Sunday, October 24, 2010

This Guy Obviously Wants His Church To Pay Taxes

I wonder why churches get special tax exemptions just because they are churches. It doesn’t make much sense to me. Most of the churches in this area are huge, opulent, hulking masses of wasted money. It must be nice to be able to not pay taxes just because you are delusional.

Well, it seems that a certain pastor in Minnesota wants to start paying taxes. Why else would this happen?
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service Monday against Hastings’ Berean Bible Baptist Church and its pastor, Brad Brandon, for violating the ban on tax-exempt churches endorsing candidates. Brandon endorsed a slate of conservative candidates during his Sunday sermon after challenging the “liberal media” to report on his activities. AU urged the IRS to “investigate this matter and fully enforce our laws.”
So this guy endorses political candidates and Americans United calls him on his bullshit. Way to go Barry Lynn!

I am not sure what kind of stand this guy is trying to take. The law is pretty clear: be politically active and lose your 501(3)(c) status. This pastor really wanted to have a big deal made over his endorsement though.
Brandon had been threatening the endorsements for a week on his radio program. To the “liberal media” he said, “Little immature human beings that are so wrapped up in your emotions that you couldn’t make a rational decision if it killed you, so please make this one decision for me — do it based on emotion. Do it out of hatred for me. File a complaint against mean old Pastor Brandon who is going to come out and endorse candidates.”
It’s always the liberal media’s fault. It’s never the fault of the jackass who thinks the law doesn’t apply to him. See you in court!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Steal Candy, Lose A Hand

The judiciary of Iran is a barbarous entity. The strict interpretation of Sharia law for any reason should send people screaming into the night. So it should come as no surprise that a man has been sentenced to having his hand amputated. His crime? He shoplifted from a candy shop.

Why is it that when someone follows a strict interpretation of any kind of religious law, some kind of body mutilation or the death penalty is issued for a either a minor infraction or something that isn’t a crime (i.e. apostasy)? How long are we going to continue lying to ourselves, claiming that ‘true Islam is a religion of peace’?

There is no such thing as a religion of peace. Any sort of religion that would condone cutting someone’s hand off or stoning to death (for that matter, the death penalty) should never be allowed to control anything.

Hey Islam, your religion is idiotic.

Faith Healing To Be Regulated In Malaysia

Faith healing is not just a problem in the western world. The problems that we have with homeopathy and the Bible believers are echoed across the world, it really just depends on what book of nonsense is being used to "heal" a person with. In Malaysia the book of nonsense is the Qur'an, but the trappings and rituals are still the same. Homeopathy, exorcisms, and general faith healing is undoubtedly in wide use.

So when you hear of the government starting to crack down on these purveyors of perjury, you would assume that it would be a good thing.
Dr. Ramli Abdul Ghani, head of Traditional and Complementary Medicine at Malaysia’s Health Ministry, said that people use it, and they feel the need to regulate the practices to prevent abuse and ensure that the practitioners are qualified. The new law is to be called “The Traditional and Complementary Medicine Bill”, and is scheduled for review in parliament next year.

The bill also covers issues concerning acupuncture and homeopathy, and requires over 11,000 practitioners to apply for a license from the ministry. The Islamic Development Department will draw up guidelines to be followed by Muslim faith healers. This is to avoid a prevalent trend of fake practitioners victimizing innocent people.
Isn't that lovely. Not only are they going to regulate it, but they are going to put the government stamp of approval on these archaic practices. Does this sound familiar to anyone who lives in the UK? Faith healers in the UK have the backing of the crown, which gives some sort of credence to the ridiculous claims of homeopaths.

If good Dr. Ghani was truly interested in the health and welfare of the people of Malaysia, then he would recommend that faith healing, in all of its forms, be banned. There is no scientific evidence that homeopathy works. Just because you have 11,000 practitioners of nonsense does not make it viable or effective. I would like to add that I lump homeopathy, acupuncture, and exorcisms under the heading of "faith healing". It's all faith-based "medicine".

As for avoiding the trend of fake practitioners victimizing innocent people, that's what all practitioners are and do. They are all fake and they are all victimizing the public. Anytime you deny someone proven medicine and allow them to take homeopathic "remedies", then you are harming people.

Again, faith healing is fake. It has never worked and it never will.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fake Threats And Real Fear At Fox News

Trying to find truth at Fox News is like trying to find a snow storm on the sun. Why anyone considers them a viable news source is beyond me. They have proven themselves to be nothing more than an extension of the Christian Right and the Republican Party: kind of like the Information Bureau in 1984. The disinformation and fear-mongering coming from this organization would be funny if so many people didn't buy into it. Just check out the headline of this article: “Why Did Media Ignore Threat of 'Flag of Islam' Flying Over the White House?” Well, this should be interesting.

The article is simply a delusional screed from an awfully terrified Republican that goes about actually believing that threats made by Islamic fundamentalists are actually going to happen. The author also wants to know why the sucky media didn't cover the story. To that I say “You wrote your article at Fox News. Your are the media, douchebag!” It always blows my mind when media figures say that the media is terrible and doesn't cover anything. It's like when Republicans talk about how terrible the government is and how it can't do anything right. “Hello! You are part of the government, douchebag!”

In the recounted tale of this cleric that said the “flag of Islam would fly over the White House”, the author makes a few interesting comparisons.
Across the oceans, radical Islamists would likely do as they did during the Koran burning episode or after the Danish cartoons were published. They would riot. Cars, businesses and maybe even embassies might burn. People might die.
I gather from this that Mr Gainor would prefer that the Christians in this nation should riot, burn buildings, and turn cars over when they don't get their way. If the Muslims in France can do it, then so should the Christians in America! Way to make your case. I think he is saying Christians are better because they don't do this, which if you look at the history of Christianity you will find a different story. Christian history is rife with violence, bloodshed, genocide, and pride about the previously mentioned acts. Maybe I am the crazy one though.

The idea that Christians don't use the same terminology is just wrong. What about the Billy Graham Crusade? What about Crusaders for Christ? Mr Gainor can't see past his own nose and realize that Muslims are saying the same things that Christians have been saying for a long time. Take for example:
According to Choudary, “Islam has a solution for all of the problems that mankind faces.” You don’t need to read between the lines to know what he was talking about.
Well, Mr. Gainor is right about one thing; you don't need to read between the lines on that statement. However, I would posit the question: How many preachers stand in the pulpit every Sunday morning and proclaim that Christianity is the only solution to the problems that mankind faces? They go even further and say that Jesus is going to come back and destroy the world! A loving god indeed.

This guy goes a little wacky by attacking Christiane Amanpour as being pro-Islamist, whatever the hell that is supposed to mean. I guess because she doesn't walk around the news set waving a Christian flag and reading from her Bible then she must be a secret agent of al-Qaeda. In my opinion, Christiane Amanpour is one of the most reliable people in the media. She reported on the Israeli incursion into Lebanon by giving the facts and putting a face on “the enemy”, not by singing the praises of how great Israel is. That, Mr Gainor, is called journalism, which is something that Fox News wouldn't know if it surrounded their building and started throwing eggs at it.

There are a few side points that this guy tries to sidetrack his readers with, like somehow turning this into a treatise on how the sucky liberal media is painting the Teabaggers as a group of morons. Well, they are what they are. However, if we were to judge an entire group by the actions of the extremists... well, I don't think I need to go on. What is funny about this is that in the same breath Mr. Gainor connects liberals and the media to Islam. Get a load of this gem.
If you laid all of the lefty/media attacks against the right end to end, they’d probably reach all the way to Mecca. Convenient that.
So, if you don't report the Republican talking points, then you are a Muslim, and therefor a terrorist. Also, if you don't think that the government should tell you who you can fuck, but would like your tax money to go towards something better than war (like, I dunno, healthcare?), then you are also a Muslim Terrorist.

This guys is fond of definitions also, so let me throw out a few.
1. ( often initial capital letter ) any of the military expeditions undertaken by the Christians of Europe in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries for the recovery of the Holy Land from the Muslims.
2. any war carried on under papal sanction.
3. any vigorous, aggressive movement for the defense or advancement of an idea, cause, etc.: a crusade against child abuse.

1. a person, usually a member of a group, who uses or advocates terrorism.
2. a person who terrorizes or frightens others.

1. information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.
2. the deliberate spreading of such information, rumors, etc.
3. the particular doctrines or principles propagated by an organization or movement.
Now, maybe this guy can explain the aforementioned Billy Graham Crusade, The Crusaders for Christ, and how he is not using terrorist tactics by trying to scare the hell out of everyone who reads his brain vomit (and I use the term brain loosely). Take the point that he made about Jihad al-Islami and use the logic as applied to Billy Graham, etc. I know, Christians don't like when facts are pointed out.

What is amazing to me is that when he mentions the plot that was uncovered in France, he only mentions the stock prices of the airlines. True to Republican form, always looking out for the business above the people. This was actually a real terror cell that was caught before they could do any harm. No fear mongering, just the truth. And yes, people could have died. However, the stock prices of the airlines are what this jerk cares about.

In the end, Mr Gainor poses a question that I would like to try to answer.
Finally, how many terror attacks will it take before the media stop blaming America and start blaming radical Islam? The sad answer is: too many.
Well, that depends. When will America start seeing the republican party for what it is: a group of old white racist assholes who are more interested in stock prices and their bottom dollar than they are about their fellow human beings? The sad answer: probably when its too late.

Never would I defend Islam, but I think it is important to point out the similarities.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Anti-Gay Screed Of An Idiot

The blood is boiling. Angry.

Sometimes I hate opening my inbox and finding the new batch of solitary hells that are contained within like some sort of festering cancer. Today was no exception.

The “editor-in-chief” of, John-Henry Westen, spoke to a hoard of anti-choice, anti-gay monsters this week in Italy at what can only be described as a convention of hate. I don’t like bringing any attention to these douche-bags unless it is absolutely necessary, which it seems to be. Here are some choice excerpts from the article.
It is an act of love, he said, for parents to correct and discipline their children. “It is not love,” he said, “to allow your children to rampantly misbehave without correcting them.”

“So too the Church, especially Her shepherds – the fathers of souls - must feed the flock, must teach the truths however difficult and politically incorrect. That is true love.”
So gay people are children who need to be corrected and disciplined. I think the church has had a pretty good display of its discipline for the “wrongdoings” of society, from the Inquisition to the “Kill The Gays” bill in Uganda. Perhaps John-Henry should be addressing the lot of priest who were less interested in correcting their flock than they were “feeding the flock” of children as much of their penises as they could.
Christians, he said, have balked at defending their beliefs in all the areas of concern in the Culture Wars, from abortion, adultery, homosexuality and divorce to human embryonic stem cell research.
Does anyone truly think that the church is quiet on any of these subjects? There is proof about 30 miles from my home that the church is quite vocal on the areas of abortion, homosexuality, and stem cell research. Who is blowing up abortion clinics? Who is attacking gay people? Who couldn’t keep their damned noses out of stem cell research? The church, that’s who.

Take Prop 8 in California, for example. The Mormon Church bankrolled the entire fight against allowing two people who love each other to get married. Before you ask, I do lump all churches in together. Mormons are the same as Muslims are the same as Hindus are the same as Satanists. It all the same bullshit lies and myths with a different Brand Name.

The Catholic Church is the worst offender when it comes to human rights. A group that has a history of fostering hatred for Jews, assisting the Nazis, and raping children should have a better mind to keep their opinions about society to themselves.
Westen posed the question of how Christians can now begin to present their beliefs forthrightly in a culture that is so firmly rejecting them. The answer, he said, is to be found in the Christian principle of love of neighbour. Specifically, the love of those suffering from homosexual temptations and those men and women in the grip of a destructive lifestyle.
I don’t think this guy gets it. Society rejects his beliefs because they are fucking stupid! This isn’t 1500, as much as the church would like it to be, and no one gives a shit about what the church has to say about subjects that they obviously have no idea about. Their version of Christian Love ™ consists of smiling to your face and telling you that you are scum and are going to burn in hell for eternity if you don’t denounce who you are. The only reason that homosexuals are suffering is because of fucking bigots like this guy.

I can’t bring myself to quote any more of this tripe. This is the face of the church. This is what they all think of those who don’t buy in to their bullshit. The problem lies in the fact that people like John-Henry have the ear of many politicians and world leaders. The tragedy is that anyone listens to what he has to say.

What should we do about people like this, if anything?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Case Of Atheist Discrimination

During most of my life as an atheist, I have heard a few of the same statements made about discrimination when it comes to being an atheist. “At least no one is killing atheists here”, “You can't get fired for being an atheist”, and “Why can't you just be quiet about your beliefs” are three of the most common statements (which have all been said to me during to course of one 10-minutes long radio interview). I have become proof the second statement is false.

In my day job, I deal with customer relations. I have spent a lot of time building a good working relationship with my customers over the past 5 ½ years. I have had nothing but glowing reviews (which they have to give periodically). Needless to say, I found it quite odd when I was called into a meeting with my manager and informed that the customer no longer wanted me in their warehouse. This happened about 3 weeks after I appeared on TV and the radio, on my own time, promoting the billboard.

I will not divulge the name of the company that kicked me out, mainly because I don't want to be sued, but it is a very large company that produces undergarments. I had my suspicions as to why they didn't want me in their building, but they were confirmed when one of my supervisors pulled me to the side to let me know what happened during the meeting with the customer. They didn't like what I was promoting on my free time. They thought I was doing them a disservice by being in their building and being an atheist, I guess.

This is very serious because in my job, if you are dismissed from a large account, your job pretty much has a 3 month lifespan. The only reason my job is in danger is because I refuse to believe in fairy tales and I refuse to be quiet about it, especially in a place like Charlotte, NC that names every other road or building after Billy Graham. I never talked about my personal life while at work because its personal. I do not talk to my coworkers about my family or my friends and vice-verse.

I am reminded of the radio interview I did with Tara Servatious, our own local Glenn Beck. She made the comment that atheists were just playing the victim and no one every really discriminates against atheist. It's against the law and as we all know, businesses never break the law. Well, here is your discrimination. I now have first-hand knowledge of what it is like to be in danger of being fired at any moment for a lack of belief. No matter what is said, it still isn't OK to be an atheist in America. Land of the free, indeed.

Has anyone else seen this type of, or have been the object of,discrimination like this?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

American Gay

In case you haven't seen it, Dan Savage's It Gets Better project is just awesome. In light of the recent, tragic suicides by gay teens who obviously had no support in the various shitty places they lived, Dan set up a YouTube channel for people to send in their own videos telling how things got much better once they became adults and moved on with their own lives.

It really is an awful situation: you're gay, lesbian, bi, or hell anything other than straight, skinny, and white, and you live in Bumfuck, Tennessee, and if you so much as part your hair the wrong way someone will call you a fag and kick your teeth in. A lot of people understand being bullied; it happens to many kids, true. However most people who are bullied go home to a supportive family that will pat them on the back and tell them they love them.

It's different to be bullied for the very essence of who you are, and then have that bullying come from the adults around you too. As Sarah Silverman succinctly puts it:

"...don't be fucking shocked and wonder where all these bullies are coming from that are torturing kids and driving them to kill themselves because they're different---they learned it from watching you."

I guess it's something that I'm destined never to understand---why it is that people go apeshit when someone is different. And when people start matter-of-factly explaining to me that the bible (or what about the Koran?) clearly lays out what is expected from the sexes---besides the obvious ridiculousness of people holding up a haphazard collection of thousand-year-old letters as instructions for life---my brain can't figure out whether to kill that person or die laughing.

Here's how I feel about it: men and women come in various, ever changing forms that run a broad spectrum and often bleed into each other. Not only does society constantly re-evaluate what it means to be a "man" and a "woman", but the very traits we deem masculine or feminine shift camps constantly. Androgyny is more common than people realize. Hermaphrodites and even newer combinations of sex do occur. Whatever a person's physical sex is, they can be attracted to any or all or combinations of any sex; their preferences may be fixed, or may change over time. I think all of this is a good thing, and just makes for more interestingness. If someone wears something that's odd, it makes my day interesting----what it doesn't do is invoke fear or rage, which seems to be exactly how people who oppose gay rights feel after seeing a gay person.

If a guy wants to wear women's clothes and fuck dudes, that's cool. If a guy wants to wear women's clothes and fuck women, that's cool too. If a girl is a totally girly-girl to the point that she just loves eating pussy, that is awesome. If a man feels he was born into the wrong body, and pursues treatment to alter his physical sex, I wish him the best in finding his true self. And if regular old straight people want to fuck each other however they want to, that's cool too. Because I don't believe in interfering in the sex lives of consenting adults. How is this hard to understand? Why do people get fixated on the "grossness" of what other people who are enjoying what they are doing are doing?

But mostly, it's very irritating that gay people don't have full rights, when the only opposition comes from religion, and our government is supposed to be secular---not imposing one group's religious beliefs on the rest of the nation. So someone doesn't like the clothes that someone wears and who they're in love with, so they get to deprive them of basic civil rights? What century is this? As it's been said, it's no wonder that gay teens with no support system feel lost to the point of no return.

Friday, October 1, 2010

French People Are Everywhere!

Ah, Montreal! What a wonderful city. I’m not saying that I would want to live here, but it has been a nice change of pace. Perhaps I need to explain the hiatus and what has brought me to this fine city.

First off, this semester of school has been particularly trying. There has been quite a few assignments in pretty much all of my classes. This has taken up quite a bit of my time since I am torn between my wife and daughter, a full time job (which is part of this story), school, and this blog, along with various side projects. It is taking me a bit to find the balance between all of these projects, but everything is finally coming together.

Second, my job is starting to affect my health, and not in a good way (as if any job as ever made someone healthier). I am going to write a separate post about the trials and tribulations involved in my job. It has everything to do with atheism and my involvement therein.

Third, I am in Montreal with my lovely wife for a vacation and the Atheist Alliance International Convention 2010. The convention has been pretty fun so far. It started this afternoon with a workshop with Jeremy Patrick titled “The Curious Persistence of Blasphemy Laws and Their Modern-Day Counterparts.” This was just a basic rundown of the structure of laws in places like Ireland, UK, Australia, US, Canada, and Pakistan. Nothing noteworthy, but interesting none-the-less. Then came “Intelligent Design vs Scientific Theory” by Christine Shellska, who is a Ph. D student at the University of Calgary. What a snooze! This could have been a great workshop, but it ended up being a goddamned reading of a doctoral thesis. Flat, unengaging, and not interesting at all. Then we saw Justin Trottier who spoke about Atheist Activism. I will just link to his site because he was too interesting to summarize.

Then we get to Chris diCarlo. He gave the plenary speech titled “The Veneer of Tolerance” in which he talks about discrimination against non-believers and how acceptable it is. He made some good points and was entertaining, but overall he was very namby-pamby in his treatment of the issue of religion. He trotted out the old line of “well, that’s not a very Christian-like thing to do” at which point he got shut down by a lady in the crowd who politely told him that he needed to look at the history of Christianity and see that Christians being assholes is actually the Christian thing to do. Well said.

I must bid you all farewell. It is time to sleep, for tomorrow is a full day!