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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Religion is a scam's LiveJournal:

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Friday, November 30th, 2007
9:53 am
Words are worse than sticks and stones
One of the larger uproars lately is the arrest of a teacher in Sudan for allowing the students to name a teddy bear Muhammad. And with good reason; this is one of the most flagrant displays of the destructive power of religion.

Islam has driven the government of Sudan to dismiss the value of human life for the sake of a name. For a name! For allowing this to happen, this teacher could possibly be lashed 40 times in retribution. There are people outside the courthouse chanting that she should be killed.

Killed over a name. If that is not one of the most backwards reasons to take a human life, then I don't know what is. Most people are aware of the preciousness of life, but the priority of that preciousness drops several levels when they are consumed by the irrationality of religion. Human life is insignificant when compared to the "greatness" of Muhammad. It's easier to subvert basic human morality by placing your faith in a higher being. When the policymakers of those religions tell the people that someone should be punished, then those people can forget about humanity and focus more on divinity--whatever that may be at the time.

The situation is even more ridiculous when you consider that Muhammad is the most popular name given to Muslim children. In fact, the bear was named at the suggestion of a student named Muhammad. I suppose it's some tiny consolation that the government has not arrested the children involved for voting on naming the bear Muhammad. That means only one innocent person suffers at this iniquity instead of a whole roomful, but that is still one person too many. Absolutely no one should suffer simply by calling a beloved child's toy Muhammad...or Jesus or Vishnu or Thor. It is just a word, and it has no power over people. The hatred and bigotry of others, however, does have a lot of power, as this teacher can attest to.
Friday, December 15th, 2006
11:30 am
The boon of public school
There's been a loose study that shows Christian children who attend public school usually leave the church. I say it's a loose study, because this was presented by Baptists. We know how they feel about science.

This is supposed to be a warning by these Baptists. If your children attend public school, they might become corrupted by the spiritual toxicity and leave the church. Of course, it has nothing to do with the fact that some kids may learn that Christianity does not hold a monopoly on spirituality and morality.

Of course, I'm not surprised by this warning. The same people who specialize in ignorance and brainwashing do not want people to learn. These people allow thousands to die because they don't want to open the Pandora's Box of stem cell research. These people aggressively shoulder past evolution, insisting on teaching literature in place of science (and not even that great of literature, to boot). These people believe that a teenager will abstain from sex just because he's told to and then refuse to contemplate an alternative plan when their plan fails spectacularly.

The Baptists--and those of like minds--are the enemy of progress. Of course they'll argue against education. It behooves them to keep their worshippers ignorant so they can keep coming back and imbuing their preachers with power and money.

This is probably the best thing to come from public education. It certainly isn't for the stellar math scores; just ask a McDonald's cashier to give you change without the benefit of a cash register. It definitely is not for the shining writing skills; just scour the Internet for examples of public school teaching. What makes public education so useful in this case is that the students are not constantly under attack by the religious leaders so that all they can do is parrot the "truth" of the church.
Thursday, August 11th, 2005
8:52 am
"Under God" is not religious
Once again, the Pledge of Allegiance rears its theological head. Judges in Virginia have ruled that the Pledge of Allegiance is not a religious statement, even with the phrase under God.

Well, a judge can't be wrong, now can he? Perhaps we should send letters to the court with various nonreligious statements, such as:

I cheat on my taxes under God.
I enjoy fellatio under God.
I worship Allah under God.
With this gun under God, I go on a shooting spree.

Now, if under God is not a religious phrase, then those statements should not offend Christians. But they offend many people, Christians and non-Christians alike. And the reason is that under God is religious. And the Pledge of Allegiance is an affirmation of a specific religious belief by compelling children to recite it.

When a court rules that it does not have the power to intervene in keeping a comatose woman alive, many religious people rallied against the "activist" judges. They called for their removal. Yet, this court in Virginia is ignoring the very tenets of the Bill of Rights, and I do not hear these people calling for the removal of these "activist" judges. Apparently, it's okay to violate human rights if it benefits your belief.
Thursday, June 23rd, 2005
10:00 am
Thou shalt not kill...unless you're devout
It's like the Salem witch trials again.

A schizophrenic nun seeks solace at a convent, and she is brutally murdered. The priest imprisons her and tortures the nun for 3 days before she asphyxiates to death.

This is "morality?" This is how Catholics deal with illnesses? This belief in exorcism is dangerous to anyone who is unable or unwilling to conform to the norm. At any time, a deranged priest can accuse you of being possessed and authorize your murder. And it's not just the priest; as a figure of authority, he can command obedience from others in his flock. This priest dragged four nuns down to his level, and I hope they are locked away for a long time for their role in torturing this nun to death.

It's fine if you want to believe in monsters. Fear for Satan's grasp on your soul all you want. Me, I have a belief in little pink unicorns that leave candy under my pillows. But do not impose your belief in monsters upon other people. That is the great crime against humanity. Keep your religion to yourself. Do not think you'll do my soul a favor by releasing it from my body with a knife. The Son of Sam thought he was doing good, but he was simply butchering people. Trying to impose your beliefs on others is not too different.
Tuesday, June 21st, 2005
6:04 pm
Islam has been criticized a lot lately and with good reason. Like many religions, Islam is rooted in bigotry, superstition, and tradition for tradition's sake. According to Islamic law, a marriage is nullified if a woman is raped by her father-in-law.

I suppose the reasoning for this thought is that since she had intercourse with another man, she has been unfaithful to her husband. Never mind the fact that it was against her will. Since she wasn't faithful enough to Allah to magically rivet her vagina shut, this woman has to leave her husband and marry her tormenter. That's real therapeutic, isn't it? What a trying time you had, lady; let's make it all better by making you wake up every morning with that monster. But then, Islam is not a religion based on reason.

It's as stupid as the old Jewish laws where an adulterer received a slap on the wrist while an adulteress was stoned to death.

I wish this kind of attitude was limited to just Islam, but Muslims do not hold a monopoly on backward, repressive thinking. I recall controversy boiling because of an American figure's comment. I believe it was a politician arguing against abortion. When asked about rape victims impregnated by their attackers, he callously responded that such women shouldn't have enticed the rapists. This is what happens when you mix bigotry with "morality." Because it's a sin for a woman to have intercourse outside of marriage, if she has intercourse as a result of an aggressive man imposing his will on her, then clearly she has failed somewhere and must atone for her sins.

It's hard to teach young people good morals, such as responsibility, when some crazy religion teaches them that you don't have to be responsible for certain actions.
5:37 pm
This study is not too surprising. In the past century, we've seen America move more and more toward a theocracy. As much as one would like to make fun of France, it seems that it is one of the more enlightened countries. But then, this makes sense if you accept the theory that historic religious strife causes a modernized society to be wary of a mixture of politics and religion. After all, Europe was steeped in religious wars as various groups elected Popes left and right to combat each other.

Perhaps that is the problem; America has not seen enough religiously motivated bloodshed, at least not in the scale that shook England, France, and Germany. We do have our fair share of religiously motivated bloodshed, but they're usually performed by the religious people who are in control. Since abortion clinic bombers, child molesters, and religious murderers are protected by the religious people in power, we cannot dispense proper justice to these criminals. Right now, the theocrats can allow iniquities to happen in the name of religion and not have to account for their actions.

How ironic that America touts itself as a land of freedom, yet other countries without the guarantee of a Bill of Rights enjoy more freedom than America. Words that can grace an English television show are bleeped by the American government. Nudists can enjoy French beaches while those same people would be arrested by the American government for disrobing on a public beach. The Dutch are allowed to indulge in marijuana--for better or for worse--while the American government prevents most patients from enjoying even the medicinal benefits of the drug. And it all stems from religion. The iron grip that religion has on our governing body limits our freedoms we gained with the spilt blood of our soldiers.

It may only be a matter of time before some of the more zealous leaders finally get their way and outlaw competing religions.
Thursday, June 9th, 2005
10:41 am
Thou shalt not whiz on thy sacred cow
Since I rarely hear much about Hindu while living in America, a part of me is willing to believe that it's a more reasonable religion. When faced with the intolerance of Catholics, Muslims, and Jews, it's easy to overlook those farther east.

Apparently, Hindus believe that babies can magically control their urine. If a baby comes into your home and tinkles on the floor, you would just sigh, shrug it off, and get a washcloth. If the baby comes into a "holy" temple in India and tinkles, then obviously she is some great infidel who must be punished for not being potty trained at such a young age.

How likely is it that supposedly enlightened people could hold a baby at fault for urinating whilst in a temple? Those are slim odds. How likely is it that the temple administrators see a possibility of exploiting the faithful and fattening their coffers by fining a ridiculous offense? The folks that a temple can exploit the best are the ones that trust it the most.
Thursday, April 7th, 2005
4:41 pm
What good is "infallible"?
While I'm not big on Pope John Paul II, the late leader of one of the most oppressive religions, I am not interested in badgering the man after his death.

I am more interested in the people who idolize him. In fact, it's appropriate to say that these people change their very lives because of him. Just take a look at birth control. Because some guy in Italy doesn't believe people should use contraceptives, people actually go out of their way to have and promote unprotected sex. This has been a large problem in places like Brazil.

A recent CNN article had this quote:

From Latin America to Asia and Africa, Catholics struggling to care for large families amid grinding poverty and an AIDS pandemic faced a dilemma over Pope John Paul II's opposition to contraception. Some hope that will change under his successor.

Wait a minute. Some hope that will change under his successor. If you don't like what your deity is telling you, you just wait a couple decades for the next spokesman? Gee, hope you don't die before the Pope does; the next Pope might say something that gets you into Heaven. Some people have given up on Catholicism due to the recent Pope's rulings, and they are happy to go back if the next Pope changes just one little mandate from God? Does that even make sense? One man proclaims, "Our god hates condoms," and you hope that another man will proclaim, "Our god thinks condoms are OK." Isn't that a bit like the kid begging for a piece of candy and then repeating himself until his mother finally relents? Except that this is supposed to be an infallible god (never mind all those mandates he made in Leviticus were revoked).

Some of these people are one step closer to freedom by realizing that the office of the Pope should not rule their lives, and they are just one step closer to going two steps back.

What amazes me is that this backward religion is the largest of Christian sects. I'm no huge fan of the Baptists or the Presbyterians--the Methodists usually aren't so bad. But those religions are sane compared to the rituals and rites and corruption of the Catholic church. How could Catholicism actually have the most number of Christians? Oh, of course, you tell your followers they'll rot in Hell for using condoms. How convenient.
Wednesday, March 2nd, 2005
5:30 pm
From where do we get our laws?
As usual, there is controversy over the display of the Ten Commandments in public areas, especially at courthouses.

Even though the American Constitution prohibits the government endorsement of religion, a lot of these zealots want to continue shoving their religion down our throats by spending our taxes on religious icons. Some people are up in arms about art that they deem pornographic, but corrupting all of our minds is just fine.

The argument that makes me chuckle the most is the ludicrous claim that the Commandments should be publicly displayed because of their historical import. Per Matthew Staver, a florida lawyer, "The Ten Commandments have played a role in the formation of laws in this country."

Really? The Ten Commandments played a role in the formation of American law? Let's examine this statement in greater detail. I'll refer to the commonly accepted Ten Commandments and not the more esoteric list, which involves not boiling a goat in his mother's milk.

1. You shall not worship any other god but YHWH.
Huh, no laws cover this. I suppose your boss could fire you for not worshipping YHWH. Ah, but we have laws preventing employers from doing just that. It seems that this commandment is the basis on what our laws are not about.

2. You shall not make a graven image.
No laws here, either. I suppose the courts could prevent you from copying someone else's image of Jesus, but that falls in copyright laws. This covers all intellectual property and is not designed to protect just religious images.

3. You shall not take the name of YHWH in vain.
The FCC takes issue with certain four-letter words. But none of them have to do with YHWH. I suppose that when one uses the dirty word for fecal matter, one can claim that you're taking YHWH's name in vain, but that's hardly fair to a deity. There is no law preventing someone from uttering that name except for those rare instances in the media. But someone is free to use that name in everyday conversation.

Now, there is the interpretation that this Commandment is about committing a sin in his name. If you commit a crime, it doesn't matter in whose name it is committed. The courts will prosecute them all equally.

4. You shall not break the Sabbath.
No law here either. I remember when gas stations were closed on Sundays, but that was voluntary. There wasn't a law telling them to shut down. There are blue laws, such as not selling liquor on Sundays. As far as breaking Sabbath, buying alcohol on Sunday pales in comparison to all other methods of breaking Sabbath. Yet, there are no laws preventing those.

5. You shall not dishonor your parents.
There is no law that forces a child to honor his parents.

6. You shall not murder.
Finally! We're halfway through, and we find a Commandment that has been made into a law. Of course, the death penalty is someone taking a life, but it's permissible in America. So, this Commandment isn't even enforced 100% of the time.

7. You shall not commit adultery
You won't be thrown in jail for cheating on your spouse. The civil courts are more likely to side with a wronged spouse in the case of divorce proceedings, but it's not illegal to commit adultery.

8. You shall not steal.
This is the second Commandment that has been codified into American law. It covers material possessions and intellectual property.

9. You shall not commit perjury.
With the exception of legal proceedings and police questioning, lying is not against the law. There are also some mercantile issues: Such as false advertising. Everyday lying is perfectly within American law, though. This might count as half a Commandment, since there are many cases where lying can land you in trouble.

10. You shall not covet.
Coveting against the law? Hardly. America is based on a strong version of capitalism, the very basis of this system is deeply rooted in desire. Many laws that protect businesses serve to encourage coveting. Seems this Commandment is about as unimportant in American government as the first one.

So, there you have it: Murder, theft, and sometimes lying all have a basis in American law. I'd estimate that the Ten Commandments are only about 25% relevant to our laws.

And guess what? All other forms of laws already include murder and theft. Why do we not recognize Hammurabi's laws? Or Greek laws? Why do some Americans focus so much on the Ten Commandments when American laws barely have anything in common with them? It's a meager attempt to justify the inclusion of a religious icon and claiming that everyone benefits from it. But truth be told, only Christians and Jews benefit from the Ten Commandments. Everyone else benefits from the common sense laws that tell us to be decent to one another. I'd rather have a display praising civility among people rather than blind adherence to a deity.
Tuesday, February 15th, 2005
2:13 pm
Religion masquerading as public education
There is an interesting story about a school board that sends elementary school children to Bible study. I cannot blame some of the community for being in an uproar over this. After all, religion is a very personal thing, and why would you want to rely on a public school to teach religion?

Jack Hinton, president of the local private group that offers the lessons, attributes the opposition to a small minority, many of them newcomers to the valley. Without religious classes, he said, "kids get into trouble and have no moral structure on which to combat drugs, sex, pornography and all that."

The claim here is that these Bible classes are the only thing standing between children and hooliganism. Never mind that there are plenty of non-Christian children who understand morality because their parents taught them this morality. Also, never mind that a lot of juvenile delinquents have attended Bible study while growing up. So, what does it mean when the president of this group spouts the "truth" which is full of these holes? What are these children really learning?

But do the parents care? Not really. They're happy with anything with the Christian label. As long as some charlatan can claim that it's part of God's will, they'll dump their children on someone else so they don't have to worry about teaching them values. Perhaps this is why these people want Bible study in public schools; so they don't need to be bothered with raising their own children.

"The people in those communities still have strong Christian faith and want their children to learn this," said JoAnne Shirley, state director of Weekday Religious Education, the private group that offers the lessons.

The answer to this is simple: The parents can sign their children up to take these classes after researching the validity of this organization. Of course, I question how moral Weekday Religious Education is if it has to rely on skulduggery in order to bring children in under the pretense of public education. This should not have even made the news, as it never should have happened.

There was a very good point made by one of the opponents that the children of non-Christians can feel ostracized for not participating in the Bible study. People who are "different" tend to be picked on in school. It's one thing for children to feel superior because their parents can afford new clothes or because they are on the football team. Children do not need more fuel added to the fire of bigotry by those who believe they'll be laughing from Heaven at the sinners.

A lot of trouble can be saved if schools stick simply to the matter of education and not religious propaganda. There are plenty of churches and mosques and temples that parents can attend to teach their children about religion.
Friday, October 29th, 2004
10:26 am
If you don't mean it, why say it?
While I haven't used the scientific method, I inadvertently tested one of the more well-known societal niceties in America. Often, when someone sneezes, someone nearby will say, "Bless you," or possibly, "God bless you." Sometimes you will hear, "Gesundheit," which is a more secular well-wisher. When someone says, "Bless you," does he really mean it?

My sample is not large: I base these observations on a group of half a dozen Christians with whom I interact roughly 25% of the time. Before, when I sneezed, I would receive at least one, maybe two, "Bless you" remarks. Out of politeness, I would reply with, "Thank you." Who hasn't learned that nicety?

Of late, I've not replied with a, "Thank you." It started off with me simply having a bad day and limiting my interaction. After the first time I did not acknowledge a "Bless you," I noticed a lack of another one the next time I sneezed. This was when I decided to test the waters here.

For the past few months, I've made certain to not acknowledge a "Bless you" comment. After a while, my sneezes were not met with any well wishes. I sneezed in a vacuum, while other people sneezed with some assurance from someone else.

Why is that? Is it mere politeness in our society? It certainly seems that way. If someone burps without saying, "Excuse me," or doesn't say, "Thank you," when the door is held open for him/her, that person is viewed as a boorish clod. Why would the sneezing ritual be any different?

But then this raises the question of what good it does. If it is just a tradition, then how strong is that comment? If you are engaged in just politeness, then the words mean nothing. It's like walking past someone you barely know and obligatorily saying, "What's up?" You don't care what's up, and if the other person were to try to answer your question, you'd be out of range of a decent conversation anyway.

If it is meant to be a blessing, then how Christian is it to stop saying it just because someone doesn't thank you for it. Is that person seriously trying to offer you his god's blessing, or is he trying to validate himself and feel better? Try refraining from thanking someone like this and see if he is truly concerned about your well-being, or if he just wants to go through the motions so that he feels better about his role in Jehovah's grand scheme.

Why say, "Thank you," at all, really? If the well-wisher is just being polite or trying to feel good about himself, then why encourage him to waste his breath? If he truly wishes his god's blessing on you, then he won't take offense at your silence. It's a way to weed out the truly faithful from those who simply give lip service.
Wednesday, September 8th, 2004
11:13 am
Judge not if you cannot be impartial
Just how hard is it to respect the US Constitution? The First Amendment was written in order to prevent the state from imposing an official religion. So, how is it that an interpreter of law can feel justified in pushing his own religion upon those he sentences?

When reviewing the case, all Judge Thompson had to do was consider one fact: The accused was successfully convicted of child molestation. That's it. That is against the law, and the infraction must be punished. Yet, Judge Thompson could not keep his religion out of other people's business. He had to quote the Bible and admonish homosexuality.

By doing this, the judge revealed his personal feelings and let them get in the way. Now, the big question is whether the child molester received an unfairly lengthy sentence on the sole fact that the victim was of the same gender. Would Judge Thompson not have issued the sentence of 15 to 50 years if the victim was a girl?

In fact, I've heard--but not seen a formal study--that child molesters receive longer sentences if the victim was of the same gender. This may just be speculation, but if it's true, it sends a chilling message. It states that molestation is not as big of a deal if it's a heterosexual molestation. Good job. That's similar to the ancient laws where a woman was forced to marry her rapist. "Gee, Johnny sure is a sicko for molesting that 12-year-old, but thank God it was a girl!"

Worse still, imagine if the accused was actually innocent! If religious bias is allowed to rule in our courthouses, then an innocent man is less likely to find leniency if he is accused of a crime involving inappropriate homosexual contact. In a jury, you're likely to find someone with religious bias, but hopefully his views will be tempered by someone who looks at life more objectively. With a judge, you are at one man's mercy, and you better hope he slips up like Judge Thompson and reveals his bias to the world. Most impartial people can quietly state their decisions without explaining why it's subjective, and their subtle manipulation is dangerous indeed.

Although, I couldn't help but note the irony in this quote:
Thompson said. "If people would continue to read that author [God], they would find that it's [the Bible's] not a message of condemnation, but of hope."

A very interesting comment to make as a judge condemns a prisoner.

This is also a waste of taxpayers' money. If I lived in Nebraska, I would easily vote to remove this judge. For one, he wasted the court's time by reading from the Bible, a book which has no place in the courtroom. By doing that, he revealed his own bias, which set off these events. His decision had to be overturned, wasting the time of the Board of Appeals. A new judge has to step in to sentence the criminal, wasting the time of that judge. When there is a backlog of cases, shouldn't the courts strive to be more expedient? How much taxpayer money was squandered on reading that Bible verse?

There is a bit of dark irony that Judge Thompson chose to preach against homosexuality to a man who will spend many years in prison. We've all heard how child molesters are at the bottom of the totem pole in jail. Is the judge's final message to the accused, "Don't enjoy whatever happens to you in prison"?
Wednesday, July 14th, 2004
9:29 am
The Perils of an Afterlife
I've heard claims that religion is a beneficial tool because it gives people hope in a desperate world. Life may be bad now, but in the next life, a better world awaits you.

I'd just rather do away with the entire afterlife myth if it encourages people to perform atrocities.

An ex-Mormon put together a cult in order to hasten the return of Christ. And how did he go about to hasten Christ's return? Through murder. His cult killed five people and plotted to assassinate church leaders so that this man could lead an army against the forces of Satan.

That is simply scary.

These Children of Thunder were clearly a menace to society, driven by their beliefs that they would be rewarded in the afterlife for their horrific crimes. These people are not different from Stephen Jordi, Paul Hill, and the Muslims who destroyed the World Trade Center.

As usual, there are those who try to justify these misguided beliefs. The defense attorney is seeking leniency for the cult leader's brother, as evident in this quote from the article:

Jewett "can argue that this is all about power and greed," Cook said. "But that's nonsense. These people believed they were doing the work of God and that they were having God's mission laid out to them by a prophet."

This attorney is saying that you should be excused from breaking the law, as long as you believe in God. As long as you have a religious conviction, you can slaughter whoever you want. Just go for counseling afterwards. I really hope this is a state-appointed attorney, because any defense attorney who willingly takes this case should be convicted himself.

Some people claim that their religions are different. "Well, my church would never endorse that. We teach an afterlife attainable only through love and harmony." Here is a newsflash: You don't need an afterlife to enjoy a life of love and harmony. Plenty of people exhibit positive traits without worrying about what happens in the next life. If your deity rewards good deeds and pure hearts, then it'll just happen, so don't fret about it. Why take the chance that when some soul becomes despondent and desperate, he'll cling to the gossamer hope that he can bring about positive change by taking down other sad souls?

And besides, it's not like belief in an afterlife is a guarantee of happiness. At worst, believers will be depressed that their heathen friends and family will not join them and attempt to convert these people against their will. At best, they'll shun all heathens in order to avoid such guilt and function outside society with no concern for others.
Wednesday, June 9th, 2004
2:25 pm
The dangers of deception
I've heard from people of the religions of Abraham (Judaism, Christianity, and Muslim) about how just their god is. Even in the face of intolerable cruelty, these practitioners aver that their god is just, despite the acts. Consider the child who never learned about their god but dies at age 5. The parents are to blame for their child's godlessness, but the child suffers in the afterlife. The response by the believers is that their god is just and is able to do that. Who are we to question it?

And even if one assumes that a faultless child is taken to a pleasant afterlife (which is ironically a valid argument for abortion), there are plenty of unfair circumstances where the god is viewed with nothing but awe and respect. Disasters, rapes, and untimely deaths are all caused by their god or its creation, and yet no blame is placed on this god. Instead, the followers view this god as doing no wrong. All damage caused by him is for our own good, and we should be grateful for being in his good graces when he is not destroying something.

I've heard this kind of talk from other people: Battered wives. The psychology of battered wives varies but uniformly sad. She may feel that she cannot do better than her current husband. She may also feel trapped by fear that her husband's wrath is much worse than the current state. She may even deny all of his wrong-doings, lying to doctors when the abusive husband shatters the arm of a child. The power to leave is within the battered wife, but she is incapable of removing herself from such an abusive relationship.

From the outside, those of us who are fortunate enough to not suffer this fate look at the battered wife with pity. She falls into such a state of futility that she doesn't seek to improve herself or her children. Performing a radical act may draw his ire, so she doesn't even enact the slightest change, such as attending a class. She does everything that he wants and nothing that she enjoys. I see the same thing in those who follow Abraham: People who will only listen to charlatans instead of themselves. They don't seem to improve themselves because a religious leader tells them the difference between right and wrong--a concept that nonbelievers have already figured out.

When people put all of their faith into a deity instead of themselves, they open themselves to disappointment. If one simply prays, he may believe that a new job will open up. Instead, he should actively look for a job and improve himself. Prayer does not cure disease, but some people will rely on that over a doctor. Should good fortune coincide with a prayer, it reaffirms the practitioner's beliefs, but if bad luck goes contrary to prayer, it is simply "God's will." They cringe into a defeatist position and don't bother to try to reverse the bad luck. They simply settle--just like a battered wife settles for staying with her husband.

And such attitudes are dangerous when we consider the actions of others. Just recently, Terry Nichols confessed to finding religion. How convenient this should happen before being sentenced for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing. And I know some people who believe that the death penalty should be withheld from Nichols exactly because he "found God." These people are so blinded by their belief that they fall prey to this deception.

There are other acts of deception, which hurt believers. There are news stories of con artists who solicit "investments" from unsuspecting Christians. Muslim children have been talked into walking through minefields. I would definitely consider stepping into a field of armed explosives counter to self-improvement.

In some cases, religion can actually be positive, but these cases pale in comparison to the great amount of evil caused by deceivers and themselves. And being ignorant of the harm caused by your religion is one of the greatest deceptions.
Tuesday, May 25th, 2004
12:29 pm
What is the point of street preaching?
I haven't seen a street preacher in some time, but I'm sure they're still out there. You know the type: He stands on his figurative soapbox and shouts out against the sinners of the world. I don't mean just crazy religions but Christian as well (but many would say they are one in the same).

What do these preachers hope to accomplish? Do they really think someone will convert? Do they think they're telling people something new? In America, people are steeped in Christian culture. It's in the newspapers, TV shows, and urban legends. Ask the average person if he knows that Jesus is supposedly the son of God, and you'll get an affirmative response. He might not know how many children Noah had, but a lot of practitioners don't know either.

So, they preach to people who already know. And those people are either believers or nonbelievers. The believers already belong, so if they listen to the preacher, it's not like it's a new convert. And the nonbelievers aren't going to suddenly think, Wow, I've been wasting my life, and it suddenly dawned on me this truth all because I walked past 12th and Main.

Or maybe some people do "convert." I wager that they were believers to begin with. One person's dogma won't change someone's mind, after all. And those people would have gained more faith in Christianity just by seeing one of those church signs.

To me, the preacher just fills the air with noise. It's his right, of course, but I think a religion could be more loving by helping the helpless rather than shout at people who really don't care.
Tuesday, April 13th, 2004
11:59 am
Pernicious influences
In the past 20 years, I've witnessed some outrageous claims. One such claim is that a teen and friends murdered a mother because of a role-playing game about vampires. Another claim is that the movie Basketball Diaries caused the Columbine shootings. Some of these people are standing up and demanding that role-playing games and movies be held accountable for their actions!

Yet, these people are oddly quiet about the source of a woman bashing in her sons' heads.

It's easy enough to point fingers at some game with vampires or some movie with guns, but when someone brutally murders her own children because of a belief in the Bible, those people are silent. They don't condemn the Bible as the reason for these deaths. Why not? What makes Beavis and Butthead responsible for arson while the Bible is innocent of infanticide?

Surely, it's obvious, right? The Bible is all about killing babies. Babies were dashed upon the walls in victory in the Bible. Jehovah sent bears to rend 42 children for making fun of a bald man. Jehovah even commanded Abraham to slaughter his own son. Granted, at the end, Jehovah told him, "Nah, just testing you. Good going." Still, how long of an attention span do Americans have, anyway? If you don't sit there until the very end, you're certain that Abraham did Jehovah's will and killed his son. Clearly, the Bible must be held accountable for this crime!

Why aren't they saying that?

I believe it's because these zealots are attacking what they don't like and using any excuse they can find to show how pernicious these influences are. Beavis and Butthead has crude humor, and the zealot doesn't like it. Rather than exercise his right to change the channel, he chooses to attack the show and justify its removal by accusing it of influencing a young child. Rather than examine what truly caused the Columbine shootings, they blame a movie. These teenagers were disturbed before they even saw The Basketball Diaries. Did it give them ideas? Maybe. Or maybe they got their ideas from the other school shootings that happened before the movie was even produced. Would the removal of the movie have prevented the shootings? Is that more effective than identifying the problems and solving them through counseling? Perhaps the Twin Tower attack would not have happened if we just removed Die Hard from the shelves.

People need some comfort. They can't accept that some people are just plain evil. They cannot believe there are Osama bin Ladens or angry schoolkids with guns. So, they look elsewhere. They look for things outside their paradigms. For many Christians--especially the ones with a tenuous grip on reality--they look for influences that don't mesh with their ideal Biblical world. They can blame shootings, bombings, and murders on sexuality, rock and roll, movies, games, books, clothing, etc. You can't change the heart of a madman in Afghanistan, but you can change the CD selection at Wal-Mart. If it makes someone feel better to quixotically halt the machinations of an evil man by picketing a violent or sexual movie, then he will choose that easier route.

It's still awfully convenient how these people can blame anything but their precious Bible.
Friday, February 27th, 2004
9:44 am
Two great documents that don't go so well together
I couldn't help but notice a difference between the Bill of Rights and the Ten Commandments. Many Christian Americans claim to revere both of them. They are quite incongruous, though.

What does the Bill of Rights do? It promises Americans certain freedoms, such as worshiping how you choose, protecting your land from foreign invasion, and speedy trials. Granted, America has not exactly been forthcoming in protecting those privileges, but the intent of the Bill of Rights remains the same: Guarantee provisions that allow you to live life as you see fit.

Conversely, what does the Ten Commandments do? It prohibits, pure and simple. Here is an abridged list of the Commandments:

Eighty percent of the Commandments have an explicit denial. The two about the Sabbath and honoring your parents aren't exactly paragons of freedom either. What if it's a bad Sabbath? You have to grin and bear it. What if your parents do not deserve honor because they are bad people? Tough.

Now, not all of the Commandments are negative. Most people agree that murdering and stealing are flat-out wrong. Certainly, you shouldn't sleep with someone without your spouse's permission. Lying is wrong most of the time, but even that can have some extenuating circumstances. All in all, the Ten Commandments are designed to encourage atrophy rather than growth.

Why the comparison between the Bill of Rights and the Ten Commandments? I suppose it has to do with the recent proposal to amend the Constitution in an attempt to deny freedoms to a group of people.

Some people are against homosexual relations. That is their right, and they're entitled to it. But to go so far as to declare homosexual marriages illegal by defacing the highest law of America? There is something blatantly hypocritical about manipulating the same document that grants Americans the freedom they enjoy in order to ensure that some freedoms are never realized.

And why is that? I have to point to religion. One of the biggest opponent to homosexuality is Christianity. Another is Islam. Another is Judaism. See the pattern? The reasoning given is that it offends their gods, and therefore, it offends them. I've yet to see a compelling secular reason against homosexuality. Well, you could argue that a homosexual couple cannot procreate, but that is hardly an issue in today's society with preventative medicines. Face it; we can't kill off enough people in the 21st century.

And who is pushing for this constitutional amendment? None other but the leader of the free world, George W. Bush. He is certainly open about his religious beliefs and how it affects his decision making, from judge appointment to faith-based publicly funded organizations (notice how faith-based seems to be based on his own faith and not of others). This man's life is so mired in Christianity that he would rather rule by the Ten Commandments than the Bill of Rights.

Frankly, this frightens me. You need only view the massive destruction in New York City on September 11, 2001, to see just how dangerous a man can be when he places holy text before the welfare of his fellow man. When it comes election time, I fear that I may have to vote against him instead of with my heart just to improve the odds of having a President who is interested in freedom.
Tuesday, April 15th, 2003
11:52 am
Competing religions
Superstition runs amok once again.

I suppose it's hard to argue that Catholicism is a religion of love when people are asked to kill.

But it is an out-of-the-way place. Perhaps the message of Jesus just hasn't gotten there yet.
Tuesday, April 8th, 2003
10:32 am
When a Christian down on his luck and questioning his faith is approached by a charismatic person preaching about how converting to his religion will save him, it is called brainwashing and manipulation.

When a Muslim down on his luck and questioning his faith is approached by a charismatic person preaching about how converting to Christianity will save him, it is called witnessing and ministry.

I fail to see the difference.
Sunday, March 30th, 2003
12:19 pm
Life before McCarthy
I had the good fortune recently to receive a 1937 Buffalo Nickel. It is not the rare three-legged buffalo coin, but it is something I cherish. It was minted in a time when the American government did not feel the need to force Christianity upon its people by printing, In God We Trust.

Somewhere between the Victorian era and the McCarthy age, people may have actually accepted logic and let people live their lives (with the exception of the failed eighteenth amendment). Perhaps society was just as restrictive during that time, but it was given that your neighbor was a Christian.

If that is the case, then as more people turn to other religions (and sometimes the Soviet equivalent of Communism), American lawmakers felt the need to enforce their religion by revising the Pledge of Allegiance and making In God We Trust a national motto to be stamped on every coin.

Even before that national motto, coins have been stamped with religious statements before. I just take solace in the fact that I have a coin without the motto. Someday I can hope for a more secular national motto that divides Americans more than it unites. I think that E Plurbis Unum is a good enough national motto. It's something that most Christians, satanists, Muslims, atheists, Hindus, agnostics, Buddhists, and pagans can agree on.

It just amazes me the amount of hubris lawmakers have regarding their religion. It is as if there is no chance that other religions exist.
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