’ll lurk, but have little use for men who repeatedly and condescendingly address me as LADY. This is unnecessary and offensive. Sounds like the same “backward” Christians you guys are putting down. Can’t tell em apart without a scorecard.

    Note: Check your own sexism, if you are so progressive. Thanks.

  143. #143 Kagehi
    July 14, 2007

    You missed the fact that there never **was** a pledge of allegiance until around 1892, when the then president saw it in a magazine ad promoting the inclusion of US flags in schools (by someone that just happened to sell flags..). Soon after the then president pushed to have it included as an official pledge. It was Eisenhower, in 1954, under pressure from the Knights of Columbus, who finally added the “under god” BS to it. Also, in a fun bit of irony, the original ending, up until WWII, included a salute that was 100% identical to the Nazi salute to Hitler. It got changed, really fast. lol

    Otherwise, great post on just what should be remembered, instead of the BS fiction the far right wants to re-write it to look like.

  144. #144 Kagehi
    July 14, 2007

    Sigh.. I am often amazed at how people can be offended by language, especially when the term is used to refer to gender and can only be construed to be negative in the context used ***if*** the reader opts to be offended by it. And really, the level of offense possible in this context is absurd, especially given that on most forums that discuss and defend the other side one is more likely to see things like slut, bitch, etc., expressed with true malice, instead of a mere “lady” used as a sense of annoyance of exasperation at someone not understanding a point being made.

    But fine, if you are so offended by that, then address the person that **actually** did it by name. Stop @#$@#%$@%@ accusing everyone here of doing it. Your acting like some hysterical person that, confronted with someone kicking their dog, accuses the entire family of that person of being a, “dog killer!”, or something. Stop accusing everyone here of what only one person has done. It makes you look like a complete fool.

  145. #145 Howard Dyer
    July 14, 2007

    Every day I read the lies, and spin the liberal god hater use to attack every thing Christians say.

    Have you forgot who founded our government, was it the Koran, or Bible? Sure we have unbeliever from time beginning, some was removed from the living with a flood. But over the centuries we have replace them by birth the god hater are back again. I really don’t care what you believe. But stop knocking the only religion in the world that establish a moral base for good laws. With freedom, and liberty for all. Now you get us set over a Christians freedom of speech and Christians right to disagree.

    I personally don’t believe any other God, or establish religion but Christain gave you the right to worship anyway.

    The unbeliever also signed the Constitution and I know there was disagreement, but real men settled all disagreements and gave us this system that has served us well. Now you want to start destroying all we have worked for and accomplished. Deny it all but that is what you are doing.

  146. #146 RamblinDude
    July 14, 2007

    Vasu Murti: Thanks, very interesting post. I’m going to print it out.

  147. #147 Keith Douglas
    July 14, 2007

    JohnW: Let me know when you find one. Ever single Christian I have ever known no matter how open and modern ignores that, one of the most clear commandments in the Bible.

    Sternlieber: As far as I know, the Carvakas were explicitly disssenters from Hinduism, not merely atheistic. I am not an expert, so would appreciate any pointers about the contrary.

  148. #148 Bob
    July 14, 2007

    Howard D

    Thanks so much! You make me laugh! Whoever told you those things was lying to you. Probably a good “christian”.

    Before the USA was created, there were only two books in the world – the q’ran and the bible? Do you know how generic the myths in that book (called “book”) are? Generic god, called “god”, makes a man, called him “man”? Joe Messiah saves us all? Harrrharrrharrrrr! The thing is so self contradictory it falls flat on its face (if you actually read it – at least it reads better than the book of mor[m]on)

    Where’s a jury from? Nowhere near the middle east. Savior crucified and resurrected? Krishna did it ages before Joe M. Virgin births? History is replete with them, from other gods to kings and heroes. Enjoy your delusions, but don’t expect thinking people to buy into them.

  149. #149 Anton Mates
    July 14, 2007

    Have you forgot who founded our government, was it the Koran, or Bible?

    What did your parents teach you? Our government was founded by humans. Many of whom were Quakers, Unitarians, Deists and other such unsavory types.

  150. #150 Anton Mates
    July 14, 2007

    Bob replied to my question, but I’ll ask the rest of you: what would be the penalty for publicly-stated belief in “mythology”, in your brave new world of the future?

    Publicly-stated criticism of that belief. Also, if said believer was running for office against a nonbeliever with identical qualifications and policies, I’d probably vote for the nonbeliever. Unless the believer was cute.

    Oh, and I don’t care if a scientist confesses belief in gods or alien visitors or fairies, although I reserve the right to make fun of it. But if that belief impacted their actual work and area of supposed expertise–if a medical researcher believed in faith healing, for instance–I would downgrade my estimate of their expertise accordingly, and I would prefer tenure committees to do the same.

    That’s about it. Honestly, when you come to us asking if we want to stone you for your beliefs, it suggests that you really don’t understand our psychology very well, which makes me also doubt your insights into the minds of religious conservatives.

  151. #151 Kagehi
    July 14, 2007

    Of course, the real joke of Howard D’s rant is that a few posts prior someone posted ***real*** non-delusional facts that 100% contradicted the BS assertion he then made… Probably has a big list of misinformation, fabricated quotes and distorted history, found only *solely* right wing websites and some books written by actual historical revisionists ready for use in debunking all those provable quotes, actual historical facts, known (and verifiable) documents and real statements too. lol

  152. #152 Tom Shannon
    July 15, 2007

    This is my first post, so forgive me if I get straight to the point….

    If this were an “Islamic Cleric” would the same christian demagoguery that I’ve witnessed from this blog apply?

    Moreover, what do you consider extremism. Were these three Christians extreme (or as websters define’s it, “Fanatical)or are they just passionate in their love of Jesus Christ and expressing it freely in accordance with their first amendment rights? I applaud them!

    If someone would like to discuss extremism, then you need look no further than what’s happening around the world as we speak. Religious extremism does exist, but again, what is your definition of extremism.

    Christians expressing their love of “Jesus Christ” and providing an open forum to do so. Anyone can take part! Or, suicide bombings, car bombings, intolerance, jihad, honor killings, religious fascism, etc….

    Peace be with you!

    Tom Shannon

  153. #153 Gobind
    July 15, 2007

    Calling Hinduism “crap” is a form of bigotry, plain and simple. You don’t have to follow or like the religion, but common courtesy should be given to it. There’s no place for that kind of hateful speech in today’s world.

  154. #154 RamblinDude
    July 15, 2007

    or are they just passionate in their love of Jesus Christ and expressing it freely in accordance with their first amendment rights? I applaud them!

    These people were not expressing their love of Jesus Christ, they were expressing their hate of “Heathens”.

    You really don’t get that?

  155. #155 Gobind
    July 15, 2007

    [quote]How do you defend the treatment of Dalits in Hindu mythology and traditions? It is not bigotry to point out that Hinduism is crap. But most Hindus seem to be very bigoted against an arbitrarily defined group. [/quote]

    Dalits have been treated bad in history, no one is denying that. However Dalits have also been treated well too, and have often risen from their low status to achieve prosperity numerous times throughout history and within traditions and mythology. “Hindus” have not mistreated dalits, “Indians” have not msitreated dalits, but “people” have mistreated dalits. Caste is a social institution, which goes beyond religion within South Asia. Lower castes belong to Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism, etc.

    Perhaps the best example is Sage Valmiki (the writer of the Indian Epic the ‘Ramayan’). He was a lower caste man who eventually rose to such a high position that every high caste Indian bowed before him.

    Treatment of dalits has also varied from lcation to location as well as from kingdom to kingdom. Some of the most active organizations helping Dalits in South Asia today are HINDU organizations.

    South Asia’s history is much more complex than westerners tend to believe.

  156. #156 Ian Gould
    July 15, 2007

    David: “Parliament sessions are never opened with a prayer anywhere else in the First World, AFAIK.”

    The last time I checked, Australia and Great Britain were generally considered part of the First World.

  157. #157 RamblinDude
    July 15, 2007

    South Asia’s history is much more complex than westerners tend to believe.

    Oh, but it’s so much easier to not care what their history is and simply dismiss them all as unsaved heathens.

  158. #158 RamblinDude
    July 15, 2007

    While the subject is on India, I have to mention that one of the people who helped me to get my head on straight and see the whole of religious thought for what it is, was Jiddu Krishnamuti.

    To this day, he is still one the few people who really makes sense to me.

  159. #159 Earl
    July 15, 2007

    Do any of you know to what god/gods this Hindu was praying to?? You crap all over these christians who took a stand basically defending the first and second commandments about not having any other gods before you and not bowing down and worshipping them. It is serious stuff. I was involved in a Hindu cult(TM) for 8 years, Some of those Hindu gods that are being called upon are listed in the Satanic Bible. (Yes I checked)Go ahead and follow the Hindu, and perhaps if you are lucky, you might be reincarnated as a dung beetle because you believe any and every line of BS that comes along.

  160. #160 gary
    July 15, 2007

    I feel that everyone makes their own choices in life. To belive the way they want, or not at all. I owe everyone the respect of their own beliefs. But at the same time I do not have to participate in a religion that I do not agree with.
    As to some who do not belive at all do not wory about hurting my feelings you are mocking Jesus He is much bigger than I am.
    My question is. In America are we going to have a war between
    the left and right. It makes me very sad I had no idea there
    were so many haters of the kind of America I remember as a kid inperfect as we were with a long way to go. God,Family,Honor,Country

  161. #161 pvteyes
    July 15, 2007

    To the author of this story:

    Hey dumb*ss, how do you know that those people disrupting the “prayer” weren’t atheists, disguising themselves as Christians? You’re obviously not a Christian, or you wouldn’t be wasting your time writing about this worthless nonsense.

    If I saw you in public, I’d want to bi*chslap your a**, but fear not, I don’t belive in hitting women. Now, crawl back under that rock you came out from under, or get some therapy because your mother obviously didn’t love you enough, or your father (if anyone has claimed that title) may have loved you a little too much, if you get my drift, you pea-brained liberal lunatic.

  162. #162 Rey Fox
    July 15, 2007

    “Moreover, what do you consider extremism. Were these three Christians extreme (or as websters define’s it, “Fanatical)or are they just passionate in their love of Jesus Christ and expressing it freely in accordance with their first amendment rights? I applaud them!”

    So you really see nothing wrong with a bunch of bigots interrupting an official government ceremony? You see nothing wrong with Christians interrupting anything with loud religious rhetoric designed to interrupt? Would you see nothing wrong with a gang of Hindus shouting lines from the Bhagavad Gita into your church during mass? Do you really think things through before you write them?

    To answer your first question…well, I can’t quite tell what your question is from the way you worded it, but: If the guest chaplain was a Muslim, then yes, the interruption by the activists would be just as inappropriate. If the activists were Muslim, then yes, we would condemn their actions as being inappropriate. It doesn’t matter what tribe is in what position in these events. To answer your second question: yes, they are extremists in that they’re trying to disrupt the free expression of religion, which, if I recall correctly, is one of the most beloved principles of our Constitution.

    I can tell you’re prejudiced against Muslims, but you don’t need to project that onto us and assume that we’re just prejudiced against Christians. We’re only bothered by the ones who make nuisances of themselves. Do yourself a favor and read Comment #1 on this thread. It has a nice Bible verse.

  163. #163 Rey Fox
    July 15, 2007

    *reads comment #159

    What the…OH, I get it! You’re ALSO an atheist disguised as a Christian trying to make Christians look bad! Ha, good one! You ALMOST got me!

  164. #164 Ian Gould
    July 15, 2007

    “Plus, once you sell all of the relics of one, you need another revenue stream.”

    Not necessarily.

    “How is it that there are 17 disciples buried in Germany alone when Christ chose but 12?” – Martin Luther.

  165. #165 Michael Wells
    July 15, 2007

    Gobind: “Calling Hinduism ‘crap’ is a form of bigotry, plain and simple.”

    Oh, horsepuckey, plain and simple. Passing judgment on the intellectual merits of a set of beliefs or assertions isn’t bigotry. I and many of the commenters here are familiar with at least the basics of Hinduism, and they’re crap as much as the basics of any other systematized superstitious traditions. It might be rude to say it in so many words, which is why I usually don’t, but it certainly isn’t bigotry. Especially since I (as well I would suppose others on this board who see things my way) don’t single out Hinduism for any special animus, but am a more or less equal opportunity scorner of all religions.

    Gobind: “You don’t have to follow or like the religion, but common courtesy should be given to it.”

    First off, you can give common courtesy to people, and should, all other things being equal. How can you be courteous or discourteous to a religion? Leaving that aside for the moment, why should common courtesy be given to this religion, or any other? Are we also supposed to be polite and non-offensive towards creationism, UFO conspiracy beliefs, or flat earthism or any other unsupported or unscientific claims?

    While I have a great deal of respect for the cultural and artistic achievements of Hindu cultures, as for those of so many other cultures, I see no reason I am obliged to treat the specific claims of their religions with any particular respect.

    Gobind: “There’s no place for that kind of hateful speech in today’s world.”

    Stomping your foot and saying, “You’re not allowed to say that!”, is so much easier than providing an actual argument, isn’t it? And your post about “dalits” certainly doesn’t accomplish that. It reminds me of people who crow about Christianity’s role in the slavery abolition movement in the U.S., as if that changes the fact that far, far more Christians upheld and justified slavery than criticized it or worked against it. So there are exceptions (even some quite interesting ones, which I didn’t know about, and thank you for that.) There are always exceptions. So what?

  166. #166 RamblinDude
    July 15, 2007

    I was involved in a Hindu cult(TM) for 8 years,

    Now you’re involved in the Christian cult, and I suspect you are just as much of a fanatic and nothing has changed.

  167. #167 jon
    July 15, 2007

    People seem confused about the constitution… it affords free speech to ALL, hindus, christians, atheists etc… It only assures that the state shall not dictate doctrine or law to the church, and the church or religion shall not dictate law to the state, of which neither is going on here, a simple prayer is nothing more than asking a blessing from a celestial being they believe in. Perhaps, instead of focusing so much on whether people can pray or not we should examine why our state cannot improve the quality of our educational system by allowing them to teach your and my different beliefs on evolution, creation and sprituality as theories that enable people to form a belief system (not referring to a religion here)of their own original thoughts so as to propose tolerance for a hindu prayer, or a muslim prayer, a christian prayer, or an atheists disagreement with all prayer. Perhaps an open mind by these christians, matched with an open mind by you my dear atheist would allow us to get to the real issues of this countries current debacle and aid the country in restoring the true intent of our founding fathers… a free country formed of individualists where the good of each citizen has nothing to do with the greater good of all, and therefore not affected by a meaningless prayer that helps another individual…

  168. #168 Ian Gould
    July 15, 2007

    Daisy,

    For what it’s worth, I’m an atheist lefty who agrees with you on the need for tolerance and mutual respect.

    I find doctrinaire atheism as distasteful as doctrinaire theism.

  169. #169 RamblinDude
    July 15, 2007

    Jon: You’re drunk aren’t you?

  170. #170 Michael Wells
    July 15, 2007

    Oh, look – while I was writing my last comment, some representatives of the religion of love and peace arrived. So nice! Welcome, welcome…

  171. #171 Ian Gould
    July 15, 2007

    “Hey dumb*ss, how do you know that those people disrupting the “prayer” weren’t atheists, disguising themselves as Christians? You’re obviously not a Christian, or you wouldn’t be wasting your time writing about this worthless nonsense.”

    You know the theory that Project Rescue is actually an atheist hoax to make Christians look bad has a great deal to recommend it.

    I think this theory should be spread as widely as possible, especially amongst ProjectRescue’s financial supporters.

  172. #172 Uber
    July 15, 2007

    To Daisy:

    but have little use for men who repeatedly and condescendingly address me as LADY. This is unnecessary and offensive

    I find this rather sad. If you took offense to addressing you as lady I apologize. I often address men as sir. Here in the south this is not uncommon. It was not meant to be sexist nor offensive just abrupt.

    Please do not think all language on a discussion board is meant in a derogatory fashion and as i read I was the only one to do so and I just apologized if you took offense.

    I find doctrinaire atheism as distasteful as doctrinaire theism

    What exactly is doctrinaire atheism? Howcannotbelieving something have doctrines?

    I think the sameguy posted 3 comments above under three different names. Look at the times. A little sock puppetry here.

  173. #173 jon
    July 15, 2007

    No I am not drunk, and I don’t really feel it necessary to remove all evidence of my intelligence by profanity, especially taking the time to write it out. Sounds like you guys don’t really have issue with religion but with yourselves… I am not religious, nor care about those who are or aren’t I assumed this was an intelligent conversation about how ridiculous these protestant outbursts were… You collective kool aid drinkers keep on typing so we know you are out there okay?

  174. #174 RamblinDude
    July 15, 2007

    I think this theory should be spread as widely as possible, especially amongst ProjectRescue’s financial supporters.

    Good plan. Drat, too bad us godless atheists are fundamentally opposed to spreading lies.

  175. #175 DSM
    July 15, 2007

    I really, really hope time travel never is invented. I would hate to see so many people travel back to the late 1700s in the U.S. only to have their heads explode.

  176. #176 RamblinDude
    July 15, 2007

    Perhaps, instead of focusing so much on whether people can pray or not we should examine why our state cannot improve the quality of our educational system by allowing them to teach your and my different beliefs on evolution, creation and sprituality as theories that enable people to form a belief system

    Maybe I misread this. You’re talking about teaching the proccess behind belief systems, right? If so, I apologize. But your last sentence also threw me…

    a free country formed of individualists where the good of each citizen has nothing to do with the greater good of all…

    Why on earth would happy individuals not bring about good for all?

  177. #177 bernarda
    July 15, 2007

    Earl, I haven’t been crapping on the three xians, but on the social structure and superstition of Hinduism. Look up my posts. But in the end it is probably the same thing.

    Michael Wells sums up the response to Gobind rather well. Yes, the apologetics for the treatment of Dalits is not very convincing.

    “Inequalities among castes are considered by the Hindu faithful to be part of the divinely ordained natural order and are expressed in terms of purity and pollution. Within a village, relative rank is most graphically expressed at a wedding or death feast, when all residents of the village are invited. At the home of a high-ranking caste member, food is prepared by a member of a caste from whom all can accept cooked food (usually by a Brahman). Diners are seated in lines; members of a single caste sit next to each other in a row, and members of other castes sit in perpendicular or parallel rows at some distance. Members of Dalit castes, such as Leatherworkers and Sweepers, may be seated far from the other diners–even out in an alley. Farther away, at the edge of the feeding area, a Sweeper may wait with a large basket to receive discarded leavings tossed in by other diners. Eating food contaminated by contact with the saliva of others not of the same family is considered far too polluting to be practiced by members of any other castes. Generally, feasts and ceremonies given by Dalits are not attended by higher-ranking castes.”

    http://www.indianchild.com/caste_system_india.htm

    “Activities such as farming or trading can be carried out by anyone, but usually only members of the appropriate castes act as priests, barbers, potters, weavers, and other skilled artisans, whose occupational skills are handed down in families from one generation to another. As with other key features of Indian social structure, occupational specialization is believed to be in accord with the divinely ordained order of the universe.

    The existence of rigid ranking is supernaturally validated through the idea of rebirth according to a person’s karma, the sum of an individual’s deeds in this life and in past lives. After death, a person’s life is judged by divine forces, and rebirth is assigned in a high or a low place, depending upon what is deserved. This supernatural sanction can never be neglected, because it brings a person to his or her position in the caste hierarchy, relevant to every transaction involving food or drink, speaking, or touching.”

    Then there is the case of widows of any age being cast out by their families and left to fend for themselves. They are not allowed to re-marry and could starve to death for all that the families care.

  178. #178 raven
    July 15, 2007

    Earl:You crap all over these christians who took a stand basically defending the first and second commandments about not having any other gods before you and not bowing down and worshipping them.

    The US constitution mandates separation of church and state and religous freedom. It is entirely legal for anyone to belong to any religion. From your comments that seems to be a problem. So what now. A holy war to kill all the pagans? BTW, listening to someone from another religion praying is not having other gods before you.

    of those Hindu gods that are being called upon are listed in the Satanic Bible.

    The Satanic Bible was written by Anton Szandor LaVey in 1969. It is a collection of essays, observations and basic Satanic rituals, and outlines LaVey’s Satanic ideology. The author claims the influence of Machiavelli, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ragnar Redbeard and Ayn Rand among others.

    Never heard of the Satanic bible. It was written in 1969. So what? Any kook or crazy can write any old crap. Doesn’t mean anything. Let me clue you in. Not everything written on the web or elsewhere is necessarily true or worth taking seriously. Look dude, superman doesn’t exist, star wars didn’t happen, star trek was just a TV series.Just because someone (Szandor) writes something doesn’t make it true.

    Earl:Go ahead and follow the Hindu, and perhaps if you are lucky,

    Since when does listening to a Hindu say a prayer make you automatically a follower of Hinduism? It doesn’t. I think you have to renounce your own religion first and convert to another.

    Earl:It is serious stuff. I was involved in a Hindu cult(TM) for 8 years,

    Got a thing for cults, have you. Went from TM to fundie Xian cultism. You could do worse, the people that joined the Heaven’s Gate cult are all dead.

    So let’s see Earl. You are irrational, confused, angry, gullible, hostile to minorities, and switching from cult to cult. Offhand, some people would call that a profile of a troubled individual but I think I will just call it the way it is, bughouse crazy. But thanks for playing.

  179. #179 Kseniya
    July 15, 2007

    [begs] If Daisy comes back, with the batshit-crazy idiofreaks go away?

  180. #180 Meghan Heasley
    July 15, 2007

    The problem is not intolerance, but the fact that apparently only certain religions are allowed to pray in the Senate (Hindus apparently). If you’re not going to allow everyone, it’s called discrimination if don’t allow everyone. THAT is the problem.

  181. #181 raven
    July 15, 2007

    OT sort of. IMO, the Hindu caste system is silly medieval social system stuff and they should get rid of it.

    In fact, most educated Indians I’ve met in this country think the same thing and if I recall correctly there is a serious movement in India to abolish it.

    There has been for generations a diaspora of Indians everywhere, US, caribbean, pacific, ME, South America. Most likely due to overcrowding and living standards. I’ve asked ones I’ve met over the year what their caste was just out of curiosity. They always say they don’t really have that in Guiana or Fiji or Trinidad. As far as I can tell, the first thing they do when they emigrate is drop the whole thing.

  182. #182 raven
    July 15, 2007

    Earl, that fine upstanding Xian cultist lied.

    Earl:Some of those Hindu gods that are being called upon are listed in the Satanic Bible. (Yes I checked)

    The Satanic bible claims that no gods exist. So if the Hindu gods are listed, so are the christian ones.

    Wanted! – God – Dead or Alive Wikipedia

    Follows up on the concept of “I am my own god” with a full explanation of the Satanic egocentric view of the world. This short essay states that as all gods are of human creation, worshipping an external god is to worship another human by proxy; therefore, the sensible, Satanic approach is to create your own god, namely yourself, and to “worship” this god. The result, of course, is to view oneself as the most important of all beings, and to adopt an unapologetically self-centered view of the world and course of action.

    Hmmm, the Satanic church is atheistic and claims no gods exist. That means if they listed any or all gods or satan himself that they don’t believe in any of them. So this proves that some guy I never heard of believes the Hindu gods are satanic. But according to them satan doesn’t exist much less any or all god(s).

    This is hopelessly muddled contradictory nonsense. Earl, try to find another cult with more going for it. And start taking your medication again.

  183. #183 Confused
    July 15, 2007

    after reading the first… i don’t know, 20 posts, i’m a bit confused, so let me get this straight-

    You’re mad at christians for “not being tolerant” of the Hindu religion, and in order to demonstrate how outraged you are, you turn around and “put down” christianity… effectively contradicting yourself and your own beliefs.

    On this matter, i have just a few things to say-

    1- If you don’t believe in a God or gods, and don’t believe in the existence of an afterlife, then you shouldn’t be angry at religions “spreading lies” because ultimately, it would all be futile.
    2- If you expect another religion to be tolerant of your own beliefs, you should be tolerant of their’s first. Calling a religion a “cult” or “lies” isn’t exactly being tolerant. Treat others as you would have them treat you.
    3- Another thing… who do you refer to christians as “xtians”? I don’t see people refer to buddha as bu-duh. It’s just a little annoying to me that you won’t even name the religion properly, yet you have no qualms about lambasting it openly. If you’re going to insult something, do it properly.
    4- None of these posts, not even mine, will ultimately matter. You will not convince other people to think or believe the same things you do. So take that into consideration.

  184. #184 Ian Gould
    July 15, 2007

    “What exactly is doctrinaire atheism? Howcannotbelieving something have doctrines?”

    I think the probability of a God existing is vanishingly small however I recognise that I could be mistaken and that much wiser and more intelligent people than myself have come to different conclusions.

    Consequently, I don’t go around sneering at theists and comparing their beliefs to Superman and the Tooth Fairy.

    That’s what I think of as a non-doctrinaire form of atheist. (Of course, others might dismiss it as a form of agnosticism.)

    Some atheists like to point to the evils (real and imagined) done in the name of religion, some theists like to point to the evils (real and imagined) done in the name of atheism.

    I prefer simply to note that in both cases, the perpetrators were absolutely certain of their own wisdom and righteousness.

  185. #185 Ian Gould
    July 15, 2007

    “The problem is not intolerance, but the fact that apparently only certain religions are allowed to pray in the Senate (Hindus apparently). If you’re not going to allow everyone, it’s called discrimination if don’t allow everyone. THAT is the problem.”

    Megan, for the past two hundred plus years, every session of the US Senate has been opened by prayers. The overwhelming majority of those prayers have been conducted by Christians with the remainder being almost exclusively Jewish. Only on a handful (literally) of occasions have other religions been allowed to offer prayers.

  186. #186 raven
    July 15, 2007

    CD1- If you don’t believe in a God or gods, and don’t believe in the existence of an afterlife, then you shouldn’t be angry at religions “spreading lies” because ultimately, it would all be futile.

    No one would give a hoot about what Xians fundie cultists believe or do. Except they are trying to force their cult on us by overthrowing the US government, setting up a theocracy, and heading back to the dark ages. It is all in the writings of Robertson, Falwell, the Wedge document, Dobson, etc.. They never deny it, they say it often and loud. In the meantime they are trying to force their mythology on our children in school science classes and occasionally killing people they disagree with.

    CD- If you expect another religion to be tolerant of your own beliefs, you should be tolerant of their’s first. Calling a religion a “cult” or “lies” isn’t exactly being tolerant. Treat others as you would have them treat you.

    The majority of Xians are not fundie cultists. Worldwide we are looking at ignorant fascists in the South Central USA. The fundies lie constantly. The earth is 6,000 years old, dinosaurs still exist somewhere, Darwin didn’t believe his own theory, Hitler was an atheists (False, he was a staunch Catholic and said so often), and on into infinity. No one would care. Except they want to force lies on the rest of us.

    CD.3- Another thing… who do you refer to christians as “xtians”? I don’t see people refer to buddha as bu-duh. It’s just a little annoying to me that you won’t even name the religion properly, yet you have no qualms about lambasting it openly. If you’re going to insult something, do it properly.

    It saves time typing a common and long word over and over. Xians quite often use it themselves. Deal with it.

    4- None of these posts, not even mine, will ultimately matter. You will not convince other people to think or believe the same things you do. So take that into consideration.

    True. Some of the people on this thread are Xians BTW. You don’t have to be stupid, ignorant, and a fascistic liar to be a xian. I could care less what nonsense you believe or lies you spread. Free country so far.

    We do care about cults trying to destroy our society. The topic of this thread was about xians cultists insulting another religion and trying to prevent a hindu from praying and the cultists that showed up even lied about it as usual.**

    The USA has always stood for separation of church and state, and religious freedom. In places where that doesn’t exist, horrific violence is the usual result. Ever heard of Sunnis, Shiites, Iraq? The citizens of the USA have the right and responsibility to defend themselves from xian extremists.

    **An example was Earl the muddled using a made up book written in 1969 by a popular musician for a few extra bucks that claims the supernatural doesn’t exist, as an authority that Hindu gods are satanic. He would have been better off quoting Billy Joe down at the truck stop.

  187. #187 RamblinDude
    July 15, 2007

    Yeah, what Raven said.

  188. #188 David Marjanovi?
    July 15, 2007

    David: “Parliament sessions are never opened with a prayer anywhere else in the First World, AFAIK.”

    The last time I checked, Australia and Great Britain were generally considered part of the First World.

    OK, that makes two, and see a few comments above yours.

  189. #189 David Marjanovi?
    July 15, 2007

    David: “Parliament sessions are never opened with a prayer anywhere else in the First World, AFAIK.”

    The last time I checked, Australia and Great Britain were generally considered part of the First World.

    OK, that makes two, and see a few comments above yours.

  190. #190 Tom
    July 15, 2007

    Rey Fox: Post#160

    >You can tell that I’m prejudiced towards “Muslims”< How is that possible? Because if you read through that part of my post carefully, there's no way you could of come to that realization. How presumptuous of you!

    Again, and it's obvious from these posts, and yours, that extremism is interpreted differently. I was simply trying to convey the overwhelming distinction between Christian extremism and Islamic extremism. So if you still think that I'm prejudiced toward Muslims, well, then I guess there's nothing I could say to change your mind.

    >A bunch of bigots interrupting an official ceremony<

    I do not see the similarity between a church mass and a governmental official ceremony. Again, it’s the US Senate v Church mass. It’s inappropriate for the US Senate to open with anything other than Judea/Christian text. And that’s what they were protesting! Now Hindus chanting in a Christian mass is ridiculous. It would never happen! What’s the point? If you want to enact change, what better place than the US Senate. What point are the chanting Hindus trying to make?

    Do you always think things through so clearly before you Post?

    And remember, “those who believe in nothing, will believe in anything”

    Peace be with you!

    Tom

  191. #191 raven
    July 15, 2007

    Tom:

    It’s inappropriate for the US Senate to open with anything other than Judea/Christian text.

    Absolutely false. A lie. The USA has two constitutional guiding principles regarding religion, the First Amendment.

    1. Separation of church and state.

    2. Freedom of religion.

    People in the USA can believe any old stuff they want to. In fact, many people including Xians such as the pilgrims and puritans immigrated here for freedom from persecution of one sort or another.

    Letting one group pray while discriminating against another group is contrary to the constitution, US law, and our core values. Ever here of the civil rights laws? It is illegal to discriminate in many areas of life against people on the basis of creed (religion), race, sex, age, handicaps, etc..

    If you are a xian and think that that should be the only religion in the USA, you are 200 years behind the time. This is why many or most Americans despise fundie cultists. You don’t want freedom, you want a theocratic dictatorship of a minority offshoot of the mainstream xian religion. All that is standing in the way are quite a few of the 300 million citizens, the US armed forces, and the constitution. Life’s a bitch sometimes.

  192. #192 bPer
    July 15, 2007

    David Marjanovi? @#186:

    Make that three. I had to check, but here in Canada, the daily sessions of the House of Parliament open with a prayer too. I didn’t check on what happens in the Senate, but I have no reason to think that it would be different.

  193. #193 RamblinDude
    July 15, 2007

    Tom: >blockquote>”those who believe in nothing, will believe in anything”

    I am an atheist and I do not believe in “nothing”. I believe I am alive and I exist in a vast and mysterious universe, and there is a world around me, and within me, to explore. I believe that many of my fellow primates believe in invisible supernatural creatures and want to make other people believe in them also. I don’t.

    Your definition of “believe in nothing” is senseless and deceitful. Equating lack of belief in superstitious nonsense with gullibility is the irony that I have come to expect from the delusional.

  194. #194 Uber
    July 15, 2007

    those who believe in nothing, will believe in anything

    What a pig ignorant statement this is. So if one fails to embrace superstition they will buy any old trash? Nope. Plenty of things to believe in that don’t include superstitions.

    I think the probability of a God existing is vanishingly small however I recognise that I could be mistaken and that much wiser and more intelligent people than myself have come to different conclusions.

    It doesn’t appear to have much to do with intelligence at all. Shermer showed this well in his book about this very subject. Smart people just defend things they arrived at for non smart reasons better.

    Consequently, I don’t go around sneering at theists and comparing their beliefs to Superman and the Tooth Fairy.

    But the difference is essentially zero. Likewise for all the myriad of religions in the world. So why do you give some silly unfounded thought privelege not granted to other equally irrational ideas?

  195. #195 Rey Fox
    July 15, 2007

    “How is that possible? Because if you read through that part of my post carefully, there’s no way you could of come to that realization. How presumptuous of you!”

    I think it was the automatic use of an Islamic cleric as a counterexample. Hatred towards Muslims is pretty damned widespread among the people in this country who think the USA is a “Christian Nation”. Perhaps a rush to judgement on my part, but I notice that you’re not denying it.

    “It’s inappropriate for the US Senate to open with anything other than Judea/Christian text.”

    As stated in comments 188 and 191, this is bullshit. I mean, really, tell me why the Senate should open with any religious text. Aren’t they there to govern? Keep the officially led prayer in church where it belongs.

    “Now Hindus chanting in a Christian mass is ridiculous. It would never happen!”

    It was a hypothetical example. A thought exercise. Obviously, trying to make you think is futile.

    But you would find it inappropriate, would you not? How about if Hindu activists disrupted a Christian prayer in the Senate? They’re just trying to effect change, right? So how would it be any different than this situation? The shoe would just be on the other foot. It’s about that whole “treat others as you would wish to be treated” thing. I think it might even be in the Bible somewhere.

  196. #196 N=1
    July 15, 2007

    Are the classic virtues universally accepted within all large membership religions and by atheists and agnostics? Remember these: generosity, compassion, gentleness, humility, politeness, fidelity, prudence, temperance, courage, justice, mercy, gratitude, simplicity, tolerance, purity, good faith, humor and love? Not being a Constitutional scholar or historian, it has always struck me that these were the underlying “values” that the Founders were weaving throughout the governmental aims, structures and processes. The classic virtues seem to be more congruent with the Founders’ intentions than does any particular religious dogma or ideology. (And as far as I can tell, the classic virtues form most of the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament as they relate to social justice and the citizen’s role in society and government).

  197. #197 Chris
    July 15, 2007

    It’s inappropriate for the US Senate to open with anything other than Judea/Christian text.

    It’s inappropriate for the US Senate to open with *any* religious text.

    If they opened with a reading of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, I’d be just fine with that regardless of whether it was a Christian, a Hindu or an atheist doing the reading.

    It’s just the hypocrisy of the people who say Christian text is ok, but any other religion is off limits that is the point of this thread.

    those who believe in nothing, will believe in anything

    Maybe (although I’d like to see evidence). That’s why I believe in reason, evidence and critical thinking. Then I only believe in things that are consistent with reason, evidence and critical thinking. Works pretty well so far.

    On the other hand, those who believe in one belief unsupported (or contradicted) by evidence will often believe in others. That’s why astrologers, faith healers, psychics and other con artists target the faithful – they know it’s a synonym for “gullible”.

  198. #198 Ian Gould
    July 15, 2007

    “If this were an “Islamic Cleric” would the same christian demagoguery that I’ve witnessed from this blog apply?

    Moreover, what do you consider extremism. Were these three Christians extreme (or as websters define’s it, “Fanatical)or are they just passionate in their love of Jesus Christ and expressing it freely in accordance with their first amendment rights? I applaud them!”

    1. If three Muslism had disrupted the Senate in this fashion, if they were lucky enough not to be shot on the spot bny the capitol police, they would currently be in Gitmo.

    2. Yes, there’s plenty of religious exteemism aroudn the world. for example, we have Orthodox Russian far-rightr extremists murdering Chechens and other religious and racial minorities on the streets of Moscow; we have Orthodox priests in Bosnia continuing to harbor Serb war criminals; we have several hundred Catrholic clerics in Rwanda awaiting trial for their complicity in the Rwandan genocide (which they explicitly justified at the tiem and subsequently on religious grounds); we have the recent mass demonstrations in Indonesia in support of five convicted Christian extremists who murdered Muslims.

    Oh wait, you mean the OTHER relgious extermism – the type committed by good mainstrream Musliosm obeying the tenets of their faith as opposed to that committed by bad Christians ignoring the noble teachings of the one true faith.

  199. #199 Gobind
    July 15, 2007

    As I have said earlier, the caste system goes beyond Hinduism. It is a social function that is found amongst South Asians of all religions. To add to that, its precepts were originally stated within the Manu Smurti which is not (and has never been) a religious text.

    Therefore I find it highly unreasonable for anyone to place the blame of caste solely upon Hinduism while conveniently ignoring its position within South Asian society as a whole. The solution to caste is not found within changing (or dropping) religion but rather within changing society and the minds of people as a whole. The Indian Government took the first step within 1947 by officially banning caste discrimination from any public location/institution/etc. All caste related discrimination that occurs today is done squarely by private citizens in private matters. That’s not to say one should dismiss it, but to claim that the caste system has some form of offical backing is ignorant at best.

    No one (and certainly not me) is looking to dismiss caste’s negative effects on people. However I am able to see the problem as what it is, and that is a society wide problem and not a religous one.

    Like I’ve said before, its certainly easy for non-South Asians to read five or six lines on Hinduism/South Asia/etc. and claim to be familair with it, but the fact of the matter is, South Asian history is far, far, far more complex than that. Simply tossing the blame on Hinduism and calling it a day is irresponsible and ineffective at best.

  200. #200 Kseniya
    July 15, 2007

    those who believe in nothing, will believe in anything

    Sigh. That’s one of those nonsensical statements that appears, at a glance, to mean something. It’s as mind-numbingly stupid and wrong as one of my favorite dumb-ass pseudo-axioms: “An armed society is a polite society.”

    In a word: Nonsense.

  201. #201 raven
    July 15, 2007

    Not to belabor the point, but the 3 cultists and their supporters are just religious bigots who want to discriminate against other religions.

    It is against the US constitution and a lot of legislation such as the civil rights acts. It is also a violation of US core values in which the US was founded by religious refugees and more have come since. Freedom of religion is part of the 1st amendment.

    Really, read Robertson, Falwell, Rushdooney, the Wedge. Fundies don’t want a peaceful, tolerant, multicultural society with freedom for all. That is for wimps and liberals. Their worst nightmare.

    They want to overthrow the US government, set up a theocracy, and literally head back to the dark ages. It would make Iraq or the Europe of the catholic protestant wars look like a kindergarten. Oddly enough, rivers of blood and mountains of bodies don’t bother them. What this has to do with Xianity is pretty clear. Nothing.

  202. #202 bernarda
    July 16, 2007

    Gobind finally goes to the ridiculous,

    “Therefore I find it highly unreasonable for anyone to place the blame of caste solely upon Hinduism while conveniently ignoring its position within South Asian society as a whole. The solution to caste is not found within changing (or dropping) religion but rather within changing society and the minds of people as a whole.”

    What a great argument, “Hindus are no worse than others”. That is not an argument against Hinduism being crap. Then, apparently religion has nothing to do with the “minds of people as a whole”. Essential to changing people’s minds is getting rid of superstition, the one question here being Hinduism.

    “However I am able to see the problem as what it is, and that is a society wide problem and not a religous one.” Once again, there is no connection? This is pure nonsense. But what else can one expect from delusional superstitious people?

    “A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.”

    Friedrich Nietzsche

  203. #203 Luna_the_cat
    July 16, 2007

    bernarda, that is not what Gobind said. He pointed out that blaming all caste system ills on Hinduism is a useless oversimplification. He said that the social history is far more complex than just “blame Hinduism”. There is nothing even vaguely incorrect about that.

    It is not correct that people dump the caste system and other ills as soon as they are away from “superstition”, or even away from their country; in the UK there is a real problem with occasional “honor killings” of women who dare to fall in love with the wrong man, and that is not based on the Hindu religion, but on deep cultural mindset that it is the head of the family’s right to require absolute obedience. Wean people off superstition, great, but don’t ignore the rest or assume that it will all go away when the superstition does. And try reading what people write. It isn’t nearly as much fun as flaming, but it makes a far more interesting conversation to read.

  204. #204 bernarda
    July 17, 2007

    Read my post again about the connection between “society” and religious belief. Your comments are irrelevant.

  205. #205 Evrviglnt
    July 22, 2007

    Pretty disappointing – but it wasn’t the senators that were heckling – it was people in the chamber – that’s the guests up above watching the senate floor.

    Either way, poor show.

  206. #206 Mrs Tilton
    August 11, 2007

    Kseniya @66:

    I like “St Stephen”, too (though not nearly as much as certain other Dead songs). BTW. am I the only one who has ever thought the Dead got their their iconography confused? An “arrow, sharp and narrow” would have been appropriate for that age-old gay icon St. Sebastian; Stephen met his end through stoning, as I recall. (Actually, Sebastian himself survived the arrows IIRC; his actual martyrdom, I believe, was a banal chopping off of the head.)

  207. #207 Sven DiMilo
    August 11, 2007

    “Saint Stephen” is no prayer. It may or may not be some kind of a collection of minimalist parables. More likely it’s a collection of nebulously interrelated stream-of-consciousness image-flashes, with the consciousness in question (Robt. Hunter’s, 1968) doubtless lysergically enhanced. Look at any of Hunter’s ouvre from that period: “China Cat,” all that other weird shit on Aoxomoxoa
    Now, Hunter has always been fascinated with Biblical imagery, as well as other mythologies and histories.
    But a prayer? Nah.

  208. #208 Mrs Tilton
    August 11, 2007

    Sven @204:

    with the consciousness in question (Robt. Hunter’s, 1968) doubtless lysergically enhanced

    Wait… are you implying that the Dead used drugs back in the day???!!!

    I’m shocked. I shall have to purge my CD rack at once. Los hermanos Rodriguez don’t approve of drugs.

  209. #209 Curious Cat
    October 15, 2007

    Senate needs all the prayer they can get. Hopefully a miracle will happen and they can actually make a proper decision.

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