Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – We’re admittedly intolerant but please don’t call us bigots!

happy kittehs!
happy kittehs!

Recently, with the focus on gay marriage, we’ve heard a lot of theists claiming that they shouldn’t be considered bigots because they do not want to allow the same freedoms for everyone. One of these claims is in my local paper, an opinion piece by John Kass of the Chicago Tribune (the original at the Tribune is pay-blocked, the link is to a syndicated copy).   I’d like to look at this claim and see if they are correct.

Merriam-Webster defines a bigot as:  a person who is obstinately (perversely adhering to an opinion, purpose, or course in spite of reason, arguments, or persuasion) or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.  Incidentally, this is the dictionary that my 7th grade English teacher touted as the best, so I use it out of habit.

Mr. Kass asks the two questions “Is it possible to be a traditional Christian or Muslim or Orthodox Jew and hold to one’s faith on what constitutes marriage and not be considered a bigot? And is faith now a problem to be overcome, first marginalized by the state and then contained, so as not to get in the way of great changes to come?”

First, we have Mr. Kass using some of the usual TrueChristianTM claims (the same claims can be applied to TrueMuslims, TrueJews, etc).  He wishes to pretend that his version of ”traditional” Christianity (appeal to tradition fallacy in order to claim that something is better because of claimed age) is the only “right” one, that he knows what his god really wants and that he knows what his god really meant in the bible.  However, since we have Christians who have no problems with gay marriage, and who have as much evidence that they are right as he does, we have to wonder which, if any, are right in their claims.

Mr. Kass is a member of the Greek Orthodox variety of Christianity.  He claims it is a “never-changing faith” (which is belied by the constant councils they had to have to hash out what they “really” believed).  Interesting, how he finds that his religion finds homosexuals an abomination but well, that shrimp cocktail is just yummy. Both are equal abominations per the bible. Why oh why aren’t the Westboro Baptists picketing Red Lobster?  And my husband says that shrimp are why Louisiana was hit by Katrina. Seems that the gumbo is truly sinfully delicious!

For his claims that the “liturgy is not a costume drama” and that the laws of his religion are above the state and its laws, he picks and chooses what Mr. Kass likes in the bible and ignore what he doesn’t like.  What he fails to mention is that even “traditional Christian” sects don’t agree (what should be in the bible, the idea of sola scriptura, the virgin mary, icons, saints,  hell, marriage, which calendar to use, how salvation is achieved, etc) .  There is little reason to find one sect better or more valid than the next. Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – We’re admittedly intolerant but please don’t call us bigots!”

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Mr. Roberts, what do *you* think the SCOTUS is for?

Why does it seem that Chief Justice Roberts has no idea how US government works?  It seems a sudden fit of ignorance brought on by fear.

During the Supreme Court hearings recently about gay marriage, we get this choice quote from Chief Justice Roberts: 

“If he has made a determination that executing the law (DOMA) by enforcing the terms is unconstitutional, I don’t see why he doesn’t have the courage of his convictions,” Roberts said of Obama, “and execute not only the statute, but do it consistent with his view of the Constitution, rather than saying, oh, we’ll wait till the Supreme Court tells us we have no choice.”

The White House spokesman, Josh Earnest, seems to have had to educate Mr. Roberts on how law works. 

“We’ll do that even for laws that we disagree with, including the Defense of Marriage Act.” 

And he’s right.  The US Constitution does say this “He [the President] shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.” 

Tsk, for someone who thinks himself so familiar with the Constitution, I guess Mr. Roberts forgot that part. 

Now, if one knows US law, the Supreme Court was created to do exactly what Mr. Roberts doesn’t think it should do, interpret laws against the Constitution.  All I can see from this is that his sudden ignorance on what his job is no more than him being desperately afraid of having to rule on the subject.  I’m guessing poor ol’ Scalia is in the same boat. They are doing their best to avoid responsibility by saying that the President can enforce or not enforce whatever laws they want. They conveniently seem to forget that the US Constitution gave them this duty, not to the Executive or the Legislative branches.    

Here’s what the Constitution says about the duties of the Supreme Court:

The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority; to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls; to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction; to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party; to Controversies between two or more States; between a State and Citizens of another State; between Citizens of different States; between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects. 

This has been restricted somewhat by the 11th amendment and by Congress. The Court is responsible for cases that impact on the federal government and those cases that concern differences between states: “If the case presents a federal question, meaning that it involves a claim or issue “arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States”.  The wikipedia article on the SCOTUS has all of the detail of US code and law. 

When Mr. Roberts insists that the President has the ability to execute the law anyway he sees fit and seems to imply that Mr. Roberts is just fine with that, that’s just so adorable.  It’s just great to imagine uproar from the Republicans if the President did anything like that for real.  Do you think they could scream “Impeachment!” quick enough?

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Easter, the supposed events and implications

we-convince-ourselves-that-someone-with-the-ability-to-come-back-to-life-is-actually-making-a-sacrifice-when-they-die-easter-jesus-resurrection-sacrificeThis is a compilation of various observations I’ve made about Easter over the years.

This weekend is *the* Christian holiday, Easter.  It commemorates the murder, and subsequent supposed magical resurrection, of a man/god in payment for the original sin of Adam and Eve (requiring them to exist plus the talking snake) and all the sinning thereafter.  It also may have even more problems than Christmas does in the reality department.

There’s a lot of odd things associated with Easter. Except for the cruxifiction, nearly every other symbol associated with it is fertility based. Peeps, eggs, rabbits, etc. It seems to be the usual cooption of pagan religions into Christianity. I’ve seen some rather peculiar arguments that the cross is a phallus and the tomb is a womb.

The date picked to celebrate Easter has very little to do with the day that this supposedly happened. No one has a clue when that might have been, so I guess one may as well just pick something.  The date is *generally* decided by the first Sunday following the full moon following the equinox which is claimed to be only ever on March 21, even though it falls on other days.  So we have a date that makes not a whole lot of sense.  Add that to the fact that Christians can’t agree on which calendar to use, and the thing hops all over the place depending on the sect.  If one knows about other religions, based on seasons, it seems that Easter is a lot closer to them in date (among other things) than some religion that claims it has something new to say.  More on the history of how the date was changed around and around again can be found here.  The massive confusion about this makes me think that the story is indeed nonsense and never happened, and each sect decided that their interpretation was the only right one. It’s quite a thing to totally forget the date of your supposed emancipation.   Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Easter, the supposed events and implications”

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – that ol’ war on Easter

It’s no surprise to anyone that there are a lot of Americans that are amazingly ignorant and very loud about it.  Bill O’Reilly is one of the loudest.

This time?  Well, Bill has this to say “Easter is a good holiday, you don’t have to believe in Jesus…” Video here.

This is a lovely sequel to Bill claiming that Christianity is a philosophy, not a religion. Of course Bill is a liar since he said in the same interview that Christianity *is* a religion.  Poor thing, just wants attention so badly.

Isn’t it precious?  And how appropriate for Easter, when dear Bill denies his supposed savior so emphatically on national television.  I think we can give Bill three whole crowing cocks.

rooster rooster rooster


And tsk, Bill and Laura:

“When you said a ‘spring egg,’ I thought there literally was a spring on an egg!” Ingraham said.

“I thought it was something on a Chinese menu – like a spring roll,” O’Reilly said.

Wow.  I do love how they go out of their way to underline just how stupid they are. It saves me so much time.

Perhaps they’d like a spring surprise?





Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – A question “Why do you speak out against religion?”

Jimmy-passively-accepts-insToday, I thought I’d address a question from one of the folks who have commented on my blog.   The question is a common one:  why do you speak out against religion?  Aka can’t we just all get along? J   The link to the comment that sparked this blog entry is here.  I will have to say I’m kind of amused since the poster, Tela, said she wasn’t interested in arguing about this topic but she does have a lot to say.  Sorry, Tela, but I feel you *are* arguing against my points, and I’m taking the opportunity to demonstrate how I think you are wrong.  (Some of these topics have been covered before on other posts here). 

In a perfect world, I probably could remain quiet and let theists and their nonsense alone, but this is not a perfect world.  Many theists do all they can to force others to accept their religion.  Here in the US, we have conservative Christians doing anything they can to force everyone to worship like they do.  And they want to force *everyone*, be they another type of Christian, atheists, agnostics or worshippers of other religions.

I am “hell-bent” on limiting religion and countering its baseless claims since I see that it causes harm to many people.  I will not say you can’t worship some nonsensical being, but I will do my best to show how your worship is ridiculous, nothing better than the tooth fairy.  There is nothing about religion that deserves respect. 

I do not see that religion benefits anyone and what little benefit might be gleaned out of religion by chance can easily be found elsewhere, without the tribal strings attached.  At one point, religion may have been useful, getting a group of people together to do something beneficial to all.  Now, all I see are thousands of sects, most if not all claiming that anyone who believes differently than them are damned at worst and who should be converted at best.   

Neutral-PositionI understand that not all theists try to shove their religion down others throats, but those that want to will not take no for an answer.  Since many moderate theists and agnostics will not speak loudly against their theocratic brethren, it’s up to the atheists that are willing to defend the rights of everyone to worship whatever they want or not worship anything at all.  Some of atheists are more accommodating than others.  I know that some atheists simple don’t want to bother with thinking about the problem and hope it will go away. Some hope that they can work with moderate or liberal theists and those theists will not take their rights away with them. Some want absolute power to eradicate religion which requires just as much control as theocrats want.   I am, obviously, not of that any of these stripes.  We vary wildly in what we think.  Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – A question “Why do you speak out against religion?””

What the Boss Likes – a blog experiment, Defend Your Post

angry-kittehA web friend is trying out an experiement in blogging, selecting controversial posts on other blogs and inviting people to challenge those posts and the original writers to defend what they’ve written. I’m participating.   If you like my posts about atheism and theism, you can see some more of my work there:

What the Boss Likes – Some straight out evidence that religious leaders don’t believe what they tell the masses

bush-and-cardinalsIn a rather absurd display of supposed democracy, we have cardinals voting for the next pope.  Now, if this god of theirs wanted a certain person, surely it could be more clear about it?  We had burning bushes, prophets, who were supposedly accurate,  guided right to the correct person, etc in the bible, but here in 21st century Earth, we have a bunch of old men casting ballots. Seems a bit of a letdown.  Unsuprising in this age of people not accepting claims of nonsense so readily.

I can just imagine if someone stood up in front of the conclave and said “I’m it. God chose me.”  The cardinals would never believe it.  And that shows that they don’t believe in their religion at all.  What they do profess to believe is just for convenience.

Lest my other theist readers assume I find them any less silly, they  accept those who claim to be prophets and pastors, priests, rabbis, imams, etc from people who just say they know what a certain god really means, no divine indication necessary either.  It’s not a shock their leaders fail just as badly.

Postscript: Fascinating new version of the gospel from Coptic Source:

Shape-shifting Jesus Described in Ancient Egyptian Text.

Not So Polite Dinner Conservation – a bit more about that Bible miniseries. Battle, blood, and a little bit off the tip please.

too bad we don't still have shows this good anymore.
too bad we don’t still have shows this good anymore.

Watching about half of the second part of the Bible miniseries.  I do have to say it’s doing a great job of showing how violent and primitive the bible is. I can still remember singing about Joshua and Jericho when in bible school and when I taught bible school. Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho and the walls came a-tumblin’ down…..  I’ve read several Christian blogs saying how great this miniseries is and how you can show it to your children (however some do find it too violent, which should tell them something).  It’s rather telling when they find it okay to show violence like this, but often complain about videogames and movies.  

This part opens up on ninja Israelites.  Rahab is the prostitute that hides the spies that Joshua sends in to Jericho.  The spies are surprised at her reaction, “You’ve heard of us?”   Oh yes, she’s heard of you, hard to miss the supposed thousands of soldiers right out side her city and she’s supposedly heard of the events in Egypt.  The problem is that *no* one else has evidently, not the people in the city don’t notice thousands of people just outside the city, nor do any other kingdoms in the area hear about the *entire* Egyptian army being destroyed, etc.  If you’re going to write a story, at least clean up the logic holes.  

Another problem we find with the nonsense in the bible (nonsense that the miniseries carefully avoids) is that it claims that all of the men who came out of Egypt have died. That would mean 600,000 plus men have died in 40 years of wandering around.  If we divide it evenly, 15,000 people (not counting women and children) died each year (41 a day) in an area of the Sinai peninsula, which is a rough triangle 80 miles (128 km) wide and about 120 miles (200 km)long (it’s around 60K km2 or 23K mi2

Joshua circumcises fighters who are the descendents of the original multitude, which is quite a pile of foreskins (but we already know that  God loves those).  We have a quick appearance by a angel, the commander of the lord’s armies, also shown in the miniseries, but it makes little sense since he says he’s not for helping Joshua, comments about sandals and disappears to never be seen again.  Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conservation – a bit more about that Bible miniseries. Battle, blood, and a little bit off the tip please.”

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – who you are is where you were when, and that can get you damned

(Today is March 8 and the Miltary Religious Freedom Foundation has called upon people to protest the United StatesAirForceAcademy’s action of using a malicious homophobic amateur website as a source for information on Jewish holidays.  They had no problem in using a neutral website like to use as a link for Christian holidays.  It is a shame that the US Air Force Academy must continue in its religious intolerance and that its leadership still thinks that no one is noticing. General Welsh, homosexuals are allowed in the military now. Time you and your staff got over it.)    

Since Mr. Rogers has apparently been unable to continue to educate me on how “wrong” I supposedly am or to rebut my demonstration of his errors, I thought I’d take one last look at his blog to see if I could mine it for a blog post.  Getting my attention, telling me I’m wrong and then evidently running away when shown wrong just whets this leopard’s appetite for more. 

yes, there are indeed cruxifix chocolate molds and plague finger puppets.  Yay, dead people! Yeesh.
yes, there are indeed cruxifix chocolate molds and plague finger puppets. Yay, dead people! Yeesh.

I found a doozyWhat about those who have never heard the gospel?”  It’s a good lead into talking about heaven and hell and free will in this season where myths about people being nailed to crosses as blood sacrifices and first born being murdered by imaginary deities are so popular.  

As a bit of an aside, I don’t believe in complete free will.  I think we are beings limited to the physical and chemical laws of this universe, including the chemicals that we’ve been exposed to that form emotions in our brains.  However, within that, I think we can make mostly free choices if we are educated enough about how emotions, trauma, heredity and upbringing mark our brains and thought processes.  We still can’t decide to fly without mechanical help though, sigh.  The title of this blog entry is a paraphrase of a very good sociology textbook I had way back when.

A lot of Christians and theists in general, have a problem with their god damning anyone who doesn’t believe in it. I’m glad they do since it shows that they are decent and humane people despite their religion. This is also the question a lot of kids ask when they realize that people aren’t all just like them.  They have friends who don’t believe like they do and they care about them. 

This issue gets even more problematic since belief is entirely dependent on where you were born and when. For example, someone born in Alabama, USA isn’t likely to have a Zoroastrian family or be taught Shinto philosophy.  To deal with the problem of divine punishment, we have different claims by different sects. Some sects of Christianity go for universalism, where everyone eventually gets to heaven, even if they have a short stay in hell to correct them.  We have the Roman Catholics who say “well, other religions have at least part of the truth” so maybe they won’t go to hell, but they certainly won’t get *our* afterlife presents.”  Some think that God knows better than humans, and is only concerned if you are a decent, humane person and worship doesn’t matter. Some think that there is no hell, but non-believers are simply annihilated. As you can see, so much for one supposed “truth”. 

In the blog post, Mr. Rogers talks about a book called “Letters from a Skeptic” where a Christian theologian exchanges letter with his father who is a skeptic and who asks the question above (supposedly the father converts).  What’s amusing is that Greg Boyd doesn’t agree with much of what Mr. Rogers claims as the truth.  It’s always a problem with Christians, they find something they like and then have to realize that the book they find really great is by someone who they are sure is going to hell. Again, I would guess that Mr. Rogers would decide that he agrees a little with Mr. Boyd, just like he thinks Mother Teresa was good too, though by his own sects words, she’s going to hell.  She’s probably there anyway, considering that one, she was a hypocrite (link to the paper mentioned, in French only at the moment) and two, she admitted to not feeling any god at all.  I do wonder how they can find the parts that are true and ignore the parts that aren’t.  That ol’ magic decoder ring again, I know. It’s used on the bible so why not use it on heretic writings if you find it convenient? 

Mr. Rogers, to his credit, acknowledges the problems that most Christians have with the idea of being damned for a very silly reason.  He also mentions the usual problem with missionary work, that if you believe that people who haven’t heard of God will go to heaven since they never had a chance to reject God, then the worst thing you can ever do is tell them about God since now they can reject the idea.  However, Mr. Rogers is sure that they’re damned anyway.  Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – who you are is where you were when, and that can get you damned”