21 January 2009


Yesterday's inauguration speech was, in many ways, big. Again, Obama spoke to the nation like the adults we are, which is a refreshing change from having to revert one's mind to that of a child, just to be able to figure out what your leader is saying.

The speech was big in another way:
We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers.
This was unexpected. First, that he included Muslims and Hindus, and second, because he included us. It was just one little word, and for some it may have gone unnoticed, but for non-believers like myself, it was stunning. And I imagine for the ardent believers, it was infuriating. It was a big word, and it's enunciation and context is important.

Obama listed the big religions, and ones emerging, in our country, and then, after the briefest of pauses, he added us. I prefer not to read that pause as a hesitation. That pause seemed added so as to prepare the nation for what he was about to add--that he knew it was the first time, that it meant a lot. To my ear, it read like poety--not in some deep, sentimental way, but in it's construct. We were at the end, and maybe some cynics would prefer we were at the start, or mixed in the middle. But that pause, and that final word--"non-believers"--acted as punctuation. To my ear, that word became bigger and louder than the others. Maybe Muslims and Hindus feel the same way, but, as polls show, America hates us most.

Some might view this as a token gesture, like the assigning of Bishop Robinson to say a prayer on Sunday. For me, though, the context counted. We were not assigned some empty representative to stand up in some segment before the swearing in, where people could tune out and not really listen. We were deliberately inserted into Obama's speech--the main event--the words the nation all shut up to listen to. This ensured that everyone would hear it. HBO would not pull us off the air. People would not be looking at each other, talking about what to have for lunch after the inauguration, or just starring ahead unhearing, waiting for the real words to be spoken. We were included among the real words, and everyone heard.

For whatever smalls gains we've made in the last few years, this is a big deal. It is a huge acknowledgement. For the first time, throughout the primaries, throughout the campaigning, the conventions, and the election, I felt like a part of the process. Yes, I voted; everyone votes and we're all "part of the process." But it is one thing to cast your vote and know that no one cares about your concerns, and something else to cast it and feel like your voice might actually be heard.

Apparently, Obama heard our voice, and that he took the time and made the effort to acknowledge us--during this historical moment, where African Americans are finally getting what is theirs--to say to us that, finally, we exist.

This is a big deal. What happens in policy and what happens legislatively, among people who despise us and wish we'd do nothing more than disappear back into the woodwork of society, is another matter. But, for us, we now know that someone is listening, and not just someone--our President, and this time it's in a way that previous presidents haven't tried. We all remember Bush 41:
"I don't know that atheists should be regarded as citizens, nor should they be regarded as patriotic. This is one nation under God."
What we heard yesterday is a far, far cry from that.

Yes, this is a big deal, and, to me, I think this should enable us to think differently, and more strongly, about our activism. We are continually told we should shut up, even amongst our own. It's been easy for people to tell us this, because they had power and popular opinion on their side. They knew no one was listening to us. Now someone is, and this should be viewed not as finally reaching our destination--as much of a milestone as that word at that moment was--but as a moment into which we can read encouragement.

Speak loudly, godless folk. Someone is finally listening.

19 January 2009

Atheists Aren't Real People, We Get It Now

One of the first blogs I check while I'm having my coffee in the morning is vjack's Atheist Revolution, and many times, his posts are the inspiration for my own. Today, that is the case.

Today, he's got a post up about atheists' exclusion from the inauguration. There was a lot of uproar about Obama's choice of Rick Warren to lead the apparent National Delusional Prayer. The LGBT community was quite up in arms, given Warren's anti-gay bigotry and following on the stinging heels of the Prop 8 fiasco in California. And rightfully so. Absoultely.

Both the gay community and the atheist community have been a bit on the irate side regarding Warren, but the reaction to the complaints has been very, very different. See, when Warren compares homosexuality to incest and bestiality, that means he's a bigot. Response: Bishop Robinson, the openly gay bishop who delivered Sunday's invocation. There you go, Gay Community--your indignation has been recognized and rewarded with a token nod.

However, when Warren goes on about how he could never vote for an atheist (because, apparently, we are arrogant for not needing magic to run the country), he's not an anti-atheist bigot--he's just another American citizen (one of the infamous "48%"). We get no representation at this historical inauguration. We get no token nod. What we get is deliberately trod upon.

No, wait, you say. No one is actively insulting you, you're just being sensitive because no one will let you play. That is partly true. We want to play "American Citizen" too and yes, we're a little upset that we no one ever lets us. But it's more than that. If you go to vjack's post today and watch, and discuss, this interview with Bishop Robinson, you will hear him say something that really gets at the crux of our problem.

Vjack points out:
He prefaced many of his statements with "As a religious person...," making me suspect that he must have some awareness that non-religious persons exist.
I think this is exactly right--while he says this, because he says this, it's clear he knows there are non-religious people. And he goes on to talk about Jesus' "big tent," you know, much like our political "big tents." We can argue that he is only saying these things in the context of the administration vs. the gay community. But the fact is that the godless have been quite vocal about their exclusion as well. There is not just silence on the part of those in charge--when they tout their all-inclusiveness, when Robinson says that "all voices" are being heard at this inauguration, while at the same time ignoring our concerns, they does not translate as mere silence. It is a very clear message to us that we do not exist.

Robinson says that we are all children of God and therefore "worthy of respect and concern." You know, while we don't believe we are chilrden of God, it still remains that they do, and despite that, we are still not worthy of respect or concern. I don't doubt for a moment that when they say they're including everyone, they really, truly believe it. And when atheists say 'Hey, wait a minute,' I believe they are genuinely confused. We could say that this is just how they were brought up, they've been conditioned to not really understand anything outside of their worldview, etc. I think that's a cop-out. They know we exist--when they say they include everyone but we are not included, they are saying, loudly: "You Do Not Exist." More importantly, the more pointed and most terrible message is that we don't exist because we are not real people--they do not consider us as such. We are sub-human. We don't get the same considerations as the real people. Now, how does that make you feel? Don't cry too loudly, as Judge Walton says we've brought it upon ourselves. You know, for wanting to have representation. And to not have state sponsored religion. How dare we?

This isn't the first time this has happened on such a large, public scale. Think back to this past July: Remember the big all-faith orgy the DNC decided to include in their convention? They talked about "unity" then, too. Yeah, and remember when the Secular Coalition for America wrote a letter to Rev. Daughtry asking to be included? Does anyone remember the reaction? She didn't know how to react, and so, she ignored us. We don't have to be considered because we are not real people in their worldview. How loving. We were excluded then, again, as they all patted each other on the back for their all-inclusiveness, you know, of the real people. This inauguration in the DNC convention all over again.

Am I angry? Sure. But what no one wants to admit is that this is also incredibly hurtful. Here is my problem: I have gay friends that have a stake in this. I am from an interracial family, and they have a stake in this presidency. People I care deeply about are being affected by this. Historical things are afoot. It's important. And basically, I am being told that I can't be a part of it. I am being told that I must remain on the outside of the fence. I can watch, but I can't play. Maybe I am hurt especially because these things are very close and very personal for me, but I imagine that many atheists, even those without gay or black friends or family, feel the same way. This kind of wholesale rejection, as being people, and having selfhood, and being a part of the overall community that is worthy of "respect and concern," is wearing. It wears you down. It is hurtful. And, as per usual, it is unsurprising that this sort of hurtful behavior comes from the people that claim to hurt least: Christians.

Yeah, some days, I'm just tired. And hurt. It's true. I want to be happy tomorrow. I have hated the Bush administration as much as anyone and am deeply relieved to finally see him gone. It's been an active, somewhat psychologically traumatizing part of my life for the last eight years, and as shocking as this might come to some Christians, what with my being an atheist, it's been difficult precisely because I believe all people are worthy of respect and concern, and the policies of that maniac have crapped on everything that stands for. Unfortunately, because of this very obvious snub from the new boss who promised all that hope and change, I do not get to enjoy the catharsis that this inauguration will be for many people.

I've committed myself to attending a friend's inauguration celebration on Tuesday evening--you know, snacks, champaign, that kind of thing. Because we are Democrats. I'm trying to think of a way to get out of it. My heart's just not in it.

16 January 2009

Screw the Forefathers

I was just skulking around some of the atheist blogs I regularly read and, as is usually the case, the came across a handful of Christians, doing what they do. We all know their general MO. The Christian shtick that's annoyed me today--well, every time I see it, but I decided to blog about it today--is the ol' "This-is-a-Christian-Nation-something-about-Church-and-State-something-about-Freedom-of-Religion-NOT-Freedom -from-Religion-yadda-yadda-yadda.

I've decided, just now, that I don't give two shits about what our founding fathers meant. I really don't. And anyone should understand that these were all considerations taken--whether pro-Christian or pro-neutral--well over two centuries ago. There's a lot of going back and forth as to whether Jefferson was an atheist, or Lincoln, or if Madison was a Christian. Hey folks...who cares? They're dead.

Some will say that it matters because it's important how to know how to interpret the Constitution--that's how we figure out what can can and cannot legislate. Although it seems pretty clear in the first amendment that Christians want to ignore that part that says: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, and want to focus just on the "freedom of religion" (Not from! Not from!) part, why is it that we can't take it upon ourselves to say, hey, we're grown ups now? We can do whatever we want.

We, as enlightened people, should be able to look around us and say, hey, things have changed, and thankfully so. We should be able to examine our past, with its slavery, its oppression of women, and approach things like the possible ricin mailings to gay bars in Seattle, and say, no, wait, this is wrong. The bible says it's fine to own slaves, but we* said, no, it isn't. The bible makes women property, but we said, no, they aren't. The bible supposedly cracks down on homosexuals, and we are now slowly but surely coming to the understanding that this, too, is wrong. I know these crackpots are out there, but really, how many non-batshit "love the sinner but hate the sin" Christians who oppose giving gays their civil rights also oppose blacks being able to vote? Or marry *gasp* white folks, for that matter? Not too many. But even those progressive Christians will not understand (or should I say "refuse to") that extending rights to gays is the same thing, and if we Americans have rejected the views of our forefathers on blacks and women, why can't we do this for gays as well? And if we can do all of this--if we can reject "what they meant" when they said "free men" (read: white and absolutely not women), then why can't we also offer up out own interpretations of the first amendment on religion?

There is no logical reason we can't completely discard what the forefathers "meant," felt, thought about religion. It doesn't matter. We can very clearly see that, today, we live in a country with many faiths and also with many people of no faith. So, if it's clear that a more modern approach to these things is needed, and that since we've ignored the forefathers on these other issues, then we should be able to apply that to this issue, then it also becomes clear that the only reason we aren't doing that, is because Christians won't let us.

See, Christians, that you are very picky-choosy-fickle on what you want to say is right and wrong when it comes to our Constitution and our history, it becomes rather obvious that the only reason you waffle on these things is to retain what power you have left. Your "forefathers" argument becomes moot in the light of your not caring what the forefathers thought about some things and only applying it to the things that bother you today.

So, I say, it doesn't matter what they thought. We've progressed enough to not have to care--we should be able to just see what's right and what's fair and act accordingly. So long as Christians continue to grip violently to these "rights" in what are hopefully death throes, as if what was said or written 200 years ago is somehow set in stone when we have proven time and again that it is not, we are going to have problems.

*When I say "we," I mean us, as Americans, as a whole, despite grumblings from the throwbacks.

15 January 2009

CADC's Top 10 "Egregious Acts of Christian Bashing" for 2008

The Christian Anti-Defamation Commission has released its list of top ten "most egregious acts of Christian Bashing in American (sic) in 2008." According to them:
Every day in America serious Christians face increasing hostility at work, school, and in the culture because they stand for their faith and values.

So, onto the list:

INSTANCE #10: Jack Black Musical Video

In a short video posted on FunnyorDie.com entitled, "Prop 8 The Musical," an all star cast of Hollywood celebrities perform a low budget musical farce that defames Christ, mocks Christians and distorts the teaching of the Bible. Jack Black played the lead role of Jesus.

Terrible. It's terrible that you can't infringe on peoples' civil rights and expect to be rewarded for it. I like that they do add specifically that Jack Black played Jesus, as if that is just adding insult to injury.

INSTANCE #9: Bill Maher Gratuitously Attacks Pope

Bill Maher, host of the HBO program Real Time, made light of the Pope during his recent visit and the tragic sexual abuse scandal. Maher said, "Now I know what you're thinking, Bill. You can't be saying that the Catholic Church is no better than this creepy (radical Mormon polygamist) Texas cult. For one thing, alter boys can't even get pregnant. But really, what tripped up the little cult on the prairie was that they only abused hundreds of kids, not thousands all over the world. Cults get raided; religions get parades... If you have a few hundred followers and you let some of them molest children, they call you a cult leader. If you have a billion, they call you Pope."

I like here how they refer to the "tragic sexual abuse scandal," as if it had nothing to do with them. Few bad apples, you see.

INSTANCE #8: ESPN Anchor Dana Jacobson's "F--- Jesus" Remark

Speaking at an ESPN corporate event in Atlantic City, N.J., to honor ESPN Radio personalities Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic, Dana Jacobson let go with a steam of vulgar remarks; "F--- Notre Dame," "F--- Touchdown Jesus" and finally "F--- Jesus." Jacobson was suspended for a few days for the incident.

Actually, I need to find video of this and loop it for my own entertainment. I guess the CADC aren't "sticks and stones" people.

INSTANCE #7: Minnesota University Professor Desecrates Communion

A Biology Professor from the University of Minnesota, Paul Zachary Myers, recently desecrated a consecrated communion wafer from a Catholic Mass. Meyer's has also asked people to steal the Eucharist for him in order that he might desecrate it and display it on his blog.

Congratulations, PZ, for making the list.

INSTANCE #6: Religulous the Movie

Bill Maher released a very shallow, pseudo-intellectual documentary entitled Religulous. The movie did not cover any new intellectual ground. It simply raised the old attacks on the faith. Maher studiously avoided being fair and did not allow for legitimate Christian answers from any leading Christian intellectuals.

So, the complaint here is that he "did not cover new intellectual ground." Honey, covering new intellectual ground would mean that we've been allowed to move past the 'with God all things are possible' stage of the discussion. As soon as you folks are ready to do that, I'm sure Bill, and the rest of us, would love to move on. And, really: "legitimate Christian answers from any leading Christian intellectuals?" Really? I'll put this up there with the Easter Bunny, Santa, and God.

INSTANCE #5: Chaplains Fired for Praying in Jesus' Name

Chaplains for the State of Virginia are being denied their right to pray in Jesus' name. Six chaplains were fired for continuing to pray in Jesus' name. Earlier this year in Virginia, Rev. Hashmel Turner, a city councilman in Fredericksburg, was told by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that his prayers during city council meetings that ended in Jesus' name will continue to be banned.

Christians don't seem to understand that there are other people in the world with faiths other than their own. I mean, obviously, there shouldn't be any kind of prayer, in Jesus' name or otherwise, during a flippin' city council meeting, I suppose unless you can show that every tax-paying citizen in town a bible-thumper. Again, if you don't let Christians deep-throat you with their crap, it's all "you're picking on us!"

INSTANCE #4: Colorado Law Criminalizes the Bible

SB200, a Colorado state bill recently signed into law, criminalizes the Bible. Section 8 of the bill entitled "Publishing of discriminative matter forbidden" makes publishing the Bible illegal because it contains anti-homosexual passages. This is part of a larger effort to criminalize the expression of certain opinions and beliefs.

I'm interested in exactly what these anti-homosexual passages are. Regardless, there's plenty of other offensive material in the bible--let's not get started on the sexism. Be that as it may, I'm against the banning of books, even this heaping pile of Wrong.

INSTANCE #3: Barack Obama Defames Christianity

According to research into President Elect Obama's own statements about faith, and an examination of Obama's position on moral issues, CADC has determined that by any biblical and historic Christian standard, Barack Obama is not a Christian, although he claims he is a "devout Christian."

Wow. I mean, wow. Obama not being the right kind of Christian is an "egregious act of Christian Bashing." Dang, they're slappin' Obama--Obama--with the ol' "you're not a real Christian" shtick (I know, it's a classic, all-purpose kind of move). That's the other awesome thing about Christians--they are very much a 'take a yard if you give them an inch' bunch. You get some prayers at the Dem convention--not good enough. You get to keep your bullshit Faith Based Initiatives--not good enough. You get flippin' Rick Warren for the innvocation--not good enough. You get more prayers and Christian peeps at the inauguration---nope. Atheists are just looking for a little representation. Hey, Christians, how about quit hogging everything?

INSTANCE #2: Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin Is Attacked

Alaska Governor, Sarah Palin, came under sharp attack by some in the mainstream media because she self-identifies as a Christian. The Washington Post published a cartoon by Pat Oliphant mocking Palin because she has a background as a Pentecostal/Charismatic Christian. A suspicious arson fire at Sarah Palin's home church recently caused over $1,000,000 in damage.

Whoa, now wait a tick. Does anyone know whether that fire was started because it was a church, or because it was political, or maybe for insurance purposes? Okay, I added that last bit, but, no, really, does anyone know? Look, Palin was attacked because she was just barely functionally retarded and running for a pretty vital position in our country. I know you'd like to think she was being picked on just because she was a god-head, but, no, that's just not it. By and large, she was pilloried because she was an idiot. Oh, did I just say that--it is kind of the same thing, isn't it?

And finally, the #1 Christian Bashing Instance in America for 2008...

INSTANCE #1: Radical Homosexuals Assault Prop 8 Marriage Supporters in California

During and after the November campaign stories flooded in of pro-Prop 8 signs being taken, people verbally and physically assaulted, church property and private automobiles vandalized, and person's jobs and pastor's lives threatened simply for exercising their right to campaign and vote in support of traditional marriage.
Really, this is number one? Now, I don't condone violence, even on a bunch of haters. I admit though that I just don't care either way about "church property" or "private automobiles"--in my grand scheme of things, I'm really just don't care. Getting verbally assaulted while you're protesting anything is kind of par for the course and you should probably just suck that one up. But, again, like number 10--maybe, just maybe, you Christians might want to lay off the stiffling of other peoples' rights. I mean, really, this "instance" probably should not have happened, but really, the kind of hate and bigotry you folks float around out there is bound to irk some people. All I can say is if you're goign to insist on oppressing people, you should probably develop some thick skin or just brace yourselves. I want to sympathize with you, but really, I have a hard time with that.

I'd like to see Mojoey at Deep Thoughts come up with a Top Ten list for 2008 of the most disgusting acts committed by Christians--I mean, if he thinks he can narrow it down.

13 January 2009

For Every 'God,' Give to the SCA.

The Friendly Atheist has a brilliant idea for the inauguration.

I suspect we’ll be hearing a lot of God talk over the next week from these four pastors. For every mention of the words “Jesus,” “Lord,” “God,” or “Christ” during the four prayers next week, I am going to make a $5 donation to the Secular Coalition for America — a lobbying group in Washington working to support the rights of non-religious people and educating Congress about the separation of church and state.

Will you do the same?

Pledge the amount you plan to give per Godly-word-mentioned in the comments — any amount is ok! Then honor your commitment after next Wednesday. I’ll tally the numbers and report back.

Yes. Yes, this is a great idea. I love it. I'm broke and it would have to be a weenie amount, but yes, I'd like to do this. Please join us.

Cathloic Nuttiness on the Down-Low

Okay, this is great. The Vatican is drawing up new guidelines to assess the validity of Virgin Mary sightings. And that sort of thing. Awesome:
Catholics who claim they have seen the Virgin Mary will be forced to remain silent about the apparitions until a team of psychologists, theologians, priests and exorcists have fully investigated their claims under new Vatican guidelines aimed at stamping out false claims of miracles.
The Pope wants to "help bishops snuff out an explosion of bogus heavenly apparitions." Um, I can help them out with that. Try all of them. All of them; every single one. The best part is this:
...anyone who claims to have seen an apparition will only be believed as long as they remain silent and do not court publicity over their claims. If they refuse to obey, this will be taken as a sign that their claims are false.
So, as long as your nuttiness is kept on the down-low, they will consider it. So long as you don't publicly embarrass the church with your battiness, fine. This, to me, speaks volumes. They know it's crap.
If the visionary is considered credible they will ultimately be questioned by one or more demonologists and exorcists to exclude the possibility that Satan is hiding behind the apparitions in order to deceive the faithful.
Okay, maybe they don't think it's crap. They probably buy it, because they are insane. So, they will buy it, if its "credible" (and they're idea of credible will always remain a point of amazed fascination with me, mixed with a kind of loathing) they want to make sure it's not that wacky Devil causing a ruckus. Good thing there, 'cause, you know, he's a trickster.

But, they obviously know that we've moved into an era where everyone else thinks they're nuts. That's good. Yes, hide your craziness; hide it away in shame.

Well, it's nice to see they are updating their guidebook. It's only a matter of time before they have to update it to the extent that they finally admit there are no miracles. Then they can dissolve their organization. Sure, it won' t happen in our lifetimes, because this kind of craziness is hard to shake. But, someday. Someday.

Next, they'll be able to bury their morbid relics, like the venerated Holy Prepuces. We can only hope.

EDIT: I was just talking about this to The Boyfriend, and I also wanted to point out this:
The visionaries will then be visited by a team of psychiatrists, either atheists or Catholics, to certify their mental health while theologians will assess the content of any heavenly messages to see if they contravene Church teachings.
Yeah, that's right. You have to throw some atheists in there because we validate things with our reason. Frankly, an atheist should be able to look at anyone making a claim like this and stamp them with the loony stamp. But even we know that's not socially acceptable, so you'll find some godless psychiatrist who will say something along the lines of "Well, there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with their cognitive functioning..." Getting the input of atheists is the only way to possibly legitimize your insanity. Now, let us take a whack at the "content" of your "holy messages" and see how far you get.

On a side note, this is pretty funny, regarding the Holy Prepuce of Calcutta:
In 1983, however, parish priest Dario Magnoni announced that "This year, the holy relic will not be exposed to the devotion of the faithful. It has vanished. Sacrilegious thieves have taken it from my home", where it had reportedly been kept in a shoebox in the back of a wardrobe.
Hahahhahaa! Shoebox...oh...good stuff...thank you, Catholics.

12 January 2009


I just knew I'd be able to get on here at least one more time today to post something with a little more substance than the last post. And, by "substance," I mean, proof of fundie-dumdie (yes, I just made that up, right this moment. It is my new word for the species of dumb with which fundamental Christians infect our space). This week's winner--and I realize it's only Monday but really, this is great--is Patrick. Patrick had the distinction of leaving the first comment over at Atheist Revolution to a post about some other moron yammering on about there being "no atheists" during times of crisis. *sigh*

Are you ready for the wisdom? Are you ready for the deep thinking? I am. God, am I. Patrick asks:
I read that atheists believe that there is no evidence for the existance of God, yet they complain when we hold atheists to be strong evidence for the existance of Satan.
Confusion ensues, as mostly what seem like baffled but well-meaning atheists try to explain why what he said doesnt make any sense.

Yoo offers: "Maybe it's because there's no logical connection between the two at all ..."

vjack himself asks: "That makes no sense whatsoever. Why would an atheist believe in this being you call Satan? We don't."

Stardust reiterates: "Patrick, your comment makes no sense at all since, as vjack points out, atheists do not have imaginary friends or enemies."

Steve clarifies: "I'm not sure if 'complain' is the reaction you're looking for, there Patrick. A lot of atheists are used to being called Satan and the usual response is an exasperated eye-roll."

And GingerRed pleads: "Okay, now can we try making a point with logic?"

All I can offer poor Patrick is this week's Fundie-Dumdie Award (quick, someone design me a logo). Yes, it's juvenile. But, I can sleep at night knowing it's no more juvenile than this guy's level of reasoning. In fact, I would age my immaturity here at about 12, and this guy...this guy...this guy is prenatal.

Congrats, Patrick.