freethinker

Church and State: A Secular State is best for religious and atheist citizens…

 

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From Irish Times Opinion

Most atheists believe gods exist only as ideas in the minds of humans. Most atheists are open to new evidence that we might be mistaken.

Many people misunderstand the difference between atheism and secularism. Both are forces for good, but for different reasons. Atheism can mean actively believing gods do not exist, or passively not believing gods exist.

Most atheists believe gods exist only as ideas in the minds of humans. Most atheists are open to new evidence that we might be mistaken.

Secularism can mean philosophically focusing on the natural world, or politically separating Church and State. Many religious people support political secularism.

Indeed, Atheist Ireland has a working alliance with Evangelical Alliance Ireland and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Ireland to promote a secular education system.

Atheist Ireland believes that reason and science are more reliable ways of understanding reality than are faith and religion, and that morality is a natural process based on evolved attributes such as empathy, compassion, co-operation, reciprocity, fairness, justice and reason.

Respecting rights

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

 

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“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…

 

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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…

 

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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…

 

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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…

 

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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…

 

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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.

Sam Harris: Missing Hitch

 

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It has been five years, my friend.

Five short years since you taught us how to die with wisdom and wit. And five long ones, wherein the world taught us how deeply we would miss you.

Syria. Safe spaces. President Trump.

What would you have made of these horrors?

More times than I can count, strangers have come forward to say, “I miss Hitch.” Their words are always uttered in protest over some new crime against reason or good taste. They are spoken after a bully passes by, smirking and unchallenged, whether on the Left or the Right. They have become a mantra of sorts, intoned without any hope of effect, in the face of dangerous banalities or lies. Often, I hear in them a note of personal reproach. Sometimes it’s intended.

You are not doing your part.

You don’t speak or write clearly enough.

You are wrong and do not know it—and it matters.

There has been so much to say, and no one to say it in your place.

I, too, miss Hitch.

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Why does religion cause so many problems?

 

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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.

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God Is Imaginary…

 

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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
~~

Sunday Song: Heaven is Satellite by the Hooters…

 

Thanks to Bruce

Hush little baby, don’t cry like that
God’s gonna buy you a Cadillac
He’s chosen you to do his will
You can spread the word in your coupe de ville

So jump in the river and learn to swim
God’s gonna wash away all your sins
And if you still can’t see the light
God’s gonna buy you a satellite

Look to the heavens and see it shine
Heals the sick and leads the blind
Tune it in and hear it say
It’s counting down to judgment day

So jump in the river and learn to swim
God’s gonna wash away all your sins
And if you still can’t see the light
God’s gonna buy you a satellite

Hey, satellite man, your time has come
Your word received by everyone
And should you fall, well, that’s okay
You love the ones that you betray

So jump in the river and learn to swim
God’s gonna wash away all your sins
And when at last you see the light
God’s gonna by you a satellite

So jump in the river and learn to swim
God’s gonna wash away all your sins
And when at last you see the light
God’s gonna buy you a satellite

Yeah, when at last you see the light
God’s gonna buy you a satellite
Hey, God’s gonna buy you a satellite

Look to the heavens and see it shine
~~

Ingersoll: Is Suicide a Sin?

 

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

* These letters were published in the New York World, 1894.

Col. Ingersoll’s First Letter.
I DO not know whether self-killing is on the increase or not. If it is, then there must be, on the average, more trouble, more sorrow, more failure, and, consequently, more people are driven to despair. In civilized life there is a great struggle, great competition, and many fail. To fail in a great city is like being wrecked at sea. In the country a man has friends; he can get a little credit, a little help, but in the city it is different. The man is lost in the multitude. In the roar of the streets, his cry is not heard. Death becomes his only friend. Death promises release from want, from hunger and pain, and so the poor wretch lays down his burden, dashes it from his shoulders and falls asleep.

To me all this seems very natural. The wonder is that so many endure and suffer to the natural end, that so many nurse the spark of life in huts and prisons, keep it and guard it through years of misery and want; support it by beggary, by eating the crust found in the gutter, and to whom it only gives days of weariness and nights of fear and dread. Why should the man, sitting amid the wreck of all he had, the loved ones dead, friends lost, seek to lengthen, to preserve his life? What can the future have for him?

Under many circumstances a man has the right to kill himself. When life is of no value to him, when he can be of no real assistance to others, why should a man continue? When he is of no benefit, when he is a burden to those he loves, why should he remain? The old idea was that God made us and placed us here for a purpose and that it was our duty to remain until he called us. The world is outgrowing this absurdity. What pleasure can it give God to see a man devoured by a cancer; to see the quivering flesh slowly eaten; to see the nerves throbbing with pain? Is this a festival for God? Why should the poor wretch stay and suffer? A little morphine would give him sleep—the agony would be forgotten and he would pass unconsciously from happy dreams to painless death.

Hi, I’m Stefanie and I’m addicted to religion…

 

img_2030From ExChristian Network

I have seen others refer to this as an addiction, and I have said this myself before. Sometimes I wonder, am I making to much of this? Is it just something that happened in the past and I’m over it? No.. It’s something I battle all the time. Am I sure all other ex Christians feel addicted? No, I don’t know…

That’s just it, I don’t know….

I have been in a relationship with someone who goes to AA. I go to support him, And I listen. I have to say that I went through a lot that they did, but I can’t tell them that, they will never understand. Its actually addicting to me to get into an organization. But I am an extremist and take it too far. I can’t help it and I don’t know when to quit, I end up getting hurt and hurting the people around me. Christianity hurt me and my family. I didn’t know when to quit. I had to be just what God ordered and I thought I was doing right. If I hurt you for the cause… I was doing right, or so I thought. I lost everything in his name, and I would do it again and again, and I would have died for this god as well. I gave him my money when I was going without food. I was supposed to have faith. I ended up stealing food and then believed I was going to hell for it. There was no mercy. But I couldn’t stop.

In God We (Don’t) Trust…

 

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From Freedom From Religion Foundation

For an overwhelming part of U.S. history, America’s motto was purely secular, “E Pluribus Unum” (From many [come] one). E Pluribus Unum was chosen by a committee of Jefferson, Adams and Franklin. Many Americans mistakenly assume our founders chose “In God We Trust” as the motto, but nothing could be further from the truth. Our founders were committed to a secular government. For most of U.S. history, our money was likewise free of religion.

Of all of the complaints over state/church entanglement received by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, none has received more complaints from our membership than the inscription “In God We Trust” on currency.

To learn more about how a religious motto supplanted U.S. secular heritage, read on and see the links below.

The Freedom From Religion sued the federal government in 1994 to have “In God We Trust” removed from currency and as our national motto.

The motto was put on all paper currency by an Act of Congress in 1955. The phrase was chosen as our national motto by an Act of Congress in 1956. It first appeared on paper currency in 1957.

The Foundation lawsuit was dismissed by a 10th-circuit federal judge on the grounds that “In God We Trust” is not a religious phrase. The Foundation appealed the dismissal.

Foundation Lawsuit Challenges “In God We Trust” Motto
Freethought Today, June/July 1994

“In God We Trust” Legal Complaint
Freethought Today, June/July 1994

“In God We Trust” Appeal 
Freethought Today, January/February 1996

In God We Trust Appealed To High Court
Freethought Today, May 1996

US Supreme Court Turns Down Foundation Appeal 
Freethought Today, June/July 1996

See Court Challenges
~~

Agnostic or Atheist?

 


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The New Way To Be Creepy For Jesus…

 

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From Roll To Disbelieve

“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. . . A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.”

Matthew 12:33-35

It often takes a personal tragedy for Christians to realize that they can’t trust the religion’s party lines about much of anything. But once that tragedy strikes, it’s usually too late to do anything but feel regret for that misplaced trust.

One of fundagelical Christianity’s most cherished party lines is that people are meant to live in rigidly structured, hierarchical communities and to adopt very narrowly-prescribed roles in their relationships. One group gets all the power to make decisions and order everyone else around, and everyone else is supposed to obey without flinching. Not only are fundagelical leaders authoritarians, but their congregations tend to be in turn authoritarian followers. The dysfunction of the leaders makes sense to their followers, who are dysfunctional in different but completely complementary ways.

“Do what I say, and you will be safe and rewarded,” these leaders promise. It is a promise their followers desperately ache to see realized. But thanks to the nature of power in fundagelicalism’s deeply broken system, only one of those parties is going to get what they want.

The other party? Well, they get it in the shorts, as always.

Finding Out the Hard Way

Endless Absurdities of Religion…

 

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From Church and State UK

Pentecostalism—in which worshippers compulsively spout incomprehensible sounds called “the unknown tongue” (glossolalia)—has become a major world religion. An estimated three hundred million North Americans and Southern Hemisphere residents now attend churches where glossolalia occurs. This faith is surging, while most other branches of Christianity fade.

Santeria worshippers sacrifice thousands of dogs, pigs, goats, chickens, and the like to a variety of deities that are partly Catholic saints and partly African jungle gods. Bodies of the unlucky animals are dumped into waterways. Miami police patrol boats fish out the carcasses. Santeria (“way of the saints”) is somewhat similar to voodoo, but it arose among Spanish slaves instead of French ones.

Many millions of Hindus pray over models of Shiva’s penis. They make pilgrimages to a Himalayan cave where a penis-like ice stalagmite rises in winter. In San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, many worshippers pray at a phallic-looking traffic barrier.

About five thousand fervent young Muslims have detonated themselves as human bombs in “martyrdom operations” to kill tens of thousands of “infidels.” The phenomenon peaked on September 11, 2001, when nineteen suicide volunteers hijacked four airliners and crashed them like projectiles to kill nearly three thousand Americans. The year 2007 had more than five hundred suicide attacks worldwide—well above one per day.

Ron Reagan: Freedom From Religion Foundation…

 


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Christian Crock: An Insider’s View — The Dark Rigidity of Fundamentalist Rural America…

 

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Rural, Christian, white America is entrenched in fundamentalist belief systems. They don’t trust people outside their tribe, and truly believe whites are superior to all races.

As the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump is being sorted out, a common theme keeps cropping up from all sides—”Democrats failed to understand white, working class, fly-over America.” Trump supporters are saying this. Progressive pundits are saying this. Talking heads across all forms of the media are saying this. Even  some Democratic leaders are saying this. It doesn’t matter how many people say it, it is complete bullshit.  It is an intellectual/linguistic sleight of hand meant to throw attention away from the real problem. The real problem isn’t east coast elites don’t understand or care about rural America. The real problem is rural America doesn’t understand the causes of their own situations and fears and they have shown no interest in finding out. They don’t want to know why they feel the way they do or why they are struggling because the don’t want to admit it is in large part because of choices they’ve made and horrible things they’ve allowed themselves to believe.

I grew up in rural, Christian, white America. You’d be hard-pressed to find an area in the country that has a higher percentage of Christians or whites. I spent most of the first twenty-four years of my life deeply embedded in this culture.  I religiously (pun intended) attended their Christian services. I worked off and on, on their rural farms. I dated their calico skirted daughters.  I camped, hunted, and fished with their sons. I listened to their political rants at the local diner and truck stop. I winced at their racist/bigoted jokes and epithets that were said more out of ignorance than animosity. I have also watched the town I grew up in go from a robust economy with well-kept homes and infrastructure turn into a struggling economy with shuttered businesses, dilapidated homes, and a broken down infrastructure over the past thirty years. The problem isn’t that I don’t understand these people. The problem is they don’t understand themselves, the reasons for their anger/frustrations, and don’t seem to care to know why.

Ingersoll: A Thanksgiving Sermon…

 

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

Many ages ago our fathers were living in dens and caves. Their bodies, their low foreheads, were covered with hair. They were eating berries, roots, bark and vermin. They were fond of snakes and raw fish. They discovered fire and, probably by accident, learned how to cause it by friction. They found how to warm themselves—to fight the frost and storm. They fashioned clubs and rude weapons of stone with which they killed the larger beasts and now and then each other. Slowly, painfully, almost imperceptibly they advanced. They crawled and stumbled, staggered and struggled toward the light. To them the world was unknown. On every hand was the mysterious, the sinister, the hurtful. The forests were filled with monsters, and the darkness was crowded with ghosts, devils, and fiendish gods.

These poor wretches were the slaves of fear, the sport of dreams.

Now and then, one rose a little above his fellows—used his senses—the little reason that he had—found something new—some better way. Then the people killed him and afterward knelt with reverence at his grave. Then another thinker gave his thought—was murdered—another tomb became sacred—another step was taken in advance. And so through countless years of ignorance and cruelty—of thought and crime—of murder and worship, of heroism, suffering, and self-denial, the race has reached the heights where now we stand.

Looking back over the long and devious roads that lie between the barbarism of the past and the civilization of to-day, thinking of the centuries that rolled like waves between these distant shores, we can form some idea of what our fathers suffered—of the mistakes they made—some idea of their ignorance, their stupidity—and some idea of their sense, their goodness, their heroism.

Sunday Song: The Mississippi Squirrel Revival…

 

Thanks to Bruce

Well when I was kid I’d take a trip

Every summer down to Mississippi

To visit my granny in her antebellum world
I’d run barefooted all day long

Climbing trees free as a song

One day I happened catch myself a squirrel
Well I stuffed him down in an old shoebox

Punched a couple holes in the top

When Sunday came, I snuck him in the church
I was sittin’ way back in the very last pew

Showin’ him to my good buddy Hugh

When that squirrel got loose and went totally berserk
Well what happened next is hard to tell

Some thought it was Heaven others thought it was Hell

But the fact that something was among us was plain to see
As the choir sang, “I surrender all”

The squirrel ran up Harv Newlan’s coveralls

Harv leaped to his feet and said, “Somethin’s got a hold on me!”
The day the squirrel went berserk

In the First Self-Righteous Church

In that sleepy little town of Pascagoula

It was a fight for survival that broke out in revival

They were jumpin’ pews and shouting, “Hallelujah”
Well Harv hit the aisles, dancin’ and screamin’

Some thought he had religion, others thought he had a demon

And Harv thought he had a weed eater loose in his fruit of the looms
He fell to his knees to plead and beg

And that squirrel ran out of his britches leg

Unobserved to the other side of the room
All the way down to the Amen pew

Where sat Sister Bertha better than you

Who had been watching all the commotion with sadistic glee
Shoot, you should’ve seen the look in her eyes

When that squirrel jumped her garters and crossed her thighs

She jumped to her feet and said, “Lord, have mercy on me”
As the squirrel made laps inside her dress

She began to cry and then to confess

To sins that would make a sailor blush with shame
She told of gossip and church dissension

But the thing that got the most attention

Was when she talked about her love life

And then she started naming names
The day the squirrel went berserk

In the First Self-Righteous Church

In that sleepy little town of Pascagoula

It was a fight for survival that broke out in revival

They were jumpin’ pews and shouting, “Hallelujah”
Well 7 deacons and then the pastor got saved

And 25,000 dollars got raised and 50 volunteered

For missions in the Congo on the spot
And even without an invitaion

There were at least 500 rededications

And we all got rebaptized whether we needed it or not
Now you’ve heard the Bible story, I guess

How He parted the waters for Moses to pass

All the miracles God has brought to this ol’ world
But the one I’ll remember to my dyin’ day

Is how He put that church back on the narrow way

With a half crazed Mississippi squirrel
The day the squirrel went berserk

In the First Self-Righteous Church

In that sleepy little town of Pascagoula

It was a fight for survival that broke out in revival

They were jumpin’ pews and shouting, “Hallelujah”
The day the squirrel went berserk

In the First Self-Righteous Church

In that sleepy little town of Pascagoula

It was a fight for survival that broke out in revival

They were jumpin’ pews and shouting, “Hallelujah”
~~

Freethinker: José Saramago born on this day in 1922…

 

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From Freedom From Religion

“All religions, without exception, have done humanity more bad than good.” ~José Saramago, Inter Press Service, Oct. 21, 2009.

On this date in 1922, José Saramago was born in Azinhaga, Santarém, Portugal. He dropped out of school when he was 12 to become a mechanic, and later worked as a journalist and production manager of the publishing company Estúdios Cor (1958–1971). After being fired from his position as editor of the newspaper Diário de Lisboa (1971–1975), Saramago devoted his time to writing fiction.

Saramago became an innovative and prolific Portuguese novelist, essayist and poet whose works often contained political and philosophical themes. His novels include The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis (1984), The Stone Raft (1986), All the Names (1997) and Blindness (1995), which was adapted into a film in 2008. Saramago became the first Portuguese-language writer to win a Nobel Prize when he was awarded the Prize for literature in 1998. He married Ilda Reis in 1944. They divorced in 1970 and had one daughter, Violante. Saramago was later married to Pilar del Río, a journalist.

According to a New York Times Topics post (June 18, 2010), Saramago was “an outspoken atheist, one who maintained that religion is to blame for much of the world’s violence.” In an interview with Inter Press Service on Oct. 21, 2009, Saramago said: “God only exists in our minds.” He continued, “About the holy book, I tend to say: read the Bible and you’ll lose your faith.” He wrote the irreverent Cain (2009) and The Gospel According to Jesus Christ (1991), which describes Christ as an average young man with vices, in contrast to his pious depiction in the bible. In 1992, The Gospel According to Jesus Christ was deemed heretical by the Portuguese government, and Saramago chose to go into exile in the Canary Islands, Spain. D. 2010
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Dear Christian, No, I Don’t Hate You. Here is What I do Hate…

 

On the important difference between hating bad ideas and hating people.

As a former Evangelical Christian, I write critically—even harshly—about biblical Christianity, the kind that treats the Bible as if it were the literally-perfect word of God. I also write harshly about the Catholic hierarchy—the authoritarian institution that compiled the Bible 1500 years ago and still today seeks to impose derivative beliefs and rules on society at large. In response, I often receive comments and messages from Christians who say I must hate them, which isn’t true.

Other nontheists and anti-theists get similarly accused. Recently, two well-known critics of Islam, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Maajid Nawaz, had their names put on a “Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists.” Ali is a former Muslim and Nawaz a moderate believer, and their appearance on the list was particularly frightening because such lists, not infrequently, get folks like them killed.

Bad Ideas ≠ Bad People

Deploring bad ideas or institutions and hating people are two very different things and, in the quest for a better world, whether a person is a critic of religion or a critic of the critics—it is important not to confuse one with the other. So, in hope of putting to rest the notion that outspoken anti-theism must be driven by hatred of Christian people (or Muslim people or Jewish people—or any other group of people for that matter), let me draw an analogy. It is sure to offend, but it’s the best I’ve found.

My sister Kathy is mentally ill, which has caused decades of hardship for her and her children and, by extension, everyone around her. I hate her bipolar illness. I hate how it makes her think and what it drives her to do. I hate the harm she inflicts on herself and her children when it takes over her brain. But I don’t hate my sister at all.

I wish Kathy were healthy and happy, that she could be the kind of parent she wants to be and her small family could flourish. It is precisely because I want these things for Kat that thinking about her illness drives me to anger and anguish. Her many good qualities—her kindness, compassion, creativity, and work ethic, for example—make her condition even more frustrating. Mostly these days I feel a sense of pained resignation, and sometimes—selfishly—I just wish I didn’t have to deal with the complexities her illness causes us all. But there have been times in my life that I would have cut off my arm if it would make her whole.

Just as I don’t hate Kathy, I don’t hate Christians, even though my feelings about Christianity as a social institution or a set of dogmas can span a similar range of intensity. As a former born-again Bible-believer, I’m keenly aware that even within the most fundamentalist sects, Christians have many good qualities and aspirations and that Church communities create space for people to come together around some of humanity’s most cherished values and experiences. Examples include generosity, compassion and gratitude; or the quest to live well and die well, to embrace joy and wonder, to be part of something bigger than ourselves. My sense that most Christians, again including fundamentalists, are genuinely decent people is part of why I react so strongly against the more toxic dimensions of Bible belief and institutionalized religion

Freethinker: Born on this day Feminist Movement Founder Elizabeth Cady Stanton…

 

From The Freethinker UK

On November 12, 1815, freethinker and founding mother of the feminist movement Elizabeth Cady was born in Johnstown, NY. Anxious to please her eminent father – a judge and member of Congress – in the face of his bitter loss of all five of his sons, she excelled in academic studies and horseback riding.

Barred as a young woman from college despite her lively, brilliant intellect, she married young anti-slavery agent Henry Stanton. Their 1840 honeymoon took them to the fateful World’s Anti-Slavery Convention in London.

Her eyes were opened to women’s subjugation, and religion’s role in keeping women subordinate, after she and other female abolition delegates were humiliatingly curtained off from debate at clergy instigation.

At 32, the harried housewife and mother (eventually of 7) instigated and planned, with Lucretia Mott and three other women, the world’s first woman’s rights convention. The historic Seneca Falls convention met on July 19-20, 1848.

Stanton’s “shocking” suffrage plank won endorsement and galvanised women for the next 72 years. She recalled later how “the Bible was hurled at us from every side” in a history of the early movement.

Africa gets its first humanist bookstore and Internet cafe…

 

From The Freethinker UK

I was delighted to learn this week that the San Francisco-based Better Brains Institute has opened Africa’s First humanist bookstore and Internet cafe in Uganda.

According to this Africa Humanists report, the venture has been named in honour of Nigerian humanist, human rights activist and journalist Leo Igwe.

Africa Humanists insists that of Africa needs humanism “to combat superstition; to promote scientific thinking; to alleviate violence between Christians and Muslims; and to oppose the lethal dogmas of religion (anti-condoms, homophobia).”

Humanism is spreading in western Uganda. There are now ten humanist and “interested in humanism” schools in the region.

Kasese Humanist Primary School started the science-based movement in 2009, directed by Bwambale Robert Musubaho, the western Uganda humanist leader.

By 2014 it was receiving aid from Brighter Brains Institute.

The next step was the opening of the Leo Igwe Humanist Centre which will stock books such as Igwe’s No Gods, No Saviour, his collection of essays, and Orphans of Ruwenzori: A Humanist Perspective by Musubaho.

The Leo Igwe Humanist Centre will also have computers with Internet access, science books, smartphones for rent, condoms, AFRIpads and GEMpads, and adult literacy classes.

The venture has been entirely funded by a Canadian donor and friend of BBI.

This is the 3rd “FIRST” for BBI. In 2015 they started BiZoHa, the “world’s first atheist orphanage”; in 2009 the BBI director (Hank Pellissier) started the world’s first atheist film festival.
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Sunday Song: If There’s A God In Heaven What’s He Waiting For?

 

Thanks to Bruce

Torn from their families
Mothers go hungry
To feed their children
But children go hungry
There’s so many big men
They’re out making millions
When poverty’s profits
Just blame the children

If there’s a God in heaven
What’s he waiting for
If He can’t hear the children
Then he must see the war
But it seems to me
That he leads his lambs
To the slaughter house
And not the promised land

Dying for causes
They don’t understand
We’ve been taking their futures
Right out of their hands
They need the handouts
To hold back the tears
There’s so many crying
But so few that hear

If there’s a God in heaven
Well, what’s he waiting for

If there’s a God in heaven
What’s he waiting for

~~

Freethinker: Sam Harris brilliantly destroys Christian arguments…

 

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Freethinker: Get God out of Alcoholics Anonymous…

 

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From Vice

A Toronto man has taken Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc. and the Greater Toronto Intergroup to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, alleging discrimination against atheists, agnostics and freethinkers.

The GTA Intergroup, which acts as a central organizing hub and directory for AA groups in Toronto, has essentially kicked out all atheist groups who have changed traditional AA language by taking out the word “God” from the Twelve Steps.

There are currently 501 AA meetings held at 252 locations across the GTA. However, atheists looking for AA meetings without a God attached will not find one in any of them because the GTA Intergroup eliminated local atheist and agnostic meetings from their promotions and directories.

Now, secular options in AA are officially considered non-existent in Toronto. Accordingly, questions remain as to whether the current AA program is modern enough for a pluralistic society.

The first atheist and agnostic AA groups in Canada—Beyond Belief and We Agnostics, both of which are located in Toronto—were also the first agnostic and atheist groups to be booted out of an AA Intergroup. Since then, similar patterns have developed in Vancouver and Kingston.

Last year, Lawrence Knight, 58, known simply as “Larry” in the rooms, took AA to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal to take a stand against how non-believers have traditionally been treated in AA. Knight found sobriety through AA after his drinking became too much for him to control in the early 1990s. But he believes, like many others, that the words “God” and “Higher Power,” which are rampant throughout AA literature, are outdated. More specifically, he’s arguing that alcoholics who have been abused by religious fundamentalists in their childhood, (himself included), can have negative associations with the word “God”—some even find the religion and the ensuing dogma which follows highly triggering.

Voluntary Exits: Catholic Church’s Cruel Response to Assisted Suicide in Canada…

 

From The Friendly Atheist

Religion always has a way of taking the least loving side when it comes to controversial issues.

Love between two people? If they’re gay, pastors will throw a hissy fit.

Women seeking an abortion after being raped? Some Christians argue they shouldn’t be allowed to have that option.

And when it comes to people who choose to end their lives on their own terms, an idea known as euthanasia, Catholics in Canada are adding insult to injury.

Let me back up for a second. Last year, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled — unanimously, I might add — that patients with severe medical problems could legally ask their doctors to help end their lives.

Physician-assisted death is now legal in Canada as long as you’re 18, a Canadian citizen, mentally competent, suffering from an incurable problem, and have no chance of getting better.

Christian Crock: Another Jesus ‘Miracle’ Explained…

 

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Ingersoll: Foundations of Faith — The Trinity

 

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

Ingersoll Foundations of Faith Series…
Old Testament
New Testament
Jehovah
The Trinity
The Theological Christ

The ‘Scheme’
Belief and Conclusion

The New Testament informs us that Christ was the son of Joseph and the son of God, and that Mary was his mother.

How is it established that Christ was the son of God?

It is said that Joseph was told so in a dream by an angel.

But Joseph wrote nothing on that subject—said nothing so far as we know. Mary wrote nothing, said nothing. The angel that appeared to Joseph or that informed Joseph said nothing to anybody else. Neither has the Holy Ghost, the supposed father, ever said or written one word. We have received no information from the parties who could have known anything on the subject. We get all our facts from those who could not have known.

How is it possible to prove that the Holy Ghost was the father of Christ?

Who knows that such a being as the Holy Ghost ever existed?

How was it possible for Mary to know anything about the Holy Ghost?

How could Joseph know that he had been visited by an angel in a dream?

Could he know that the visitor was an angel? It all occurred in a dream and poor Joseph was asleep. What is the testimony of one who was asleep worth?

Freethinker: Doris Lessing Born On This Day In 1919…

 

Doris Lessing

From Freedom From Religion

On this date in 1919, novelist Doris Lessing (nee Doris May Tayler) was born in Persia (now Iran) to British parents. She moved with them to the British colony of Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1925. Doris’ childhood, a mixture of idyllic and difficult, ended prematurely when she was sent to a convent school, where she was terrified by the nuns and their tales of sin and damnation, according to a Reader’s Guide to The Golden Notebook and Under My Skin (1995). A temporary attraction to Roman Catholic ritual was dispelled when her mother described the horrors of the Inquisition, at which point Doris “quit religion,” according to literary critic John Leonard (cited in Who’s Who in Hell by Warren Allen Smith).

Doris’ formal education ended when she dropped out of an all-girls high school at age 13. She left home at 15, married at 19, and had two children before leaving her family. Doris later remarried and had a son with Gottfried Lessing. Her first novel, The Grass is Singing, was published in 1949, the year she moved to London with her son. Her famed “Children of Violence” series (1951-1959) features her heroine, Martha Quest, in a series of four coming of age novels.

In 1956, Lessing was named a “prohibited alien” by Southern Rhodesia and South Africa. The Golden Notebook (1962), with heroine Anna Wulf, was hailed as an early feminist classic. Her autobiographies were published in two volumes, Under My Skin, and Walking in the Shade (1997). She has also written a series of controversial science fiction books, and continues to write fiction.

In analyzing a human propensity to dogmatism, including her own previous communist conversion, Lessing has said: ”There are certain types of people who are political out of a kind of religious reason. I think it’s fairly common among socialists: They are, in fact, God-seekers, looking for the kingdom of God on earth . . . If you don’t believe in heaven, then you believe in socialism” (The New York Times, “Doris Lessing on Feminism, Communism and ‘Space Fiction’,” July 25, 1982). She was awarded the 2007 Nobel award for Literature. D. 2013

“You’d never believe, when I was young, we genuinely believed religious wars were over. We’d say, at least it’s impossible to have a religious war now. Can you believe that? . . . I’m so afraid of religion. Its capacity for murder is terrifying.”

—-Doris Lessing interview by Harvey Blume, Boston Book Review

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Why Congress needs an openly atheist member, now…

 

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From The Hill

In 2013, Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) became the first openly gay U.S. senator. It’s easy to understand why members of the LGBT community hailed this achievement as another meaningful step toward equal rights. After all, Congress is an extremely human place where the personal experiences of its members are critical to everything they do. As former Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) once stated, “Each of us, as United States senators, comes to … this public place with the sum of our beliefs, our personal experience and our values, and none of us checks them at the door.” Predictably, Baldwin has been a champion for gay rights. Just last year, she introduced legislation to “amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity among the prohibited categories of discrimination or segregation in places of public accommodation.”

While members of Congress need not be part of a marginalized community to speak up on its behalf, the reality is that they are much more likely to do so if their lives have been personally touched by an issue. For example, former Sen. Pete Domenici, (R-N.M.) was a leading proponent of mental health while in Congress, mainly because his daughter suffered from schizophrenia. As former Rep. Lynn Rivers (D-Mich.) said, “I think it’s possible that nothing at all would have been done by Congress if it weren’t for legislators like Domenici who were galvanized by personal experience.” The unhinged gunman who murdered the husband of Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) motivated her to become the nation’s most vocal gun control advocate.

Freethinker: Friedrich Nietzsche Born On This Day In 1844…

 

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From Freedom From Religion

On this date in 1844, Friedrich Nietzsche was born in a town near Leipzig, Germany. “Fritz” was the son of a Lutheran minister who died when Friedrich was four, and the grandson of two Lutheran pastors. At age 20, he wrote his sister that one could choose consolation in faith, or pursue the truth no matter where it led. During a stint of mandatory military service, he suffered a serious chest injury. He then enrolled at the University of Leipzig, where he met and became friends with Wagner and Wagner’s wife.

The brilliant student was given his Ph.D. without an examination, and joined the faculty of the University of Basel at age 24. Working as a hospital attendant during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, Nietzsche’s health was permanently weakened when he came down with diphtheria and dysentery. His first book, The Birth of Tragedy (1872), was written when he was 28. It was followed by Human, All-Too-Human (1878-80), which ended his friendship with Wagner. Nietzsche resigned from his University position due to health problems.

The Baseless and Detrimental Nature of ‘Gender Roles’ Shoved Onto Our Youth…

 

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From The Bangladeshi Humanist

“Real men don’t cry.”

“Real women should like cooking and cleaning .”

“Real men don’t show their feelings.”

“Real women always wear nice clothes.”

“Real men don’t like the color pink.”

“Real women should play with dolls, not action figures.”

“Real men play with action figures, not dolls.”

“Real women have ‘caring’ jobs such as teachers, nurses, and secretaries.”

“Real men should be in a position of authority, such as principals, doctors, and bosses.”

“Real women don’t work out physically, it makes them ugly.”

“Real men shouldn’t cry.”

“Real women don’t talk loudly or laugh too much.”

“Real men should be playing video games and enjoy violence, such as in the form of wrestling.”

“Real women don’t watch sports.”

“Real men should be buff and be adept at sports and physical tasks.”

“Real women should get married and have children.”

 

The perpetual collection of baseless stereotypes enforced in the domain of gender is dangerous. It’s common, it’s ubiquitous, it’s ingrained into our perception of normalcy, and it’s utilized to bring shame and discomfort when one does not conform to these standards. Undeniably, both men and women fall prey to the jaws of social ostracism on the basis of not “maintaining the image” of your gender. Men are expected to be firm and heavy-handed and authoritative. and boys are shamed and labeled “weak and un-manly” when they display emotion or sentiment. Women are anticipated to be sentimental and submissive, and are suppressed when they take interest in sports or science or typically “masculine” areas of life.

Those Seven Times Christopher Hitchens Nailed Everything…

 


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