February 28, 2005

The Selfish Nature of Prayer

I'll pray for you.
You're in my prayers.
What do statements like this mean? I derive no benefit from your prayers. If you want to pray, admit that you are doing it for yourself. You derive whatever benefit there is to be had from the act of prayer - it lets you feel superior, helps you relax, gives you the impression that you are not alone in the universe, etc. But don't tell me that it is for me. In fact, don't tell me about it at all. It turns my stomach a little.

Maybe your statement is intended to bring me comfort, but it highlights your ignorance and leads me to feel a mixture of pity and repulsion toward you. Praying for someone is a selfish act aimed at soothing yourself without doing anything beneficial for the person for whom you are praying.

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February 27, 2005

Who has the Burden of Proof?

In Who has the Burden of Proof? Atheism vs. Theism, Austin Cline (About.com) provides an outstanding discussion of something every atheist (and every religious person) should understand. Atheism (i.e., no belief in gods) is the default position. This means that the burden of proof lies with the religious believer who claims that some sort of god exists. This claim requires considerable evidence if it is to be accepted. The second that the religious person insists that the atheist prove his/her lack of belief, he or she makes an error in reasoning.

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Jefferson's View of Church and State

In his Notes on Virginia, Thomas Jefferson wrote,
The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are 20 gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
Jefferson was determined to keep religion out of both government and public education. Why? He recognized that this was the only way to protect religious minorities, including those with no religion at all, from the majority religion.

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February 25, 2005

H.R. 27 Federally-Funded Employment Discrimination

from Americans United for Separation of Church and State

ACTION ALERT ** ACTION ALERT ** ACTION ALERT ** ACTION ALERT

Support the Scott Amendment to Restore Critical Civil Rights Protections to H.R. 27.

Don't Allow Federally-Funded Employment Discrimination in the Jobs-Training Bill!

The House of Representatives is expected to vote on H.R. 27, "The Job Training Improvement Act" next week. This is the first vote on the faith-based initiative and a crucial vote for the 109th congress. Since their inception in 1982, these job-training programs have included important civil rights protections against employment discrimination based on religion in programs that receive federal funds. The pending legislation would place existing civil rights law on the chopping block. It would allow faith based organizations to discriminate in hiring based on religion in government-funded jobs.

An amendment to reinstate civil rights protections may be offered on the floor by Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA). This civil rights amendment should be supported and if the protections are not reinstated, this bill should be defeated.

Taxpayer dollars should not be used to discriminate against employees because of their religion or religious beliefs. Tell your representative that you don't want taxpayers to subsidize religious discrimination in publicly-funded job training programs.

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February 20, 2005

Introducing Atheist Revolution

Atheists are one of the few groups left in the United States that is both socially acceptable and politically required to oppose. Our politicians must proclaim their Christianity to have any hope of being elected. President Bush continues to push "faith-based initiatives" and to oppose reproductive rights and same-sex marriage on religious grounds. There can be no question that the Christian right has an agenda.

In a 1991 fundraising letter, Christian extremist Pat Robertson wrote:
We at the Christian Coalition are raising an army who cares. We are training people to be effective -- to be elected to school boards, to city councils, to state legislatures, and to key positions in political parties.... By the end of this decade, if we work and give and organize and train, THE CHRISTIAN COALITION WILL BE THE MOST POWERFUL POLITICAL ORGANIZATION IN AMERICA.
The results of the 2000 and 2004 elections suggest that Robertson was correct. We are now living in something close to a Christian theocracy. George W. Bush's father, former President George H. W. Bush, does not even acknowledge our citizenship!
"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."
- Bush, to a AA reporter Robert I. Sherman on August 27,1987.
After 9/11, there are many who regard atheists as terrorists simply because we reject Christian dogma. I will use this blog to organize my thoughts on religion and politics in American life. I also hope to spark some discussion and critical thinking in others. Our elected officials seem determined to return us to the Dark Ages where science and rationality were subjugated as enemies of religion. This would be a devastating setback and must not be allowed to happen.

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