Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Irish Catholic Church: Slavery for Pregnant Girls

Back in 2009 I wrote a blog about Philomena Lee, a young Irish lass of eighteen years who became pregnant. Her baby was stolen from her and sold for a profit by the Catholic Church. The story would have been lost in obscurity except for this:
Philomena's baby became Michael Hess, a chief architect of the Republican National Convention's election strategy, whose brilliant work ultimately won the presidency for George H.W. Bush (senior), and for which he was appointed Bush's chief legal counsel.
It turns out it's even worse. In addition to selling babies for profit, The New York Times now reports that the babies' unwed mothers were forced into slavery:
The Magdalene laundries were a network of profit-making workhouses run by four religious communities ... they were initially used to reform prostitutes. By the 1940s, however, most of the residents, or “penitents” as they were called, were young women who had sex outside of marriage (in some cases victims of rape), unmarried mothers, women deemed flirtatious and the mentally disabled.
These weren't voluntary homes for unwed mothers. The women were kept behind locked

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

God Uses Tornado to Help People Reach for Him

Is this sick logic or what?
“Please pray for all of us as we minister to so many hurting people. God can use even this type of thing to reach more for Him.”
God sent a tornado to kill over 160 people, and their suffering and death are supposed to help bring them closer to God?

Or how about this miracle:
On Sunday evening, 53 people at Harmony Heights Baptist Church were listening as pastor Charlie Burnett preached when storm sirens began to sound. Burnett moved everyone into the designated storm shelter interior rooms of the church (it had no basement). Moments later, the tornado hit the church, tearing it apart.

"It is a miracle that many survived," Patterson said.
Right. Some how God miraculously spared those 53 people from the wrath of ... Himself?

Out for a while...

Dear faithful readers,

I'll only be posting sporadically this week due to a death in the family. I'll be back next week. Thanks to all you loyal followers for your understanding.


Friday, May 20, 2011

So Long, It's Been Good to Know You!

Well, it's time to say goodbye. Tomorrow is the rapture, and I'm so scared of being left behind that I decided to abandon my sinful ways and give up my atheism.

I'm going to convert! I'm going to leave all my rational thinking behind and embrace faith. I'm going to be saved!

I finally realized that faith is better than science! Why have I been worshipping logical thought all these years? Just think ... if I'd waited another day the Rapture would have come and I'd be sitting here crying. Now I've seen the light, and I'm headed for Heaven!

You can do it too if you try! Just repeat after me...

I believe that there's a magical guy in the sky who created the whole universe in seven days, just a few thousand years ago. All those dinosaur bones and stuff are just there to confuse me! Who created God? I have no idea, but hey, I have faith so it doesn't matter!

I believe that in spite of being a pretty good guy all my life, working hard, raising

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bin Laden: $1 million, USA: $3 Trillion

There's a sobering article over at The Atlantic: The Cost of Bin Laden: $3 Trillion Over 15 Years. According to the authors, that price tag is the conservative estimate. And what did we get for our money? Predator drones.

How much did Osama bin Laden have to spend to do this? Maybe $1 million.

Osama bin Laden's reign of terror should remind us just how tenuous civilization is. It's hard work to build things, but trivially easy to vandalize and destroy them. An artist can spend a month on a beautiful mural, only to have it destroyed in minutes by a kid with no talent and a can of spray paint. Our society can spend billions building a modern skyscraper, only to have it destroyed in an hour by a few men with small knives in their pockets.

Just how much did Osama bin Laden really cost us? We'll never know the true answer, but

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bin Laden is Not in Hell After All

An open letter to America...

Dear America,

I'm writing to tell you of a terrible misunderstanding. I know that most of you (two thirds, according to The Public Religion Research Institute) are happy now that Osama bin Laden is burning in Hell. It took us a while to catch bin Laden, but we did it! We finally dispatched him off to his judgement day. And now most of you think Osama bin Laden is suffering in death the way he made others suffer in life.

Sadly, I have to report that Osama bin Laden isn't in Hell suffering. It's all a big lie. Osama bin Laden is not enduring everlasting pain and suffering. He's just dead. After he died, his brain simply stopped working. He's not feeling any pain. In fact, Osama bin Laden doesn't even exist any more.

Even worse, Osama bin Laden didn't suffer in death. He died almost instantly. OK, maybe the Navy Seal who shot him took the body shot first, so the world's worst terrorist felt intense pain briefly. But I'll bet it was less than a second or two

Friday, May 13, 2011

Military Chaplains Tell Court: Repeal Don't-Ask-Don't Tell

For the past five years, a group of active-duty military Chaplains have been working undercover getting ready to repeal the anti-gay Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell (DADT) policy of the U.S. Military. It's sad that even Chaplains have to work in secret when it comes to gay issues.

But last month, their secrecy ended. The Chaplains filed an amicus brief in support of the repeal of DADT, thus thrusting themselves into the limelight. It was a courageous act, but more importantly, it's an amazing document. Rather than commenting on it, I'm just going to quote some of the better parts, because these Chaplains said it far better than I could.

Here is the link to the full brief if you want to see the original.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Church Bucks Lawyers, Apologizes to Victims and Worshipers!

A church sex scandal mixed with an insurance company and lawyers ... what a recipe for disaster! Here's how it started to go down. The insurance company sent a letter with this statement:
"Do not make any statements, orally, in writing or in any manner, to acknowledge, admit to or apologize for anything that may be evidence of or interpreted as (a suggestion that) the actions of Vienna Presbyterian Church … caused or contributed to any damages arising from the intentional acts/abuse/misconduct" by the youth director."
But amazingly, the church ignored it! They very next day they issued a humble apology.

The insurance company gave the church legal but immoral instructions ... and the church ignored it and did the right thing. Instead of a coverup, we have a church that is trying to apologize and to make amends. Now those are what I call good Christians.

It's refreshing to see a congregation following their own teachings.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Christians Call Overpopulation a Myth

For at least a century thoughtful people have supported the movement to slow the world's population growth to sustainable levels. It doesn't take a PhD in demographics or mathematics to realize that the population explosion, if left unchecked, will be the worst catastrophe to ever hit the Earth.

If we keep having babies at the current rate, we'll be shoulder-to-shoulder covering the entire Earth, oceans and all, in well under 800 years!

So what do you say to this? It's a reader's comment to this article: The Myth of Overpopulation.
"If you [are an atheist], then you think that humans really need to control their fertility and population growth. ... But if you know that there is a God, who knows what He’s doing when He sends babies into the world, then you know not to worry about overpopulation. Those atheists live in a scary world. Without God, the scary stories of overpopulation make perfect sense. Only a knowledge of God can help us see that we don’t need to worry about it, just trust God.
This is lunacy. What this writer is saying is that logic and science prove

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Jews Erase Hillary Clinton from Iconic Situation-Room Photo

Are any of you modern women thinking maybe conservative Judaism is for your? Check out this story.

The ultra-orthodox publication Di Tzeitung took the famous photo of President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, and their advisors, and erased Secretary Clinton and another woman from the photo! They claim that modesty prevents them from publishing pictures of women.

But wait ... isn't that censorship? Isn't that revising history? There were two women in the room. What sort of paper alters the facts when reporting a story? Oh, wait ... this is religion. I forgot, they alter facts all the time!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Egyptian Church Burning: Why the Intolerance Meme Will Never Die

When will the violence between religions end? Will Christians, Muslims and Jews ever be able to get along and live in peace? They've been killing each other for thousands of years and it seems there's no end in sight.

This week we got to witness yet another example of this ageless fact when ultraconservative Salafi Muslims in Egypt decided to burn down a Christian church. Their logic? They claimed the Christians had kidnapped a Christian woman who had converted to Islam. Twelve people were killed in the conflict. These are the same guys who cut off a man's ear for allegedly befriending a prostitute (note that there was no trial ... they just decided he was guilty).

I'd like to think that this barbarism is just a relic. We all have hope that in the not-too-distant future the moderates will win the day, the extremists will be put in jail, and we'll all live as one big happy world where everyone can worship (or not) in peace and with respect for other faiths.

It's pure bullpucky. It will never happen.

The church burning in Egypt illustrates the fundamental problem: religions evolve as the

Friday, May 6, 2011

Bible Thumper Arrested for Preaching to DMV Line

Here's a little fun for the Friday fishwrap: a Bible-thumper finds a captive audience of people waiting in line outside a government office and starts reading the Bible in a loud voice. He refuses to leave when asked, and is arrested a few minutes later by the California Highway Patrol.

What happens next? Why, the video goes viral on YouTube of course!

I don't know about you, but I don't want to be preached at by a religious fanatic when I have to do business with my government. If a preacher is shouting on a street corner,

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Interviewed by Turkish Newspaper!

Apparently I'm getting my fifteen minutes of fame in Istanbul! I was interviewed last week by Radikal Daily, one of the country's liberal news sources that's fighting the rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism in Turkey. Here's a link to the article:
Din ve bilim arasında 'güçlü olan kazanır'
Unfortunately I don't speak the language. But the Google Translation is pretty funny and seems to have some relationship to what I said. (But I don't recall being asked, "What is breast?" Machine translation still has a long way to go!)

If anyone speaks Turkish and has an hour to spare, it would be fun to see a real translation of the article.

For those of you who don't speak Turkish, the article was in response to a survey that came out recently claiming that 91% of the people in Turkey are religious. There is a big movement in Turkey to get rid of the secular government and turn it into an Islamic republic. The survey is being used as justification: since the overwhelming majority of Turks are religious, shouldn't the government be religious?

It's the same argument we hear in America all the time, and it's a flawed argument. If Turkey adopts an Islamic government, its progress forward into the technology age will come to a screeching halt. Instead of becoming a full member of the European Union, it will join the ranks of Middle Eastern Islamic theocracies.

Radikal is fighting for political and religious freedom so that all Turks can worship as they please. If Turkey's citizens can resist the Islamic forces and keep their secular government, Turkey can become a full member of the modern world of science and technology.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

14-Year-Old Girl Lashed to Death for Adultery After Being Raped

Here is another horrifying story about a young girl being blamed and punished for her own rape.

Hena Akhter was a fourteen-year-old Bangaladeshi girl who caught the eye of Mahbub Khan, a married neighbor (who was also her cousin). Khan started harassing Hena on her way to school. Hena's father complained, and Khan was fined, though he never paid the fine. Several months later, in January of this year, Khan waited outside Hena's home until she came outside to use the outdoor toilet. He gagged, raped and beat her.

Khan's wife heard the commotion, came outside and caught her husband raping Hena. Instead of saving the young girl, she dragged Hena into her house, beat her some more and trampled her on the floor.

Who got punished for this? Hena and Khan were convicted of adultery! They were both sentenced

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bin Laden Burial Illustrates Why Religion Sucks

In one concise phrase, The Huffington post summed up the core problem of religion. In an article about Osama bin Laden's burial, they wrote (emphasis added):
Although there appears to be some room for debate over the burial – as with many issues within the faith – a wide range of senior Islamic scholars interpreted it as a humiliating disregard for the standard Muslim practice of placing the body in a grave with the head pointed toward the holy city of Mecca.
Religious people claim that their Bible, Torah or Qur'an contain the answers to all questions of morality and law. They say we poor humans are incapable of knowing right from wrong, so God has provided us with all of the answers.

If that's true, then why is it so hard to figure out how to bury Osama bin Laden's body?

If God was so clever and wrote everything down for us in black and white, why does every question have a dozen "scholars" with a dozen different opinions? It seems to me that the rituals

Monday, May 2, 2011

Tea Party Candidate not Racist - He just doesn't want Nigras and Hispanics to vote

I found this via P.Z. Myers' blog and have to share it. No comments necessary. You get bonus points if you can watch it to the end. It's Grady Warren, Tea Party candidate in Florida.

Never Forget: bin Laden was a Product of Religion

I rarely celebrate anyone's death, but today I'll make an exception. Osama bin Laden was a terrible person. He was the ultimate vandal, destroying everything around him purely for his own ego gratification and the joy of destruction. I don't believe for a moment that bin Laden believed his own propaganda about jihad and Islam. He was nothing more than a sick, murderous sociopath, and religion was nothing more than an excuse.

So today I'll make an exception and join America and the world in celebrating the death of this evil man. Congratulations to the Navy Seals who did an incredible job carrying out their mission. Congratulations to our intelligence professionals who found bin Laden and made the mission possible. And congratulations to the President and his generals, who showed restraint and wisdom. Their leadership ensured that the appropriate amount of force was used and that no civilians were killed.

But as we dance in the streets and celebrate, let's not lose sight of the real problem: religion-fueled terrorism. Osama bin Laden may be dead, but