Thursday, March 31, 2011

Second Annual UpChucky Awards Announced!

I know you've been waiting for the Second Annual UpChucky Awards. Well, the wait is over! Find out which creationist made us upchuck our cookies!
Who is this year's winner?
  • Will it be Answers in Genesis, the ones who built a Noah's Arc theme park that's getting state funding?
  • What about John Freshwater, the former "science" teacher who burnt a cross on a student's arm with a Tesla coil?
  • Last but not least, could it be Louisiana Family Forum, dedicated to "biblical principles in the centers of influence" and successful in getting creationism injected into Louisiana's textbooks.
Find out who won at the National Center for Science Education's UpChucky Awards Announcement!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Florida Atheists Attorney Arrested by State

The persecution of EllenBeth Wachs, a retired attorney and the legal coordinator for Atheists of Florida, is a disgrace to all Floridians. Christians everywhere should be ashamed of how their fellow Christians in Florida are stomping on the United States Constitution and on a fellow American citizen's rights.

Atheists of Florida was doing what most atheist and secular organizations have to do these days: fighting the rising tide of government-sponsored religion. They've been playing a whack-a-mole game with the City of Lakeland's mandatory prayer that was held before each city council meeting. First Lakeland added a rabbi to the mix to prove they were inclusive, not just Christian. When Atheists of Florida got that thrown out, the city passed a new law giving Christians a few minutes before the "official" meeting to pray so that it looked like it wasn't an official part of the city council meeting. Everyone saw through that ruse too, and another lawsuit was filed.

So what did Lakeland do next? They arrested EllenBeth Wachs on felony charges of impersonating an attorney!

But that's not all.
On March 3, over a dozen sheriff’s deputies and other law enforcement officials, many garbed in SWAT style para-military gear, descended on her home in unmarked vehicles, arrested Ms. Wachs, and searched her home. Two bearded officials in SWAT gear held her two retail employees at gunpoint and for several hours unidentified agents proceeded to systematically tear apart her house, including searching her cars and employees’ cars and belongings. Agents seized Wachs’ personal and business computers, cell phone, documents and other items.
And guess what? It turns out that the arrest affidavit was signed by one of the defendants in Ms. Wells' prayer lawsuit. Big surprise.

It's a ridiculous charge. EllenBeth is a retired attorney (she practiced in Pennsylvania). The "evidence" of her

Monday, March 28, 2011

Gingrich: Fears Secular Atheist Country ... Dominated by Islamic Fundamentalists???

Is this for real? Newt Gingrich, who is working up to announcing his presidential candidacy, actually said this:
I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time [my grandchildren are] my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists..."
Wait a second, Mr. Gingrich. Radical Islamic secular atheists? Did I hear that right?

Mr. Gingrich, maybe someone forgot to explain to you that Muslims believe in Allah. That means they're not atheists. Get it?

By the way, Gingrich made these remarks at the Cornerstone Church, a prominent evangelical congregation that's led by the pastor John Hage ... the same guy who said Hitler was fulfilling God's will when he murdered seven million Jews, because it hastened their return to Israel. Good move, Mr. Gingrich.

Evangelical Idiocy: The Death of America?

I've mentioned before that the question I get the most from family and friends is, "Why do you care so much about religion? Can't we just live and let live?"

Well, here's one of the reasons why I care: almost two thirds of Evangelical Christians are dangerously ignorant. (I want to call them dangerously stupid, but that would be too nice since it would relieve them of blame.)

A new poll about God and natural disasters revealed what I should have known already: Evangelical Christians are ignorant of science and technology. They believe things that can't possibly be true, and they vote. Not only do they vote, but some of them even get elected to positions with considerable power and responsibility.

Here is a sampling of this idiocy:
  • Six in ten white Evangelicals believe that hurricanes, floods and earthquakes are signs from God that the End of Times is almost here. They don't believe in global warming. They don't believe earthquakes are just normal geology.
  • A majority (53%) of white evangelicals believe that God punishes whole nations for the sins of some citizens.
  • Evangelicals believe that God is actively controlling the world, and that everything that happens is because God deliberately made it happen.
What does this really mean? These might seem like harmless beliefs to

Friday, March 25, 2011

Westboro Baptist: A Tribute to Elizabeth Taylor

"No RIP Elizabeth Taylor who spent her life in adultery and enabling proud f-gs. They cuss her in hell today. #Westboro will picket funeral!" That was the tweet sent out by the ultra homophobic gay-bashing Westboro Baptist church according to MSNBC.

If Westboro Baptist is protesting Elizabeth Taylor, it should remind all of us what a goo friend she was to the LGBT community. She used her celebrity status to fight for gay rights and all human rights. She was a relentless fundraiser for HIV/AIDS and raised millions. She also was a huge influence in raising awareness of AIDS and the rights of AIDS victims.

Westboro Baptist is now reviled by just about everyone from the

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Is Christianity Dying? It is Nearly Dead in Nine Major Countries

If you believe the mathematicians, it looks like religion will be almost completely dead soon in nine major Western countries: Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland. According to Daniel Abrams, et al,
We present a new treatment of the competition for adherents between religious and irreligious segments of modern secular societies ... Data suggest a particular case of our general growth law, leading to clear predictions about possible future trends in society.
Basically they treat human society as a big interconnected system with predictable properties. You can't predict any one person's behavior, but by the time you're dealing with millions of people, the laws of large numbers and statistics make it possible to make accurate forecasts of seemingly non-mathematical traits like religion and love.

And guess what? Religion is going out of business in a bunch of countries. The trends are clear.

This matches what we know from a number of other sources. They're describing the same phenomena

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Papal Priority: Un-Christian names top the list!

I keep trying to give up writing about Pope Benedict XVI because I don't want to sound like a one-note samba. But then he pulls another one, and I can't help myself.

You'd think with priest pedophilia, prostitution scandals in the Vatican and wars around the world, the Pope would have lots to keep him busy. But apparently there's an even more urgent crisis brewing: Parents are naming their kids with un-Christian names!

Can you imagine? Using a name that's not Biblical? This is a travesty! And the Pope, bless his soul, jumped all over it:
"Every baptised child acquires the character of the son of God, beginning with their Christian name, an unmistakable sign that the Holy Spirit causes man to be born anew in the womb of the Church."
The Pope went on to stress what an un-Christian act it is to name a

Monday, March 21, 2011

Missionaries are like Looters: Using the Japan Earthquake

What's the difference between a looter and anyone else that uses a disaster for his own gain? In my ethics playbook, a disaster calls for one thing only: help the victims. Everything else should be put aside while we pick up the pieces and try to put the victims' lives back together.

Apparently Christian minister Neal Hicks, who has spent thirty years proselytizing in Japan, doesn't see it that way. To him, the Japanese earthquake is an opportunity. The Japanese victims are vulnerable, and it's up to Mr. Hicks to take advantage of their vulnerability.
According to Hicks, there has not been anything like this since WWII that's prompted the Japanese to turn from their 'no-god' god to the living God. "The Japanese are once again shaken. They're asking eternal questions again. We have another window of opportunity, and there are missionaries in Japan who are prepared to communicate the Gospel."

"I think it is probably one of the most opportune moments--at least in the last 50 to 60 years since the war--that we've ever had," says Hicks.
If you believe as I do that a person's mental, ethical and spiritual needs are

Friday, March 18, 2011

Tea Party: Just a Christian Sock Puppet? New Pew Report Reveals Truth

Would you be surprised to learn that the Tea Party isn't actually a good cross section of America? That in fact they're mostly a sock puppet for Evangelical Christian politicians?

The Tea Party likes to pretend that it's a grass roots salt-of-the-earth organization made up of average Americans who are sick of big government and taxes. They want to pretend that they represent black, white and brown, male and female, young and old.

But the facts are otherwise. The Tea Party is actually a stronghold

Thursday, March 17, 2011

LOL! Global Warming Deniers Get Lampooned by Congressman

This is too good. Why can't more people stand up to creationists, birthers and global-warming deniers? They've managed to change the rules of the game and force sensible people to debate them. They're pretending to have philosophically and scientifically sound positions that deserve to be heard. They're wasting valuable time.

The truth is they mostly deserve ridicule. Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) finally takes them down a notch. He doesn't debate, he tells it like it is. The "science" that's being presented is laughable, and Rep. Markey tells it like it is. Enjoy! It's a rare moment of sanity in Washington.

Watch the expression of the woman behind him as she tries to maintain her composure.

Lest anyone think I'm just as anti-science by trying to suppress debate, I'm not. I believe there's still lots of room for debate on the question of global warming. There is little room left for debate that global warming is happening and that it's caused by human activities. But there are good scientists who are still debating how much it will affect us. The rate of sea-level rise, the rate and consequences of rising temperatures and many other effects are still important questions. What I object to is how business and politics have created a well-funded campaign and fooled a lot of regular people (like the majority of the Tea Party) into taking their side. They are trying to subvert science to further their business and political goals.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Armageddon? Or Just an Earthquake?

Here we go again. God screws things up for no apparent reason, kills ten thousand, leaves hundreds of thousands homeless, and we have to clean up after him. He's angry! He's warning us!

Or ... maybe it was just another earthquake.

We need to set a new scientific standard: it's the smallest possible measurable increment of time known to science. It's defined as the almost-infinitesimal interval between when an earthquake ends and some religious ass declares it part of God's divine prophecies in the Holy Bible. Since the Japan earthquake, millions of blogs linking Japan and Biblical prophecy have popped up. It's disgusting.

Here's one of the worst, brought to you by the professional jerk known as Glenn Beck:
You can't see the connections here. I'm not saying God is causing earthquakes. I'm not not saying that either. What God does is God's business. ... But I'll tell you this. Whether you call it Gaia, or whether you call it Jesus, there's a message being sent! And that is, "Hey, you know that stuff we're doing? It's not really working out. Maybe we should stop doing some of it. *laughs* I'm just saying. ... Buckel up! Buckel up 'cause it's going to be a bumpy ride.
Beck ought to be ashamed of himself for capitalizing on the plight of the Japanese.

And so should everyone else who thinks this is Biblical prophecy. It's utter

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Christian Foster Parents Nailed for Teaching Homophobia

Those poor Christians in England. They're a persecuted minority! It seems the British courts (which must be overloaded with atheists and pagans) seem to have a "special animosity" towards Christians.

Or so you'd think if you trusted the uber-conservative WorldNetDaily "News" site. WND has a story about a Christian couple who wants nothing more than to be good foster parents and help little children. Alas, they've become the target of a vicious persecution campaign by the United Kingdom's anti-Christian legal system!
"... Christians who want to provide foster care for needy children must promote homosexuality to them, and that there is only a "qualified" right to exercise their Christian beliefs." [emphasis added]
Got that? They're required by the court to promote homosexuality, in violation of their Christian beliefs!

Nothing could be further from the truth. Like just about everything the nutcase "news" organization reports, it's a distortion of the facts. They're deliberately hiding the truth. These foster parents were breaking both the law and their commitment to the children under their care.

The real truth is that when you become a foster parent, one of your most important duties

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Boy Dreams, Parents Make Millions: Heaven Is For Real is Megahit

It's really sad to see a child's naive faith being exploited to make millions for his religious parents. But that's what has happened to young Colton Burpo.

Colton's appendix got infected and ruptured. He was rushed to emergency surgery and happily his life was saved (by modern medical science, I might add). But when he came out of the anesthetic, he had a rather startling tale to tell: he'd been to Heaven! And Jesus Himself was there (probably a white guy with a beard even though Jesus was probably dark-skinned), along with John the Baptist and even Colton's own great-grandfather!

Now Colton has a mega-seller book, Heaven Is For Real. Not just a sort-of-popular book, but the number one paperback on the New York Times bestseller list (login required).

Now you might think that this is just another of those Jesus-on-your-toast stories, that someone was just out to make a buck on this kid's delusions. But you'd be wrong! These are just humble Midwesterners who

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Best of Religion Virus: Mardi Gras Riot!

Dear Faithful Readers ... you may have noticed that my posts have been more sparse than normal. A couple weeks ago I was alarmed to discover that I'm approaching my 500th blog. I was actually amazed by this. I just sit down a few times a week and offer my thoughts, and it never occurred to me that I'd written so much!

Just for fun, I started looking back through my old blogs, and was sort of surprised to find that I really enjoyed reading some of them. I'm not bragging or anything, but I do believe that you can't be a really good writer unless you get pleasure from your own work. Self-congratulations aside, I realized that there are some real gems in my old blogs, but they're buried in a huge pile of less-than-stellar blogs that will fade into well-deserved obscurity in the dustbins of the internet. It would be a shame to lose the good ones along with the rest.

So I decided to put together a new Kindle e-book, a "Best of Religion Virus." It's nothing you couldn't get if you had the patience

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

God Tells Wisconsin Gov. Walker to Fight Unions

Did you know that God hates unions? Wow, I sure didn't. But thanks to Wisconsin's Governor Walker, I've been enlightened. God hates unions, and He wants Gov. Walker to chase them out of the state!

OK, that's a bit of an extrapolation from what Walker actually said in public. But it's probably not an exaggeration. Walker claims that God talks to him and tells him what to do. And we're not talking about some vague "I feel his guidance" thing. We're talking about real voices in his head.

If it weren't for the God Exemption for sanity, Gov. Scott Walker would be classified as mentally ill. He actually believes that God talks to him on a daily basis. He hears God's voice. Walker actually believes that God told him whom to marry, what jobs to take, and even dictated his political career. Walker prays to God about every decision, and God answers by telling him what to do.

Which is why it's clear that God hates unions, and God wants Scott Walker to chase them out of Wisconsin!

This is scary stuff. How can the rest of us argue with a guy who actually believes that he is doing God's bidding? How can a person like that

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Christian Memes on the Battlefield: Is Gandhi Going to Hell?

Pastor Rob Bell, a leading liberal Christian, dropped a bomb on the Evangelical right-wing faction of Christianity. Bell is calling the right-wing evalgelical ideas of Heaven, Hell, redemption and torture misguided and toxic. He is calling out the Evangelical right for their preposterous and indefensible concept of the afterlife.

Bell is saying that there are (*gasp*) other ways to Heaven than Evangelical Christianity! The blasphemy!

The Evangelical right's vision of Hell is one of the best tools in their toolbox, and it's no wonder they're upset about Bell's challenge. Of all the tricks that keep people going to church, the idea of eternal damnation and torture is

Friday, March 4, 2011

Bible Prohibits Homosexuality? WHO CARES?

Once again the Bible is proving how it wastes careers, holds back our culture and should be abandoned as a source of morality.

Professor Jennifer Wright Knust's new book, Unprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions about Sex and Desire, and her recent blog on CNN both purport to show that the Bible does not actually prohibit homosexuality. She claims that the message is ambiguous at best, and that there are many passages that actually condone same-sex relationships.

I'm sure it's no surprise to anyone that her book and blog have provoked many responses from conservative Christians. Perhaps the most scholarly reply is this one by Professor Robert A. J. Gagnon. The good professor has written not one, but two books that prove that the Bible condemns homosexuality.

And you know what? We don't care!

This debate is just another illustration of why the Bible shouldn't be anyone's

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Faith is better than Reason? You Bet!

I love it when some religious nut attacks, makes strong and unambiguous claims, and I can show them to be plainly and obviously wrong. It would be even more satisfying if these people would feel humbled by their mistakes, but they rarely are. It seems that their religious convictions preclude the possibility of error.

Today's topic is the one thing I object to the most about religion. No, it's not terrorist martyrs, creationism or even young men wearing black ties who knock on my door and are so nice I can't bear to argue with them. The thing that gets me the most is the idea that when faith and reason collide, faith should be trusted over reason.

Recently several readers have argued with me that Christians don't believe this. They flat-out deny that faith-over-reason meme is at the core of their beliefs. (I call this the Anti-Rationalism Meme in my book.)

So here is a collection of quotes that

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Beauty Pagents: A Spoof

For all my faithful readers, life has intervened and I don't have a blog for you today. But I'll leave you with something that's both fun and makes a really good point. Until tomorrow, here's Tom Hank at his best...