February 28, 2010

Carrie and What it Reveals About Christian Extremism in 2010

I watched Carrie last night. It has been years since I'd seen it and it was never one of my favorites, but I was tired and have been feeling like I'm starting to come down with something. I always enjoy the Christian extremist mother, played to perfection by Piper Laurie. But I found myself feeling somewhat depressed as I watched it last night, realizing that what used to strike me as such an over-the-top example of Christian lunacy seemed somewhat less so. Could it be that this type of insanity is more accepted today than it was when Carrie debuted in 1976?

February 27, 2010

Idiot of the Week: Bishop Council Nedd II

nedd.jpgWhen I suggested that the Christian extremist infused far right was going to go nuts over the recent announcement that aides of President Obama were meeting with the Secular Coalition for America, I had no idea just how nuts they were going to go! The Raw Story is reporting that some conservatives have decided to label us as "hate groups" so they can go after President Obama and his administration for sponsoring hate.

Atheists at the White House

Oh boy, the Christian extremists who populate the far right are going to love this! According to the Miami Herald, aides of President Obama are expected to meet with the Secular Coalition for America near the White House to discuss topics such as faith-based initiatives and military proselytizing.

Given how many of us there are, it makes sense that politicians would take us seriously. While that hasn't happened yet, events like this are certainly steps in the right direction.

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February 26, 2010

Door-to-Door Christians

proselytizingWhen a Christian shows up at your door, interrupting whatever you were doing to tell you about Jee-zuhs, how do you usually respond? I don't mean how you wish you could respond or what you'd say if you had ample time to think about it. How you actually do respond? Are you extra polite because you don't want to embody the mean atheist stereotype, or do you unload? Perhaps you fall somewhere in between.

Before I had a "no proselytizing" sign on display, my responses tended to be civil but firm and focused on ending the interaction as quickly as possible. I've always viewed proselytizing as an unwelcome invasion of my privacy. Unlike several of my readers who have commented on previous posts on this subject, I do not have any interest in interacting with the sort of Christians who do this a moment longer than necessary. The last thing I want to do is reward their intrusion.

February 25, 2010

Faith as the Suspension of Critical Thinking

Faith"Faith," in a religious context, does not refer to an abstract sense of hope or confidence but to a particular sort of belief - a belief in something not adequately supported by evidence. By definition, this is irrational (i.e., faith entails belief in something without sufficient evidence to justify the belief, and believing without sufficient evidence is irrational). But just because faith is irrational does not mean that those who are afflicted by it are somehow unintelligent or mentally ill. In part, this is because there are degrees of faith and most of it does not rise to delusional intensity. While strong and pervasive faith may indeed be delusional, the faith of most believers may be better understood as the suspension of critical thinking.

February 24, 2010

Essay Competition for Atheist Students

If you are an atheist high school student planning to attend college, college student, or graduate student, you should check out the Freedom From Religion Foundation's 2010 essay competition. The prize money is not too shabby, and many of the topics sound fascinating. In fact, I suspect they are precisely the sort of thing you've already thought about.

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February 23, 2010

Imposing Religion on Children is Abusive

Denver Art Museum - Wheel: Overlays
Denver Art Museum - Wheel: Overlays (Photo credit: Brian Papantonio)
I love hearing from my readers, and I feel "blessed" to have the opportunity to correspond with some truly great people through this blog. Every now and then, I hear a tale of such pain and torment that it really affects me. In catching up with some recent email, I just found such a case. I'm keeping the details on this one vague on purpose because I do not yet have permission from the author to share this with you.

Here's the situation: we have a 17 year-old being forced to attend church and told that he belongs to a particular religion by his parents. He's wondering whether this is legal (I suspect that it is) and has raised questions about what any of us can do to prevent other children from having to endure similar experiences in the future.

February 22, 2010

Tiger Woods and Buddhism

I don't find the Tiger Woods infidelity story to be even remotely interesting, newsworthy, or any of my business. It saddens me to live in a world where stories like this receive far more attention than virtually any real news.

However, I must admit that I loved the fact that Mr. Woods mentioned Buddhism in his most recent press conference and briefly spoke about it. He didn't use Brit Hume's name, but he really didn't have to. It went without saying. Poor ignorant Christian Brit Hume.

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February 21, 2010

Haitian "Orphans" All Had Parents

Media coverage of natural disasters, regardless of their severity, runs a predictable course. For the most part, it appears that the mainstream American news agencies have decided that the earthquake in Haiti is no longer newsworthy and have moved on. I remember how frustrating it was when they did this following Hurricane Katrina, but I can't say I didn't expect it.

It will be interesting to see how (or if) they cover a big story that hit yesterday. In case you missed yesterday's news, the Associated Press (AP) is now reporting that all of the so-called orphans kidnapped by Baptists in Haiti had living parents.
There is not one orphan among the 33 children that a U.S. Baptist group tried to take from Haiti in a do-it-yourself rescue mission following a devastating earthquake, The Associated Press has determined.
Maybe it is time for the mainstream media to reconsider siding with the American Christians on this story. Maybe they'll even decide to report on another vital part of this story now uncovered by the AP.

Are Americans Becoming Less Religious?

Religion_1.gifOne of the unfortunate things about writing an atheist-oriented blog in the United States is that it seems like I rarely find good news to celebrate. Religious belief is far too influential in American life. And yet, it appears that there is at least some reason for encouragement.

A new study from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public life shows that American youth are less religious than their parents at their age. Good news indeed! Not surprisingly, the study also shows that there remains great similarity between much of what the youth believe and what their parents and grandparents believe. But at least things seem to be moving in a positive direction.

February 20, 2010

Idiot of the Week (CPAC Edition): Dick Armey

Armey.jpgThis seemed like a particularly busy week for idiots. Christian extremist pastor Wiley Drake was back in the news, this time for lifting his request for imprecatory prayers for the death of President Obama. It seems that Wiley has decided that he wants Obama to live long enough to stand trial for treason. As a reminder for my Christian readers, Drake is NOT a fringe figure.

We've also got a group called "Concerned Citizens of Gainesville" engaging in one of the nastiest smear campaigns I've heard of against an openly gay candidate for mayor of Gainesville, FL. And of course, there's always "actor" Stephen Baldwin. But in a week when Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) was held, one need not look too hard for award-wining idiocy.

February 18, 2010

Christians are Praying for You

pray: that was easyThe Whore of All the Earth had a recent post in which the author was told by a Christian friend, "You know, I've been praying for you." When I hear this sort of thing, I find that there are two ways I can view the situation: I can reinterpret the statement as something less stomach-turning, or I can get mad. I usually manage to do the former.

In the best case scenario, I decipher "I've been praying for you" as "I've been thinking about you." So interpreted, I can respond positively to such a statement as simply reflecting the speaker's positive intention. If the speaker does not know I am an atheist, I can hardly blame him or her for poor word choice.

February 16, 2010

Atheists in Business: The Price of Prejudice

Business-center (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I received a great question from a reader on the subject of atheists in business and the prejudice they often face. I used to discuss issues related to atheism in the workplace quite often, but it occurs to me that it has been awhile since I posted on this important subject. I also imagine that this is something many of you have had more experience with and might like to chime in too.

I'd like to approach this subject from two directions, different but equally interesting. First, there is the scenario where we have a small atheist-owned business and must contend with the owner potentially losing customers when his or her atheism becomes known. And second, there is the case of an atheist being employed in a company where most of the prejudice encountered would be expected to come from co-workers and bosses. I've had more experience with the second situation, so I'll start there.

February 15, 2010

Those Prayer Requests on Facebook

If you are on Facebook, it is a virtual certainty that you have seen prayer requests from countless "friends." Someone is having surgery and they request prayers. Someone else is worried about their child and requests prayers. I never know what to say in those situations, and I'm not alone in this. In fact, Stardust Musings and Thoughts for the Freethinker recently wrote a great post on this subject.

I understand that faith is very important to many of my religious friends. As annoying as I might find their blathering about prayer, it would not be appropriate to express this sentiment in the midst of their distress. But like Stardust says, I'm not always sure what to say instead.

Sometimes, I'll say something along the lines of how I'm thinking about them and hoping for the best. But that seems weak when others are promising to engage in superstitious rituals to bring about divine intervention on their behalf.

Maybe I should offer to send up some "burnt offerings" or animal blood. The Old Testament makes it sound like that is the solution for virtually all ailments. But of course, I don't believe any of that garbage and have little interest in pretending otherwise.

What do you typically say in such situations?

February 14, 2010

Fundamentalists vs. Liberal Christians

The Atheism TapesWhile commenting on a recent post at Proud Atheists, I found myself again reflecting on how I have more respect for fundamentalist Christians than many of the so-called liberal Christians. Of course, I realize that "respect" isn't the best word here because little of what religious fundamentalists believe is worthy of respect. I recognize that the fundamentalist forms of any religion are far more dangerous than the liberal to moderate forms. Still, there is something a bit more admirable about someone who tells us what he or she believes and then acts in accordance with it versus someone who does not.

How can I possibly have more respect for the fundamentalist Christian than the liberal Christian, especially when my worldview is so much more similar to that of the liberal Christian? Like the liberal Christian, I reject a literal reading of Genesis in favor of evolution. Like the liberal Christian, I think that religion is most tolerable when it is directed toward helping others as opposed to converting, enslaving, or destroying them. Like the liberal Christian, I find some of the teachings attributed to Jesus to be morally acceptable and much of the Old Testament to be horrific in its immorality.

February 13, 2010

Carnival of the Godless #135 at Homologous Legs

Homologous Legs got an early start, posting tomorrows Carnival of the Godless today. If you can't wait to get a jump on your god-free reading for the weekend, be sure to check it out. And yes, I am proud of myself for remembering to submit a post in time for this one.

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Idiot of the Week: Sean Hannity

sean_hannity.jpgWith the snowstorm on the East Coast, this was a week where I knew exactly what type of idiocy I wanted to highlight for this post: climate change denial. However, it was a bit tricky to select the individual who best represented this particular form of idiocy this week. In the end, I settled for Fox "News" pundit, Sean Hannity. While it was very tempting to go with Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), I think Hannity is more deserving for reasons I will offer below.

February 12, 2010

Happy Darwin Day

darwin_day.jpgToday is Darwin Day. Almost forgot about it, didn't you? Yeah, me too. I must say I'm enjoying it so far though.

It has been snowing today in Mississippi, and even though it won't last, it is so beautiful to watch it fall. I'll never understand those who must conjure supernatural entities in order to have a sense of awe about the world. Nature doesn't need any help.

I hope you have a good day and take this opportunity to consider where we'd be without Darwin.

Happy Darwin Day!

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February 11, 2010

Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin

hate.jpgYou've heard it thousands of times. "Love the sinner, hate the sin." It is a mantra some Christians repeat every time they are called out on their religiously-motivated bigotry. "Oh no, I don't hate gay people," they insist, "I just hate what they do." Right. Because you think that it is sinful for them to love another consenting adult for some strange reason. This phrase is supposed to relieve the bigoted Christian from responsibility. But it raises another question that isn't asked often enough: why hate at all?

February 10, 2010

U.S. Media Has Blind Spot For Christian Extremism

media_monkeys.jpgOne can find all sorts of despicable examples of anti-atheist bias and other examples of blatant idiocy in the mainstream media. I cannot help wondering, however, if the more subtle forms of bias do even more damage. They facilitate ignorance and bigotry while masquerading as objective news. A recent post at Atheist Haven got me thinking about how the U.S. media typically handles clear examples of Christian extremism.

February 9, 2010

Atheist PR: Does it Matter to Them?

Since the earthquake in Haiti, the secular community has been rallying behind a number of valuable relief efforts. Many have donated to the International Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders directly. Others have routed their contributions through secular charities in the hopes of elevating the profile of charitable giving by atheists. After all, desperate Christians trying to defend an indefensible worldview are fond of clinging to their relatively higher rate of charitable giving. While I support efforts to increase awareness of atheist philanthropy, I am realistic about the efficacy of such efforts.


February 8, 2010

Modeling as a Factor in Anti-Atheist Bigotry

6566308_70169157ef.jpgAn atheist is simply someone who does not believe in gods. Why would it be necessary for religious believers to demonize such a person? What would possibly motivate some religious individuals to threaten, intimidate, or even assault someone simply because of his or her lack of religious beliefs? Every one of us comes across people with very different beliefs and values frequently without lashing out at them. What makes atheists so different?

February 7, 2010

When We Must Intervene

A Nepalese woman and her infant child
A Nepalese woman and her infant child. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"Do we have a right to tell people they are wrong?" Fascinating question, isn't it?

This was the question recently posed by Richard Collins (End Hereditary Religion; link no longer active following Richard's passing in 2015) after he encountered it during a public parenting forum. I agreed with his affirmative response. In fact, I think I might take it an additional step and suggest that we may actually have an obligation to do this when it comes to religion, at least in some circumstances.

February 6, 2010

Why I'm Skipping the Super Bowl

Tebow Crying.JPGI had been planning to watch the Super Bowl. I don't particularly care who wins, and I don't really care for either of the teams playing. Still, I was planning to watch it. But now that I've learned that CBS, the network broadcasting the Super Bowl, has been working closely with Focus on the Family to produce a commercial opposing reproductive rights for women, I think I'll skip the game.

Idiot of the Week: Rabbi Yehuda Levin

rabbi.jpgWhen Pat Robertson made the recent statement about the Haitian earthquake being a curse from his god, quite a few people stepped up to condemn him. The secular community led, as is so often the case, but I was happy to see many from Robertson's own religious tradition joining the chorus of condemnation. Yes, many Christians did the right thing here by speaking out against Robertson. Unfortunately, this has not stopped others from coming out and praising Robertson or essentially saying the same thing that made him fodder for so many comedians.

February 5, 2010

Join the Revolution

arev125.pngWelcome to Atheist Revolution, a blog focused on promoting reason, education, and a reality-based worldview. Whether you are just beginning to doubt your faith and want to learn about atheism or you are a seasoned atheist looking to interact with like-minded individuals, you will find something of interest here.

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Explore the site and interact with one of the best group of regular commenters you are likely to find on any blog. If you like what you see, please consider subscribing:

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Are You an Angry Atheist?

anger-management.jpgI am an angry atheist. It makes me angry that millions of Christians despise me solely because I do not share their god belief. It makes me angry that believing something without evidence is considered stupid unless the something involves religion at which point such belief magically becomes virtuous. Transparent hypocrisy of this sort irritates me.

Bigotry and hatred infuriate me, particularly when religious-motivated bigotry and hatred are routinely excused out of some misguided sense that religious belief must be respected. Beliefs that lead people to treat their neighbors poorly deserve little respect.

It makes me angry to see religious believers standing in the way of human progress by preventing stem cell research, depriving our children of sound science education, basic sex education, access to contraception, and and the like. Placing one's religious beliefs or institutions above basic human welfare enrages me.

It makes me angry to see Christians in the U.S. repeatedly demonize the secular principles on which our country was founded in service to their destructive worldview. This sort of willful distortion of reality makes my blood boil.

February 4, 2010

When Are We Going to Fix Our Broken Educational System?

Health care reform is a worthwhile goal here in the U.S. Universal health care via a single payer system would be better still, but the corporations that own our politicians are unlikely to allow that any time soon. Extracting ourselves from two wars is another worthwhile goal. And yet, it seems that there is so much money being made by some companies from these wars that this may take considerably longer than it should.

I have been fairly disappointed not to hear much more from the Democratic majority about education. I think that it should be a much higher priority. Much like our health care system, the U.S. suffers from a broken educational system. Our citizenry has become alarmingly stupid and misinformed. Perhaps corporate America has something to gain from this state of affairs too.

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Sen. Joseph McCarthy: American Hero?

McCarthy.jpgThe excellent progressive political blog, Progressive Nation, has been following the battle over U.S. history textbooks in the state of Texas, and recently posted some disturbing news. Evidently, the State Board of Education is dominated by conservatives who are pushing educational standards designed to teach Texas high school students positive things about far-right groups such as Falwell's Moral Majority. Worst of all, some are concerned that the board may push the crazy notion that history has shown Sen. McCarthy to be correct in his Communist hunting and worthy of admiration.
“The social conservative bloc is pressing for the standards to turn Joseph McCarthy into an American hero,” says Dan Quinn of the Texas Freedom Network, a group that aims to “counter the religious right.”
The post traces right-wing efforts to rewrite history about McCarthy back to 1954. In reading this, I can't help consider that efforts to do this for Bush are already underway.

Anyone with an interest in reality-based education should be concerned about this sort of thing. After all, textbook standards set in Texas determine contents across the U.S.

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February 3, 2010

Atheist's Lullaby

A reader sent me this gem, and I had to share it. As someone who does not have children, I have nothing but respect and admiration for atheist parents struggling to raise children in the thoroughly religious environment in which many of us find ourselves. I don't know how you do it, but I'm sure as hell glad you are doing it!

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February 2, 2010

Scott Roeder: Christian Terrorist

Values Voter
Values Voter (Photo credit: mugs99)
Convicted murderer Scott Roeder is precisely the sort of Christian who makes many Christians eager to disown him and much of what he represents. And yet, there is little doubt that some conservative Christians will honor him as a hero for killing Dr. George Tiller. "Killing for Jesus" is not exactly a novel concept among Christian extremists, particularly when physicians who provide abortions are involved. The question facing us now is how many pro-Roeder Christians are out there and the degree to which this once fringe phenomenon is acquiring greater acceptance.

February 1, 2010

Atheism as Religion

religion.jpgLet me be very clear at the outset of this post: atheism is not a religion. It has no core dogma, no "sacred" texts, no leaders, no rituals, asserts no supernatural entities, requires no faith of any sort, and so on. Quite simply, atheism is in no way a religion.

With that out of the way, it is important to acknowledge that some people would like to redefine atheism as a religion, transform it into something like a religion, or even call it a religion when it is obviously not. In this post, I'd like to address two current efforts to redefine (or at least label) atheism as a religion.