Showing posts with label Atheism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Atheism. Show all posts

Monday, May 2, 2011

While America Rejoices in the Death of Osama bin Laden...

     "Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."* 

--Martin Luther King, Jr.
*See Correction

     If only we as a nation could show that kind of intelligence and control.  Instead, the likes of preacher-turned-politician-turned-FOX-personality-turned-politician Mike Huckabee continue the jihad of hatred by welcoming Osama bin Laden to hell.  

     What happened to "love your enemies and pray for your persecutors"?  

     Along with usury, caring for the poor, protecting children, and reaching out to those on the margins, many Christians in the U.S.A. have forgotten their scriptures.  The hatred spewing forth across the nation under the guise of celebration will only breed more hatred for the truly ugly American.

     Am I relieved the world is free of one more religious fundamentalist determined to kill in the name of his god?  Yes.

     But will I rejoice and boast?  This atheist will not.

     Get some class, America.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Non-Believers Giving Aid -- Disaster Relief Fund for Japanese Earthquake; Glenn Beck Attributes Disaster to His god

     If you would like to contribute to a relief fund for those devastated by the Japanese earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster, but do not want to donate to a religious organization that might use this tragedy as an opportunity for proselytism, click here:  Non-Believers Giving Aid.   Why?  Because this is the only world and only life that we and those harmed in Japan have got.
     This is a link to the most overwhelming photos that reveal the level of total destruction that I have seen.  These folks need our help.

     Meanwhile, Glenn Beck continues to proudly display his ignorance and prejudice by attributing the tragedy to God and wielding fear to control and convert viewers to their versions of Christianity.  The Washington Post reports:
     Glenn Beck is already speculating on the disaster’s divine message:  “I’m not saying God is, you know, causing earthquakes,” the conservative pundit said on Monday’s show. But Beck added that he’s “not not saying that, either.” 
     “Whether you call it Gaia, or whether you call it Jesus, there’s a message being sent and that is, ‘Hey, you know that stuff we’re doing? Not really working out real well.’ Maybe we should stop doing some of it.”
     Beck later referenced the Ten Commandments, and sugested that following them is an antidote to global chaos.  “What do you say we start doing those things?” he asked. “Because the things we are doing really suck. And they’re not getting better.”
     I'm sure that Beck's god appreciates Beck's use of the work "suck" in his preaching.  

     As for the "I'm not saying but I'm not not saying double speak," Mr. Beck, I leave you with the words of your Jesus: "Let your 'Yes' mean 'Yes,' and your 'No' mean 'No.' Anything more is from the evil one." (The Sermon on the Mount, Mt 5:37).

Friday, December 31, 2010

Dan Savage on Sex, Religion, Bullying & His Catholic Seminary Experience

     If you don't have time for the whole interview, the first four minutes covers Savage's Catholic seminary experience, his moving beyond the beliefs and shame of that faith, and an incredibly honest priest (there are some) that surprised him when he came out.  Also, around minute twenty the conversation again turns to religion, including biblical violence against homosexuals.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Holy Blog's Anniversary and a Message about the Future

     Dear Heretics,

     The Gospel According to Hate had its first anniversary on October 2.  Since going online, the Holy Blog has received over 110,000 page views by more than 55,000 visitors.  I have published over 700 posts.  Thank you for reading, commenting, and confronting the hatred that some preach in the names of their gods.

     A special thank you to the blog's followers and those of you who comment regularly: Buffy, Doorman-Priest, Truthspew, Russ, FDeF, Deldachez, and, of course, Anonymous (who can really be a judgmental asshole).  Thank you to folks who emailed me to let me know I'd missed a typo.  

     A huge thank you and hug to my Super Husband Extraordinaire (SHE) for his assistance with research, proofreading, and all his support, when I doubted myself.  

     A very special thank you to my dear friend, Iowa Soup Mama, who's guest post during last year's Twelve Hates of Christmas, "I Hate Mall Rage," has been the blog's most visited post with over 5000 hits.


     I have a confession to make: this blog began as a graduate school writing assignment.  It wasn't my intention for it to become an unpaid thirty-hour-a-week job.  I've enjoyed the research, writing, and interaction with you, my readers.  That said, I need a break.

     Every morning, I awake peacefully.  Then I spend two to four hours combing through news stories that are infuriating and listening to the hatred that people spew in the names of their gods, churches, and dogmas.  I need a reprieve from that negative energy.  Also, I have a thesis that is currently demanding my full attention and focus.  Unfortunately, the blog has become a convenient distraction.

     That said, I'm going to continue to publish, but not with my expanded commentary and not daily.  I will still post links, videos, etc. when huge stories of hypocrisy, hatred and violence in the name of religion cross my path.  Please email me at gospelaccordingtohate@gmail.com if you see a story you think should be reported.

     It's also been a painful year.  Coming from a religious background, numerous friends and family members have taken great offense to me voicing my opinions.  Thank you to my readers and friends who understand the point of this blog.  Thank you for your support.  

     Despite some people's opposition, this blog has been a success and a place of refuge.  Numerous people have emailed me to confide their own stories of being abused by church leaders, to ask support after being cut off from family because of their sexual orientation or changed religious beliefs, or to ask for guidance because they are still priests struggling with the anti-gay rhetoric of the church.  I hope that I was able to help them.  My goal in writing the blog was to help people in situations such as these to find a voice.

     Again thank you for reading.  Please continue to stop by.  Don't stop confronting religious violence, bigotry, and hatred.  Get out the vote on Tuesday!

     As we say at USC: "Fight on!"

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pope Benedict, Nazism, Atheism, & What He Should Have Said in the United Kingdom


     Imagine the prophetic witness that could have been made were Pope Ben to have admitted his wrongs and said this instead:  

     "Yes, Hitler was a Catholic.  In him, we see the tragedy of how religion can be used as a weapon and justification for the most horrendous of crimes against humanity.  I witnessed this with my own eyes, when I, myself, was a member of the Nazi movement.  

     "There is blood on my hands.  I failed to stand up for what was right and just.  I saved myself rather than risking my own safety.  I was a coward.  The gravity of this sin, I carry to my grave.  But from my failure, I have learned this.  

     "What Hitler did, what the warrior popes did before him, what religious believers around the world, including Catholics, have been doing throughout history: killing in the names of their faiths, ideologies, and political affiliations is wrong.  The greater mysteries of the universe that some call God can never be used to justify the taking of another human life.  

     "As a former Nazi, I can never forget that Catholics cooperated in such sinful atrocities as the Holocaust.  As I greet the Queen of England, I can never forget that followers of the Church of England were killed in the name of Rome.   These historical realities inform my passion as I call on people of all faiths to stop killing in the name of God."

    But, Pope Ben didn't preach the truth.  Instead, he lied and blamed atheists for the evils of the world.  In the process, he remained the self-preserving coward that he was when he cooperated with the extermination of six million Jews.
Saint Benedict, the Coward
Image via The Post Online

Richard Dawkins Refutes Pope's Claim that Catholic Hitler Was an Atheist

     Last week during his first address in the United Kingdom, an address to the Queen at Edinburgh, Pope Benedict blamed the crimes of Hitler and the Nazi regime on atheism--this coming from a pope, who remained silent in the face of the Holocaust.  The pope again showed the world that he's a self-serving liar and a hypocrite.

     Rather than standing up for his allegedly anti-Nazi Catholic faith and risking martyrdom, young Ben saved his own ass by joining Hitler Youth and eventually fought the Nazi army.  Now that's character befitting of the centuries-long tradition of warrior popes that sought to convert the world's non-Catholics by the sword.  This is the Tradition to which Hitler turned for justification of the Holocaust.

     "The anti-Semitism of the new movement (Christian Social movement) was based on religious ideas instead of racial knowledge."  [Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 1, Chapter 3]
     "I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator. By warding off the Jews I am fighting for the Lord's work."  [Adolph Hitler, Speech, Reichstag, 1936]
     "And the founder of Christianity made no secret indeed of his estimation of the Jewish people. When He found it necessary, He drove those enemies of the human race out of the Temple of God."  [Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf, pp.174]
     "I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so."  [Adolph Hitler, to Gen. Gerhard Engel, 1941] 
     In the video below, Richard Dawkins speaks to protesters of the pope in London.  Dawkins refutes Pope Benedict's lies and unmasks the twisted logic and projection of a guilty church.  (The full text of Dawkin's speech is available here.)

     Here is one protester's video diary of the pope protest.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Saturday, August 14, 2010

New York Post Claims Obama Blessed Ground Zero Mosque

     The New York Post has a big fat religious lie printed in its headlines this morning: "Obama Blesses Ground Zero Mosque," "Allah Right by Me," and "Obama Gives Blessing to Ground Zero Mosque."
Image from Joe.My.God

     This is a lie.  President Obama did not bless a mosque.  He's neither a priest, rabbi, nor an imam.  He merely put the "controversy" over the building of a mosque in lower Manhattan into its historical, legal, and actual context, challenging the hateful stereotypes that all Muslims are terrorists and want to destroy America.  

     What about the right-wing Christians that want to impinge upon the religious liberties of others?  Are they not destroying the "American" and "family" values on which our nation was founded, a nation where each individual has the inalienable right to practice the religion of her/his choice or none at all?

     Here are some excerpts from President Obama's remarks concerning the building of a mosque near ground zero. No where in the full text, which ironically you can read in the New York Post (linked here), does President Obama "bless" the lower Manhattan mosque.
     Our founders understood that the best way to honor the place of faith in the lives of our people was to protect their freedom to practice religion. In the Virginia Act of Establishing Religion Freedom, Thomas Jefferson wrote that “all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion.” The First Amendment of our Constitution established the freedom of religion as the law of the land. And that right has been upheld ever since.
     Indeed, over the course of our history, religion has flourished within our borders precisely because Americans have had the right to worship as they choose — including the right to believe in no religion at all.
     As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are. The writ of the founders must endure.
     Our capacity to show not merely tolerance, but respect towards those who are different from us — and that way of life, that quintessentially American creed, stands in stark contrast to the nihilism of those who attacked us on that September morning, and who continue to plot against us today.

     (Now if President Obama would only see the plank in his own eye, as he continues to impose his version of Christian belief upon the rights of LGBT Americans.)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Preachers Who Are Not Believers

     Are there clergy who don’t believe in God? Certainly there are former clergy who fall in this category. Before making their life-wrenching decisions, they were secret nonbelievers. Who knows how many like-minded pastors discover that they simply cannot take this mortal leap from the pulpit and then go on to live out their ministries in secret disbelief? What is it like to be a pastor who doesn’t believe in God?
     These are opening questions of Daniel C. Dennett and Linda LaScola, who conducted an investigation of preachers who continue to minister and preach even though they no longer believe in their god.  These preachers' stories are fascinating.  CLICK HERE for the entire report.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Atheists Should Leave America, Our Currency Says So

     Here's is a letter to the editor submitted by an American citizen that claims atheists are the root of all evil.

     I'm left wondering why logic is not taught in our school systems.
It Makes Sense If Leave Out Logic
see more Friends of Irony

     "Atheists hate me this I know, for the dollar tells me so."

     If violence and evil come from atheists, then I guess atheists must have written the bible.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Religious Demographics, the Supreme Court, and the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Supreme Hypocrisy


     Do Murphy's "principled positions" include those he learned while he was Cardinal Law's second in command during the days he covered up child rape and sexual abuse by priests in Boston?  Murphy is one of the many bishops, who has neither resigned nor faced criminal trial for his leadership in the sexual abuse scandal.  Instead, he continues as bishop of 1.5 million Catholics in one of the nations largest dioceses.  I wonder what he thinks of the the rectory that was transformed into an erotic dungeon for raping children by a publicly principled Brazilian priest who is currently running from the law.


     In a nation where only 23.9% of the population is Catholic, the Supreme Court currently has six Catholic justices, that's 66.7%.  Five of those, John Roberts, Anthony M. Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito are the conservative majority that control the Court.  Sonia Sotomayor is the sixth Catholic vote.  Her ideology has yet to be tested.


     The Catholic Church has the votes to control the Supreme Court of the United States for years to come (which brings up the point that Roe v. Wade is more politically useful to them if not overturned, otherwise they would have done it already), but they are afraid of Elena Kagan, who is Jewish, which leads to another point.


     There are currently two Jewish Supreme Court Justices (Stephen G. Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg).  Jewish Judges make up 22% of the Supreme Court, whereas Jews make up 1.7% of the U.S. population.  That leaves retiring Justice David H. Souter, who is Episcopalian.  Episcopalians/Anglicans make up 1.4% of the total U.S. population.



     Catholics are overrepresented on the Supreme Court by 42.8%.  Jews are overrepresented by 20.3%, which will rise to 31.6% if Kagan is confirmed.  For Catholics or Jews to bitch about who is on the Supreme Court is complete hypocrisy.  Their religious views are well represented.





     When it comes to religious affiliation there are plenty of groups that go unrepresented in the Supreme Court.  Those who practice no religion make up 16.1% of the U.S. population, but non-religious folks are discriminated against in politics today.  Those who admit to being actual atheists, like me, make up 1.6% of the population, virtually the same as the Jewish population, where are our three Supreme Court Justices?



     Evangelical Protestants make up 26.3% of the U.S. population, which is 2.4% more than the Catholics.  That difference becomes 9.3%, when the 6.9% Historically Black Churches are added to the mix.


     Mainline Protestants make up 18.1% of the population, which is over ten times the size of the Jewish population.

     Did you know that there are more Buddhists (0.7%) than there are Muslims (0.6%) in the U.S.?  Or that Mormons only make up 1.7% of the total population, while controlling civil rights legislation in California?


     Should religious affiliation play a role in who gets nominated to the Supreme Court?  That is a discussion for another post, but imagine what would happen if a president nominated an Iranian Muslim from Beverly Hills, or an African-American Lesbian Buddhist, a male-to-female trans-gendered agnostic Korean, or better yet, six of any of these? 


     The point I'm making today is that our Supreme Court is dominated by Catholics, who have no room to bitch about any ruling coming from their Supreme Court, because it is certainly not a Court that represents the diversity of the nation.

     (Statistical information and the charts used in this post are from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and have a ±0.6% margin of error.)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

If You Are Good without god, Come out on Facebook

     Are you good without god?


     This week on Facebook, those who choose no religion are posting As all across Facebook to show that the world is full of people who are good without god and don't need religion to influence their lives.
     Go to http://www.aweekonfacebook.com/ for more information and to download your scarlet letter A.

Friday, March 26, 2010

John Calvin and Thomas Aquinas, Our Founding Fathers

History Question of the Day

     Which of these writers influenced the political philosophy and origins of the founding documents of the United States of America:  President Thomas Jefferson, John Calvin, and/or Saint Thomas Aquinas?

     Easy, right?  The answer is President Thomas Jefferson.   You know, Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, and one of the many founders who threw off the religious tyranny of then-England and safeguarded the separation of church and state in our government.

     WRONG!  If you are one of the 80% of  students in the U.S.A. who will be reading textbooks published in Texas, you wouldn't know that President Thomas Jefferson is a writer who influenced the intellectual origins of our nation.    Instead, you will be taught that Protestant "reformer" John Calvin  and medieval-minded, pre-rational-thinking Catholic Saint Thomas Aquinas are the true influences upon our nation's founding documents. 

     John Calvin founded a theocracy, with morality police to enforce his religion's moral code under the threat of punishment, including the death penalty.  In one of his most despicable acts, Calvin ordered the death (by slow burning) of his longtime pen-pal and humanist theologian Michael Servetus after assuring Serveus that he'd be safe in Geneva.  Why did Calvin kill him?  Because Servetus had issues with Calvin's version of church and state.  The theocracy of Calvin is what our nation's revolutionaries and founders fought against, so that we could have freedom of choice and speech concerning religion/no religion.   

     St. Thomas Aquinas stressed the importance of both divine revelation and human reason, but reason was trumped by revelation.  The channels for revelation include scripture and the Catholic Church's tradition (not Protestant, not Jewish, not Muslim, not anyone else).  Aquinas' pre-scientific-revolution teachings on natural law theory have governed Catholic moral theology and political policy since.  How the Catholic Church sees god in nature is how everyone else must also understand god's will for the universe.  This medieval teaching has resulted in countless anti-scientific and anti-rational Catholic teachings.  If you don't believe an apostate gay like me, then just ask Galileo.  The anti-rational and church-imposed teachings upon science and reason are what our nation's revolutionaries and founders fought against, so that we could have freedom of choice and speech concerning religion/no religion.

      Earlier this month, the Texas Board of Education voted to rewrite American history in textbooks published in Texas arguing that history has been skewed by the left.  The vote passed with ten Republican votes, to five dissenting votes.

     The New York Times reports some of the changes the board is making to American history:
     Efforts by Hispanic board members to include more Latino figures as role models for the state’s large Hispanic population were consistently defeated, prompting one member, Mary Helen Berlanga, to storm out of a meeting late Thursday night, saying, “They can just pretend this is a white America and Hispanics don’t exist. They are going overboard, they are not experts, they are not historians.  They are rewriting history, not only of Texas but of the United States and the world.”
     The conservative members maintain that they are trying to correct what they see as a liberal bias among the teachers who proposed the curriculum. To that end, they made dozens of minor changes aimed at calling into question, among other things, concepts like the separation of church and state and the secular nature of the American Revolution. “I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state,” said David Bradley, a conservative from Beaumont who works in real estate. “I have $1,000 for the charity of your choice if you can find it in the Constitution.”  
     I guess for Bradley, Article 6 of the Constitution doesn't count, not to mention the First Amendment, and countless other affirmations of the separation between church and state in further Amendments.
     They also replaced the word “capitalism” throughout their texts with the “free-enterprise system.” “Let’s face it, capitalism does have a negative connotation,” said one conservative member, Terri Leo. “You know, ‘capitalist pig!’”
     Even the course on world history did not escape the board’s scalpel. Cynthia Dunbar, a lawyer from Richmond who is a strict constitutionalist and thinks the nation was founded on Christian beliefs, managed to cut Thomas Jefferson from a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century, replacing him with St. Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and William Blackstone. (Jefferson is not well liked among conservatives on the board because he coined the term “separation between church and state.”)
     Also in the changes: Sen. Joe McCarthy's fall from power is redacted in tragic light, saying he was correct about Commie infiltrators and justified in his actions in his witch hunt hearings; the civil rights movement is taught stressing the "unintended consequences" of the movement; and many, many more Christian nips and tucks.

     Texas is a huge exporter of textbooks to other states, so don't be surprised when these books end up on your child's desk in Illinois, Washington, or California.

     Don't think that it's just Texas changing Jefferson's history.  Never once in the White House's online biography of Jefferson is his fervent support and defense of the separation of church and state mentioned.  Never once is it noted that Jefferson was for religious freedom, yes, but also for freedom from religion.  In fact, the White House misrepresents Jefferson's history with a quote from a "private letter" stating: "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."  This is how the Jefferson bio begins, with a quote stated out of the context of his life as a deist, which in those pre-Darwinian days was someone who did not believe in a personal god as people today do.  Jefferson was not a religious man, and some argue that he was according to today's religious vocabulary, an atheist.  Of course, there will be no presentation of these arguments in the history books, thanks to the Republican, conservative Christian dominated Texas school board.

Postscript:

Click here to sign a letter to Texan publishers telling them not to rewrite history.

Morality Is a Choice, Not a Church

     When people ask free thinking atheists, agnostics, secularists, etc. "How can you be moral without god?"  There are many simple answers to the question.  Embedded below is just one: "Morality is a choice, not a church."

     The video's a bit over the top, in terms of the music, but makes its point nonetheless.  This is by no means an exhaustive list of the immoral things ordered by god and religious believers in the scriptures.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Pledge of Allegiance, a Patriotic, Religious Test

     On a soupy August morning in 1980, I received my first lesson concerning the separation of church and state.

     After ringing the morning school bell, Sr. Mary Buttcrack wobbled into the classroom and peered down at us, her new first grade class, with dark, squinty eyes and barked for us to stand up. Frightened of the cello-shaped nun, whose Michelin-man-like rolls did not benefit from the post-Vatican II nuns' emancipation from the religious habit, we rose from our faux wooden desks and obeyed her orders. We turned our sweaty, sticky bodies toward the metal statue of a tortured, bleeding, dead body hanging on a cross, made the Sign of the Cross over our hearts, prayed the Our Father, and again made the Sign of the Cross.

     Without a pause, we were instructed to put our "crossing" hand over our hearts, to turn ten degrees to face the crucifix-adjacent U.S. flag, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Upon finishing, most of our pink hands made the Sign of the Cross again, thinking it necessary in order to end the prayer. Sister chastised us for this apparent mistake and threatened us with something like an eternity in hell or taking away our recesses, where we’d have to sit in the un-air-conditioned room with her ring-around-the-armpits and gelatinous, spoiled-cottage-cheese biceps.  I wasn’t sure which was worse.

     In middle school, my depreciation for the Pledge increased. Years of Catholic school had increased my religious "maturity," and now, the Pledge seemed a violation of the First Commandment: "I am the Lord your God [sic], you shall not place strange gods before me." Devout Catholic altar boy that I was, swearing allegiance to a mass of red, white, and blue fabric seemed idolatrous, if not at the level of worshiping Baal, then at least at the level of the golden calf.  Was Moses to return, I imagined him decapitating our principal, the mushroom-shaped-and-smelling Sr. Mary Mushroom, with one swing of a stone tablet and then making us heathen flag-worshipers chew off and swallow bites of Old Glory until our gums bled and our bowels exploded.

     My allegiance was to God [sic] alone, not to some nation or its flag, but Christians everywhere at sporting events, student council meetings, Boy Scouts, and governmental gatherings said the Pledge. They swore allegiance to a false god and then proclaimed their uncompromising devotion to Jesus Christ in the next breath. I continued to say the Pledge, but refused to put my hand on my heart, which belonged to Christ alone. During the Pledge, my hand was over my xiphoid process. This served the double purpose of protecting me both from God’s [sic] wrath and also the random fist of a passerby delivering a xiphoid-process-shattering blow to my lower sternum thus sending the xiphoid-shard into one of my essential organs and killing me on the spot. I thought of such things in those days, thanks to learning about the dangers of CPR in science class, but there was really nothing to worry about. If I died, God [sic] would forgive me for worshipping the flag, because I didn’t swear on my heart.

     After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the George H.W. Bush led invasion of Iraq, I quit saying the Pledge. I was in high school, and after a handful of years spent in the public schools where Catholics weren't the majority, my religious beliefs were emboldened. By the time I turned eighteen and registered with the Selective Service, I was prepared for the possible reinstitution of the draft, for in the wake of the Soviet's demise, America had a new enemies and a new cause: Islamic Iran and Iraq and the securing of fossil fuels. As a conscientious objector, I offered no allegiance to a country that would declare wars and kill innocent women and children so that we could drive cars that raped our planet's atmosphere. My New Testament God [sic], my peace-loving Jesus, would not approve of such reprehensible actions, and so I stood during the Pledge with my hand on my xiphoid process and mouthed the words. No one took notice of my silent dissent.

     As a priest in post-9/11 America, I found the Pledge even more infuriating. Catholic adults were still being lead in successive recitations of the OurFatherPledgeofAllegiance at Knights of Columbus meetings. The crucifix and the flag were still side by side, both demanding the faithfulness of our grade-school hearts. Gone were the days of blending, I was the priest, the educated Master of Divinity, and the one with the power of the Office of the Priesthood on my side.

     A man, I stood silently, hands in the pockets of my black clerics, and refused to say the Pledge. I received my parishioners' suspicious glares, which were followed by judgmental comments masked with humor. "You some kind of liberal, Father?" "Don't you support the troops in Iraq? Heh. Heh. Heh." "Do ya love yer country, or are ya a some kindda Bin Laden, Dixie Chicks lover?"

     Yes, that was it. I was a terrorist masking as an Iowa-corn-fed Catholic priest, and an atheist, Commie homo, too.
     Now that I am an atheist homo (The Commie distinction is FOX News-relative.), the Pledge continues to assault and insult my sensibilities. In a nation where we have freedom of speech, I don't observe a need for the Pledge's patriotic test before basketball games and beauty pageants. There's no need for a test to gauge who does and doesn't proclaim the McCarthy-era's paranoid addendum to the Pledge, "under God [sic], ." This “pledge” is a religious test that violates my freedom to choose between the extinct gods of the ancients or the various gods of the present. I also have the freedom to use my rational mind, to follow lead and history of scientific progress, and to choose not to believe in any god. This is my choice. I have blossomed into an atheist.
     In early March, the Religious Right won a huge battle in federal court.  A divided federal appeals court, reversed an earlier ruling in a 2-1 decision.

     The Los Angeles Times reports:
     A divided federal appeals court Thursday reversed itself, ruling that the Pledge of Allegiance doesn’t violate the constitutional prohibition against state-mandated religious exercise even though it contains the phrase “one nation under God [sic].”
     The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in 2002, which deemed that requiring students to recite the pledge violated their rights to be free of religious indoctrination by the government, was one of the most controversial to come out of the court that is second only to the U.S. Supreme Court in its power to determine law for nine Western states and two Pacific territories.
     The appeals court’s earlier decision had been reviewed by the Supreme Court in 2004, but the justices dodged the constitutional question on procedural grounds, throwing out the lawsuit brought by a Sacramento atheist and leaving intact the wording of the patriotic declaration.
     In "the land of the free," one is no longer free of the religious test that was added to the Pledge just fifty-six years ago.  The Pledge, like the scriptures, has been redacted over the years since it was first written in 1892, each generation's political/religious turmoil leaving a mark.  Bruce Ramsey of The Seattle Times provides a brief history of the Pledge:
    Several years ago an Oregon academic, Richard Ellis, wrote a history of the Pledge, which I reviewed in the Times. In the book he says each big boost for the Pledge, or change in it, came at a time when Americans were in fear of foreign influence. The Pledge was written in 1892, when Americans worried about the tide of immigrants diluting American culture and ideals, and the fading of patriotism from the Civil War. The Pledge was institutionalized in World War I, when patriotism was enforced. The first state to require the Pledge was Washington, which passed the law in January 1919, the month of the Communist-influenced Seattle General Strike. The first change in the Pledge's wording--from "my flag" to "the flag of the United States of America"--came in the early 1920s, around the time that immigration was stopped. And the phrase "under God [sic]" was added in 1954, at the end of the trials of Communist spies.
      In 2010, the era of the Tea Party, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and calls from southern states for secession because a crazed minority of of U.S. citizens believes that our nation's first black president is a socialist, commie-loving, Islamic terrorist, we have a conservative court ruling that the McCarthy era addendum "under God [sic]" is not a religious prayer or test.  Sister Mary Buttcrack, Stalin of North Catholic School, would be proud.
     I, for one, will not remain on the grade-school playground. I will cross neither my heart nor my xiphoid process. I will utilize my constitutional rights of freedom of speech and freedom of/from religion. When the Pledge of Allegiance is forced upon me in secular situations, instead of "under God [sic]," I will proclaim as loudly as I can: "I don't believe in god." This is one religious test that I am proud to fail.

     After thirty years, I've finally passed the first grade.

Postscripts:

     To hear an interview of  Michael Newdow, who filed the lawsuit challenging the religious redaction of the Pledge, click here. (It's the March 20th podcast.)

     Here are a few quotes from the Associated Press via WTOP, article by Terence Chea.
     Judge Stephen Reinhardt, who was part of the three-judge panel that ruled in Newdow's favor eight years ago, wrote a 123-page dissent to the 60-page majority opinion. "Under no sound legal analysis adhering to binding Supreme Court precedent could this court uphold state-directed, teacher-led, daily recitation of the 'under God [sic]' version of the Pledge of Allegiance by children in public schools," wrote Reinhardt, who was appointed by President Jimmy Carter in 1980.
     "The whole argument that 'under God [sic]' wasn't placed into the pledge for religious purposes is bogus," Newdow [who brought the case] said. "I hope people recognize this is not against God [sic] or people who believe in God [sic]. It's about the government not treating people equally on the basis of their lawful religious views."
     Go to Newdow's website http://www.restorethepledge.com/ for more information.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

First Friday Devotion: Get Sauced with Jesus

Do you see what the owners of a Scranton pizzeria see in this frozen bucket of sauce?
     It was a slow news day on the first Friday of Lent in Scranton, PA, so The Times-Tribune decided to clean out the freezer and found this "story."  Jeremy G. Burton reports from Brownie's Pizzeria:
     Ms. Salerno [restaurant owner] was at Brownie's and talking with her granddaughter, 23-year-old Jackie Krouchick, while she made a pizza. Her granddaughter is a single mother who she said is struggling through tough times. Ms. Krouchick told her grandmother she worried she was losing her faith.
     As Ms. Salerno poured tomato sauce from a white plastic bucket, she urged her granddaughter to keep believing. That is when she saw it, the image of a man with long hair and a beard in the leftover sauce.
     Bill Salerno, the owner of Brownie's and brother of Ms. Salerno, said he was skeptical until he saw it for himself. Maryann Marsico, who works at Brownie's, said even an atheist would find it unmistakable.
     "My 2-year-old grandson knows who it was. ... He just looked at it and said, 'That's Papa Jesus,' " Ms. Marsico said. 
     Really, Maryann, "even an atheist"?  Speak for yourself, girlfriend.  Here's my version of the story:
     Miss Coco Peru was speaking to Heretic Tom, a thirty-something and free thinking gay-boy, while she stirred up a special brownie mix to bake for the fearful Mormons and Catholics who funded Prop 8.  Heretic Tom is living in gay-sin, unable to be married in California, and Miss Peru said Tom is going through tough times.  Heretic Tom told Miss Peru that he worried he was losing the Gay.
     As Miss Peru poured the opaque mix from a white Tupperware bucket, she urged her son to keep the Gay.  That is when she saw it: the image of Glenn from the Village People with his handlebar mustache and bare chest in the leftover brownie mix. 
     RuPaul, brownie recipe owner and sister of Peru, said she was skeptical until she saw it for herself.   Kevin Spacey, who eats brownies, said even a Baptist would find it unmistakable.
     "My twelv...ty-two-year-old twink knows who it was. ... He just looked at it and said, 'That's the original Biker dude from the Village People: Glenn!' " Mr. Spacey said.
 You decide!


     I'm sure that if there was a god and if Jesus was god, that he would have much better things to do than to make his image appear in some frozen pizza sauce, like...I don't know...maybe preventing the earthquake that caused over 800 deaths in Chile.  Why anyone would want to believe in a god that appears in pizza sauce instead is beyond me.

     Maybe this is why:  the lesson learned from Pizza Sauce Jesus as reported by The Times-Tribune:
     It was not lost on Ms. Marsico that Jesus appeared at Brownie's at the start of Lent, a holy Christian time that also happens to spur pizza sales because observers are not supposed to eat meat on Fridays.
     "I will never cheat and eat meat again," she said.
     Not wanting a cryogenic Jesus and after talking to the press and putting a video of Mashed Tomato Jesus on youtube, Brownie's owners had the sacred bucket washed clean, making the way for new sauce in the old sauce bucket.

     Here's to improved pizza sales!  Praise Glenn! 

Why The Founding Fathers Would Never Get Elected Today

     To succeed in U.S. national politics today, one must publicly claim they believe in a god of some sort, preferable the Christian god.  The Christian Right says that our nation was founded a Christian nation, blah, blah, blah, and many claim that free thinkers, atheists, agnostic, secular humanists, brights, post-theists, etc.  They don't know their Framers very well.  In fact, there's no way many of our nation's Founders would be able to get elected today, because of their free thinking, secular humanist thought.

   Here a few quotes from Thomas Jefferson:
     To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings.  To say that the human soul, angels, god, are immaterial, is to say they are nothings, or that there is no god, no angels, no soul.  I cannot reason otherwise...without plunging into the fathomless abyss of dreams and phantasms.  I am satisfied, and sufficiently occupied with the things which are, without tormenting or troubling myself about those which may indeed be, but of which I have no evidence.
    Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched.  Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion.  Question with boldness even the existence of a God [sic]; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.
    Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions.  Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity.  It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.
    This quote is from the United States 1797 Treaty of Tripoli, drafted under George Washington and signed by John Adams:
    As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan Nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

     Here are a few Benjamin Franklin quotes:
    I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life, I absented myself from Christian assemblies.
    Lighthouses are more helpful than churches.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Science vs. Religion: One View

"Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings."

     The picture from Atheist Campaign in the United Kingdom.  Can you imagine the kind of violence and protest this sort of free speech would incite in the United States?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Quote of the Day: Mark Twain

     So much blood has been shed by the Church because of an omission from the Gospel: "Ye shall be indifferent as to what your neighbor's religion is." Not merely tolerant of it, but indifferent to it. Divinity is claimed for many religions; but no religion is great enough or divine enough to add that new law to its code.