religion

Belated raging

Today I found out from my dad that when my mom was in the hospital recovering from a serious surgery to remove the tumors from her ovarian cancer, some evangelical Christians came into her room uninvited during a rare moment when my dad was away to try to convert her and ask if she’s heard the good word about her lord and savior Jesus Christ.

Is there anything more fucking reprehensible than preying on the vulnerable who are recovering from a near death experience and undergoing a battle with stage 4 cancer? It fucking disgusts me.

They should consider themselves damned lucky that my dad and I weren’t there, because we would have NOT been friendly atheists.

Assholes.

No, Rick Warren, we’re not “all mentally ill”

Rick Warren, pastor of the infamous Saddleback Church, recently gave a sermon where he attempted to de-stigmatize mental illness…but did the opposite. Warren, whose son suffered from borderline personality disorder and recently committed suicide, said “We’re all mentally ill” and “You have fears, you have worries, you have doubts, you have compulsions, you have attractions…”

Greta Christina has a great response up at Salon:

Mental illness is many things. But there’s one thing it most emphatically is not — and that is everyday fears, worries, doubts, and attractions. (Of the items on Warren’s list, “compulsions” is the only one that belongs.) Seeing mental illness as ordinary emotions is a fundamentally flawed view,  one that harms people actually living with such illness.

It’s common for people with mental illness to have our illnesses treated as just life’s ups and downs. People with clinical depression are seen as just mopey or sad; people with clinical anxiety are seen as just worriers; people with obsessive compulsive disorder are seen as just neat freaks. But these attitudes trivialize mental illness. They frame it as something people should be able to handle on our own — and make any failure to do so seem like a character flaw, a weakness of will.

Read the whole piece here.

Indiana high schoolers want to ban gays from prom

It seems like not much has changed since I was an Indiana high school student:

A team of Valley high schoolers and parents rally for a separate prom that bans gays.

NBC 2’s Paige Preusse reports how Sullivan High School says there’s nothing legally they can do to allow it… several students and parents are taking matters into their own hands.

Several parents, students, and others who believe gays should be banned from the Sullivan High School prom met Sunday at the Sullivan First Christian Church.

“We don’t agree with it and it’s offensive to us,” said Diana Medley.

Their idea is to create their own separate…traditional prom. Students say there are several others from their high school who agree, but are afraid to take a stand.

“If we can get a good prom then we can convince more people to come and follow what they believe,” said student Kynon Johnson.

And now they want everyone to know where they stand.

“We want to make the public see that we love the homosexuals, but we don’t think it’s right nor should it be accepted,” said a local student.

We love you…but you’re offensive, wrong, and shouldn’t be accepted. Um, that’s kind of the antithesis of love, guys.

Diana Medley is a special education teacher in town. She doesn’t believe anyone is born gay.

“I believe that it was life circumstances and they chose to be that way; God created everyone equal,” said Medley.

“Homosexual students come to me with their problems, and I don’t agree with them, but I care about them. It’s the same thing with my special needs kids, I think God puts everyone in our lives for a reason,” said Madley.

“‘So the same goes for gays? Do you think they have a purpose in life?’ No I honestly don’t. Sorry, but I don’t. I don’t understand it. A gay person isn’t going to come up and make some change unless it’s to realize that it was a choice and they’re choosing God,” said Medley.

Your gay students have no purpose in life? That’s how you “care” about someone? This is how you talk about your students who are coming to you for fucking help? I can only hope that she’s not pushing her “you must choose God” bullshit on the special ed students trapped in her classroom.

Several local pastors support the separate prom movement.

“Christians have always been prepared for a fight. Jesus gave us armor for the front, not the back; we’re not running anymore,” said Bill Phegley with Carlisle Church.

Are you fucking kidding me? This is all about how the poor little Christians are being persecuted when you’re the ones banning LGBT students?!

If the thought of a girl dancing with a girl or a guy dancing with a guy unnerves you that much, that’s you’re fucking problem. Don’t go to prom. You don’t get to ban people because they give you the willies because we have separation of church and state in this country, which means you can keep your stupid fucking ass-backwards delusions to yourself and not force it on your fellow students.

Yeah, I’m mad. This pisses me off more than usual. You know why? Because I spent my high school years desperately defending my LGBT friends. When I overheard people saying “that’s gay” as an insult or calling someone a fag, I was the first to step in and tell them that it was offensive and unacceptable. When I was standing in lunch line and people would be talking about how disgusting my lesbian friends were, oblivious that I was friends with those ‘fucking dykes,” you know what I did? I spoke up. I told them they were fucking bigots and if they had a problem with my friends, they had a problem with me. And they shrunk into silenced fear in front of me, only to spread rumors that I was obviously a lesbian throughout the whole school. As if that would insult me.

When my lesbian friend wanted to start a Gay Straight Alliance to combat the constant bullying she faced from other students, I was the VP so I could do everything to help her organize. And she needed all the help she could get, since no one else wanted to help her. No teachers would be the adviser for the club because it was career suicide. The principal wouldn’t allow us to be an official group because we were “non-academic” and if he let us in, he’d have to let in other non-academic clubs like a “Nazi group” (his example). This was despite the fact that my high school already had plenty of non-academic clubs.

When my friend’s mom threatened to sue their asses off since what they were doing was blatantly illegal, the principal eased off…a little. He let us meet in a side room of the library, but wouldn’t let us be an official club. He let us put up flyers advertising our meetings, but the flyers couldn’t contain the words “gay,” “lesbian,” “bisexual,” “GLBT,” “sex,” or “sexual orientation” because they were “inappropriate for high school students.” When we came to our meetings, most of the time the librarians purposefully locked us out so we wouldn’t be able to meet. When we complained, nothing happened. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes, on the other hand, got plenty of meeting space and was allowed to freely advertise throughout the school despite technically being “unofficial.”

And when prom rolled around, they wouldn’t sell my friend and her girlfriend a couple’s ticket because those were only for “real couples” – aka a boy and a girl – because they didn’t want two female friends buddying up to just get a discounted rate. Instead they would have to buy more expensive individual tickets if they wanted to go, and would not get any of the couple ticket benefits (a balloon with your names on it, a couple photo, and basic fucking dignity).

Instead they told the school to go fuck themselves and went to a Star Wars convention, where they were accepted and had a blast.

My lesbian friends were the lucky ones. They were able to be out because they had supportive parents, and also because lesbianism is often more accepted. Especially when you happen to be really attractive lesbians, so all the bigoted straight dudes in the school can sexually objectify you instead of only bullying you. But my gay male friends? They were all hidden in the closet, and terrified at being outed. They might have been out to a couple close friends, but I found so many of my classmates coming out once they had escaped to college. It made me sadder. If I had known what those people were feeling in high school, I would have been an ally to them too.

And you know why I’m still so angry? Because even though I graduated 7 years ago, and even though students have been desperately trying to form a GSA every one of those years, they are still being stonewalled by the school administration. There’s still no GSA and students are still constantly bullied because of their sexual orientation. And this is in a town that’s part of the “liberal” part of Indiana.

And the Christian students are the ones who are being persecuted?

Why did I do all of these things? Why did I care so passionately about gay rights even though it didn’t personally affect me? Not because my parents “brainwashed” me to support gay rights or subscribe to some liberal agenda. We never discussed the topic, honestly. My parents just taught me to be a person who is kind to others. That’s all.

It saddens me that these Christian students have been taught to hate instead.

I’ve figured out why the Vatican hoards its wealth!

St. Peter’s Basilica is not actually named that because of its architecture, but for the Basilisk living beneath it! Lore tells of Basilisks converting various substances into gold, which explains the Vatican’s enormous wealth!! It also explains why they’re so reluctant to give the wealth away, because the evil Basilisk will turn the Pope into stone as revenge!!!! Quick, we need to find a wizard and a goblin forged blade!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wait. I think I’m crossing my mythologies. Catholics don’t believe in silly things like Basilisks or goblins. They believe in crackers that magically turn into flesh and people rising from the dead. My bad, it’s all so confusing. I blame the NyQuil.

How about we sell the Vatican instead?

I have a feeling Catholics won’t like my solution to their monetary problems. But you see, times are tough. The LA Archdiocese alone has lost $660 million to those pesky victims of child rape. This is their solution:

The non-profit Guidance in Giving lists the Los Angeles-area Catholic Church among its “diocesan accounts” and says it is exploring a campaign to raise $200 million for the diocese to meet “a variety of needs,” including “priests’ retirement, seminarian education, Catholic schools, Catholic Charities and parish needs.”

The archdiocese did not respond to NBC queries in time for publication, but a church spokesman acknowledged the possible campaign to the Los Angeles Times, which first reported it.

In 2007, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed to a $660 million settlement with 562 victims of abuse by priests and other church personnel. According to the Times, financial reports show that the church remains $80 million in debt.

Yes, a $200 million fundraiser. Presumably these funds would be donated from Catholic constituents, who obviously have no better way to spend their money than giving it to a church that’s been covering up hundreds of cases of child rape by priests. Food? Clothing? Housing? Education? Meh, what’s more important than avoiding the threat eternal damnation in a lake of fire?

Not coercive at all, nope.

But here’s an idea. Instead of relying on poor and middle class Catholics to save your child-molesting ass, why not get help from the head honcho? The Vatican’s worth is somewhere between 10 and 15 billion dollars. To save the Los Angeles diocese, the Vatican would have to sell a couple pieces from their mind bogglingly enormous art collection or maybe melt down a couple of the solid gold objects that are just lying around St. Peter’s Basilica.

Oddly enough, the Vatican seems more interested in hoarding its wealth than sharing it. They’ve previously been exempt from about a billion dollars of taxes annually, though that might soon change. And if you’ve ever been to the Vatican, seeing the wealth is amazing. I was lucky enough to visit Rome when I was 12, after visiting my aging Greek relatives in Athens for the first time. When I went to the Vatican with my parents, my main reactions were:

  1. Huh, the Sistine Chapel is smaller than I expected.
  2. Why do I have to wear a stupid dress when the guys get to wear pants?
  3. This is beautiful, but do they really need this much money when there are homeless people begging for food right outside the doors?

I must be missing something.

Obama caves to religious pressure on birth control debate

Atheist feminist rage activated:

Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, said the proposal would guarantee free coverage of birth control “while respecting religious concerns.”

Churches and religious organizations that object to providing birth control coverage on religious grounds would not have to pay for it.

Under the proposal, female employees could get free birth control coverage through a separate plan that would be provided by a health insurer. The institution objecting to the coverage would not pay for the contraceptives. The costs would instead be paid by the insurance company, with the possibility of recouping the costs through lower health care expenses resulting in part from fewer births.

Sigh.

Look, I know that in the grand scheme of things, women will still receive their free birth control even if their employers decide its their prerogative to force their religious beliefs on their employees. At least the Obama administration hasn’t completely fucked over women in this situation.

But it’s the principle of the matter. Religious organizations should not receive special privileges from the government since that explicitly violates the first amendment. These religious organizations love to cry that they’re the ones defended by the first amendment, but that’s false. If you’re religious and your health insurance covers birth control, no one is forcing you to use that birth control. If an employer doesn’t want their employees using birth control, tough shit. You don’t get to enforce your religious beliefs on others.

The only reason this is even a debate is because Catholics make up a substantial part of the US population so they’re able to cause a bigger stink. If a Jehovah’s Witness employer wanted to ban all of their employees from ever receiving blood transfusions, would Obama have caved? If a Muslim employer decides you can’t spend any of your paycheck on pork products, would that have been okay? Religious organizations should have to pay for birth control coverage just like every other organization instead of receiving special privileges. Instead, religious organizations threw a temper tantrum and Obama responded by buying them metaphorical ice cream.

I get email?!?!?!

“Hi Jennifer,
Have a good time!
I have seen your blog and wondered about your activities.
you are active, honest, lover of nature, and a girl with grate fillings.
After reading your blog, I have wondered how such woman with such open mind, can disclaim her creator or her God !!!!??
Do you really deny any creator for this mathematical and systematic world!??
What is your reasons for this atheism ?!
Do you know really what causes that such a grate human is performed from electrons ?!!
Do you know what is the relationship between behavior and gens ?!! Who create this ?! you ?! me ?! People before me and you ?!
Do you really agree that such a grate wonderful systems (genetics, human, world , … ) appear accidentally ?!!”

Yes.

Buddhism has extremists too

One of my pet peeves is the particular view that Buddhism is some perfect, peaceful, problem-free religion. If only everyone was Buddhist, the world would be such a better place! Unfortunately, when Buddhism has the majority position of power, it has the same problems as other religions:

A Sri Lankan court has given suspended jail terms to three French tourists for wounding the religious feelings of Buddhists by taking pictures deemed insulting.

Two women and one man were detained in the southern town of Galle after a photographic laboratory alerted police.

The pictures show the travellers posing with Buddha statues and pretending to kiss one of them.

[…]They were convicted under a section of the Penal Code which outlaws deeds intended to wound or insult “the religious feelings of any class of persons” through acts committed in, upon or near sacred objects or places of worship.

I don’t personally understand how someone posing to kiss a statue of a figure you revere is “insulting” or “intending to wound.” Maybe if it was…oh, I don’t know, a statue of Hitler, and you were kissing him because you thought he was awesome. …Not that we have many statues of Hitler laying around. But I have no right to tell someone what they should or shouldn’t be offended by.

However, religious people have no right to inflict their religious belief on those who don’t follow it. If you want to set rules for your followers, have a blast. But you don’t get to dictate how everyone else lives their lives.

At least these tourists got off easy. Alexander Aan was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for daring to say he’s an atheist in Muslim-majority Indonesia.

I won’t be visiting Russia any time soon

A hooligan like me would certainly be thrown in prison:

Three members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot have been jailed for two years after staging an anti-Vladimir Putin protest in a Moscow cathedral.

Judge Marina Syrova convicted the women of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, saying they had “crudely undermined social order”.

The women say the protest, in February, was directed at the Russian Orthodox Church leader’s support for Mr Putin.

Judge Syrova said Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, had offended the feelings of Orthodox believers and shown a “complete lack of respect”.

“Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina and Samutsevich committed hooliganism – in other words, a grave violation of public order,” she said.

What was this horrific act of hooliganism?

Along with other members of their band, the women staged a flashmob-style performance of their song close to the altar in the cathedral on 21 February.

Their brief, obscenity-laced performance, which implored the Virgin Mary to “throw Putin out”, enraged the Orthodox Church – its leader Patriarch Kirill said it amounted to blasphemy.

Yep. Two years in jail because you dared to swear, mention some religious figures, and speak about a theoretically democratic election. I know the US is fucked up, but at least I don’t get thrown in prison when I say FUCK THE CHURCH.

Hopefully something positive happens with their appeal, and hopefully even more international pressure is put on Russia. Not that I’m expecting much coming from the US. Can you imagine Obama having to defend a blasphemous band called Pussy Riot during an election season?

Violence is never the answer

The headquarters of the Family Research Council, a Christian anti-gay hate group, was attacked this morning. A gunman who seemingly disagreed with their stance opened fire and wounded a security guard. I don’t care how much I disagree with someone’s political and religious views – violence is never the answer. If we want to live in a civilized society, we need to let our ideas speak for themselves without the fear of murder. My condolences to everyone affected by this terrible act.

Conservative pundit wants “Underground Railroad” to kidnap children of gay parents

Today’s example of “Holy fuck I didn’t realize bigots could be this evil”:

On Tuesday, conservative pundit Bryan Fischer released an internet firestorm after advocating for an “Underground Railroad to deliver innocent children from same-sex households.” The comment, released on Twitter, links to a Chicago Tribune article about a Mennonite priest charged in aiding in the abduction of the 10-year-old daughter of a same-sex couple.

Fischer, who hosts the radio show Focal Point on American Family Radio, stated earlier this week:

“The only way now in America’s legal system that you can protect your child from being raised in a same-sex household is to get that kid into the Underground Railroad and get that child out of dodge.”

I’m not even sure where to start, so let’s begin with the obvious: Being a child of same-sex parents is kind of a tiny bit different than being an African American slave. Like, for one, you’re not a slave. I can’t comprehend how someone thinks having two daddies or two mommies is equivalent to literally having no rights. Are children of same-sex parents shackled and beaten? Are they forced to work in terrible conditions? Are they never allowed to leave or own land or vote even when they grow up? No. Children of same-sex couples fare just as well as children of opposite-sex couples, with children of lesbians actually doing better. Way to simultaneously say “fuck you” to both same-sex families and descendents of slaves.

The truly bizarre thing is that Fischer frames this as a way to protect your child. As if all children in same-sex households were originally kidnapped by The Gays from wholesome Christian families, where Peter Pan gathering up Lost Boys is a literal interpretation of the gay agenda. Is this seriously a concern of conservative opposite-sex couples? “How do I protect my child from being raised by The Gays?!” Maybe you could…I dunno, not put your child up for adoption? Not become gay? There seem to be less radical options than kidnapping other children available.

Despite criticism, Fischer stands by his remarks, and stated on Focal Point that the kidnapper has an obligation “to obey God rather than man.”

As for that, all I have to say is read your own Bible:

“Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21)

Nazis, genetically modified babies, Mothman, and Jesus

I didn’t think those topics could be combined, but I’ve been proven wrong. No, it’s not the next hit superhero movie. One of the “perks” of being an atheist blogger is that I get signed up to all sorts of wacky mailing lists for creationists, woo peddlers, and conspiracy theorists. I suspect they think this annoys me, when really it usually goes straight to my spam folder to die with all the penis enlargement ads. But sometimes things slip through to my inbox, and sometimes their insanity is hilarious.

I present for your entertainment, “V Blast: THE BEAST REVEALS THEY CREATED GENETICALLY MODIFIED BABIES”

Those who are aware that conspiratorial practices have already wildly exceeded even the most fantastic speculations were not surprised to hear that scientists have now admitted that genetically modified babies have already been born. Although the mainstream, or the so called “ethical” medical community is now publicly acknowledging they’ve mixed genes from multiple parties to produce designer babies all the way back to the late 1990’s, the reality is genetically engineered babies were probably born as far back the 1940’s in one of Joseph Mengele’s Nazi laboratories.
Generally speaking, secretive “black” science significantly precedes the allegedly legitimate version, in which the mainstream commonly lags behind by decades. In fact, the recent mainstream media exposure in the Daily Mail periodical, reignited interest in a subject which was actually covered, albeit rather quietly, years earlier.
It turns out that In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) clinics have been using a technique now for years that “rejuvenates” the eggs of women who are having trouble conceiving, by injecting components of another woman’s egg. This component is called cytoplasm, and it contains the mitochondrial DNA from the donor – thus making the resultant baby the product of 3 parents – the father, and two mothers.
It turns out this has been publicly known since 2001 and, by tracing the research (and the scientist who developed the technique), we learn that babies with more than 2 parents were born at least as far back as 1997. Once again, once such things go public, it virtually always means it’s been going on for quite a bit longer, and has gone much further than is generally acknowledged.
Time for a science break! It’s actually true that scientists are trying to develop methods that use a third individual’s mitochondria during IVF, but it’s not to make abominations or super babies. It’s to cure diseases caused by malfunctioning mitochondria. Mitochondria are the “powerhouse” of the cell, making lots of energy so your cells can actually function.
They also have their own genomes because they were once a separate organism! They were engulfed by another type of cell and the two formed a symbiotic relationship, and now every eukaryote (anything that’s not bacteria or archaea) has mitochondria. Mitochondria are passed from mother to child, not father to child. This is because egg cells have the room to store mitochondria, but sperm don’t.
So if you have a disease that’s caused by a mutation in the mitochondrial genome, you could technically suck out all the “defective” mitochondria and replace them with “healthy” mitochondria from another person. And people are going nuts at the ethics around this, because yes, technically you’d have a third genetic “parent.” If you want to learn more, read this great article in The Guardian.
For instance, there is nothing to indicate these maniacs have stopped at 3 parents, as they could have, theoretically, added the cytoplasm of a dozen women – each selected for what are perceived as desirable characteristics – i.e. blue eyes from mom #4, physical speed and agility from gymnast mom #5, a very high IQ from mom #6, and so forth.
Yeah, theoretically you could add all sorts of mitochondria. But mitochondrial genomes are tiny and don’t really contribute to any distinguishing traits. Things like eye color would still be determined by nuclear DNA (the ones egg and sperm contribute to).
To put it another way, this is the stuff the Nephilim were made of.
I’m not even going to touch that.
What happens if they try to splice in the mitochondria of another father is anyone’s guess, but such outcomes could look like something out of a horror film. And it gets worse.
Actually, nothing different would happen if you took the mitochondria from a man. The only reason mitochondria are transfered maternally is because eggs have the room to do so. There are rare examples of mitochondria being transmitted paternally, with no real consequences.
Now we’ve learned the key research embryologist who pioneered this technique left the fertility clinic work he was doing, and was hired by a US military medical institution. This chilling fact begs the question, is there anyone who seriously doubts the military establishment will seek to engineer a super-soldier, and will not be deterred by any of those messy moral or ethical considerations?
Christian Media, the ministry which fields the V Channel output such as the V Blast Internet letter, the Eclipse printed periodical, and the Exotica TV and radio show, has previously produced material on the efforts to create robo-soldier. In what looks like a Marvel Comics fiction, hardly anyone knows military scientists have already succeeded in growing (with spider DNA) a dense, Kevlar like compound, directly into the skin of solders, so they can withstand a bullet wound (see the Exotica TV episode on the subject).
Military scientists are talking about using spider silk to make structures that are stronger than Kevlar…but they can hardly hardly make enough with the current technology, and they definitely haven’t started breeding genetically modified soldiers. We don’t have that technology. We hardly understand how spider silk production works.
With such efforts, one can only wonder if these madmen will eventually produce a modern version of the mothman, replete with wings that can quietly transport the organic killing machine behind enemy lines. Furthermore, it is certain the Biblical prophets described just what is occurring.
Oddly this was probably the paragraph that offended my brain cells the most. Mothman? Not…you know, Spiderman? I…I just don’t understand why they wouldn’t go with the obvious if they were going to invoke genetically modified superheroes.
For instance, the prophet Joel described military men that were unstoppable in very scary terms:
 “a great people and a strong: there hath not been ever the like…A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth…and nothing shall escape them. The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses [centaurs]; and as horsemen, so shall they run. “They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; they shall march every one on his way, and they shall not break their ranks: Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded” (Joel 2:2-8)
For those unfamiliar with the prophetic texts, the manipulation of genetics is a primary theme found in the numerous descriptions of the end of the age. Jesus Christ said the last generation would be “…as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man” (Luke 17:26)
The primary description of the days of Noah was focused on what is sometimes called the “first incursion,” wherein the fallen angels tampered with the genetics of men and women, and the offspring became “mighty men” – a population which was quickly catapulted into leadership within the old world order.
The book of Genesis tells us the whole world was “corrupt” and the LORD saw nothing but “violence” everywhere, so He purposed to destroy the world (Genesis Chapter 6). This is what Jesus used as a template for the last generation – a time of massive destruction, preceded by violence and genetic manipulation.
When coupled with the descriptions of world war, famine, and pestilence, to say nothing of the massive fraud of the so called pre-tribulation “rapture” in which millions of deceived believers “know not” that they are about to be “taken away” to the grave in a violent judgment (Matthew 24:39),  this tribulational devastation could occur at any moment.
— James Lloyd
Jesus blah blah blah.

The only other thing worth highlighting is their unique instruction on how to remove yourself from their mailing list:

Of course, if you have been convinced Christians should never send an Email to someone without permission (Did the Disciples of Jesus ask people for permission to tell them the Good News?), then we will cheerfully delete your name from our database.

Woah, gettin’ a little defensive there. Of course I want to stay subscribed! I love getting a good laugh at conspiracy theorists with no solid grasp of science.