Freethought

Freethought Report…

 

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The Freedom of Thought Report is an annual survey on discrimination and persecution against non-religious people in countries around the world. The latest report is available free to download.

The first report was published in 2012 on International Human Rights Day, 10 December. In his preface to the report, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, said:

“As a universal human right, freedom of religion or belief has a broad application. However, there seems to be little awareness that this right also provides a normative frame of reference for atheists, humanists and freethinkers and their convictions, practices and organizations. I am therefore delighted that for the first time the Humanist community has produced a global report on discrimination against atheists. I hope it will be given careful consideration by everyone concerned with freedom of religion or belief.”

For the 2013 report we asked two victims of anti-atheist persecution to provide the introductory remarks. The cases of Kacem El Ghazzali and Alber Saber, from Morocco and Egypt respectively, also feature in the report. They said:

“In spite of international treaties and conventions, many states discriminate in subtler but important ways. And this has a global impact. Laws against “insulting” religion in relatively secure, relatively secular countries, for example, are not only analogues of the most vicious blasphemy laws anywhere in the world, but help to sustain the global norm under which thought is policed and punished.

We welcome this report. The world cannot fix these problems until they are laid bare.”

In 2014, in their preface, Gulalai Ismail and Agnes Ojera, both working to promote human rights in Pakistan and Uganda respectively, said:

“The rights of the non-religious, and the rights of religious minorities and non-conformists, are a touchstone for the freedoms of thought and expression at large. Discrimination and persecution against the non-religious in particular is very often bound up with political suppression, with fears about progressive values, or with oppression in the name of religion. Humanists and secularists are often among the first to ask questions, and to raise the alarm when human rights are being trampled, when religion is misused or abused, or — even with the best intentions — if religion has become part of the problem. Silence the non-religious, and you silence some of the leading voices of responsible concern in society.”

On this site you can find out more about the reportmake a submission, and download the latest report.
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Freethinker: Sam Harris Reads From and Discusses ‘The End of Faith’

 

Sam Harris Reads and Discusses the First Chapter of his August 2004 Book: The End of Faith… the first and seminal book of the New Atheists…
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Freethinker: All-Pro NFL running back Arian Foster talks about his personal values…

 


My name is Arian Foster, and I am openly secular.

My beliefs in regard to the existence of god is, I don’t know. I have no idea. I’ve done a lot of research, a lot of digging on my own, and I think that that’s the first step as human beings is trying to understand the world we live in. And then if there is anything, I was trying to understand that, as well. But I just don’t think we’re there yet to have any proof either way, so it’s hard for me to buy into all of it.

I’m not a religious person. I never was – well, let me take that back. I grew up in a Muslim household. My father was Muslim, and I used to pray five times a day. And I think the big thing with him was he didn’t want us to…he didn’t want to pigeonhole us into any belief. He believes in freethinking kids, and so I think that was the biggest gift my parents ever gave me: they let us be freethinkers. So, after a while, I just didn’t feel right to me. I didn’t have anything against it; I just didn’t understand why we were doing some of the things we were doing.

God Was Never On Your Side…

 

Thanks to Bruce

If the stars fall down on me
And the sun refuse to shine
Then may the shackles be undone,
And all the old words, cease to rhyme.
If the skies, turn into stone,
It will matter not at all,
For there is no heaven in the sky,
Hell does not wait for our downfall,

Let the voice of reason shine,
Let the pious vanish for all times,
God’s face is, hidden, all unseen,
You can’t ask him what it all means
He was never on your side,
God was never on your side
Let right or wrong, alone decide,
God was never on your side.

See the ten thousand ministries,
See the holy righteous dogs,
They claim to heal
but all they do is steal,
Abuse your faith, cheat & rob.
If god is wise, why is he still,
When these false prophets
call him friends,
Why is he silent, is he blind,
Are we abandoned in the end?

Let the sword of reason shine,
Let us be free of prayer & shrine
God’s face is hidden, turned away
He never has a word to say
He was never on your side
God was never on your side
Let right or wrong, alone decide,
God was never on your side.
(No, No, No)

He was never on your side,
God was never on your side
Never, Never, Never, Never,
Never on your side [x2]
God was never on your side,
Never on your side.
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Can Religion be an Addiction?

 

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From 

“I’ve never been happier since I quit my 30-year addiction to Jesus.” – A Former Believer

To a medical researcher, the word addiction has a specific biological meaning. But in common vernacular, it means approximately thisthe state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, such as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma. 

Based on this definition some religious experiences seem a lot like addictions—at least that’s what former believers say.

Blogger and former Christian Sandra Kee, looks back at her family history and sees religion and addiction as a messy tangle: “My family for several generations was in a dysfunctional and addictive religious life, using God (or what we believed about God) as a drug. Many of the family who left religion simply traded for another addiction. The generations that entered into religion did so to escape alcoholism and other addictions (though it wasn’t called addiction back then). Many who remained in religion developed additional addictions as well.”

The Hitch: Christopher Hitchens Documentary…

 


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Christian Crock: Christopher Hitchens Deathbed Conversion? Ha!

 

Contrary to the video of Hitchens above, before his death at 62, Christopher Hitchens, the uber-atheist and best-selling author of “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything,” considered becoming a Christian claims “The Faith of Christopher Hitchens: The Restless Soul of the World’s Most Notorious Atheist.”

The author is Larry Alex Taunton, an evangelical Christian who knew Hitchens for three years and, he says, had private, unrecorded conversations with him about Christianity.

“At the end of his life, Christopher’s searches had brought him willingly, if secretly, to the altar,” Taunton writes at the end of the book. “Precisely what he did there, no one knows.”…

Full article here
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The Challenges Facing Atheists in the U.S….

 


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Should Atheists Send Their Children To Sunday School?

 

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From Robert Ingersoll (1833 – 1899)

Should parents, who are Infidels, unbelievers or Atheists, send their children to Sunday schools and churches to give them the benefit of Christian education?

Parents who do not believe the Bible to be an inspired book should not teach their children that it is. They should be absolutely honest. Hypocrisy is not a virtue, and, as a rule, lies are less valuable than facts.

An unbeliever should not allow the mind of his child to be deformed, stunted and shriveled by superstition. He should not allow the child’s imagination to be polluted. Nothing is more outrageous than to take advantage of the helplessness of childhood to sow in the brain the seeds of falsehoods, to imprison the soul in the dungeon of Fear, to teach dimpled infancy the infamous dogma of eternal pain—filling life with the glow and glare of hell.

No unbeliever should allow his child to be tortured in the orthodox inquisitions. He should defend the mind from attack as he would the body. He should recognize the rights of the soul. In the orthodox Sunday schools, children are taught that it is a duty to believe—that evidence is not essential—that faith is independent of facts and that religion is superior to reason. They are taught not to use their natural sense—not to tell what they really think—not to entertain a doubt—not to ask wicked questions, but to accept and believe what their teachers say. In this way the minds of the children are invaded, corrupted and conquered. Would an educated man send his child to a school in which Newton’s statement in regard to the attraction of gravitation was denied—in which the law of falling bodies, as given by Galileo, was ridiculed—Kepler’s three laws declared to be idiotic, and the rotary motion of the earth held to be utterly absurd?

Freethinkers: Happy Birthday Christopher Hitchens…

 


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Exoneration of Jesus Christ…

 

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From Robert Ingersoll (1894)

If Christ was in fact God, he knew all the future.

Before Him like a panorama moved the history yet to be. He knew how his words would be interpreted.

He knew what crimes, what horrors, what infamies, would be committed in his name. He knew that the hungry flames of persecution would climb around the limbs of countless martyrs. He knew that thousands and thousands of brave men and women would languish in dungeons in darkness, filled with pain.

He knew that his church would invent and use instruments of torture; that his followers would appeal to whip and fagot, to chain and rack. He saw the horizon of the future lurid with the flames of the auto da fe.

He knew what creeds would spring like poisonous fungi from every text. He saw the ignorant sects waging war against each other.

He saw thousands of men, under the orders of priests, building prisons for their fellow-men. He saw thousands of scaffolds dripping with the best and bravest blood. He saw his followers using the instruments of pain. He heard the groans—saw the faces white with agony.

He heard the shrieks and sobs and cries of all the moaning, martyred multitudes. He knew that commentaries would be written on his words with swords, to be read by the light of fagots. He knew that the Inquisition would be born of the teachings attributed to him.

Stand Up For Judas…

 

Thanks to Bruce

The Romans were the masters
When Jesus walked the land
In Judea and in Galilee
They ruled with an iron hand
The poor were sick with hunger
And the rich were clothed in splendour
And the rebels, whipped and crucified
Hung rotting as a warning
And Jesus knew the answer –
“Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”
Said, “Love your enemies”
But Judas was a Zealot and he
Wanted to be free
“Resist”, he said, “the Romans’ tyranny”

Now Jesus was a conjuror,
Miracles were his game
He fed the hungry thousands
And they glorified his name
He cured the lame and leper
He calmed the wind and the weather
And the wretched flocked to touch him
So their troubles would be taken
And Jesus knew the answer –
“All you who labour, all you who suffer
Only believe in me”
But Judas sought a world where no-one
Starved or begged for bread
“The poor are always with us”, Jesus said

The 13 countries where being an atheist is punishable by death…

 

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From The Independent

Around the world, a number of countries continue to criminalise atheists and humanists, with 13 having laws which enable them to impose the death penalty

It’s often said that the world is becoming an increasingly secular place. Just last week David Cameron sparked backlash when he used his Easter message to describe the UK as “a Christian country”. Critics pointed out that just 30 per cent of people in the UK describe themselves as religious, making Britain one of the least religious countries in the world. 53 per cent of people say they have no faith, while 13 per cent claim they are committed atheists.

However, despite the prevalance of atheism and humanism in the UK, many may be surprised to know that having no faith can be a life or death matter around the world. In thirteen countries, you can be sentenced to death for not having a faith:

1. Afghanistan
2. Iran
3. Malaysia
4. Maldives
5. Mauritania
6. Nigeria
7. Pakistan
8. Qatar
9. Saudi Arabia
10. Somalia
11. Sudan
12. United Arab Emirates
13. Yemen

In a number of other countries, the death penalty is not a formal punishment on statute books but atheists and humanists have been murdered by religious extremists on account of their beliefs.

In countries including India and Bangladesh, police have been accused of condoning these murders by failing to investigate them properly. At least three atheist bloggers have been hacked to death in Bangladesh after penning posts advocating that scientific proof should inform opinion above religious beliefs.
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Freethinkers: Glory Hallelujah…

 

Thanks to Bruce

Brothers and sisters, have you heard the news?
The storm has lifted and there’s nothing to lose,
So swap your confirmation for your dancing shoes,
Because there never was no God.
Step out of the darkness and onto the streets,
Forget about the fast, let’s have a carnival feast,
Raise up your lowered head to hear the liberation beat,
Because there never was no God.

There is no God,
So clap your hands together,
There is no God,
No heaven and no hell.
There is no God,
We’re all in this together,
There is no God,
So ring that victory bell.

No cowering in the dark before some overbearing priest,
Not waiting until we die until we restitute the meek,
No blaming all our failings on imaginary beasts,
Because there never was no God.
No fighting over land your distant fathers told you of,
Not spilling blood for those who have never spread a drop of blood,
No finger pointing justified by phantoms up above,
Because there never was no God.

And I know you’re scared of dying man and I am too,
But just pretending it’s not happening isn’t going to see us through,
And if we accept that there’s an end game and we haven’t got much time,
Then in the here and now we can try and do things right.
We’d be our own Salvation Army, and together we’d believe
In all the wondrous things that mere mortals can achieve.

Because I’ve known beauty in the stillness of cathedrals in the day,
I’ve sung “Glory Hallelujah! Won’t you wash my sins away?”
But now I’m singing my refrain and this is what I say,
I say there never was no God.
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Why I was an old man before I Deconverted…

 

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From Bruce Gerencser

I am often asked why it took me so long to deconvert. Some people suggest that I must have really been stupid to have spent most of my life believing in a God that doesn’t exist. People who have always been atheists have a hard time understanding how anyone could spend 50 years believing a book of fairy tales — the Bible — is real. Sometimes people can be downright cruel, suggesting that there must have been some sort of ulterior motive that kept me believing all those years. Money? Power?

Most Evangelicals-turned-atheists deconvert in their twenties and thirties. Ministers, in particular, tend to deconvert when they are younger. Rare is the pastor who waits until he is in his fifties or sixties before he abandons the ministry and Christianity. Part of the reason for this is because older ministers have economic incentives to keep believing, or at least to give the pretense of believing. I know of several pastors who no longer believe, yet they are still doing through the motions of leading churches, preaching sermons, and ministering to the needs of parishioners. Their reasons for doing so are economic. Quitting the ministry would cause catastrophic economic and marital damage, so these unbelieving pastors continue to play the game.

Now to the question, why was I an old man before I deconverted? First, let me tell you that economics played no part in my commitment to Christianity. The most I ever made as a pastor was $26,000. I spent 25 years pastoring churches that paid poverty wages and provided no insurance or benefits. I always made significantly more money working outside of the church — especially when I was managing restaurants. In retrospect, I wish I had made money more of a priority. I wish I had put my family’s welfare first. But, I didn’t. I was quite willing to work for poverty wages. I thought God had called me to the ministry and he alone was in charge of what churches paid me. I learned late in the game that churches are often sitting on large sums of money. These caches of money are often built through paying their pastors welfare wages and providing no benefits.

India Supreme Court Won’t Prosecute Atheist Author Because They Have Better Things To Do…

 

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Taslima Nasreen is an atheist who holds little back in her public criticism of religion, especially Islam. The Bangladeshi-born author left the country more than two decades ago, now lives in India, and has been threatened multiple times since then. Yet she continues to speak out in defense of women and freethought.

For a while now, a group called the “All India Human Rights and Social Justice Front” has been trying to deport her and revoke her visa so she can never return.

See full article here.
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Smak Dem Christians Down…

 

Thanks to Bruce

Oh, save us from your people, Lord.
Oh, save us, Lord, we pray.
Oh, save us from your people, Lord.
And make ’em go away.

My mammy baptized me you bet I’m washed in the Blood of the Lamb.
But here’s one thing I just don’t get — who baptized Uncle Sam?
Some folks say the USA was Christian from the start….
But was George Washington a Christian? No!
Was Thomas Jefferson a Christian? No!
Ben Franklin? No! John Adams? No!
Was Abe Lincoln a Christian? No! No! No!
They separated Church and State which makes dem Christians frown,
And on that day I’m glad to say they smacked dem Christians down!

We gotta Smack dem Christians Down,
Smack dem Christians Down,
On that day I’m glad to say they
Smacked dem Christians smaked dem Christians
Smacked dem Christians down.

My daddy hails from Alabam so the South is in my soul.
I know firsthand about Dixieland and one Christian Judge’s role. He said
“God made different races and gave them homes in separate places….”
So Black folk can’t marry white folk! No!
Black folk can’t marry white folk!
Colored can’t marry white folk! No!
Colored can’t marry white folk!
Nigras can’t marry white folk! No!
Nigras can’t marry white folk! No!
The Supreme Court heard it all and to their great renown,
On that day I’m glad to say they smacked dem crackers down!

We gotta Smack dem Christians Down,
Smack dem Christians Down,
On that day I’m glad to say they
Smacked dem Christians smaked dem Christians
Smacked dem Christians down.

Roll up the Bill of Rights and wap! wap! wap! ’em on the head.
Keep your radical Christian agenda away from my gonadicals and my pudenda!

I wish dem whacked-out Christian fools would learn from history
Instead of tryin’ to foist their bonehead rules on ‘mos like me.
If you wanna live in a theocracy maybe ya oughta move to Saudi Arabia.
Is the U.S. Government Islamic? No!
Is it Buddhist? No! Is it Hindu? No!
Jewish? No! Catholic? No!
Is the U.S. Government Christian? No! No! No!
So if dem Christians don’t back off we’ll run ’em outta town,
And on that day I’m glad to say we’ll Smack dem Christians Down!

We gotta Smack dem Christians Down,
Smack dem Christians Down,
On that day I’m glad to say we’ll
Smack Dem Christians Down.

Amen.
Smack dem Christians Down!
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Christian Crock: The Happy Christian Illusion…

 

10 Reasons to Leave Religion Behind…

 

From Mike Floorwalker

10. Messiah Story

Reason: The Messiah Story Has Been Around For Thousands Of Years

It should be noted that the idea of a divine savior of the human race is practically as old as the human race itself, and has resurfaced continually, echoing throughout our culture for thousands of years. That it continues to be a theme of popular works today is no surprise, but there exists a bitter debate over whether many or most of the major elements of the story of Jesus Christ were co-opted from other sources—some that originated hundreds or even thousands of years before Jesus.

The general assertion by the skeptical is that all of these elements—the virgin birth, significance of the solstices, the miracles, disciples, baptism, crucifixion, resurrection—along with many even more specific elements like Heaven and Hell, the soul, holy communion and others, were all seen before in multiple ancient pagan religions. Many Christians contend that these similarities are a distortion, or the result of ancient records being taken out of context or simply being inaccurate; atheists similarly will point out that practically all ancient records are of questionable accuracy to some degree, including those non-Christian references to the historicity of Jesus.

Modern scholars can only agree on two things about Jesus: that he was baptized, and that he was crucified on the order of Pontius Pilate. All of the other details are disputed by some group of scholars or another, and an examination of the ancient pagan religions predating Jesus—those surrounding Horus, Mithra, Dionysus, Krishna and many others—yields an astounding number of similarities that cannot be explained away as coincidence. These stories seem to be a part of ancient Mediterranean culture, which leads us to the fact that . . .

Message from an ex-buddhist…

 

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From Reddit

I am trying to give up my faith in Buddhism. I have been firmly buddhist about 8 years. Someone was saying that Buddhists ARE atheist. So that atheism does not negate buddhism. I think this is a common belief amongst some Atheists so I thought I’d make a post about this.

I told him that while Buddhists don’t place their faith in God, that faith is still required, particularly in Buddha as teacher, dharma as teaching, Sangha as community, and guru as embodiment of all three for Tibetan Buddhists which I was one. Some Buddhists consider the belief of karma to be the equivalent to the belief of god, albeit not an entity. There are gods, demigods, ghosts, demons, deities (which are not gods, but beings who are perfectly enlightened Buddha’s who are omniscent). There is reincarnation, which is not limited to as a human, but in any realm of existence including the many heavens and hells, of which you become destined by karmic law. There are prescribed morals, which have been handed down from the Buddha to avoid bad karma.

There are saints, who have attained power of the external world through gaining power over their mind. Including, but not limited to things such as levitation, telepathy, multiplying your body into many bodies, making it appear larger, smaller, or disappear, walking through walls, moving through the earth, reaching out and touching the sun or moon, power over time.

Humanism in Literature: Ten Authors to Read…

 

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From The Humanist

In his essay, “Humanist Literature in Perspective,”Dr. Arthur Dobrin, professor emeritus at Hofstra University and leader emeritus of the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island, writes,

‘Humanist literature’ is an ambiguous term. Does it refer to that which has been written by humanists about humanism; and what is literature? …It is my contention that without fiction and poetry, i.e., imaginative literature, a humanist is only half-literate.

Dobrin then contends that “humanists read mostly works in the social sciences, science, philosophy, politics, biography, and current events. Missing from this list is fiction and poetry.” He adds that literature is unique in that “it makes us feel what it means to be human, what one person experiences, what one person feels.”

When it comes to literature that explores the various dimensions of the humanist philosophy and way of life, humanists have much to choose from, including books written by Humanist of the Year recipients Isaac Asimov, Margaret Atwood, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, Joyce Carol Oates, Carl Sagan, Kurt Vonnegut, and Alice Walker, along with works by prominent humanists Phillip Pullman and Salman Rushdie, and other authors published through the American Humanist Association’s Humanist Press.

Below, we suggest ten authors (in alphabetical order) to add to your reading list (if they’re not on it already) whose novels and collections of short stories carry humanistic themes.

Evangelical Christianity’s Brand Is Used Up…

 

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From Valerie Tarico

“The Evangelical “brand” has gone from being an asset to a liability, and it is helpful to understand the transition in precisely those terms.”

Back before 9/11 indelibly linked Islam with terrorism, back before the top association to “Catholic priest” was “pedophile,” most Americans—even nonreligious Americans—thought of religion as benign. I’m not religious myself, people would say, but what’s the harm if it gives someone else a little comfort or pleasure. 

Back then, people associated Christianity with kindness and said things like, “That’s not very Christian of him,” when a person acted stingy or mean; and nobody except Evangelical Christians knew the difference between Evangelicalism and more open, inquiring forms of Christianity.

Those days are over. Islam will be forever tainted by Islamist brutalities, by images of bombings, beheadings, and burkas. The collar and cassock will forever evoke the image of bishops turning their backs while priests rub themselves on altar boys. And thanks to the fact that American Evangelical leaders sold their congregations to the Republican Party in exchange for political power, Evangelical Christianity is now distinctive—and widely despised.

Another way to put this is that the Evangelical “brand” has gone from being an asset to a liability, and it is helpful to understand the transition in precisely those terms.

New Documentary: Jehovah’s Witnesses and child abuse: Is there a problem?

 

From JWsurvey

In recent years, news reports featuring the Jehovah’s Witnesses have been growing significantly in number.

Yet the subject has not been their famous door to door ministry, or coverage of their international conventions, or even of their controversial refusal of blood transfusions.

No, the reports claim that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the official name for the organisation that governs the Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide, has been engaged in covering up child abuse within the religion on a massive scale.

But are these reports justified? Is this a case of an innocent religion being unfairly maligned because of the actions of one or two bad apples in their ranks? How many victims are there? Do the Governing Body know about these issues? What’s really going in the multiple courtroom cases that Watchtower has been fighting across the world?

To answer these questions Lloyd Evans, founder and Senior Editor of JWsurvey and activist against cult indoctrination, has produced a painstakingly researched documentary that draws together evidence from multiple sources spanning the past twenty five years.
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The film takes the viewer step by step through the issue, from the accounts of the survivors and lawyers involved in the court cases, to the interviews from journalists who have investigated the claims. The film takes us to Barbara Anderson, the whistleblower who first raised the alarm on this issue, and shows footage of members of the Governing Body, the group who lead the Jehovah’s Witnesses, being interrogated under oath on the subject by the Australian Royal Commission, and being grilled by reporters at a District Convention.

The results are eye-opening and deeply concerning, and reveal a genuine risk to both the children of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and also to the children of the general public.

We therefore urge everyone to view this video, and to share it as far and wide as possible to raise public awareness of this issue.

We would also like to add a personal message to all Jehovah’s Witnesses who may be reading this and who wish to view the video, but are concerned that they might be exposed to “apostate thinking.”

Genuine truth has nothing to fear from enquiry.

Falsehood posing as truth is terrified of enquiry.
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Heart Shaped Scars: Coping with the Loss of Faith and Family…

 

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From Godless In Dixie

The day before my father died, I fell down and skinned my ankle.  It was one of those stupid mistakes that you don’t regret until you are plummeting toward the pavement at 9.8 meters per second-per second.

I was going to take a picture with my phone near the side of the road. (It was for work, and I was trying to be relatively professional.)  But when the ground has the appearance of “ground” and the consistency of a swimming pool full of bean bag pellets, I learned the hard way that Mother Nature is a deceiving little prankster with an affinity for slapstick humor.

My phone clattered to the sidewalk, screen-side down and I tumbled forward in a lurching, broken stagger-cum-nose dive.  I was relieved to find that the glass was miraculously unscathed, but it was only then that the tell-tale burning sting began to alert my consciousness to the fact that I was bleeding from my palms, knees, and ankles.  Well, we all have our priorities I suppose.

Happy to have my phone in one piece, I bandaged myself up and went back to work for the next day and a half.  Early the next morning my mother called sobbing, inconsolable and disoriented.  My father had passed away in his sleep.

Now, my father was a wonderful man in many ways, but truth be told he was also kind of an ass.  Anybody who knew him well would tell you as much.  He was sentimental, principled, tenacious, intelligent, introspective, loyal, determined, trusting, and possessed an impish, incorrigible sense of humor.

Freethinkers: Born on this day — Victor Hugo…



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From The Freethinker

On February 27, 1802, Victor Marie Hugo was born in France, the son of a Napoleonic officer.

By 17, Hugo had earned three prizes for poetry at Toulouse. The King awarded Hugo a royal pension after Hugo’s Odes and Poetry appeared in 1822. His first drama, Cromwell, was published in 1827.

After devoting nearly two decades to stage writing, Hugo turned to fiction. His novel, known in English as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, was published in 1831, featuring a villainous priest.

It has been turned into several movies and dramatizations, including a Disney cartoon (which interestingly turned villain Claude Frollo into a layperson).

Les Miserables was published in 1862 in ten languages. The epic tale has spawned several movies. A French musical opened in 1980. The English version debuted in 1985, and its Broadway debut was in 1987.

Hugo was forced to flee to Belgium following Napoleon III’s coup d’etat. He eventually returned to France when the Republic was proclaimed, and was elected a senator of Paris in 1876.

Although his spiritual views wavered over his long and tempestuous life, Hugo was anti-clerical, freedom-loving, and generally considered to have been a rationalistic deist. He died in 1885.

In his 1881 play Ninety-three, Hugo wrote: “An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise.”
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The Reason Rally, Washington DC, 6/4/16…

 

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O come all ye faithless. Johnny Depp, is to be a star attraction at what is being hailed as the largest gathering of non-believers in the world – the Reason Rally, scheduled to take place in Washington DC on June 4.

Depp, who once said “religion is not my specialty,” is one of the scheduled speakers at the rally, a project organised by seven national atheist, humanist and other secularist organisations

Other speakers include television personality Bill Nye, scientists Lawrence Krauss and Carolyn Porco, comedians Margaret Cho and Julia Sweeney and musicians Killah Priest and Mark White of the Spin Doctors.

“Up until now, for a celebrity, politician or athlete to identify as openly non-religious has been regarded as career suicide,” said Lyz Liddell, the Reason Rally’s Executive Director. “The fact that these big, mainstream names are beginning to openly support our work and become involved in our community means that the entire cultural attitude towards non-religious Americans is shifting towards acceptance and inclusion – and that’s wonderful!

Richard Dawkins, who suffered a mild stroke in early February and whose foundation is one of the sponsors of the rally, is also slated to speak, though his appearance will depend on his health, Liddell said.
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Jesus and Mo: Therefore…

 

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