Freethought

Freethinker: ‘The Most Hated Woman in America’ — Melissa Leo on the Murder of Atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair…

 

Madalyn Murray O’Hair took on the Supreme Court to get prayer out of schools, started a culture war, and was violently murdered for it. A new Netflix film finally tells her story.

In 1964, Madalyn Murray O’Hair appeared in Life magazine, her infamy warranting a headline branding her “The Most Hated Woman in America.” Five decades later, America seems to have moved on. Murray O’Hair, despite her notoriety and celebrity status during the culture wars, is no longer a household name—something a new Netflix film about the controversial activist and, ultimately, murder victim hopes to remedy.

Oscar-winner Melissa Leo stars as Murray O’Hair in the story so wild—and yet, so true—that it’s astounding that it hasn’t been turned into a film before.

In 1960, in the midst of a career as a social worker and civil rights activist, Murray O’Hair filed a landmark lawsuit against the Baltimore City Public School System on behalf of her older son, William, arguing that it was unconstitutional to force him to participate in Bible readings while attending public school. The lawsuit eventually reached the Supreme Court in 1963, with an 8-1 ruling in her favor.

She would later move to Austin, Texas, where her on-screen portrayer, Leo, is sitting down with The Daily Beast after the film’s SXSW festival premiere.

The Wonder of it All: A Conversation with Bart Campolo…

 


~~

Freethinker: Douglas Adams

 

From FFRF

On this date in 1952, science fiction/comedy writer Douglas Adams was born in Cambridge, England. He was educated at Brentwood School, Essex, and St. John’s College, Cambridge, where he graduated with a BA in 1974, and later earned his Master’s in English literature.

Adams worked as a writer and producer in radio and television. In 1978, “The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” ran as a series on BBC Radio, and was published as a novel in 1979. Fourteen million copies of the cult scifi novel have sold worldwide, followed by sequels. The satiric novel chronicles the adventures of an alien, Ford Prefect, and his human companion, Arthur Dent, as they travel the universe looking for the meaning of life after the earth’s destruction. Adams became the youngest author to be awarded the Golden Pan in 1984.

Adams was also an Internet pioneer. He married Jane Belson in 1991 and they had a daughter, Polly, in 1994. He was at work on a screenplay for Hitch Hiker when he died unexpectedly at age 49 of a heart attack. Adams called himself a “committed Christian” as a teenager, who began to rethink his beliefs at age 18 after listening to the nonsense of a street preacher. He credited books by his friend, Richard Dawkins, including The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker, for helping to cement his views on religion.

In one of his speeches, Dawkins quotes Adams, who said: “Now, the invention of the scientific method is, I’m sure we’ll all agree, the most powerful intellectual idea, the most powerful framework for thinking and investigating and understanding and challenging the world around us that there is, and it rests on the premise that any idea is there to be attacked. If it withstands the attack then it lives to fight another day and if it doesn’t withstand the attack then down it goes. Religion doesn’t seem to work like that. It has certain ideas at the heart of it which we call sacred or holy or whatever.” (“Emperor Has No Clothes” Award acceptance speech, reprinted in Freethought Today, October 2001.)

In The Salmon of Doubt, a compilation of Adams’ writings published posthumously in 2002, Adams wrote of religion: “But it does mystify me that otherwise intelligent people take it seriously.” D. 2001.

“If you describe yourself as ‘Atheist,’ some people will say, ‘Don’t you mean “Agnostic’?” ‘ I have to reply that I really do mean Atheist. I really do not believe that there is a god—in fact I am convinced that there is not a god (a subtle difference). I see not a shred of evidence to suggest that there is one. It’s easier to say that I am a radical Atheist, just to signal that I really mean it, have thought about it a great deal, and that it’s an opinion I hold seriously. It’s funny how many people are genuinely surprised to hear a view expressed so strongly. In England we seem to have drifted from vague wishy-washy Anglicanism to vague wishy-washy Agnosticism—both of which I think betoken a desire not to have to think about things too much.”

—Douglas Adams, interview, American Atheist (Winter 1998-99)

~~

Freethinker: Ingersoll’s Vow…

 

i

 

From The Archives
ROBERT INGERSOLL (1833 – 1899)
The Great Agnostic

When I became convinced that the Universe is natural – that all the ghosts and gods are myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood, the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom.

The walls of my prison crumbled and fell, the dungeon was flooded with light and all the bolts, and bars, and manacles became dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf or a slave.

There was for me no master in all the wide world – not even in infinite space. I was free – free to think, to express my thoughts – free to live to my own ideal – free to live for myself and those I loved – free to use all my faculties, all my senses – free to spread imagination’s wings – free to investigate, to guess and dream and hope – free to judge and determine for myself – free to reject all ignorant and cruel creeds, all the “inspired” books that savages have produced, and all the barbarous legends of the past – free from popes and priests – free from all the “called” and “set apart” – free from sanctified mistakes and holy lies – free from the fear of eternal pain – free from the winged monsters of the night – free from devils, ghosts and gods.

For the first time I was free. There were no prohibited places in all the realms of thought – no air, no space, where fancy could not spread her painted wings – no chains for my limbs – no lashes for my back – no fires for my flesh – no master’s frown or threat – no following another’s steps – no need to bow, to cringe, or crawl, or utter lying words. I was free. I stood erect and fearlessly, joyously, faced all worlds.

And then my heart was filled with gratitude, with thankfulness, and went out in love to all the heroes, the thinkers who gave their lives for the liberty of hand and brain – for the freedom of labor and thought – to those who fell on the fierce fields of war, to those who died in dungeons bound with chains – to those who proudly mounted scaffold’s stairs – to those whose bones were crushed, whose flesh was scarred and torn – to those by fire consumed – to all the wise, the good, the brave of every land, whose thoughts and deeds have given freedom to the sons of men.

And then I vowed to grasp the torch that they had held, and hold it high, that light might conquer darkness still.
~~

What Is God’s Problem With Women?

 

g


The Genesis of Misogyny

From Church and State, UK

It all started with Eve. Or did it?

The Alphabet Of Ben-Sira, a Judaic document derived from a Talmudic script, asserts that Lilith, not Eve, was Adam’s wife. Since it comes to us through the same mythological lineage as the Bible itself, the historical veracity of The Alphabet of Ben-Sira is not what matters here. What does matter is that this ancient text gives us a female who makes Germaine Greer look like Mother Teresa.

Unlike her successor, Eve, Lilith was not made from Adam’s rib. She was made from clay in exactly the same way as her husband was. Her job description, as given to her by God, was to submit to Adam and be “under him”. But she had no sooner morphed into existence when she told God “I will not be below; I will not lie beneath him – I am as him; made too from clay.” God, not used to being spoken to like this, became angry. Lilith, however, didn’t give a toss; she just flew away and joined a hoard of screaming female demons.

And that’s how we have Feminists.

But Lilith came back for revenge, as you do. She verbally assaulted the angels that God sent to return her to Adam and generally threatened screeching mayhem on any male, or Deity for that matter, who came within screeching distance. She was never incorporated into the bible as a real human being; instead she is listed among abominable animals and evil spirits in the Old Testament. No surprise there, then.

It is said by contemporary scholars that The Alphabet of Ben-Sira was a satirical commentary, all well and good. But what is wonderful about the story of Lilith is the fact that the ancient satirist who wrote her into being did so because he was smart enough to recognise that the secondary/submissive role assigned to women by God was a crock of shit.

Freethinker: Scott Dikkers, The Onion

 
s
From FFRF

On this date in 1965, humorist and entrepreneur Scott Dikkers was born in Minneapolis. While attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he started drawing a comic strip called Jim’s Journal that gained a small measure of local notoriety. He parlayed that into an unpaid spot on the staff of The Onion, a student humor newspaper started in 1988. The next year, he and Peter Haise bought the paper and started expanding it in terms of content and circulation beyond Madison. The Onion’s small staff (described in one story as a “lone Jew surrounded by a collection of lapsed Lutherans and lapsed Catholics”) focused on making the mundane both irreverent and hilarious. A fair amount of that irreverence lands on religion’s shoulders. “Christians Growing Impatient for Third Coming of Christ” was the headline on one story. There are many, many others. Dikkers, described as reclusive and somewhat of a loner, was, according to one story, married for a time, something that no one on the staff reportedly knew.

The Onion went online in 1996, which vastly increased its audience and renown. Dikkers co-wrote and edited The Onion’s first original book, Our Dumb Century, a best-selling spoof of recent history through Onion front pages, and Our Dumb World, a world atlas parody. In the mid-2000s, he spearheaded “The Onion News Network” web series, which won a Peabody Award in 2008 for its “ersatz news that has a worrisome ring of truth.” That same year he addressed the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s national convention in Chicago.

Dikkers was also included on Time magazine’s list of the Top 50 “Cyber Elite” along with Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, George Lucas and others. Headquarters moved to New York City in 2000-01 and to Chicago in 2012. The enterprise had been sold in 2003 to David Schafer. Dikkers remained as editor-in-chief from 2005–08 and is current vice president for creative development. Print publication ended in 2013. He has written more than 20 humor books and developed the “Writing with The Onion” program at the Second City Training Center in Chicago.

“See, atheists and agnostics aren’t scary. Listen to their laughter! It’s a joyous sound, like the laughter of innocent children. You can trust us!

Furthermore, I want to say to the world, you need us. As I hope I’ve demonstrated here, atheists are fun. We’re fun to be with. We like playing make believe as much as the next guy, but we know the difference between fantasy and reality. And our crucial role in society is to remind everyone else of the cold, hard facts.”

—Speech, FFRF national convention, Oct. 12, 2008

~~

Pennsylvania school 10 Commandments marker to be removed due to FFRF lawsuit

 
ff

From FFRF

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is delighted to announce the successful settlement of a longstanding federal lawsuit challenging a 6-foot Ten Commandments monument in front of a Pennsylvania public high school.

FFRF, a national state/church watchdog, along with a student and parent, Marie Schaub, filed suit in September 2012. Schaub, an atheist, ultimately withdrew her daughter from Valley High School in the New Kensington-Arnold School District because of the monument.

U.S. District Judge Terrence McVerry dismissed the New Kensington challenge in July 2015, ruling that Schaub and her child did not have frequent enough contact with the decalog monolith, which meant that they did not have standing to sue over the violation.

In August 2016, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Schaub’s legal right to challenge the bible monument. The three- judge panel unanimously found that Schaub’s removal of her daughter from the school due to the presence of the monument, and prior contact with it, established their clear injury to sue.

That ruling set in motion negotiations with the school district, which has now agreed to remove the Ten Commandments monument within 30 days. The district’s insurer will pay attorneys’ fees of $163,500, of which more than $40,000 will go to FFRF for its attorney fees as well as reimbursement for its costs.

“It’s been a drawn-out fight but my family and I are grateful to everyone who has helped us finally right a wrong that was committed so long ago,” says Schaub, who received FFRF’s Atheist in a Foxhole Courage Award at its annual convention last fall in Pittsburgh. “I hope this settlement serves as a lesson and a reminder that the separation of state and church is especially important when in comes to our kids in public schools. The removal of this religious monument will provide a more welcoming environment that will promote equality and neutrality.”

FFRF is gratified that reason and our secular Constitution have prevailed.

“The First Commandment alone is reason why public schools may not endorse the Commandments,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “Students in our public schools are free to have any god they like, as many gods as they like — or none at all! In America, we live under the First Amendment, not the First Commandment.”

In August 2015, McVerry had ruled in favor of FFRF’s challenge of a similar marker in front of the a junior high school in Connellsville, Pa. That bible monument was removed in October 2015.

Representing FFRF is local attorney Marcus B. Schneider, with FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott serving as co-counsel.

FFRF has 27,000 nonreligious members nationwide.
~~

Those Seven Savage Hitchens Carpet Bombs…

 


~~

Sunday School: Instruction Manual for Life

 

~~

Jesus and Mo

 

img_2178
~~

Freethinker: Natalie Angier born on this day in 1958…

 

n
From FFRF

On this date in 1958, Pulitzer Prize-winning science columnist for The New York Times Natalie Angier was born in New York City to a Jewish mother and a father with a Christian Science background. She attended the University of Michigan for two years, then transferred to Barnard College, where she studied English, physics and astronomy, and graduated with high honors.

At 22, she became a founding staff reporter for the science magazine Discover. Throughout the 1980s, Angier worked as a senior science writer for Time Magazine, as an editor for the women’s business magazine Savvy, and as a professor of journalism in a graduate program at New York University. She began writing for The New York Times in 1990 and won a Pulitzer after just ten months on the job for a series of ten feature science articles.

Her hit books include Natural Obsessions (1988), about the world of cancer research, The Beauty of the Beastly (1995), and the National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestseller, Woman: An Intimate Geography (1999), which has sold over 200,000 copies. Woman won a Maggie Award from Planned Parenthood, was nominated for the Samuel Johnson Award (Britain’s largest nonfiction literary prize), and was named one of the best books of the year by the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, People magazine, National Public Radio, amazon.com, Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, and the New York Public Library. In 2002, she edited The Best American Science and Nature Writing, and in 2010 The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of ScienceRichard Dawkins describes The Canon as “an intoxicating cocktail of fine science writing,” and Barbara Ehrenreich says of it, “Finally, Nature has a found a biographer who’s up to the task.” Angier received the American Association for the Advancement of Science prize for excellence in science journalism, among many awards and honors. Her writing has appeared in numerous magazines, publications and anthologies. She began serving a five-year term as the Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University in 2007, previously filled by Oliver Sacks, Toni Morrison, Jane Goodall, and others who were “distinguished contributors to cultural achievement.”

nat
Angier, a self-proclaimed “lonely atheist,” was a guest on Freethought Radio in 2006. In The New York Times Sunday Magazine (Jan. 14, 2001), Angiers outed herself as an atheist in the article, “Confessions of a Lonely Atheist”: “I’m an Atheist. I don’t believe in God, Gods, Godlets or any sort of higher power beyond the universe itself, which seems quite high and powerful enough to me. I don’t believe in life after death, channeled chat rooms with the dead, reincarnation, telekinesis or any miracles but the miracle of life and consciousness, which again strike me as miracles in nearly obscene abundance . . . I’m convinced that the world as we see it was shaped by the again genuinely miraculous, let’s even say transcendent, hand of evolution through natural selection.” She continued, “I may not believe in life after death, but what a gift it is to be alive now.” Angier received an Emperor Has No Clothes Award at the 2003 national convention of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. She is married to and has a daughter with Rick Weiss, a science reporter for the Washington Post.

“Sure, I’m a soapbox atheist. But she [my daughter] doesn’t have to take my word for anything. All she has to do is look around her, every day, to find the bible she needs—in the sky, sun, moon, Mars, leaves, lady bugs, stink bugs, possums, tadpoles, cardinals, the wonderful predatory praying mantises that have gotten really big and fat this year on all the insects this rainy year has brought. Life needs no introduction, explanation or excuse. Life is bigger than myth—except in California.”

—Natalie Angier, during her acceptance speech of the Emperor Has No Clothes Award at the national FFRF convention in 2003

~~

Freethinker: Roll to Disbelieve — The Handbook

 

I had a GM once who used random objects when he didn't have a miniature that was the right size or whatever. One day we're fighting something and he gets out this gigantic stuffed six-sider and sets it down in front of our tiny little 1" minis. We were totally O.O (Dagny Mol, CC.)

I had a GM once who used random objects when he didn’t have a miniature that was the right size or whatever. One day we’re fighting something during a game and he gets out this gigantic stuffed six-sider that’s the size of a basketball and sets it down without a word in front of our tiny little 1″ minis. We were totally O.O (Dagny MolCC.)

From 

Hi! I’ve noticed an uptick in new folks lately and have gotten some emails asking me why I call my blog what I do, so I thought that today–the most chocolate-y day of the year, so to speak–was a good day to bring everyone up to speed. I haven’t written about it in a long time and I’ve learned a lot since then. So today I want to show you what “rolling to disbelieve is” and what it feels like to make your roll at last.

I was Christian for the first half of my life, deconverting in my 20s a couple years after graduating from college. And oh boy was I Christian. My entire Christian “walk” (that’s Christianese for someone’s journey through the religion to, I suppose, enlightenment) seemed like one long search for this gauzy notion of TRUE CHRISTIANITY™ that I was sure must exist out there somewhere.

Somewhere, if I searched hard enough, I’d find a group that was practicing the ideals of Jesus the way Christians everywhere should be, and I’d finally be okay. Looking back it’s both laughable and tearjerking to think of how anguished I was over the misery, dysfunction, and hypocrisy I saw around me, and of how hard I worked to find that group. I kept going from group to group trying to find the one that was doing Christianity right–and in the process, spiraled down into worse and worse groups and even almost ended up in Waco right around when that David Koresh stuff was going down (with a different and arguably even worse cult, though).

Freethinkers: Freedom From Religion Foundation

 

1CBSMorning

It’s another week and another busy period for us here at the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Unlike the weeks before, this week the lion’s share of our time and energy was not spent focusing on the Trump administration. Instead, we were active in a number of different directions.

A lot of local activity
So, we did what we’ve done in regular times: We kept an eye on local and state-level institutions for violations of state/church separation. We warned a South Carolina school district about a reading of an overtly Christian book to an entire elementary school. (We’ve put up some of the images from the book for you to look at.)

We’re having to refight another local-level battle, though. A Minnesota city is backtracking on its removal of a cross from a public veterans park. The Belle Plaine City Council seemingly caved in to immense local religious pressure and is permitting the cross to be put back up. We’ve told the city council members that if this is done, FFRF will propose for the park a memorial of its own: to atheists in foxholes. Reply awaited.

Another local-level legal battle seems to be going well for us so far. In a case where FFRF filed an amicus brief, a Florida judge says a prayer lawsuit against a high school athletic league should be tossed out.

Bill Maher explains why he criticizes religion…

 


~~

Freethinker: Thomas Edison born this day in 1847…

 

img_2150

 

From Freedom From Religion Foundation

On February 11, 1847, Thomas Alva Edison was born in Ohio, the youngest of seven. The inventor – famed for reading Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire before the age of ten, and for vowing at age 12 to read the entire contents of the Detroit Public Library – was largely self-taught.

Supporting himself at a very early age, Edison sold newspapers, worked for railroad companies and became a telegraph operator. He invented the incandescent light bulb, the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and improved the telegraph and telephone, becoming a highly successful businessman and manufacturer.

Edison, who held more than 1,300 US and foreign patents, famously noted: “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

Edison, who died in 1931, told The New York Times in an interview (June 8, 1915 edition): “I am proud of the fact that I never invented weapons to kill.”

A lifelong freethinker, one of his oft-repeated lines (for which we could find only secondary sources) is: “So far as religion of the day is concerned, it is a damned fake. . . . Religion is all bunk.”

In an interview with The New York Times (October 2, 1910) Edison said: “I cannot believe in the immortality of the soul … I am an aggregate of cells, as, for instance, New York City is an aggregate of individuals. Will New York City go to heaven? …. No; nature made us – nature did it all – not the gods of the religions.”

~~

Sam Harris: Science can answer moral questions…

 


~~

Church and State: Hitler Was a Faithful Christian, and His Germany a Christian Nation…

 

Adolf Hitler chancellor of Germany is welcomed by supporters at Nuremberg.


From John Patrick Michael Murphy
Council for Secular Humanism

In George Orwell’s 1984, it was stated, “Who controls the past controls the future, who controls the present controls the past.” Who is going to control the present-fundamentalism or freedom?

History is being distorted by many preachers and politicians. They are heard on the airwaves condemning atheists and routinely claim Adolph Hitler was one. Hitler was a Roman Catholic, baptized into that religio-political institution as an infant in Austria. He became a communicant and an altar boy in his youth and was confirmed as a “soldier of Christ” in that church. Its worst doctrines never left him. He was steeped in its liturgy, which contained the words “perfidious jew.” This hateful statement was not removed until 1961. “Perfidy” means treachery.

In his day, hatred of Jews was the norm. In great measure it was sponsored by two major religions of Germany, Catholicism, and Lutheranism. He greatly admired Martin Luther, who openly hated the Jews. Luther condemned the Catholic Church for its pretensions and corruption, but he supported the centuries of papal pogroms against the Jews. Luther said, “The Jews deserve to be hanged on gallows, seven times higher than ordinary thieves,” and “We ought to take revenge on the Jews and kill them.” “Ungodly wretches” he called the Jews in his book Table Talk.

Hitler seeking power, wrote in Mein Kampf, “… I am convinced that I am acting as the agent of our Creator. By fighting off the Jews. I am doing the Lord’s work.” Years later, when in power, he quoted those same words in a Reichstag speech in 1938.

Three years later he informed General Gerhart Engel: “I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so.” He never left the church, and the church never left him. Great literature was banned by his church, but his miserable Mein Kampf never appeared on the index of Forbidden Books. He was not excommunicated or even condemned by his church. Popes, in fact, contracted with Hitler and his fascist friends Franco and Mussolini, giving them veto power over whom the pope could appoint as a bishop in Germany, Spain, and Italy. The three thugs agreed to surtax the Catholics of these countries and send the money to Rome in exchange for making sure the state could control the church.

Church and State: Church atrocities receded in Europe because of the Enlightenment…

 

From Church and State, UK

Excerpted from Holy Horrors: An Illustrated History of Religious Murder and Madness by James A. Haught. Copyright © James A. Haught, 2002. All rights reserved.

Chapter 15: Enlightenment

During the 1700s, religion’s throttlehold upon Europe slowly loosened. Religious killing still occurred, but with decreasing frequency. Sporadic examples:

In 1723, the bishop of Gdansk, Poland, demanded the expulsion of Jews. The city council declined, but the bishop’s exhortations roused a mob that invaded the ghetto and beat the residents to death.

Women still were burned occasionally as witches-in Scotland in 1722, in Germany in 1749, in Switzerland in 1782.

From 1702 to 1710, Louis XIV’s efforts to stamp out Protestantism caused Camisards of southern France to burn Catholic churches and kill priests. Catholic troops were sent in, slaughtering whole villages. Camisard leaders were executed.

The Inquisition was still alive, chiefly in Spain, but its horrors were few (perhaps because Spain had hardly any secret Jews, Muslims, or Protestants left to kill).

In 1715, Protestants were violently persecuted in the Rhineland Palatinate, and in 1732, Archbishop Firmian forcibly expelled 20,000 Protestants from Salzburg province.

Christians still accused Jews of stealing holy wafers and stabbing them to crucify Jesus again. An execution for host-nailing happened in Nancy, France, in 1761. Christians still accused Jews of sacrificing Gentile children, but massacres were rare. A late exception was the killing of 128 Jews at Bucharest in 1801 after Orthodox priests raised the blood libel.

Why did church atrocities recede in the West? Because a new social climate was spreading—the Age of Reason, the Enlightenment. Philosopher Hegel called it “the Age of Intelligence.” The growth of scientific thinking and open discourse brought an awakening of human rights: a sense that people should be allowed to hold differing beliefs without risking death.

Thomas Paine born on this day in 1737

 

img_2109

From FFRF

On this date in 1737, Thomas Paine was born in England. Paine wrote “Common Sense” in 1776, fanning the flames of the American Revolution. On the cutting edge of revolution, Paine is best known for his political writings. No better index to Paine’s character can be found than his reply to Franklin’s remark, “Where liberty is, there is my country.” “Where liberty is not,” said Paine, “there is mine.” Without the pen of Paine, said one contemporary, the sword of Washington would have been wielded in vain.

A radical freethinker in the 18th century mode of deism, Paine wrote the classic criticism of the bible, The Age of Reason (1792), completing the second volume under arduous conditions of imprisonment in France. “I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow creatures happy. I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.”

Organized religion was “set up to terrify and enslave” and to “monopolize power and profit.” Paine repudiated the divine origin of Christianity on grounds that it was too “absurd for belief, too impossible to convince and too inconsistent to practice.” He was vilified for his unabashed analysis of the bible when he returned to America in 1802. Even a century after his death, Theodore Roosevelt referred to Paine, the man who named the United States of America, as “a filthy little atheist.” Notable quotes: “. . . my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.” – Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man. D. 1809.

“Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize.” —Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason (1792)
~~

The Martyrdom of Bruno by the Christian Inquisition…

 

Burning Bruno, drawn by Watson Heston.
Burning Bruno, drawn by Watson Heston.

From The Truth Seeker

In the 1880s, the world’s freethinkers adopted Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno as one of their martyrs. A victim of the Roman Inquisition, Bruno was burned at the stake in 1600 for his heretical views. In an effort to honor Bruno, freethinkers mounted a campaign—spearheaded in America by The Truth Seeker—to build a monument in Rome near the Vatican. In 1889, the Giordano Bruno monument was unveiled amidst frenetic protest by the Roman Catholic Church. The Vatican vehemently opposed any monument honoring Bruno, especially one erected on the spot where they burned the freethought martyr. Pope Leo called the effort a “sacrilegious deed.”

It was the Inquisition of Venice, in Italy, that brought Giordano Bruno, astronomer, philosopher, and Freethinker, to the stake. Bruno (born in 1548) chose the church as what he supposed was the least of three evils, the two others being the law and the army. He found that his choice was the worst he could have made.

In the pursuit of his studies Bruno stumbled against the dogmas of the Trinity, Transubstantiation, and the Virgin Birth. He discussed these subjects with his brother monks of the convent of St. Domenico Maggiore, Naples. Reaching heterodox conclusions, he was proceeded against by the maser of the novices. Again, when in full orders, the father provincial fell upon him with accusations of heretical tendencies, and realizing the grave danger of a second process against a relapsed heretic, he fled from Naples and took the road to Rome. Here he learned that the accusation would soon follow him, and made his way to Genoa. He found no place to rest. His wanderings led him to Geneva, the home of Calvinism, where he discovered shortly that Protestantism was as narrow as Romanism. “The two churches,” as Bartholmess says, “were governed by the same principle of jurisdiction – the criminality of heresies. Whoever believed wrongly, that is to say, otherwise than the Holy Office or the Venerable Consistory, believed nothing; and he who believed not committed the crime of treason to God, and deserved capital punishment. Persecution hence became a sacred duty, an act agreeable to God. The greater its intolerance, the greater its value.”

Kids More Likely To Be Molested At Church Than In Transgender Bathrooms…

 

img_2105

From Reddit

In just 1 month, 13 pastors were arrested for sexual assault & rape. Another was arrested for selling 68 babies, another for a DUI & a priest is in trouble for orgies & pimping out women. All the while, religious GOP lawmakers in 6 states filed anti-trans bathroom bills to “protect women and kids.”

Former children’s pastor arrested in Alabama for the second time for sexual abuse of a child under 12. 1.

Georgia youth minister arrested for having sex with a 14 year old 2.

Pastor in Charlotte charged with 9 armed robberies. 3.

Pastor in California arrested for sexually assaulting a 12 year old. 4.

Tennessee worship leader charged with exploitation of a minor. 5.

Minnesota pastor beat a boy for “testing God.” 6.

Pastor in Jamaica arrested after being caught doing some naughty things in his car with a 15 year old. 7.

Wellington Pastor is charged with sexual assault of a minor. 8.

Mike Pence Is A Theocrat. His Christian Supremacist Followers Seek To Take Over America. Seriously.

 

15781068_10202587205197499_5603833120012101186_n.jpg

“Imagine a world where Christian Supremacists plot a theocratic takeover of Washington, with the help of the Vice President. You’ve just crossed over into — 2017 America.”

From Daily Kos

Despite all the hand wringing and hysteria about the upcoming “presidency” of Donald Trump, the plain truth is that the Trump campaign stated in no uncertain terms that Vice President Mike Pence will in fact be in charge of “foreign and domestic affairs.”  What will that look like? Again, plainly, Mike Pence is not only the de facto leader of the Republican party, which is no longer the party of conservatism but is now the party of nationalism; but more importantly Mike Pence is at the head of another, far more dangerous Republican group, the “Christian Supremacists;” who are committed to taking over the government of the United States of America.  Preposterous, you say? Please read further.

Mike Pence found religion at approximately the same time that he found a way to succeed in politics. When asked about his religious conversion, Pence has stated that listening to a Christian music festival in college called him to Jesus. However, Pence’s appearance on the airwaves and his appearance at Grace Evangelical Church in Indianapolis both took place in the late eighties, early nineties, perhaps coincidentally.

Pence’s start in radio came when he lost a second Congressional race in 1988 and was commiserating in his law office when he got a call from a Rushville, Indiana woman, Sharon Disinger, who made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.  Disinger wanted Pence to host a talk show on her small radio station in Rush County. Disinger told Pence that his hero, Ronald Reagan got his start in radio; and it goes without saying that Pence had other heros, notably Rush Limbaugh, whose fame on the airwaves Pence openly aspired to.

Pence’s primary hero, however, was evangelist James Dobson. Dobson invited Pence on his radio show on October 5, 2016 and Pence proclaimed that being interviewed by Dobson was, “the greatest honor of my entire life.”  Dobson is virulently anti-gay as is Pence. Dobson is the founder of two anti-gay organizations, Focus On The Family and the Family Research Council and through those two groups Dobson proselytizes anti-gay hate doctrines thinly veiled with evangelical and pro-family language.  Dobson blamed the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary on same-sex marriage, and has also gone on record as stating that same-sex marriage could lead the U.S. into another civil war. Dobson’s political awareness is as astute as Ben Carson’s, if even.

Freethinker: Isaac Asimov born on this day in 1920…

 

i

From FFRF

“Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived”

On this day in 1920, Isaac Asimov, a self-described “second-generation freethinker” and one of the world’s most prolific authors, was born in Petrovichi, Russia. He moved with his family to Brooklyn, New York, in 1923, and became a naturalized citizen in 1928. Isaac taught himself to read by age five. At age seven, he taught his sister to read.

He sold one of his earliest published short stories, “Nightfall,” in 1941, which was eventually voted the best science-fiction short story ever written, by the Science Fiction Writers of America. Asimov graduated from Columbia University with a bachelor of science degree in 1939, earned his M.A. in 1941 and a Ph.D. in chemistry in 1948. He was hired by Boston University’s School of Medicine to teach biochemistry the following year, although he had never studied biochemistry. He wrote a textbook on the subject in 1951, became associate professor of biochemistry in 1955 and professor in 1979, although he stopped teaching in 1958 to devote his life to writing.

I, Robot, (1950), is the title of Asimov’s first collection of short stories (a recent movie was based on one of the stories). Employing the “Asimovian Law of Composition,” which meant writing from nine to five, seven days a week (often closer to 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.), he averaged at least 12 new books a year. Asimov won five Hugos, three Nebula Awards, and his best-known “Foundation” trilogy was given a 1966 Hugo as “Best All-Time Science-Fiction Series.” Nonfiction works by Asimov were typically encyclopedic in range, such as his well-known Asimov’s Guide to the Bible (1968) and Asimov’s Annotated Paradise Lost (1974). He wrote a series of popularizing books on science and history, and even a guide to Shakespeare.

Asimov was an atheist: “I am Jewish in the sense that if an Arab wanted to throw a rock at a Jew, I would qualify as a target as far as he was concerned. However, I do not practice Judaism or any other religion.” (March 17, 1969 letter). Asimov called himself “an orthodox, practicing atheist” (April 29, 1988 letter). Asimov wrote: “Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived” (Feb. 22, 1966 letter). He also observed, “I must say that I stand amazed at the highly intelligent people who have taken so much of the Bible so seriously” (Oct. 28, 1966 letter). “Nobody but a dedicated Christian could possibly read the gospels and not see them as a tissue of nonsense” (Nov. 1, 1966 letter). “I would not be satisfied to have my kids choose to be religious without trying to argue them out of it, just as I would not be satisfied to have them decide to smoke regularly or engage in any other practice I considered detrimental to mind or body” (Aug. 22, 1963 letter).

“I am prejudiced against religion because I know the history of religion, and it is the history of human misery and of black crimes” (March 27, 1976 letter). Elected in 1985 as president of the American Humanist Association, Asimov rejected an offer to support “Jewish” humanism: “I want to be a human being, nothing more and nothing less” (June 21, 1985). (All letters cited from Yours, Isaac Asimov, a Lifetime of Letters, edited by Stanley Asimov, 1995). Asimov noted that “it is an excellent sign that the right wing is trembling before a few thousand Humanists. We are weak and yet feared. Let’s give them more cause to fear!”

Upon his death at age 72, he had written more than 470 published books, covering every category in the Dewey Decimal System, fiction and nonfiction. Asimov was married twice, and had a son and daughter. Isaac’s death from heart and kidney failure was a consequence of AIDS contracted from a transfusion of tainted blood during his December 1983 triple-bypass operation. D. 1992.

“Just the force of rational argument in the end cannot be withstood.”

—Isaac Asimov, Winter Solstice Speech before the New Jersey Freedom From Religion Foundation, Dec. 22, 1985

~~

Atheist Christmas…

 

sg

From The Archives
ROBERT INGERSOLL (1833 – 1899)
The Great Agnostic

Again we celebrate the victory of Light over Darkness, of the God of day over the hosts of night. Again Samson is victorious over Delilah, and Hercules triumphs once more over Omphale. In the embrace of Isis, Osiris rises from the dead, and the scowling Typhon is defeated once more. Again Apollo, with unerring aim, with his arrow from the quiver of light, destroys the serpent of shadow. This is the festival of Thor, of Baldur and of Prometheus. Again Buddha by a miracle escapes from the tyrant of Madura, Zoroaster foils the King, Bacchus laughs at the rage of Cadmus, and Chrishna eludes the tyrant.

This is the festival of the sun-god, and as such let its observance be universal.

This is the great day of the first religion, the mother of all religions—the worship of the sun.

Sun worship is not only the first, but the most natural and most reasonable of all. And not only the most natural and the most reasonable, but by far the most poetic, the most beautiful.

The sun is the god of benefits, of growth, of life, of warmth, of happiness, of joy. The sun is the all-seeing, the all-pitying, the all-loving.

This bright God knew no hatred, no malice, never sought for revenge.

All evil qualities were in the breast of the God of darkness, of shadow, of night. And so I say again, this is the festival of Light. This is the anniversary of the triumph of the Sun over the hosts of Darkness.

Let us all hope for the triumph of Light—of Right and Reason—for the victory of Fact over Falsehood, of Science over Superstition.

And so hoping, let us celebrate the venerable festival of the Sun.

ac
~~

Why It’s Time to Call Bullshit on Prayer Requests…

 

bs

From Valerie Tarico

Asking God for help is not as harmless as it seems. 

Around the world and across America, people ask God for favors large and small, and praying gives them comfort. People pray over dying pets, dying parents, wars, forest fires, food, football games, parking spaces, tests, super-shopper discounts, erectile dysfunction, and excessive flatulence.

In the face of terrorist tragedies or natural disasters (sometimes called “acts of God”), preachers and politicians call for more prayer. And why not? It costs them nothing and earns them points. Public opinion and even the Bible are on their side. “Cast all your cares on him, for he cares for you,” said one Bible writer. “Ask and you will receive,” promised another.

Even though research shows that prayer requests don’t have any measurable effect—that God, at best, operates at the margins of statistical significance—pro-prayer platitudes and scripts are cherished and repeated and handed down from generation to generation. As a child at Camp Good News, I crooned along with my fellow campers: God answers prayer in the morning, God answers prayer at noo-oo-oon, God answers prayer in the eeevening . . . My youth pastor explained why it didn’t always seem that way: Sometimes God says yes, he told us, sometimes He says no, and sometimes He says wait. Forty years later, Christian children and youth still memorize the same lines.

Atheists, agnostics and other secular activists may think prayer is hogwash, but a lot of other people like praying and they like to think that it works. So, why not just leave the habit alone? It seems harmless enough. “Prayer makes us feel good.  It gives comfort.  It’s a way to feel like we’re doing something important with minimal effort,” says former Evangelical Seth Andrews.

It may even have other benefits.

Possible Perks from Asking God for Favors

The case against priests, preachers and evangelists…

 

or

From Church and State

How long would religion last if there was no special profit in it for those who carry on religious propaganda?

Millions of priests, preachers, bishops, nuns, sisters, monks, secretaries, evangelists, and others of higher or lower degree derive their living from the continual life of the religions they preach. Most of these people have very easy lives. They are usually fat and well kept, wear good clothes, and have special benefits.

They work together like a vast political machine. It is to their personal advantage to work for the religion which supports them. They toil not, neither do they spin, yet their religious followers support them in comfort and even luxury. Many a country has miserable shacks for the people who provide ostentatious and costly temples, tabernacles, and cathedrals for the leaders who are able to influence them.

Besides the easy living, which priests and witch-doctors have had from the earliest times, they have obtained many special privileges.

They are exempt from the hardships, wounds, and death of war; they are free from military duty. In this case we have another instance of evolution. The priests and their workers have saved their skins while their followers were on the battle front. So naturally the priestly clan throughout the ages has survived in a larger proportion than the braver members of their congregations who have gone to war. But the freedom from going to war is an advantage enjoyed only by women and priests, religious students and other church hangers-on. This in itself is a reason why many preachers and priests stick to their profession. During the Second World War more than 150,000 of these parasites escaped military service.

Priests, preachers, nuns are entitled to special rates on the railroads, steamships, and other means of transportation, often half fare — which increases the cost to other travelers.

Ah, the Bible is so full of it…

 

c
From Atheist Republic, GB

Still searching for a reason to return to my youth-religion, Roman Catholicism, I undertook to study the Bible, trying to assess what really was said about such items as the Annunciation and the birth of Jesus, hoping, too, to find references to such Church teachings as the Assumption of Mary. What I found was that Mother Church had constructed a whole wardrobe of yarns from its own cloth. No Assumption; no substantiation, in fact, for the whole Blessed Virgin Mary cult. Perhaps I was not surprised, as I had doubted features of the Holy Family story since I was young.

Having made a start on the Bible, I decided to read it from cover to cover, an exercise I now suggest to anyone who wants to further his/her atheistic bent. That the Pentateuch was a collection of tales to justify the political and military exploits of the Hebrew nation soon became obvious. The promotion of savage rules for living supposedly emanating from a kindly God was justification enough to cut my ties with any religion based on the Old Testament. That Paul continued the attack on women also energized my distaste for the New Testament.

Among the stories which annoy and disgust, is something lighter, the foolish yarn about Noah who purportedly built an ark (Genesis 6) which prevented every species on earth (except the unicorn) from perishing in an universal flood. The number of animals on board would vary, depending on which of the two versions, you want to accept; and, on how fast dinosaurs multiply (fundamentalists of many stripes believe that man and dinosaur co-existed). Totally impossible. Entirely misleading. But, excrementally funny, if you think about it.

On to the juicy stuff. So many stories teaching or approving of indecency, treachery, rape and murder. How to choose the more glaring examples? Lot (Genesis 11-14; 19 … particularly 19), being Abraham’s nephew, should be a good fellow to start the parade. His happy offer to let the mob at his door do whatever they want with his two virgin daughters, so long as they will not touch his two male guests, stands as one of the most vile examples of twisted thinking in the whole bible. It is comforting that the daughters lived to escape Sodom with their parents, though Lot’s wife didn’t make it, having looked back to see what was happening to her friends … which served her right, because Yahweh had warned her!  But, back to the tale … Lot is now an old man (still virile … it ran in the family) living in a cave in the hills with his two now-adult daughters who want to become pregnant. There are no men around, and they are too lame-brained to take their love to town, so they get their father drunk (this happens two nights in a row) and take turns sleeping with him to get pregnant. And it happens!  So drunk that he could not remember, he can still do the thing!  I guess that the girls told the historians of the time later on, when they discovered which way was downhill.

Why does religion cause so many problems?

 

img_2003

From Church and State, UK

If God were to exist, wouldn’t you expect there to be a huge benefit to those who follow and obey him? Why, instead, do we see the opposite?

For example, there is growing evidence that the delusion of religion causes significant social dysfunction. Statistical research is revealing the problems that go with religion. For example, a recent article in the Journal of Religion and Society points out that religion is correlated to the significant social difficulties that we can see in America:

In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion in the prosperous democracies (Figures 1-9). The most theistic prosperous democracy, the U.S., is exceptional, but not in the manner Franklin predicted. The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developed democracies, sometimes spectacularly so, and almost always scores poorly. The view of the U.S. as a “shining city on the hill” to the rest of the world is falsified when it comes to basic measures of societal health. [ref]

The prevailing view is that religion is harmless even if it is delusional. That turns out not to be the case. America is the most religious country of those studied in the developed world. America also has the biggest problems in terms of things like homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion.

This article by Sam Harris puts it this way:

While most Americans believe that getting rid of religion is an impossible goal, much of the developed world has already accomplished it. Any account of a “god gene” that causes the majority of Americans to helplessly organize their lives around ancient works of religious fiction must explain why so many inhabitants of other First World societies apparently lack such a gene. The level of atheism throughout the rest of the developed world refutes any argument that religion is somehow a moral necessity. Countries like Norway, Iceland, Australia, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Japan, the Netherlands, Denmark and the United Kingdom are among the least religious societies on Earth. According to the United Nations’ Human Development Report (2005) they are also the healthiest, as indicated by measures of life expectancy, adult literacy, per capita income, educational attainment, gender equality, homicide rate and infant mortality. Conversely, the 50 nations now ranked lowest in terms of human development are unwaveringly religious. Other analyses paint the same picture: The United States is unique among wealthy democracies in its level of religious literalism and opposition to evolutionary theory; it is also uniquely beleaguered by high rates of homicide, abortion, teen pregnancy, STD infection and infant mortality. The same comparison holds true within the United States itself: Southern and Midwestern states, characterized by the highest levels of religious superstition and hostility to evolutionary theory, are especially plagued by the above indicators of societal dysfunction, while the comparatively secular states of the Northeast conform to European norms. Of course, correlational data of this sort do not resolve questions of causality—belief in God may lead to societal dysfunction; societal dysfunction may foster a belief in God; each factor may enable the other; or both may spring from some deeper source of mischief. Leaving aside the issue of cause and effect, these facts prove that atheism is perfectly compatible with the basic aspirations of a civil society; they also prove, conclusively, that religious faith does nothing to ensure a society’s health.

Countries with high levels of atheism also are the most charitable in terms of giving foreign aid to the developing world. The dubious link between Christian literalism and Christian values is also belied by other indices of charity. Consider the ratio in salariesbetween top-tier CEOs and their average employee: in Britain it is 24 to 1; France 15 to 1; Sweden 13 to 1; in the United States, where 83% of the population believes that Jesus literally rose from the dead, it is 475 to 1. Many a camel, it would seem, expects to squeeze easily through the eye of a needle.

In other words, religion is harmful, not helpful. The reason is because God is imaginary and religious delusion is hurting all of us.

~~

 

God Is Imaginary…

 

g

 

It is easy to prove to yourself that God is imaginary. The evidence is all around you. Here are 50 simple proofs:

  1. Try praying
  2. Statistically analyze prayer
  3. Look at all historical gods
  4. Think about science
  5. Read the Bible
  6. Ponder God’s plan
  7. Understand religious delusion

Go to Website for complete list here
~~