Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – The case against Hell

gervais hellThe Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has some ads broadcast on CNN recently.  The spokesperson, Ron Reagan, ended the ad with the phrase ” “life-long atheist, not afraid of burning in hell.”    The FFRF has an excellent blog post addressing the outcry about that particular phrase and the idea of “hell” here.

I have not much to add to the FFRF post about hell.  I find the idea of a hell, in any religion, to be nothing more than violent sadistic fantasies indulged in by people who want anyone who disagrees with them punished.  Many theists have retreated from their more violent versions to say that their hell is just “separation” from God a la C.S. Lewis, and insist that it’s the choice of the non-believer in whatever religion to go to hell since they don’t want to be around this god anyway.  However, that is just one more fiction to add to the myth.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Surprise! No, not really. Theists lie to Supreme Court.

History-of-religionHello folks, sorry I’ve been quiet for a while. But it’s for the best reasons: I have a new job! In 8 days I shall be back in my alter ego as administrative assistant for a non-profit.   My sojourn in retail has been interesting and occasionally fun, but I am so happy to be out of it.

Not much on the atheist front at the moment, except for news from the FFRF (original story in Slate) that the folks in Greece NY who were part of the Supreme Court decision about public meeting prayers are intentional liars when they falsely claimed that anyone would be allowed to give an invocation. It shows that the SCOTUS conservative judges were wrong when they claimed that these prayers were “only” ceremonial, since now we have only theists being able to give such invocations.

Nope, now only people from “assemblies with an established presence in the town of Greece that regularly meet for the primary purpose of sharing a religious perspective” can give these invocations (and it does a lovely job of showing that my commenter self-proclaimed Bishop Robin was utterly wrong with his claims that no one is being forced to participate in religion at public meetings). No surprise there at all and we can see again that religion doesn’t make anyone a decent person but it sure does seem to guarantee that their supposed moral god-given laws will be broken when convenient. Thanks, you, certain theists in Greece, NY for showing again that there is no reason to trust people just because they claim to be religious and therefore supposedly moral.

And yes, their actions are quite stupid when one thinks that they could have simply said people from Greece, NY could be the only ones to give invocations, no matter what the type. Then, their lie of “With this policy in place, we can return to the business of the town.” Wouldn’t be a baseless excuse, and they wouldn’t be in contempt of the court. Of course, it would also mean that they wouldn’t be ignoring their bible again and again (Prov 6, 12, 19, 24; Exodus 20; Matthew 15; Leviticus 19; Romans 13; 1 Peter 2; etc).

I haven’t been able to find much about what happens if someone ignores the SCOTUS and what happens now that they’ve reneged on what they promised. Seems like this could be a basis for yet one more SCOTUS court case, and this one could be quite fun to watch. Let’s see how many theists want to put their religions to the vote: are they “real” religions or not?  Are Jews better than Christians? Are Muslims better than Sikhs?  Are Catholics better than Presbyterians?  Again, I am quite happy to offer to do the altar test with anyone who insists that their god is real.  Or perhaps another test, where a god will allow you to walk out of a burning furnace (some of my ancestors were named after one of the fellows in the story).  Plenty of ways to determine what, if any, gods are real.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – I get a real “fan” letter, paper, envelope, everything!

My fan mail in all its glory!
My fan mail in all its glory!

In our last installment of “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation”, I had a post about the usual theocratic antics by Rep. Saccone and various Pennsylvania legislators.  I converted my post into a letter to the editor (vastly cut for length) and it was published in the local paper.  I’ve been pretty lucky in having letters published.

(And yes, revealing this means that someone could figure out who I am. That’s actually been quite possible for a long while on this blog. But I do expect some work to be put into figuring that out.)

One of the side effects of having letters to the editor printed is that I get responses.  I’ve gotten phone calls, which have all been positive.  The ones I am most proud of and stirred by were those supporting me when I spoke against Christian proselytizing in the public schools.  Two gentlemen, one claiming to be a Lutheran pastor and one a survivor of the Holocaust, told me I did the right thing.

Then I get “fan mail”….  It’s usually not full of expletives like those that the Freedom from Religion Foundation and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (see them read aloud here and here).  I usually only get religious tracts, because, you know, they always work in changing someone’s mind <snicker>. Of course there are always comments on the newpaper’s website, but internet comments are a dime a dozen  🙂

This time I got a hand-written note, the first.  It’s anonymous, as they all are.  Faith only goes so far, it seems.  This one is a bit odd in that it’s a photocopy of the original since one can tell that there are no pen impressions on the paper. The author certainly seems intent on making sure no one can attribute this to them.  It also has a copy of my letter with it, a photocopy of a photocopy.  I guess the author didn’t think I’d remember what I’d written?

I’ve included a scan of this lovely letter to show it in its true form but I thought I’d type it out to show just how amusing it is.  I don’t often demonstrate just how inept wannabee theocrats are but this is a special occasion, I am indulging myself.  I was tempted to read it in a video but since I’m suffering from a nasty cold, and my voice is about gone, I thought better of that.

“In response to your opinion – Are you one of the uneducated do-do’s?  Our Country was founded on a Christian group of explorers, settlers, soldiers, etc.  You are evidently reading in to something out in left field when “your idea” reads Saccone is forcing a one religion!!  You, and people “like you”, should move out if you’re offended!  Decent citizens of America are sick of your kind! Idiot!!” (darn,  that last word had *two* whole underlines 🙂 )

Looking at the handwriting, I can guess that this is from a woman. The script isn’t quite like that of my mother and aunt, so I’m guessing that she’s about my age, though she was brought up using the capital F that looks like a 7 with a horizontal slash across it, unlike me (at one time I was told that this was a European variation which I’m sure would horrify such a good TrueAmerican).  She does have much nicer hand-writing than I do.  The envelope shows that she lives in the same zip code I do, part city and part suburbs, but she didn’t know what zip code I live in and had to depend on the government to get it to me despite her ignorance.  For the instance of this review, let’s call her Annie.

Now, let’s look at her nonsense.  I’m a “do-do”, not a dodo, which is generally how one calls someone e.g. a comparison to the funny looking flightless bird.  The plural of dodo would be dodos or dodoes. So, Annie , it seems that the question of who is uneducated is rather clear already.

Annie also insists that our “Country” was founded on a “Christian group of explorers, settlers, soldiers, etc.”   Indeed, many of them were Christians, of all different sects.  But I’m guessing that Annie would not agree that all of them were Christians.  It always seems that this type of TrueChristian is sure that only their version of Christianity is the only true one.   They often want to claim that all self-proclaimed Christians are part of their flock when it’s convenient e.g. when they want to claim to be the majority.  Then there are billions of happy agreeing Christians. But when it comes to attending church, well, there’s a different variation on every block, each congregation sure that they are the only ones who “really” have it right.

The very early explorers were likely in the majority Roman Catholics, thanks to that sect’s power.  We then had an influx of Anglicans and Protestants and even more sects who thought those sects were wrong, our famous Puritan Pilgrims.  I’m guessing that Annie would not agree that the Puritans were the TrueChristians either, since they did not celebrate Christmas (can’t fantasize a “war on Christmas” if one doesn’t have Christmas).  She might indeed agree with them that anyone who didn’t follow their religion should be forcibly exiled as they did.  They would certainly not agree with her views, a fact that all modern Christians ignore when being so sure that their version is the “truth”.

Annie also conveniently forgets, or is willfully ignorant of, those of other religions and no religion at all who were also of those explorers, settlers, soldiers, etc. In this rather fractious “melting pot” of the US, we have had Christians of all types, Jews, atheists, Deists, Native American religions, etc, all contributing to the exploration, settlement and defense of the United States. We have these men and women being parts of various organizations that some TrueChristian have fits about, like Freemasonry.  If one takes a moment to search the internet, we have TrueChristians sure that explorers, like Lewis and Clark, were, gasp!, Deists and not Christians at all.  Who is to be believed, Annie?  You?  Those of your faith that say you are wrong? The facts that say you are wrong?

There seems to be two choices to explain Annie’s claims and how they fail so pitifully.  One, she is an “uneducated do-do”, unfortunately ignorant of the basic facts of American history.  Second, she is an intentional liar, misrepresenting the facts to portray something that is not true to further her delusions of superiority.  It is a shame that she’s forgotten that her religion has instance after instance of its god hating liars.

Annie insists that I must be mistaken when I declare that it is obvious that Rep. Saccone et al are trying to force one religion into the public schools by requiring that “In God We Trust” be posted.  She of course avoids acknowledging my conditions for Saccone to show his honest concern with history (as has Saccone at this point).  If she was so sure that I was wrong, that there is no theocratic intentions behind Saccone’s bill, one would think that then she should approve of the conditions that I suggested to clarify the issue.  Her indignation would then be unnecessary.  But she does not.  Rather than agree with such conditions to show that her claims are true, she insists that I, and those “like me”, should leave the country if we are offended by TrueChristians who cannot demonstrate that their claims are true. Nothing like hoping those that can show you are a liar will stop doing so and leave the country.  Alas, her hopes are just as effective as her prayers.

Finally, Annie claims that she and those that agree with her are the only “decent Americans” and that they are “sick” of “my kind”.  I suppose they are sick of being shown to be wrong over and over again, that their “emperor” is indeed naked.  That’s not going to change, Annie.  You may froth as much as you’d like.  Your lies will get no more true.

Oh, and she finishes by calling me an idiot, with two whole exclamation points.  Oh we can feel that Christian love, can’t we?  The humbleness, the turning the other cheek?  Not with this TrueChristian….

Sorry, Annie, you, and those like you, aren’t the only decent Americans.  You are American, that I’ll happily grant you, but you are a sad selfish woman.  You have bought into a lie that only TrueChristians like you founded the United States of America.  You arrogantly disregard all of the hard work that many people who dare to be different than you have put into making this country something to be strived for.  You try desperately to take credit for all of that work, and that is pathetic.  Thank you for your letter.  It’s everything that I stand against, willful ignorance, greed and cowardice.  Knowing you are out there means that there is still work to be done.

What the Boss Likes – volcanoes, videos and more

Why you don’t screw around on volcanoes:

Crater collapse 

Crater floor dropping hundreds of feet. 

Scads of live web cams of the volcanoes in Hawaii courtesy of the USGS: http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/cams/

Odd and old videos

We like the moon – squeaky things singing badly and for some reason I find this very funny.  Even spong monkeys know that the moon causes tides, unlike Bill O’Reilly.

Viking kittens – yes the kittens and Led Zepplin.

Betty Bowers, America’s Best Christian™, on biblical marriage

Random things

Penguins of Madagascar – love this cartoon.  There are enough sly comments that adults can enjoy it immensely.  Neil Patrick Harris recurs as the arch villain, Dr. Blowhole, a cybered dolphin.  My favorite penguin is probably Rico, the demo expert.  For some reason, I end up playing demo experts in role-playing games.  Husband is real-life demo expert 🙂   Mort the lemur seems to be more spong monkey than lemur. Stuff Mort says.  There are videos on youtube if you are inclined.

Salon’s article about how to counter your ignorant uncle at family gatherings  http://www.salon.com/2013/07/04/july_4_guide_how_to_debate_crazy_relatives_at_the_family_bbq/?source=newsletter

I’m utterly musically inept.  But I love these “harp guitars”.

MimosaHere’s a tree just outside our window.  It’s a mimosa or china silk tree.  They are a rather aggressive tree, growing madly and are considered an invasive species in some states.  They also shouldn’t grow in our hardiness zone, but they do.  Global warming, donchaloveit!

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Atheists are citizens too, thanks to FFRF help

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (of which I am proudly a member) has helped a woman in her efforts to become an American citizen.   Margaret Doughty was pursuing citizenship through naturalization.  She hit a roadblock when the US immigration service tried to claim that she needed to join a church, no other religion was mentioned and she had to be “baptized”,  to be considered a valid conscientious objector when it comes to bearing arms for the US.

For the full story, click here: http://ffrf.org/news/news-releases/item/17987-ffrf-helps-pacifist-atheist-immigrate

It does not surprise me that this was an immigration office in Texas.  It may sounds like an unfair stereotype but if there is one thing we can count on, its that religion is much more pernicious in the southern states of the US.  This again underlines on how constant vigilance must be kept so we do not lose any freedoms because of creeping theocracy.

 

What the Boss Likes – superheroes, sheep, a review of the new ST movie, and one spectacular failure

Wondermark’s amusement at Batman’s expense:  http://wondermark.com/939/   Not sure if I came up with this on my own but I came up with an explanation of Batman and his villains. Bruce is nuts and was funding them himself.  How else explain why the Joker always has plenty of money to build deathtraps?

Art of Manliness has a new series of posts about people being sheep, sheepdogs or wolves: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2013/05/14/are-you-a-sheep-or-sheepdog/

http://www.artofmanliness.com/2013/05/20/are-you-a-sheep-or-sheepdog-part-ii-8-reasons-youre-hardwired-for-sheepness/

I09 has a great explanation of the new “Star Trek” movie and shows why it is so very very bad (full of spoilers of just how utterly stupid the plot is):  http://io9.com/star-trek-into-darkness-the-spoiler-faq-508927844

Some people may try to excuse such a pathetic bastardization with the claims that it’s a “different vision”.  No, it isn’t.  This mess is the result of a hack trying to make money off of what people love and who has no idea why they loved it.  If this idea for a plot was so great, then why not simply make a new series and let it stand on its own merits since it sure as hell isn’t recognizable at Star Trek and Kirk and Spock.  No, we get a script with nothing original, the most ridiculous deus ex machine (and yes I know how ST:TOS depended on that) and not even good writing to make up for the fact that there are very few original ideas anymore.

oh these poor things. :)
oh these poor things. 🙂

I made bagels again.  Let this stand as a lesson on how not to make them.  I was interrupted in the process and let the sponge sit too long.  I thought I could rescue it.  The results are as my husband has decreed them, BINOS, bagels in name only.   Follow the directions, don’t get too cocky and there is no trouble.

Brain Games on the National Geographic Channel is a great show.  They do a great job on showing how our brains aren’t perfect.

FFRF Crankmail is great for a chuckle.  My the language that some theists use.   This goes back in time a bit to include November 2012’s hilarious bits:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uwup4BYc3J4

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – It’s spring and the PA legislator lies are in bloom!

prayer is like gamblingIt’s that time of year again, when trees are blooming and legislators give a sop to their  constituents, trying to make believe that their version of Christianity is the state religion of Pennsylvania and the US.  Last year it was the nonsense about the “Year of the Bible”, which I posted about here, and here, .  Now we have more stealing of money from taxpayers in order to bother people about religion. 

As Judge Christopher Conner said in his rebuke to the “Year of the Bible” nonsense: 

“However, the court’s determination that the defendants engaged in a “legislative act” for purposes of immunity should not be viewed as judicial endorsement of this resolution. It most certainly is not. 

At best, H.R. 535 is a benign attempt to reaffirm the underlying principles of the Reagan proclamation of 1983. At worst, it is premeditated pandering designed to provide a reelection sound bite for use by members of the General Assembly. But regardless of the motivation behind H.R. 535, its express language is proselytizing and exclusionary (e.g., “ Renewing our knowledge of and faith in God through holy scripture can strengthen us as a nation and a people”). 

The court is compelled to shine a clear, bright light on this resolution because it pushes the Establishment Clause envelope behind the safety glass of legislative immunity. That it passed unanimously is even more alarming. 

This judicial rebuke of the resolution is not intended to impugn the religious beliefs of any citizen. To the contrary, the court’s disapprobation is directed to the blatant use of legislative resources in contravention of the spirit – if not the letter – of the Establishment Clause. At a time when the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania faces massive public policy challenges, these resources would be far better utilized in meaningful legislative efforts for the benefit all of the citizens of the Commonwealth, regardless of their religious beliefs.” – Case No. 1:12-cv-536 decision 

I wonder if the good judge knows that these idiots have basically said “Fuck you.” in the new resolutions.  

Now, House resolutions don’t really mean anything.  They range from recognizing a museum for a good exhibit, claiming that Maggie Thatcher was a “great” American friend and British patriot, to naming a bridge after some fallen serviceperson.  It’s my opinion they are all just a waste of time and money.  Yes, it’s nice to memorialize someone by naming a bridge after them but that can be done on the local level.  They require time and resources that could be better used in other ways.   

The two resolutions that have been adopted are HR 17, authored by a Republican and HR 51, authored by a Democrat.   So, the blame for this nonsense isn’t limited to just one party. 

HR 17 is a resolution to recognize “National Fast Day”.  This is a bit of US Civil War nonsense which is now in the spotlight thanks to it being 150 years since American merrily killed each other by the hundreds of thousands over the right to own another human being as property.  Pennsylvania is home to ostensibly the most famous battle of the war, Gettysburg, so we get to hear lots about it.  Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – It’s spring and the PA legislator lies are in bloom!”

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?””

Not Polite Dinner Conversation –Some fun with 1 Corinthians!

best about this image? It’s from Orlando Grace Church website/blog with them calling Huckabee a “huckster”.

(yes, the entire blogosphere seems to be doing a post about Huckabee on The Daily show.  It gives me a reason to address specific parts of the bible, so I’m getting my own licks in)  

Jon Stewart of The Daily Show did an excellent job at showing how Mike Huckabee is quite a liar or simply not too cognizant about his very own holy book (Friendly Atheist has the transcript here).  Huckabee wants to be seen as the good natured grandpa, just wanting the “best”, aka his way, for everyone but under his sheep’s clothing, he’s quite the hateful and lying wolf that does indeed believe people will go to some eternal torture that he gets his jollies from.  All we see from Huckabee are the usual appeals to fear and greed.   

Like all theists, Mike Huckabee is sure his god reflects his opinions.  All pastors do.  He hasn’t yet willfully murdered anyone directly like the Catholics here  but his actions are happily controlled by the secular laws of the US.  The theocrats are sure that women are worthless as anything but incubators, and that they can deny a woman health care if it dares go against their baseless claims.  Being “right” is more important than anything else to them.   

Huckabee tried to claim that “life begins with conception” and that it’s a “biological fact”.  To run to “biology” aka “science” when it’s convenient is quite the mark of pure hypocrisy.  Science and the scientific method are great but when many theists want to ignore evolutionary theory, well that same science is willfully ignored. Jon may have not wanted to call Huckabee a liar but I have no problem in doing so. No, Mike, it’s not a fact.  A fact is something that doesn’t depend on opinion.  Why not call a sperm alive then? Hate to tell you biology does consider them alive.  Those little suckers are out there moving right along.  But ah, that would make men responsible for supposedly killing “children” (thousands at once!) too and we can’t have that, can we?  

Huckabee tries to claim that if you for something, that doesn’t mean you are against its opposite.  That’s just lovely.  So, if I’m *for* stopping genocide, that doesn’t mean I’m *against* genocide in Huckabee’s world.   Sorry, Mike, but when you say that homosexuality will damn you, that supporting a woman’s choice of her own health care will damn you, you are indeed saying you are against such things.  You have tried to legislate your opinions into law and thus that shows you are against those things.  Your views are primitive and ignorant, based on your personal version of one religion, but at least have the courage to actually stand by them when you are put on the spot.  Alas for Huckabee, there are Christians who disagree with him and what he claims his god “wants”.  They are just as sure that this Christian god is fine with homosexuality and a woman being considered equal.  Mike, I do request that you and they join me with two altars so we can sort out whose god is the “real” one right away.

Jon showed the ad that Huckabee had supported, taking the position that it showed that that fire was in the offing for anyone who disagreed with Huckabee, the Catholic Church, etc.  The biblical nonsense behind it is 1 Corinthians 3. Huckabee seems to be confused when he repeatedly mentions chapter 10 when he says that’s where the ad came from.  It didn’t. I guess it can rattle you when you try hard to defend the liars at Faux Noise.

Of course, many Christians run when someone dares equate fire with hell and brings up that little nasty notion of eternal torture by their god. Hell is one of the many things Christians disagree on, and it’s a rather important thing. It’s also a bit distressing to your average Christian to be reminded that their god hasn’t returned yet.  Paul invokes “the Day”, which certainly seems to be the day of judgement.  I do agree with Huckabee to a point, that chapt. 3 as being more about refining a belief, and the fire isn’t directly to hell.  However, the fire will will indeed destroy you if you can’t pass through it, aka hell. Paul repeatedly says that those who don’t agree with him will be damned, that his god will “catch the wise in their craftiness” etc.  The ad that Huckabee did, in the actual context for the bible and the individual book 1 Corinthians rather than just a convenient chapter cherry picked by Mike, show that if you don’t vote for those who Huckabee approves of, you will be damned.  That chapter of 1 Cor that Huckabee keeps mentioning in error, that’s where Paul repeats that you ignore him, you will be killed, by snakes, by God, etc. Quite the sequence of threats there, just like when that ad says “Your vote will affect the future And be recorded in eternity. Will you vote the values That stand the test of fire?”   It’s always fun when Christians, who so often claim “but everything has to be in context with the “entire” bible” get hoist by their own petard. 

Further along in 1 Corinthians, Continue reading “Not Polite Dinner Conversation –Some fun with 1 Corinthians!”

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – HR 535 lawsuit, dismissed but resolution rebuked

stickers of this and more at http://www.evolvefish.com

Way back when in February, Rep. Saccone succeeded in getting HR 535 passed unanimously by hiding it among other “noncontroversial” resolutions.  However, when people actually read it, something that seems rather beyond many Pennsylvanian legislators, they discovered it wasn’t so “noncontroversial” at all.  Among Mr. Saccone’s claims that are outright lies:   

“WHEREAS, The Bible, the word of God, has made a unique contribution in shaping the United States as a distinctive and blessed nation and people;” 

No evidence of this at all.  Such desperation to be a special snowflake!

“WHEREAS, Biblical teachings inspired concepts of civil government that are contained in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States;” 

Ah, no it doesn’t, not even remotely. Nothing in the Judeo/Christian bible that mentioned anything about democracy, disobediance of a king, etc.  Honestly, Saccone, have you even *read* the bible or the Declaration or the Constitution?

“WHEREAS, Renewing our knowledge of and faith in God through holy scripture can strengthen us as a nation and a people;”

No evidence that it can.  Also no evidence that Saccone’s version of Christianity is the “right” one and the only one to be followed in order to get this magical “strength”.  Should it be Roman Catholic who want to control women and homosexuals?  The United Church of Christ who don’t have their knickers in a twist over that?  Which one? 

“therefore be it RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives declare 2012 as the “Year of the Bible” in Pennsylvania in recognition of both the formative influence of the Bible on our Commonwealth and nation and our national need to study and apply the teachings of the holy scriptures.” 

Nope, no need for *everyone* to read one religious text, and certainly no need to apply its very questionable teachings to anything. Slavery anyone?  Genocide for theists to have the land they want?  Eternal torture for anyone not accepting a certain god?   It is only by some heavy-duty cherry picking does Christianity become something decent.  It’s not all “love thy neighbor” despite the claims of Christians.  I suggest everyone read it sometime.

You can see the rest of my blog post about HR 535 here.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation sued Saccone, et al, for their actions to try to sneak around the wall between church and state.  The judge in the case, U.S. District Judge Christopher Conner, found that the FFRF and its plaintants in the state did have legal footing to claim injury from such a “noncontroversial” resolution.  Unfortunately, the judge came to the conclusion that Saccone et all had “absolute legislative immunity”, a relatively obscure legal idea that is meant to protect legislators from lawsuits that arise from them “acting in the sphere of legitimate legislative activity” e.g. if anyone gets angry at a legislator for any reason that is legislatively based, they can’t sue just because of that.  Admittedly, this is a good thing that this is in place.  Can you imagine all of the nuisance lawsuits?  Unfortunately, I find that the judge screwed up here, since trying to lie and force the recognition of one’s personal religion into the government isn’t what I find to be “legitimate legislative activity”.  It is indeed nothing more than “gratuitious political grandstanding”. Alas, there is a SCOTUS ruling that resolutions, as pointless as they are, are just as protected as voting and committee work.  Here’s the entire decision.

Judge Conner did use the word “pellucidly” (transparently clear), which gets him props for having a very good vocabulary 🙂  And he did say this (I broke it up into paragraphs for ease of reading):

“However, the court’s determination that the defendants engaged in a “legislative act” for purposes of immunity should not be viewed as judicial endorsement of this resolution. It most certainly is not. At best, H.R. 535 is a benign attempt to reaffirm the underlying principles of the Reagan proclamation of 1983. At worst, it is premeditated pandering designed to provide a reelection sound bite for use by members of the General Assembly. 

But regardless of the motivation behind H.R. 535, its express language is proselytizing and exclusionary (e.g., “ Renewing our knowledge of and faith in God through holy scripture can strengthen us as a nation and a people”). The court is compelled to shine a clear, bright light on this resolution because it pushes the Establishment Clause envelope behind the safety glass of legislative immunity. That it passed unanimously is even more alarming. 

This judicial rebuke of the resolution is not intended to impugn the religious beliefs of any citizen. To the contrary, the court’s disapprobation is directed to the blatant use of legislative resources in contravention of the spirit – if not the letter – of the Establishment Clause. At a time when the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania faces massive public policy challenges, these resources would be far better utilized in meaningful legislative efforts for the benefit all of the citizens of the Commonwealth, regardless of their religious beliefs.” 

The judge points out that this lawsuit goes no further only because of legislative sleight of hand, a hiding behind the skirts of freedom and law to do something less than palatable.  What the resolution actually says is simple pandering and politics that have wasted time, resources and have attempted to create an “us” and “them” based on religion.  Reagan’s proclamation did much the same thing, with the same false claims used by Saccone.

He is right to be alarmed at what seems to be nothing more than willful ignorance and/or laziness by the rest of the legislators who didn’t even read the resolution and passed it sight unseen.  It shows that there are some uncomfortable possibilities, that the legislators aren’t doing their jobs or that they intentionally disregard one of the most benefits of living in the US, the right to pursue one’s religion or not at the case may be, with no state involvement allowed.  

It’s time to hold our legislators accountable.  Write them, write letters to the editor of your hometown newspapers.  It’s up to the people to defend the ideals of the country, not to assume that the greedy and the fearful will do it for us.  They won’t.  

***BTW, U.S. District Judge Christopher Conner is a George W. Bush appointee and ruled against the ACA, so tsk tsk on you if you whine about “activist” judges.