The Great Unraveling…

 

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From Chris Hedges
Truthdig

The ideological and physical hold of American imperial power, buttressed by the utopian ideology of neoliberalismand global capitalism, is unraveling. Most, including many of those at the heart of the American empire, recognize that every promise made by the proponents of neoliberalism is a lie. Global wealth, rather than being spread equitably, as neoliberal proponents promised, has been funneled upward into the hands of a rapacious, oligarchic elite, creating vast economic inequality. The working poor, whose unions and rights have been taken from them and whose wages have stagnated or declined over the past 40 years, have been thrust into chronic poverty and underemployment, making their lives one long, stress-ridden emergency. The middle class is evaporating. Cities that once manufactured products and offered factory jobs are boarded up-wastelands. Prisons are overflowing. Corporations have orchestrated the destruction of trade barriers, allowing them to stash $2.1 trillion in profits in overseas banks to avoid paying taxes. And the neoliberal order, despite its promise to build and spread democracy, has hollowed out democratic systems to turn them into corporate leviathans. 

Robert Ingersoll: Intelligence, not the bible, is the only moral guide…

 

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From Robert Ingersoll

You ask me what I would “substitute for the Bible as a moral guide.”

I know that many people regard the Bible as the only moral guide and believe that in that book only can be found the true and perfect standard of morality.

There are many good precepts, many wise sayings and many good regulations and laws in the Bible, and these are mingled with bad precepts, with foolish sayings, with absurd rules and cruel laws.

But we must remember that the Bible is a collection of many books written centuries apart, and that it in part represents the growth and tells in part the history of a people. We must also remember. that the writers treat of many subjects. Many of these writers have nothing to say about right or wrong, about vice or virtue.

The book of Genesis has nothing about morality. There is not a line in it calculated to shed light on the path of conduct. No one can call that book a moral guide. It is made up of myth and miracle, of tradition and legend.

In Exodus we have an account of the manner in which Jehovah delivered the Jews from Egyptian bondage.

William Edelen: Thomas Paine

 

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From WILLIAM EDELEN (2002)

It was Theodore Roosevelt who called Thomas Paine “the filthy little atheist.”

What that stupid statement accomplished was only to prove the ignorance of Roosevelt. Thomas Paine, one of our giant founders, was not in any sense an atheist. He did have a total contempt for the bible, the church and the clergy, as did our major Founding Fathers. But having a contempt for the bible and the clergy does not, in any sense, make one an atheist.

Thomas Paine was a devout deist, who said and wrote time and again “I believe in one God…”

He also wrote “I would not dare to so dishonor my Creator God by attaching His name to that book (the bible). Men and books lie. Only nature does not lie.”

He explained what he meant in these words. The character if Moses is the most horrid tale that can be imagined. Moses was a wretch that committed the most horrible atrocities that can be found in the literature of any nation. For Moses said unto them (according to the bible) kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known a man by lying with him, but all the women that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.”

Born This Week in 1834: Freethinker Granville Stuart…

 
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From The Freethinker UK

On August 27, 1834, Granville Stuart was born in Clarksburg, West Virginia. He settled in Montana in the 1850s, and soon became a Montana prospector, miner, banker and cattle rancher.

He was manager of the Pioneer Cattle Company from 1879 to 1888, president of the Montana Stock Growers Association and Montana Board of Stock Commissioners, and president of the Montana Historical Society from 1890 to 1895.

Stuart became an important Montana politician who represented Lewis and Clark County in the Territorial House of Representatives for four years, and was President of the Territorial Council in 1883.

He was elected US Ambassador to Uruguay and Paraguay from 1894 to 1898. After returning to Montana, Stuart became a Montana historian, and wrote books including Montana As It Is (1865) and Forty Years on the Frontier (1925).

Stuart became a strong freethinker as an adult, according to As Big as the West: The Pioneer Life of Granville Stuart by Clyde Milner II (2008). James Fergus, fellow freethinker and Montana pioneer, called Stuart “a fine writer and most radical outspoken infidel, and has pictures of Ingersoll, Bennett and Payne hanging in their Parlor”

Stuart, who died in 1918, is quoted in As Big as the West as saying “For all the use [people] make of their brains, in matters of religion they had as well have none.”
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Pascal’s Wager…

 


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My Path From Rome…

 

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From Barbara Smoker
The Freethinker UK

OH, YES – I once had an orthodox creed. I was brought up in a devout Roman Catholic family, and had an old-style convent education – and throughout my childhood and adolescence I was a steadfast believer. That was in the days (before the Second Vatican Council) when the Catholic Church was still Catholic and the Pope was infallible – so I had absolute certitude about God and the universe and my place in it. But in the end – and it took me a very long while – I grew up.

Whenever I mention my Catholic childhood, people tend to assume that the reason I have rejected religion so completely is that an extreme version of it was drummed into me as a child – but it wasn’t like that at all. No one needed to drum religion into me: I lapped it up like a thirsty puppy. Of course, I must have been given the taste for it first of all, but I cannot remember as far back as that.

What I do remember, though, is that my four younger sisters and one younger brother were coaxed to say, as the first syllables that ever passed their lips, not “Mama” or “Dada”, but the far more difficult “Jesus” – so presumably I was equally precocious. Anyway, by the time the good nuns got hold of me, at the age of four, I was hooked on the supernatural.

At home, as in most large families, we were always playing competitive games among ourselves – and Rule Number One, which became standard for any competitive family game, was “No Praying”. This was at the insistence of the others, who thought that praying would give me an unfair advantage.

WILL PARRISH: ‘Don’t Know, Don’t Wanna’ Know’

 

Intake pipes directly in the Russian River near Hopland (photo taken July 15, 2015 by Ken Sund).

From WILL PARRISH
Ukiah
TheAVA

Last month, the California State Water Resources Control Board enacted “emergency drought regulations” in parts of four Russian River tributaries in Sonoma County with the stated aim of protecting endangered coho salmon and threatened steelhead trout. Among other things, the 270-day regulation forbids watering of lawns by residences and businesses. It places limits on car-washing and watering of home gardens.

It does not, however, restrict water use by the wine industry, which many rural Sonoma County residents recognize as the main contemporary cause of most of these watersheds’ decline.

In response, hundreds of Sonoma County residents flocked to several “community meetings” where the Water Board announced the terms of their regulatory order last month. Water Board representatives and fishery officials responded to the pervasive complaints by saying that their goal is to avoid cutting off water for irrigation, since it “provides an economic benefit,” and that they would only move to other water use curtailments if absolutely necessary to ensure the survival of these creeks’ 2015 year-class of juvenile salmon and trout.

In the meantime, these state and federal officials hailed one aspect of the regulation as an inherently progressive feature, one they touted would apply equally to vineyards and residences: an “information order.” Under this requirement, all water users in the applicable portions of the four creeks would be required to report the amount of water they are using and the source of that water.

TODD WALTON: Elgin

 

Point of Discovery 3x7

At the Point of Discovery (Zhukov Dance Theatre) © 2012 David Jouris / Motion Pictures

From TODD WALTON
Under The Table Books
Mendocino

“A true friend is someone who thinks you’re a good egg even though he knows you’re slightly cracked.” Bernard Meltzer

I was put in mind of my friend Elgin this morning when I heard the unmistakable sound of an old Volkswagen Beetle going by. Elgin and I met in 1966, my junior year of high school. He was a massive six-three, a formidable football player, grew up in wealthy family, had his own horse, a new VW Beetle, hunted, drank whiskey, and hung out with other football players and their cheerleader girlfriends.

I was not massive, did not play football, did not have a horse or car, grew up in a middle-class family, and hung out with social outcasts who wanted to be artists or poets or actors or musicians.

Elgin and I attended a high school with two thousand students and were never in the same class. Thus our paths rarely crossed. I had watched Elgin play linebacker and offensive lineman on our championship football team and seen him hanging out with a mob of jocks at lunch, so I knew who he was, but he did not know me until our junior year when I landed the role of Conrad Birdie in the musical Bye Bye Birdie.

Bye Bye Birdie was inspired by the historical moment when Elvis Presley went into the Army. Conrad is a fictional version of Elvis. The play takes place the week before Conrad enters military service. For a farewell publicity stunt, he and his managers descend upon a small town where Conrad will kiss some lucky high school girl, the event to be televised on the Ed Sullivan Show.

GENE LOGSDON: Two Peachy Economies

 

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From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

I cheer for the local food movement every chance I get, but I’m a little uneasy with the word “local.” Just as all politics are local, as someone famous has said, all food is local. And like politics, just because it’s local does not necessarily mean it’s good.  I recently ran into an example that addresses this conundrum.

I got a phone call from a friend in Kentucky and she was all excited because what she referred to as “the peach truck” was in town. She had just come home from buying peaches from The Peach Truck (first letters all capitalized), the best peaches in the world, she declared. “There were 40 people lined up in front of me to buy peaches and just as many behind me. I counted them,” she said. Pause. “Guess what they were selling for.”

I had no idea of course and nearly dropped the phone when she told me. “Thirty nine dollars  a HALF bushel.”

Anti-Evolution Creationists are ignorant of what a species is…

 

Evolution

From An Atheist in Illinois

First it’s important to note that accepting the reality of evolution is not a devotion to atheism.
The former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams recognizes that humans evolved from other animals.

Pope John Paul II openly recognized the realities of evolution in 1996.

President John F. Kennedy had no problem with evolution. In fact, one of his speeches discussing our origin from the sea was played during a Super Bowl XLIX commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines.

There are those who keep a liberal interpretation of their religion that allows compatibility with modern science. This has allowed millions of Christians and people of other faiths to contribute to advancements in medicine, sanitation, food supply, transportation, and other fields that have greatly increased the standard of living for mankind.

And then there are those who keep a dogmatic interpretation of their religion that only leaves room for an 18th century understanding of the universe. Ironically these same people use computers and iPhones. They have no problem using technology that was made available by modern science while keeping their antiquated views of reality.

Someone who dogmatically believes that disease can only be cured by god and prayer will never create a vaccine that will ultimately be responsible for saving millions of lives.

Imagine a child arguing that the earth is not spinning because we don’t feel it or crash into things when we jump straight up. The best thing to do would be to explain the supporting scientific evidence that clearly demonstrates that the earth is spinning and relativity to understand why it doesn’t seem to be from our perspective.

But what if the child refused to listen and simply kept repeating that the earth doesn’t rotate. That is one obnoxious child that refuses to listen or learn. Now let’s suppose the child is 40 years old. We would need to conclude that the adult was mentally challenged, delusional, or extremely gullible and being persuaded by ignorant people.

When creationists argue that we never see a cat turning into a dog, the ignorance is staggering. What makes it worst is they often say things like that with a smug grin. Not only do they have no idea of how a species is classified or how evolution works, they are proudly and shamelessly ignorant. They have no desire at all to read a book and actually learn the subject matter.

A species should never be understood as some giant sudden leap from elephant to tiger. There is no magical point in time where a biological divide causes separate species classifications between animals. This understanding is critical to understanding evolution. The evolution of species isn’t about a sudden giant horn, long neck, or trunk. The most basic species classifications are about the ability to mate…

Complete article here
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Robert Ingersoll

 

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Would an infinitely wise, good and powerful God, intending to produce man, commence with the lowest possible forms of life; with the simplest organism that can be imagined, and during immeasurable periods of time, slowly and almost imperceptibly improve upon the rude beginning, until man was evolved? Would countless ages thus be wasted in the production of awkward forms, afterwards abandoned? Can the intelligence of man discover the least wisdom in covering the earth with crawling, creeping horrors, that live only upon the agonies and pangs of others? Can we see the propriety of so constructing the earth, that only an insignificant portion of its surface is capable of producing an intelligent man? Who can appreciate the mercy of so making the world that all animals devour animals; so that every mouth is a slaughter house, and every stomach a tomb? Is it possible to discover infinite intelligence and love in universal and eternal carnage?

What would we think of a father, who should give a farm to his children, and before giving them possession should plant upon it thousands of deadly shrubs and vines; should stock it with ferocious beasts, and poisonous reptiles; should take pains to put a few swamps in the neighborhood to breed malaria; should so arrange matters, that the ground would occasionally open and swallow a few of his darlings, and besides all this, should establish a few volcanoes in the immediate vicinity, that might at any moment overwhelm his children with rivers of fire? Suppose that this father neglected to tell his children which of the plants were deadly; that the reptiles were poisonous; failed to say anything about the earthquakes, and kept the volcano business a profound secret; would we pronounce him angel or fiend?

And yet this is exactly what the orthodox God has done.

According to the theologians, God prepared this globe expressly for the habitation of his loved children, and yet he filled the forests with ferocious beasts; placed serpents in every path; stuffed the world with earthquakes, and adorned its surface with mountains of flame.

Notwithstanding all this, we are told that the world is perfect; that it was created by a perfect being, and is therefore necessarily perfect. The next moment, these same persons will tell us that the world was cursed; covered with brambles, thistles and thorns, and that man was doomed to disease and death, simply because our poor, dear mother ate an apple contrary to the command of an arbitrary God.
~~

WILLIAM EDELEN: Euthanasia

 

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From WILLIAM EDELEN (1988)
The Contrary Minister
[Repost]

The scene is in the intensive care section of an Oklahoma hospital. The woman strapped to the bed is 84 years old. She is my mother. I am sitting beside her with my wife.

A doctor enters the room. He is called a specialist. He walks over to the old, tired, pain-racked body and says cheerfully: “Mrs. Edelen, we are going to make you as shiny and bright as new. I have two surgeons standing by in the wings, just waiting to come on stage and go in there and fix you up like new.”

My mother stared at him. Her eyes narrowed, and in as strong and firm a voice as she could muster, she said these words to him:

“I want you to understand something. This is my body. It is not your body. I own it. I will tell you what you may or may not do with my body and my son will enforce it. There will be NO surgery. There will be NO chemotherapy. There will be NOTHING done that will keep me from dying a natural death.”

I said to the doctor: “She means it.” He stared for a moment at both of us and turned and left the room.

After a long, painful process of decision making, we moved her from intensive care to a nursing home where she could receive 24-hour attention.

As my wife and I were walking down the halls one day looking into rooms where bodies were strapped to beds, bodies that had no idea who and where and what they were, my wife said out loud, to anyone within earshot, “This is a torture chamber.”

Once back to Idaho, I was relating this experience to a good friend of mine, a Boise doctor.

His response was: “We in the medical profession can take no pride in what we are doing to those older persons in those conditions. A triumph of medicine? Hardly. Keeping bodies alive cannot be considered a triumph if the mind is gone. The heart of the matter is this: Physicians cannot do it. The politicians and the courts will not do it. The individual must do it.

Christian Crock: Is Josh Duggar the Biggest Family-Values Hypocrite Ever? Not Even Close…

 

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From John Loftus
Debunking Christianity
Response to article by Jay Michaelson  here

Duggar has been exposed as a former child molester, porn addict, and with the Ashley Madison hacking leak, an adulterer. But is he the biggest hypocrite ever?

Jay Michaelson suggests other numerous candidates for being the biggest hypocrites ever, like,

What about megachurch Bishop Eddie Long, who, while preaching against homosexuality, sexually abused at least three teenage boys in his charge? And what about megachurch pastor Ted Haggard who, while likewise preaching against homosexuality and drug use, bought crystal meth and had sex with a male escort/masseur for three years? Or George Rekers, who, while preaching similarly, was caught with a rentboy on vacation in the Caribbean? For that matter, what about the entire Catholic Church hierarchy, which, while preaching against homosexuality, covered up the systemic sexual abuse of thousands of boys in Europe and America—and still maintains a “gay mafia” in the Vatican today?

Yes, that and more, like John Paulk, Larry Craig, David Vitter, Henry Hyde, Mark Foley, Bob Livingston, or TV evangelists Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, and a whole host of others!

Michaelson:

So it’s not surprising that for many of us, there’s a profoundly gleeful schadenfreude when hypocrites are exposed. (Along with profound concern for the LGBT people in repressive regimes whose lives are now in danger thanks to the Ashley Madison hack.) Women, progressives, and queers have had to sit and listen to the likes of Duggar, Huckabee, Santorum, and Fischer talk about us, as if the outright lies they spread about our lives are somehow deserving of deference. So you can’t blame us for smiling when they take a fall.

True Dat! But Michaelson isn’t smiling. He’s hoping mad instead, for two reasons.

TODD WALTON: Reversions

 

Reversions

Bird Mansion photo by Todd

From TODD WALTON
Under The Table Books
Mendocino

“Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.” Mark Twain

Something marvelous strange happened with our pumpkins this year. That is to say we are hopeful the strange turns out to be marvelous. Here’s what has happened so far. Four years ago, I bought two pumpkin starts at the farmers market in Mendocino and planted those starts in a raised bed rife with redwood roots, three miles inland from the coast. Those plants were supposed to grow small sweet pumpkins, half the size of bowling balls. I got one little pumpkin. Delicious. I saved the seeds.

When we moved to our new house a mile from the coast, I planted the seeds in a new bed, also rife with redwood roots, and got two little pumpkins. Delicious. I saved the seeds. The next year, last year, I planted the seeds in a bed less troubled by redwood roots, took great care of the plants, and we got six little cuties. Wonderful. Marcia made pumpkin pies and pumpkin soup. Yummy. I saved the seeds.

This year I created a deep rich bed, planted the seeds, and lo, the vines have set five pumpkins, four of which are much bigger than bowling balls. Where did these four mighty pumpkins come from? Why are they somewhat cylindrical? Are they reversions to an earlier type of pumpkin used in creating the hybrid little pumpkin I began with? Why did the reversion take four generations?

Turkish Atheists Give Soup to the Homeless Every Week…

 

From Friendly Atheist

In 2014, the first physical building dedicated to atheism opened up in Turkey. But the obstacles have come one after another since then. A court order blocked their website earlier this year, and death threats have led to the installation of a panic button in their building that directly connects to the local police.

None of that, however, has stopped the atheists from acting on their Humanism. Case in point: their weekly hot soup giveaways for the homeless:

Every Wednesday, the Atheism Association delivers free soup with the motto of “Soup campaign for you” in the streets of Istanbul. The association is also open to volunteer contributions to support its drive via its Twitter account.

How awesome is that?

You can see several more pictures on the group’s Facebook page.
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GENE LOGSDON: Basket-less In the Garden

 

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From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

Carol ambled in from the garden recently with enough vegetables balanced on her left arm to feed us for a week. A cabbage head, a cauliflower, a swatch of lettuce, four carrots, and a zucchini tucked up under her arm. For some reason we all resist taking a basket to the garden to gather stuff. Or we forget. Or we go there with the intention of bringing back a tomato and end up with eight ears of corn teetering on a forearm. It is the eighth ear that causes the problem. It falls off on the ground. As you grunt your way down to pick it up, ear number seven falls off. You stoop down again for it and six and eight both fall off.

One time-honored way of avoiding a basket is to use your shirt front as a sort of shopping bag to tote produce in from the garden. This works okay except that it renders you one-handed and as you use the other to gather in food, you have no way to swat at mosquitoes and flies. Moreover you end up with a dirty shirt.

A hat balanced in a hand makes a fairly good basket substitute but leaves you even more vulnerable to bug attack with a bare head when the other hand is busily occupied, searching out pea pods or some such. Also if you reach a bit beyond a sturdily balanced stance, a hat full of pea pods or some such tends to cascade into the jungle below and retrieval is almost as time-consuming as picking them in the first place.

My very own social media…

 

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The 8 most atheist-friendly countries in the world…  In many places around the world, this is an unprecedented era of freedom and social acceptance for freethinkers… 

 
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From AlterNet

A lot of non-believer writers and activists focus, rightly, on the continuing lack of acceptance in many societies and nations of those who profess no belief in religion. Keeping an eye on what’s not working is the first step toward making improvements. Still, in many places around the world, this is an unprecedented era for non-believers of freedom and social acceptance. In the spirit of celebrating the amount of progress secularism has made around the world, here’s a list of eight of the best countries in which to be a non-believer.

1) Czech Republic. Many former communist nations saw their populations eagerly run back to the forbidden religions as soon as they were free to do so, demonstrating that the least effective way to spread atheism around is by mandate. The Czech Republic hasn’t seen any such return to religion, however; only 21% of its citizens consider religion an important part of their daily lives. They seem to be hanging on to secularism for roughly the same reason that they do pretty well in international sports competitions. Unlike most Eastern European nations, the Czech Republic rates high on the United Nation’s Human Development Report. It hasn’t been riddled by the corruption and authoritarian attitudes that dominate other former communist nations, such as Russia. A mountain of evidence demonstrates that stable, egalitarian economies correlate strongly with higher rates of atheism. It seems that the government’s demonstration of faith in its people and commitment to their well-being has gone a long way towards keeping the citizens from rekindling religious faith, whereas in places like Russia, where citizens are more desperate, looking to God for answers perhaps becomes more appealing.

2) Sweden & 3) Denmark. It might not seem immediately obvious why high numbers of non-believers in a country would make life better for atheists, but the examples of Sweden and Denmark show why this is true. When non-belief or even outright atheism is widespread, atheists can go about their lives free from the fear that their lack of belief will cause people to mistrust, hate, or even discriminate against them. These two countries, in which only 17% and 18%, respectively, of the population consider religion important, have become icons of secularist values to the rest of the world. Phil Zuckerman, a sociologist from Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif., spent a little more than a year talking to citizens to find out why. He discovered that your average Danish or Swedish citizen simply doesn’t think much about religion; in these two cultures, religion has largely been relegated to a ceremonial role. For the typical atheist who likes to have a Christmas tree without the burden of having to believe in the Virgin Birth, the Danish and Swedish attitude towards religion should fit like a cozy sweater.

You Cannot Be A Republican And A Christian…

 

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From DailyKos

No one in American life today proclaims their allegiance to Christ more conspicuously than those who have rejected most of what Christ actually taught: Republicans. The modern Republican Party’s hell-bent embodiment of nearly everything Christ warned against has become so serious that we have to call it out. You cannot be a Republican and a Christian.
Of course, it wasn’t always this way. There was a time, maybe even as recently as the early 1990s, when to support the Republican Party was not altogether evil. And further back, of course, things were even more different. As Garrison Keillor once reminisced, Republicans used to be: moderate, business-minded civic boosters and unapologetic patriots who were the linchpins and bulwarks of small towns across the Midwest, the enthusiastic backers of projects for the civic good, usually in partnership with the town liberals (the librarian, the bar owner, a lawyer or two, the Methodist minister, the banker’s wife). These Republicans were uniters and diehard optimists and persons of compassionate conscience, inveterate doers of good deeds.

Even today, there are probably some Republicans who still fit that description. The problem is that they are for all practical purposes invisible in American public life, and if their party found out about them, they would be hounded out of it. If they dared to compete in the lunatic talent show of Republican primary politics, they wouldn’t stand a chance.

WILLIAM EDELEN: Free of the Biblical God

 

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From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister
[Repost]

Blessed are the Atheists, Agnostics, Deists, Mystics, Humanists, Free Thinkers, Taoist, Buddhist and all others who do not have an archaic, primitive God in their mind/brains.

Blessed are they for they do not believe that a God is on their side.

Blessed are they for they do not participate in holy wars, Jihads or Crusades.

Blessed are they for they would never be martyrs for the “Glory of God.”

Blessed are they for they do not condemn others as heretics or infidels.

Blessed are they for they do not conduct inquisitions nor slaughter millions of women as “witches.”

Blessed are they who do not participate in sectarian violence, nor harass little Catholic school girls walking through their neighborhood.

Blessed are they who do not twist biblical words to condemn homosexuality as a sin, nor to condemn a woman’s right to choose.

Blessed are they who would never say that a terrorist act is God’s punishment against those who do not believe or think as they do.

Blessed are they who know that the only hell that exists is right here on earth created by man. And that it is in man’s hands alone to create a heaven here on earth through intelligence, empathy and love.

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